Celeste Kennel-Shank is a Sojourners contributing writer.
Posts By This Author
The affordable health-care act is already saving lives.
No Other Gods
Why National Flags Don't Belong in Church
When I first heard the announcement to rise for "the presentation of the colors," I didn't understand what that was.
Building Together on the Rock
Churches Supporting Churches gets congregations into partnership -- and policy.
The New Environmental Advocates
Chicago's Wilbur Wright College helps workers turn blue collars to green.
Stem Cells and Human Dignity
No Time for Retreat
Living in God's House
Finding sanctuary in a Chicago storefront church.
Mr. Peabody's Coal Train
Beginning with churches near the coalfields, more than 750 local and national religious leaders have put forth “A Call for Justice at Peabody Energy” that backs miners seeking to organi
Toward a Responsible Sexual Ethic
Since 2004, a diverse group of religious leaders, reproductive rights advocates, and medical professionals have met to talk about sex.
Fashion With A Passion
Connecting creativity and spirituality, the Reciprocity Foundation, a Brooklyn, New York-based gift and design organization, steers homeless youth toward careers in the design, media, and fashion i
Taking A Ride In The Poverty Simulator
Complete with play money, appliance cards, and transportation passes, the Community Action Poverty Simulation is much like a role play or board game.
Blessing the Hands That Harvest
Bumper stickers found in many college dormitories and church parking lots during the recent boycott of Taco Bell featured a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua—playing off the chain’s ads—turning down the fast- food chow to demand a penny more per pound for tomato pickers.
Heading the campaign was the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farm worker-led organization based in Immokalee, Florida, with more than 2,500 members, most of whom are Latinos, Haitians, and Mayan Indians. The nearly four-year boycott put worker concerns—low wages, poor working conditions, and discrimination—in front of many consumers and led to an agreement with Yum! Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company.
The campaign is one of several recent examples of tapping into the power of consumers. Through education, boycotts, and other methods, farm workers can make those who eat the products they grow and pick aware of the conditions they experience—and ask for their help in changing those conditions.
“The life of an agricultural worker is one of exploitation,” said Lucas Benitez, a worker and organizer with the coalition who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a teenager. Farm laborers work long hours, with no benefits, health care, or overtime pay, he said. “The imbalance of power is tremendous.”
The agreement reached by the coalition and Yum! Brands established important precedents of increasing wages coming down the supply chain and involving workers in the monitoring of conditions in the fields, said Brigitte Gynther, an organizer with the coalition. The change for workers has been immediate, Benitez said, after more than 20 years of receiving the same salary. Each week, he said, “depending on how much they harvest, they receive between $15 and $40 more.” Also essential, Gynther said, are the safeguards against what the coalition believes to be inhumane working conditions the pickers have suffered.
After unanimous votes in Congress, President Bush signed into law in early January the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005, drawing praise from human rights and religious g
Green Hair, Gray Hair
What do you get when you mix punk rockers with senior citizens?
Revealing Hidden Histories
In addition to providing services to the elderly, We Are Family helps volunteers tap in to the history of African-American communities in Washington, D.C. Through casual visits as well as oral history projects, volunteers sometimes are able to uncover accounts of major events in U.S. history.
We Are Family volunteers have given Belva Simmons, 78, who lives in D.C.’s North Capitol neighborhood, a chance to tell the story of her career as a congressional staff person and her role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, both 23, face felony charges for aiding people in the Arizona desert who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border. Their appeal to have the case against them dismissed was denied in January. Sellz and Strauss are volunteers with No More Deaths, a Tucson, Arizona-based coalition of faith-based groups that advocates for immigrant reform and provides food, water, and medical care to migrants crossing the desert.
IRS vs. Pulpit
The nonprofit status of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, is being challenged by the Internal Revenue Service because of a sermon in which parishioners were asked to imagine a
...one moment at a time.
Hurricane Stan Ignites Churches
When Hurricane Stan hit the Gulf of Mexico last October, it deluged Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras before losing its power.