The Gang of Five
by Not Sure
14 May 2023
My brother is a good-hearted man who cared for my parents in their last years. When my mother passed away, her cat became his. He feels sorry for the feral cats who inhabit the neighborhood, and he always feeds them. This was part of the routine I began to share when I returned to my parents’ home.
I observed the cats’ personalities and had to add the extra element of naming them. We have favorites based on their friendliness. I named a particularly handsome Siamese “Yul Brynner” for the actor who played the King of Siam (now Thailand) in The King and I. There was a black cat we called “Midnight” and an odd, skittish cat with wild hair I dubbed “Jabberwocky” from Alice in Wonderland.
Other regulars are “Big Red Mama” and her son “Ginger Boy,” “Leo,” “Stripey Cat,” “Grey Ghost” and a Russian Blue we call “Peter the Great.”
We’d let Yul and Midnight come in from time to time to the vexation of “The Resident Cat” (who has a name but likes her privacy.) They were both friendly but preferred their life outdoors. Sadly, they disappeared about a month apart. The “Crazy Cat Lady” next door said she’d heard that packs of coyotes had come around the area.
In early December of last year, one of the neighborhood cats adopted me. I first really noticed this one when she got treed by Big Red Mama, Grey Ghost and “The Weird White Cat.” My attempt to rescue her wasn’t successful, but evidently, she appreciated the attempt. She began her approach by hanging out in the garage on top of my car if I happened to leave the door open. It really didn’t take too long for her to soften me up and over the protestations of The Resident Cat she was fully ensconced before Christmas. She is sitting next to me as I type, but she too guards her privacy. I will refer to her simply as “My Gift from God.”
Crazy Cat Lady told me that she prefers animals to people. There are clearly too many unattended critters about these days, and I think it’s a sign of the times that people don’t care for their animals. Last Christmas, me, my brother and “The Dog Lady” down the street spent a couple of days attempting to rescue a skinny pit bull on the loose.
Crazy Cat Lady makes sure to spay or neuter strays without homes. Nobody on this street would call Animal Control as that inevitably ends in euthanasia. I suppose we’re all doing what we think is best in a situation that is less than ideal.
Two organizations that I took a close look at in preparing the Redux, were Urban Alchemy based in San Francisco, California and Sunrise Movement headquartered in Washington, D.C.
Urban Alchemy was started by Dr. Lena Miller who has two masters’ degrees in social work and psychology and a doctorate in psychology. The motto of Urban Alchemy is “No Fuckery.” I suppose this might be understandable to some people, but it was certainly not a word I’d ever heard. According to Wiktionary this is vulgar slang (really?) for messing around, nonsense or B.S. (bothersome stuff.)
This is their stated mission (emphasis mine):
“Urban Alchemy harnesses the skills and energy of individuals who were incarcerated to transform people and places through love and respect. We provide services and engagement to heal communities challenged by the intersection of extreme poverty, mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. When individuals are suffering in our public spaces, Urban Alchemy offers solutions. When a neighborhood, street, or intersection earns a reputation as a place to avoid, we turn it around. Urban Alchemy staff, known as Practitioners, create a peaceful and supportive presence, helping our communities rebuild a sense of pride one person at a time. We assist thousands of individuals each year while creating hundreds of good paying jobs with a career path for returning citizens. Community Engagement and Outreach: calming neighborhoods and public spaces by forming bonds with residents, promoting positive behavior, and connecting people to services; this work includes placing outreach workers and community engagement specialists in neighborhoods as well as providing first-responders to non-emergency 911 calls related to homelessness, mental health, and addiction.”
In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle from May of 2022, they report that “Since 2018, Urban Alchemy has grown to 1,100 employees in five cities, with projected revenue of $55 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.” The city of San Francisco signed $53 million in contracts with Urban Alchemy to run eight homeless shelters. Separately, they’re being paid $11.8 million by the city for work in the downtown Tenderloin neighborhood.
“What we’re trying to do,” co-founder and CEO Lena Miller said in an interview, “is just make spaces safe and clean and raise the vibration, so to speak, in areas that in the past have been dirty and scary, particularly for people who are vulnerable.”
In another interview, the Practitioners were described as trained in de-escalation techniques. On the Urban Alchemy website, we learn this about the Practitioners:
“Most of our team have served life sentences in prison. They’ve spent 20+ years in a confined environment where their survival depends on their ability to read people in unpredictable situations. This teaches them instincts that you can’t learn in a classroom.”
“Urban Alchemy describes the process of spiritual and social transformation that our Practitioners engage in, both internally and with members of the public. Alchemy is the mysterious ancient practice of transforming lead into gold. What we do creates a tangible social value – but is no less miraculous. Instead of lead, we seek to transmute human suffering. Instead of gold, we create peace.”
This is their logo. Isn’t it interesting?
The mission sounds noble. They’ve had praise and criticism. Reviewing the annual reports and tax filings that are available, we see that this non-profit organization is growing quickly. As I mentioned in the introduction to this week’s Redux, Urban Alchemy was recently hired to run a large tent encampment for the city of Portland in Oregon. It is estimated that it will cost $4000 per tent per month to maintain the tents.
When I read their mission statement and learned of the Practitioners training in de-escalation and “calming” techniques and discovered that most of the Practitioners were released from prison at some point during a “life sentence,” I cannot help but see Urban Alchemy as a type of private police force.
This week’s Redux is from a talk that Alan Watt did on December 30, 2018.
The Fate of Debate or Battle of Prattle:
"The Net, Science, Humanism, Babble of Confusion,
Arrogance Seeks Godhood in this Strong Delusion."
© Alan Watt Dec. 30, 2018
Alan discussed that so many different NGOs work to brainwash and propagandize us. Further into the talk, he covered Maurice Strong and how he was groomed by David Rockefeller for his work in the United Nations for sustainability, the Rio Convention at the Earth Summit in 1992 and his work to privatize the of energy in Ontario, Canada to name but a few of the “great works” he accomplished in his lifetime. Both he and his wife Hanne were promoters of “Earth” type spirituality and various kinds of New Age mysticism. Hanne continues to work on many programs related to the greening and sustainability agenda. She founded Earth Restoration Corps, a global environmental- educational training program designed to train young adults in ecosystem restoration and green livelihoods.
The other organization I investigated is the Sunrise Movement which advocates political action on climate change. Their beginnings are closely tied to the Green New Deal and the U.S. Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They’ve received glowing endorsements from many people including Noam Chomsky.
They came to my attention when I read an article about how they’d received some funding from George Soros and the Rockefeller Family Fund, for the work they were doing in El Paso, Texas to secure the passage of Proposition K. Had this resolution passed, the El Paso City Council would be forced to create a climate department and hire a climate director to determine the climate impact of city laws and “advance the cause of climate justice.” The city would also have to form a nine-member climate commission, which would oversee the implementation and enforcement of climate policy.
El Paso voters shot this down on May 6, but I was curious if this organization was Texas-based or national in scope. The latter, it turns out, with 400 hubs in all 50 states. Their motto is:
We Are the Climate Revolution
On their website, they boast “We will bring the movement for the Green New Deal to every student, classroom and school in this country. We’re taking over our schools. With millions of students on our side, we will transform our schools and win a Green New Deal. It’s (grammar out, green in) our schools, our lives, and our futures. We’re ready to take over, are you?” (Emphasis theirs.)
Some of the youth featured on their website look angry, some look starry-eyed. They wear gender non-conforming attire. All shapes, sizes and colors. One common appearance: VERY WELL ORGANIZED. Their T-shirts and signs are co-ordinated. This is an Earth Army and they are dressed for the Revolution that someone else has planned.
Sunrise Movement was founded by Sara Blazevic and Varshini Prakash. Young Sara and Varshini started in fossil fuel divestment actions and began Sunrise Movement in 2017. Blazevic says there is a direct line between the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the Sunrise Movement. True believers truly want to believe that they are grassroots genuine. “Talkin’ ‘bout my generation.”
Who knows who Ms. Blazevic and Ms. Prakash really are. They’re fresh-faced zealots. Long, black, curly hair, warm-toned skin. A pair of Joan d’Arc for the new world. According to Wikipedia, Blazevic, Prakash, and other early leaders trained at Momentum, an organization that teaches community organizing.
I will supply a few links for those of you who’d like to dive into the world of Momentum. On their website they pay homage to the community organizing techniques promoted by Saul Alinsky. Co-founders are Paul Engler and Mark Engler. The Englers co-authored an influential book on the craft of mass mobilization, This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century. Paul Engler is a licensed psychotherapist and promotes “centering prayer” and “contemplative outreach.”
Following the money here is not easy. The most recent financial report is 2020. For that year the total revenue was just under $1.5 million, but this more than doubled the revenue received in 2019 and 2018. Their income is from “contributions.”
The Englers have gone on to other pursuits. This is the main “who we are” description on the Momentum website:
Momentum is a community of organizers who are committed to transforming the world through the power of social movements. While our staff drives our day-to-day operations and direction, we are composed of leaders from around the world who bring their craft and expertise to our programs as trainers, practitioners, facilitators, researchers, and artists.”
The Englers will have the behind-the-scenes role of finding and grooming those “leaders from around the world.” There are eleven staff members, ten of whom are women, who do the “day-to-day operations.” The lone man is Seth Woody who says he “grew up in Texas and currently lives in western Massachusetts. When he is not organizing Seth loves to hunt, read history, and drink tea.” His preferred pronouns are he/him. Amanda Saich is the interim managing director. Preferred pronouns are she/they. Delaine Powerful is the managing director whose preferred pronouns are they/themme and describes theyself (themmeself?) as “a disabled Black queer Jamaican who lives and organizes on the occupied lands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations in Chicago, IL.”
The Momentum strategy includes “frontloading,” a term coined by Paul Engler.
“Frontloading is the highly intentional process in which a small team of leaders craft an organization’s DNA -- its story, structure, strategy, and culture -- and prepare for it to be distributed across the country in the form of a mass movement organization.”
I will rephrase the above sentence:
“Leaders from around the world build “grassroots” organizations and enthusiastic little revolutionaries pick them up, custom-made with a logo and motto, just like people buy a McDonald’s franchise.”
“YOUR WOKE AND SUSTAINABLE ORGANIZATION HERE”
“I’m lovin’ it.”
About three weeks ago, a skinny, little black and white cat appeared on the back patio. She looked so scrawny we thought she might have worms. I’d put the three little food bowls down, one at a time and she’d run from one to the next, sort of “meowing” the other waiting cats out of the way. I got a homeopathic remedy meant to boost the immune system and help eliminate worms if there were any. The other cats tolerated her. She was the new cat on the block. “Black & White,” though the smallest of the neighborhood cats, was very vocal.
At just about the time that Black & White showed up, another stranger appeared. “Pale Yellow.” The two seemed to know each other. Pale Yellow wasn’t interested in food, but he kept an eye on Black & White.
The situation on the back patio remained as it always had been but now there were two new cats floating about. They’d show up in the morning to be fed. Jabberwocky is a loner and usually the first one on site, but sometimes Peter the Great is the early cat. Two or three or four cats would wander about looking for breakfast and then they’d be off for the day. They might or might not stop by for a snack later in the day.
The Resident Cat and My Gift from God like an occasional stroll outside to soak up some sun or roll in the dirt. Life is good on the Serengeti, or Rome, depending on where you like to imagine a bunch of cats.
Four or five days ago, something changed. Wherever Black & White and Pale Yellow were, there also were to be seen Stripey Cat, Leo and Jabberwocky. What an odd development! Jabberwocky and Stripey Cat were loners. Leo was often on his own, but sometimes might hang with Grey Ghost or even Big Red Mama and Ginger Boy, but those were loose affiliations, lasting a few minutes at most.
Now here were five cats like a school of fish, never apart: Black & White, Pale Yellow, Jabberwocky, Stripey Cat and Leo. I observed that scrawny little B&W was the leader. Pale Yellow was her nasty enforcer, constantly bullying and bickering with Stripey Cat, who never backed down, but also never chose to walk away from this new bully.
Several nights ago, the cats were out back in the wee hours fighting and screaming. This was not good.
Three mornings ago, all five were sitting on the back stoop staring at the door. I opened the door and was greeted by a smell I do not like and will not put up with: cat urine. I discussed this with my brother. I hosed off the patio. I observed that neither The Resident Cat nor My Gift from God were interested in going outside.
The next morning all five cats were back, sitting on the step, staring at me. Our cats were intimidated. It smelled like urine. I hosed it down again. I told my brother that these cats had become a gang, The Gang of Five. We laughed about the name but decided to stop feeding them for a while. They hung out all day, barring the door, making sure that the indoor cats got the message that they owned the Serengeti.
Yesterday, Peter the Great showed up and was not too pleased to see there was no food. He screamed at me. I fed him. When he was finished, he left, and I picked up the empty bowl and washed it. The Gang of Five appeared several times, staring in the window as we ate lunch. They paced back and forth, but we supervised a little excursion for The Resident Cat. Eventually the Gang left.
Today, Grey Ghost and Peter the Great showed up at the same time, ate, accepted a few little pats and went on their way. I did not see the Gang of Five, but Stripey Cat made a brief solo and vocal appearance.
It was clear to me several days ago, that our three decent regulars had gotten pulled into a Gang. To see Jabberwocky aligned with any other cat was astonishing, but there it was. I found humor in naming them The Gang of Five, but terrorizing The Resident Cat and My Gift from God is a deal-breaker, and peeing on my patio only cemented my resolve.
What I didn’t realize until today, was that Black & White was a Marxist-trained revolutionary, a cat-munity organizer, skilled at sowing seeds of discontent, telling Jabberwocky, Stripey Cat and Leo that “inside that place are electric water fountains and scratching posts and clean, warm beds” and “these things should be yours.” “Stick with me,” said the deceptive little Alinsky Gangster, “and you will see better days.”
“CATS’ LIVES MATTER!” (with a clenched and raised paw.)
© Not Sure
Neighbors raise concerns about mass tent site planned for Central Eastside
S.F. looks to calm its streets with Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit that hires the formerly incarcerated. How is it going?
Liberal Billionaire George Soros Funds Movement to Rid El Paso of Reliable Energy
El Paso voters soundly reject Proposition K Climate Charter
Momentum Community - Our staff
Momentum Community - Frontloading
Center for the Working Poor - Paul Engler
This is an uprising
George Soros, Mastercard to partner to aid migrants, refugees