June 2020 Newsletter

Hello friends,

It’s been a while since we’ve shared our news, so prepare yourselves! We’d like to share: our work towards a ​combined-house community of hospitality​, which we will ask for you to consider supporting; our new community member ​Daniel Chol​; and first, a note about our​ place and call​ following the killing of George Floyd. In our next communication share virtual invitations and discuss our parish-based communion economy work.

Mourning, Repenting, Committing

Rest in Peace, George Floyd and all who have suffered or died when at the mercy of power’s willingness to see humanity across the lines of color, class, and circumstance.

To name one of our own community’s failures of sight, we have not accounted for our position as a majority white community in this historically black, now deeply gentrified neighborhood, either by doing enough work to build real bridges of communication with our most precarious neighbors, or by considering how our resources might in some way help to solidify their vulnerable presence here.

As a Catholic Worker with our specific charisms, our public and proactive response to the sad situation and our own failures will take these forms, for now:

  1. Economic action: We are working with partners to pilot a re-imagined parish-based credit union whose collective deposits seed community development capital for local precarious communities, and will ensure that we develop the relationships that allow this to specifically benefit our historical community pressed by gentrification. Invitations and more to follow. Potentially related, I’m making a proposal to Alberta Cooperative Grocery to develop a cooperative community development program that would use our resources and expertise to seed black owned cooperative enterprise in this neighborhood.

  2. Gospel nonviolence: Nonviolence is being sharply questioned in this cultural moment, but we experience the connection written of in the Catholic Worker’s ​Aims and Means​, that nonviolence and the works of mercy are inseparable, both expressions of the “needed personal and social transformation [to be] pursued by the means Jesus revealed in His sacrificial love”. Under the auspices of nonviolence the document calls for using the spiritual weapons of “prayer, fasting, and noncooperation with evil”, as means “which ensure that one evil will not simply be replaced by another”. This is our commitment as a community devoted specifically to non-violence and reconciliation, and our next communication will include an invitation to shared reflective reading.

Towards a Combined-house Community

It’s a big moment for Simone Weil House. ​We’re working towards forming a combined-house community of Catholic Worker hospitality by renting the house 3 doors down from us​. The other house will further our mission of hospitality while allowing us to do so from a genuine Catholic Worker intentional community (ie, more than Bert). We worked out an agreement with the management of a boarded-up house a few doors down which is currently employing Doug and me to clean it up, in exchange for renting it to us (right of refusal), perhaps in August.

We’re now nearing the time to hammer out the deal, but before we can do so we will need informal pledges for monthly support that covers our newly expanded budget, estimated to be $6,000/monthfor a community of 9-11, with 5-7 resident guests and 3-4 intentional community/staff.​ In order to mitigate the financial burden on our supporters, we will now be inviting resident guests from among those we know living outside with a small fixed income or other income source from which they could contribute. Expect a follow-up email with budget specifics, and see information at the bottom of the email on how to donate and pledge donations over the crucial next 6 months.

Gathering The Simone Weil Catholic Worker Community:

Who we are now:​ At the end of May we were joined by ​Daniel Chol​, our newest resident guest and someone we’ve been looking forward to sharing life with since last summer! We rejoice that he was finally released from ICE detention, and he is hard at work putting life back together after this long interruption. He is supported by John and Mary Lynn and other friends of our community from St Andrews parish. As it is at present, our community is comprised of Daniel, Zach (who joined us from rough sleeping in the neighborhood), Susana and Doug (who both joined us from the orbit of St Francis Dining Hall), and Bert.

Intentional community in waiting​: Two folks are preparing to join as staff/intentional community as we look forward to this increase in space. We’ll do more to introduce them soon, but briefly: ​Emma Coley​ just graduated from Princeton and will be joining us for a year starting later this summer. She found us last summer while doing thesis research on Portland’s village communities, and will work with a special emphasis on building our formation experience around parish-based and neighborhood scale interdependence economy. ​Fr David James​, anchorite and priest of the Archdiocese of Portland will be joining us as a live-in chaplain, bringing an infectiously joyful spirit and a devotion to Dorothy Day’s vision for Christian hospitality. Both will add gifts to our community and our mission that seem necessary and yet at the same time too good to be true. ​If you are interested in joining us as intentional community/staff, please reach out.

And the last person whose photo you see below? That’s a shot of IMBY (In My Backyard – our non profit) Board Secretary​ Lisa Fitzgerald​ just after her baptism and reception into the Catholic Church on the Feast of Pentecost! …thanks in so small part, she says, to a helpful exposure to the writings of ol’ Simone Weil. Congratulations, Lisa!

lisa baptism.png

Specifics for pledging and donating:

Would you consider pledging to help support us monthly at a certain dollar amount July 1st through the end of 2020,?​ We recognize that this is a time of great financial difficulty for many, and we only ask you to consider giving if you can do so without sacrificing your family’s needs.

We estimate that the community will be able contribute $1,300/month (rising months later to $2,000) from the means of resident guests and staff as soon as we open the second house, of the $6,000/month needed for Simone Weil House / IMBY’s monthly budget.

So going forward, we are asking for $4,700/month for the time being from our community of support, of which we regularly receive roughly $1,500/month as it stands. This leaves us seeking an additional $3,500/month above the current level of support community help.

If you are able to pledge or otherwise help financially in this difficult time, please respond and we will work out the details.

For donations:

● As a 501c3 non-profit entity we are “In My Backyard” – id# 84-2773889
● For direct deposit or wire transfer: routing# 323075181 account# 00001015718309 ● To donate through paypal: search @InMyBackyard or url: paypal.me/InMyBackyard ● For check: In My Backyard – 5311 NE 15th Ave Portland OR 97211