The rooms are also mutable.



You Help Yourselves
M. Swift

I was at Plaza Cesar Chavez on May 29. I arrived at eight thirty in the evening ready to stand peacefully with my fellow San Jose neighbors. By ten past nine, I had seen young and old shot at indiscriminately, with rubber bullets. I felt flash grenades, and was burned by pepper gas. I was struck with a baton repeatedly by one officer, while six other officers did nothing to stop or intervene.

I was lawfully and peacefully gathering. I was met with an aggressive, unprofessional, and what Chief Garcia now admits, poorly-trained and unprepared police force. They were given munitions to meet the public — but were not properly trained? The police exacted violence on a crowd that I did not see fight back. I know I didn’t.

Not giving the City Council access to the body camera video is a huge breach of trust between the police and the Council, and more importantly, the public they are to protect. If San Jose Police Department has to hide what they did, you know they realize just how wrong their actions were. And I will add that I did file a complaint via the Santa Clara County web site. Had I not sent a separate email with photos of my bruises, I would not have found out that the website did not work. A friend who was with me was also hit by the same officer. She too, used the website and called, confirming that her complaint never made it to the Office of the Independent Police Auditor.

You want the public to trust the City Council and San Jose Police Department? You need to work harder. Listen to your community groups and change. Please fix this wrong and drop all the curfew and failure to disperse charges from the days of the protest. And that's just a start. San Jose Police Department: you broke my trust. I teach my girls to never call the police. You do not help the community. You help yourselves. And shame on you for that.

It took three days for the protests to be peaceful, because on day four, the police stopped showing up. Thank you for listening to me.

Note: M. Swift is a mother of two teens and an active volunteer at Sacred Heart Community Center in San Jose, California, SURJ, and other community-based groups. This testimony was given at the San Jose City Council, Afternoon Session, September 15, 2020, regarding police action against a peaceful protest on May 29, 2020. The San Jose City Council voted 10-1 to continue to allow SJPD to fire foam munitions into crowds as a means for crowd control along with flash grenades and pepper gas during protests.


Inside Job
A Philanthropist

Are my philanthropy dollars even mine? It’s public money privately directed. You get a tremendous tax break in philanthropy. Nobody talks about that. Your tax benefit was collectively subsidized. That money would go right into the Federal Treasury and belong to everyone. How good is it to have your foundation holding ten million in Exxon? A tax-exempt status yielded you tax breaks, and you only have to give away $500,000 a year. Ten million is wreaking havoc while you’re giving as little as five percent of that a year, to the homeless or whatever. Then the philanthropist comes away from that with the attitude of, “You just did good.”

Wealth separates and severs in a way that I had no imagination for at first, because it also elevates. They just hand out awards to rich white people for being rich.

The funder role is is empty. Piles of paperwork. Meetings. People putting on a show, at the site visits. It’s very isolating. There’s a lack of authentic connection.

Philanthropy is redefining itself because it has to. I’m interested in what it looks like to give with a true heart of service, and discerning the difference between that and a gaining idea, which is an endless tunnel with no relief, also known as an “inside job.”



M. Dabis

In my co-living community, I organize grocery deliveries for the elderly and vulnerable among us, and we utilize Instacart to accomplish this. Today, May 1st, the Instacart delivery gig workers will go on a strike for very good reasons, and I totally support that. Some of my neighbors, who are not part of the elderly or the vulnerable, suggested that maybe we should not have an Instacart order because of “big bad Instacart” and we should support the people who are on strike.

Throughout my childhood in Eastern Europe, May 1st was the Celebration of Labor, so we had parades. We had to do it; it was not a choice. Nevertheless, I have pleasant childhood memories of parks opening up, eating hot dogs and cotton candy, listening to lots of live music. All my family members, friends, and neighbors were there. Everybody was out.

After I got a second email from my neighbors, that we should boycott Instacart and not order anything, I thought to myself, “You think it's big bad Amazon or Instacart or Walmart that's the problem? That they are exploiting people?” I have been in this country for seventeen years. Out of all these years, I was employed for fifteen years without having any health insurance or benefits or retirement or paid sick leave or anything. Like a gig worker. And these were not mom-and-pop shops but large health care institutions who exploited anybody who didn't have a voice and didn't have any power, and they will continue to do so. The problem is not Instacart or the strike on May 1st. The problem is finding a peaceful transition, and the kind of leaders who would not consider sick days, paid vacation, and health care for everybody a ridiculous idea. This could turn into a civilized country with the right leadership. I’m very critical because I’m thinking when people are talking to me about how I should boycott these places, that of most of my neighbors, I’m the most likely to end up with a job with no benefits or being a gig worker again and again, not them. Because they are native speakers, citizens, white, and empowered.




1. Forbes

Is there anything that can be done
about a net worth of $121.32?
I seek timely investment advice
before this fortune goes away, spent
on donuts, beer, and medical co-pay.
Please tell me I can stash it
offshore where it can flourish
underneath a manta ray, clinging
to a firm grey foam, feeling the sand
energize its back as it whizzes along.
Or put it with other money, to sit and cackle
and joke about the sad old days when
it wasn’t doing anything but sitting
endangered, instead of growing fat
and laughing all the livelong day.

2. This is a personal poem. Coyotes are yelling through my window.

People have been slovenly or not in lots of kinds of rooms,
fat ones, tall ones, inspiring ones, and dead ones.
I mean the rooms.
The people are only temporarily fat, tall, inspiring, and/or dead
or even boring some of the time.
The rooms are also mutable

View of a lime tree and sage from inside a pocket, by S. Miller.

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