NYT: Jobs Americans Do

The New York Times has published a review of work and workers in the Trump era.  A link to the stories is here.

Popular ideas about the working class are woefully out of date. Here are nine people who tell a truer story of what the American work force does today — and will do tomorrow. Popular ideas about the working class are woefully out of date. Here are nine people who tell a truer story of what the American work force does today — and will do tomorrow.

Alastair Onglingswan, Social Entrepreneur

By Lizbeth Brosnan

Green Soul Shoes is a waste reducing shoe company, aimed at providing shoes for one million underprivileged, shoeless children with their “buy one, give one” policy.

Shoes at Green Soul Shoes are made 100% from recycled rubber from tires. The company also provides local artisans with a source of income and a market in which they can sell their products. This impressive company is managed by Alastair Onglingswan.

Onglingswan shared his story of the idea behind this company during a recent visit to Fordham University in the Bronx.. After many career changes, Alastair was in search for a career in which he felt would lead to a meaningful life. His previous career as an attorney was not satisfying for him. Although Alastair was “successful” in the eyes of society, he did not feel like his work was fulfilling his passion.

Alastair spoke about a visit to a place nicknamed “Smoky Mountain”  in Manila, Philippines. This “mountain” was a shantytown built on top of a large garbage dump. The town was inhabited buy a number of people. The most striking was the number of shoeless children running through the garbage and mud, kicking a soccer ball.

After witnessing a child cut his foot on a dirty, sharp object, Alastair drove to a local store to purchase a pair of shoes for this shoeless child. He noticed during his visit that there was an opportunity for local shoemakers to make and sell shoes made from the piles of rubber on Smoky Mountain. Alastair shared “The opportunity to clean up the world, shoe shoeless children, and connect two stakeholders in the same community was one I could not resist”. Continue reading

A Film Documentary: “The Green Book”


The New York Public Library has developed a set of data-driven view of The Green Book information to show the routes and scenes described in the travel guides. Click here to see it.

The Green Book documentary film entitled the Green Book Chronicles will have its opening this February, reports Calvin A. Ramsey, New York/Atlanta playwright and one of the main voices behind the enterprise.

The Green Book Chronicles tells the story of African Americans and their hardships traveling in America during the times of Jim Crow.  And it explains how a travel guide started by Victor Hugo Green, a black letter carrier from Harlem,  relieved the uncertainty of travel. There are more than 20 annual versions of the book at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

See https://vimeo.com/146908911




Fighting for Safe Housing

Domestic Violence Survivors Fighting

for Fair Housing — and Starting to Win

By Justine Calma

On June 25, 2012, Ms. B, who is identified only by her initials in court documents to protect her safety, called 911. Her husband had threatened her with a knife; he told her he would stab her in the back once she fell asleep. He was arrested and charged with multiple misdemeanors, but three days later, he was back at home. According to court documents, he told their nine-month old daughter, “Your mother is going to die,” before threatening to shoot the mother and himself in the head.

Ms. B took her daughter and fled to a domestic violence shelter, where she could stay for up to 180 days before being required to find another place to call home.

“You can bunk up with family or go back to your abuser. Those are choices you have to make when you expire out of the domestic violence shelters,” said Raquel Singh, Executive Director of Voices of Women Organizing Project. Singh’s organization has pushed for years to change public housing policies.

In New York’s costly and competitive housing market, domestic violence survivors can face extra challenges when it comes to finding a safe place to call home. Low-income women often turn to public housing as the only affordable option for a permanent home. Securing a place to live can mean the difference between starting a new life, or continuing to live in fear.

In 2013, the NYPD responded to 280,531 domestic violence incidents, averaging 770 a day. Meanwhile, there are only about 2,000 domestic violence shelter beds in New York City.

Some 31 percent of homeless families in city shelters are homeless because of domestic violence, according to the Department of Planning’s 2010 Consolidated Plan. And research by New Destiny Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides housing and services for domestic violence-affected families, found that 80 percent of domestic violence victims leave shelters with no safe place to go.

“The public attention has largely been ignorant of the needs of homeless survivors of domestic violence,” said Catherine Trapani, Housinglink Director at New Destiny Housing. After years of survivors and advocates pushing for this issue, she said, finally there is traction. Although challenges remain, they are starting to gain ground in their fight for fair housing.

State Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein (D-Bronx and Westchester) introduced a bill this year that would give domestic abuse survivors equal priority when applying for New York City public housing. To determine eligibility for housing, New York City’s Housing Authority ranks applicants based on a priority scale.   New York’s Public Housing Authority currently ranks individuals and families coming out of homeless shelters operated by the city as a higher priority than those coming out of domestic violence shelters. Continue reading

A Leader in Fast-Food Workers’ Campaign

Interesting article in the New York Times today. Click here.

On Thursday, Dec. 4, the Fight for 15 campaign staged another wave of one-day strikes, this time in more than 150 cities, with home care aides and convenience store workers joining the protests in several of them. Terrance Wise was at the forefront in Kansas City, demonstrating outside McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s restaurants. Steve Greenhouse of the NY Times tells his story.

Close to the Edge

Michael Hiltzik of The Los Angeles Times writes about a new first-person account of the descent into poverty. Click here for the column.

One little-recognized reality of poverty in America is how closely it lurks beneath the surface of even a successful professional life. A bad career turn, a couple of financial missteps, and — here comes the dizzying plunge from middle class to underclass.

That’s the lesson of a remarkable first-person account in the latest issue of the Hedgehog Review, published by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture of the University of Virginia. Entitled “Falling,” its author is William McPherson, 81, a published novelist, former editor of the Washington Post Book World and a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 1977.

A link to McPherson’s account is here.

THR - Fall 2014

San Francisco Votes $15 Minimum Wage; Votes in 4 States Advance Wages

Clare O’Connor Forbes Staff, Forbes Magazine

11/05/2014 @ 8:52AM

Low-wage retail and fast food workers can claim a second victory in a fight for a $15 minimum wage that has resulted in strikes, protests and arrests over the last two years.

On Tuesday, San Francisco voters approved a minimum wage of $15 across the city, joining Seattle, which raised its pay to the same sum in June. As in Seattle, San Francisco workers will see their wage increase incrementally. By next May, it’ll hit $12.25, climbing to $13 in 2016. By 2018, it’ll be $15, meaning a full-time minimum wage worker in the liberal California city can expect to make $31,000 a year.

Minimum wage also got a boost in four traditionally Republican states following Tuesday’s midterm elections, with voters approving ballot measures in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota.

In Alaska, low-wage workers will see their hourly pay boosted to $9.75 by 2016 (the federal minimum remains $7.25). In Arkansas, that number will be $8.50, while Nebraska voters approved a new hourly salary of $9. South Dakota workers will see their wage upped to $8.50 next year.

These red state wage hikes follow a campaign by President Obama to see the federal minimum raised to $10.10 per hour. The bill died on the Senate floor in April. Continue reading