Tag Archive: kensington

my wife Valerie

my wife was attacked in the street yesterday.

fortunately not physically and thank God there were two Latino guys in a car nearby that she was eventually able to get to come to her assistance but even then they didn’t really know what to do and the [can only assume he was completely drugged up] guy continued to threaten.

many, many thoughts on this and the closest to the foreground is complete and utter thankfulness that she is okay… or as okay as someone can be who is verbally and otherwise assaulted…

Val recently shared two blogs with thoughts on related issues:

the first being this very hectic one where she shares a reaction to some of the music and attitude and behaviour we were confronted with when we lived in Kensington, Philly last year: On being woman [explicit]

and the second one in which she shared some situation she has been in where she got involved and took some kind of action to prevent the possibility of an attack or situation ending badly: on being my sister’s keeper


the solution to this is not victim-blaming, nor giving women a list of ways they can dress or act and behave that can “help protect them from being raped” – we should not have to go there.

but i really don’t believe the solution is man-bashing either – all men are not evil, potential rapists waiting to happen – throwing blame at the general male population feels completely unhelpful as well.

and personally, i’m not convinced that joking about rape is EVER helpful [although i know a bunch of people disagree with me on this one – see the next post for verification of that] – for me anything that makes light of or lessens the impact of how absolutely hideous and horrendous and just plain evil rape is, counts against finding a solution to the problem.

this thing is so much huger than any of those three areas – we are talking absence of strong positive role models and negative influence of the media and prisons being punitive rather than redemptive and desensitisation of both the word and the act and a hundred other things…

but just because it looks so huge and daunting, does not give us the freedom to continue with our heads buried in the sand on this one. we need to create safe spaces for people to share their stories. we need to be able to talk about this thing without using blame language on either side and try to figure out together what we can put in place in the short term to at least reduce the risk of it while we look at bigger solutions. we need to be investing into the young men and women of the future and training them up in the way they should go…

as evidenced by my new friend Magda’s letter to her children [aged just 11 and almost 8] that she allowed me to share parts of on my blog over here, that both deals with speaking about sex and rape with her young children and teaching them how to grow up to be young men that make a positive difference.

let’s get serious about working together to put a stop to this. this should not be something we are ever okay about having as a part of our world.

[to continue to part II which involves a confusing hashtag on Twitter which got me into a bit of trouble with a bunch of people]

map of oakland

i was asking that question as i walked [by myself!] to the office today as tbV had a meeting at Darin’s house…

and the obvious answer would be 50th street [i’m convinced it’s 51st in my head so have to type it down now or i may not find my way back home] Oakland, California, Americaland…

but i’m looking a little deeper, after 19 months in the ‘hood of Kensington, Philly [where in the city if you told people where you were from they would respond with “you live in Kensington???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] how would one exactly describe this place?

Oakland and San Francisco

it’s not ‘hood. well not in the way that Kensington was ‘hood… but it’s definitely not Bishop’s Court… feels a little suburby, but heard from the people we’re staying behind that they used to live in the suburbs so probably not that. we did get the “you live in Oakland???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] when we visited San Francisco on Sunday so in these parts maybe it’s still seen as ‘hood or ‘hoodish… just not sure if it will get me quite enuff street cred for saying i live here – is there a more ‘hood’ ‘hood than Oakland? will have to ask…

i like it though. only been here about a week [not even] so still got to get the vibe of the place, but tbV and i loved Kensington and i think we will love this place too – not as many people in your face, on your street as there where which was one of the highlights of Kensington but the people we’ve passed have for the most part been really friendly, and then there was the bag lady.

the bag or one like it...

no, not that. walking back from San Fran on Sunday we encountered this African American all-dressed-up-for-a-party-or-is-that-maybe-how-she-normally-dresses woman who approached us and said “Can you pick up my bag?” We looked at the street corner where she was pointing and there was a gold coloured handbag on the ground – so Val says, “You pick it up” but the lady was clearly freaked out and she asks again, “No, No, No can you guys please just pick up my bag?” I ask, “What’s wrong with it?” She says, “Nothing.” so we tell her again to just pick it up and she goes closer and then backs away and then goes closer and makes like she’s going to and then backs away again going, “No, No, No, Please just pick up my bag.”

at this point i’m wondering is there a bomb in there? a deadly tarantula? a bag of chocolate covered raiSINs with all the chocolate licked off [we all have our fears!] and so we decide to keep on walking and hope that wouldn’t-have-passed-the-Tour-de-France-urine-test lady managed to eventually get her stuff and make it home okay.

this is where we currently work

so definitely a taste of Kensington…

and i guess we’ll figure out more as we get to explore more and as we hopefully find a more permanent place to stay [maybe today!] and hopefully get to call this place home for the next year or so…

so for friends back home there have been hints and allegations [a loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires and baby] and subtle innuendos as to what might be pertaining to the future for the andersons after this year…

for those of you who have been following semi-closely, the beautiful Valerie [tbV] and i have been living, working and ministering with the Simple Way Christian non-profit organisation in Kensington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Americaland since about June of last year and altho it has been one of the more difficult years of our lives it has also been a great year and an exciting one and one where we had no doubt at all that God had called us to be in this place at this time and so that really helped during some of the tougher times and so we will definitely look back at 2011/2012 as a good time of growth and challenge and hopefully transformation, for both us and also the Simple Way and the area of Kensington we lived in and all those we came into contact with.

“but what next?” i hear you ask. well i don’t, really, cos that would be creepy, but i am going to imagine someone asked it, so that i can give a little bit of a glimpse into the future that we are facing [sorry, Mayans! – yes, being cocky about the predicted end of the world is something anyone who is doubting it can feel free to do because if you’re wrong then who gets to rub it into your face? score!]

so our time here at the Simple Way runs until the end of the year – the office winds down around the 23rd of December and then we have just booked tickets South-Africawards for the 30th [arriving home 1 January 2012] where we will be for a month to a month and a half if all goes according to plan [which will include a trip to Durban to visit my sister Dawn and her husband Glen and our new nephew Joshua and also a bunch of our friends] and then sometime in February we will head back to americaland, but this time settling in Oakland, California where we will be working once more with our Simple Way boss, Darin Petersen, but with another non-profit called Relational Tithe [soon also to be known as ‘Common Change’] for around 18 months and beyond that we are trusting that God will direct once more…

when we are home i hope to be playing lots of TheatreSports, hopefully some hockey and drinking a whole lot of coffee with friends and family as we catch up and hang out and refresh and catch up and prepare for the next part of our exciting life journey together. [Val will be testing out the beaches and cocktails and making sure they continue to meet Cape Town’s high standards]

one of the obstacles we face is the task of finding finances to firstly return to americaland and then to be able to live here [in a somewhat different context to Kensington] for the eighteen months that follow. support-raising is not something either Val or i flock towards with open arms, but the work we are returning to is something that excites us in terms of the potential it has for life, community and church transformation, that we may have to be willing to swallow our pride and have some interesting conversations with some of you. neither of us like the idea of being tricked/manipulated into giving to even something that is a good cause and so i wanted to be up front with what will have to somehow be a part of this trip. so more of that to follow.

but mostly we are looking forward to people [not all of the people we want to see will be there – some are in the UK and Switzerland and Australia and a host of other places] and being able to tell stories and share a glimpse of what these last 18 months have meant to us and share some of the anticipation of what the next part of our journey will look like.

and probably in one of the strangest aspects of the whole trip, i, brett fish anderson, will be looking forward to mayonnaise, because no offence americaland, but you SUCK at making it…

much love and thrilled anticipation
brett fish anderson [brettfish@hotmail.com] and the beautiful Val [and of course No_bob]

yesterday at the Simple Way we had our very first session of Conversations at the Simple Way which three of us had largely been working on pulling together for a while – 15 people signed up to hang out with us as we did a couple of different sessions including one on intentional community, a practical serving the community aspect, a story over lunch from someone in the neighborhood who is involved in doing some really life-giving stuff within Kensington, where we live, and a sharing and question time around a specific theme – this one being ‘how to serve God with your Time, Treasures and Talents’ – it really was a great day and a few lines of thort or concept struck me as different people were sharing and i wanted to be able to pass those on:

Coz is a friend of ours from Australia [i know!] and he shared a little about being a good steward of your Treasures [so money and things] and one thing he said which really stood out was that “You can’t outgive God!”

now, maybe to some of you that will seem like an obvious thing. But i think to many of us, and even perhaps a lot of us that ‘know’ it as ‘an obvious thing’ we often don’t really believe it. i mean, not really. Rather our picture of God [whether stated or not, and usually not] is that of this long-bearded fellow sitting on a cloud with his lightning bolt waiting for the second we step out of line so that He can absolutely nail us and make sure that we behave better [which is possibly why we as the church have ended up so often focusing on what we are against and trying to avoid than what we are for?

but it is so true that we cannot outgive God – God is so completely generous and Loving and kind and compassionate and opportunity-giving and the list just goes on… we just maybe need to realign our minds [and our actions] to the fact…

it reminded me of this passage in Luke 11:

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Coz spoke about it in terms of putting the focus on our giving. Trusting God and at times risking what might seem ridiculous in terms of being generous to others with the idea in mind that we cannot outgive God and so God will constantly supply our needs and how much more so if we have held loosely on to the things He has entrusted us with before. Those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much.

How are you doing on the scale of generosity? [money yes, but also time and things and energy] And would it help you to be a little more generous if you truly believed that you had an uber generous God watching over you?

to read about “no technology time” head over here…

so for those of you who missed my post on my ‘the simple weigh’ blog, here is a link to that and the story of the first week of aquaponics building that has been taking place at the simple way communtiy in kensington, philadelphia where we stay… aquaponics is like hydroponics but with fish [sustainable food growth]

click here to see…

i managed to find Paul’s second letter, which he gave me a copy of when i went to visit the homeless community on sunday with val and some friends from SA who are visiting to join them for a quaker type service – it has been published in a few online newspapers and i got this copy from here. when we arrived at their base, they had been issued an eviction notice and had to leave by yesterday 11am:

Paul Klemmer, a homeless carpenter — and, it’s turned out, eloquent scribe — has written his second open letter detailing the plight and desires of the group of homeless individuals who left Occupy Philly at Dilworth Plaza to seek safe accommodation and who’ve been camped below an I-95 overpass for nearly a week. (Read his first letter here)

The camp has been issued notice by PennDOT, which owns the area beneath I-95, to leave by 11 AM tomorrow morning. The group does plan to leave — but where they will go, or when, remains to be seen.

Klemmer’s letter outlines two options that several people beneath the bridge shared with CP toady: seek temporary shelter inside or outside a church that would agree to host them; or, disappear: and drop beneath the radar of law enforcement officials who’ve chased them now from three homes.

Here, in its entirety, is Klemmer’s most recent letter:

Today we face two closely-related crises. The first very immediate need is that of the 20 or so individuals that trusted the Occupy Movement and Interfaith Community to rescue them from the consequences of the Occupation of City Hall and impending renovation there.

The second crisis, an ongoing one, no less immediate because of the season, is the people of Philadelphia’s, and America’s, willingness to allow armed men and women to prevent the poor from working together to increase their fortune.

With a nail gun, even a butane-powered one, and some battery-powered tools, I and the skilled carpenters in the camp could create, from recycled materials and donated fasteners, structures like those at Christmas Village, easily disassembled and transported, to see us through the winter.

What’s more difficult to create is a sharing, loving community with those who the System has habitually fractured and fragmented. We’ve come a long way in a short time and formed the core of such a community of shared involvement and responsibility. We’ve been conditioned by being forced to exist alone, to grab all we can before someone else does, this alienation suiting the purposes of a status quo which would keep us invisible and blame us for our own misfortunes.

If we find a place to move from here, we need to immediately structure the receiving and distribution of donations in an equitable fashion and create, with guidance from the Interfaith Community, a minimal list of expectations and obligations agreed to by those who would join our community and work toward building solutions, not only for our group, but at least as an example, for all the needy.

It’s been suggested that the churches of the Interfaith Community might provide temporary sanctuary for our small tent community, providing a launching pad for other, longer-term solutions such as acquiring abandoned indoor or outdoor space through legal channels, disappearing into safer spaces ofr bouncing from church yard to church yard, doing clean up and repairs in the community, inviting community involvement and integrating the homeless within these communities. But by tomorrow, Monday, we need a place to regroup or just crawl back under the rocks we crawled out from, disappointed that the hot air generated by Occupy was insufficient to keep us warm through the coming snows.

so for those of you who haven’t quite figured out or gotten involved with my life at the simple way blog yet, here are my first three links to some wild goose festival blogging that i have just done… this week tbV and myself are back in the ‘hood and will be getting going with our specific work…




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