2024 Eighth Region Convention Information

Western MA Region Green-Rainbow Convention: Saturday, March 30, 2024

Doors open at 11am. Please feel welcome to come early and enjoy refreshments and company.

Event: Noon – 4pm

At Lumberyard Apartments Community Room 256 Pleasant St, Northampton, MA 01060

Outline:

     Venue:

         Parking.

         Community Room Access.

     Agenda:

         Noon. Potluck lunch (Bring what you’d like) and WeMA G-R chapter business meeting.

         1pm. Toni Bourdon Parizo and Jamie Guerin

         2pm. Dr. Walaa Quisay.

         3pm. Sherine Khatoun leads us in Dabke dancing.

     Presenters condensed:

         Toni Bourdon Parizo.

         Jamie Guerin.

         Dr. Walaa Quisay.

         Sherine Khatoun.

     Presenters expanded:

         ...

     Business Meeting Information:

         Overview:

         State Committee Duties:

         Nominating People to our State Committee:

         Rank Choice Vote:

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Venue:

Parking is not available for guests at the building. The Lumberyard parking lot is for tenants only and you would risk being towed. There is a parking garage behind Thornes market which is a 6 or 7 minute walk from the building off Hampton Ave. The first hour is free. There is also a parking lot right next to the garage where you can pay by plate to park (pay by card or cash) There are metered spaces up and down pleasant St. Right near the building that take coins. There may be some free parking spots along the street in the neighborhood behind the building or on Hockanum Rd. (2 blocks down) Don't block driveways, fire hydrants, or park in front of a sign that says "no parking", of course. Cars with Accessibility placards can park in any metered spot for free.

Walking to the Community Room: Enter through courtyard. If you walk down Holyoke St (right next to My Eye Doc) you will see a large grey fence and a pathway leading to the courtyard. There are signs on the outside of the Lumberyard building (on pleasant Street and on Holyoke St) pointing to the direction of the courtyard. The ramp to the community room is inside the courtyard on the "Holyoke street" side of the building. You will not be able to enter the main door of the Lumberyard Apartments building itself, as you can not get buzzed in, since folks will be busy setting up the community room.

Presenters condensed:

Jamie Guerin and Toni Bourdon Parizo: On forming a tenants association grassroots style while forming a larger tenants union.

Dr. Walaa Quisay, https://www.walaaquisay.com/ On Muslim political prisoners of the US War on Terror, hunger strikes, torture and human resilience.

Sherine Khatoun traditional Dabke dancing – Sherine’s primary influence toward Middle Eastern/North African Dance stems from her mother - an Arabic singer impassioned with music from Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq in particular.

Presenters expanded:

Toni Bourdon Parizo is a mother of two from Easthampton, MA who graduated from Easthampton High, and later attended Springfield College and Westfield State University. She earned a B.S. in Health Sciences and has worked in the Amherst Public School System for intensive needs in special education and is a former Life Skills and Addiction Counselor at Western Mass Correctional Addiction Center., or Grace House.

Toni's experience with mold in housing has changed her life forever, inspiring her to become an advocate for her neighbors and other tenants in Western Mass.

Toni is connected with The Western Mass Tenants Union, and Neighbor 2 Neighbor, and is presently serving as co-president of the Lumber Yard Tenants Association, which she formed ‘grassroots style’ along with her other co-president, Jamie Guerin.

Toni is the one who always remembers to bring her neighbors food when they are not well, and give cards out to her neighbors on holidays. This caring spirit is what she brings into organizing her neighbors and helping tenants across the state of Massachusetts with her testimony of her own life story and experience.

"Low income people seem to be looked at as less than, or think that we're not as important as the working, or wealthy. That's not true. Everyone is important and deserves a safe, healthy environment to live and raise their families. And I will continue to do my part as best I can."

Jamie Guerin (she/her) is a single mother of five children, two who live with her, and three adult children who have flown the nest. Two are biological children and three are siblings who she saved from the trauma of being separated from each other in foster care by taking guardianship of them and raising them as her own. She is 46 years old, born in Holyoke, and has lived in Western Mass for most of her life attending Springfield Technical Community College and Mount Holyoke College as a Frances Perkins Scholar. Before becoming chronically ill, Jamie managed her own small business as a licensed massage therapist, was a dance and yoga instructor, and worked as a server and bartender at several local restaurants. She is one of the original Lumberyard tenants and has been here since the very beginning.

She became politically activated around 20 years ago as a young single mother whose life was nearly ended due to a housing issue. While living with toxic mold and a poisoned water supply, Jamie organized her neighbors and relentlessly fought for years against a powerful slumlord finally winning the battle for her family and her neighbors.This experience was life altering, and shaped her destiny and focus going forward. Although this experience caused her to have an incurable and disabling illness, Jamie has never let her responsibilities to those who depend on her slide.

Jamie believes that housing is a human right which goes beyond just a roof over our heads, but she also advocates for housing that is safe, clean, stable and healthy where people can live in peace and with dignity. She is committed to raising the standard of living for all people. “Our homes are something we should be able to take pride in. Our home is the place where we rest our heads.”

She has been an activist for her entire adult life and is has worked with, and is connected to, many organizations such as Arise for Social Justice , Neighbor to Neighbor, the Tenants Union of Western Massachusetts, Voters Choice Massachusetts, Green-Rainbow Party, Independent Socialist Group, and more. Jamie is a co-founder of the Good Neighbors Task Force who petitioned the larger community and put a spotlight on the Northampton Housing Authority's unfathomable air conditioning ban in the middle of a heat wave at the McDonald House here in Northampton. Her advocacy contributed to the overturning of the ban. Not only were tenants able to reinstall their air conditioners, but Jamie reached out to the community to collect new and donated units for tenants without them which ultimately led to the Housing Authority's decision to purchase new ones for tenants who needed them. Jamie has held the picket line for the striking nurses at St. Vincent's Hospital and fought alongside the Massachusetts Nurses Association against the closing of community hospitals and services in underserved communities. She has also been known to show up on the front lawns of Congressmen with her megaphone and demand quality single payer health care for all as a human right.

Jamie Guerin is a competent, qualified and experienced facilitator and an accomplished organizer who has served as the manager, coordinator and treasurer for several local, statewide, and national campaigns refusing to accept corporate donations (bribes). She served as the co-chair of the Western Mass Green-Rainbow Regional Chapter, co-chair of the Candidate Development and Legal Committee, organized with and assisted the Homeless Committee and the Mold Committee at Arise for Social Justice, testified about her life story to the health department in order to expand inadequate state guidelines for mold.

She has the professionalism and skills to negotiate with management and the formidable spirit to get results for her neighbors. With a commitment to transparency and accountability in government, Jamie is a practitioner of grassroots democracy, valuing the belief that all individuals should have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

Dr. Walaa Quisay: I am a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a scholar of Religious Studies with a focus on contemporary Islam and interdisciplinary expertise in the sociology and anthropology of religion. My research comprises the study of the transformative impact of ‘crisis’ on meaning-making practices of Muslim communities, ethical formations, ritual performance, and ultimately burgeoning selfhoods. I employ an ethnographic approach, anchored in extensive fieldwork, to explore the structural dynamics between state violence and political theology. Central to this exploration is the understanding of how Muslims navigate tribulation and human suffering and adapt their ritual practices – in the broader contexts of secular modernity, political violence, and carcerality – and reconcile them with God, authority, and doctrine. I have sought to understand this within the milieu of Anglo-American Muslim communities – with a focus on the rise of neo-traditionalist and counter-modernist orientations therein – and in the context of expanding modern carceral regimes and confinement – with a focus on carceral practices in the Middle East.

Two reviews of Dr. Quisay’s ‘When Only God Can See’:

Aida Seif Elldawla: “After working for thirty years with survivors of brutal torture in Egyptian prisons and while watching with the rest of the world the horrors suffered by Palestinians in the war on the Gaza strip and the West Bank, [Dr. Quisay’s] work “When Only God Can See” comes as a passionate revelation of the secret of endurance of people suffering extraordinary trauma The secret is as simple as well as complicated as is Faith. An integral part of the self, which while the perpetrator seeks to use as tool of humiliation and punishment, is not aware that this same punishment, unintentionally, tests, sharpens and mobilizes a mechanism of resilience, solace, subversion and resistance that instills endurance, defiance and hope in the person harboring it. A passionately written work which tenderly investigates the limitless resources of human beings who when subjected to horrors committed by other human beings, seek refuge and power in a realm that belongs to them alone, a conviction that comes as a rescue when all other forms of rescue are unattainable. A must read to understand the limitless potential of a human spirit.”

Laleh Khalili: “This beautifully written and harrowing book does several things magisterially: it bears witness to the devastating experience of imprisonment in Egypt and the carceral houses-of-horror devised by the US in its War on Terror; it shows the centrality of faith in the lives of the Muslim prisoners whose stories are so sensitively rendered here; and tenderly details the dreams, prayers, communities and acts of resistance that sustained these prisoners when faced with forced disappearance, punishment, and torture.”

Also see walaaquisay.com

Fun stuff: Learn with Sherine Khatoun

Sherine is a proud member of New York’s Arabic music and dance ensemble, Zikrayat. Sherine danced with an internationally acclaimed
music band, Alabina and has performed at several theaters, as well as many events in NYC and surrounding areas. Sherine teaches courses
and workshops in Raqs Sharqi/Bellydance and Fusion classes. She also has a children’s movement program that promotes multicultural
dance foundations, a literacy movement class, creative movement and yoga. A forever student herself, she has been hosted to teach at local
schools, such as Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School, Stoneleigh Burnham and Mount Holyoke College. Sherine is developing a new program for adults called DREMA: Dance Relaxation, Exploration and Meditation for All- Abilities. Check out her community oriented dance classes offered in Northampton on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Join us in learning an uplifting community oriented workshop of a traditional Levantine Middle Eastern and North African folkloric dance, called Dabke, that is still vibrantly expressed until this day. We will stomp our feet to the Dabke rhythm, bounce to the beat, hop, kick and groove together!

Expect a supportive facilitator, sharing her own studies of this joyous and empowering folk dance with the intention of appreciating Levantine cultures within a respectfully inclusive community.

The ancient Levantine Arab folk dances are celebrated by all religions from the five countries mentioned below, each with nuanced variations:

Iraq Jordan Lebanon Palestine Syria

Sherine Khatoun Levy will mainly share Lebanese and Palestinian Dabke styles.

All abilities. No dance background necessary. Shoes are recommended for stomping and hopping. All are welcome to participate.

Business Meeting Information:

        Overview: positions available: Proportional Representatives to State Committee.
        State Committee Duties: Meet four times a year and serve on one or two working (sub)committees - meetings often virtual.
        Nominating People to our State Committee: Statecom members are elected every four years, appointed also.
        Rank Choice Vote – How to: See the tabulation done.

 

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