My thoughts are with Baltimore.

I received an email today from Alli Lesovoy, a Repair the World Site Development Fellow in New York who was a Fellow in Baltimore last year.  In addition to sharing that she’s heartbroken about what’s happening in Baltimore, she said that her feelings and her loyalties are mixed: “There are very few things that I know how to feel about.”  Her heart, she says is with Freddie Gray, the peaceful protesters, the people who are fed up with the system and the students who are just trying to get home safely. She is as concerned about “the students that I saw every day last year, who are stuck in the middle of a situation they were born into and have no choice but to live in” as she is about “the victims of the chaos – the people who have been hurt, the people who have had their living looted, the people who are afraid to step outside their front door.”

Alli is torn about whether this unrest is necessary and productive.  “‎Black Lives Matter‬ and I don’t understand why anyone would think otherwise.  But, will our institutions ever change and finally realize that? I don’t know. Honestly, probably not.”  Why not? Alli worries that the entire story will “all be broken down into the riots and the violence that has happened.”

She exhorted me to make sure I was not just reading about the fires, the vandalism and the violence. “Make sure you’re reading about the peaceful protests, the people who are stopping – even preventing – the violence, and the people who are cleaning up.”

“I’ve also really been thinking about how we as Jews have this narrative of being oppressed and how that plays out in modern times” Alli said. “I was taught from a young age that I am a minority, I am a different from others, I am oppressed. I’ve been trying to reconcile that narrative with the fact that I’ve grown up very privileged simply because I’m Jewish and my family and cultural values align with the current mainstream white cultural values. How can we, as a people, use that history of oppression as a tool to become an ally to those who are facing real oppression today? This is the part where I feel both extremely compelled to act in solidarity with Baltimore and the #blacklivesmatter movement as well as torn/conflicted on how to be an ally.”

She recalls from her year of service in Baltimore that whenever she told people that she lived there, the response was almost always, “Have you seen The Wire?” or, “That’s dangerous,” especially when she shared that she didn’t live in the “white” parts.  But, she says, “Baltimore is so much more than that. Baltimore is full of good, hard-working people of all colors and backgrounds. In Baltimore, I met so many people who just wanted to take care of me and guide me, way more of those than people I was afraid of.  Baltimoreans are kindhearted and it’s their city that is burning and they’re the ones that are cleaning it up.”

“Volunteering alongside the community members is the reason I feel the way I do about Baltimore. The students I mentored last year are some of the most incredible, resilient people I’ve ever met. I think one of the biggest reasons I feel a strong connection to Baltimore is because of those students. I think about them and how they’re doing every day, especially recently. I’m still in touch with one of them and have been emailing her about what her experience during the past week has been like.”

She is particularly struggling with the texts she’s recently receiving from her parents and others, saying, “I’m so glad you don’t live in Baltimore anymore.”  Yes, she’s safe in New York City, “but a place that I feel is my home is burning. Emotionally, I’m torn. So many times today, I’ve thought about just hopping on a train/bus to Baltimore. I feel like I need to be there. I need to help.”

Alli’s headed to Baltimore this weekend.  She considered turning these ideas into a blog post, but demurred.  “If you want to talk, I’m here. But we should probably talk over the phone, because this issue is complicated, and I’m a better talker than I am a writer.”

I’m not so sure, Alli.  Your email moved me.

This Week in Links: 5.4.15

Tucker Searches for Misplaced Standards

4 Lies We Need to Stop Telling About Raising the Minimum Wage

Why So Many Americans Feel So Powerless

Are Immigrants a Shot in the Arm for the Local Economy?

A Partial Solution to Income Inequality

The Political Roots of Widening Inequality

Nonviolence as Compliance

Baltimore facts and a message from ‘The Wire’ creator David Simon

Two States of Emergency in Baltimore

The Long Fuse Behind the Violence in Baltimore

The Truth Behind the Protests: What Traditional Media Never Shows

How drunk sports fans helped spark Saturday night’s post-protest violence

WSJ: Fordham’s Four Kinds of Wrong

Why Baltimore Burned

The Absence of Legitimate Authority in Baltimore

Rise of the Fragmented City

‘Rough Rides’ and the Challenges of Improving Police Culture

What to Say When the Police Tell You to Stop Filming Them

The deal with that post-racial society

Why — and How — Baltimore Jews Must Act Now

Income Inequality Is Costing the US on Social Issues

Goodbye to Freddie Gray, and Goodbye to Quietly Accepting Injustice

In Baltimore, We’re All Freddie Gray

The Dominant White Response to Baltimore Shows Why Black Residents are Justified in their Anger

The Roots of Poverty Are Many and Deep

Americans Think the Middle Class Is Shrinking

Most Baltimore Police Officers Live Outside The City

School Was Closed, But This Baltimore Dad Had An Amazing Lesson For His Son

Protester Schools MSNBC Anchor About Media Coverage Of Baltimore Riots

7 Facts Everyone Needs to Know to Understand What’s Happening in Baltimore

If One More White Person Asks Me to Condemn the Baltimore Riots…

Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child?

Violence in Baltimore

Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid

How Cameras Provide Hard Evidence of Prejudice

Baltimore is not Ferguson

Egypt gets a revolution, Baltimore a riot: Why hasn’t radical empathy started at home?

Dear white Facebook friends: I need you to respect what Black America is feeling right now

Grey’s Anatomy Star, In Heartfelt Twitter Essay, Perfectly Shuts Down Baltimore Critics (TWEETS)

How Baltimore’s Curfew Is Throwing Off the Night Shift

1968 and the Invention of the American Police State

After Nearly a Century, Redlining Still Divides Baltimore

Yong Zhao at NPE: Must See Video

6 Shocking Facts About Poverty in Baltimore

Black Culture Is Not the Problem

Ask CityLab: Why Can’t I Recycle a Pizza Box?

April 2015 Social Good Roundup

In addition to our monthly Newsletter, we are also bringing you a monthly round-up of our favorite programs from our partners and from across the web. The opportunities below are separated by long term (6+ months), short term (6 months or less) and ongoing service, social good, and travel opportunities.

Be sure to check back monthly for updates and new finds!


Commit…To Service!     (Long-Term Programs)

You Want To Go To There.      (Short-Term and Travel Opportunities)

Be Social. Do Good.    (Social Good Jobs, Events and Campaigns)

Fight Poverty This Passover with The Workmen’s Circle

This Passover season, the folks over at The Workmen’s Circle are honoring the holiday by fighting to end a modern day plague: working poverty.

The United States is home to 10 million people who fall into the category of working poor – folks who have jobs but who’s wages are so low, they cannot afford their basic needs. These families and individuals often have to choose between paying rent or going to the doctor, or buying groceries or paying their electric bill. No hard working person should have to make those choices.

Historically, The Workmen’s Circle has been at the forefront of the Jewish labor movement and a champion of workers’ rights. Now, they are fighting back against poverty by joining the Fight for $15 – a nationwide movement aimed at raising the minimum wage to at least $15.

On Wednesday, April 15, join them in a National Day of Action to help raise awareness about the struggles low wage workers face every day. They will meet at Columbus Circle in New York City and march together to Times Square. To find out more, check back to their Facebook page for more details.