It’s been a year of change here at SRITS. After twenty years, I left my position as a community organizer with Syracuse United Neighbors. I have taken a new job as an advocate for disability rights with ARISE–a center for independent living (CIL) here in Syracuse. There are 37 CIL’s in NY State and their mission is to help persons with disabilities live independent lives in the community–rather than being forced to live in institutional settings such as nursing homes.
The scale is different. SUN is a small grassroots group with two employees and an annual budget of $150,000. ARISE is a sprawling social service provider with over 700 employees and a budget over $15 million. The atmosphere is more corporate–I have a cubicle, a name tag, I sign in and out of our building. I am no longer salaried, I am an hourly worker.
But the differences also come with greater stability, less stress and the ability to focus solely on social change. I no longer have to sell candy bars and organize barbeque dinners to help balance our budget. I also do not have to assist individuals with purely personal problems, folks who have no real interest in helping to transform their community. This kind of direct personal service is generally required of SUN staff because funders will not finance the revolution, but will gladly pay for the associated paperwork.
The biggest change has been attitudinal. I have been fretting ever since my move about whether I could be considered an organizer–a term that had long ago ceased to be a job title and had become more of a way I defined myself to the world. In my 20 years at SUN, I met and worked with many wonderful and inspiring people. Together we struggled to improve the lives of families and neighborhoods in Syracuse. Organizing is many things: it is riotously fun, it is remarkably stressful, it is intellectually challenging, it is a profession with a long and noble history and every once in awhile you help the Davids beat the Goliaths.
After much soul-searching, I have decided that, yes, I am still an organizer. I organize people to fight for their rights as persons with disabilities to live independently. I am still helping people fight for safe and affordable housing, but now it also needs to be accessible and community-based. I am still helping people fight for good jobs, especially since 70% of persons with disabilities are unemployed. I’m still helping people fight for the things that matter to them: good public transit, a decent education and a way out of the poverty that is slowly strangling so many families in our increasingly unequal society.
I am still organizing in the street.
Local columnist for the Post-Standard Sean Kirst (and a Bruce fan), once wrote a column about the best one-night rock show ever in Syracuse. He picked a 1957 rock and roll caravan, where up to 10 groups traveled together and each played 3-4 of their hits. These caravans were a big thing in the 50’s and 60’d–a musical revue with girl groups, soul, rockabilly and crooners all sharing the bill.
The May 13th performance of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in Albany, NY reminded me of this style of show. The difference of course is that Bruce & the E Streeters were the only band–and the music may have been even more diverse.
As I eagerly await my trip to Albany next week, for my ninth-ever Bruce show, here’s a recap of the prior eight: w/ links to the reviews I’ve done since I started blogging and the set lists courtesy of Brucebase
Updated to include 5/13/14 concert.
I attended my first Syracuse Crunch game since their inaugural season in 1994. This being the Crunch’s 20th anniversary, I figured why not give it another shot! (Discount tickets from my wife’s employer didn’t hurt either.)
(photos by Scott Thomas of Views Infinitum)
I really do not know why it took so long for me to get back to a Crunch game. Hockey is a sport that is best seen in person. The game was exciting, had some scoring and was pretty well attended for a bitter cold CNY evening. I had, on the face of it, pretty lousy seats–just a couple rows from the top and closer to one end than the other. But however much the locals like to criticize the War Memorial, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. It’s small enough that even the “nosebleed” seats give you a great view.
Albany Times Union Center . . .
with a few of the faithful rockin’ out to . . .
Bruce Springsteen and the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making –
Le-gen-dary E – Street – Band!”
City of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announces her opposition to a OCIDA tax break for the Destiny USA hotel (and 18 year PILOT–and I’m sure the payments will go directly to defraying the costs of construction and access to the site–so absolutely no money will flow to the city or county in property taxes.)
There is no better metaphor for the Destiny USA mall and its relations with local governments and taxpayers than the smashed-up, upside down, crashed house of Wonder Works featured inside the mall.
The most troubling aspect of the recent announcement that Bob Congel and the other parasites that control Destiny USA is planning to open a new hotel that will cater to shoppers who travel long distances to the mall, is the second part of the announcement: Destiny and its owner Bob Congel will seek tax breaks from the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency for the project.