Monday, May 17, 2010

Berkeley's Grassroots House helps send a boat to Gaza

The Berkeley Barb used to be my home town's most famous "newspaper of record," and we also had another hometown rag called "Grassroots". However, both these papers have been out of print for more than 40 years and now most of our local Berkeley newspapers have gone digital -- except for "Grassroots," which has bucked that trend and simply gone "residential". It has changed from being a newspaper into being, er, a building?

Located on Blake Street just below Shattuck, Berkeley's Grassroots House still does all that crusading-against-injustice type of stuff that the newspaper it was named after used to do -- only now it does it with shingles, wood and windows instead of with newsprint. According to a 2009 article by Lydia Gans in the Berkeley Daily Planet, "Grassroots a community building that provides office and meeting space for a number of social justice organizations." And one of those social justice organizations is the Free Palestine Movement -- which is currently helping to financially sponsor one-half of the cost of a boat in an international flotilla sailing from Greece to Gaza with medical supplies at the end of May.

Does this make Grassroots House "The place that launched a half a ship"?

Local Free Palestine Movement members Janet Kobran and Paul Larudee will be on board the FPM-sponsored half-boat when it -- and seven and a half other boats -- leaves Greece for Gaza in a flotilla meant to break Israel's four-year-long siege of Gaza by providing Gaza with various much-needed humanitarian supplies. And Ehud Barak, Israel's Minister of Defense, has promised to send almost the entire Israeli navy out to intercept this small flotilla.

Has Berkeley's Grassroots House once again gotten itself into hot water?

Like its namesake, the original Grassroots newspaper, it looks like the Grassroots House has once again assumed the role of a biblical David by attempting to take on a very formidable Goliath -- one who has threatened to use whatever force necessary to stop this humanitarian relief effort.

Oh well. That's Berkeley for you -- home to a whole bunch of us latter-day Davids. And although we may not win every round against the world's many Goliaths, we still keep on trying. And perhaps this time the FPM's half-a-boat will be successful in helping relieve the siege of Gaza.

(Here's a link to the FPM, where you can actually track the flotilla's progress via a coolness spot-locator:

PS: The City of Berkeley also recently announced that, within our city limits, a corporation is still NOT a person. Yaay!

PPS: When China successfully invaded America about a decade ago and established a strong beachhead in almost every town in the USA, it couldn't conquer Berkeley! To this day, Berkeley still does NOT have a WalMart.

Grassroots House members, from left John Selawsky, Henry Norr,  Jane Welford, Maya Drooker, Emma Coleman, Andrea Pritchett, Sean  Gallager.
Photo by Lydia Gans
Grassroots House members, from left John Selawsky, Henry Norr, Jane Welford, Maya Drooker, Emma Coleman, Andrea Pritchett, Sean Gallager.