Dear RI: Who Is Working to Reverse Runaway Inequality?

A photo from a recent session in Cleveland, of people figuring out how to reverse Runaway Inequality.

A note from David Bitter:

May 13, 2017

I wanted to thank-you for inviting me to attend the May 2017 “Reversing Runaway Inequality” workshop in Cleveland, Ohio. After pondering the experience for a while I would also like to share some thoughts from my perspective.

At this unique point in time we face significant challenges associated with not only our desire for various forms of social justice but we also face environmental challenges that, unless satisfactorily resolved, may determine whether human beings face extinction in the not so distant future. Faced with such a dilemma I have asked: what should I do? …what can I do?… what will I do?

I know from my own past experiences that people will go to great lengths to avoid very stressful problems especially when their implicit world view (and how they see themselves) is threatened and even more when there appears to be no way to “fix” whatever caused the stressful problem. And when you add to the mental brew the creative talents of humans to imagine ways in which such a dilemma might magically go away, then charting a viable course of action seems even more distant.

And so I offer thanks to Les, and his CWA partners, in offering his book “Runaway Inequality –An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice” (and the associated workshop/training) as a way to connect the dots of many disparate “causes” through the theme of “Runaway Inequality”.

The Guide and associated training offer an approach that is non-threatening and thus could be used with, for example, the majority of Christians or Muslims, unions members or business owners…even Democrats or Republicans! Additionally, by organizing around the issue of economic justice, any human with a wallet or purse will find a common bond to the call for action and will find a common cause with the proposed solutions. I look forward to being a part of the growing of the populist movement envisioned and know that we can, individually and united, change the world!

With High Regards,

David Bitter – Student of Life

Les Leopold Northern California Speaking Tour May 17-20

Runaway Inequality author Les Leopold will be speaking about Reversing Runaway Inequality at events in Northern California — May 17-20. Please see the schedule below and reserve your space!

May 17- UU Fellowship of Redwood City – 2124 Brewster Ave, Redwood City – 8pm RSVP here: https://e.sparxo.com/RunawayInequalityRedwoodCity?rn=riblog

May 18- Indivisible Santa Cruz – Louden Nelson Community Center – 301 Center St, Santa Cruz – 6pm (RSVP to https://www.facebook.com/events/1745762739047446/ OR https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reversing-runaway-inequality-workshop-with-the-author-tickets-34018048900?aff=efbeventtix )

May 19- NextSpace Coworking Berkely, 2081 Center Street, Berkeley – 6pm (RSVP: https://e.sparxo.com/RunawayInequalityBerkeley?rn=RunawayInequality_blog_post_1)

May 20- Resistance Bootcamp – Alameda Point – 7pm  (RSVP: https://e.sparxo.com/Rootcamp)

A Review of Runaway Inequality in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy

The bulk of the review by Harris Gruman sits behind the paywall. You can buy short-term access ($36!) or get in if you’re a subscriber, but the lead paragraph is worth quoting:

“Les Leopold has a mighty ambition for all of us. Like Populist Era “lecturers,” [he believes] we need to educate the people of our land about the economoic big picture in order to build a coherent national agenda and movement. His book, Runaway Inequality, is offered as a handbook for that work, a manual for educators and self-organized reading groups to get a grasp on the interconnectedness of our situation through the lens of growing inequality. This goal is set out compellingly in his introduction. Such a project of uniting theory and practice requires a daunting combination of talents—presenting complex processes in comprehensible and persuasive ways, balancing anger and hope, being opinionated without being one-sided—and Leopold makes a laudable contribution to that effort with this work.”

How the Runaway Inequality Educational Project Got Started

This is from the email Les started sending people who signed up for more information about becoming a trainer or joining the campaign. We’ve moved it here so anyone who is interested might find it.

“As an economics educator, I was asked by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) in the Spring of 2015 to conduct five half-day sessions for Verizon workers on the need for movement building. None of us were sure what that actually meant but I said I’d give it a go. At the time, I had a rough draft of the book, the chapters of which had been articles run on Alternet.org and Huffington Post.

The class hit a nerve, not because I’m a charismatic teacher or because the book is a best-seller. Rather the workers involved were hungry for the facts about runaway inequality, its causes, and how it impacts nearly every problem they care about — from worker rights to our mammoth prison population.

The group was so enthusiastic that they wanted to become trainers. They also wanted books to be distributed to their co-workers. CWA was so moved that they proceeded to fund a program to train 60 workers trainers who would conduct 8-hour classes for 1,000 workers who would be paid for a day off from their jobs.  CWA also purchased 14,000 books.  Training for Trainers programs were then held in New York and Texas. Another is scheduled for the end of April in Nevada.

Citizen Action New York witnessed the program and decided it also wanted to conduct such training for community groups in New York state.  Forty trainers were trained in their network.

Next, unions and community groups in New Jersey asked to join the effort. Twenty-five trainers were trained on February 3-4 and another 25 were trained on March 3-4 with the support of the New Jersey Education Association and the NJ Work Environment Council.

We also held a pilot course linking runaway inequality to climate change. That will soon also become a train-the-trainer program starting in the West. Here’s a description of that effort:

http://runawayinequality.org/unions-environmentalists-a-movement/

More and more people are now reaching out to us. So the next step is to foster the training with you. We all will be learning how to do this effectively as we move on.

Fan Mail to a Runaway Inequality Trainer

The Communications Workers of America held a Runaway Inequality training session recently, and heard back from one trainee:

Hi Joe,

THANKS for such eye opening info!  It explains so much…
Some Democratic Senators like Chris Holleran addressed the very situation (in coded language like “uneven distribution of gains” referring to the spoils of the economy going to the haves, not the have nots) in last week’s Banking, Housing & Urban Development Hearing on Monetary Policy w/Janet Yellin. I can tell you more about that….
I’m definitely interested in taking the follow up class.
I hope these trainings will be given far & wide. I think the White Plains Greenburgh NAACP (Pres. Lena Anderson is interested in holding one and also the Unitarian congregation in White Plains (Rev. Meredith Garmon). The person to get to is Rev. Troy DeCohen – he is the President of the Westchester Interfaith Clergy Assn and also the head of a NYS black clergy organization – I bet he’d be interested in it too.
btw, do you have or could you put together a list of our think tanks?
Stay strong,
We’ll be posting information about upcoming training sessions here on the News page going forward.

What You Can Do Today!

CommonDreams.org is posting on its site action suggestions you can do each day. Phone calls work!

The list of all Resist Day posts is here.

Be sure to visit Commondreams.org regularly, for news and analysis.

Here are their suggestions for things you can do Every Day!

What You Can Be Doing Everyday

The Resistance Calendar

Many people have asked us where to find a listing of protest actions against Trump and inequality in a central location. So many asked we considered building out a calendar on our own. That job was daunting, which is why we were glad to discover (thank you Michael Moore!) The Resistance Calendar. It is a clearinghouse for information about marches and demonstrations provided by organizers.

If you’re looking for a collective action in your area, you may find it here.

If you’re an organizer looking for people to participate in a march or demonstration, make sure to list it here.