A Peaceful Action in God's City by the River


The Second Decade of




 Richa's Witness 

“Being homeless . . . helps keep me
closely in touch with needs due to
continuing injustice that is perpetrated
or tolerated by government at all levels.”


By Michael Chacko Daniels
Editor & Publisher, New River Free Press International

Photos by Judi Buchman

Since April 1995, Richa has slept at City Hall in support of a peaceful and just society.

Is that City Hall, Berkeley? New York?

The center of the universe for this just and peaceful action is in the American heartland city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, President Gerald Ford’s hometown and a frequent destination of Republican presidents.

You will find Richa five nights a week sleeping at the entrance of the Grand Rapids City Hall — regardless of rain, sleet, snow, or ice — winter, spring, summer, or fall.

He is this month’s Career Visions interviewee.

Richa, who goes by only this shortened version of his given name, first appeared in New River Free Press in November 1976 as one of the Trash Pickers of Grand Rapids (Lifeboat Ethics & The Making Of The Trash Pickers: The Issue Of Personal Responsibility).

That non-violent action in God's own city by the Grand River created a snowball effect that resulted in thousands receiving food.

Richa, who has been active in Grand Rapids neighborhood associations for many years, co-edits SPOON, a neighborhood newsletter, as an alternative to corporate-owned mass media.

In case the Bates, Bloombergs, Daleys, and Newhouses of city halls here, there, and everywhere begin to wonder what will set off sustained vigils such as Richa’s — now into its second decade — and for those who would like to support a peaceful and just society in their local area, I asked Richa several questions by e-mail in addition to the regular Career Visions questions.

What are your objectives for this (sleeping at
City Hall)
civil disobedience action?

I don't consider it civil disobedience; rather, it's a witness. Its legality is, in fact, in question, but this action is not based on legality or illegality; it's because it is appropriate to the circumstances of our area and our entire society.

Objectives are:

To be a constant witness to City of Grand Rapids and Kent County officials, a reminder that they could and should do a great deal more, and differently, in order to support and promote a peaceful and just society;

To experience some of the reality that others are forced to endure, so as to be more in touch and in solidarity with those who are most disempowered;

To be a personal reminder to others — and to myself — of the great needs that remain unmet and injustices that we are collectively part of, and of the importance of really addressing those issues.

What keeps G. R. (Grand Rapids) from removing you?

At first G. R. officials had no interest in removing me, apparently, though they did arrest me when i built a fire or painted on the City Hall sign, and they destroyed two houses i built in front of City Hall.

After three years a new police chief was hired, who brought a conservative "clean up the trash" agenda to the department — that agenda included homeless people as part of the "trash."

Then, they looked for an ordinance to use against me, and found one. They arrested me nearly 20 times in the next few years.

But that got others more involved, especially as we talked and learned how others were being affected similarly (but they usually would not resist orders to move, etc., and therefore never brought attention to the problem).

In addition, jails and i simply do not get along, and they tried most of the usual in attempts to crush or co-opt me, but without success — i had learned from previous experience.

My health while jailed was of special concern to some, as i did not eat the jail food because it was not known to be free of the cycle of abuse of people's basic rights.

A committee that included several city officials was formed to look at possible solutions. Though it got off to a bad start, which ultimately made it fail in working out a solution, there were some positive results, including creation of a community outreach worker job, which still exists.

When i moved from a part of the premises that had been designated as a public park to the main entrance to the building, the City Manager decided to let that be under certain conditions. Though i immediately made clear that i would not agree to the conditions, they have basically left me alone since, other than some police harassment. But even that has abated recently.

In short, i guess they see my witness as a minor enough threat or inconvenience that it is not worth the hassle involved in trying to keep me away.

[Richa’s Update on Police Harassment One thing i noted in the interview was that police harassment has abated recently. Well, just last night — June 5, 2006 — two City "security" people, who falsely claimed to be police, were very intimidating and persistently demanded that i leave. They both looked young, so i used the occasion to urge them to look for other, more positive work. They only left after calling the real police, who informed them that i had permission to stay there. It's a reminder that City officials have not changed their basic attitudes, even though they tolerate my presence at this point in time, and that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.]

How many nights a week do you sleep at City Hall?

Usually five nights a week. The other two i spend with my partner, Judi. That compromise reflects the great value we place on our relationship, and is a conscious decision to take the time and energy we need to maintain and grow that relationship while at the same time allowing us both to be true to our leadings.

Richa’s E-Mail Postscript
Our spiritual life is rooted in our everyday relationships.

A Richa Data Bank

High School
Class of 1965
Walt Whitman High School
Bethesda, Maryland

1 full year, part of 2nd year
University of Minnesota

Teacher that influenced Richa the most

M McClellan
First grade teacher who cared,
took us to her home

Books that influenced Richa the most

No Contest: The Case Against Competition > Alfie Kohn
The United States in Vietnam > George M. Kahin and John W. Lewis
The Kingdom of God Is Within You > Leo Tolstoy
The Problem of Prisons > David Greenberg
Looking Backward > Edward Bellamy
Better, Not Bigger > Eben Fodor

Favorite Philosophy

Here is a “signature” for email messages that i used for awhile:

I keep working for a just world because:
What i do for others, i do for myself;
I require meaning, which i create through work
that reaches beyond myself;
I have only this one life to lead;
no matter what i suffer, there are always others
who suffer more;
truth and love, the twin pillars of the universe,
can withstand, and change, the world;
I know i'm not alone;
it feels good.

Favorite Singer

Phil Ochs

Favorite Quotations

“What is the use of running when one is on the wrong path?”
old proverb
“A good example is the best sermon.”
old proverb
“What affects one directly, affects us all indirectly.”
Martin L. King, Jr.
“Peace begins with our personal actions and relationships.”

Richa's Published Works

A selection from his articles, letters, contributions, poetry, short stories, art

The Grok (editor, underground newspaper, 1975)
Dealing Nonviolently With Rape (editor, 1976)
PaceM (editor, Mensa pacifist newsletter, 1979-1980)
We Are All Responsible: Testimonies on
Sexual Abuse in Central America (editor, 1986)
Misinformation: Another look at how the Grand Rapids Press
presents information on Central America (co-author, 1990)
The FUNdamentalist (co-editor, alternative newspaper, 1992-8)

Driving Subsidies in the Grand Rapids Area:
A Preliminary Assessment


On Track for Sustainability:
A Study of Rail Options for West Michigan

(contributor, 2000)

(editor, 2004 )

(co-editor, community empowerment newsletter, 2004-present)


New River Free Press International

Tell us about yourself.

What makes you who you are?

RICHA    I was brought up with all the “traditional” unearned privileges – White, male, U. S. American, middle-class, able-bodied, plus am basically heterosexual and relatively stable mentally. Yet was one of those kids who didn’t fit in, got picked on, felt unjustly treated. For instance, my parents made clear how “special” my first sister was, and they hit me (and my brother) far more often than my sisters basically because we were boys. And as i got older our suburban life felt increasingly meaningless.

That sense of injustice has stuck with me. I’ve tended to identify with others treated unjustly, while at the same time learning to recognize my privileges. I let those privileges go where i reasonably can, such as passing on inheritance money, keeping my chest covered in public, sharing what i own. Where i can’t give up privilege or where it makes little sense to do so, i try to directly support others who lack so many privileges and to work for greater systemic justice.

I learned early the importance of being consistent, though at times have had to work at becoming more so. It has meant things such as not paying taxes that support war, using a bicycle and not owning a car, growing organic gardens and knowing that what i eat does not contribute to corporate exploitation, etc. Those and other decisions have radically changed the way i live. Interestingly, those changes have invariably had unexpected benefits – keeping me out of the corporate rat-race, enhancing my health, etc.

In fourth grade our all-White school had its first Black student. I remember a classmate asking me, “What do you think of n.....’s?” I didn’t know what he was talking about, and didn’t know what to think when it was explained. But in considering it, i saw that the Black boy treated me and others well. And i did not like the classmate who asked me the question (which i found was as much a statement as a question – HE did not like Blacks). He was the mean, bullying sort. So i started identifying positively with someone “different” through those quirks of circumstance.

Much else had to be overcome, including literature that equated Black people with monkeys and similar blatantly racist images, as well as negative personal experiences later, notably being raped by a Black man. That was at the beginning of a two-year prison sentence for declining to participate in government-sponsored mass murder during the war against Vietnam. But a foundation had been laid.

The prison sentence put me in touch with others who worked to oppose war and other injustice, setting me on a path i’ve followed generally ever since. There was a great sense of support and encouragement that had previously not been there for me. I began to feel a part of a community, doing truly meaningful work.

The rape was a traumatic turning point. Feeling terrible and at a low point while in the “hole” at Lewisburg Penitentiary, i rammed my head against the cement wall, just wanting to obliterate consciousness. Soon after that i decided to face and deal with my feelings of worthlessness and shame, first by determining that i would never let such a thing happen again if possible, then that i would talk freely about what happened, and finally that i would become open about everything in my life.

What a sense of liberation! It came slowly and took a few years, but i did reach a point of resolution. In the process i heard from many others who had experienced rape (most of my women friends and some men friends and acquaintances, i came to discover). I had by then already learned that rape in many male prisons and some jails was pervasive.

That led to looking for ways to deal with this issue. I found some that seemed to make a difference. Later i learned how pervasive this was in other countries, supported by the USA government, particularly in Central America at the time. I raised that issue as prominently as i could, including sending thousands of copies of a publication i edited on the issue to Congress, government officials, and others. It didn’t seem to make much difference, and by then becoming more settled got me to focus more locally.

More broadly, i had been very fearful as a kid. This whole process enabled me to mostly overcome those fears, first of physical pain and violence, which, as a prison resister, was pervasive. Now, when police or jailers threaten me or handle me roughly, i can respond calmly and even with compassion for those who abuse me. In fact, sometimes i have to keep myself from laughing!

Second, and probably more difficult, the fear of social rejection. I’ve learned to say what i think and act on what i believe, and to accept that there will be a certain amount of rejection because of that. I still react defensively at times – that work is ongoing. But i now have more and closer friends, who i know to be more than fair-weather friends – which is very important to me. And i can now say to those who live lives of fear, you can overcome!

Now i’m over thirty years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and very committed here. My partner, Judi Buchman, and i eventually lost our house due to a witness for local change, and i’ve been homeless the last eleven years (Judi chose to become a live-in staff person at a homeless shelter when the City took our house). Being homeless (i continue the witness by sleeping outside the City-County building) helps keep me closely in touch with needs due to continuing injustice that is perpetrated or tolerated by government at all levels.

Despite, or maybe partly because of all the difficulties, i am constantly thankful for the blessings of a rich life. Each day is a gift, and life and consciousness are amazing!


New River Free Press International

What was your vision of

society that brought you to

the work you do?

RICHA     A society in which every human being is considered and treated as sacred. A world with minimal coercion, and without physical, emotional, or psychological violence. Change starts with each of us, by creating a solid foundation in how we live and how we relate with others. Supporting each other to make those changes is itself a basic part of my vision of a just and sane world.

No intrusive advertising. Information freely shared. Everyone is guaranteed the basics of life (see www.usbig.net for a great site addressing this). Precautionary principle rules for all new substances. Education replaces or transforms schooling. Full-cost pricing – internalizing social and environmental costs – is applied to everything sold. Even our biggest dreams are generally achievable if we are willing to work for them.


New River Free Press International

What do you think we

should remember as we remake

the world through the work we do?

RICHA     All of nature’s bounty, as well as the tremendous work of all humankind through many millennia up to the present time, is the natural heritage of us all – equally. That heritage must be preserved and passed on. In fact, we should have every expectation that we will leave this earth better for those who follow us than it was when we were born.

We have a lot to learn from the past. To illustrate, i’ll share one success and one challenge in my own life and work.

The community land trust concept came largely from indigenous relation to the land. Reformers and activists adapted that wisdom to form the modern concept. I was slightly involved in that, but my more significant involvement was bringing the concept to Grand Rapids. Eventually a non-profit developer took it up, and now we have one here that is one of over a hundred across the country.

A challenge for me still is finding the right balance between fitting in and doing the work needed for a more just society. I see our local “peace movement” and some of its allies making some of the same mistakes as were made during the anti-war days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, particularly dominance by men whose egos take more precedence than working cooperatively for change, as well as acceptance of that by others.

Challenging powerful people with large egos who present themselves as proponents of peace and justice is never easy, yet i have come to see it as a necessary step in creating the kind of society we all should expect to have.

In both the above and many other cases, i’ve found that making substantial change can take years of work, which may include considerable struggle and risk. Ending the war against Vietnam was the same. First there were only a few strong voices, then more, and eventually there were millions. Even then it took more years. Yet eventually change happened. And as part of that process, a few women first questioned the dominance of men, shared with others, and eventually their truth grew to become a substantial part of another movement for justice, which transformed the peace movement along with practically everything else. In fact, those small stirrings may have had greater long-term effect than the much more dramatized antiwar movement itself.

Take care of ourselves. Do work that you love or at least feel good about and that makes a positive difference for others. Take special time for yourself, your family, your friends.
One thing my partner and i do is set aside a day each week for each other, plus usually one longer period of three days or more each month. We go to area parks, take trips, read together, play games, meditate, etc., leaving our other work mostly behind for that period. It’s great for both of us, and very likely makes our work more effective in the long run.


New River Free Press International

Has your vision changed

as you have participated

in the remaking of the world?

RICHA     For one thing, i experienced a sense of gratitude in being taken in by others when i was younger and had no shelter or food. Helping to do the same for others gave me a sense of satisfaction. But as we did this at our home in Grand Rapids, i came to see that we were putting the proverbial mortar in the cracks of an increasingly leaky and crumbling dam. So i’ve learned to see the great importance not just of personal transformation, but of systemic change.


New River Free Press International

What challenges do you

perceive in achieving your

vision of society?

RICHA     Besides those stated or implied above, today perception, mainly induced by corporate-controlled mass media, becomes reality. To counter that is a huge challenge. To address it, two years ago i tried to get sufficient signatures to establish a municipal public access newspaper. Quite a few people here loved the idea, but hardly anyone was willing to give it priority and go get the signatures, so we did not get enough.

That’s another challenge – people’s lives are so busy! Those who want to make positive changes only have so much energy and so many hours in the day, and much of that is generally given over to feeding the corporate state.


New River Free Press International

What needs to be done

to overcome these challenges?

RICHA     Establish more independent media. Learn to rely on our direct experience. Get more in touch with our basic spiritual nature. Follow our spirits, and share our leadings with others. Get a handle on the big picture – both what is, and what can be done. Then take small steps toward getting it done, with the faith that many others are also taking their own small steps.

Learn from history – in this country some things that were pooh-poohed as impossible included overcoming extremely sexist attitudes, ending overt slavery, establishing a social safety net of sorts; globally, the power of nonviolence to stop state oppression and bring liberation. Practice and teach the huge and many benefits of power-with versus power-over.


New River Free Press International

What pointers would you

give young people of the 9/11

generation as they work in

public service assignments?

RICHA     Don’t think of yourselves as “the 9/11 generation”. Those jet attacks were insignificant in terms of structural violence, which might be termed “structural terrorism”. Over 20,000 children die daily due in large part to the greed of our society, which steals the resources of others around the world in order to gain ever more power-over (and to become increasingly dissatisfied!). And to be attacked by people who have consistently been severely oppressed and robbed of resources is to be expected.

Think of yourselves instead as a generation that may, due in part to unprecedented communication capability, radically change the world for the better. But you’ll have to work hard at it.


New River Free Press International

What personal lessons have

you learned from the effect of war

on children in Africa and Asia?

RICHA     The war against Indochina taught me a lot. That many people would support such a terrible thing. That entrenched powers are particularly responsible. That stopping such a war is a huge challenge…but is possible. That focusing just on stopping a war is not enough; we need to change the institutional forces that promote and allow such wars.

Wars in Africa particularly remind me of the importance of international law. We mostly support the rule of law everywhere except globally, where anarchy reigns. Anarchy might be fine in a world full of enlightened peoples, but that is not our world at this time, so international law seems the best bet to curb some of the extreme violence, not just in Africa but everywhere.


New River Free Press International

What personal lessons have

you learned from the

post-Hurricane Katrina

tragedies in New Orleans?

RICHA     The depths to which a grossly indifferent, greedy, power-mongering government administration can sink. How deeply racism and classism are still entrenched in much of our society.


New River Free Press International

What personal and public lessons

have you learned from the

devastation caused by the

Asian Tsunami and the

South Asian Earthquake?

RICHA     They have been reminders that to a significant degree, even huge catastrophes only touch me to the extent i have personal connection with people directly affected.


New River Free Press International

How have these lessons changed your life?

RICHA     Made me more aware that i need to reach out imaginatively; to put myself in others positions mentally/emotionally. Reaffirmed the need to work for justice where i am, in the ways i best can. Reminded me that we are all interconnected. What i model here and now might be one piece that helps others plan sufficiently to avoid the next big levee break or better prepare for the next tsunami or be more motivated to work for needed system change.



NRFPI ~ What was your experience

running for Mayor of Grand Rapids?

Richa  ~  It was intense, as i took it seriously, though realizing from the start that i had almost zero chance of winning. It was largely new to me, never having run for a public office before.

All the filing requirements were a hassle, even though minimized in my case because i did not expect to raise or spend above the threshold for more stringent reporting requirements here (and did not, in fact, do so).

It was kind of fun talking with so many different people, and a number of groups, with most of whom i would not have had that opportunity otherwise – Chamber of Commerce, education association, neighborhood business groups, etc.

I normally don’t deal with corporate media at all, though on occasion will do so if they agree to include a statement that points out the influence corporate pressure and advertising has on that media.

The local corporate media had only been willing to go that far once before – when i built my house in front of City Hall. But running for mayor made them similarly interested, and to my surprise they all agreed to include such a statement (at least 3 of the 4 did; i was never sure about the fourth).

But even with that, coverage was pretty bad, partly because there just was not much coverage of the issues, and partly because some media slanted things to an extreme.

Fox News was the worst, totally eliminating any mention of my opposition to the war, which was central to my campaign. ~

NRFPI ~Why did you do it?

Richa  ~  It was a leading. I’d considered it during the previous election cycle when i was in jail most of the time, but that did not leave enough time to do even the minimum necessary work to put together a campaign.

In general, local politicians tend to at best ignore real issues that greatly affect us, such as war, blind economic growth, increased reliance upon punishment and incarceration, and extreme structural inequality. Those were my prime issues.

I was also motivated because the lead contender – who ended up winning with an overwhelming majority – was a person who, though liberal on the surface, i knew from experience to be quite the opposite in private. I consider one’s basic integrity to be fundamental to everything else, and i could not see such a person getting into the City’s highest office without challenge. ~

NRPI ~What is your advice to

those who may be thinking

of running for mayor of their cities?

Richa  ~  Having come in last of three candidates running, i’m not in much of a position to give advice to others.

Here’s what i will say: My outspokenness over the years has certainly turned some against me, especially some in powerful positions. I would have no doubt had a better chance had i been less outspoken and more a “Hello, good buddy!” baby-kissing kind of person – and i mean that seriously. On the other hand, there are definitely things more important than winning, and i have no regrets on that score.

I’ll also point out, having made a particularly strong issue of how the war against Iraq was negatively affecting our city, that i ran at about the worst possible time, when support for that war was much higher than it is now. While the person who won the election was also against that war, he did not make it an issue, either before or after the election.

But that’s part of the value of running for such an office when you are in a minority – you help bring attention to issues that otherwise get inadequate if any attention. That can only help the process of educating others and eventually turning things around. And that’s largely what it’s about anyway.

Running for office, for me, was just one experiment in a life of attempting to make the community and our world a more peaceful and just place. If you see it like that, then by all means, go for it! ~

NRPI ~ And for those who are

not planning to run?

Richa  ~  Vote, where you think it can make a difference. The system is set up to make that very difficult, but there are things you can do to help change that.

Add your voice to those of us who demand integrity in the voting system – such integrity has recently been greatly compromised by inadequately controlled electronic voting. Support instant runoff voting, which would allow you to vote for who you REALLY want without having to worry about “wasting” your vote. Check out www.fairvote.org for info on these and other actions you can take.

And, aside from the voting booth, vote every day with how you live, how you spend your time and money, how you relate to everyone around you. That’s what will have the most impact. ~ ~ ~


______ * ______

Excerpt from

Getting to the Roots

by Judi Buchman and Richa

We were both drawn in to peacemaking in response to a horrible war (yes, all wars are horrible). We saw loved ones, young men from around the country leave to kill others in a distant land. Recognizing that our government was responsible for these tragedies was a rude awakening to us. Richa spent two years in prison for refusing to have anything to do with that war; Judi supported others who refused to participate. We both spoke out, demonstrated, organized, eventually with millions of other people. All of us working together finally did put an end to it.

Part of our peacemaking was refusal to pay federal taxes that would have gone for warmaking, and re-directing that money to life-supporting activities. That forced us to simplify our lives, because we could not earn very much money without being dishonest, which for us was never an option. That meant, among other things, several adults living together in a household, sharing a car or not owning one at all, and consuming less.

But all that turned out to be exactly the right thing for us – a blessing in disguise! We learned more and more about the political/economic system we were born into and were taught was the world’s leading participatory democracy. It does have its good side, but it also contributes heavily to oppression of others and damage to the earth. Our simplification also freed us from working at jobs we didn’t like in order to make a lot of money – jobs that too often also contributed to the destructiveness – and gave us more time to devote to making our world a better place as well as for simply enjoying ourselves.

We’ve seen our earth being plundered. Why was this allowed to happen? We’ve seen suffering locally and around the country, and have heard or read about it in other countries. We’ve learned about our government’s role in so much of this. We’ve had to ask: Why? . . . .

After much discussion, study, and prayer, we decided to redirect city and county taxes on our home as a challenge locally to that systemic injustice. Instead of paying that money to City and County government, we gave it to organizations locally and elsewhere that worked for justice. Since our home was in many ways the center of our lives, as well as our major material asset, this was a big risk. Yet it seemed fitting, given our frustration in trying to make progress in other ways, and seeing our nation gradually resume its warmaking and other oppression throughout the world.

We argued that this action was justified due to the extreme needs that were not being addressed otherwise. It was a cry for the people suffering and against the madness of a system that masquerades as democracy and “the free market”.

We further argued that we were meeting our obligation to the community by providing a safe, supportive shelter for homeless people.[1] But local officials did not accept our tax re-direction, and ended up taking our home from us. We did not resist when it came time to evict us, as the house went to a family in need via an “urban homesteading’ program.

Judi moved to a homeless shelter right down the street. . . .

Richa moved to the City/County building downtown, where he first tried to build a house, but City officials destroyed that. So he was forced to sleep outside, where he continues his witness – a public presence that is a reminder to himself as well as others of the great gap between our democratic ideals and the present reality. . . .

Richa contributes to two existing groups that in some ways attempt to deal with these criminal justice problems: One is an attempt to gain consensus on what responses are appropriate for various illegal or annoying “street” behaviors in Heartside-Downtown, the other is a “restorative justice” group. The latter group seeks to reconcile all parties to conflicts; to bring them into harmony with each other, with a goal of restoration and healing, rather than simply to punish. . . .

Richa has been quite involved in the Heartside-Downtown area. He is a long-time participant in Hard Times Café of Grand Rapids, which is poor and disempowered people coming together to make decisions for themselves. He was also instrumental in changing the Heartside Neighborhood Association so that it became controlled by residents rather than business and agency representatives who live outside the area.

Richa led an effort, which Judi was also part of, to establish a City task force to seriously look at basic justice issues; that is, issues of general fairness. Eventually the Mayor’s Justice 2000 Task Force was officially established by the City’s last mayor. During the two years it operated, a dozen or so of us surveyed over 1000 people, mostly in the central part of Grand Rapids, to find out their basic justice concerns. We reported on that survey, and at the end of the two years we presented a set of recommendations to the City Commission. This effort was, to our knowledge, the first serious attempt within the City to define people’s basic justice issues from the perspective of those most likely to be the victims. . . .

We don’t spend all our time on social justice and social service work. We take time to relax, enjoy, and replenish ourselves. One thing we do is set aside one day a week for each other, during which we do things like go to parks, read, play music, etc. This helps balance us. We take some time, together and separately, to meditate. This may be informal…simply sitting awhile and relaxing, letting our bodies and thoughts slow down, naturally recharging ourselves for the next activity.

We sometimes work on various art projects. Judi likes to make things with children. Richa does occasional music and poetry, and recently has tried some cartooning. Much of our creativity, however, comes out in our daily lives. That may mean discussing new ideas, trying out creative ways of helping others or promoting peace, joking around with friends, focused listening, or reminding ourselves of the mysterious awe of creation and being thankful for the tremendous bounties we have...health, friends, good work, abundant food and water and fuel, and continued hope that we can help leave our world a better place.

Read more at http://www.iserv.net/~ige/rj/justicemakers.html or click here

[Excerpt reprinted through the courtesy of Judi Buchman and Richa.]

Read More In:
Stories of people in the Grand Rapids
area who live and work for justice
January 2004
Published by Radiant Justice Implementation Group
under the auspices of
Institute for Global Education
P. O. Box 68039
Grand Rapids, MI, 49516
Hard unbound copies $2 if picked up directly
By postal mail: 1-3 copies: $4 each, 4-10: $3.50 each, 11-24: $3 each, 25 or more: $2.50 each
Add $1 per copy for bound copies (plastic comb, covers with card stock)

Available online at: http://www.iserv.net/~ige/rj/justicemakers.html

Checks are tax deductible. Make out to: Institute for Global Education

More Books from Richa’s Book List

For some of the subjects, there are now better books
than the ones I have listed, or at least more up-to-date.

The Little Engine that Could > by Watty Piper
George Hauman (Illustrator), Doris Hauman
Madeleine > Ludwig Bemelmens
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
The Quiet Battle > Mulford Q. Sibley
Inside the Company > Philip Agee
No Contest: The Case Against Competition > Alfie Kohn
A Man to Match His Mountains:
Badshah Khan, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam > Eknath Easwaran
Away With All Pests > Joshua S. Horn
The Toilet Papers > Sim Van der Ryn
Consumer Owned: Sweden’s Cooperative Democracy > William T. Lundberg
How to Grow More Vegetables than You Can
Imagine on Less Land than You Thought Possible > John Jeavons
Black Boy > Richard Wright
Bringing Up a Moral Child > Michael Schulman and Eva Mekler
The United States in Vietnam > George M. Kahin and John W. Lewis
Who Rules America? > G. William Domhoff
Liberating the Early American Dream > Alfred F. Andersen
Countdown Zero > Thomas H. Saffer and Orville Kelly
Inventing Reality: The Politics of the Mass Media > Michael Parenti
I, Rigoberta Menchu > ed. Elisabeth Burgos-debray
Creative Dreaming > Patricia L. Garfield
The Kingdom of God Is Within You > Leo Tolstoy
The Pursuit of Happiness > David G. Myers
Rogue State > William Blum
Somebodies and Nobodies:
Overcoming the Abuse of Rank > Robert W. Fuller
The Black Cloud > Fred Hoyle
Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape > Susan Brownmiller
Instead of Prisons > Fay Honey Knopp and others
Where There Is No Doctor > David Werner
Looking Backward > Edward Bellamy
Wealth Addiction > Philip Slater
Going Local > Michael Shuman
Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook > Michael Fogler
Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability > Mary E. Hobgood
The Sacred Fire of the Odawa > Mack-a-da Ming-giss-was
Healing the Heart of Conflict > Marc Gopin
Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the
Charter of Incorporation > Richard Grossman & Frank Adams
Better Not Bigger > Eben Fodor
Eyes of the Heart > Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Gender Outlaw > Kate Bornstein
Trauma and Recovery > Judith Herman
Restorative Community Justice: Repairing Harm
and Transforming Communities > Gordon Bazemore & Mara Schiff
We Gave Away A Fortune > Christopher Mogil & Anne Slepian
World Hunger: Ten Myths > Frances Moore Lappe & Joseph Collins Summerhill > A. S. Neill
C**** > Inga Muscio
The Problem of Prisons > David Greenberg
Stalking the Wild Asparagus > Euell Gibbons
U. S. Army Survival Field Manual
Lateral Thinking > Edward de Bono
Interest and Inflation Free Money > Margrit Kennedy

A few of Richa's many favorite websites

These do not include any of those Judi listed, so as to avoid duplication.

Radiant Justice
Homepage of Radiant Justice. A group of us in Grand Rapids came together as a Mayor’s Task Force and put together a report recommending various major changes that we thought would lead to a significantly more just society. It was partly based on a survey of a thousand people. The report, the survey, and some related info, including a response to the 9/11 jet attacks, are included. To my knowledge, this was a unique effort which, though mostly rejected by local powers-that-be, has had various positive ripple effects here.

Local effort to establish a more sustainable, local, and just food system. Community gardens are my particular focus. Links to similar efforts elsewhere.

(Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy)
Cutting edge group that helps communities to challenge corporate power.

The U. S. Basic Income Guarantee Network
Promotes discussion of a basic income guarantee for everyone. Lots of good practical information and inspiring stories, as well as solid background. Open and free to anyone interested. This can solve a LOT of problems. And its time is coming if enough of us get involved!

A great site for health politics worldwide. David Werner of that organization has done incredible work all over the world helping to aid the struggle for health rights, particularly for those with disabilities.

Green Parties
Sites of our local, state, and national Green Parties, respectively. Local (we’re working right now on re-doing it) and state are both out of date, but still have excellent basic information.

Hard Times Cafe of Grand Rapids

Hard Times Cafe of Grand Rapids was formed in 1995 by a group of mostly social workers who wanted to help empower many of us who are homeless, poor, disabled, mentally/emotionally challenged, etc. A local church provides space for us to have a weekly sit-down meal, which is preceded by a "community meeting" where we share our successes and trials, offer each other support, and have opportunity to gain leadership and other skills.

The founders pretty much ran it at first, but we gradually took over.
We still have a few "advisors" who help us along,
but we've learned that sometimes we can help them along, too!

The meetings have provided us a good way to give input into
such things as our local Vision to End Homelessness
(see www.grahcoc.org) and to otherwise impact policy to a degree.

Our mission is:

We, people with connections to the
Heartside area of Grand Rapids, meet together regularly to:

* empower ourselves

* get to know, enjoy, and appreciate each other

* take control over the circumstances of our lives

* help empower and be of service to others where we can

* and in other ways improve our community and our world

We also promote the Principles of Respect,
Honesty, Happiness, Fairness, Cooperation, and Faith.

Personally, i appreciate Hard Times Cafe in so many ways - it's been a place for many friendships, it helps empower us individually and collectively, we have some great discussions, people tend to be honest - sometimes painfully so - which in the long run is definitely a positive thing, and it puts into practice a core value of mine - that each one of us is a sacred and wonderful human being, to be respected and cherished.

Richa in front of Grand Rapids City Hall
Photo by Judi Buchman

Michael Are you holding a little plant?
Is this a sapling you're going to plant at City Hall?

Richa I am holding a lamb's quarters plant which i had just plucked from the planter next to me, and was nibbling on it in between Judi's picture-snappings. Many people consider it a weed, but it is a highly nutritious and tasty green, raw or lightly steamed. Upon first becoming homeless, i planted a garden on the premises, but the City quickly destroyed it and returned the area to turf grass. Soon afterwards i took over the main garden at Well House Homeless Shelter and was also able to get into a newly created nearly community garden (which i now manage), so i gave up on a garden at the City building. The sunglasses, needed on this bright day, are also needed at night, as they never turn the lights off - such profligacy being one of my issues with our local government.

About the Editor: San Franciscan Michael Chacko Daniels, formerly a community worker and clown, and now a re-emerging writer and editor, grew up in Bombay. Books: Writers Workshop, Kolkata: Split in Two (1971, 2004), Anything Out of Place Is Dirt (1971, 2004), and That Damn Romantic Fool (1972, 2005). Read all about his Indian and American journey at http://indiawritingstation.com/community-service-calls/. He helped found the Jobs for Homeless Consortium in 1988 and was its executive director from 1995 till its closing in 2004.

All views expressed in the interview are those of the interviewee
and not those of the editor or this website.

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And the following

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A Grand Rapids Popular History


Pages from New River Free Press, 1973 to 1977


Your Friendly Guide to Urban Survival & Improvement:




Posted on Friday, June 9, 2006 at 06:41PM by Registered CommenterMichael Chacko Daniels | CommentsPost a Comment