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Life Together: The Diomass Intern Program

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morning Prayer on the MBTA

Submitted by S. Angell on Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Every morning greets me with one inevitability: commuting to work. I have decided to devote this time as a time of prayer. the transformational nature of a commute seems to be the perfect place to prepare myself to a day of striving for Justice. As I board the 47 bus at Lenox in Brookline I am surrounded by the “those who haves” just on south side of the BU bridge. When I depart the bus at Washington Street opposite Ruggles it feels like I am in a different world. From the well manicured lawns of Brookline to the Abandoned lots and discount stores of Dudley Square, it is hard to believe that these two places are just 2.1 miles away from each other.

The Bus ride provides me with 30 minutes of time where i have no immediate task. A perfect opportunity for prayer and people watching. As i leave the house in the morning I play on my ipod “A Prayer of Desmond Tutu.”

Goodness is stronger than evil

Love is stronger than hate

Light is stronger than darkness

Life is stronger than death

Victory is OURS through him who loves us

This has become my centering prayer throughout the day. It reminds me that we can win this fight and bring the kingdom of God through those stronger ideas. We live in a world that is dominated by the ideas of hate, darkness, and death. The duty of the church is to love, show light, and value life, in all forms. As i see the population change from the med students and doctors when I get on the bus to a dramatically different population as I disembark, I let that time be a time of reflection on the work I am about to do to further the cause of Justice in the world.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Closing Thoughts on Arizona, Jesus, Democracy

Submitted by Caroline Hunter on Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In Massachusetts, it’s always been clear to me: Jesus was a Democrat. He often used flowery language and parables instead of giving direct answers. He was a neighborhood guy, but didn’t make promises about bringing about new prosperity. He rarely, if ever, had sex and constantly pointed out people’s hypocrisy. He was an Irish Catholic Democrat, to be sure.

For the past week, I’ve been in Arizona registering voters in preparation for the first big election since the state’s infamous
SB1070 legislation was written. What a wildly, wonderfully different place!

Arizona is one-third Democratic, one-third Republican and the last third is Independent. After speaking to hundreds of people every day here for over a week, I’ve come to see that politics can be more than the cartoon I've come to see it as. Newt Gingrich isn’t just the guy with a squinty face spewing ignorant values into the public sphere; neither is Barack Obama the captain of a ship headed toward financial stability and national dignity. I am not an audience for either of them.

I am a person out in 100-plus degree weather working to get people to care about a political system of which I can't grasp a definition yet. Alongside my team of
PromiseArizona colleagues, I am trying to figure out if I’m a narcissistic do-gooder with a political agenda that I refuse to expose even to myself; or if I am more akin to Glenn Beck, a man so sincere in bereaved, irate confusion that he spreads it to the otherwise-logical. From within the Catholic and academic hierarchies I've grown up in in Massachusetts, his apparent intellectual humility can be a relief; Glenn claims to not even know what he's going to say before he says it.

No, I don’t want to be an
American Idiot, but I’m not sure anymore what defines one. Or if I want to participate in an American politics that can’t function without someone being pinned as one type of donkey or another.

I feel closer to Jesus this week because I’ve been getting a tan and getting my feet dirty on the ground here in Arizona. I feel more American in that I’m finding ways to reinvent myself in an environment different from what I have known.

Maybe those feelings are the same one. Maybe not. I only care about the people I’ll meet tomorrow, and with whom I’ll vote on November 2.

News from MIT: The Challenge We Face

Submitted by Mary Beth Mills-Curran, Friday, October 1, 2010.

One of the largest challenges we face, at the MIT, site is trying to create sustainable, collective action, rather than just short-term service. This challenge also offers a large potential pay-off. We have struggled to figure out how we can engage the 70 people that committed to us last year in real collective action. It would probably have been easier for us to just plug into an existing organization, but none of them really had the collective community perspective that we wanted to develop. In addition, if all of the people who committed 1% of their time to Hope in Action were to turn out, we would overwhelm any single community partner.

Why Area IV?

Area IV is the neighbourhood that lies between MIT and Central Square. It is not only MIT’s immediate neighbour, but it also is possibly the most underserved community in Cambridge. It is home to a vibrant immigrant population, mostly from the Caribbean, but also from Côte d’Ivoire.

Our Strategy

As I see it, our work has two main components, which may be served by the same activities, but have different goals. The first is to honour the commitments we made last year. The second is the use

Last year’s time commitments

In order to give the people who commitments of time last year, we want to provide a number of “plug-in” service opportunities. This will probably consist primarily of encouraging them to become regular volunteers at non-profit organizations at work in Area IV. The main drawback of this is that we feel that it does not adequately satisfy our desire to engage in collective action. It is, however, probably the best thing we can do at this stage in our development.

Making our work collective

In order to make our work more genuinely an expression of collective action, we want to add several types of community building events.

  1. Occasional large group service events possibly incorporating an environmental perspective.
  2. Social Events--among MIT members of Hope in Action, and with both MIT and Area IV residents
  3. Lectures, forums, films, or other more reflective/awareness-raising types of events

Moving forward to real collective action

The main work of this year’s campaign will be to figure out how we can take these relationships that we have built and transform them into collective action. In that vein, it seems like it will make sense to try to have a few members of the leadership team engaged in listening in the Area IV community. We spent last year listening at MIT, but now we need to listen in the community that we wish to serve. So for a while I guess we will just be showing up at events in Area IV and meeting people.