Tuesday Jun 06

Spring 2023


As the world turns, January 6th insurrection, according to Tucker Carlson, was just another peaceful protest, a stroll on a winter afternoon, and after seven years of rejection of my Indian visa applications, I was approved for a ten-years of travel there, so it’s wheels up tomorrow.  Fox and the House crazy caucus could care less what the rest of what our “lying eyes” saw at the Capitol in the famous words of Richard Pryor.  Narendra Modi, the conservative, communalist autocratic Indian president doesn’t seem to care about what the world thinks about his cozying up to Russia for oil and exports in the face of their Ukrainian invasion, but does in fact want a crowd when he hosts the G-20, so is finally willing to once again let the likes of me come into the country.  You figure?  I better make the most of it!

Which is what our contributors have stepped up to do in this first, Spring issue of our 53rd year, starting with a deeply researched report on the carbon footprint of housing stock in countries throughout Europe and North America by David Thompson and Mia Saito Callahan.  Turns out that if there are strong tenant unions in a country that direct correlates directly with accelerated retrofitting of heat emitting housing.  Mark my words, this is going to be a global campaign marrying tenant rights, energy poverty, and climate protection.  Moshe ben Asher and Khulda Bat Sarah in part I of a two-part essay share the details on evaluating the essential skills for organizers.  Bruce Boccardy, another frequent contributor, asks the hard questions about the rosy job numbers being announced these days by the White House. 

In a new “people speak from the grassroots” feature, we share an interview with two local leaders in Ottawa, Canada, who put the lie to any notion that community organizations are not leader led.  Jon Melrod also brings us a little reported story from the Philippines.

Our book reviews this issue are led by an insightful reading by James Mumm of several books that center of women in organizing, as I write this on International Women’s Day, but James also gets personal by sharing his perspective on his mother as an organizer and activist.  Mike Miller reviews Saket Soni’s book on the campaign he organized in post-Katrina New Orleans over Indian workers hoodwinked into forced labor in the cleanup and how that has shaped his mission in recent years.  Mike also remembers Casey Hayden in her own words, as I also remember Mike Davis and share some of his insights into Katrina as well.

Our excerpts this issue are outstanding.  Noted professor and historian John Womack, Jr. and esteemed labor organizer Peter Olney confront the long odds for labor power by sharing a dialogue on how critically positioned workers, if organized at the chokeholds and winning associational support, might be able to breakthrough many of the barriers we face.  Helena Worthen and Joe Berry have been activists, organizers, and leaders in uniting precarious, contingent higher education workers and share tips on what it takes to accelerate this organizing, which has been increasingly successful.  Organizing requires a lot of things but the freedom to speak is one essential, and Professor Dennis Baron takes what has now become a contentious political issue, despite how foundational it has been to the American experience, and sorts out our prerogatives while pointing out the boundary lines.

In our regular columns, Phil Mattera finds child labor violations by corporations outrageous, and Drummond Pike feels the same way about our modern robber barons and the shortcuts that caused the Palestine, Ohio’s train derailment and toxic spill.  John Anderson is scratching his head at the way conservatives are claiming to be populists and flipflopping on tenants in Canada.  Importantly, Gregory Squires reports on research that directly connects better health outcomes with affordable housing and inclusionary zoning.  In backstory, I worry that we aren’t paying attention or digging deeply enough in our pockets to make sure that we care adequately for our elderly in the US, UK, or elsewhere as people or societies. 

`The weather is getting better for a walk in the park, and as this issue details, there are many slogans we could put on signs and sing about loudly while we’re at it.