My name is Phil Prehn and this blog is an attempt to record my thoughts, a way to force me to think about the things that matter and to correct the typos as I go along. I am an organizer for social change. I believe that people facing exploitation and oppression can work together to win the right to live lives of freedom and independence.
For 25 years, I have worked to bring this ideal to reality:
- After college, I became a VISTA Volunteer and for two years I helped to recruit volunteers to bring programs to inmates at the maximum security Auburn (NY) Correctional Facility.
- For the next 21 years, I worked as a community organizer for Syracuse United Neighbors, an organization of low-income people working to eliminate vacant houses, increase access to equitable city services and fight the bank redlining in their neighborhoods.
- I am currently the Systems Change Advocate for ARISE, the Independent Living Center for people with disabilities in central New York. I organize people with disabilities to advocate with local and state officials to pass legislation and implement changes on issues such as the physical accessibility of public spaces, improving access to health care, increasing the availability of accessible and affordable housing and ensuring that public transit meets the needs of our community.
I am not just an organizer for disability rights, I am also a part of the disability community. For many years I have dealt with the chronic condition known as lymphedema: an abnormal buildup of fluid that causes swelling in both of my legs that developed after recurring cases of cellulitis damaged the lymph vessels in my legs.
My political philosophy consists of equal parts Ella Baker, E.F. Schumacher and Tom Paine. I also believe in the power of Catholic saints, Buddhist moral precepts and the social justice mission of my Episcopal Church—but the one thing I believe with no hesitation is that heaven is located somewhere above the Green Monster at Fenway Park in Boston.
In my personal life, I love to take long walks with my wife and three doggies around our Syracuse, N.Y. home, read when I get some free time and sing along (badly!) with all types of music–rock, blues, punk, country, reggae in general and Bruce Springsteen in particular.
I’m an activist, a smart-ass and a homebody. These are my thoughts.