Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Desmond Tutu, U2, in 360-"Where the Streets Have No Name"

Amsterdam Performance, July 2009, on YouTube
Thanks to MoniekDH & PeterDutchie2012
Great introduction by Desmond Tutu, followed by U2 performance of "Where the Streets Have No Name"

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Filmmaker features Albuquerque in piece about poverty

Michael Woodruff, a film student at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), explores the causes of poverty by interviewing random people around Albuquerque.  His piece is entitled Poverty in America: Why are they Poor?

This film is relevant because the plight of the working poor in our country is going to be the subect of our 2010 Offering of Letters.

Michael tells us how he came to make this film in  2008,
While in Dr. Virginia Hamptons class one day, we talked about what makes people poor. There were many factors discussed and as you can see in my film these were what I thought were key. Anyway, for our end of semester project I decided to do a short documentary. It took me one month to shoot and two weeks to edit. I filmed a total of four hours.
This is a great documentary.  Take a look...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Must See TV on Channel 13?

The CBS Religion Unit sent a film crew behind the scenes at Bread for the World’s Lobby Day in June of this year to experience faith-based advocacy in action. The producer interviewed several Bread members and staff and followed two participants on their congressional office visits.  The interviews were incorporated into a documentary entitled  Religion, Politics, and Advocacy.

CBS will release the documentary on Sunday, Sept. 27, and local affiliates have the option to air the program at their discretion during the next four weeks.  

At this point, we're not sure if Channel 13  in Albuquerque and Channel 4 in El Paso will decide to air this program.  That's why we're asking you to call and ask them to do so.  You an either send an e-mail to Channel 13 by  clicking this link or call the programming department (505) 764-5248

In Las Cruces & southern New Mexico, send an e-mail to KDBC (El Paso), or call (915) 496-4444

Here is a one-minute excerpt from the program that was posted on YouTube.  Bread president David Beckmann appears at the beginning of the excerpt.  California Bread activist and board member Elizabeth Henry is quoted at the end.

And here is a excerpt from the official press release for the program.
Faith groups have always played the role of "activist" in society. Churches, synagogues and mosques run soup kitchens, provide shelter for the homeless, and run disaster relief operations in the United States and abroad…but they also play an important role in shaping legislation.

The program follows "citizen advocates" who participate in the Bread for the World's annual Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. This is a Christian advocacy organization, whose mission is to end hunger and poverty throughout the world. We hear from the group's founder and president emeritus, Arthur Simon, and current president, Rev. David Beckmann, as well.

During lobby day, spiritually minded citizens from all across the United States put faith into action. Through working groups and role playing, participants learn–the finer points of lobbying, everything from how to shape their message, to how to approach their legislators on Capitol Hill. Lobby Day ends with a one-on-one visit with their local Congressman and Senator.

John P. Blessington is the executive producer; Liz Kineke is the producer. This special is produced with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Islamic Society of North America, The Union for Reform Judaism, and the New York Board of Rabbis.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hide Dollars in Weird Places...Give Flowers to Strangers (Another World is Possible)

Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way Community take us on a jouney through our world of economic extremes, from the poverty of Philly’s inner city to the clamor of Wall Street. Begining in an abandoned house, they drive us through the industrial wasteland of Kensington, and they invite us to the New York Stock Exchange for the infamous Jubliee Money Drop.

This video, an excerpt of Volume II - "Poverty,"  is an inspirational account of how $10,000.00 from the stock market is given to homeless folks from New York City on the steps of Wall Street.  There are two other themes that Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way community have created. Volume I deals with the theme of War and Volume III with the them of Creation. For more information visit the website for Another World is Possible,

(Shane Claiborne was one of the featured speakers in the Emerging Church Conference in Albuquerque in April of 2009)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Faith in Ending Global Poverty (ONE Sabbath 2009)

Here is The ONE Campaign's intro to its ONE Sabbath campaign in 2009.  The video brings together voices from many faiths and Christian denominations.   And the web site  has separate but parallel campaigns for people of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu faiths.
Check it out!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thank You Rep. Heinrich for Cosponsoring H.R. 2139

Our thanks to Rep. Martin Heinrich for cosponsoring H.R.2139, The Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009.   

Rep. Heinrich is one of 108 members of the House who had cosponsored this bill as of mid-September.  

Special thanks to Ellen Buelow and Marge Williams, who along with me, met with Rep. Heinrich about this issue.   I also want to thank the 16 churches in the First Congressional District who participated in this year's Offering of Letters about reforming foreign aid.

This very important initiative would direct the President to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to further our country's foreign policy objective of promoting global development.  Among other things, this bill would promote is to consolidate foreign aid efforts, which would ensure that more of the money devoted to this purpose actually goes to the people who need it.

It was almost a year and a half ago that I asked the four candidates runing for the Democratic nomination for the First Congressional District, including Heinrich, what their position was on addressing global poverty.  Here's what Candidate Heinrich said:
I think it's just a matter of priorities. We need to realize that when we do invest in developing nations and in reducing poverty, that has such an enormous impact on how people feel about us as a nation.

(See) where we’ve put ourselves in the past seven or eight years, basically destroyed generations worth of goodwill worldwide.

A dollar spent on education, a dollar spent on finding ways for people to provide themselves…these are things that come back to us in terms of less money spent on military engagements, less money spent on all kinds of other problems...It's just like in the United States, where we realize that for every dollar spent on things like prevention, you typically save yourself five, six, seven dollars down the line. It's the same worldwide. And it just hasn't been a priority of the last administration in Washington.
Read all their responses
 (Pictured above is Rep. Heinrich showing off his ONE white band, symbolizing support for the Millennium Development Goals)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some Good News on Goal 4 of the Millennium Development Goal

Originally published in Bread Blog on Thursday, September 10.

Brazil4English The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported today that child mortality had fallen over the past two decades to 65 per 1,000 live births. That is indeed good news! This is quite an improvement from 1990, when 93 out of every 1,000 children under the age of 5 died.

So what has the global community done to help bring the child mortality rate down? An article in The New York Times entitled Child Mortality Rate Declines Globally mentions some of the reasons for the improvements

"The child mortality rate has large part because of the widening distribution of relatively inexpensive technologies like measles vaccines and ant-malaria nets.

Other simple practices have helped, public health experts say, including a rise in breast feeding alone for the first six months of life, which protects children from diarrhea caused by dirty water."

The Times said the global community has also come through with funding, with wealthy nations, international agencies and philantropists like Bill and Melinda Gates contributing billions of dollars to the effort.

"School children and church groups have also pitched in, paying for mosquito nets and feeding programs," said the article.

Is it possible to meet Goal 4 of the Millennium Development Goals? The goal is to reduce child mortality to 31 out of every 1,000 live births by 2015. The answer is a resounding yes if the global community continues its support for measures that have worked well thus far.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Spirit of Caring for the Poor

Melody Wattenbarger, director of the Roadrunner Food Bank, and homeless advocate Ralph DiPalma are among the five people who are due to receive the inaugural Spirit of Albuquerque award at a luncheon at the Embassy Suites Hotel this week.

The awards were created to honor Albuquerque residents who dedicate their time and energy to endeavors that benefit others. All were featured in articles that appeared in the Journal. Their awards will be presented by the Journal reporters who wrote the articles.

Melody Wattenbarger will be recognized for leading the Roadrunner Food Bank for 14 years and dramatically increasing the amount of food the organization gives out. In a recent piece published in the Albuquerque Journal, Melody spoke about the impact of the economic crisis on the Albuquerque community.

Ralph DiPalma (affectionately known as "Brother Ralph") was honored for his work on behalf of the homeless, including an annual blanket drive and a weekly food and music program in Downtown Albuquerque.

The three other recipients are:
D'Wayne Begay, who launched a program that teaches people in wheelchairs how to play tennis.
Elisa Jaramillo, for looking beyond a chronic illness and volunteering her time and energy to charities and activities at Rio Rancho High School.
Albuquerque police officer Carol Oleksak, for her remarkable recovery after she was shot in the head by a mentally ill suspect and for her equally remarkable spirit of forgiveness. She now advocates for better care and treatment of the mentally ill.

These dedicated individuals were also honored before the Albuquerque Isotopes' second playoff game against Memphis. They each had the opportunity to throw out "the first pitch."

"They have expected nothing in return for all of their efforts and time they have put into improving the community," Michael Zientek, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, told the Albuquerque Journal. "Each one of them is truly inspiring and we are so happy to be able to recognize them at this luncheon."

The awards are sponsored by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the Albuquerque Journal, the city of Albuquerque, Comcast and the Sandia Science and Technology Park Development Corp.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Our Work Has Only Just Begun

Hard work pays off.
But no one said it would be easy.
Our Work has just begun.

These three clichés apply to our Offering of Letters efforts in New Mexico.

First, the hard work.
The Bread folks in Washington have noticed the hard work of activists in our state.

We were featured twice this year in Bread for the World's montlhy (sometimes-bimonthly) newsletter.

February-March newsletter
In the February-March newsletter, entitled
Offering of Letters Swings Into High Gear, there was a note about our offerings of letters workshops in Las Cruces and Albuquerque (although they forgot to mention the one in Santa Fe).

Our workshops helped activists around the state, like those at Church of the Good Shepherd pictured at (led by Beth Kissling and members of her committee), to organize 23 Offerings of Letters this year.

Pictured immediately below are scenes Offerings of Letters at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church (led by Terese Rand Bridges) and Church of the Risen Savior in Albuquerque (led by Kathy Freeze).

Our Offerings of Letters produced almost 2,100 letters again this year! Below are photos taken at letter-writing Sundays at Aquinas Newman Center (which I led) and the young adults group at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (led by Mike Shawver).

September newsletter
We were featured again in the September issue of the Bread newsletter, in which our efforts to contact Reps. Harry Teague and Martin Heinrich were noted. The piece is entitled
Seizing Every Opportunity for Advocacy

Here is the sequence of events: I met up with Rep. Teague at the Railrunner station in downtown Albuquerque, then went on to Talin market to Rep. Heinrich's Congress on Your Corner meeting with constituents. Marge Williams of Trinity United Methodist Church followed with a meeting of her own. The next day, LaVerne Kaufman of Peace Lutheran Church followed up with a meeting in Las Cruces with Rep. Teague.

And a few weeks later Ellen Buelow of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church followed up with Rep. Heinrich at Smith's supermarket on Coors and Central. Our ask was very simple. Please cosponsor HR2139, the bill related to our 2009 Offering of Letters to reform foreign aid.

Lobby Day
On top of that, I met with aides to Reps. Heinrich, Teague and Ben Ray Lujan and Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall in Washington.

Because of their busy schedules, I wasn't able to meet with the representatives themselves, although Rep. Harry Teague happened to be coming back to his office after I finished the meeting with his aide. So we got a photo with him and his legislative aide.

The ask was the same for the House members. Please cosponsor HR2139, For the senators, we asked that they support a yet-to-be introduced bipartisan bill on foreign aid reform. That bill has now been introduced: S1524. But more on that later.

Here's where the second cliche comes in. No one said it would be easy. Despite our phone calls, letters, direct appeals (and Ellen's reminder to Rep. Heinrich that her church sent more than 600 letters on the topic), Rep. Heinrich, Rep. Teague and Rep. Lujan have yet to cosponsor HR2139. .

Advocacy opportunities
Which leads me to the third cliché: Our work has just begun.
As Congress returns from its summer recess this week, we still have the opportunity to continue to urge Reps. Heinrich, Teague and Lujan to cosponsor HR2139. More importantly, since S1524 was introduced just before the summer recess, there was no opportunity for Sens. Bingaman and Udall to consider the legislation.

Please contact their offices via phone call, e-mail or postal letter asking them to support this very important bipartisan bill.
And you can follow Bro. Jim Brown's example, who wrote a letter to the editor of The New Mexican (Santa Fe). There is help available from our Bread grassroots media organizer Shawnda Hines. Read her letter-writing tips.