Monday, November 15, 2010

The Peter Maurin Work Co-operative

A project of the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra in Salinas Ca.

The goal of the Work Co-operative is to create sustainable work and revenue opportunities for guests of Dorothy's Place who are ready for a "next step" after volunteering. Our emphasis is building self-esteem and confidence among our members and creating a work environment without overwhelming stress.

Everyone needs work with a purpose just like the air that we breathe. There is no substitute source for the validation that the experience of work can give. When one has been unemployed for months or years, each and every day becomes more and more of a burden. Adding to the hopelessness that unemployment breeds, are the inter-related issues of personal, familial, and social breakdowns that oftentimes contribute to alcohol and drug addictions. The emotions of depression, anger, fear, loneliness, and desperation also prey upon the homeless, all of which make "job seeking' akin to climbing Mt. Everest with no oxygen. This is where the Peter Maurin Work Co-op begins.

The enterprise is named the Peter Maurin Work Co-Op after the co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Peter Maurin (the “Catholic Worker” is the model on which the Franciscan Workers base their life of service). Volunteers and guests planned and are running the operation making screen printed t-shirts and canvas bags that we then sell at different community venues.

The designs are simple and created by local artists, reflecting the philosophies of the Franciscan Workers. Clothing used for printing is either stock from a “sweat-shop free” supplier, or good quality clothing recycled from donations received at Dorothy’s Place.What started as an art project during the Women Alive! shelter hours has grown to a small silk screening micro-enterprise. We do most of the work during the day and this provides a small income for participants (based on sales) and income to feed the expansion of the operation.

The Work Co-op is now selling on eBay -- go to eBay store "ST Pebble" and order our original designs shipped right to your door!• Purchase wearable art from the Peter Maurin Work Co-op for yourself and your business! Call 831-757-3838 or email for more details! We create custom orders!• Consider contributing to this project: we need start-up money to purchase supplies! We have a funding goal of $8,000 for this year.• Consider also becoming a business mentor/partner – this is an opportunity to really change some lives!• Order shirts as gifts for family and friends!

Go to our Peter Maurin Work Co-op eBay Store and check it out! What could be better than original designs in cheap art delivered to your door?

Our Vision – the Soupline Café

It is the goal of Dorothy’s Place to go out of business. In other words, we can “imagine paradise”. We can imagine communities, cities, nations, and a world of “justice for all’.

The solutions to poverty, marginalization, and homelessness are adequate housing resources, job training with actual jobs afterwards, educational and volunteer opportunities, support communities, constructive recreational outlets, and recovery programs that include on-going mental health guidance. Each of these components has been built into the plan for a New Soledad Street (New Chinatown) envisioned by the Franciscan Workers more than three years ago at our first Soupline Forum community conference. Creating a thriving community of housing, job training and small businesses, transitional programs, neighborhood youth activities, a living history museum and culture center with artists and writers in residence, a Chinese Garden, and building design to reflect the history of the area is a great unifying vision for a revitalization plan that builds upon our community assets and resources. In March of 2007, that vision was incorporated into the new Chinatown Renewal Project draft plan, adopted by the whole Chinatown stakeholder group.The element of our vision for providing job training and jobs compels us to transition our Dorothy’s Kitchen program into the “Soup Line Café”, open to the paying public, still offering hospitality and no-cost meals for the poor and marginalized, and employing graduates of our food service training program. At the new Soupline Café, visitors and residents alike can purchase lunch, relax in a nurturing environment, and become (at least temporarily) immersed in the rebirth of possibilities for the homeless persons that are students in the program.Employing formerly homeless individuals, the “Soup Line Café” would be advertised as a “retired” soup kitchen. Once Soledad Street has experienced the renewal that the neighborhood plan calls for, it will be the perfect destination for lunch for the many new community residents and for business professional in Oldtown Salinas. We see a beautiful, lively environment with patio seating where a server greets you and offers a delightful menu. We see guest instructors being chefs from a local restaurants and an on-site collaboration with a local culinary arts school, and all servers and restaurant workers being students or graduates of the program.It’s a powerful vision. And just as the vision developed in the Soupline Forum is becoming a reality for Salinas’ Chinatown, the vision of our Soup Line Café will become a reality for our homeless guests. Please help us share this vision with others – and contact us with questions, ideas, and support!

Submitted for consideration by Bro. Robert National Co-Director LID
A model project for Upton Sinclair Mutual Aid Fund Proposal.

Robert Mills
October 30 at 7:28am

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