Month: July 2019

A disabled activist and consultant has attempted t

first_imgA disabled activist and consultant has attempted to explain the aggressive tactics he has used to attack the anti-cuts campaigners he blames for hijacking the disability agenda.Simon Stevens has talked in depth to Disability News Service about his frustration at what he sees as a left-wing takeover of the disability rights movement.He makes no apologies for his often controversial stance on many issues, because he says his views are “pure inclusionist”.He believes that cuts to social care have been exaggerated… that there is “reason to be optimistic” about the imminent closure of the Independent Living Fund… and that the widespread protests over the much-criticised work capability assessment (WCA) and the broader cuts agenda are wrong-headed and damaging to disabled people.Stevens knows that views like these – promoted heavily and often angrily on social media and through articles on the Huffington Post website – have made him many enemies among what he sees as “welfare-focused disabled activists”.But he argues that the focus on welfare reform government cuts to benefits, and the WCA has over-shadowed the fight for true inclusion.“I am a purist,” he says. “There are no ifs and buts with inclusion. That comes from the countless times in my life where I was destined to sit on a bean bag all day. My first school, at the age of three, back in the 1970s, was in a mental hospital.”Not only does he have no patience with the anti-cuts movement, he believes they – and many of the reports of their protests by Disability News Service (DNS) – have fundamentally damaged efforts to boost inclusion.Campaign slogans such as “Atos kills”, which targeted the company carrying out the WCA on behalf of the government – which has now withdrawn from the contract, to be replaced by the US company Maximus – “suggest that disabled people cannot and should not work”, and replicate deeply-held institutional prejudices.But more than that, he believes that, rather than supporting disabled people in their fight against oppression, these campaigns and reports actually fuel people’s mental distress.He does not accept the suggestion that the distress caused by Atos and its application of the WCA, and the harsh, tick-box nature of the assessment, came first, while the protests and anger came later.The grassroots organisation Black Triangle, for example, was founded by friends of the Scottish poet Paul Reekie after his suicide in 2010.His decision to kill himself was believed to have been driven partly by the decision to stop his incapacity benefit and housing benefit. Instead of a suicide note, two letters informing him of these decisions were laid out on a table.But even if this is so, Stevens says, “it does not give the protest group the right to angrily campaign for the exclusion of disabled people”.Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) was formed in response to the swingeing cuts announced by the coalition, at a march in Birmingham in October 2010.The announcement of the cuts came first – although Stevens insists they have yet to be felt by many disabled people – and then came the march, then the formation of DPAC, and then its campaigns.Stevens insists that these campaigns and others like them, such as the WOWcampaign, are arguing that many disabled people are incapable of work, when he believes that all disabled people are capable of making a meaningful contribution to society.He is partly driven, he says, by the number of disabled people with high support needs who he has seen written off by professionals.“If you think you can work, you will work, and for everyone you can show me in a specific situation who feels unable to work, I can show you someone able to work.“If people are politically educated to think they have a right not to work, or even be assessed, when their actions show otherwise, and this is endorsed by the ‘PC police’, what hope do we have of true inclusion?”Several days after Stevens’ face-to-face interview with DNS, and a subsequent lengthy email exchange, the website Benefits and Work published the results of a survey, which asked if there was a link between benefit sanctions and the deaths of claimants.The site also published about 100 detailed comments from survey respondents, which included extensive anecdotal evidence of the damage caused by the current benefits system.One respondent said: “I have been hospitalised due to the strain I was under when dealing with DWP I was without benefit for three months, when DWP lost my personal information twice.“I was blatantly lied to on the phone on four occasions I now live in fear of the DWP, and am almost sick when a letter from them comes through the door.”Another said: “My granddaughter was sanctioned for not attending the jobcentre after having a stroke the week before, she could not talk or move, the DWP were informed but still sanctioned her for not turning up.”A third respondent said: “I believe this government is trying to kill me and take my home. I’m a disabled insulin dependent diabetic and forced to go without meals in order to pay bedroom tax and council tax.“This time last year I was in credit with my landlord by over £600 but from 1/1/2015 I’m now in arrears. This government is inhuman!”Despite scores of similar comments, Stevens insists that often it is not the government’s benefit rules that are wrong or unfair, but how they are implemented, communicated or interpreted by “people who have incompatible expectations, or are in an emotional, fragile or hostile state of mind”.He said he was concerned that the media and activists take evidence like this “at face value” and “twist and shorten it” until it becomes “a shortened myth and then a fact that is unchallengeable”.Stevens added: “And this leads to my second concern, that this is read by people applying for WCA and makes them believe this test is wrong before they start, framing how they see things, making it worse, and potentially leading to suicidal feelings.“The leaders of protests groups have always used or abused people’s anger for their own agenda, rather than resolving people’s specific problems, because this is how collectivism works.”Stevens accepts that he occasionally makes mistakes. “I know I have made every mistake going,” he says, “and I am proud that I had the opportunity to make those mistakes, as opposed to basket-weaving in a Remploy factory as I was destined to do.”But he is unwilling to accept that he has made mistakes in his frequent aggressive outbursts on social media, particularly via Twitter, where he has frequently called opponents “murderers” and “terrorists”.“Twitter is who I am and what I believe,” he says. “I take full responsibility for who I am and what I say.”Many of his attacks have been targeted at DNS, and its reporting of the disabled people’s anti-cuts movement. He has accused DNS editor John Pring of being “paid to lie to disabled people in the hope they commit suicide”, and of a “neo-Nazi desire for disabled people to be murdered”.In response to comments like these, Pring asked him on Twitter whether his social media activism was being funded by a political party or any other organisation.“I am totally independent of anyone and I only get paid for the services I am paid to provide,” Stevens says. “Like many disabled people, the reality is I rely upon tax credits because many organisations expect me to work for free, and this is something I try to avoid.“It is very concerning to suggest my viewpoint that all sick and disabled people have the ability and potential to participate in society is so alien that it has to be paid for.“Disabled people are capable of their own viewpoint as individuals and not every activist has such an obvious political agenda as the anti-cuts activists seem to believe.”In the last few months, he has been angered by DNS efforts to force the Department for Work and Pensions to publish secret reviews carried out following the deaths of benefit claimants.These DNS articles push the idea, he says, that disabled people need “special treatment” and should not be encouraged to work.He believes that DNS wants to publish the reviews because it assumes that the Department for Work and Pensions is alone responsible – rather than any other agencies – for the deaths of people who have had their benefits removed, denied, or sanctioned*.He believes there is little point in DNS “claiming to pretend to believe in inclusion”, when such stories “promote disabled people as incapable of any meaningful existence and therefore being better off dead”.Reporting such deaths merely adds to the fear, anxiety and stress of people waiting to be assessed for their eligibility for benefits, he says.“When people read your articles, I worry that it makes them stressed, because it reads as though the government isn’t going to get your benefits right, so don’t even try.”He insists that there are many disabled people who share his views, but that there is “no point in us putting our heads above water, because we are just going to be shot down at the moment”.He adds: “What we see is outrage that disabled people are allowed to work. It is the public fear of including disabled people. Basically, people who believe in inclusion do not have a voice anymore.”He says: “The last five years have been diabolical for disabled people, because of the way the left wing has hijacked disability as a welfare issue.“It will be another five or 10 years before we can get inclusion back on the agenda in any meaningful way.”The anti-cuts movement shouts loudly about rights, he says, but forgets that disabled people also have responsibilities. And he argues that the campaigns around the WCA, and the unfairness of the test, even fuel the arguments of the assisted suicide lobby.“I do not like the assumption that it is OK to ‘socially warehouse’ disabled people, to stop them moving forward with their lives,” he says. “The desire not to reassess people, the failure to understand that we should all be moving forward in many ways, is a desire to exclude people, and exclusion makes debates about assisted suicide more possible.“?If people are automatically forever incapable of work, why bother with an education? How far back do you declare people unfit for society? At birth? In the womb?”?Stevens appears to stand almost alone among disabled activists – at least publicly – in insisting that the government’s cuts to social care are not as bad as they have often been described.He believes that moves towards telecare and other new technology are largely compensating for reductions in council funding, and that any cuts that have been made have been to the administrative “back rooms” of local authorities.“There are cuts, but they are not the major cuts there were in the 1990s,” he says. Where there are cuts, it is because some councils have failed to match the improvements made by those local authorities that have managed to cushion the impact of the loss in funding from central government.He also believes that there is no need – at least not yet – to be concerned about the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), another key campaign target of the anti-cuts movement, as many ILF-users with learning difficulties – the largest group of ILF recipients – will probably qualify instead for personal health budgets through the NHS.Despite being an ILF-user himself, he believes its success in delivering independent living has been exaggerated, and that it often benefits families more than ILF-users themselves.And when it comes to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, he again appears to stand almost alone among disabled activists. For some countries where basic needs are not met, it is relevant, he says, but not the UK.“My understanding is that this is one of the best countries to live in for attitudes, money, technology, and rights, if you are disabled. I am not saying it is perfect in this country, but we are now looking at putting the cream on the top.”Stevens is keen to clarify one fact about his CV that is often used by opponents to attack him. In August 2013, he wrote a blog for the DNS website, which was headlined ‘Why I chose to work with Atos.’In the blog, he describes meeting with Atos managers in a bid to secure paid consultancy work with the company on its new personal independence payment contract. “It is all about helping to make things better for disabled people,” he says in the blog, “whatever the supposed motives of the organisation.”He has repeatedly made it clear, he says, that he did not end up working with Atos, because “the lead fizzled out”.“They were thinking of asking me to help them write a report on how to use Twitter,” he adds.His hope, he says, is to become an adviser to the government, for the Department of Health or the Department for Work and Pensions. He has already been a member of the Department of Health’s personal assistance steering group.Although he has considered trying to become an MP, he has ruled that out. “It is impractical on many levels, because of my health, pain and energy, and my speech impairment. I also used to say that I never wanted to be hated by half the population, although I seem to already be in that position.”*DNS is happy to make it clear that it wants the reviews published for the sake of transparency, and to determine if the DWP – and any other agencies involved – have learned any lessons from the deaths of benefit claimants.last_img read more

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A note from the editor Please consider making a v

first_imgA note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Disabled activists have delivered a generally positive response to fresh ideas on how to replace the hated fitness for work test with a new assessment framework that would restore “dignity and respect” to those unable to work full-time.The ideas were presented by disabled researcher and campaigner Catherine Hale at a meeting attended by Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood, and Marsha de Cordova, the party’s shadow minister for disabled people.Last month’s (pictured) was the second in an ongoing series of meetings – focused on the work capability assessment (WCA) – between senior figures in the party and some of the disabled activists who have played a key role in exposing the harm caused by the government’s social security cuts and reforms.Hale, lead researcher and project manager of the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project (CIIP), and a member of the Spartacus Network, presented some of the ideas she has been working on with fellow Spartacus and CIIP researcher Stef Benstead*.Hale (pictured, front left) fears that if disabled people do not come up with their own model to replace the hated WCA then something will be imposed on them.She said after the meeting: “If we have to have assessments, I’d rather we designed them and achieved a consensus among ourselves.“Some will say to hell with assessments, or just get doctors to sign us off as not fit for work, but I think both those positions are naive.”Any new assessment framework should have four key principles if it is to restore the human rights of disabled people, she says, in a blog subsequently posted on her website**, which was based on her presentation at the meeting.She says such a system should overturn the ideology behind the “hostile environment” created by the government’s social security reforms and restore “dignity and respect” to disabled people; it should change the relationship between work and health; it must empower disabled people; and it should provide an “adequate and secure” baseline standard of living.Hale says that Labour must now commit to removing the “adversarial stance running through all DWP’s assessment systems” which cast disabled people as “guilty until proven innocent”.A Labour government would also need to work to “bring about culture change” within DWP, and “eliminate conditionality and sanctions as a punitive tool for getting disabled people into work”.Compliance interviews, benefit fraud hotlines and “other instruments of intimidation and suspicion” must all be eliminated, she says, as must the outsourcing of assessments to private contractors.She also calls for a new “parity of esteem” between paid work and unpaid work such as caring, volunteering, peer support, and self-care, while she says the NHS should never view whether someone is in work as an indicator of health or recovery.The government should also bring in disabled people to develop new assessment criteria, which should test how disabled people are disadvantaged by both barriers in the labour market and their impairments, says Hale.Reaction from disabled activists to Hale’s presentation, most of who were at the meeting, has been generally positive, although neither Greenwood or de Cordova were able to comment this week.The WOWcampaign, which was represented at the meeting, said Hale’s presentation “was very much in line with the thinking of the WOWcampaign, especially in proposing the ending of the hostile environment (sanctions and conditionality) and stating that the purpose of any assessment must be to empower and enable disabled people”.But a WOW spokesman added: “As stated at the roundtable, WOWcampaign’s concern is that the focus is on the ability of the disabled person seeking work and not on the structural discrimination, prejudice and exclusion that has not only continued but increased in the workplace over the terms of the last two governments.“There is absolutely no point in disabled people going away and preparing for work if there is and will never be any appropriate work out there for them.”Disability Labour said it was “very impressed” by Hale’s presentation.Wayne Blackburn, co-chair of Disability Labour, who was present at the meeting, said: “We completely agree that disabled people should not be treated as guilty until proven innocent; our knowledge of our own conditions and how they affect us must be believed and respected.“There has to be a fundamental culture change within DWP; the negative attitudes and unconscious bias must end.”Fellow co-chair Fran Springfield, who also attended the meeting, said she supported Hale’s position that paid work was not the only route to social participation, was often not the most appropriate route for disabled people, and must never be damaging to health and wellbeing or used as an indicator of health or recovery.Springfield said: “Bringing back DWP assessments in-house, as a Labour government will do, is so important.“Disabled people should never be abused to provide shareholder profit.“I believe what is absolutely vital is integrating assessments of care and support needs into the assessment of work capability.“Supporting us with independent living would make a huge difference to those of us who are able to work or volunteer.”And she said that providing a secure baseline income was “an essential element of our human rights”, as was “understanding and accepting that some people will never be well enough or able to volunteer or work”.She and Blackburn said Disability Labour was working on how such ideas could be implemented and “look forward to being able to integrate that into the work that John McDonnell’s team is already doing”.Gail Ward, from Black Triangle, said Hale and Benstead had “put forward good arguments for replacement of the WCA”, although she said that Black Triangle had “grave reservations” about Benstead’s suggestion that occupational therapists should be closely involved in a new assessment process.John McArdle, also from Black Triangle, said Hale had “brought forward many excellent ideas”.He said that any incoming government would “have to go at least as far as the Scottish government and consult with disabled people themselves and not those who purport to represent them”.He added: “Paramount in that exercise would be to engage and consult widely with individual disabled people themselves in a sincere effort to discover what would constitute a new social security system worthy of calling itself one which places dignity and respect at the very heart of the system, while complying with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”Rick Burgess, of Manchester Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP) and Recovery in the Bin, said it was “very early days” and the ideas should be seen as “exploring possibilities” rather than drafting plans for a new assessment process.He also stressed that there should be legislation to address the barriers faced by disabled people in the labour market, rather than attempting to address the discrimination they faced solely through social security reforms.He also said the ideological push to see work as a “cure” must not act as an excuse to reduce income or support provided by social security or the social care system. He said: “Catherine and Stef’s work is helpful to add to the all the ideas and ways of thinking we have to engage in.  “Overall, what I think is important is that Labour/a new government draws up social security reform in co-production with disabled people and service users primarily and not allow corporations, charities or the medical establishment to lead it.”Burgess said he believed disabled people should not look to replace only the WCA and benefits such as personal independence payment, but instead “replace the entire relationship between the state and disabled people which has been a hostile one for so long”. Bob Ellard, a member of the DPAC national steering group, was more critical.He said he did not agree with the principles of Hale’s paper because the ideas centred on the link between social security and work inequality, “and that link needs to be broken”.He said that a fair incapacity benefit system would have to remove that link and be based purely on need, with the government then tackling issues such as “workplace discrimination, access to transport, education and training and other issues that are barriers to disabled people gaining good quality work”.But he added: “In terms of short-term measures that Labour could take pending a redesign of social security there are some good things in there, but I don’t view it as a model for a long-term replacement.”*Benstead has previously produced a series of reports on replacing ESA for the thinktank Ekklesia**Comments on the ideas can be posted on her websitelast_img read more

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The Death and Life of a San Francisco Homeless Encampment

first_img Tags: homeless • San Francisco Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Brenda Meskan, the director of the Mayor’s Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), said, however, that the outreach team does not tell anyone beforehand that they will be taken to the Navigation Center.“We do not like to ‘leave anyone behind,’ so [we] never know what encampment will be taken until we know how many we can bring in,” Meskan wrote in an email.She did not know why the Alameda Street encampment was taken down, but its size might have been a problem. The center can only hold 75 people at once, and usually groups of 6 to 12 move in at a time.Tents and TarpsHeavy-duty camping tents and rough blue tarps made up the encampment of 20 or so residents. And life there was a novelty for many. Patrolling police officers knew some residents by name and handed out dog treats to those with pets, residents said, and employees who parked nearby trusted them around their cars and dropped off “sodas and sandwiches.”“We see the same people on a regular basis. They’ll give us change or they’ll drop off food,” said Daly. “Over here, [the cops] are a lot nicer. These cops are I guess the ones that are told to deal with the homeless. They’re more geared towards helping us instead of giving us citations.”“The Mission seems to be where you could live, you know what I’m saying?” said 37-year-old Trevor Toms, who used a fake name and has been homeless for seven years. “Nobody will be chasing you, calling the police every five seconds. If you go anywhere else, they’re on you.”City officials confirm this squeezing of the homeless. Bevan Dufty, the mayor’s “homelessness czar,” told the Chronicle last month that people are getting pushed towards the Civic Center and SoMa, which the Alameda Street encampment bordered.The city’s biennial homeless count shows that the homeless count in District Six, which includes the Tenderloin and SoMa, has increased by 800 since 2013 despite the city-wide population staying steady at around 6,500 for the last decade.The northeastern corner of the Mission on the edge of SoMa has long been known for its encampments. Residents on Shotwell Street have complained of tents in the past, and a quick walk-through of the industrial corridor reveals small tent groupings in dozens of places.But encampments twenty tents strong are rare.“This is the first time I’ve ever set up a camp, because they’ve left us alone,” said Steve Smith, one of the residents who did not wish to use his real name. “[Before this] I packed up every single day at five o’clock in the morning, for four years or more. Five o’clock in the morning, packed all my shit. I’ve been setting up, having a home, for the first time.”And homes, though modest ones, are what they were. A chain-link fence behind the tents was decorated with toy dolls and mostly non-functional clocks, while worn-out pillows and milk crates made up seating areas for residents who grouped together.Debora “Champagne” Carr with her red-nosed pitbull Hazel. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.Having resources nearby helped. St. Martin’s around the corner offered food, showers, and an ability to charge phones and alarm clocks, while the U-Haul down the block allowed residents to use their bathroom and refill canteens.“If you look decent,” Lorrie Taylor, a 49-year-old resident, clarified.“It’s basically a subculture,” said 50-year-old Linda Plasse. “Instead of going to the store and paying money for what you need, we trade off what we have. If someone needs a blanket, we trade them a blanket for some food or some soap or water.”Friends visited friends on the block, Plasse added, which created solidarity.“As long as you don’t fuck with anything that belongs to [other residents] and respect the rules of their strip, you’re more than welcome to come and stay,” said Debora “Champagne” Carr, who was invited in by a friend. “But the minute you violate other people’s stuff, we’re going to stop [you]. You don’t have to lie or steal from us because if you ask it and we got it, more than likely we’re going to give it to you.”All of which grew the camp — and may have ensured its end.“Any day now [the police] could come and throw it all in the garbage truck and take it away,” Smith said, a few days before that happened. “Without warning. For no fucking reason at all. None. I did nothing wrong. And it doesn’t matter because every single thing I have here is garbage.”“It sucks like anything else”Being in an encampment is small consolation to most homeless people, however. And not everyone there saw the collection of tents as a community.“It sucks like anything else. I’m fucking homeless living on the street,” said Smith. “There’s no pleasure in this. Try it sometime, try it. Spend a week outside and tell me if one place is better than another.”“I don’t know half these people, I really could care less about them,” said 55-year-old Alton Predew, an Air Force veteran who came to San Francisco from Berlin after the wall fell in 1989. “I got my own things to deal with. When you go to sleep someone may steal your shit. It’s like a tweaker block, that’s what I call it, a tweaker block.”“Drugs are the issue, drugs are the big issue,” Trevor agreed. “We all do drugs out here. There’s not a motherfucker out here who don’t do no drugs. We do heroin or we do methamphetamine.”Most were open about the drug use – though they said not all are addicts – and there were more than a few syringe needles and glass pipes on the strip.“Your money goes to that,” Trevor continued, “and everything else falls in between. I’ll go try to get a bed for detox — there’s no detox beds available. Where do I go then? I’m turned out to the street.”Air Force veteran Alton Predew organizing his belongings. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.Hope for the Navigation CenterDrugs, however, is something the Navigation Center often deals with.Sam Dodge, deputy director for policy at the Mayor’s Office of Housing Opportunities, Partnerships, and Engagement (HOPE), said that though drug and drink are prohibited at the center, substance abuse does not result in removal.“We do everything we can to try to keep them and understand that as far as using substances on site, though it’s formally against the rules, we try to say ‘Next time this is going to be more of an issue,’” Dodge said.The leniency is a core aspect of the Navigation Center, which also admits couples and pets in an attempt to keep relationships intact, features that made some desperate to get in.“I’ve been jumping from encampment from encampment trying to get in,” Plasse, a resident of the Alameda Street encampment, said. “I want to get on [Social Security]. I can’t keep my appointments if I’m on the street. I’m 50 years old, I’ve had two strokes, I don’t want to be out here no more.”Meskan, the head of homeless outreach, said that anyone over the age of 18 who can take care of themselves is eligible for the Navigation Center. “All encampments are eligible for the Navigation Center. Unfortunately, due to [the] space issue, we cannot take [them all] into the Navigation Center,” she wrote in an e-mail.So far, the center – open since March of this year – has helped 95 formerly homeless residents either enter affordable housing or stay with family and friends; another 65 are currently being served. Data from the center, however, showed no pickups from the Alameda Street encampment.Post-EncampmentParked cars have reclaimed the former encampment space, and homeless people from surrounding blocks said some return at dark to set up tents for the night. But the daytime encampment is gone, though a few regulars were still in the area. Smith was on the block, collecting cans worth 5 or 10 cents each and pushing four or five can-filled bags in a shopping cart. He didn’t know where the other residents were.“I’m just glad they’re gone,” he said.Richard Blackie, another former resident, was also in the area, wandering underneath the 101 Highway in a tattered trench coat. Angrily weeping, he said that he needed “somebody to love,” because he had had “no mother, no father” in his life.“The only way I can deal with this,” he whimpered, referring to his homelessness, “is with this,” he said, a heroin syringe clutched in his hand. He trudged away sobbing and yelling, half a loaf of bread under one arm and a full plastic trash bag in the other. On the evening of Thursday, August 6, police officers and a Department of Public Works garbage truck dismantled and trashed a block-long homeless encampment that residents say had existed without problems for six months.  “Every single place I’ve been besides here I’ve been told to leave at least once or twice a week,” said Deanna Daly, a 30-year-old woman who has been homeless for a year and a half. “This is the only spot I’ve been in where we haven’t had to move in a few months.”Many residents of the camp, located on Alameda Street between Bryant and Potrero, were hopeful that they would be taken to the Navigation Center at 1950 Mission Street – a transition center that opened in March and connects the homeless to city services and permanent housing.In fact, the outreach team visited the encampment a week before it was taken down, residents said, leading many to believe they needed only stay in place a few more days before being housed.center_img 0%last_img read more

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Health Food Coop Celebrates 40 Years in the Mission

first_img 0% Pioneering Health Foods in San FranciscoSeguin is one of Rainbow’s originals – her career spans the life of the store, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in August.  In celebration, the store put on a week-long party featuring samples, demos and tours.The employees’ knowledge about the products, she says, is key to the store’s longevity. “Education is part of our mission,” said Sequin. “We wanted to provide customers with an opportunity to learn about the foods they were eating and why it is important.”Becoming a Rainbow employee at age 21, Seguin has seen the health food store through two moves, expansions, and a major renovation last year. She remembers its very beginnings on 16th street near Valencia – that was back in 1975 when the neighborhood was a lot less “desirable.” “That part of the Mission wasn’t the greatest, it was pretty rundown,” said Seguin. “A lot of people couldn’t afford clean, healthy food, nutritious food.”Seguin said that the idea for an inexpensive natural food store come from an ashram and launched a “clean” food movement in San Francisco. In the early 70s, devotees of the guru Prem Rawat, or Maharaj Ji, organized around a bulk food buying program to meet the need for accessible, vegetarian food. They soon became part of a citywide network of community food stores. “The guru said to his followers to go start natural food stores,” she said. And they did, but Rainbow may be the only one still operating. “Rainbow started that platform for other companies and small business in San Francisco as a collectively run model that takes part in the community as much as possible,” said Esteban Garcia, who has been employed with the store for five years. “We try to buy as local as possible, as organic as possible, and we try to maintain good relation to buyers.”Esteban Garcia has been a worker-owner at Rainbow for five years. He said he wouldn’t trade the job for a management position elsewhere. Photo by Laura WaxmannA Collective EffortLike the rest of the roughly 250 employees at Rainbow, Seguin and Garcia are not just workers, but co-owners.”Instead of giving that control to one person, we decide collectively what we need to do and move forward,” said Seguin. As a worker owned and run food cooperative, Rainbow’s employees generally have to complete 1000 hours before receiving a share in the business. Garcia, who previously worked at other food markets including Whole Foods and Mollie Stone’s, said he wouldn’t trade the “collective-ownership at Rainbow for a management position at Whole Foods.”“You get more appreciation for your job, and you don’t dread coming to work,” said Garcia. “Since you are a business owner you want to make it thrive.”At the bulk section, Seguin is joined by Linda Trunzo, Rainbow’s board president – but that is just a “figure head” title that the co-op was forced to adopt because of their corporate structure. “It had to do with taxes,” said Trunzo, who has been in the collective for 31 years.While the collective model in which storewide decisions are made by way of a majority vote is effective and rewarding, it doesn’t come without challenges. Trunzo remembers when, a few years ago, a 20 percent off coupon deal had workers divided.“The deal brought in customers, but it was really tough on us. We were stocking and buying every second,” said Trunzo. “The vote to get rid of the coupons was split.”In the end, the majority vote decided by a hair to get rid of the coupons – a decision that turned out to be best for everyone, said Trunzo. Workers also were divided in 1983 when faced with an opportunity to move from its 2,000 square foot storefront on 16th street into a 9,000 square foot space at 15th and Mission streets.“The bigger you get, the more people get involved, and the longer it takes to get things done,” said Seguin. “Some wanted to the store to stay small and intimate.”In 1996, Rainbow relocated once more, this time to its current location on Folsom Street. Instead of renting, Rainbow bought its building, and it was the smartest decision the collective could have made.“We all understood that we needed to buy property to sustain the life of rainbow – without that, I don’t know if we could have survived with the way rents and evictions have gone up,” said Seguin.A mural painted by local artists decorates the inside wall of Rainbow Grocery, located at 1745 Folsom St. Photo by Laura WaxmannDespite Changes, Rainbow Continues to FlourishWhile the city around them is changing, Rainbow’s employees are holding steadfast to their morals and business model. The business gives back to the community, said Garcia, not just through donations to local schools and organizations, but by enlisting local vendors and offering fair, accessible prices and products. “We try to build relations with our vendors and farmers because it goes around in circles.  The more you keep your money local, the more it benefits your community,” said Garcia.The biggest change nowadays is that many of the co-operatives members can’t afford the city. “I don’t know what we can do for the city to get the people who actually work here, the workers who get real, healthy food to the community – to provide them with the opportunity to stay in that community,” said Trunzo.Rainbow’s celebration continues through Sunday, November 1, with giveaways, face painting, and other activities.  Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img As a week of celebrations – halloween, the coming of fall, and an anniversary – neared its end at Rainbow Grocery, Pat Seguin wandered the aisles that she has helped stock and supply for nearly four decades. The shelves of herbs and spices, fair trade coffee, and bulks of nuts and beans neatly stowed away in vitrines have customers spinning with options. Seguin says the offerings are a result of research and democracy.  Rainbow’s employees vet the products that make it to the shelves – an equation that has made the grocery store a haven for vegetarian and health conscious consumers who care about where their food comes from. “People know that they can trust us in the information that we are giving them because we stand behind the products we sell – clean and nutritious,” said Seguin. “If we find out that some products are not worthy, we take them off the shelves.Shoppers agree.  “It’s kind of a wonderland for me,” said Philip Patrick, a shopper who treks by bus from Glen Park for his Rainbow groceries at 1745 Folsom St. “They seem to have everything in the world here. I’m in awe everytime I come.” last_img read more

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Good humor flows at Mission District family winery

first_imgHaving now established themselves in California, the Eristavis strive for “100 percent” wines – ones that are made completely from one type of grape, rather than blended. Victor experiments to see how much he can limit the addition of stabilizers, and how much he can vary the flavors of different wines.Clearly I was out of my depth. I am an enthusiastic consumer of, shall we say, affordable approximations of wine. All I can tell you is that this is not my regular fare but rather “the good stuff.” If that strikes you as a somewhat weak endorsement, I should also mention the 40 or so awards the Eristavis have won since they started up their California version of the family business in 2009.Inside the winery. Photo by Laura WenusBut there is no snobbery here, and my lack of expertise did not matter. Distinguishing tasting notes (while they are on the label) is not a prerequisite for coming here. The winemaker himself has run into an example of what excess taste-analysis can lead to.“I went to a few places a few years ago, and [one of the vintners] said, ‘Can you taste the caramel, the sponge cake?’ One after another, all of these desserts,” Victor Eristavi tells me. He didn’t know what the man was on about. So at his own winery, it’s not about coaching drinkers into identifying subtleties. It’s about chemistry and experimentation, old traditions, and new discoveries – and a family project. The winery at 1300 Potrero Ave., where the Eristavis set up shop about a year ago after about a year on Treasure Island, is no hobby. It’s open Thursday through Sunday to the general public, and special events can eat up after-work hours on every other day too. They all have jobs. – Lia is a graphic designer, Victor is a chemist and quality analyst at Genentech, and Nikolas is a marketer both by trade and at the family business. On a recent Thursday night, commuters rushed by while the Eristavi family extolled the Georgian food called khachapuri.“Georgians are really good at peasant food,” Nikolas says.“Peasant food? It has cheese! Cheese is expensive!” his father objects.Clearly, not every piece of cultural knowledge has made it to the younger generation – Nikolas is definitely an American, by his own admission, but says, “Deep inside me, there’s this very hairy and drunk Georgian that’s like, ‘You have to go back!’”I did learn about a few traditions, however.“Every dinner is structured. One person is running the entire table, the toast master, who leads the series of toasts,” he said. “One to the country, one to women, often the impact their mothers have had…The whole goal is to keep drinking.”Inside the winery. Photo by Laura WenusWith the exception of some of the grapes used for the wine, this is not necessarily a slice of wine country in San Francisco. It’s just what this family loves to do.“We get people from all around the Bay Area who tell us, ‘we were planning to go to Napa, but then we found you,’” Nikolas tells me.Part of the appeal is the laid-back attitude.“I really like the atmosphere,” said Kendra Guerrero, a work colleague of Nikolas and an occasional visitor to the winery on her way home who has dropped in for a glass of rosé. “Everyone has always been friendly. I’m not a huge wine drinker, so I like to have that casual atmosphere.”Jomar Monzon and Jamie Siochi, former roommates, were giving up beer for Lent – so they gave wine a shot. For $10 a tasting, or $8 -$12 a glass, they were impressed.“I love the unassuming restaurants and places like that. It’s kind of hidden,” noted Siochi. Once people find the winery, they like to stay.“When people are coming, we have no problem keeping them in. We have trouble to kick them out,” said Victor.“We’re all talkative people here,” Nikolas said. “Especially when we’re drinking, which is kind of inevitable.” Tags: Business • food • night life • things to do Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Behind a roll-up door on a squat industrial building on Potrero Street is a family winery. At once unorthodox and deeply traditional, family name on the sign is not French or Italian like wine aficionados might expect, but rather Georgian.The Erstavi Winery family has been making wine for some 400 years, according to Nikolas Eristavi, the son of winemaker Victor and labelmaker Lia Eristavi. The oldest relics of winemaking technology, he insists, were unearthed in Georgia. During Soviet rule, Georgia was the primary producer of wine. In fact it is a national passion. Victor told me about the Georgian dedication to winemaking and how the surrounding environment had distinguished the flavors of  two Zinfandels I was sampling. “I knew how to make wine from an early age,” he said. “Everyone, in all the universities, was participating in the harvests. It doesn’t matter what you did.”center_img 0%last_img read more

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Help victims of domestic violence at the Operation Pretty Things OneGala

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Operation Pretty Things has a mission to love and empower women victimized by domestic violence. By coming alongside domestic violence shelters, the organization wants to help reintroduce survivors of domestic violence to the workplace and society.On Friday, October 6, you can help Operation Pretty Things raise money to help women at their 2nd Annual OneGala. This is a black tie event at the Coastline Convention Center in downtown Wilmington. The evening will include cocktail hour, catered food, live music, auctions and a presentation.- Advertisement – Tickets are $75/person and sponsorships start at $750. Click here to purchase tickets or get sponsor information.For more information on Operation Pretty Things, click here.last_img read more

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North Topsail Beach likely wont reopen until at least Wednesday

first_img00:00 00:00 html5: Video file not foundhttps://cdn.field59.com/WWAY/f709125d95e0bf77cc67271534fb096377bcab41_fl9-720p.mp4 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% Surf City will not resume dune restoration until November2:24Gov. Cooper tours Fair Bluff Fire Station, talks hurricane recovery0:55School supply giveaway aims to help those affected by Florence1:41Northside Pool repairs almost complete0:30Support the Port among winners of disaster recovery grant0:56Vet receives a free roof after losing one to Florence0:55HOPE NC INTERVIEW3:25Hampstead woman loses home in Florence, surprised with help 10 months later2:04Tropical Integrated Warning Team meeting helps agencies prepare during hurricane season1:56US 421 bridge work continues after Florence washout0:47Teens help those affected by Hurricane Florence, Matthew2:08Florence victims face 100-degree days in FEMA trailers1:04Volunteers desperately needed to assist with building efforts after Hurricane Florence3:39Hurricane shifts sand in coastal waters, could increase swimming threats2:13First responders join WARM in hurricane recovery efforts0:59Oak Island Pier set to reopen Wednesday0:25Oceanic Restaurant ready to dive in on Mother’s Day0:30Possible return date for Jervay community released2:18New Hanover Schools hourly employees won’t get paid for five days2:14Hurricane Recovery round table gives residents access to mroe help post-Florence2:10Brunswick Town Historic Site museum reopens Saturday1:00Wilmington man meets paramedics who saved his life hours before hurricane2:20Rep. David Rouzer talks Mueller report, storm recovery4:24Spruce up your yard at annual spring plant sale in Burgaw0:47RESIDE Disaster Relief Shelter holds rubbon cutting0:54Students say “Thank you” to first responders1:25AG sues Florida tree removal company for alleged price gouging in Wilmington2:14’Cross Creek Hero’ continues to lend a helping hand2:17USO shows appreciation to the coast guard, shutdown, hurricane0:52Proposed tax credit could assist repairs for historic homes in disaster zones2:04Two New Hanover schools to move into new buildings next month1:26NC students write book about experience with Hurricane Florence1:22Luncheon highlights ’growth and transformation’ in downtown Wilmington0:32Gov. Roy Cooper says downtown Wilmington ’revitalized’ after Florence2:02Community rolls together to get topsail beach skating rink back open after storm1:36Cape Fear Garden Club plants the seed for Airlie Gardens’ Florence recovery0:57Wilmington firefighters honored for rescue during Hurricane Florence1:50Rep. David Rouzer talks rebuilding damaged dike in Bladen County1:40Fix to Kelly dike system still in limbo following community conversation2:13Neighbors fight to stop construction of ’essential’ hospital water system2:31County, city still waiting on millions in Florence reimbursement1:51Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo talks Florence recovery 6 months after storm1:51Boiling Spring Lakes: Only 40% of recovery completed since historic hurricane2:26Owner moves to new location after Florence wipes out iconic restaurant1:06Pender community surfs its way to recovery months after storm1:27ONLY ON WWAY: Gov. Cooper gives recovery update six months post-Florence7:42’This is a miracle’: Whitestocking community gets help to rebuild church2:19Bethlehem Baptist Church is on the road to recovery after Florence1:22800+ Pender students still displaced several months after historic hurricane1:58Are some homes worth the renovation after Hurricane Florence?1:17Free seeds offer easier start to families replanting0:54Cape Fear Volunteer Center needs help moving Florence survivors into new homes0:53Florence survivor finds new housing, not out of the woods yet0:31Rebuild continues almost 6 months since Hurricane Florence1:35Rebuild continues almost 6 months since Hurricane Florence2:19Florence destroys Pender County farm, help comes from across country2:07How can we improve for next time? Pender reviews storm response to Florence1:40USS Battleship North Carolina continues to battle Mother Nature1:54Will Carolina Beach businesses reopen in time for start of season?2:05FEMA assistance starts to end, Florence victims still without homes2:07New Hanover County issues Hurricane Florence after action report1:22Veteran forced out of garage after Florence moves into camper0:31Gov. Cooper proposes funding aimed to help schools recovering from Florence1:44Florence clean up efforts ongoing1:54Pender Co. ends Hurricane Florence state of emergency0:16Volunteers needed to clean up Ev-Henwood Nature Preserve in Leland0:30University breaks ground on new student housing0:57Topsail Island is back open post-Florence1:38Barfield: ’State of the county is strong’2:17Habitat breaks ground on 4 new homes in Wilmington0:54Volunteer attorneys could help homeowners denied help from FEMA4:06Pro bono FEMA clinic for those affected by Hurricane Florence4:06First ever pender county state of education and economy held in burgaw1:52Wrightsville Beach restaurant closed since Florence starts rehiring staff0:53Hurricane Florence victims can still apply for disaster mitigation0:55Are you ready for breakfast?1:00Historic grounds reopens after shutdown1:27Hurricane Florence recovery summit brings survivors together1:31New Wrightsville Beach school planned with storms, floods in mind0:33TX official offers affordable housing advice after experiencing Hurricane Harvey1:04Whitestocking residents welcome truckload of donations from Pennsylvania3:06FEMA hosting meeting to address flood mitigation questions, concerns3:39University still repairing classrooms and apartments four months after hurricane0:30Cooper to Trump: End shutdown so NC can rebuild after Hurricane Florence0:33Experts say affordable housing is in more trouble following Florence0:58Stranger drives across country to reunite NC boy fighting cancer with his dog2:19Will a $2M flood plan save the Battleship North Carolina parking lot?1:05Woman says Florence damage is severely affecting her health1:54When you can learn more about applying for buyouts on flood-prone homes0:25Pender County students to receive free meals through January 310:20Animal aid group says majority of supplies lost after theft1:02Duke energy wants customers to help with $760m storm cost0:44Find out how you can help the environment by getting rid of your Christmas tree1:02New study researches how Hurricane Florence could have impacted pregnancies2:16Ward gives back to his community during the holidays1:32Gov. Cooper reflects on efforts to rebuild following Hurricane Florence3:14Gov. Cooper: 2018 was a tough year for North Carolina2:37Man designs ornaments made from Florence debris0:38Businesses team up to host Hurricane Florence recovery fundraiser0:56Rain lowers ’Christmas on the Square’ turnout0:54XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — At 7:30 AM, Saturday, September 15th, emergency personnel and town staff attempted to do initial damage assessments for the Town of North Topsail Beach. The first pass was difficult. At the 200 block of New River Inlet Road, staff determined the road was impassable due to flooding.Town staff turned around and tried to traverse the southern end of town. Staff passed Hampton Colony, but due to debris, they returned to town hall to regroup. For those who are not familiar with the area, this is approximately a two‐mile radius from town hall.Town Administration dispatched a dozer to clear the southern end of the island. After this effort, town officials were able to travel to the North Topsail Beach and Surf City town lines.- Advertisement – From what was observed from the main throughway, most homes were intact. Some shingles, siding, decks, crossovers and other nonstructural damages were observed. Unfortunately, some mobile homes appeared to have sustained more damage and possible structural damage.This afternoon, town staff travelled through the northern end of the island. As for the homes,much of the same holds true. However, there is more flooding and road conditions are not safe.In addition to water, there is an incredible amount of sand on the roadways hindering travel.Therefore, at this time, town administration and emergency services have determined that the roads are not safe for travel for the general population. Flooding, downed utility lines and debris create road hazards that are too dangerous. Police remain in place to keep nonessential personnel off the island. North Topsail Beach classified the following groups as essential:Emergency ServicesUtility WorkersTown Personnel, which has been determined internallyRelated Article: Hurricane recovery round table gives residents access to more help post-FlorenceWe do not anticipate allowing residents to return this weekend. At this time, our earliest estimate is Wednesday, the 19th. But we will extend or lessen this deadline as deemed appropriate. The sole basis for this decision is safety. In the meantime, cleanup crews will work to clear roads, and utility teams will work to restore services.Communication is an ongoing issue. Town officials will communicate as much as possible. Even though communication has been difficult, this does not mean town staff and elected officials have not been working to resolve the myriad of issues presented by this storm.Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this difficult time.last_img read more

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4th Annual Ronald Sachs International Music Competition to spotlight youth musicians

first_img On Friday, May 17, three judges for the competition will hold master classes starting at 10 a.m. followed by a performance by the judges at 7:30 p.m.The judges include Ara Gregorian from East Carolina University (volin), Joseph Rackers from the University of South Carolina (piano), and David Zerkel from the University of Georgia (tuba/euphonium).On Saturday, May 18, young musicians from around the world will participate in a competition which lasts all day.Related Article: UNCW classes to resume Monday for most students“We have 14 young artists from all around the world to play music on their designated instruments,” said Event Coordinator Danijela Zezelj-Gauldi.The winners will be announced during a concert Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and the grand prize winner will receive a $2,000 prize.Zezelj-Gualdi says the event would be a great opportunity for children who are interested in playing or furthering their training with a particular instrument.“It could show them how far they can get because these talented musicians are top of their art and are playing beautifully on their instruments,” she said.Both the Friday and Saturday evening concerts are free and will be held in the UNCW Cultural Arts Center’s Beckwith Recital Hall. A reception will follow Saturday’s performance. Click here for more details. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — More than a dozen highly-talented musicians will participate in the 2019 Ronald Sachs International Music Competition this weekend at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.Now in its fourth year, this annual event offers gifted young musicians an opportunity to develop and advance their talents through competition and performance.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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Humanitarian groups condemn European states after migrant deaths

first_imgBabar Baloch, UNHCR briefs the press on the situation in Myanmar and Ethiopia, Palais des Nations. 7 September 2018. Photo by Violaine MartinBabar Baloch, UNHCR briefs the press on the situation in Myanmar and Ethiopia, Palais des Nations. 7 September 2018. Photo by Violaine Martin Humanitarian groups including the Norwegian Council for Refugees and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said European states needed to do more in preventing the deaths ofmigrants after at least 65 people drowned on Friday (May 10) crossing the Mediterranean Sea.The UNHCR said dozens of people had drowned after a boat capsized off the Tunisian coast after they had left Libya hoping to reach Europe.Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Council for Refugees (NRC), said that Europeans held a responsibility to avoid the ”mass haemorrhage of human lives” crossing the narrow stretch of sea between North Africa and Europe.UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said the refugee agency had repeatedly voiced its concerns over a lack of boats to pick up people fleeing from the conflict in Libya.READ: At least 65 migrants drown off Tunisia coastIt is one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year. In the first four months of 2019, 164 people are known to have died on the route, a smaller number but higher death rate than in previous years, with one dying for every three who reach European shores, UNHCR said.UNHCR said the sunken boat had taken to the sea on Thursday (May 9) from neighbouring Libya, where renewed warfare between rival factions has gripped the capital Tripoli in the past five weeks.Libya’s west coast is a main departure point for African migrants hoping to reach Europe by paying human traffickers, though numbers have dropped due to an Italian-led effort to disrupt smuggling networks and support the Libyan coast guard.It was not immediately known from which countries the migrants involved in Friday’s tragedy were from.According to U.N. agency the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more

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Criminal proceedings ongoing since 2001 still no sentence

first_imgA court of law has ruled that it is unacceptable that a man has not yet been given the opportunity to start producing evidence, has had all his assets frozen and has been subject to bail conditions for the past 18 years.Angelo Zahra requested a Constitutional Reference before the Court of Magistrates as a Court of Criminal Inquiry, claiming that the applicant’s right to a fair trial within a reasonable time is being breached. 18 years after arresting Zahra back in 2001, the Prosecution has not yet brought forward all evidence.The Attorney General insisted that the length of the proceedings is not unreasonable. However, the defense counsel stated that it is absurd that Zahra has been undergoing criminal proceedings since 2001.The Court declared that it is unacceptable that the Attorney General subjects the accused to a situation where criminal proceedings are at a standstill due to the fact that some of the witnesses who the AG insists on producing, cannot give evidence before their own proceedings are concluded, since they can incriminate themselves.Consequently, Judge Mark Chetcuti gave instructions to the Attorney General to conclude their evidence.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

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