They Swarmed Us: What Would Happen if the Wealthy Rebelled?

A remarkable thing happened recently. The Oxfam Action Corps in New York City hosted a Hunger Banquet and things didn’t go according to plan.

That’s a good thing.

Spoiler alert: The best way to understand a Hunger Banquet is to actually attend one, no expectations. It’s a participatory event to make issues of hunger and poverty real, and words can’t do it justice. So if you’re planning to attend one in the near future, I recommend you wait to read this after the event. But if you’ve attended a Hunger Banquet before, of if you’re not sure where or when you might be able to, read on!

We had a good turn-out at St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn on October 14, about 50 people in a venue that supposedly holds 70, but still it seemed crowded.

As guests enter a Hunger Banquet they are asked to pick a ticket from a basket. Those tickets describe hypothetical people all around the world, divided into the high-income group (about 15-20% of the total), the middle-income group (about 30% of the total), and the low-income group (about half the participants). These represent the global demographics of rich, middle and poor. Continue reading

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Close to Home

The post I was preparing for Blog Action Day has been scrapped. It was too academic, too impersonal, and now much too irrelevant.

This past weekend I was reminded that even in the most developed nations, where rule of law and respect for human rights are the norm, there are those who act out of hate. They single out targets based on irrational fear and bigotry. Yes, even here in one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities on Earth.

Sadly, there have always been isolated incidents of hate in New York City. The flip side of our wonderful diversity is that it isn’t always easy for people of different cultures, religions, languages and opinions to live side-by-side in close quarters. Usually this creates a stimulating environment of contrasts.nOccasionally there are flare-ups.

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My SoMe Anniversary

Two years ago today, in a fit of something-or-other, I signed up with WordPress.com and Twitter. On the very same day. Whatever was I thinking?

It took me a little while to get the blog going, but once I got started I kept at it, twice a week, until May 2011 when my Dad was hospitalized. He (or perhaps I should say “we”) endured two and a half months of doctors, hospital rooms, two surgeries, and physical therapy. But I’m happy to say he made a full recovery. Indeed, it’s possible he and I were the only people who never seriously doubted he would. Amazing what a couple of stubborn Swedes can do when we are determined.

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Under the Influence

I have always liked old buildings. On vacations I usually seek out old house museums. My home is almost a century old (the original part, anyway, which is only two rooms). I love that high-tech companies are putting their offices into old lofts and industrial buildings. So when I learned that Christopher Gray, who writes about architectural history for the New York Times, was speaking at a local historic preservation organization, I went.

After Gray’s talk I got into a conversation with a woman who is a regular member of the group. She said it was nice to see a “young person” like me (this was several years ago; I was still in my 30s) attending an event in person. It seemed to her that many young people spent too much time with “this new Internet thing.” Then she asked how I’d heard about the event.

“I read about it on the society’s website.” Her face fell.

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