SWARVING IN NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

SWARVING IN NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR

Some visitors tasted our Newfoundland Screech
Tipped up the bottle drank 6 ounces each
And they let out a yell as they ran for our beach
Thank God we’re surrounded by water.

The sea, oh the sea, the wonderful sea
Long may she roll between nations and me.
So everyone here should get down on one knee
And thank God we’re surrounded by water!

Check out YouTube link above

Lynne & I finally did our first Road Scholar trip this August. As usual, we chose to head north to avoid Chicago’s heat. We have enjoyed other Canadian visits to Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick. This time we went even further north and east to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.NF Battle Harbour Sunset

Our Road Scholar guide and host, Tony Oxford, made our journey through this beautiful land even more outstanding. NF Tony OxfordSharing his personal life experiences furthered our learning about the local culture. His great music fostered quick cohesion among our group of 22 from around the US.

I sort of knew that Newfoundland was an island but appreciated its history of fishing and whaling even more as we all joined in thanking God we were surrounded by water. We had discovered Screech rum decades ago when visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. So we made sure to find it one morning at the local market before our bus moved on.

There were several “mauzy mornings.” Translation: cloudy and foggy. Tony would introduce a new word or Newfoundland saying each morning. The first “Whadda y’at?” translates as “What are you up to?” The appropriate response: “This is It!” I’m talking to you. Not sure if I got “swarving” right; maybe we were only swerving when we were on our own.

The highlights of our 10 days were numerous. My top 6 were:

1. Watching four whales feeding along the coast of St. Anthony’s

NF Whale 3

Photo Courtesy of Allan March

2. Red Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site on the history of Basque whaling industry in the 1500s.
3. Battle Harbour National Historic Site, the center of Labrador fishing for centuries.NF Battle Harbour
4. Western Brook Pond Fjord at the northernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains.NF Western Brook Fjord
5. L’Anse-aux-Meadows National Historic Site where Leif Erickson first encamped.
6. Point Amour Lighthouse, tallest in Atlantic Canada.NF Point Amour Lighthouse

 

Another Newfoundland phrase we quickly embraced describes our visits perfectly as “Best Kind.”

Thanks to Tony, we and our new Road Scholar friends learned to sing with gusto another classic in Newfoundland culture:

I’ve done a lot of living and I’ve found
No matter where you go the whole world ’round
They always go together hand in hand
Where there’s one there’ll be the other, music and friends

If we take the time to make them
Nothing else can take the place
Of music and friends
Nothing makes the whole world right
Like music and friends

Check out YouTube link above

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ACHIEVING THE HOLY TRIFECTA

ACHIEVING THE HOLY TRIFECTA

And I am not alone while my love is near me
I know it will be so until it’s time to go

July 21, 1979Yes, we discovered soon after we first met in 1975 that we both enjoyed folk music. I may not have known that Judy Collins cover of “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” was written in 1969 by Sandy Denny. Merging our LP collections, Lynne and I would wed on July 21, 1979. So I have not been alone ever since we met.

We planned our celebration with family around the Holy Trifecta of mass at Old St. Patrick’s, then baseball’s cathedral of Wrigley Field, and followed with Sunday dinner at Chief O’Neill’s Pub.40th OSP

We’ve been OSP parishioners for over 25 years since our son, TJ, started school there. Lynne has been a choir member for over 20 years. My great Irish aunt made her first communion there in the early 1900s as did TJ at the close of the century. So it is a holy place for us.

We’ve been Cubs season ticket holders since 1985, before TJ was even born. So yes, he was raised a Cubs Fan at Wrigley Field. So it was a special moment to be invited on the field and now the big 40th Wrigleyvideo screen as the Season Ticket Holder of the Game. How was the game? Like so many others we’ve seen; the Cubs lost. But the confines were friendly and it was a beautiful day for a ball game.

Completing the Holy Trifecta of our 40th Wedding Anniversary was celebrating with Irish pints and food along with my family, some of Lynne’s siblings, and our new extended family thanks to our daughter-in-law Maureen, whose parents celebrated their 50th Wedding anniversary earlier this summer. Lots of love present in the pub that night. Look forward to more in the years ahead.

40th Chief

The Wysocki, Cunningham and Sanchez families

For who knows how my love grows?
And who knows where the time goes?

PLUNDERED THEN & NOW

PLUNDERED THEN & NOW

“It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy respects no such borders. And the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs: coup d’états and convict leasing, vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist G.I. bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.” Ta-Nehisi Coates before US Congress, June 19, 2019

I had already decided to use “Plundered” for the title of this blog. But Ta-Nehisi placed it in an even broader context in his historic Juneteenth testimony on the necessity for our nation to discuss what steps should be taken toward restorative justice for Black communities, including the topic of reparations.

I had already been inspired by the May 30, 2019 Chicago Sun-Times story by Carlos Ballesteros: ‘Plunder of black wealth’:  Predatory housing contracts gouged Chicago’s black homeowners, new report says.

The report — “The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago: New Findings on the Lasting Toll of Predatory Housing Contracts — was produced by a dozen researchers from Duke, Loyola University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago and published by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

It is the first study to put a dollar amount on how much wealth was extracted from Chicago’s black community in the 1950s and 60s through home sale contracts. “The total amount expropriated from Chicago’s black community due to land sales contracts,” the report concludes, is anywhere “between $3.2 billion and $4 billion.”

Family Properties CoverI have blogged before about the predatory rip-off of “contract sales.” I noted Beryl Satter’s book “Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America” about the work of her father Mark Satter, an activist attorney seeking justice. I commented in December 2014 that in these current turbulent times “it merits remembering that justice has been sought for decades.” Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that it has been over 150 years.

Mark Whitehouse in his June 17, 2019 Bloomberg Opinion, Black Poverty Is Rooted in Real-Estate Exploitation, recaps the continued plundering in the 1970s. The federal government offered Federal Housing Administration [FHA] as an alternative loan that blacks assumed was a good product.  Instead it too was used by sleazy real estate brokers to “block bust” and sell shoddy homes to unsuspecting black buyers. Whitehouse cites the FHA scandal of the 1970s, in which indiscriminate federal lending and outright corruption enabled speculators to sell inner-city homes to blacks at inflated prices, resulting in widespread foreclosures.

cities-destroyed-for-cashThis is where the vicious cycle of plundering was when I began my organizing career in 1974. Whitehouse embeds in the word scandal above a link to Cities Destroyed for Cash: The FHA Scandal at HUD published in 1973. As a volunteer graduate student, I was inspired by Brian Boyer, who investigated and wrote this book, when he spoke to over 1,000 multi-racial community leaders from across the country gathered in a Chicago Catholic school hall.

When he was done, Gale Cincotta [a white ethnic Greek] told the extraordinarily for the time diverse crowd: “We have met the enemy and it is not us. It is our own government.” Witnessing the launch of a national movement, that would take on the American Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve Board and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, was a career motivator. Having Gale as a mentor for over a decade was worth the PhD I never got.DISCLOSURE Sept 1974

Whitehouse embeds in the word enabled a link to a 2014 blog that quotes Beryl Satter from her book:

“The scandal involved the abandonment and ruin of over 240,000 units of housing nationwide—enough to house over one million people. In Detroit alone, more than 25,000 houses had been abandoned—about 10 percent of the city’s housing stock. The cost to the U.S. government was estimated at close to $4 billion, in preinflationary, early-1970s money.”

Most recently, we had the plundering of the subprime boom of the 2000s. Whitehouse justly condemns it for steering blacks into “inappropriately expensive loans that enriched a whole ecosystem of mortgage-industry professionals, but often left borrowers with nothing but an eviction notice and a bad credit history. In the wake of the subprime bust, investors including private-equity firms have again targeted the same neighborhoods, buying up houses on the cheap and renting them back to black and other minority tenants — sometimes under contracts very similar to those of the 1960s”

This Whitehouse embedded link takes us to Old Wine in Private Equity Bottles? The Resurgence of Contract‐for‐Deed Home Sales in US Urban Neighborhoods by former colleague Dan Immergluck from my years at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO].

Whitehouse opens his column with the question that every Presidential candidate should answer:

One question is — or should be — central to any assessment of the state of America: Why, more than a century and a half after slavery ended, does the typical black family remain so much poorer than the typical white family?

My answer: They continue to be plundered. It is in all of our interests as a nation “indivisible” for it to STOP to assure “justice for all!” That’s the country I pledged my allegiance to.

TELLING STORIES & DOING GOOD

I’ve told stories before but not as well as the storytellers that shared theirs at Old St. Pat’s [OSP] last week. I’ve used this blog to tell stories about OSP. I’ve blogged about the early days of my community development career in the ‘70s capturing the “From the Roots” stories of community leaders throughout the country striving to fight injustices and improve their communities.

But there’s nothing like hearing good stories being told verbally — an ancient but perhaps the most persuasive social media. The OSP Encore storytellers recounted their journeys from one of the last person out of the path of Katrina to now leading the North Lawndale Kinship initiative here in Chicago. Another connected her Japanese-American heritage from the World War II internment camps with Trump’s Muslim ban and migrant deportations. One shared her family’s heated dinner conversations in the late ‘60s regarding Dr. King’s marches for civil rights and the next generation’s passion at holiday dinners for more recent social justice campaigns. An additional story was on planning a funeral.

Jean LongUnfortunately, our Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] community has had to memorialize two colleagues recently. Jean Long passed away in April just before the April Sojourn for ICA’s Global Archives that she was planning and so looking forward to working with her colleagues to further prepare this year’s launch of its website with nine collections of archival material from ICA’s 57-year history. The memorial dinner during the Sojourn week not only shared stories of Jean’s time in India but also her folk singing career with “The Other Singers.”

Sally (2)This past weekend, I attended the memorial service for Sally Stovall, who with her partner Dick Alton, started Green Community Connections and co-founded the successful One Earth Film Festival with screenings every March across communities in metro Chicago. Again many stories were told of Sally’s career as a climate activist and organizer. Her fellow members of the Euclid Avenue Methodist Church in Oak Park clearly mourned her sudden departure while celebrating the gifts she brought to all she encountered.

Sally’s service sent forth those attending with the “Rule of Life” attributed to John Wesley. Please indulge this Catholic-raised blogger of U2Cando, who now serves as CEO of ICA and The Ecumenical Institute, to share this core Methodist value as a call to you to “do all the good you can” and tell your stories so others can hear.

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can, In all the places you can,
At all the times you can, To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

LOOKING FORWARD TO CELEBRATING PAST

This has been a memorable month since my last blog posting. I completed four years as the CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] and extended my employment as such for another 12 months. I would have to say it is even more stressful than when I first blogged about accepting the position. So I did renew my meditation classes this month. Yet, the prognosis for success at ICA-USA remains hopeful. 

I had dinner on April 2nd with two colleagues, Helen Murray and Ed Shurna, from my first job in Community Development 45 years ago when we all worked for Gale Cincotta fighting redlining and succeeding in passing the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA].

NTIC Staff 1980 (2)

Helen [center], Ed [behind her] & Yours Truly with hat & scarf.

Little did I know then in June 1974 when I transitioned from a volunteer grad student to launch Gale’s national newsletter DISCLOSURE, I would find myself still advocating for equitable development today.

As we had dinner, I followed Twitter feeds that Chicago had overwhelmingly elected Lori Lightfoot as Chicago’s Mayor. It was 35 years ago that I left working for Gale to become CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO]. One reason, besides coming off the road for future family reasons, was to work full time in my home town with Harold Washington as Chicago’s first African-American Mayor. 

94 Ted & Harold

Little did I know then that when I first encountered ICA providing strategic planning for the City’s non-profit delegate agencies that I would find myself today promoting ICA’s Technology of Participation [ToP®] methods.

My third professional job in my community development career was at the Local Economic & Employment Development [LEED] Council, subsequently rebranded as North Branch Works. This CANDO member pioneered Planned Manufacturing Districts [PMDs] to save jobs and create employment opportunities for Chicagoans in need.

The original PMDs were dismantled by the Rahm Emanuel Administration and in his last City Council hearing on April 10th what is now branded Lincoln Yards was approved for the largest public subsidies to a developer in Chicago’s history.

Affordable housing, you ask?  Insufficient. Job connections? Currently inadequate. Time for a new sheriff?  You bet.

While there are multiple stories from the past still to be shared and cogent political points yet to be made about the future, there are also some very key personal moments to look forward to in the coming months.

My wife Lynne & I met in the summer of 1975, when she was a grad student working with Gale’s national community network. We will be celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary in July at Wrigley Field, of course. She started working there this past week in Guest Services; but will be asking for the day off to celebrate our anniversary with 17 family members.

In December, I will be celebrating my 70th birthday and hoping that Social Security remains solvent.

But the most momentous event of 2019 will be celebrating with our son TJ and our daughter-in-law Maureen, who were married after Thanksgiving last year, the birth of our Grandchild in late September! Another Cub fan in time for October playoffs! We’re all looking forward to celebrating the future generation. 

TJ & Mo W Flag (2)

Maureen & TJ fly the “W Flag” on their Wedding Day

 

 

PREVENTING DISPLACEMENT & CHAMPIONING JUSTICE

To prevent displacement, communities need responsive lenders and investors to finance community anchors that can provide a range of services for the vulnerable, expand businesses, and assure real affordable housing. It will also require reawakened politicians to embrace real community participation. That was my message in session remarks to colleagues from across the country at the 28th annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC] this month.

There is more urgency to this next chapter in the saga to preserve the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA]. Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard opened her keynote noting: “CRA is highly valued by banks and communities, and could be even more so.” Certainly that’s more astute than Alan Greenspan allowing predatory lending to destroy communities on his watch.

Yet the urgency is not only driven by pending CRA Reform proposals, it’s exacerbated by the on-going financing of non-affordable housing with the blessing of local government and taxpayers’ subsidies. One attendee in the Preventing Displacement session tweeted my rhetorical question: “How many more luxury apartments can the market bear?”

I learned new terms at this session: “serial eviction developers” and “displacement enabling lenders.” The California Reinvestment Coalition has been researching the pervasiveness of such incidents and has formulated an Ant-Displacement Code of Conduct for lenders to vow not to finance landlords who use loopholes to evict tenants, but instead to invest in affordable housing.. They are tracking the imminent invasion of New York by California’s most egregious displacement lender.

In my remarks, Crafting New Narratives for Communities Taking Charge of Change, I shared the history of Chicago’s Uptown and its challenging future. I commented on inadequate Chicago ordinances that only further racial and economic segregation. I remarked that Chicago’s history does provide justification for community skeptics to question “Planning for whom?”

As we await the election of Chicago’s first African-American woman Mayor on April 2nd, we are still confronted with a tale of two cities. There are now multiple billion dollar development projects rushing to get through Chicago’s City Council before there is a new sheriff and a new City Council that ends developers’ perceived notion that they don’t have to directly provide affordable housing. Meanwhile Uptown’s diversity is increasingly threatened by developer greed, when Uptown could and should be a national model of inclusion.

If it ignores the lens of “equitable development,” CRA Reform could accentuate CRA credit for loans to luxury and market-rate housing in economically and racially diverse communities that will only further real estate speculation, displacement and lack of affordable housing for those Americans who should benefit from CRA lending. Banks fueling displacement should be downgraded on their CRA evaluations.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] USA has called Chicago’s Uptown home since 1971.

uptown_mural_plain

Mural by Paul Noah

ICA’s anti-displacement strategy is to sustain spaces for the vulnerable population of Uptown. Our Chicago Landmarked building, which we now brand as ICA’s GreenRise, is a community anchor that provides affordable space for two intentional residential communities and 25 social service agencies which serve over 1,000 low income and homeless persons per week. An ICA colleague captured ICA’s community vision in mural art: “Uptown: Where Diversity Brings Success.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the key moment at this year’s NCRC conference when the Senator William Proxmire Lifetime Achievement Award [first established by NCRC in 2006 in honor of the US Senator who authored the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977] was presented to civil rights leader Stella Adams. A longtime member of NCRC’s board of directors and the organization’s Chief of Equity and Inclusion from 2016 to 2018, she was honored for her leadership and advocacy for fair lending practices and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act across the country.

John Taylor, President and Founder of NCRC, lauded Stella as “a true soldier in the complete sense – somebody who is willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to get the truth and to confront power and to get at change – social and economic and civil change – that creates a better society.”

Stella Award 3-11-2019

NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol, NCRC Board Chair Bob Dickerson, Stella Adams, and NCRC President and Founder John Taylor award Adams the NCRC Senator William Proxmire Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Just Economy Conference on March 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C.              Photo by Maria Bryk Creative for NCRC.

In accepting the award, Stella implored:

“Every day we fight against injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, all the isms, and we lose sight of what we are fighting for. We are so busy fighting to preserve and protect past gains, and let’s be clear, all our gains are at risk, that we fail to plan for this future where we live out the American dream. That is what we are striving for. I need you to fight for your future. Fight for equity.”

Stella, thanks for your service and your inspiration. You are a true Champion & Warrior for Justice.