Monday, August 31, 2015

see through

See through bridge won't be seen through again... the new version will be solid (well, other than post-buckled beams :-)

Friday, August 28, 2015

an apology from the Portsmouth Police and the Hampton Roads Jail

In memory of Jamycheal Mitchell, age 24, found dead in his jail cell at Hampton Roads Regional Jail on August 19, 2015, four months after being arrested for allegedly stealing $5 of food.

Jamycheal Mitchell. Photo from Facebook

we just want to say

bad choice that
taking a mountain dew snickers
and zebra cake

jailed in april
you wasted away
taking up space
waiting for a hospital bed

Forgive us
for wasting tax dollars
we should have executed you
at the scene of the crime

poem by rob g

This poem seems more harsh than some of the others. I think I'm feeling particularly  angry today. Don't know how our black brothers and sisters cope with it, and especially as they know that  any given day might be their last, just because they're black.

This is a false apology poem in the style of William Carlos Williams.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

[voice of witness]

Voice of Witness - covers of four books."Voice of Witness (VOW) is a non-profit dedicated to fostering a more nuanced, empathy-based understanding of contemporary human rights crises. We do this by amplifying the voices of individuals most closely affected by injustice, and by providing curricular and training support to educators and invested communities."

To date, they have published thirteen books of oral histories, with stories from Palestine, Chicago Public Housing, Columbia, and more.

Check them out!

Read this excerpt from Refugee Hotel online:

Voice of Witness - Refugee Hotel book - excerpt screen shot from

Or check out your local library -- the Edmonton Public Library, where I live, has three titles from Voice of Witness.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

[re-imagining disability]

Debbie, Amanda, Gordy on left; Robin on right. Portraits by Warren Pot. From his FB page.

Portraits of L'Arche Daybreak members by Warren Pot. See more of them here.

Related to this, Professor Pamela Cushing discusses how photographs tell a story, and can also accomplish ethical work and confer the dignity of full personhood on their subjects.

Here's an excerpt:
However, photos can also accomplish ethical work. They can influence how we think about people who are different from us. Formal photos like portraits can be particularly transformative since they disrupt public expectations. The subject of a portrait is recognized as worthy of being photographed. The format implies that you are worthy of contemplation and commemoration. So the very acts of staging and taking the photos symbolize their membership in a valued group – those who ought to be gazed at.
(source, emphasis added)

Read her succinct and interesting post here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

[... space that protected and cared for the most fragile bodies]

Richard Beck, in his series discussing "The Gospel According to Ta-Nehisi Coates" (particularly in reference to Coates' book Between the World and Me), says this about what Jesus' kingdom looked like:

Jesus, by contrast, created communities centered around giving care to the most vulnerable in his society. Jesus carved out of Empire space that protected and cared for the most fragile bodies. That's what Jesus did as he moved from town to town, he created a community where the most oppressed and marginalized were welcomed and cared for. Communities of care that were open to agents of Empire, tax collectors and Roman soldiers, who were willing to work to buffer fragile bodies.

And this is what the early church did as well. The church carved out of Empire communities of care. Imperial Rome knew Christianity to be religion popular with women and slaves because of how these communities buffered their fragile bodies from the ravages of Empire.

To my eye, these communities of care carved out of Empire are what Jesus meant when he said "the kingdom of God is in your midst."
(source, emphasis added)

Read the rest of the article (the really good stuff is in the latter half of the post).

Read the series from Part 1.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

an apology from NJ State Troopers and the Mercer County Sheriff's Office

For Radazz Hearn, age 14.  Shot seven times on Friday, August 7, 2015, by New Jersey state troopers and Mercer County Sheriff's officer for running away. In stable condition in hospital.

Radaaz Hearns. Photo from the Hearns family.

we just want to say

You went off at a run
in your sweatpants
red as blood
and reached for a ?

our instinct said gun
we shot seven times
to protect the neighbourhood
from thugs like you

Forgive us
for not liking you black and red fashion
it clashes with white folks'
sense of decorum
poem by rob g

Read an apology from the Waller County Sheriff's Office.

This is a false apology poem in the style of William Carlos Williams.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

august field trip to a church in London

Exterior of Dundas St. United Church, rented Sunday evenings by the church whose service I attended. Photo by robg.
I arrived about ten minutes late to find the door locked, not a great surprise considering the east-end-of-downtown location of the church and that it was evening, and rang the bell. A moment later, a friendly black woman wearing a colourful tie-dye shirt opened the door, introduced herself as Veronica, and welcomed me in.

She led me into the sanctuary - the rented space seats at least 400 just on the main floor, and there were only about fifty people present. I took a seat and discovered I had arrived just in time for the start of the sermon. Bruce, the pastor, was articulate, friendly and engaging. The service went on from there, not that different from what I experienced growing up Baptist and then attending Anglican churches as an adult. Prayer, Bible readings, hymns and contemporary songs (all familiar to me), sermon, communion, announcements. Across the board, the content was as evangelical as it gets.

In fact, if someone showed you a videotape of the service, leaving out announcements and a few identifying details, you might reasonably think this was any one of the many evangelical churches across our country. In reality, it's the London congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church,  a denomination that had its "origins serving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people" and which has now "become an inclusive and affirming congregation that actively welcomes all people".

Dare I suggest that this church is more evangelical - more full of good news - than evangelical usually gets?

In many churches, there are limits as to who is embraced, barriers keeping some out, conditions one has to meet, beliefs people have to agree with to take part. Here, everyone is welcome, all are embraced, the doors are flung wide open. That's good news! And here, in line with Jesus' model of going to those at the margins of his society, this church is about those at the margin of society - and everyone else - being welcomed and embraced.

The service itself was anti-climactic. It didn't have the showiness of seeker churches, the cool of hipster services, or the fervor of an old-fashioned tent revival. Sorry to break it to you, but it wasn't fabulously gay either. Embrace of all of God's creation with a focus on Jesus doesn't make for an exciting church; it makes for a local body of Christ where "come as you are" is real rather than a trite saying, where "just as I am" applies to everyone, where our common need for Jesus' love and God's mercy levels the ground beneath us, where we meet together to praise God and together learn what it means to be apprentices of Jesus.

One thing did stand out about the service, something that in my years of church life I've not seen before. During communion, after the priest or helper gave the bread and wine to the parishioner, they also gave a blessing. Not a simple "Lord bless you and keep you" or similar phrase and then on to the next person. Instead, they put their arms around each and every parishioner and said a prayer of blessing, different for each person.

Seeing this, and as it came closer to my turn to receive communion, I wondered if I as an outsider would also be given a blessing. I was, and part of it included these words: "May the love you experience here travel with you wherever you go."


bulletin board of Metropolitan Community Church, London. photo by robg

Sunday, August 09, 2015

an apology from St. Louis Police Department Officer Darren Wilson

In memory of Michael Brown, killed August 9, 2014 by SLPD Officer Darren Wilson.

Michael Brown. Photo by AP
(Photo by AP)

i just want to say

Newly graduated from high school
you stole from a convenience store
walked down the street
with your friend

I shot you twelve times in the front
now you are dead and I am hated
how inconvenient for me
that I came by and did my duty

Forgive me
those cigarillos
would have killed you in the end

poem by rob g

Read more.

This is a false apology poem in the style of William Carlos Williams.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Eliel Cruz, a speaker and columnist, has started a series with The Advocate called, #21AceStories. It's intended to amplify the voices of asexual individuals and increase understanding and acceptance about a little known sexual orientation. 21 asexual people around the world were asked, "What's the biggest misconception about asexuality?" Their answers fell into different categories, for which visual graphics were created and are being released in a series of four installments (1) (2) (3). Cruz also previously curated #27Bistories, which similarly addressed misconceptions about bisexuality.

#21 Ace Stories, image #5 from The Advocate article

Saturday, July 18, 2015

an apology from the Waller County Sheriff's Office

For Sandra Bland.  Pulled over July 10, 2015 for a standard traffic violation (failure to signal). Dead in a cell July 13, 2015 at the Waller County Jail, Texas.

we just want to say

You were angry
dangerously black angry
to the point of
not signalling

we dragged you out of the car
face down
you were angry so angry
you killed yourself in jail

Forgive us
for interrupting your dream
of driving yourself
off a bridge
poem by rob g

Read more about On #SandraBland And The Life-Threatening ‘Angry Black Woman’ Myth

This is a false apology poem in the style of William Carlos Williams.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

[jeff chu: come to jesus, by whatever route you can]

From the beginnings of Jesus' life on earth, he has subverted our norms. From infancy, he welcomed outsiders, gentiles, the uncircumcised. As NT Wright puts it, the take away of the epiphany story, which he says is not the kind of cosy picture book story which we created for ourselves, is this: come to Jesus, by whatever route you can, and with the best gifts you can find. Come to Jesus, by whatever route you can, and with the best gifts you can find.

Can we offer each other that same generosity, that same welcome? Can we walk alongside each other by whatever routes we can, without you judging the gift I picked out, or me criticizing the route you chose?

From Jeff Chu's keynote address
at the GCN Conference,
Portland, Oregon. January 8, 2015
More from this talk (page includes
video and link to complete text of talk)