Class Warfare in Philadelphia

Moonstone Arts Center Presents

Class Warfare

In Philadelphia



Image courtesy of Harvey Finkle

September 8, 22, October 6, 20, November 3

“some rob you with a sixgun, some with a fountain pen” song by Woodie Guthrie

Image courtesy of Harvey Finkle

Class Warfare in Philadelphia is a five part series of educational programs that look at aspects of the current economic condition of America as reflected in Philadelphia. The last several decades have seen a steady increase in the attack on the middle and working classes. In the middle of the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, the rich are getting much, much richer while everyone else sinks toward the economic bottom.

David Harvey in Enigma of Capital proposes that the crushing of labor in the 1980’s resulted in the freezing and decrease in real wages. Capital’s response to labor’s lack of ability to purchase was the creation of the debt (credit card) economy, the “ownership society,” which created “no-doc” mortgages, and the predatory lending practices that lead to the economic crises we are still in.  While millions of properties have been foreclosed on and people have beenevicted from their homes, many of these homes have been bought up by the rich as investments properties. Abandoned homes have been turned into vacant land which is also sold to investors.  Financial institutions have gone from predatory lending to little lending. Public Sector Unions, the last bastion of unions since NAFTA exported industrial jobs, is under attack. Communities struggle with how to respond to all of this.This is a frontal attack by the rich on the rest of us. What can we call it except Class Warfare? We are under attack and have not recognized it; we are headed back to the “Gilded Age” of the 1890’s. But the Gilded Age gave rise to the Progressive Age, the rise of Unions, and Social Welfare. We can learn from the past and create solutions to the present problems.

Each program will put the issue into historical context, look at the national picture and at what is

happening here in Philadelphia. We will start each program with the showing of David Harvey’s animated lecture  The Crises of Capitalism (11 minutes).

Program 1 – The Financial Sector

Thursday September 8, 2011, 5:30pm

The Moonstone Arts Center, 110A S. 13th Street, Philadelphia PA 19107, 215-735-9600

5:30pm – Reception and Opening of the Class Warfare Photography Exhibit

Image courtesy of Chris Hill

The current economic hard times Philadelphians and other Americans are experiencing share many features with earlier times like the Great Depression. During the Depression era, there was great interest in discovering how the hard times affected real people, which led to the rise of programs such as The Farm Security Administration, whose Photo Department became famous for thousands of images that profoundly changed how Americans looked at themselves and at the poor in their midst. This photography exhibition evoking today’s economic hard times is in the tradition of Dorothea Lange and the photographers of the Farm Security Administration.

7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture The Crises of Capitalism (11 minutes) Mr. Harvey, a scholar who heads CUNY’s  Center for  Place, Culture & Politics, describes not just the failures that caused the ongoing fiasco, but the failure of how we’ve explained it.

7:15pm: A Discussion on the On-going Financial Crisis, the Financial Sector and Predatory Lending with Professor Sanford F. Schram and Lawyer Irv Ackelsberg. Followed by questions and answers.

Sanford F. Schram teaches social theory and social policy at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College, and is an affiliate to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Irv Ackelsberg is a prominent public interest lawyer, Irv practiced for 30 years with Community Legal Services, Inc of Philadelphia where he led its consumer law work. He is an expert in the areas of consumer credit, foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, and consumer fraud. Irv has been the recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Andrew Hamilton Award for exemplary service in the public interest, and the prestigious Vern Countryman Award from the National Consumer Law Center, for his lifetime achievement on behalf of low-income consumers.

Program 2 – Foreclosures


Thursday September 22, 2011, 7:00pm

1199C Training & Upgrading Fund Auditorium, 100 S. Broad Street, 10th floor

7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture

7:15pm: Panel Discussion with

John Dodds is Director of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, a nonprofit membership organization that has been involved in efforts to prevent mortgage foreclosures since the early 1980s. Max Rameau is an organizer of Take Back the Land, an American organization devoted to blocking evictions, and rehousing homeless people in foreclosed houses. Take Back the Land was formed in 2006 to build the Umoja Village Shantytown on a plot of unoccupied land to protest gentrification and a lack of low-income housing in Miami. Volunteers break into the houses, clean, paint and make repairs, change the locks, and help move the homeless families in, providing supplies and furniture and helping residents turn on electricity and water. Though the occupations are of contested legality, as of December 2008, local (Miami) police officers were not intervening, judging it to be the responsibility of house owners to protect their property or request assistance. – cite_note-sfgate-2

Program 3 –Vacant Land


Thursday October 6, 2011, 7:00pm

1199C Training & Upgrading Fund Auditorium, 100 S. Broad Street, 10th floor

7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture

7:15: Panel Discussion

Marcus Presley has worked both as a labor and community organizer for the past six years. He is currently doing community organizing with the Woman’s Community Revitalization Project where he is working on a campaign to bring control of vacant land into the hands of neighborhood residents.

Campaign to Take Back Vacant Land Representatives

Nancy Salandra, Director of Independent Living Services at Liberty Resources, a cross disability organization for disabled people, run by disabled people, its three principles are: consumer choice, community integration, and dignity. Nancy has been working with disabled people for 32 years. Cheri Honkala founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) and the national Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), to help people who cannot get help through bureaucratic channels find solutions to their housing crises and is the Green Party candidate for Sherriff of Philadelphia. Ed Dodson retired from Fannie Mae in 2005, where he held various management and analyst positions in the Housing & Community Development group. He now teaches political economy at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Temple University and is director of the Philadelphia extension of the Henry George School of Social Science.

Program 4 – Unions and the Public Sector


Thursday October 20, 2011, 7:00pm

1199C Training & Upgrading Fund Auditorium, 100 S. Broad Street, 10th floor

7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture

7:15: Panel Discussion

Image courtesy of Harvey Finkle

Jim Moran was director of the Philaposh for 30 years. Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health mission is “the prevention of injury, disease and death on the job through information, education, technical assistance and political action,” and is the only organization that makes worker safety and health the top priority. Thomas Paine Cronin spent 35 years as organizer, local president, president of AFSCME District Council 47, and member of the board of the Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia AFL-CIO. In 2007 he became director of the Comey Institute of Industrial Relations at Saint Jos’s University until it’s closing last year. Frances Ryan is the author of AFSCME’s Philadelphia Story and taught labor history at the Comey Institute of Industrial Relations. Ron Whitehorne has been a political activist in Philadelphia for four and a half decades with roots in the civil rights, anti-war and labor movements. Becoming a teacher in the 1980s, he was a long time building rep, helped forge a partnership with parents, school staff and the community to build a new Julia de Burgos school, and co-chaired the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Community Outreach Committee.

Program 5 – Communities Confront Class Warfare


Thursday November 3, 2011, 7:00pm

Liberty Resources, 714 Market Street, Wade Blanc Room, 5th Floor

7:00pm: The David Harvey animated lecture

7:15: Panel Discussion

Casey Cook (Moderator) is a lifelong activist. She has been the Executive Director at Bread & Roses since 2006 and received both her M.S.S. in Social Work and her M.L.S.P in Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College. She took the job at Bread & Roses because of her passion for social justice and for fundraising and has already personally witnessed how the actions of this network create tangible, positive change in the lives of others. Ron Blount is a taxi driver and the popularly-elected President of the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance. He is also a student and a teacher, a thinker and a fighter. He listens more than he talks. When he talks, many listen. TWA is a group of people who have come together across races, nationalities and languages to form an organization that stands for human rights. Kaytee Riek has been a community organizer and activist for nearly ten years, focusing most of her work on addressing the root causes of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In addition to working for Training for Change, Kaytee works for Casino-Free Philadelphia and volunteers with ACT UP Philadelphia, an AIDS activist group that fights to end the AIDS epidemic. She is also a photographer and graphic designer. Craig Robbins is Executive Director of Action United, a membership organization of low and moderate income Pennsylvanians working to build power through organizing communities to win changes on the issues that are important to them. Fabricio Rodriguez could be described as a labor entrepreneur, he is co-coordinator the Philadelphia Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and he founded the union that now represents security guards at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philly ROC will begin classes to teach members the skills they need to move from low-paying kitchen work to higher-paid front-of-the-house jobs such as serving or bartending. In the lexicon of labor studies, organizations such as Philly ROC are known as worker centers. Ellen Somekawa Executive Director of Asian Americans United has worked in Philadelphia’s Asian American communities and in broader multiracial coalitions around quality education, youth leadership, anti-Asian violence, immigrant rights, and folk arts and cultural maintenance.

Gwen Snyder is Executive Director Philadelphia Jobs With Justice, a coalition of labor unions, community organizations, religious and student constituency groups building a movement for worker’s rights and social economic justice on the principles of solidarity, reciprocity, militancy and direct action. Philadelphia Jobs With Justice is dedicated to winning victories that matter for working people. Galen Tyler is a formerly homeless father. He was an organizer for the Kensington Welfare Rights Union from 1997-2003. He is a founding member of Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and is in the leadership body. From 1999 to 2006 Galen sat on an International body as a board member on the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Network(ESCR-NET) and a founding member. In 2003 he became the Executive Director of KWRU. He played leadership role in a couple city-wide coalitions, Philadelphia Affordable Housing Coalition and the Campaign for Housing Justice. Galen still remains as a low-income father working with all section of the population to put an end to homelessness and poverty.

There are many fine organizations working hard to confront the issues facing us today.  It takes perseverance and bravery to fight the fight, and it takes hard work, organization and money. Whatever the issue that interests you, there is an organization working on it, if you don’t know who they are, contact Bread & Roses Community Fund, who supports many of them and find out.

Wednesday October 26, 5:30pm – Film & Discussion

Liberty Resources, 714 Market Street, Wade Blane Room,. 5th Floor

What does the Sheriff do? Why do we have a Sheriff’s Department and a Police Department?

We have invited the candidates for sheriff to discuss how they see the position they are running for. One of the candidates who ran in the primary wanted to abolish the department. Cheri Honkala, the Green Party candidate, has pledged to halt home evictions and challenge the power of banks, even though one of the sheriff’s main duties is evicting people from their homes.

5:30pm – film screening of Matewan (a great film by John Sayles, on a coal miner’s strike in 1920 West Virginia, in which the police chief refuses to evict the striking miners) 7:30pm – Discussion on the position of Sheriff in Philadelphia

Photo Credits: Angelo Bendetto, Harvey Finkle,  Chris Hill, Chris Paquette – These and many other photographs are in our exhibit – Thank you Harvey Finkle, Ted Adams, Eric Menscher, and John Grant who helped make this program possible.

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