Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We Will Not Go Back

As part of the ongoing "fiscal cliff" discussions, Senator Durbin is negotiating behind our backs to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid -- cuts that could create depression-era conditions for millions of Americans who've paid for and earned support from these vital programs.

Join us on December 6th at noon to tell Senator Durbin that we won't go back! On December 6, we're building a Durbinville Shantytown encampment at the Federal Building to symbolize the dire consequences these cuts could have, and fight to preserve these essential programs. Join us! And bring a tent!

Come get free soup and bread every day in Federal Plaza from December 3rd - 6th!

Monday, December 3, noon: Soup and Bread line in Federal Plaza

Tuesday, December 4, noon: Soup and Bread line in Federal Plaza

Wednesday, December 5, noon: Soup and Bread line in Federal Plaza

Thursday, December 6, noon: Erect the "Durbinville" shantytown to show the world what these cuts really mean!

Enough is enough! It's time to stop unnecessary budget cuts and make corporations and the rich pay their fair share!

Demand that Senator Durbin:

Block the "debt ceiling sequester" cuts -- say no to austerity!

Reject Simpson-Bowles or any other "Grand Bargain" that attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, working people, the sick or the elderly -- protect vital public programs, no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid!

Block the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2% -- it's time for the rich to start paying their fair share!

Support and fight for progressive sources of revenue -- impose a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street financial speculation, tax capital gains as normal income and close corporate tax loopholes, cut Pentagon spending!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christ at the Capitol

This past Tuesday, members of First TrinityBenton House, and Bridgeport Alliance traveled South.

South to Springfield.

With our friends from SOUL and IIRON,
and a whole network of folks from Make Wall Street Pay, IL.

We were lobbying for SB-282, a bill that passed the senate, but is still up in the house.

This bill, if passed in IL, would require publicly traded corporations in IL to disclose their tax info. Right now, they don't.

Doesn't seem like a big deal.

Unless you're aware that about 2/3 of Illinois corporations don't pay any taxes.

Some of them even get paid to be here.

Nice, huh?

In our current political context, where cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and where scheduled upcoming Sequestration Cuts threaten to plunge our most vulnerable sisters and brothers into even more vulnerability, putting many of them in danger of losing their lives and well being (this is not an exaggeration),

it is our belief that SB-282, if passed, would be a step toward creating revenue through taxing the income of the ultra-rich and corporations, rather than taxing the lives of the poor.

One small step toward something better.

As we were hurrying about through the Capitol, finding our state reps,
sharing with them the importance of passing this bill,

(four of the six people in my group from Bridgeport are personally now, or about, to get cuts to the medicine they rely on),

we passed,
at the center of the building,
a Christmas Tree.

Along side it was a Nativity Scene, and around the scene were set-up chairs,
as if 
near the manger of Christ, 
there was about to be a press conference.

As I walked by the reporter and the camera standing up front, 
in a hurry, 
the reporter extended her hand to shake mine, 
asking if I was Pastor Something-Or-Another.

I shook her hand. “No. I'm not. Sorry.”

She looked confused. I walked away.

that there was a press conference, and from what I overheard,
it was some clergy-type ranting about how Our Nation was Founded 
on Judeo-Christian Values, etc., etc.

He was talking about the importance of the image of Christ at Christmas,
and how the Nativity was an important thing to display in our government building because some dead founders might have been Christians.

I heard no love in his voice.

But I was in a hurry, so maybe I missed it.

(The Nativity Scene itself is sponsored by a public-interest law firm).

Truth told, I'm not one to argue either way, for or against, religious imagery in a state building.

As long as all religions have equal access.

But if I were to stand up where that ranting man was Tuesday, 
speaking of the importance of the baby Jesus lying in a feeding trough at the center of the Capitol, 

I wouldn't be yelling about our founding fathers.

In fact, I wouldn't mention them at all.

Not even the Deists...

Rather, what I'd say is something like this:

To our Senators, State Reps,
(CC'ed to all the lobbyists and state-residents who pass through this building),
especially to Christians, to whom this symbol might hold some sort of meaning,

Remember this:

Remember this season,
when bills (like SB-282) are up for passing,
when choices being made about budgets directly help or hurt the poor...
Remember that this scene...

this Nativity of Christ

declares, through and though

that the one whom Christians call the Son of God,

and even the King of Kings...


that the Most High 
was born into poverty,
among animals,
and among the (ewwww...) common people.

His mother, looking dreamily upon him in this sentimental diorama

is the same scared, unwed, teenage-mother-to-be who cried out with joy at the good news of her son's birth,

singing powerfully about the lifting up of the lowly, 
the scattering of the proud,
and the tearing down of the powerful from their thrones.

Remember when you see the shit-covered shepherds gathered around this rag-bundled child,

when you see the Three Great Kings (or magi) bowing down to Jesus,

when you see the donkey and the camel and the mice,

what you are witnessing, friends,

is the acting out of the exultation of the poor,

the acting out of the disenfranchised worker placed,
now, at the center of God's story,
You are witnessing the bowing down of royalty
in order to serve the poor and vulnerable,

You are watching Kings
bringing valuable gifts to the Lowly One,
born in a barn,
without healthcare,
without hand sanitizer,

the wealthy sharing wealth

so that the Son of God might be lifted from such poverty,

just as he, one day, will declare that his mission 
is to liberate the captives,
to restore vision to those without,
and to declare the year of the Lord's reign, 
where the first become last, and the humbled are exalted.

Where the lowly are lifted up.

When you pass that sentimental,
pretty-and-glowing Nativity Scene this season,

remember that the decisions you make as our public servants,
sisters and brothers, matter.

Your decisions matter.

And when your decisions lift up the mighty 
and cast down the lowly,
not only are they unethical, but they are anti-Christian,
regardless of your political party,
and regardless of what church you attend.

When you pay mind to those with money, 
granting them special wishes,
rather than asking those with money to serve the poor, 
and to share their wealth for the good of all,
you are enabling those with money, and yourself, 
to destroy Mary's Song,
and to pervert the Gospel.

You sanitize the manger that declared God acting among, and lifting up the poor.

If you are going to put Christ at the center this season,
if you insist on it,
even at the center of the Capitol,
may the purpose not be
to dwell on some fantastic past,
or some idealized or beatified forefathers,

but rather
let the purpose be a reminder
that Christ at the center means the lifting up of the poor,
Christ at the center means Kings bowing down to the vulnerable,
Christ at the center means making decisions that liberate

and heal

and set free.

I pray that you make these decisions, in the Spirit of Christmas, and in the Spirit that showers constantly with the opportunity to reform and change.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Budget Showdown

Friday, November 9, 2012
Pritzker Park (State and Van Buren), Chicago, IL

Following the economic crash engineered by Wall Street, a devotion to corporate welfare, and historically low rates of taxes on the very rich, we face a manufactured budget crisis (sometimes called "the fiscal cliff") at the end of the year. And now we are being told that we need to pay for it through cuts to education, health care, and social services.

We've seen this before. Time after time, our elected officials face a choice: either make everyone (including big business and the very rich) pay their fair share of taxes, or cut programs that support working families, the elderly, and the poor. And time after time, the interests of the wealthy few have triumphed over the needs of the many.

On November 9, join IIRON, SOUL, Northside POWER, the Lakeview Action Coalition, the Jane Addams Senior Caucus, and National Nurses United as we say: Enough is enough! It's time to stop unnecessary budget cuts and make corporations and the rich pay their fair share!

Demand that our elected officials keep their hands off of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid!

Fight back against budget cuts set to begin at the end of the year!

Demand an end to the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 2%!

#BudgetShowdown #n9 #MakeWallStreetPay

Friday, October 19, 2012

BA General Meeting 10/25

Hi Friends -

Our next general meeting will be Thursday. October 25, 7:00PM,

First Trinity Community Center, First Floor.

643 West 31st St.

Bridgeport, Chicago.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Meeting

All apologies for the shifting meeting time.
We have rescheduled for Thursday, October 25, 7pm.
Location to be determined.
31st St. bus updates and future planning will take place, as well as discussion around revenue.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

 On September 20, Bridgeport Alliance, a community group member of the Clean Power Coalition, was a proud recipient of the Illinois Environmental Council's Environmental Leadership Award for working to close Fisk and Crawford. Go team!

Community Energy Choice Campaign Launch

After a decade-long campaign that resulted in the shut down of the Fisk and Crawford coal plants, it's time to make Chicago America's greenest city. Join the Chicago Clean Power Coalition for our new campaign launch to tell Mayor Emanuel we want to power Chicago with clean renewable energy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012 Meet at City Hall, at the Clark St entrance between Washington and Randolph streets at Noon. We'll have giant wind turbines, t-shirts, signs and stickers, so you can't miss us!

On November 6th, Chicagoans will vote on a referendum to determine whether the City will have the authority to buy electricity on behalf of its residents. Community Energy Choice will put Chicago on the path to be America's greenest city by investing in a clean energy future.

Join us to tell Mayor Emanuel to commit to developing in-state renewable energy sources with the purchase of clean, renewable energy made in Illinois and a goal of 100% renewable energy to run our city. Community Energy Choice will drive job creation and create programs to save energy across all of Chicago.

See you there! If you haven't signed the petition, please sign today!

Facebook Page

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Meeting Thursday

See you Thursday at 7PM, First Lutheran Church of the Trinity Community Center.

643 W. 31st St. Chicago.

We will be discussing the 31st St. Bus Campaign, our wins with the Clean Power Coalition Community Benefit Agreement, and more.

See you soon!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

31st street update - one more win on our route

Good news, dear people:

Mr. Claypool (CTA President) replied "Yes." to our ask tonight.

And he promised he meant it, right in front of the altar at First Lutheran Church of the Trinity here on 31st St. in Bridgeport :)

The Bridgeport Alliance, the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, and Little Village Environmental Justice Organization were all present.

We will be meeting with the director of the CTA's 6 month study re: the FULL 31st Street route, monthly.

Alderman James Balcer showed again to support BA.

One more battle won on our way to victory!

Good job, team.

Friday, August 17, 2012

in case you haven't heard, we're winning

a sneak preview of the "ask the Rev" section in the upcoming Bridgeport International. i'm sure it will be nicely edited by then :)

Dear Rev. Okay, man, I get that you guys in the Bridgeport Alliance group thawed it was a good idea to shut dawn the coal plants near by here. And you got it done. Good job I guess. But now you are fighting to get a bus on 31st Street? Who cares about a bus? Aren't their bigger battles and more important issues to fight for like real injustices? Do you real think our politicians are really going to listen to you? Aren't you wasting your time? Thank you.

Dear Writer,

Jesus' message in the Gospels, from the beginning, was a message about what he called the Kingdom of God—a kingdom that, he prayed, would be established “on earth as it is in heaven” as many Christians today also pray when they recite the Lord's Prayer.

As he preached about the Kingdom of God, Jesus called his would-be followers to its values. It is a Kingdom where, he said, the last shall be first, the lowly will be lifted up, and where the poor, the hungry, the marginalized and the oppressed will no longer suffer from poverty and oppression, but rather will be blessed. Blessed because injustice will be gone. Not because suffering is good. It's not.

Jesus called the crowds in the meanwhile to repent. And despite what they taught you in CCD, repentance isn't mainly about guilt-ridden apologies for thinking lustful thoughts every now and again. Or even often. [Those happen. No biggy. Deal with them in a healthy way and we'll all be alright.]

Rather, the Greek word we often awkwardly translate from the Gospels as “repent,” metanoia, is better translated as “be radically re-centered,” “be transformed,” “be reformed.” This was a call to the crowds. The masses. The folks who, in Jesus' time, were the 90 per-cent of the population who owned about 10 per-cent of the land.

Things haven't changed all that much.

It would be easy for me, dear Writer, as a person with pretty strong convictions, to devolve into a street-preacher screaming at the shoppers on Michigan Avenue about the danger of their consumerism, or a hobby-activist, hopping to every demonstration I hear of so as to put my values on display. Or just to preach at a church and never leave the church property. But Jesus didn't call his followers to scream. Or to just preach. He called them to change—individually and collectively. And politically.

My church, First Trinity Lutheran in Bridgeport strives toward those values.

And we fail all the time.

But we do have a goal of being a sanctuary, a safe place for folks who are often not safe, and a home, a place of belonging in a world full of xenophobia and alienation. It is my belief that as we seek to create that sanctuary and home inside our church walls, that it is also the work of faithful folks to work to transform our neighborhoods and the greater world into a safer, more welcoming place. Otherwise we are not quite practicing what we preach.

I haven't seen neighborhoods or the world change simply by preaching about love. Or by screaming on street corners. Or by uncentered demonstrations. I wish it was that easy.

But one way to have a real, concrete, direct impact in our attempts to exalt the humbled and humble the exalted, is through community organizing. Community organizing works. I know. I've seen it do so.

Dear writer, as you said, our first campaign as Bridgeport Alliance was working with the Chicago Clean Power Coalition to stop the pollution that was oppressing our health. We won that one. And we are still benefiting from that victory.

Our current campaign is a push to get the 31st Street bus reinstated, from Little Village, all the way through to the lakefront.

While, as I assume you are not a CTA frequenter, and so a bus may not seem like a big deal, or a “real” justice issue, the reality is that the implementation of this line would have a positive and liberative impact not only on the lives of members of the Little Village, McKinley Park, Bridgeport, Bronzeville, and Chinatown communities, but it would also help schools, churches, community centers, VFW Posts, and countless other institutions along the full route, including about 300 licensed businesses, those wishing to access Mercy Hospital and the VA who currently can not, and seniors living in food deserts in need of getting to a good grocery store. My own church and its clothing pantry patrons would benefit from this route, and so would Benton House and their food pantry patrons (both here in Bridgeport). I'd invite you to a Bridgeport Alliance meeting if you'd like to meet a group of folks who could go on for hours about the benefits of this proposed route. As its effects would be liberative, this is most certainly a justice issue.

Not only is this route a good idea and a justice issue that would liberate the disabled, vets, and seniors (among others), dear Writer, it is also winnable. Already, through grassroots organizing, we have gotten written and verbal support from Our commissioner John Daley, Senator Tony Munoz, Senator Mattie Hunter, Alderman Pat Dowell, Alderman George Cardenas, Alderman Ricardo Munoz, State Rep Esther Golar and Senator Martin Sandoval. AND our own 11th Ward Alderman, James Balcer, showed up to the last CTA Board Meeting and testified with Bridgeport Alliance and about 100 other residents from the 31st Street communities, that we need the full 31st Street Bus Route.

The day after the meeting, the president of the CTA, Forrest Claypool, called us up and said he wanted to have a meeting with Bridgeport Alliance. It's this week. In Bridgeport. At First Trinity. We'll let you know how that meeting goes.

So to answer your questions: thousands of concerned citizens care about this bus. It is a real justice issue. There are always “bigger” battles, but we pick winnable battles not big ones (this way we stay alive). And, lastly, not only are our politicians listening to us, but they are responding and showing up to our meetings.

Sometimes skepticism is really veiled apathy. I'd encourage you to find some passion, dear Writer.

Our call in faith is to change ourselves and change the world.

And change doesn't just happen. It's organized.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to join us.

God's Peace, Love and Liberation,

Rev. Tom Gaulke
Pastor, First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, Bridgeport
Chair, Bridgeport Alliance  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Partial Victory

While we did not get a full 31st Street Route which was proposed. The CTA is going to extend the 35th Street Bus for 180 days as a partial phase-in experiment.

The 35th Street Bus which currently ends on Kedzie will now be extended north on Kedzie to 31st Street, then it will turn west onto 31st Street to Cicero and finally head north to Cicero/26th at the soon to be remodeled Metra station.

After the 180-day experiment. The CTA did agree to a new proposal that after reviewing the data collected, they will consider any changes and the possibility of the full 31st Street Bus Route from Cicero to the Lakefront which was our original proposal.

While this route is not exactly what everyone may want. It is a victory. The CTA has not been in the habit of adding new service lately. This would be something new and it is needed. We will continue the fight for the full route. The fight is not over yet!

Suntimes, CBS, Tribune

From BA member and 31st street bus supporter, Joe Trutin:  I would like to thank Aldermen James Balcer (11th), Alderman George Cardenas (12th) and Senator Martin Sandoval and the many community members/groups along the 31st Street Corridor for coming to today's CTA meeting to speak for the need of the 31st Street Route. 

There were many other politicians who did come out in support of this route and deserve a huge thank you for making phone calls and writing letters of support. Senator Mattie Hunter (3rd), Senator Antonio Munoz (1st), Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd), Alderman Ricky Munoz (22nd), and Cook County Commissioner John Daley (11th)

Most of all thank you all for being part of this facebook page. I promise you that the wheels are still in motion to move forward with plans to get our FULL 31st street route along the 31st street corridor which will improve mobility and access to an employment center, rail lines, and other bus routes for low income individuals, seniors, and the disabled.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

General Meeting Reminder

Our next General Meeting will take place at 7:00 pm Thursday, August 9 at the Brother David Darst Center, 2834 S Normal Ave .  The main agenda item will be the 31st Street Bus.  Everyone is welcome. 

Call CTA President Forrest Claypool and Demand a 31st St. Bus!

Call Forrest Claypool for a 31st St. Bus!
Call 312-681-5001
After fifteen years without service, transit dependent riders in Bridgeport, McKinley Park, Little Village, Chinatown, Bronzeville and Armour Park remain without an East-West bus route along 31st St. Bringing back the 31st St. bus would help students safely reach schools, open up countless new job opportunities and offer a much needed economic boost for businesses along the route.
The federal government has offered half the funds necessary to bring the route back, and now we need to tell the CTA President Forrest Claypool that the community needs this bus route!
Here is a sample script to help you plan your phone call:

My name is ___________, and I would like to ask Forrest Claypool to fully fund the 31st St. Bus from Cicero to the Lakefront. As a resident of _________________ (neighborhood), I will be able to use the bus to
(Choose one)
□ take the bus to Mercy Hospital
□ take the bus to school
□ take the bus to work
□ take the bus to shop
□ take the bus to the new 31 St. beach
Our community needs this bus! Thank you.
email and let us know how your call goes!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bike/Roll the 31st Street Bus Route

The 31st Street Bus Cross-Town Coalition is back in action, fighting for a 31st Street bus route from Little Village through McKinley Park, Bridgeport, and Bronzeville. We are already making significant progress, and we need YOUR support for this campaign restart action.

SATURDAY 6/30 10AM-12:30PM join us as we bike the ROUTE.
(seniors will be taking PACE CARS to the beach!)

Hop on the "Bus" in your neighborhood!



Followed by a party and swimming at the beach.

Invite everybody! Let's get this bus!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Covenant for Economic Justice

Bridgeport Alliance was represented at the recent Covenant for Economic Justice public meeting hosted by IIRON at St. Mark United Methodist Church on June 10 by over 20 members and friends. 

Read more about it here.

Welcome to the New Blog!

Hello, and welcome to the Bridgeport Alliance Blog.  This is a brand new blog for a rather new group. There will be further information soon, but to get things started I present our mission statement:

Bridgeport Alliance is a grassroots organization of local residents and institutions committed to engage in the decision making that impacts our community utilizing education, advocacy, and collaborative action to promote responsive government and an improved quality of life for all residents.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Press Release - FTP March - May 2012

May 18, 2012
Bridgeport, Chicago, Illinois
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012 a group of protesters marched on Halsted Street from 51st to 31st street, stopping in front of the 9th District Police station to hold a rally and then continued onto Taylor Street.
Several members of Bridgeport Alliance were in attendance as observers.
Bridgeport Alliance would like to join the community in condemning the actions of the individuals who were protesting in Bridgeport on May 15, without the support of the neighborhood. As an organization committed to achieving real change through issue-based community organizing, we believe that demonstrations and protests must be carried out strategically and should be used to build community. We do not approve of the use of obscenity, intimidation or violence. 
Bridgeport Alliance plans to continue working with and for the people of Bridgeport and welcomes community member to join us.
For further information please contact