September 2019 Newsletter

Dear friends,

As we approach September the Simone Weil Catholic Worker/Public Household is looking back at two months of life and forward to our first big (​monthly!)​ event. Below is the invitation, weekly calendar going forward, reflections on community life so far, and news on projects for you to join, or lead!

Our First First Friday​, 9/6 from 6-9pm… All are welcome

  • 6 pm: Mass (non-Catholic friendly) in yard with Fr Dave of St Andrews, and intro to the house – 7 pm Potluck dinner – we’ll have a lentil coconut curry stew; bring a dish or drink to share

  • 8 pm Lisa Fitzgerald, JD on ​“The Theory and Practice of Restorative Justice”

— At Simone Weil House: 5311 NE 15th ave. Portland OR 97211 — (​ps​ ​Next First Friday we’re talking Simone Weil!! – 10/4 – mark your calendar!​)

Lisa is a Metropolitan Public Defender, Coordinating Committee Member of Restorative Justice Coalition of Oregon, previous Fellow of Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and HLS graduate.

Why restorative justice?​ Our monthly First Friday talk/discussions will address how we might live community (households, neighborhoods, churches, etc) more deeply and justly by seriously considering Gospel injunctions and humanizing social/economic structures. On Friday we will consider an interpersonal framework for resolving crime or conflict in our communities, and specific connections with the theology and ancient practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The discussion will lead to an invitation to ​further reading and consideration on​ ​Wednesday 9/18 @7.​

Weekly House Calendar, ​Join us for Monday, Wednesday dinner, or Saturday brunch!

  • Every Wednesday Open Dinner & Discussion​ @7p: Join for open dinner and conversation, stay after to reflect & pray, read aloud (Day’s The Long Loneliness for now), and discuss topics like this IMBY hospitality network, restorative justice, Simone Weil, etc. Ask to be on email list!

  • Every Saturday Potluck Brunch​, 10a-1p. Come to chat, share food, build relationships; and/or offer or use resources we can be a medium for (shower, laundry, device charging, food, etc)

  • Every Monday Open House Days,8:30a-4p. ​Come share co-working space and the rhythm of a day or any part thereof: mindfulness meditation and morning prayer (psalm and Gospel reading) at 8:30; wifi and co-working spaces throughout the house, porch, and yards; good coffee, oatmeal, and (maybe) lunch snacks out; hospitality for showers, laundry, plug-in, food, and phone use to those in need.

Life Together

The house has been stable as a community of 7 folks, from the outside St Francis community (3), van (2), and the previous incarnation of this house (2). But, changes are coming: Our close-in van dwelling community friends LeAnn and Nathan are going to use a bedroom for a month to help with life settling, and Monica will soon return to living outside by choice, while being kind enough to join the board of our non-profit (In My Backyard) and bring folks from the outside community to camp with us once a week. Speaking of guests, 3 folks from outside have slept with us here for a night or more with varying levels of comfort for all, pushing us in ways very good for us, and definitely portending more intention in how we handle invitations and house rules. A related theme has been transition: every member of this house community is making a huge change in way of life, and we’re having good conversations, group and ongoing one-on-one, about working through the hardships this entails, ie, not one of us has experienced a warm-knife-through-butter level of daily success immediately on having housing. But next month…

Among community friends we’re sad to be losing Emma (returning to Princeton) who has been sharing her appreciation for Dorothy Day and her thesis work on tiny house villages with us (​especially this Wednesday evening 8/28!)​ , and we’re happy to welcome the van dwelling Robin, on the heels of work with the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and eager to add his experiences to the growing energy here. Speaking of such friends, ​interested in exploring what it might mean to be external community of Simone Weil House, or even internal intentional community?… Let us know! ​House rules for residents and guests, and a communal process for ratifying them, are coming this month, along with the long-awaited formalizing of the non profit’s role here with name change (In My Backyard as the tenant, hosting Simone Weil House), insurance, bank account, and special lease – all well in the works.

Our Projects​ ​for your consideration and potential involvement:

That worker co-op​: We have big ideas for community-based, relationship-scale economy… and we as a house and as an association of individuals are, let us say, most definitely in need of money. So, starting with 4 or 5 of us, open to anyone in relationship with the community, we’re going to make our basic skills (landscaping, housecleaning, shop temping etc) available, along with making known our particular individual skills and products (art, writing, tutoring, etc), and making this available just to Vernon/Alberta and nearby. Want to help us get this off the ground, or hire us??

IMBYing: ​In MyBackyard is the name of our non-profit entity for a reason: what we can do by way of hospitality here is much smaller and less important than who we can be as an example and facilitator of a network of folks ​offering just one thing​ to someone in need: a room, a parking space, a locker for storage, a regular shower, weekly laundry, etc… or one of the other legs of support needed to do this: relationships, money, admin time, case work. Over the next couple weeks we’re starting with a few friends of Weil House with resources and a few without, and we’re matching and supporting. Then we’ll move to another layer of the same, with some infrastructure. Interested?

Real Work: ​On ​Tuesday 9/3​ friend of the community Levi will be bringing his construction and craft skills to Simone Weil house and leading a work day to help us beautify and make more usable a few of our spaces. We hope to end up with a good donations space, more friendly porch, and more gardenable back yard. Join us starting at 9am! … Or work with us on the place another day!

More Talking: ​As mentioned above, Emma will lead a discussion on the tiny house scene in Portland that will lead into assigning tasks for our first push towards IMBY network, Wednesday 8/28 @7 (here). And Lisa will lead different session of our regular Wednesday gathering (always with dinner!) on restorative justice, on 9/18.

(Gasp!) You’ve read this far?? As our thanks to you, please say the code phrase, “I feel really weird saying this” at our front door to receive a free complimentary dinner any Wednesday at 7!