Some Reminders: No LNG in PVD, Interdependence Day, Providence Community Safety Act

If you live in Providence, there’s so much you can do this week to take care of yourself and your neighbors, and bring the world we want out of the one we have.

You can come out to the corner of Eddy St and Thurbers Ave at 4pm TODAY (Wednesday, 7/13) to demonstrate peacefully against the proposed liquid natural gas facility in South Providence–get details and RSVP here. Bringing extra water would be a kindness!

You can come to our third Interdependence Day gathering TOMORROW (Thursday, 7/14) to meet and talk with neighbors, share stories and food, make something together, and exchange needs and skills. We will probably be doing some mourning/grief work tomorrow, too.

You can, starting now, write to your councilperson (names by ward, map of wards) urging them to support the Providence Community Safety Act.

There are probably lots of other things you can do, that you may know about where I don’t. If you know of one that other people can do too, let me know and if I can share it, I will.

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A Good Time to Support the Providence Community Safety Act

Today is an excellent day to write to your city council urging community oversight of police conduct, and to research and support any initiatives in your city whose goal is to reduce police violence.

In Providence, we have such an initiative: the Providence Community Safety Act. Below the asterisk is the letter I wrote to my councilperson today urging him to support it; please feel free to borrow this text and adapt it as needed to write to yours.

If you aren’t in Providence, but are in the U.S., you can still use this letter to support a local initiative or act; if your city doesn’t have one, consider urging your councilperson to sponsor one.

For Providence residents, here is a list of councilpeople by ward, with email addresses; here is a map of the wards, so if you don’t know yours you can look for your street. This is a way to let your city government know that black lives matter to you, their constituent, who votes them in or out of office.

*

Dear [Councilmember]:

This week, two police officers in Baton Rouge, LA and Minneapolis, MN shot and killed two black men who had committed no crime. This is an important moment to insist on accountability and oversight for police in American cities: without it, Providence could be the next city in the news for police violence.

As a resident of your ward, I urge you once again to support community oversight of the Providence Police Department via the Providence Community Safety Act. Police officers doing their job fairly and responsibly will not be constrained by it, and it has the potential to prevent the pointless, tragic, wrongful injury and death of Providence residents–including your constituents–such as we have seen in other cities.

Please do your best for our community by supporting the Providence Community Safety Act.

Sincerely,

[Your name and address]

 

Alternate Histories: 5/29, 6/13, 9/28

5/29/15

[After asking his nana for permission to talk to me]

I’m worried that I’ll never get to see my dad and he misses me and I miss him. And I miss nature, I miss everything.

Your nana’s over there, you don’t miss her, right?

No, she’s right over there, and my mom, and my auntie, except for my dad.

Are you guys in touch? [Shakes head.] Do you like to draw?

Yeah.

Maybe you could do some drawings and save them for him, I bet he’d like that.

I like to draw Minecraft. I make a comic book and I turn it into a comic book and all I do is make Minecraft, that’s all. Can I have a piece of paper? [I give him a piece of paper and he folds it.] Do you have a scissor or can you rip it? [He draws a line to show me where to rip, and unfolds a one-sheet booklet. He then goes and lugs his little cousin over to meet me and they draw together for a while on the backs of some of the alternate-history blanks, except he’s having a competition for how much paper he can cover and she’s not. I give him a marker, a clipboard, and the rest of the alternate-history blanks to take with him.]

*

6/13/15

I worked at Apeiron, I worked in Woonsocket. Life is so totally out of balance, so disconnected. We’re all implicated. It makes me so unutterably sad.

What do you do when you feel that sadness?

I try to put parts of my body on the grass and connect with Mother Earth … A lot will survive, but I think it might not be us. I try to breathe. I think about the bad things I do and how they contribute … I believe that everybody cares, given the opportunity to care.

I’ve been trying to think about what sadness might make possible.

Sadness leads to the desire for connection. Sadness informs reaching out. But I don’t share sadness often, because I want to make opportunities for people to perform their own responses, to facilitate a journey to authentic response.

*

9/27/15

When you see a sad eight-year-old, you may feel an impulse to reach out to him, to enfold him. If W could see T, small and matter-of-fact, willing to talk to a stranger provided he had permission from his family, her attention and her yearning might condense around him until he became the world. But W can’t provide what T, according to him, needs: she can’t bring his dad back to him. What she can offer he might not need–he has a mother, a nana, an auntie, cousins. And a sadness that seems as big as the world isn’t the same as the world–healing one is no substitute for healing the other, though it might feel like it.

W would like to see T live to grow up, and she adds, in her small ways, to the things that may make that more likely. She doesn’t just work with Apeiron’s programs in schools, she’s helped to insist on safe school sites; she stands with efforts to hold police accountable and develop community justice alternatives. She protests fare hikes and cuts to library services. Her fear is for T, and everyone his age, and for herself, and everyone her age, and for the grass–the whole, old world.

And what does T want? He misses his dad–he wants to know that he’ll see him someday, in a day that hasn’t come yet. He misses nature–maybe he’d like to lie on the grass, too, or smell a different set of smells. But he’s not going to get in a stranger’s car and drive out to a meadow or the woods. And he might not get to see his dad again.

So in this story, what W and T need, and thus what they have, is a place to be wholly lonely even in the midst of love, to touch the face of their helplessness. A time of day, a signal to send to a satellite that sends back to everyone who calls to it all the voices together, amplified and textured into a deep note. It’s not comforting, but it’s solid. T’s auntie lets him use her phone to call out and to listen back.  And this –combined with the meeting of their bodily needs, combined with the equalizing of their relative safety–lets them rest a little, lets them work, lets them enjoy, lets them change what they do.

The Providence Community Safety Act

Providence community groups and leaders have drawn up a plan for an alternate history for the police and the public, and if you live in Providence, you can encourage your councilperson to support it.

Read about the Providence Community Safety Act (Spanish at the top, scroll down for English).

If you live in Providence, please write to your city council member and ask them to support and pass the Providence Community Safety Act. If you don’t know who they are, there’s a list by ward here, including email addresses to use.

The “Who’s my councilperson?” button doesn’t seem to be working, but you can zoom in and look for your street on this map to find your ward.

I wrote to my councilperson yesterday and if you would like to use the letter I wrote as a template, please write to me at my gmail address, publiclycomplex.