[let me disclaim this post and say that nothing mentioned here is official 'The Simple Way' stance on these issues but rather my personal reflections and experiences]
so yesterday there was a public meeting for the board of health who were commenting on a 14 page document relating to the serving of food outside to homeless people… which is linked to a recent order brought in by the mayor of Philadelphia [the previously-ascertained unfortunately-named mayor Nutter] to specifically ban the serving of food to people in two specific parks [big touristy attraction places] ALTHO it was very clearly stated that this would not affect family picnics…
and this is where i go and say that my beautiful wife Valerie came up with the very brilliant idea of throwing a picnic outside the place where they were going to have the meeting, and then inviting anyone who was nearby [including the homeless] to join us for our family picnic [because after all they are our brothers and sisters] – even the name Philadelphia which comes from the greek word ‘Phileo’ meaning brotherly love…
so it was a symbolic gesture [would have been a form of civil disobedience had we done it in the actual parks where it is possibly going to be banned if that goes through as is, although that is a bit of a harder one for us to work as getting arrested, as romantic as the notion is when connected to reaching out to 'the least of these' can have serious consequences to visa bearing south africans] and it worked amazingly.
we spread the word to our web of subversive friends and through facebook statuses [stati?] and other connections and arrived with picnic blankets and set up outside of the meeting place and invited people to join us – one guy drove an hour to come and be part of the fun and our friend cody made a coolbox full of ham sandwiches and had another one full of bottled water.
occupy philly set up some tables near us and also engaged in feeding the public and so it was free food and sharing happening all around – other groups that are involved in feeding the hungry and members of the public, including some homeless people joined us and we sat eating food, literally breaking bread together and having conversation about life, the universe and a bunch of related things.
one of the things shane spoke about, when i accompanied him to a conference in Canada recently, was how in many cases, the church has lost its imagination and this group open picnic was just something small, although hopefully also something huge in helping ignite that in peoples minds and kickstart their imaginations for future work and protest and creative solutioning that can and needs to be done.
so yay for my wife [the real yay for my wife comes in part III] for the idea and for running with it and getting so many other people involved and thank you to everyone who came and was a part of the fun and feast.