By Leah Grady Sayvetz, Ithaca, NY. 3/14/18
This morning, March 14, I woke late and as I looked at the numbers 9:24 on the clock I remembered that today is National School Walkout Day. At 10am, the students from the middle/high school across the street from my house would be leaving school, walking out of class as part of a nationally coordinated protest for an end to gun violence. I wanted to be with them. Thirty-five minutes later, as I stepped out of my front door, my breath caught in my chest: hundreds of children clad in coats and boots filed silently past. They filled the snowy sidewalk as far as I could see, many carrying signs drawn with colored markers on pieces of large white paper. My first instinct was to cheer, to encourage the students, to let these youngsters know how proud of them I am. But each small face passed me by in solemnity; a quiet, focused march through the falling snow. Their spirit drew me, then, into reverence. I fell in step with the crowd, following in silence, letting the children lead. The beanie-clad heads before and behind me rose no higher than my chest. I felt a deep sense of humility to be following the lead of such little ones. Today the children are showing us where we need to be.
By Nicole Simone Rodrigues
By Leah Grady Sayvetz. Leah grew up in the Ithaca Catholic Worker community. After some years away she has moved back to her home town to join efforts in local social justice organizing, starting at the local level to effect change in the world.
On a Tuesday morning in early November, on my way driving to work, I was stopped at the bottom of Elm street by a traffic jam, not atypical for 8am on a week day. Thinking nothing of it, I patiently waited for vehicles to move on so that I could pull out onto Floral Ave. The car ahead of me seemed somewhat thoughtless in how they had stopped across a lane of traffic on Floral and did not appear to be moving. An elderly black man turned up Elm, having just come from the Martin Luther King Blvd bridge, and stopped his car next to mine to let out his passenger, a middle-aged black man. As I saw these two men say good bye, I realized that the driver of the car ahead of me, a white man, had just jumped out of his vehicle and was now pointing a gun at the younger of the two black men. It suddenly became clear that we were surrounded by undercover police. The cars behind us and ahead of us, the car which had just turned onto Floral Ave from MLK Blvd, and other cars waiting in line before the Floral Ave stop sign all carried men in regular dress who jumped out and surrounded this man on the side of the street. All of these under cover officers were white men. Many of them carried guns, some pointed their guns at the black man who had just gotten out of his friend’s car. I recognized the man being surrounded as someone I see a lot in my neighborhood- he is a neighbor who I know by face but not by name. The cops all wore civilian clothing of various styles, one man had long hair in a messy pony tail and a scruffy beard, they all wore calm and business-like expressions on their faces. Their demeanor communicated to everyone around that this was just business as usual: nothing to be alarmed about. Continue reading
Leah Grady Sayvetz lives in Ithaca, New York, where she grew up in the Catholic Worker tradition and part of the broader Catholic Worker community across the country. After having finished school in the Philly area, she most recently returned from traveling through southern states and spending time at the Open Door Community, a Catholic Worker house in Atlanta.
As we drove home from Watkins Glen this afternoon, it began to snow. The flurries danced about us and flew at the windshield as we sped down the road, making our surroundings seem magical. The rolling hills, carved out by a gorge or waterfall here and there, brushed in the feathery grey of bare trees which covered hillsides of rich dark brown hummus now patched with bright white snow… the landscape took my breath away and I remembered how in love I am with this region where I was born. As the snowflakes fell like little blessings from the sky, we in the car remarked on how today had brought a huge blessing: New York’s governor had just banned Fracking in the state. Continue reading