Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Monday, October 30, 2006

Guy Kawasaki on... well... 'Idiots'

Most useful blog post I've seen in a long time. It's on how to deal with, well, to say it nicely for this blog ... jerks. Good stuff from Guy! This is a 'must click' link... Read it HERE. Note: not for the faint of heart or those who are offended by language...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Prison tour program tries to keep boys on right path

Program takes Oakland teens into San Quinten prison to spend a day with the inmates. The program is similar to the famous "Scared Straight" program from the '70's - but with a lighter touch. The stats quoted in the article are obscene. We have much to do to save the young men of our urban communities.

"More than 100 inmates in orange jumpsuits flashed gang signs and screamed at the four Oakland teenagers entering San Quentin Prison's cell block courtyard, urging the youths to join them and to "keep thuggin'." One boy turned his head, wincing as his gaze fell on an open-air toilet."

"Based on current trends, 32 percent of black males will enter state or federal prison during their lifetime, compared with 17 percent of Hispanic males and 5.9 percent of white males. Forty-six percent of jail inmates nationwide had a family member who has been incarcerated, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Studies show that teens have a greater chance of winding up behind bars if they have a father or uncle who has also been incarcerated. Pastor Brondon Reems of East Oakland's Center of Hope Church, who organized the program along with San Quentin Public Information Officer Lt. Vernell Crittendon, said warnings from inmates often have a greater impact on teens than admonitions from parents, teachers and church leaders."

Read the entire article HERE.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oakland CCDA Institute Next Weekend (November 3rd and 4th)

Just a reminder about the upcoming CCDA Institute in Oakland next weekend. Be sure to register and attend! Bob Lupton will be speaking on Empowerment on Friday and Andy Bales on Relocation on Saturday. Please take advantage of this awesome opportunity! You don’t need to come to both days, each day is a module in itself. Please let me know if you have any questions.

I know the text is kinda small. Drop me a message and I'll send you an full size version. More information can be found HERE.

Best Comedy Bit Ever!

Abbot and Costello famous skit...

Caught Mehul Thakker on NPR Yesterday

I heard the Green candidate for Treasurer, Mehul Thakker on NPR yesterday. He made a ton of sense. I was impressed by his priorities and articulation. He's worth checking out. He spoke of community development credit unions and issues of micro finance and economic justice. However, he didn't come across as a bright eyed liberal either. Check him out here. He seems to be a bright young thinker.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Seeking Interim CEO for East Palo Alto Federal Credit Union

Below is a position description for an interim CEO for the emerging East Palo Alto credit union. If you know of anyone with the appropriate experience and could serve in this capacity, please forward this on to them. We are coming to a critical juncture and we need to fill this position as soon as we can. Initially we're looking for a volunteer but there is a possibility of a small stipend. There is also a possibility of this position growing into a full time paid position for the right candidate.

If there are any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

TITLE: Interim CEO, East Palo Alto Federal Credit Union
REPORTS TO: CEO - Northern California Urban Development
TIME COMMITMENT: 5 to 10 hours per week


This position will serve NCUD’s efforts toward establishing East Palo Alto Federal Credit Union. This will require a broad range of skills including financial management experience, volunteer leadership and strategic implementation.

Work to complete credit union chartering application. This includes completion of business plan, compiling survey data and necessary forms.

Work with NCUD staff to develop credit union board of directors and appropriate committees

Serve on committee to hire full-time CEO

Bachelor’s degree and broad knowledge in the financial services industry or a minimum of five years of progressive management experience in the financial services industry.

Seasoned professional with strong business development, corporate strategy and marketing acumen. Prior management experience with P&L responsibility preferred.

John Liotti - CEO, NCUD

Monday, October 23, 2006

Statement From Pat Tillman's Brother About the Iraq War

Interesting comments from Pat Tillman's brother. Also interesting are the comments to his article. This is a unique time for our nation - and a time where we are called to speak truth and perspective. Read the post here.

Blogger Slacktivist on Public Funds for Small Non Profits

Post by blogger Slacktivist regarding small ministries taking federal funds. Interesting point of view. Read his comments here.

Would Defeat in Iraq Be So Bad?

"While the Ford and Carter administrations worked hard to cushion the falling dominoes (after the Vietnam conflict), the Asian dominoes moved quickly to save themselves by buttressing our power. We can't expect to be as lucky with the denizens of the gulf region. And we certainly wouldn't make our luck by staying the course and hiding behind Bush's fears of Middle East dominoes. We need him to unstrap America's still muscular diplomacy to seed the antiterrorist soil within Iraq, to structure a regional peace among states that cringe from regional war, to blunt the disasters of chaos and defeat--and perhaps even to snatch successes beforehand."

Interesting viewpoint on the Iraq situation. Read the entire article here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thanks for Praying - Update on Melissa

Whew, what a crazy couple of weeks. Some of you know that my wife Melissa had a minor accident two Saturdays ago when she tripped coming out of St. Samuel and fell on a piece of glass. She tweaked her back, twisted her ankle and cut a huge gash in her hand. After a frantic ride to the emergency room she required stitches. The doctors said she would need surgery. Immediately many thoughts go through your mind. Will she be alright? Will there be permanent damage? Thinking about surgery is never a fun option, for whatever reason.

We have an amazing extended family here in East Palo Alto (and in the blog community). Many came to our aid with many things, the most important being prayer. Melissa was incapacitated, her hand wrapped up so she wouldn't tear the stitches, her back and ankle out of commission. Of course sleeping was difficult.

However, good new was forthcoming. While it seemed inevitable at the time of the accident, the hand surgeon determined that in fact she hadn't severed a tendon in her hand. Feeling and movement was returning and therefore she did not need surgery! God is good. She had her stitches removed last Thursday and returned to work full time on Friday.

I'm grateful that God protected us during this time. I'm grateful for health insurance. I'm also thankful to all of you for your prayers and help.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Gospel Bob

As I mentioned before, my dad took me to see Dylan in the early 80's, during his 'Christian' era. The show impacted me forever. Is he still a Christian? I don't know (it's not really for me to know). I still hear alot of the Gospel in his lyrics. Here's three videos I found from this era... Pretty powerful! His voice was clear and strong. I've seen Dylan a number of times - I think he sang with more passion and heart in these shows than ever.

Here's three songs from the album 'Saved' called 'What Can I Do For You?' and 'Are You Ready?' and 'When He Returns'. Kinda reminds me of St. Samuel on a Sunday morning!

What Can I Do For You?

Are You Ready?

When He Returns

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bono / Alicia Keyes - Don't Give Up On Africa Video


Group Plans Strategies To Help Low-Income Community Development CUs

Credit union professionals met at the Silicon Valley United Way in San Jose last week to discuss the needs and challenges of low-income community development credit unions.

The meeting, hosted by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU), was the second time the group has come together this year. During the all-day roundtable, the group discussed the networking opportunities and resources available to low-income community development credit unions.

The morning session focused on sharing resources, challenges, and information among the group and the afternoon was spent brainstorming action steps to help meet community development credit union challenges. A large emphasis was placed on the need for maximized partnerships between community development credit unions and their neighboring established credit unions.

League President and CEO Bill Cheney; VP of Research, Communications, and Public Affairs Lucy Ito; and Director of Research and Information Rita Fillingane attended the meeting and discussed the resources available through the League, including its Research & Information Consulting Hotline, Shapiro Group listserv and grants, and the new Community Development Credit Union listserv. Fillingane has been named as the League liaison for this group.

“Assistance to small credit unions including low-income credit unions has been identified as a priority area by the Assembly Delegates of the California Credit Union League,” said Cheney. “The League looks forward to working with the network and NFCDCU to build alliances and partnerships with other credit unions and system affiliates.”

NFCDCU Executive Director Cliff Rosenthal and NFCDCU Associate Director of Member Services Pablo DeFilippi also shared the resources available from NFCDCU, including grants and training classes. Two NFCDCU board members were in attendance as well: Episcopal Community FCU Board Member Marv Jensen, and Community Trust CU Community Development Director Sandell McLaughlin, who was instrumental in arranging the day’s meeting. Also in attendance was John Liotti, CEO of Northern California Urban Development Corporation and organizer of the proposed East Palo Alto Community FCU, which recently received preliminary field of membership approval from the NCUA.

In addition, Orange County Teachers FCU (OCTFCU) Division Assistant Gianfranco Piccollo gave an update on the credit union’s plan and progress to get Comunidad Latina FCU up and running. Comunidad Latina FCU just recently received its charter from the NCUA and expects to open its doors to serve the community of Santa Ana by year end. OCTFCU, along with several other area credit unions, provided the resources and funding to help bring the community development credit union to that underserved community.

Following an afternoon brainstorming session, attendees formed working groups to devise strategies aimed to help meet the challenges outlined earlier in the day. They focused on:

Education for the credit union community about the needs and challenges of community development credit unions.
Funding sources, including grants and specialized investment products.
Partnerships with other credit unions, NFCDCU, the League, and other worthy organizations.
Political benefits of working with community leaders and other non-profit organizations to develop policy statements and policy agendas.

The group plans to meet again after the first of the year.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bob Dylan Show

Sam and I went to see Dylan last night in SF. It was fun having him along with me. It's somewhat of a tradition since my father took me to see him when I was about 12 - my first real concert.

Dylan was great, as usual. He is traveling with an outstanding band. Here's the setlist:
1. Maggie's Farm
2. She Belongs To Me
3. Lonesome Day Blues
4. Simple Twist Of Fate
5. Rollin' And Tumblin'
6. Boots Of Spanish Leather
7. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
8. I Shall Be Released
9. Highway 61 Revisited
10. John Brown
11. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
12. Workingman's Blues #2
13. Summer Days

14. Thunder On The Mountain
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower

I've seen Bob a few times over the last year. Each show is different. My friend Steve and I saw him twice together, once at the HP Pavillian in San Jose and once at the Paramount in Oakland. Both were outstanding. Melissa and I saw him at the Greek Theatre in Bereley and once in Reno. For me the show at the Greek and in San Jose were the best. Last night was great - but made better because Samuel was with me.

Best songs last night were Simple Twist of Fate, I Shall Be Released, Summer Days and the encore set.

Go see Dylan if you have the chance... Even as an older man he is still vibrent and relevant. He's been able to adjust his sound as his voice changes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Time Magazine Article - Book on Faith Based Initiative Office

Time Magazine article on a book by David Kuo called,"Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction."
...I am finding the courage to speak out about God and politics and their dangerous dance. George W. Bush, the man, is a person of profound faith and deep compassion for those who suffer. But President George W. Bush is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works. Millions of Evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves—and their interests—better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them.

It's an interesting article. However, I know personally of two faith based organizations who have benefited from federal funding, namely the Latino Coalition for Faith Based and Community Initiatives and La Eeperanza. A friend of mine was also involved in setting up the office in the White House. Politics, from a local to a national level is a tough game. It's not always easy to figure out whois wrong or right.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Micro-Credit Pioneers Recieve Nobel Peace Prize

Bangladeshi microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for advancing economic and social opportunities for the poor that has helped millions lift themselves from crushing poverty.

In awarding them the prize, the Nobel Committee said their efforts showed how working to eliminate poverty can result in a lasting peace.

"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty," the committee said in its citation. "Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Larry Moody for Ravenswood School Board

I'm happy to support Larry in his campaign for our local school board. Larry is a great guy and has done much for our community including leading the charge to revitalize MLK and Jack Farrell Parks. Larry serves as the urban ministry director for Menlo Park Pres. Read his position paper here. His wife Lisa works with my wife Melissa at New Creation Home.

Message from Dennis Parker, "Will East Palo Alto be Another Katrina?"

The rain has returned, and the San Francisquito Creek levee adjacent to East Palo Alto has not been repaired. The mayor declared a local state of emergency last February and funds were recently allocated. But no construction has begun. This means that East Palo Alto residents—especially those in the Gardens neighborhood—are at great risk for a disaster if the levee breaks from the combination of winter storms and high tides. Please make this an issue when you speak to candidates for City Council, and let it guide you when you vote this November.

Although collaboration discussions are underway with the school district, medical clinic, and local emergency response agencies, there is no published disaster preparedness plan, and the community forums that were promised have not taken place, to my knowledge. At the Special Joint City Council/Ravenswood School District Meeting last Tuesday, Councilmember Pat Foster asked that the City meet with the Gardens Neighborhood Association within the next three weeks, but it sounded more like a comment than a commitment (the Gardens Neighborhood Association meets on the second Saturday of each month).

There has been a lot of activity along the levee, and I will give you my detailed observations in another message. In the meantime, be reminded that government agencies from the Federal to the local level have cautioned you that in the event of a widespread disaster—such as an earthquake or a flood,--you are on your own for the first three-to-seven days. On the positive side, emergency preparedness agencies have published a wealth of self-help literature on what to do before, during, and after a disaster. I’ll point you to some of these resources soon, as I did last year.

In the meantime, this would be a good time to refresh you emergency supplies, update your emergency contact list, and review your personal evacuation plan.

Dennis J. Parker
Community Advocate

SF Chronicle Article on Asian Sex Trade

Informative article on the Asian sex trade. I didn't know that the sex industry is over 4% of Korea's economy. Many sex slaves end up in the Bay Area. Read the article here.

No Joy In Mudville - or EPA

Man, could yesterday have been the worst day of my life? The Tigers (yes, those Detroit Tigers, the one's who haven't won a playoff game since the Taft administration) pounded the Yankees. My beloved Yanks are out... down and out. Now we'll have to spend the off season counting our world series rings - but only to 26.

During the 7th inning I get a frantic call from Cheryl Bains. My wife Melissa tripped on the steps at church, falling on to a piece of glass. She cut her hand deeply, twisted her ankle and tweaked her back. It was a full production with fire trucks, police cars and a frantic ride to the hospital emergency room (in my car, not the ambulance). Next week it's surgery to repair a torn ligament in her hand. Bummer. What a day!

Please pray for Melissa...

No joy in mudville.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Foley / Packard Blues

The last couple of weeks has brought a couple of major scandals to light, namely the issue with Rep. Mark Foley and the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal. Both are huge lapses in ethical judgment. Foley, who served as the Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children steps down after ABC news uncovered alleged sexually explicit messages with 16 and 17 year old male congressional pages. HP, one of Silicon Valley's banner companies spies on its own board, staff and journalists. Chairperson Patricia Boyd, along with four others, faces charges for conspiracy, identity theft and fraud.

Foley's issue may have sealed the deal for a Democratic take over of congress. Silicon Valley is reeling.

The press is having a field day. There is nothing more salacious than a politician being charged with a sexual crime, or a juicy corporate scandal. We love gossip, love standing on the sidelines when those who are richer, prettier, smarter or more recognized fall or stumble. Why else would voyeuristic reality shows retain their popularity?

As I struggle to resist my tendency to watch these stories unveil while wearing a sly grin, I thought about my own life. What if...? What if my choices, decisions and actions were brought to light for the whole world to see? This is not to excuse a politician who pledged to protect the helpless turn (allegedly) into a predator himself. But what about me? It's easy for us to scoff, kick the dirt and cast a stone. But what about my life?

The Gospel calls us to, while being a prophetic voice for the poor and helpless, look deeply into the mirror and search our own souls for the duplicity and deceit we find within. No excuses for Foley, HP, Clinton, Bush, Enron and the like. But, along the same lines, no excuses for John. No excuses for the church.

Today I woke up thinking about the familiar text from he dedication of Solomon's temple:

"At times I may shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or I might command the locusts to devour your crops, or I might send plagues among you. Then if my people, which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here."- 2 Chr. 7:13-16.

(Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that under the New Covenant our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.)

While I'm grieved by each and every scandal and indiscretion that comes to light - I'm reminded that the church has a specific role to play in our society - as salt and light. Could it be that the strength of our country rests not on the congress or business leaders, but on the church's humility and acts of repentance, falling into our Father's arms of grace? Could it be that the simple yet profound act of caring for the widow or orphan will have a much greater impact than a political campaign or press conference? Jesus calles us to be people to be who do simple 'mustard seed' acts of faith. Small things making huge impact.

Let the church be the church, in humility and prayer speak truth, care for the poor, commit to living in a redemptive community. If we do so we extend the blessing of the Kingdom and impact the world waiting for His return. We used to sing a song at St. Peters Catholic Church, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Reflections on the CCDA Conference / NYC

Currently returning from the east coast. I'm happy to headed home - but wish I knew the score from the Yankee game!…Go Yanks! (They won! what a lineup!)

CCDA was again a great event. CCDA tends to be more like a reunion and networking meeting than a conference. It continues to be the one place where I consistently do more networking and ‘pollinating’ than anywhere else. I read something in the New York Post today regarding social networking styles. I discovered there are ‘butterflies’; those who flutter around pollinating and ‘dolphins' those who run in tight ‘smart’ networking groups. It seems to me that CCDA is much more of a ‘dolphin’ group. It’s a pleasure to be with folks who understand what I’m doing and sharpen my vision and goals. It’s also great to be inspired by the speakers and conference attendees.

Pastor Bains and Gilbert from the NCUD board went with me to the conference. Certainly one of the highlights was in being with them. We shared a room; Gilbert graciously took the hide a bed. It was fun to be able to introduce them to the CCDA experience. We even went to Pat's for an autentic Philly cheese steak!

I had a great conversation with Amy Sherman at Ele:vate /Economis. Amy impressed me. She has the unique quality of being truly brilliant with great social skills. We talked extensively about a collaboration with NCUD where we would use her ‘token economy’ as part of our Youth Credit Union Program (YCUP), as well as serve to introduce the curriculum to other community based organizations in the area. The essence of her program is that the kids ‘earn’ credits through whatever criteria we set up (i.e. Grades, attendance in a particular program, public service...) They manage a virtual checking and saving account make investments using real time wall street values and can even have a credit account set up. They can visit an online store and purchase real items (that we would receive through in kind donations), based on the money they have and have earned. This provides the incentive that other financial literacy programs don’t have and has been one of my concerns about starting a youth program. We’re looking at other models - but so far she has some of the best components I’ve seen.

Each morning at the conference Dr. John Perkins does a Bible study. For me, it is one of the highlights of each year’s conference. Dr. Perkins continues to be a major influence on me. I’m amazed that he can be evangelical in his attitude toward sharing the Gospel while being socially conscience. For a man with a third grade education, he handles the Word adeptly. Tony Campolo also spoke. He was great. He spoke about having a ‘testimony - living life in such a way so that your actions and experiences mean something at the end. I remember hearing Tony 1980Â’s and as a teenager being deeply impacted about his messages about poverty and being a true Christian.

Other than that - I attended some great workshops including one by Larry Acosta on fund raising. It was a joy to catch up with Phil Jackson, Marcos Gamez, Jeremy Del Rio, Rudy Carrasco, Noel Castellanos, Erik Iverson, Crissy Brooks and many other friends. One highlight was the time I had with Pastor Dan Hutt from Palo Alto Christian Reformed. We talked much about our lives, ministries, networking, collaborating…. I hope I can see him more on the ‘left coast’ than having to travel to Philly to see someone who lives two miles away!

After the conference I hopped a Greyhound to New York to spend a two days in the city. I stayed at Jeremy Del Rio’s father’s church near the East Village. Abounding Grace is a great church reaching lower Manhattan. They have a growing and active congregation. They are working out of a four story building right in the center of all the action. I stayed ‘YWAM’ style, on an air mattress in the youth room.

I arrived on Sunday and traveled out to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to hang with Jeremy and his son Judah at a street faire. I had a great New York Italian sausage and peppers sandwich and watched Judah run his father around looking for a toy and trying to bankrupt Jeremy with tickets for the jumpy houses. After the faire we met up with Jeremy’s wife Diana and drove to Chinatown to have ‘soup dumplings’ at Joe’s. Man, those dumplings are awesome. Judah LOVES them. It was fun watching him tear them apart. Made me miss Samuel.

On Monday Jeremy and I spent a few hours hanging out and talking about life and ministry. One of his board members has a restaurant on the ‘NoHo’ part of Manhattan. After an awesome lunch I went and visited my cousin Michael at his business on 39th and 7th, in the Fashion District. I then walked around the city, praying, listening to U2 and taking pictures. I stopped in St. PatrickÂ’s Cathedral on 5th Ave to meditate and pray. I prayed specifically for East Palo Alto and the Measure C meeting that happened on Monday night. I capped the night off visiting with Jason Lewis, a friend and former BCM summer intern.

Tuesday was spent packing, grabbing a final few minutes with Jeremy (it’s his birthday) and taking the train to JFK for the trip home. We walked by the famous 'CBGB" club. I remember going by there in the late 80's when it was in a seedy neighborhood. Now it's in the central part of the a revitalized area. Gentrification is touching all of our cities. CBGBs is due to close this month. It was the incubator for famous artits and bands like The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and others. The end of an era. It makes me believe that San Fran and Austin are the best places to see live music - even better than NYC.

I’m thankful to God for allowing me to go to the conference and NYC for this last week. I feel reenergized and ready to continue driving toward the vision we have for the city.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Time Mag Article - "A Racial Rift That Isn't Black and White"

Time just did an article on Black / Brown racial tension. In EPA we've had many issues around this - especially regarding violence between Latinos and Blacks. Rudy Carrasco has been working on a conference to specifically address this issue. Please pray for his efforts.

Read the Times article here.

Marcos Gamez Highlighed in Moody Bible's Alumni Mag.

Go Marcos! Read the article here.