A decision by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to segregate buses in the occupied West Bank has backfired after causing an uproar in Israel’s Knesset, or parliament, and political damage on the international stage. Israeli settlers in the West Bank have been waging a campaign to prohibit Palestinians, particularly labourers who work in Israel, from using their buses in the occupied West Bank for over a year, saying that they represented a security threat, and refused to give up their seats for Israelis. Meanwhile, an Israeli rights group has accused the Israeli authorities of being indifferent to attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers and security forces.
In northwest Mexico, day laborers pick strawberries, raspberries and blackberries in the Baja California peninsula for what they say is as little as $1 an hour. Since March, thousands of workers have blocked roads, staged marches and held meetings with lawmakers to express their frustration over pay and conditions and their protests are slowly pressuring companies that supply U.S. markets to make improvements. Reuters visits a strawberry field in the dusty farmlands of San Quintin to speak to workers about their working conditions, described as “near slavery” and their fears of being exposed to pesticides.
Just steps from boutique-lined Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills sits the decidedly unglamorous Arturo's Shoe Fixx, where 88-year-old Argentine immigrant Arturo Azinian toils for 13 hours a day saving the fancy footwear of the elite in the ritzy 90210 zip code. The cobbler’s A-list clients include Jennifer Aniston, Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace, Nicole Kidman, Orlando Bloom and Jodie Foster. But while handling shoes worth hundreds and thousands of dollars, Azinian is utterly clueless about the famous people to whom they belong. "I don't remember a thing. I hardly remember my name!" he laughs.
In Argentina, a country that exports food to millions of people around the world, thousands of children in rural areas go hungry and millions of families have unmet dietary needs. The Huerta Niño project promotes organic gardens in rural primary schools, to teach children healthy eating habits and show them that they can grow their own food to fight hunger. The gardens benefit 20,000 children in 270 rural schools in low-income areas and the vegetables and fruit they grow are eaten in the school lunchroom. It also teaches them farming skills, under the slogan “it’s not about giving people food, but about teaching them to produce their own.”
After enjoying a fierce grassroots revival in the noughties, Roller Derby smashed into the spotlight with the release of 2009 sports comedy Whip It, starring Ellen Page. The sport continues to grow in popularity around the world, including in Victoria, Canada, where the local roller derby league is thriving thanks to its relentless crew of skaters who volunteer their time to move a beloved sport forward. Canadian skater Quinn MacDonald, aka ‘The Wife of Wrath,’ writes for Megaphone about how the inclusive and supportive culture of derby changed her life, and how it continues to challenge and break down barriers, particularly around gender identity and sports performance.
A smartphone app to support and connect people recovering from alcohol addiction has been launched in Boston. Sober Grid’s founder says the GPS-based app has the potential to transform the traditional recovery process by allowing recovering alcoholics to connect and mobilize on an international scale, through the use of social networking. So far, it has been downloaded by thousands of people, and is proving popular in the U.S., UK, Australia and Canada. “Thousands of people have already signed up,” its creator tells Spare Change News. “I’ve even had sober celebrities reach out to me, saying they think the idea is cool.”
Indian-American socio-political activist Arun Gandhi is the fifth grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Aged 12, his parents sent him to live with his grandfather in India, where the elder Gandhi introduced Arun to his theory and daily practice of peace and nonviolence. The pair had just 18 months together before Mahatma was assassinated but this was enough to transform Arun into a persuasive advocate of Gandhian ideals. In a wide-ranging interview with Danielle Batist for INSP, he argues that we need more positive news, and gives his advice to young activists. At 81, he is in no mood to retire. Arun Ghandi has also written an exclusive article for street papers in which he discusses why our ‘culture of violence’ must end for the good of all. Includes photos by =Oslo photographer Dimitri Koutsomytis.
An innovative project in Barcelona has been turning homeless people’s handwriting into sellable typefaces, with all profits going towards local non-profit, Arrels Foundation, which supports half of the city’s 3,000 homeless population. Homeless Fonts have been used to market products, displayed on websites and were even featured on the front cover of The Big Issue, Australia. INSP speaks to the project’s creator and participants about how their writing has gone from being on cardboard signs to household brands, and is now bringing in more than a bit of spare change for the homeless in the Catalan capital.
Seven years in the making, Gerald Posner’s God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican is a comprehensive study of money and the Vatican. It charts the murky history of the financial crimes and mismanagement of the Vatican over the years, from financing the first crusade by Pope Urban II’s sale of indulgences (earthly redemption for sins committed) through the Vatican’s WWII alliances with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, to recent financial reforms introduced by Pope Francis. John Barker reviews the book for Street Roots.
Although domestic violence can happen to anyone, lower-income survivors may have fewer options when trying to leave. Financial abuse is often a component of domestic abuse, and when victims attempt to leave their abusers, the risk of homelessness is a prominent fear. Street Sense discusses sources of aid for survivors, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, and speaks to vendor Roberta Bear about her experience facing and overcoming domestic and financial abuse.
Worldwide, there are 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, nearly 500 million Buddhists, and 14 million Jews. While the differences between those religions and ideologies are vast, each is benevolent at its core. Calling upon the diverse theological worldviews of local religious leaders and devotees, The Contributor’s Amanda Haggard explores the intricate relationship between peace, poverty, and personal faith in Middle Tennessee, USA.
In 2009, the city of Medicine Hat, Alberta adopted housing first, a progressive model for housing that gives homeless people lodgings before working to treat intersecting mental health, addiction and employment concerns. Today, Medicine Hat is on the verge of ending homelessness. Megaphone speaks to Ted Clugston, the conservative mayor who’s changed his mind about tackling homelessness—and who now hopes other municipalities will follow suit.
Joe Putignano began gymnastics age nine and by the time he was 16, he was competing in the Junior Olympic National Championships. But at the same time, Putignano was battling alcohol and drug addiction. His dependencies eventually spiralled out of control and saw him abandon competitive gymnastics, get kicked out of school and become homeless. After relocating to New York, Putignano got into rehab to kick his heroin and cocaine addiction. Clean and sober since March 2007, he has since worked for the New York Times and even joined the Cirque du Soleil as a contortionist. He speaks to Spare Change about his memoir Acrobaddict.
A Portland non-profit is helping inner city kids and veterans connect with nature through fly-fishing. Soul River founder Chad Brown is a former gang member turned US Navy Officer from Texas, whose involvement in the sport helped him overcome severe PTSD. He tells Street Roots that fly fishing is “medicine for the soul.” For the inner city youth he brings along on trips, interacting with nature is often a brand new and awe-inspiring experience.
For young mothers experiencing homelessness in Chicago, USA, there are few places to turn for shelter and support. Open Door Youth Shelter is a vital, family-orientated service that provides beds, cribs and a helping hand to homeless mothers aged 14 to 20, for up to 120 days. Suzanne Hanney speaks to the shelter’s staff and clients to learn about the reality of being a teenage mom without a home, and why more funding for services helping pregnant youth in Chicago is vital.
Growing up in shack with no access to running water or electricity in one of Soweto’s most underprivileged communities, Thulani Madondo understands the challenges faced by young people in Kliptown. His circumstances inspired him to found the Kliptown Youth Program, which provides valuable educational support and after school activities to encourage, support and inspire underprivileged youths in the area. “We give the children hope that they can have dreams and not be defined by the conditions that they live in, to have hope for the future,” Madondo tells Homeless Talk.
Trickle-down economics introduced in the 80’s by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher was intended to benefit society as a whole, by levying low taxes on the super-rich so they would spend more and their money would filter down. But what happens when the rich stop spending? Today, the world's richest 85 people own as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population. Samantha Bailie gives her view on the evaporation of trickle-down economics for Ireland’s Big Issue.
Laws criminalizing homelessness have been spreading rapidly across urban areas of the United States in recent years. They criminalize behavior and conduct that are often necessary for unsheltered and other homeless individuals, such as sleeping, sitting or begging in public, sleeping in vehicles and food sharing in public spaces. Many blame the laws on driving homeless indivuals out of the cities where yhje laws largely apply and prevent advocates from standing in solidarity with the homeless. Such laws make homeless individuals are dehumanized, degraded and shown that they are unwelcome and unworthy in such a “democratic” society,” says Amy Summer for One Step Away.
Nashville street paper The Contributor spends a day with Lauren Plummer, an outreach and housing coordinator for Open Table Nashville who is trying to break the cycle of poverty through social service. Lauren’s 13-hour day is a juggling act between offering counselling, helping clients fill out housing applications, giving them lifts to health clinics appointments, and running errands to help her friends experiencing homelessness or poverty.
A pioneering but illegal program launched in Seattle, USA, aims to curb infectious diseases among drug users by handing out free meth pipes. The theory is that it may steer some away from needles, a far riskier option than smoking, especially if the user is sharing with another person infected with HIV or Hepatitis C. There is little scientific evidence to support that claim, but The People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, a privately funded needle-swap group run by drug users, said it has distributed more than 1,000 pipes in Seattle in a matter of weeks and could expand to other cities in Washington state and Oregon.