By Mickey Friedman
December 12, 2011
I’ve been very sad lately, having lost another dear friend to cancer, Dr. Paul Epstein, Pablo to me, Rufus to his family. Paul was one of the world’s leading experts on the ever-increasing effects of the climate crisis on disease. Pablo was a constant, continuing inspiration to me. He was energetic, sympathetic, and so very quick to smile and laugh. As cranky and curmudgeonly as I am, Paul was happy and gracious.
I met him in New York a long time ago and watched him study and become a doctor and marry my friend, Andy. He practiced medicine, wrote, taught, and organized. He worked for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard Medical School. I am sure his kindness to patients and students, to friends and family, and the great work he’s done lives on.
Click here to listen to Living on Earth’s Steve Curwood’s short tribute to Paul Epstein.
At the same time I’ve been thinking about life and death I’ve been enormously encouraged by the Occupy Movement, by its energy and bravery, by how inclusive it is, occupied by young and old, black and brown and white, by veterans, union members, and the unemployed. So much is happening in so many places.
Here’s a very limited, highly subjective mishmash of occupiers and occupations.
Occupy Our Homes is an inspired effort to act courageously to answer the growing foreclosure crisis, to find homes for those who are without homes.
Occupyourhomes.org recounts the story of Bobby Hull:
Meet Bobby Hull: A veteran with the Marine Corps, Bobby first began living in his South Minneapolis home when his mother bought it in 1968. The title was later transferred to him, and he made timely payments on the house for decades while his nine brothers and sisters and innumerable extended family used the home as a stable transition point as they worked through the economic downturn. He was able to continue making payments until a string of recent health problems began.
Due to the strain of his work as a master plaster worker over the past 38 years, Bobby has had to undergo multiple surgeries on both of his shoulders over the past 10 years. The six-to-12-month recovery time for each surgery has resulted in a major loss of income, and he has had no luck with his attempts to gain a loan modification with Bank of America. He submitted all of the requested documentation and was offered a new payment of $50.00 less than his original. Meanwhile US Bank bought the home at the sheriff’s sale for $83,700, and Bobby and his family are now facing a February 2012 eviction from their childhood home, in the dead of winter.
He was surprised to learn that we were organizing to help him and others in his position. “Thank God this is happening. I’ve read the Constitution and I know that it’s supposed to be ‘We the people’, said homeowner Bobby Hull. “If people start getting together we may have a chance. I’ve served my time in Vietnam and I’m not afraid to fight again.”
Here’s Bobby Hull:
On Tuesday December 6, 2011, Occupy Wall Street joined forces with local community organizers in East New York and reclaimed an empty foreclosed home for a family of four.
According to the UK Guardian’s Ryan Devereaux:
Vocal New York organizer Sean Barry told Raw Story Tuesday that an action known as “Occupy Our Homes” would place foreclosed and homeless families in otherwise-vacant homes. That effort began Tuesday with over 40 events in more than 20 cities.
For Doyle Coleman, the action was a welcome relief. The 57 year-old lives two doors down from the newly occupied property in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of East New York. Sitting on his front porch on Tuesday evening, Coleman pointed to the property, calling it by its address. “702, where they’re putting this family in – it’s been empty for three years. If not more.”
The property was allegedly foreclosed by Bank of America. On Tuesday it became the home of a young New York family that includes an autistic nine-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy.
Coleman – who’s lived in the neighbourhood for over two decades – says he’s watched the property steadily deteriorate over the years. Like many foreclosed homes in the neighbourhood, he says the building has become a magnet for East New York’s endemic problems of drugs and crime …
With media anxiously crowded at the gates to the property, City Council member Charles Barron opened the front door to reveal a young man and a little boy. The man was 26 year-old Alfredo Carrasquillo and the boy was his five-year-old son, Alfredo Jr. The two were then joined by Junior’s mother, 30-year-old Tasha Glasgow. Tasha’s nine-year-old autistic daughter, Tanisha, made an appearance soon after.
Here’s some video:
And some more:
Meanwhile according to Raw Story’s David Edwards:
A national effort to reclaim vacant properties has one of the country’s largest lenders scrambling.
The financial website Zero Hedge has allegedly obtained a memo from Bank of America’s field services operation warning, “We need to make sure we are all prepared.”
The New York Times highlighted the journey of an unemployed woman to speak with House Speaker John Boehner:
And then, of course, there are the Ninjas. What’s an occupation without Occupation Ninjas?
And the inimitable Ry Cooder. Here’s more Occupy and Ry Cooder’s “Wall Street Part of Town”
Let me circle back to my friend, Pablo. Paul Epstein, doctor, father, husband, teacher, activist would have been proud to see Anjali Appadurai articulate the impatience of the young at the climate treaty talks at Durban:
Hasta luego, Pablo.
Occupy Everywhere. Occupy the Earth.