Imagining a Just Economy

Last Wednesday night, the Eliminating Poverty Task Group hosted “Imagining a Just Economy” facilitated by Carol Gariano, CSJ Consociate and Terin Mayer from TakeAction Minnesota.

The event was a success! It was a wonderful collaboration between two organizations, and an exploration into the possibilities of our world. The two hour agenda was full of engaging activities, I found two to be most valuable.

We were given a timeline of past economic policies and recognized different policies that have impacted us. As Terin reminded us several times, the economy is not like the weather–we, as a society, shape and affect our economic future.

The second activity was the actual imagining of a new economy–a just economy. We first discussed our envisioned purpose of the economy: to foster success, for all to recieve bread and roses, to emphasize economic & societal relationships, to name a few.

Next we discussed what needs to change for the proposed economy to exist. We walked through different aspects of society – government, work, banks…we could have gone all night through the different areas. We had both tangible ideas (ending corporate personhood; adjusting current political campaign system; creating a liveable wage; etc) and ideas that truly rock the boat (ending individualism; changing the definition of success; etc).

I left feeling hopeful while skeptical of how immense some of our ideas were. I also felt liberated in the ability to have this conversation and the recognition of our knowledge and power in the situation.

I was pleasantly surprised while reading the newspaper this past Sunday. A few of our proposed changes are already being tried and tested by individuals. There is hope for our society, and a great need for continued imagining.

Star Tribune articles regarding just economic strategies:

“Serving those with Smaller Nest Eggs”

Interested in continued work on creating a just economy and world? Check out the current events from the Justice Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph

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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast



The 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast main event was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center, with community breakfasts held at four locations in Saint Paul (sponsored by the St. Paul Area Council of Churches) as well as Duluth and River Falls, WI.

The theme was lived powerfully throughout the event, beginning with the reminder that Dr. King spoke often of the “beloved community” in which truth, forgiveness and reconcilliation are alive and well.

Naomi Tutu, third child of Archbishop Desmund Tutu was keynote speaker. In her stirring speech, she repeatedly used the African word “omboto” which means humanity – shared humanity. She encouraged us to follow the guidance of Dr. King whose non-violent work helped guide the people of South Africa peacefully to an end of apartheid in 1993.

MS Tutu reminded us that the “true celebration is not this breakfast, the celebration begins when we step out of these doors and reach for justice.”

Community Breakfast: Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Saint Paul
Cheryl Steeves, Consociate Candidate, Director, Sarah’s…an Oasis for Women (pictured above) introduced Sarah’s to those present at Mt. Olivet. In celebration more than $600 was collected to be donated to Sarah’s.

Andria Canty, Consociate Candidate served on the planning committee and Mari Ann Graham, Consociate, participated in the program inviting all present to carefully consider how each will carry this celebration in our lives and communities.

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Bread & Roses

Last Thursday marked the 100th anniversary of the Bread & Roses Strike (also known at the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike) in Lawrence, MA. The story is a reminder of both the power of the collective and women leadership.
On January 12, 1912, Polish women weavers at Everett Cotton Mills realized their pay had been cut after the state decreased the work week for women. 10,000 women left the mill and went on strike. The number of protesters involved grew to 25,000 within a week — involving almost every mill in the area.
The two-month long strike was ground-breaking as it was comprised of immigrant, largely female and ethnically divided workers — defying American Federation of Labor’s assumption that such a group could not be organized. The diverse group proved their strength and innovation in the creation of the first moving picket line to circumvent loitering laws.
After two months of persistence, the strike was settled on terms generally favorable to the workers. They won pay increases, time-and-a-quarter for overtime, and a promise of no discrimination against strikers.
Since the early 1970s, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates have had a justice concerned group “Bread & Roses” inspired by the women of this protest. As with many protests of this time period, think suffrage movement, the persistence and courage of those fighting for justice is humbling and inspiring. Workers’ rights and fair wage issues are still prevalent in our world 100 years later. May this anniversary re-light our passion for such justice.
The below poem was later connected to the 1912 protest, giving it the title “Bread & Roses”
As we come marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing, “Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses”
As we come marching, marching, we battle, too, for men–
For they are women’s children and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes–
Hearts starve as well as bodies: Give us Bread, but give us Roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient song of Bread;
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew–
Yes, bread we fight for–but we fight for Roses, too.
As we come marching, marching, we bring the Greater Days–
The rising of the women means the rising of the race–
No more the drudge and idler–ten that toil where one reposes–
But sharing of life’s glories: Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses!
-James Oppenheim, 1911 American Magazine
-Elizabeth Fairbairn, St. Joseph Worker & Justice Office Intern

Justice for Immigrants Conference -Salt Lake City, Utah

Immigration – A 50 State Issue: a Focus on State and Local Immigration Initiatives: January 11-13, 2012

The conference opens later today with the Most Reverene John C. Webster, Bishop of Salt Lake City providing the keynote address Catholic Public Policy and State Compacts.”
Marjorie Cortex, reporter for the Deseret News, in her article Catholic Bishops, advocates to meet in Salt Lake to discuss immigration reform writes, Conference organizers also recognize that Utah is a destination state for many immigrants, Bishop Wester said. “In our own Catholic Church, 80 percent of Catholics speak Spanish. That’s an incredible statistic.”
The conference agenda includes: 1. Immigration Laws and Their Impact on the Church: Harboring and Transporting Laws; Marriage Barriers for Undcocumented Immigrants; Separation of Children and Families and Impact on Clergy and Seminarians 2. Federal /State Enforcement Partnerships including John Sandweg, Special Counselor to DHS Seretary Janet Napolitano; Laura Olson, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Department of Homeland Security and Don Kerwin, Executrive Director, Center for Migration Studies (respondent) 3. State Immigration Enforcement Laws – An Overview: Arizona and Alabama Laws and Copycats; E-Verify Legislation; Education and Public Benefits 4. Communicating the Message~ speakers are Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director, Latino Partnershipfor Conservative Principles and former Chief, U. S. Office of Citizenship and Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum 5. Lessons Learned from Different States with speakers representing Nebraska, Phoenix, Georgia and Boston 6. Proacctive Strategies with presenters Mario Russell, Senior Attorney, Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York and John F. Whitaker, General Counsel, Diocese of Birmingham; Rob Tasman, Associate Director, Louisiana Catholic Conference and Allen Sanchez, Director, New Mexico Catholic Conference.
223 are registered! This afternoon I met a wonderful woman from Hawaii who works on immigration with Roselani Enomoto, CSJ!
Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate

Second Chance Coalition – DAY ON THE HILL

Each year the Second Chance Coalition brings hundreds of ex-offenders and their supporters to the Minnesota State Capitol to rally and meet with legislators. Click here to learn more about the upcoming Second Chance Day on the Hill, January 31, 2012.

The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition is a partnership (including the Criminal Justice Working Group of the Justice Commission) of over 50 organizations that advocate for fair and responsible laws, policies, and practices that allow those who have committed crimes to redeem themselves, fully support themselves and their families, and contribute to their communities to their full potential.

Posted by Ginger K. Hedstrom, Justice Associate