Front Page Stories
rmship Writes About
- CameraphoneSprint EVO4g
- Digital Camerasony DSC SC5
rmship's Recent Comments
4 years ago.
4 years ago.
4 years ago.
Recently Published Story: 2 Years Ago in Culture
a longtime community activist in Philadelphia. He’s involved with various organizations around the city including the Institute for the Study of Civic Values, Phillyneighborhoods, Philadelphia Independent Media Center, and Philadelphia Parent Partner. To find out more information about Bob Shipman, you can visit his website.
It’s Our City: You refer to your occupation as a servant. What does that mean?
Bob Shipman: I feel a strong imperative. I feel the peril of this moment: that if we don’t learn how to come together differently, in our organization, in our communities, in our families, then we are doomed. Communication, interaction, caring, providing and becoming less competitive in our selfish actions is a MUST. I believe that is our work. One of the strange things going on at the beginning of this millennium in western cultural is that we have become, I believe, victims of many different beliefs. The first is the belief that we can ignore time. The belief that we can negotiate with time, that we have in fact forgotten about things like natural rhythms, about cycles, about change, as part of the natural process. And, instead, we believe that it’s a straight trajectory into the future and we can go as fast as we please. Of course this moves us away from nature, from rhythm, from a sense of place, and we are really struggling with this. I believe that our current effort to try and ignore time, growth, stages and cycles is truly driving us crazy.
It’s Our City: Tell us about the early roots of your civic activism.
Bob Shipman: It all started in my community (17th & Susquehanna) as a servant for the elderly, running errands, sweeping pavements and shoveling snow in front of their homes. It continued in the 1960’s, with the city wide public school student protest for the student bill of rights. We marched on the school board, and our police commissioner ordered students beaten and arrested. The era weighed heavy on my young mind. I attended Thomas A. Edison High School (formerly NE H.S.), which lost numerous lives in the Vietnam conflict. At the same time, gang wars were raging on the streets of Philadelphia killing as many as 72 young men in one year. Wow, that was a huge number back then; we are losing people to the tune of 350 – 400 in 2006-07. After high school, I attended a southern HBCU (Historically Black College and University), Virginia Union University from 1971 – 74, and experienced the tail end of desegregation. That was a learning experience as well. During summer breaks from college, I worked as a social group worker II in the PHA (Philadelphia Housing Authority) Raymond Rosen complex. There, I interacted with pre-teens and young adults, many of them caught up in the welfare cycle.
It’s Our City: How has blogging and the Internet played a role in what you can do to help people?
Bob Shipman: Those folks, who’ve known me for four years or more, will tell you I had a vibrant voice and a passionate personality. My voice has left me. I have a voice impairment called Spasmodic Dystonia. This illness has changed my methods of communicating to more writing than public speaking. Those that have need and are patient with me can understand me with some degree of difficulty. The struggle continues.
It’s Our City: What do you see as the biggest struggles facing Philadelphia today?
Bob Shipman: The lack of affordable housing, re-gentrification of the community in the zip codes across this city. Lack of livable wages, discrimination, not by one ethnic group, this happens in a class discrimination manner. The have not’s and those that are barely eking out a living. With the lack of federal and state dollars, the young and old will suffer in the near future.
It’s Our City: Explain if you feel Philadelphians are already active enough in their communities, or could do more.
Bob Shipman: Of course not, the people are feeling the pinch these days. They are responding in anger and not being able to understand the processes of becoming advocates for self and others. The have-nots are victimizing other have-nots. The few agencies and community groups that have mission statements geared to helping the less fortunate are losing funding, and the last few months the employees of these groups are forced to find new positions to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. I’m seeing people that have college degrees and former small business owners being referred to the Philadelphia EARN centers that are training and helping them find gainful employment. The jobs out there have lower wages than the ones the one many have lost or were trained for.