SLU September 24, 2014
• We’ve heard about Jim’s background and his life’s work, primarily devoted
to efforts and initiatives that must be described as transformative, whether he
o Directing a renaissance of transitional neighborhoods in Milwaukee or
o Changing the way we grow and distribute food, with his work with
the Sweetwater Foundation and Growing Power, and spreading the
lessons learned around the world.
• Jim’s has asked me to talk about his latest initiative that a number of us are
We all, all around the world, are familiar with the events that transpired in
Ferguson Mo last month. Those events continue to develop, and will, on a
One week after the death of Michael Brown’s death Godsil sent one of his
legendary e-mails to the members of the SLUH class of ’63. It went like
Would anyone be up for a conversation among Jesuit high school grads from the
Class of ‘63 in the big cities of America around the issue of nation building and
racial healing over a 10 year time frame to see what we might do?
The tragedies in Ferguson are hard to face, but we can “take the hit as a gift”
in our remaining years as young elders with resources. Many of us have the
time and technology to brainstorm with sons/daughters of Ignatius and Jesuit
communities across the land and make modest contributions commensurate with
Closing in classic Godsil style, he asks What say? Why not?
The organizing theme for what we propose is to attempt to answer the following
daunting but compelling questions.
How might we develop what would be an authentic Ignation Response to
the events in Ferguson? Who could be involved, and how can they be engaged?
What resources are available? How might we harness the power and authority of
Ignation spirituality? What outcomes should be pursued, and how?
Through the participation of the willing, we have begun an exchange of ideas via
e-mail, phone and meetings among our class members, and have engaged other
participants, using the national and world wide Jesuit network as our base. So far,
we have active conversations going with contacts at
• SLUH : Engaging with President David Lauglin and connecting with a
young teacher’s classroom approach to the issues. We’ve also connected
with another young SLUH grad now living in New York who was featured
on a National NPR broadcast on Ferguson.
o A couple of us met this week with the law school , which was already
engaged in pursing municipal court reform , which has turned out to
be a key are to be addressed. We have a plan to meet with judicial
officials to see how we might help develop resources to address this
difficult, but critical issue, focusing initially on enhancing community
service alternatives available to the courts.
o We are also in contact with and plan to engage the school’s urban
affairs and public policy programs.
o We met with Chris Collins of the University’s Theology Department,
who is involved in developing educational responses to the Ferguson
situation; by working with the Access Academy Foundation and the
• A number of us are meeting today to continue the conversation, and explore
how we can continue to connect dots and develop a long term strategy to make