November 2018 Newsletter

Thanks to OPC advocate Steve Borgard who found out Family Social Services needed to find a new home for this amazing mural that tells the story of West Oakland’s Seventh Street. Not only did he ask for it, he rented a van to pick it up and bring it over! We can’t wait to figure out where to display this amazing piece of our heritage.

In this Issue

  • from Sandhya
  • INSIDER|OUTSIDER Gallery Recap
  • Upcoming Events
  • Partner News
  • Community News
  • Read Marvin K. White’s latest blog
  • Thanks FCCO!

 

NOTE: This reflection went out via social media from the OPC in the days following the horrific hate crimes in Pittsburgh and Louisville last week. We wanted to also share it with you today.

Some activists in Oakland were concerned that the Women’s March in 2017 would not represent the diverse struggles of all female-identifying people across class and race and immigration background and cis/trans experiences of discrimination. I went to the Oakland march, with a handmade sign that said “I stand here because Sandra Bland can’t.”

What made the event meaningful to me was definitely the diversity of that gathering and of the speakers (whom I didn’t get to hear because there was such amazing turnout that most of us couldn’t fit into the main square at city hall). But even moreso was how the event started for me:

On January 21, 2017, members of Kehilla Synagogue, Montclair Presbyterian Church and the Islamic Cultural Center in downtown Oakland co-hosted a worship service at the beginning of the march at Lake Merritt BART station. The three faith groups had been in relationship for years, and Kehilla chose for their primary worship to begin there and close in front of City Hall because as Rabbi Emeritus David Cooper said, “Today, in the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, we pray with our feet.”

I don’t know any of us whose hearts aren’t aching at the horrific violence at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, especially knowing it follows four days after the Kroger shooting in Louisville, KY, a shooting that happened when the shooter was not able to enter the predominantly Black First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown to wreak his violence there. This is not the world we want for us or for our children. It is horrifying.

What I saw modeled at the Women’s March almost two years ago gives us a template for how to move forward right now. We need to stand for love. We need to do it in specific and concrete ways right now. Stand against anti-Judaism/anti-Semitism. Stand against anti-Blackness. Stand against islamophobia. Stand against xenophobia. Stand against transphobia. Stand for inclusion. Stand for love for EVERYONE.

Love does not need to be a mushy and abstract response to these concrete horrors. In fact, we cannot afford for it to be. Now is a moment to reach out to people of color-led and trans-led and Muslim-led and Jewish-led campaigns and nonprofits and movements (like Bend the Arc, Muslim Public Affairs Council, TGI Justice Project, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Black Alliance for Just Immigration). Now is a moment, if you belong to a faith community, to reach out to the nearby faith communities of different faiths than you so you can form safety plans to protect each other and show up for each other in the event of violence or threats. It is also the chance for you to begin showing up with and for each other before any such violence occurs.

The Oakland Peace Center partners have a series of listening sessions scheduled to vision with each other how to improve the building. I’m about to change that agenda so we can also talk about how we work together to build a culture of love in the face of fascism and hate. That is core to our work always, but right now, we need to get really specific about how we show up for each other and how we show up for you. I invite you to do the same, for the sake of building a world where love and peace and justice have the final say.

peace,
Sandhya


Solidarity with Trans and Gender-Variant People

It is not enough for us to say we love and support our trans family. Rather, we say that we stand with and will fight with and alongside our transgender siblings for basic human rights they are entitled to as well. There can be no peace when peoples’ basic humanity is being denied–erased–by individuals, by communities, or by our government. And as people deeply committed to a peace born of justice, we commit to internal, interpersonal, and political work to guarantee the dignity and human rights of our transgender family. That is what peace work looks like.


Friday | 6:30p–8:30p | Only two The Sanctified Mics left!

Four Women Reading

On November 2, join us for a special edition of The Sanctified Mic: Four Women Reading—a radical poetry and writing series dedicated to expanding the Sacred approaches to Nina Simone, through the offering of story and song. This Friday we featuring Karla BrundageNefertiti AsantiRegina Davis, and Gloria Yamato.

Karla Brundage is a Bay Area poet, activist and educator with a passion for social justice. Nefertiti Asanti is a writer, cultural worker & occasional performance poet from the Bronx, NY. Regina Davis is a community advocate, passionate poet, published writer, and charismatic public speaker. Gloria Yamato is currently present with each breath and in every moment.

RSVP for the event and read their complete bios here.


Monday, November 5 | The Chapel at OPC

In the Wake of the Quiet Hours

We sit with the dead. There are things we hear. Things unsaid. There is instruction. Every passing is a reintroduction to death. This time we shake it’s hand, hear it’s story, learn from it. This time we hold space for one another in time and space. We grievesome.

Join Us. Be Family. Sit. Wake. Visit.

Paying homage to black funerary practices, artist and professor Angela Hennessy and The Oakland Peace Center’s Marvin K. White, host free community grieving and performance rituals.

RSVP and more information here.


Saturday, November 17 | Port Bar, Oakland

OPC Karaoke Night

Start (or continue) rehearsing your favorite songs of liberation and freedom and come belt ’em out as we raise money for the work of justice and peace here in Oakland. All proceeds from the cover charge and special drinks go to the OPC!

RSVP here.


Tuesday, November 27 | OPC

Giving-Back Tuesday

2018 has been an intense and sometimes traumatic year. A lot of our rights are in jeopardy. A lot of us face violence or threats of violence.

And yet…from the view from 111 Fairmount here in the heart of Oakland, we are witness to another way this world can be. We see it on a daily basis–expressions of peace born of such remarkable resilience. We see it every single day in the work of our 35+ Oakland-rooted partners. We see it in the tenacity of the people of Oakland showing up for each other time and time again. And we see it in acts of peace-making big and small.

Oaklanders are survivors. We are innovators. We are fighters for equity and justice. And we are peace-makers.

So in the face of the violence and hate in the world right now, we want to celebrate the gifts of peace abundantly offered to the Oakland and Bay Area communities. On Tuesday, November 27 (sometimes called “Giving Tuesday”) we want to give back to you…so we’re throwing you a party. We’ll have tasty snacks, beverages, entertainment, and a chance to interact with the amazing partners of the Oakland Peace Center. Plus we want to get to hang out with you! We want to build the connections with each other that are the bedrock of peace right here at home.

If you’re looking for a way to contribute to love, peace and justice when we are surrounded by their opposites, this is a great chance to connect with really concrete ways to contribute to be part of the solution.

We hope you will plan now to join us on “Giving Tuesday” for this celebration of all the peace-making work that you yourself are a part of.

Watch our Facebook event page for more details!


 

Gallery Exhibit Illustrates Creation,
Imagination, Self-Expression as Peace Work

In what is becoming known as “Moving at The Speed of Art,” the OPC’s Artivist-In-Residence program, created, launched and ran an art gallery for an entire month. Commissioned, “The Shelton Hall Gallery at The Oakland Peace Center,” the first show exhibited over 30 pieces of artwork by 20 artists. The artwork was from the collection of OPC partner East Point Peace Academy (EPPA). The original art was created by currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.

“The Shelton Hall Gallery at The Oakland Peace Center” in its inaugural run, created an opportunity for the OPC to be a destination for art, in addition to a destination for client-based services and trainings. With daytime gallery hours and open doors, the community was invited inside the OPC in new ways. And they came—in trickles from the “Next Door” advertisement, and in droves from the opening night reception to a class visit from Pacific School of Religion. For most of the gallery visitors, it was their first time in the OPC and for OPC in-house partners, they saw the building in a new creative light. These were huge parts of the gallery’s success.

There was great alignment with the OPC’s values of access, equity, and dignity during the run of the exhibit. At the opening, and later during the run of the show, members of “Beyond This Prison” performed personal stories about incarceration, restoration, and humanity. We also had a formerly incarcerated artist reach out to us asking to be in the show. We found the space to include them and even collaborated and hosted a pop-up art sale with the artist and his artist friends. Investment in creation is peace work. Investment in imagination is peace work. Investment in self-expression is peace work.

The gallery is a strategy of resilience in the hands of people impacted by the prison industrial complex. Artmaking becomes a way to propose a self-, family-, and community-portrait, that depicts a world that is boundless in the face of systems that are built to wall, cage, and diminish humanity.

Look for “The Shelton Hall Gallery at The Oakland Peace Center” to offer another exhibit soon.

Visit the complete listing of OPC partners here.


Reading by Frederick Marx

Frederick Marx, producer of Hoop Dreams, reads from his new book At Death Do Us Part: A Grieving Widower Heals After Losing his Wife to Breast Cancer: A Memoir at the International Peace and Art Center, November 2 from 6:30p–8:30p. Trailers from Hoop Dreams and Rites of Passage will be shown. Refreshments will be served.

More information at www.internationalpeaceandartcenter.com.


Book of Poetry Benefits Pen-Pal Campaign

LaDasha ‘Diamond’ Berry of OPC partner New Beginnings Sister Circle is one of the authors of An Intimate Conversation with America’s Forgotten Souls: Pen Pals Speak Out Vol 1. This book is an anthology of poetry, manifestos and other creative writings produced by prisoners, ex offenders, activists and those who love and support them. It is an intimate look inside the heart’s and minds of America’s forgotten community members.

LaDasha is the co facilitator of the New Beginnings sister circle and Founder of Artists 4 Social Change. As an Artist and Activist LaDasha works with various non-profit organizations including United Roots and the Urban Peace movement in order to inspire uplift and empower marginalized and disenfranchised community members by infusing Arts with Social Justice. To support the Artists 4 Social Change: Pen Pal Campaign you can purchase a poetry book online here or send a donation via paypal with subject: pen pal fundraiser to smoothwriter1@gmail.com.


Thanksgiving Day | First Christian Church of Oakland

FCC Oakland invites the community to their joint Thanksgiving worship service. More information will be available on their website.


OneLife Institute Searches for Next Executive Director

OneLife Institute is excited to announce the opening of our search for a new Executive Director!! You will get to use your experience as a spiritual practitioner, a seasoned activist, fundraiser, and strategist to help take OneLife to the next level. We are looking for a person who can nurture, inspire, and sustain a people of a color-centered community committed to healing, justice, and action. Come join our team. Learn more: onelifeinstitute.org/job.


February 8–9, 2019 | Oakland

Dynamic Mindfulness Training

Dynamic Mindfulness has been field-tested with thousands of educators, mental health professionals and others and has been shown to positively impact hundreds of thousands of students. It is one of four mindfulness programs from around the world that meets the stringent research criteria for evidence-based practice set by the national Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

In this two-day* immersive training by OPC partner Niroga Institute, you will have the opportunity to experience Niroga’s Transformative Life Skills Curriculum – our scientifically validated, 440-page curriculum comprised of 48 scripted 15-minute Dynamic Mindfulness lessons that can be facilitated in diverse settings, with individuals or groups. Learn how to introduce dynamic mindfulness as a tool that will increase self-awareness, improve emotional regulation, promote healthy relationships and boost stress resilience.

For more information, click here.


Community News & Events

November 3

Words of Wisdom:
Candid conversations with adult adoptees of color

Join Pact—an Emeryville-based non-profit organization whose mission is to serve adopted children of color–for their 3rd annual conference for adoptive parents of color and their families. Workshops and discussions will focus on supporting adopted children of color throughout their journey.  This year’s keynote will be a panel of adult adoptees who were raised in families headed by a person of color. The panel will focus on lessons and advice growing up in families built by adoption. The panel will be followed by workshops and discussions.

Adoptive parents, foster parents, and waiting adoptive parents of color are all welcome! The event will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal School, 116 Montecito Ave, Oakland, from 9:30a –4p.

Online registration is closed but you can register onsite. For more information, click here.


November 7 | 630p–8:30p

Investing in Sanctuary:
Freedom to Stay, Freedom to Move, Freedom to Return

East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition

In a post-9/11 world, more than 70 border walls have been erected across the globe. The rights of migration, mobility, and movement are under attack and we must defend the freedom to stay, freedom to move, and freedom to return. Come learn about border walls, those who are profiting from them, and celebrate international resistance taking place around the world to defend human dignity and resistance to walls in their many forms. The event will include speakers live music and photo exhibitions.

Speakers include Nellie Jo David who organizes for indigenous human rights and autonomy on the imposed U.S./Mexico borderlands intersecting the Tohono O’odham Nation and Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), a grassroots organization working to address economic, social, and political impacts of anti-Arab racism by organizing Arab and Muslim communities around principles of justice and self-determination for all. Rev. Deborah Lee, Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, will be the moderator. More information here.


Thank you from She Blossoms

She Blossoms would like to thank the Oakland community for the kindness and support given to us during our Socktober campaign for the homeless.  What makes us unique as a program is our quarterly initiatives. Each quarter we dedicate our attention to a particular issue area and strategize a way to provide resources and solutions. In August, She Blossoms campaigned for feminine hygiene products for those experiencing homelessness, and those in need. The Oakland community responded with tremendous generosity and support. Over 5,000 products were donated and given to women in homeless encampments, shelters, and schools. This quarter our focus was on homelessness and economic inequality.  Oakland is growing increasing unfamiliar, egregiously overpriced, and the homeless crisis continues to inflate. We are dedicated to advocating for the issues that we care about. Our long-term goal is to create opportunities for young women and girls through financial literacy. Our vision is a world where girls from improvised environments have access to quality education, and women have equal economic opportunities. Special thanks to the Oakland Peace Center, Oakland Police Department, Piedmont Systems, and Oaklandish for hosting socktober for us. If you are interested in knowing more about our program and or would like to support our efforts, get in touch with us at sheblossomsbayarea@gmail.com

In kindness, Erika Stacey, program director.

For the last three months, artist and professor Angela Hennessy and OPC’s Artivist-in-Residence Marvin K. White have curated a monthly series, In the Wake of the Quiet Hours, that pays homage to Black funerary practices. The event offers a “Quiet Hour” (Silent Meditation Centering Blackness, Deaths, Passages, Losses, Departures and Joy), a “Wake”( Community Conversation and Naming of Individuals Mournings), and “Visitation”(through creative exercise and ritual, we created access to lessons of resilience and survival through our ancestors that we bring into the room with us, both named and claimed.)

Marvin writes about his experience of this sacred practice held in The Chapel here on the OPC campus. The following is an excerpt:

A black boy is not a broken bottle.

A black boy is not a unlucky cat.

A black boy is not a bus stop.

A black boy is not an ant colony.

In the midst of displacement and gentrification, historically black funeral homes rarely close. In fact, large funeral conglomerates are buying up historically black-owned funeral homes. Black people have always sat with the dead, have always meditated on death as we mourned the loss of loved ones and community folk. And now it’s a get-rich-quick scheme.

Read the post in its entirety here.

OPC’s Annual Report Released

We’re really proud of
what’s been happening
in these walls and across
the Bay during the
OPC’s last fiscal year.

Check it out here!

 

Teamwork Makes the
Dream Work

We are super-grateful to FCCO Trustee Ernie Fields and FCCO Moderator Dorian Lee Watson for the pressure washing in the breezeway outside the Chapel. Now the many peace-creators who meet there for drumming and meditation and worship and reflecting on Adrienne Marie Brown’s Emergent Strategy have a slightly more beautiful path to peace.


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