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The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. --John 1:5
Updated: 3 hours 37 min ago

508 #240: Think Tank

March 11, 2014 - 4:58pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s guests are Lauren Monroe and Adam Zelny of the Think Tank, an alternative education center.

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Categories: Activism

Lent approaches

March 4, 2014 - 11:27am

This year, it is back to basics. I am keeping things simple for Lent.

  • Fasting: Facebook still seems like the perfect thing to “give up.” As a vegan, I’ll be skipping an extra meal on Fridays rather than fasting from meat.
  • Prayer: Give Us This Day is still my go-to prayer book. Susan Stabile has a good roundup of other resources.
  • Almsgiving: MINE OWN BEESWAX again this year.

I hope everyone reading this has a powerful Lenten season. If you’re curious about Lent but not religious, I’ll point you to Jacob’s essay on the topic.

Categories: Activism

508 #239: HX Library

March 2, 2014 - 12:29pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, the HX library of radical and science fiction books moves to Stone Soup. An uncut, uncompromising look.

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There is not too much online about the Firecracker bookstore. But there is this old Worcester Phoenix article:

Best indicator of reality in downtown Worcester

No government. No police. No judges. No lock and key? Not likely. Living the anarchist dream in a decidedly non-anarchist society is perhaps the toughest challenge for the politically radical. Take Firecracker Books for example, Franklin Street’s home to leftist literature and political idealism. Come closing time, the storefront has to lock up as tight as the nearby federal office building. “We try to be as accommodating, as trustful, and forgiving as possible,” says a store volunteer on a recent Saturday while unloading supplies from a free afternoon meal on the Common. “But we’re not going to allow ourselves to constantly be burned. We’re very watchful of things. It’s much easier to stop [problems] before they get out of control. A preventive approach to life rather than interventive.” Since Firecracker moved around the corner to the more visible Franklin Street location, many more people visit to read the books and to buy T-shirts, magazines, and literature that comprise the retail end of the store. As home to the Worcester Autonomy Center, Firecracker also distributes free clothes, provides an in-house library, and distributes prophylactics to prevent the spread of HIV. Saturdays are still the day Food Not Bombs offers lunchtime meals behind City Hall, an activity that continues despite past legal problems. We support their efforts.

Firecracker Books, 72 Franklin Street, Worcester, 753-4002

Categories: Activism

Ron Wehrle, 1936-2014, RIP

February 28, 2014 - 12:55pm

Ron Wehrle, beloved member of Worcester’s Catholic Worker community, passed away on Monday. His funeral was this morning.

For some classic shots of Ron brandishing his cigar, re-watch this lovely video about Worcester’s Catholic Workers:

A Life Worth Living from Doug Rogers on Vimeo.

And just to preserve this into the future, here’s a copy of his obituary:

Ron S. Wehrle, 77, of Worcester, died Monday, February 24, 2014, at home surrounded by friends, family and members of the Worcester Catholic Worker community.

Ron leaves two sisters, Ruth Staudacher and her husband John of Pittsburgh, Penn. and Theresa Boltz and her husband Larry of Buffalo, N.Y., and a sister-in-law Valerie Wehrle of Vancouver, British Columbia. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Carl and John.

Ron also leaves eleven nieces and nephews, his close friends Jo Massarelli and Marc Tumienski, with whom he lived for 16 years, and many loving friends.

Ron was born in Buffalo, N.Y., son of Joseph and Margaret (Ederer) Wehrle. He graduated from Canisius College in Buffalo and later studied at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

He served in the U.S. Air Force including a tour of duty in Japan.

Ron was a longtime member of St. Paul’s Cathedral Parish, the Saints Francis and Therese Catholic Worker community and the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker.

He was a friend of the Worcester Public Library.

Ron was known for his deep faith, his natural wisdom, his witty discourse and his excellent cooking. He was beloved by many.

Calling hours are Thursday, February 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the St. Paul’s Cathedral Chapel at the corner of High and Chatham streets, Worcester. The funeral Mass will be Friday, February 28 at 10 a.m. in the chapel at St. Paul’s. Burial will be in St. John’s Cemetery, Worcester.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Paul’s Cathedral Children’s Choir, 19 Chatham St., Worcester 01609.

The Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster St., Worcester, is directing arrangements.

Categories: Activism

508 #238: Weed

February 26, 2014 - 9:54pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about medical marijuana, the plan to find a new City Manager, a new city health plan, the South Worcester Industrial Park, trees, and free public wifi.

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Categories: Activism

Transform Now Plowshares activists sentenced; and, the Worcester connection

February 19, 2014 - 3:12pm

Reuters, yesterday:

A U.S. judge sentenced an 84-year-old nun, Sister Megan Rice, on Tuesday to 35 months in prison for breaking into a Tennessee military facility used to store enriched uranium for nuclear bombs.

Two others accused in the case, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, were sentenced to 62 months in prison. The three were convicted of cutting fences and entering the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in July 2012, embarrassing U.S. officials and prompting security changes.

Tom LewisA fourth “participant” in the breakin was Worcester’s own Tom Lewis, the late artist-activist. As the Washington Post reported in an amazing article about this act of protest last spring:

They spray painted the building’s north wall, which was designed to withstand the impact of aircraft but not the words of the Book of Proverbs. They poured and splashed blood that had once been in the veins of a painter-activist named Tom Lewis, one of the Catonsville Nine who, on Hiroshima Day 1987, hammered on the bomb racks of an anti-submarine plane at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station near Boston. In 2008, Lewis died in his sleep, and his blood was frozen so that he might one day participate in one last Plowshares action.

In bright red rivulets, the last of Tom Lewis streaked down the concrete.

Categories: Activism

There Is a Mid-Winter Festival Hidden in Plain Sight

February 2, 2014 - 3:33pm


Groundhog Day, Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, and the old pagan festival of Imbolc are all mid-winter holidays that basically happen on the same day every year. By that day, midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, you know for sure that the days are getting longer. It’s still winter, but you know you’re going to make it. So you do things like bless all the candles you’ll need for the coming year (if you’re a Christian), or study the behavior of giant hibernating ground squirrels to predict the onset of spring (if you’re a Pennsylvanian). You might welcome Brigid (the saint or goddess) into your home (if you’re Irish). It’s a time of purification and light.

The mid-winter festival is a great day to consider how your New Year’s Resolutions are going, and if necessary toss them out to prepare your life for spring. Candlemas is when I officially start planning for Lent. That means starting to think about what I might want to give up, and asking my non-Christian friends if they’re observing Lent this year (many of them do!). It’s also a good day to start fantasizing about your garden (if you haven’t) and to do a little something to get started on your taxes.

This year, Chinese New Year and the Superbowl are both taking place on mid-winter weekend, resulting in an embarrassment of feastday riches.

Candlemas–now my favorite neglected holiday.

Categories: Activism

508 #237: The City Manager Hunt

January 30, 2014 - 11:33pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week’s panel is Nicole Apostola, Chris Robarge, and Tracy Novick.

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We talk about the reopening of Stone Soup, Worcester Magazine’s story on the American Antiquarian Society, the hunt for a new City Manager, and how to explain the role of the Worcester City Council to political newbies.

Categories: Activism

508 #236: Surveillance

January 22, 2014 - 4:10pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about the Pulse’s “14 to Watch in 2014″ and PILOT.

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Categories: Activism

Making Guantanamo History

January 14, 2014 - 11:32am

Justin Norman/Witness Against Torture

Saturday was the twelfth anniversary of the first detainees arriving at Guantanamo.

I went to the Smithsonian Museum of American History with my crazy friends from Witness Against Torture.

One small group, dressed as detainees in black hoods and orange jumpsuits, formed a tableau in a second-floor atrium. Then more than 100 people (from WAT and other groups) entered the museum from outside and, mic-check style, explained to hundreds of surprised museum-goers what was going on with this “temporary exhibit” of recent American history. They went on like this for some time, mic-checking and singing about Guantanamo, indefinite detention, and torture. Two banners were briefly hung from the railings on the balcony above.


Shortly before that started, another group in jumpsuits entered an “America at war” exhibit on the floor above and tried to “install a temporary exhibit” there. Guards quickly cleared the area, sending a flood of tourists to the third-floor balcony overlooking the other tableau just as as the action in the atrium began.

Justin Norman/Witness Against Torture

Most of the group planned to be arrested for all this, but nobody was. For reasons none of us understand, after maybe 20 minutes (at which point the atrium group went silent), the war exhibit was reopened, and the upstairs demonstrators were able to establish a “temporary exhibit,” with one member giving a marathon teach-in about freedom and the War On Terror while others stood silently or chatted with tourists.

The downstairs “exhibit” remained for two hours, and the upstairs group for more than three, at which point the museum was about to close, and they left.

Some tourists loved this spectacle. Others hated it. In my role as videographer, I overheard a lot of conversations, not all of them supportive but all of them thoughtful.

It was a grand and weird experience.


Categories: Activism

508 #235: The Woo, ctd.

December 17, 2013 - 1:25pm

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk with Lucas Glenn, Eric L’Esperance, and Juliet Hurston about big things brewing at the Woo church.

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Categories: Activism

508 #234: Rebirth

December 4, 2013 - 3:39pm

508 is a show about Worcester. Today’s guest is Noah Bombard, Digital Editor for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. We talk about the Artichoke Co-op closing, Stone Soup reopening, new politicians being elected, and the future of the T&G.

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Categories: Activism