Sunday, June 12, 2011

In Memory of Jim Harris

Jim Harris was a computer consultant, a software developer & programmer, a teacher, a union organizer, president of a trade school, a gifted musician, and a social activist. It is in that last role that I became aware of Jim, soon after he and Pat Murphy co-founded Progressive Secretary in 1997.

Progressive Secretary was not the first organization to see the potential for using email and the net and what we now call "social media" to encourage activism, and bring people together for progressive causes ( had them beat by at least a year), but they were certainly early in the line.

And, for all the changes and advances in technology in the last fourteen years, Progressive Secretary has remained true to their original, simple concept:
Progressive Secretary sends out progressive email letters to Congress, the President, and other officials on peace, the environment, civil rights and other issues.

The letters are suggested by participants in the cooperative and are sent to you as a proposal. If you tell us to "send", then the letters are sent ... over your signature and return address.
Whether or not you consider yourself a "progressive" or not, and whether or not you agree with Jim's politics is not my point here today. It's the simple elegance of the concept of using email to organize cooperative grassroots campaigns. So obvious today; not so much in 1997.

Today, the flip side is that such efforts have become so commonplace that they are derided as "slacktivism" - faux activism designed to appeal to the lazy. But Jim Harris was no slacktivist. He worked for social justice all his life, was part of the Civil Rights movement, going to Mississippi with SNCC, and later working with Cesar Chavez and the UFW. When he co-founded Progressive Secretary in 1997, he was recovering from leukemia, and considered it part of his healing.

Jim finally passed last Friday, June 3, of glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. There will be a Quaker memorial service today at the Sacramento Friends Meeting House. He was seventy-years old. Progressive Secretary lives on.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

50 to 50

It's early June, and today we're having record rains... So I stayed inside all afternoon and wrote and recorded a new song... Didn't intend for it to be so sappy. Sorry about that.

   50 to 50 by kenrg

50 to 50
© 2011 K.R. Goldstein

today it's hard to see through the rain
but I feel it coming around again
reviewing it all from way back when
and long-lost friends

the cast of characters come and go
some too fast and some to slow
only the rare have a chance to rust
turn to American dust

to those I've loved and those who cared
hold up high those times we dared
when all was lost and all was found
we held our ground

this next big day could turn the tide
of this long confusing ride
set the course for the final stretch
of this comic sketch

can't let all these aches and pains
tie me down with battleship chains
and if the wind blows it all away
refuse to fade away

(not fade away, not fade away, not fade away)

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