Mikalani is the Indigenous woman who came to us – The Indigenous Voices of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival – asking for our support and to help bring awareness to whats happening there. Mauna Kea is a sacred mountain, on sovereign land – the U.S. government never asked for permission before they started ripping into the island and constructing a massive telescope. This is causing serious environmental devastation on their land and destruction to a sacred island that these people have centered many of their ceremonies and culture around. The Indigenous Voices of the PPC: NCMR group reached a consensus and decided to help Mikalani and her people.
For more information contact Jennina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Addiction is a Healthcare Issue event was co-sponsored by Put People First! PA and The Center county DSA. This event was focused not around blaming or shaming addicts, but around education and life saving knowledge. We 1st spoke about the social conditions that contribute to addiction and the forces traumatizing our friends, family members and neighbors. Then Adrienne Standley (Philadelphia) who is certified to train others on how and when to administer Narcan, and trained all of us in attendance. The event was live streamed on The Put People First Altoona HRC page and a video is still available to watch there (link here). Here is Altoona Healthcare Rights Committee Coordinator Jennina’s opening speech:
Good evening and welcome to our Addiction is a Healthcare Issue event.
My name is Jennina Gorman, I am a member of Put People First PA and The Poor Peoples Campaign here in PA.
Put People 1st PA is a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting for healthcare for all and for all of our human rights all across PA. We define our human rights as anything we need to survive: The right to healthcare, the right to food, housing, clean air and water, and jobs that pay a living wage- these are our human rights. We believe everybody has a right to live.
Today we are here to learn about addiction. I myself came from 2 alcoholic parents, and 3 generations of alcoholics and addicts on either side. From this experience, I can assure you, nobody ever sets out to be a junkie. No child aspires to be a fall-down, black-out drunk when they grow up. So why are addiction and alcoholism rates so high?
It is a widely accepted idea, that trauma is the highest common factor in those suffering from addiction issues. What then, is traumitizing our friends, family members and neighbors?
Job loss, family separation, automation of jobs that used to pay good wages, lack of healthcare, and mental illness are all often factors. Here in Blair county, for example, in the last year alone, we lost 300 jobs at Norfolk Southern (good paying railroad jobs), North American Communications closed, costing 270 jobs, and its been reported that Since 2001, manufacturing employment in Pennsylvania has declined by 24.3 percent, a loss of 207,300 jobs.
Simultaneously, big corporations like UPMC which ransoms our healthcare for profit, are buying all the hospitals in an area, closing all but 1, and then buying up all the commercial property in the area as well.
The result is a mass gentrification process where landlords buy and maket properties, hiking rent prices specificly geared towards high paying medical workers, those of us in the working class now have to work 2-3 jobs just to keep roofs over our heads. Also in Altoona a 10-day eviction process has now been legalized. You can walk down almost any street and see commercial dumpsters filled with Peoples whole lives, because they lost their homes and then couldn’t afford to move.
A recent study shows that in America today “Suicides are at their highest rate since World War II; one child in seven is living with a parent suffering from substance abuse; a baby is born every 15 minutes after prenatal exposure to opioids…. ”
We believe all of these issues are connected. We also believe strongly that those who are most affected by these issues are also the most effective in solving them. Nobody is going to save us, we need to unite together and organize against the systems and forces that are oppressing and killing us.
Put People 1st PA now has a Healthcare Rights committee here in Altoona. We are working to develop a permanently organized group that provides support and community for those that otherwise may not have support or community. We invite you all to join us in strengthening our community together. More information and a sign up sheet are available on the table.
In this spirit of uniting our community and helping our neighbors we are proud to sponsor this event, I will now introduce you to Adrienne Standley who came all the way from Philadelphia to be here with us today –
On Martin Luther King Jr. birthday the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee of Put People First! PA took action at the Lancaster City Planning Commission Meeting to stop the UPMC rezoning petition.
Tammy Rojas, Put People First! PA, mentioned poverty stats for Lancaster, PA and shared a vision for what St. Joseph’s hospital should and needs to be and they gained support for that vision.
Anne Wenger, works in mental healthcare, she showed a graph and explained how death rates and emergency room walk outs have spiked tremendously in Lancaster County since UPMC closed St. Joseph’s Hospital!
Matt Beakes from “Impact Missions” proposes eminent domain, how we can and why we should use it to take the hospital.
Eric Fisher, called out power holders, expressed his concerns about the shady deals happening, the treatment and intimidation of the poor and dispossessed by people in power when they speak out!
The Lancaster City Planning Commission members seemed to go back and forth finding it hard to agree on the direction we should go in regards to the UPMC rezoning petition and community reacts in kind.
Nick, from PSL, states we have come to a point of a line being drawn in the sand and asks which side the people in power are on.
The City Planning Commission ultimately decided to recommend the rezoning of the old St. Joseph hospital property from a Hospital Complex zone to a mixed use zone with some contingencies that include the redevelopment be transformational, services for the homeless, children and healthcare services.
Jacob is a Co- Coordinator of the Montgomery Healthcare RIghts Committee and a PA Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Theo-Musicologist.
December 21, 2019, I was fortunate enough to join the Lancaster County Homeless Union and Put People First PA Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee for their part in the national vigil for our homeless siblings lost this past year. The date marks the official beginning of winter and the longest night of the year, one of the harshest and most arduous nights any one can face on the street.
I sang a few songs and spoke about why it’s important we sing together, but as we were listening to folks and bearing down on the brutality of the system that denies housing, healthcare, food, water – and all of our other basic needs as human rights – I felt moved to share a bit about this song, Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground. It is a song, chosen to rest on the Voyager Golden Record, because it haunts the listener with the worry that only comes from not knowing where you can rest yourself during the night ahead.
Blind Willie Johnson was homeless off and on throughout his life, because of his blindness meant he couldn’t work a regular job. He learned to play guitar and to preach in order to earn enough to feed and house himself. He was a foundational bluesman and one who lived a life of relative obscurity. He died young, in his fifties, after a rogue fire spread to his shack and burned it to the ground. Unable to go anywhere alone, and unfairly infirm from a life harder than anyone deserves to live, he squatted in the burnt out remains of his former home, until he caught pneumonia and died.
Decades later, this song was chosen by the team responsible for the information about humanity to be placed on the Golden Record. As Timothy Ferris, one of the NASA scientists put it, “Johnson’s song concerns a situation he faced many times: nightfall with no place to sleep. Since humans appeared on Earth, the shroud of night has yet to fall without touching a man or woman in the same plight.”
What a miserable, sad thing to include on an eternal testament to humanity. Imagine the shame, if some other intelligent life, kinder than us, were to find the record someday and decided to visit? Would they find us, now able to house every soul on this earth, still denying that – killing our families in this broken system?