Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Leaving Bread & Roses

When I worked as a professional E.M.T., I attended a number of trainings on how to deal with something called a "mass casualty incident". A mass casualty incident is an incident which, by its definition, overwhelms the resources at hand.

If there is one thing I have learned in my time at Bread & Roses, it is that poverty is a daily mass casualty incident.

Meta and I are leaving Bread & Roses after serving for four years as full-time, live-in volunteers. Selena leaves with us after offering six years of service. We will be moved out by May 31st. Four years (or six!) is a long time to be a full time volunteer, and it is time for us to move on.

Meta will be focusing on her campaign for Mayor. I'm working on a book. We both will be looking for part-time jobs in social services to support ourselves. Selena moves on to do some very exciting work with Partners in Prevention. The three of us will be renting a pretty little house together on the south end of Olympia, and will be taking the next year to rest, recuperate, and reflect. And then we're going to try something new and exciting! (You're just gonna have to wait until then to find out the details, though... it'll be like a good birthday surprise:) We will continue to be active in the community as volunteers and activists.

As I leave Bread & Roses, there is one last thing I would like to say on behalf of the B&R community: Get involved. Get active. Volunteer. We all have the ability to make a difference in our community, and if we have the ability it is incumbent on us to use it. The homeless need you.

Additional comment:

Since most of you no doubt read the Olympian, I would like to offer some corrections to their horrendously innaccurate and destructive article published on the front page this morning.

First, we at Bread & Roses do not "live for free" AND make a "$600 stipend". We receive free room and board and a $200 stipend. After adding up our living expenses we figured our TOTAL income per person (including room and board) to be about the equivalent of $600 per month. So I promise you, no one is getting rich at Bread & Roses (though I'll tell you that if we did actually get a $600 stipend I would have gladly taken it and bought health insurance).

Secondly, no-one at the Guesthouse is "losing" their "housing". The Bread & Roses Women's Guesthouse is a transitional shelter with up to four women to a room. The average stay at the Guesthouse is about 3 months. We are doubling our efforts to help the women find housing, and we will see to it that they each have their own home within one month. Moving from a shelter bed in a shared room to having an actual home of one's own could hardly be called "losing housing".

The Olympian should be more careful with their words.


Laura Mill Karlin said...

Hi Phil, I was just sending your blog's address to a former Olympian (K.Granger) who asked to be on our mailing list at Tacoma Catholic Worker. Had a clue from Bryce that changes were coming at B&R, but still felt like a WOW moment to read your post about leaving. Wishing you the very best, and glad you are continuing to write.
Grace & Peace, Laura Karlin
P.S. I've thought of your blog as a model! but hey, I already chose this same brown template before you switched over, so there's a coincidence! I'm lucky to pull one post together per month though so far.

The Editors said...


We met last winter at the B&R. I came down and stayed with you for a night during the Anarchy and Christianity confrence. I just found your blog from following a link on I'm really sad to hear that you and Meta and Selena are all moving on but that seems to be what happens a lot with Catholic Worker communities. I was staying at the Toronto CW last summer when close to eleven people moved on at the same time. Is there still going to be a B&R? It's good to find you online though I wish it were under different circumstances.

Chris Rooney

Currently Reading:

  • Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America - Todd Depastino

Recently Finished Reading:

  • Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
  • Utopia of Usurers - GK Chesterton
  • Orthodoxy - GK Chesterton