Go Beyond Your Plate

October 24th was Food Day–a day to bring together Americans from all walks of life to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, human way. Movies, food expos, and forums occurred in the Twin Cities on Monday in conjunction with Food Day.

Though this day has passed, the goals of sustainability, affordability and health continue. We have a few opportunities for you to be involved in food justice into November, but encourage you to create an awareness in your own life surrounding food in the year to come.

St. Catherine University students have put together a Food Week for October 31st – November 4th, which is being co-sponsored by the Justice Commission. Close to 20 events will occur in 5 days to raise awareness, educate and create action surrounding issues of food justice. Our very own Earth Partners are involved with 3 events centering on community gardening and food toxicity. Click here for the full schedule.

Another option is being provided through NETWORK. They have posted a Food Stamp Challenge from Fighting Poverty with Faith–attempt to live on a food stamp budget for a week ($31.75 per person/week). Being a St. Joseph Worker this is not out of the realm of normalcy, but from experience can attest to the change in thinking that occurs with such a budget shift. Senators and Representatives have signed onto participate, and you can too. Check out this link to register and find more information.

Food is in a web of many different social justice issues and the saying goes, “You Are What You Eat”
-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker and Justice Office Intern

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

The Youth Performance Company of Minneapolis created and presented the play MEAN October 5 – 23.

Josh Pavek, a high school junior and a member of the ensemble, is my neighbor, Lynne’s, grandson. Josh has been coming from East Bethel to University Avenue in Minneapolis to practice and act in this play about bullying since August. That is what I call commitment!
We attended the final performance of MEAN Sunday, October 23. This musical powerfully tells the stories of youth being bullied because they are Muslim, defined as overweight or not pretty or too slow or they are assumed to be gay.
It also shows how difficult it often is to really see bulling when it is done in the bathroom or the hall when no one but the bully and the bullied are present and then it shows it occuring with bystanders seeing and staying silent or cheering on the bully. Examples of bullying by cell phone and facebook are also portrayed.
Ruben Rosario, Columnist, Pioneer Press covered MEAN in his October 5 column Minnesota group takes on bullying. He writes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. The old saying needs some reframing in this age. Verbal and online bullying, can linger far longer than fractures or black eyes.”
MEAN is an amazing musical with very talented youth singers/actors and adult actors conveying the heart rending message of the bullied, the bully, the ones who stand by silently and the ones to say strongly “you don’t have to take this.” MEAN ends by members of the cast announcing the statistics that approximately 25 % of youth are bullied, 25% are bullies and a great many of the rest of us are silent observers. The conclusion urges all of us to STAND UP and put an end to bullying!

Posted by: Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

October 17th: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

“There aren’t two categories of people. There aren’t some that were born to have everything, leaving the rest with nothing, and a majority that has nothing and cannot taste the happiness that God has created for all. The Christian society that God wants is one in which we share the goodness that God has given for everyone” – Archbishop Oscar Romero

In 2005, an estimated 1.4 billion people were in extreme poverty. Due to spikes in global food prices and global economic recession, 100-150 million more people have been pushed into poverty. Poverty is a local, national and international problem. It is a complex issue as it intersects systemic issues of education, hunger, race, location, and the list goes on. Educate yourself and others, and take action to bring an end to poverty. United Nations information. USCCB videos on poverty.

Prayer to Make Poverty History
Lord of Life,
Open our eyes to make us:
Aware of the povery suffered by others;
Aware of the immorality of allowing that suffering to take place;
Aware of our rights as citizens to be heard;
Aware of the men, women and children dying as we speak;
Aware that our solidarity gives us strength;
Aware that our leaders may turn a deaf ear but Almight God hears our cry;
and aware that only together can we: Make Poverty History.
Give us the strength and determination to work towards solutions and policy changes that can free our sisters and brothers around the world from the chains of poverty.
Inspire us to challenge our leaders to make debt relief and fighting poverty a priority, and make our voices loud and clear.

-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

M. L. K. National Memorial Dedication

October 16, 2011

National Mall, Washington, DC

Delayed by weather in August, yesterday under brilliant clear fall skies the MLK Memorial was dedicated. The quote “Out of the Mountain of Despair – A Stone of Hope” by Martin Luther King was visible on the stone ediface behind the podium.

This truly historic day included a Minnesota connection. The Cold Spring Grantite of Cold Spring, Minnesota that helped design the MLK Memorial. A visit to this site allows you to view the dedication ceremony, the history of the memorial and much more.

Remarks by the President at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dedication.

World Mental Health Day

On the United Nations calendar, October 10th is reserved for World Mental Health Day. It is a day to raise awareness about mental health issues, promoting discussion of mental disorders and invementing in prevention and treatment services.

This year the theme is “Investing in Mental Health.” Financial and human resources allocated for mental health are inadequate, especially in low resource countries. The majority of low- and middle-income countries spend less than 2% of their health budget on mental health. A considerable part of the limited resources is spent on large mental hospitals and not for services delivered through community and primary health care.

This day is sponsored by the World Health Organization, utilize links below to access some of WHO’s resources on mental health:
Information about mental health
Investing in mental health brochure
Message from the UN Secretary-General regarding Mental Health Day

Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker and Justice Office Intern

October 11th Day Prayer for Peace

Criminal Justice Month in Minnesota: Turn the Other Cheek. Really?

Presentation of Our Lady Chapel
Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 6:30 pm

Music: Marita and Ann Thompson, mother-daughter
Reflection: Chris Furlong, Consociate
Gospel Enactment: Mary Maas and Carmen Shaughnessy Johnson, Consociate

Prepared by the Criminal Justice Working Group of the Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates

2011 Nobel Peace Shared by Three Women from Africa and the Arab World

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia and Tawakul Karman of Yemen are the three women from Africa and the Arab world who were acknowledged by the Nobel Peace Committee for their non-violent role in promting peace, democracy and gender equality.

We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence development at all levels of society, said the citation read by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former prime minister who heads the Oslo based Nobel Prize Committee that choses the winner of the $1.5 million prize (quoted from http://www.nytimes.com/).

Leymah Gbowee and her non violent work for peace are documented in the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. The documntary is available for purchase and will also be premiered on PBS October 18.

Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate