Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “South America”

Guest Blogger – Suzie Thornton

Suzie Thornton is the female protagonist in The Accidental Activist. Being a fictional character has never stopped her expressing her own opinion.

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I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stand by and watch big business trample over individuals, communities, and villagers. Someone had to stand up to the multinational corporations and who better than me? Well many people actually, who are smarter, more articulate and strategic. But back then I was a young, single woman, with no assets that anyone could threaten to take from me. I was working part-time in a bookstore. And maybe, just maybe, I was looking for a fight.

Or so I thought.

Helen Steel – the real heroine

No one suspected that the Oilspill court case would become the longest in British history. No one imagined that I would be denied legal aid and forced to defend myself against the most accomplished lawyer in British libel history. It took a huge chunk of my life away from me, something I will never get back. But I had to do it. I simply wouldn’t be me if I had ignored or buckled to the threat. And I got to know Matt in a way that I doubt would have happened.

It’s funny but one of my friends who read The Accidental Activist claimed that it is a romance novel. Of course it isn’t (and don’t tell the author – he might try and sell more books this way). The Accidental Activist is a courtroom drama wherein a multinational corporation tries to crush a tribe in South America and anyone who tries to stop them, or highlight their injustices.

I studied Political Science at London University, but I never learned as much as I did taking on the big guys. You can never understand how the legal system helps the multinationals until you are on the inside. And then it is simply frightening.

I’m glad that The Accidental Activist focuses on Matt. He was an unsung hero, a man who not only changed the outcome of our court case, but changed the face of political advocacy. I’m glad Alon Shalev was able to get inside of Matt’s head and show his transformation from a self-absorbed yuppie to a man who was ready to harness his talents to fight social justice.

But the sex! Did you guys have to get so explicit about it? You know my mother will read the book, right?

This blog post is dedicated to Helen Steel – the real heroine in the real McDonald’ Libel case upon which The Accidental Activist is based.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

 

They Were Robbed

Mi Tierra Foods is a neighborhood grocery at 2082 San Pablo Avenue and Addison, just a block from the busy junction of San Pablo and University in Berkeley. Yesterday, Berkeleyside reported that Jesus Mendez, while bringing cash back from the bank to support their check cashing counter, was robbed at gun point.

Apart from being the consummate local grocery with a combination of staples and fresh produce, Mi Tierra provides an important service for those who cannot access a bank. They help the poorest turn a check for a day’s work into food for their family. They help people who send money back to support their families in Mexico and South America.

Mi Tierra has now been forced to stop this service because of the cash lost in the robbery, but Mendez has vowed to reinstate the service once they have replenished the necessary cash reserves.

WE CAN HELP. Please consider joining me and making a point this weekend of going to Mi Tierra and buying some of your weekly groceries. For free parking turn on Addison and there is a car park. See the beautiful mural as you then walk to the store entrance.

Mi Tierra is there for us, whether we need that checking service, to pick up something we forgot at the bigger groceries, or need that special ingredient for a Mexican dish. They are the consummate neighbor, an integral part of Berkeley.

This weekend, be a good neighbor, and join me in supporting them by buying groceries there. Pass this blog on or tell your friends. Make sure you let the staff know why you came. Let them know Berkeley cares.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

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