April 29, 2011

Free Friday

No one was arrested this morning, and that was nice.

I spent last night at the community house in East L.A., and rode to Skid Row a couple miles away in the crowded hippie van at 7:20 a.m.

I had butterflies riding in the middle of the back bench seat, and the Irishman next to me said he also felt apprehension.

No one wants to get arrested. You are compelled to. That's how I explain it. Thankfully, I have been compelled to risk arrest in order to make a peaceful protest only a few times in my life.

So when the LAPD didn't show up to arrest anyone for feeding the homeless oatmeal and coffee curbside, as it did earlier in the week, I was happy. And I wasn't the only one.

After an energetic release like that, the rest of the day was especially breezy. I decided to return to the community house, which is an old, run-down Victorian mansion. About 20 people live there. One person is serving time for trespassing at the School of the Americas in Georgia while peacefully protesting U.S. foreign policy in Central America, and is expected to be released in a few weeks.

I've been calling them volunteers and hippie-types, and that's true, but officially they are the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, which was founded in 1969. The soup kitchen and hospitality house operate completely on donations.

I grew up Catholic, but have not been a practicing Catholic for many years and  would have never lived amongst the Workers for most of 2006 and 2007 if the place didn't have a strong history of non-Catholic and non-Christian members. Occasionally, the non-Catholics equal or outnumber the Catholics living in the house, which is always nice, if purely from a subversive perspective. 

Friday morning is chore time, and everyone allegedly finds something to do. When I lived there, I was known as someone who happened to disappear on Friday mornings. When you live with others, they get to know you pretty well, I have found.

But this morning was my first Friday morning at the community house in a while and I actually did some scrubbing. Later in the afternoon most people get together in the cramped third-floor community room for what's called Culture Critique, which can be anything from a documentary to a presentation. On Fridays, there's a little happy hour before dinner, and it was good to be together.

Living in-community can be fun, especially on a Friday when no one was arrested.

This is Part 2 of the city's effort to criminalize feeding the homeless in Skid Row. Here's Part 3.


Ocean Girl said...

I always liked LA because of the colours that I experienced in that city. And now I have more than just a glimpse of one community that then I just looked through the window of my moving car.

Ed, I have told myself that if you ever returned, I would like you to read my USA, USA (just two posts behind ZoneOut). Not for anything but to share with you that I could write as beautiful too :)

Brian Miller said...

this speaks to me on a certain level...i have wanted to be part of a tribal community like this at times, one dedicated to helping the less fortunate all the better...gla dno one got arrested...and chuckled a bit at disappearing at chore time....not much changes since we were kids eh? lol

Su-sieee! Mac said...

It really is a shame that helping others could possibly lead to arrest. I'm glad you all weren't.

Claudia said...

he-he my son has the habit of disappearing at chore times as well..
sounds you found a place worth investing yourself which is great ed and i'm also glad no one got arrested

oh - i moved my blog today...new address is..

Lydia K said...

Glad no one was arrested. That would be a crime in itself, arrested for helping others. How sad that it's a common thing in the world we live in.
Good to see you too, Ed. Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to your post on the 16th!

The Empress said...

Happy no arrests.

And there is nothing like community to have you feeling as if you are an essential part to life.

The more you do, the more you realize all there is to do.

With each door you open, you find others that need to be opened.

So much.

And, then, you think, how can there be SO MANY that do NOTHING.

The Words Crafter said...

Like everyone else, I'm glad no one was arrested. I can't imagine living communally....you amaze me with your ability to adapt and be and experience. Wow.

ladyfi said...

What a wonderful contribution you are making! And so glad you didn't get arrested.

Good to see you around. Be well.

Wine and Words said...

Yo, Shutter Bug! Glad you didn't wind up in the slammer. Would have made a great first page article though and no doubt the outrage would spread. You've had me thiking about solutions since the last point. Sadly, I've come up with scratch.

Deidra said...

We were made for community, I think. "When you live with others, they get to know you pretty well, I have found." I like that. And I wonder if it isn't just about living with people. I wonder if it's also about letting people get to know you pretty well?

Phoenix said...

Loved this follow up to your last post. Incredible, your stories and your experiences. I feel lucky that I get to read about them. :)

She Writes said...

I sooo want to do some community activism type things and am overwhelmed with lack of time and not sure where I would start. Homeless just outside my door. wanna think of something they need that I can actually do.

It is amazing what people can be arrested for. No?