This blog is dedicated to the memory of David Weintraub, who took on insidious astroturfers and won.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Across N. 24th Street

Bernice Mayhorn rests after picking up garbage in the yard of the boarded-up house (left) that is next to hers in the 2900 block of N. 24th St. in Milwaukee. "Somebody has to care, that’s how I see it," says Mayhorn, about the problems caused by the empty homes on her block. The boarded-up house was a source of many problems, including shootings. (Credit: Kristyna Wentz-Graff) The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: A building block for urban renewal

Across N. 24th Street by donkeytale

Recently, we have had a few interesting debates about the need for progressives to do something, questions about what it is we can and should do, and how we should go about taking action.

Activism is the life blood of leftism.

Yes, talking and educating, debating and learning, these are also necessary elements in the class struggle.

But the whiteysphere seems stuck in this mode, addicted to 'information sharing' as the end all be all. I'm doing my part, so the rationale goes.

Uhhh, no.

Meanwhile, the question of 'what to do?' has already been answered by the people who are doing.

What is required are more 'leftists' to get out from behind the safety of our anonymous keyboards and do.

Currently, I'm in Wisconsin visiting my elderly father, and perused this interesting article about the struggles of the poor in a blighted Milwaukee neighborhood and their attempts, aided by community activists, to improve their neighborhood and their lot in life.

The 2900 block of N. 24th St. provides a case study of how hard times and the foreclosure crisis hit the city at street level. The block also gives a look at the hands-on work that's under way to reclaim it one house at a time.

We, of the whiteysphere, are fortunate. Luck of birth has placed us in a zone of relative creature comfort, within a society that rewards us for the colour of our skin.

We are the ones who should connect with those fighting the most elemental struggles by assisting them in ways which are not heavy-handed and intrusive but empowering.

If we wish to honestly call ourselves "leftists."

The Catholic Church, that reviled home of pedophilic priests and gluttonous cardinals, is also an activist organization.

Is there a similar organization on the atheistic left?

Atheism, like blogging, tends to be a demobilising force.

On the morning of the first Saturday of the month, neighbors gather at the Dominican Center, 2470 W. Locust St. Poor weather, holiday weekends - they still come....

The center became a driving force for revitalization under its recently retired co-founder and director, Sister Ann Halloran, a Sinsinawa Dominican nun. Working with various local, state and federal agencies, the center has marshaled an array of resources to assist residents with everything from education to credit counseling, weatherization, lead abatement, safety, foreclosure issues and home repairs.

The city has designated part of the Amani area as a targeted investment neighborhood area to make loans and grants to homeowners for repairs.

The Dominican Center and the N. 24th St. effort attracted the attention of the city officials, who picked the block as a pilot project on how to tackle the foreclosure crisis and breathe new life into struggling streets.

Blogging about problems in the abstract, cutting and pasting, like I am doing here, is bloodless and easy. It costs nothing but a few minutes time.

Taking action against the problems facing less fortunate people in real life, battling the system we revile, takes a whole lot more courage and stamina. Discouragement is rampant. It takes that first step away from the computer, discomforting ourselves a bit to join a gathering of strangers sharing a common purpose. It may mean joining a church group, even, for church groups are often centered on providing assistance to the less fortunate. Imagine that.

Not taking the step is to perpetuate and worsen the status quo of poverty, injustice and despair, no matter how artfully we blog rage.

1 comment:

socrates said...

You nailed it. You definitely deserve consideration for blogger of the month. While others rage, these people are actually working hard to better their community.

Every time I read some blogger describing their milieu as a community, I throw up a little bit in my mouth. Bloggers are deluded.

It's like you put it. They think writing on the net is doing their part. I'm not saying I do much in real life either. I used to think the internet had great potential to be a vehicle for positive, social change. Now I am simply the Mad Max of the cyber highway. It means nothing.

Good luck to those people doing real activism in Milwaukee.