PSR partnering to create permanently affordable GTU housing: Beloved Community Land Trust

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PSR partnering to create permanently affordable GTU housing: Beloved Community Land Trust

Resolved: PSR to partner with the rest of the GTU, supporting organizations, denominations of faith, and the Bay Area Community Land Trust to form the Beloved Community Land Trust and thereby create permanently affordable GTU housing. Working together we can achieve the large scale fundraising required to fairly compensate PSR and keep all parties involved sustainable and healthy.


PSR (Pacific School of Religion of the GTU -- Graduate Theological Union on "Holy Hill" in northside Berkeley California) has long prided itself on being a leader in “boldly transforming” and asserts that it is a progressive, radically inclusive seminary and a “center for social justice.” See the section below taken directly from the PSR web site.* This moment in time provides PSR with the greatest opportunity to lead in “boldly transforming” it has ever had. In this time PSR has a chance to set the pace for theological and social justice education everywhere in demonstrating clearly how to make this training sustainable and even uncontainable.

In the spring of 2017 the Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake invited a series of speakers into his Transformational Leadership class. This included former Berkeley mayor Gus Newport who has worked for decades spreading the good news of how Community Land Trusts can stop gentrification in its tracks and bring revival of diverse humanity to our urban centers. Gus Newport’s lesson has direct application for PSR and the GTU right here and now.

Berkeley was recently declared THE MOST EXPENSIVE COLLEGE TOWN IN THE U.S. Affordable housing for the people of the GTU (Graduate Theological Union) is an endangered species!

PSR appears determined to sell off or lease its Mudd classroom, (and at least one adminstration official has said the cafeteria), and almost all its housing units including quite a bit of the very scarce GTU housing stock that is available for couples, families, and people with companion animals (many of which are service or emotional support animals). GTU Individuals tend to have some other options available (including the Berkeley Student Coop), but this is not so for couples, families and those with companion animals.

PSR acquired most of these residential housing from other GTU schools selling them and have kept them open not only people of PSR but other GTU schools as well. Unfortunately PSR has chosen to “defer maintenance” on these buildings for so many years that if they were examined for human habitation, one must wonder if they could pass inspection. Clearly PSR got in over its head and overextended its resources and now needs to relinquish these communal resources to a responsible party to will bring them back up to safety standards. We propose PSR in partnership take part in the creation of the Beloved Community Land Trust.

GTU (made of PSR and the other 7 schools and 12 institutes) trains progressive leaders of faith for numerous denominations and is uniquely interfaith-oriented in a time when appreciation for diverse points of view is desperately needed in our troubled world. Frankly the community of the GTU are what makes “Holy Hill” holy. If an enormous chunk of the community is suddenly obliterated it is difficult to predict if the GTU can recover from such self-destructive and self-contradictory actions.

If PSR were to sell its housing at the exorbitant real estate bubble so-called “market prices” it would displace the people of the GTU, gentrify “Holy Hill” and endanger its own future and the future of the GTU. Without affordable housing, PSR and the GTU will not be able to be "radically inclusive" of low income people in its programs and would contribute to the devastating soul-crushing recolonization of the neoliberal forces that GTUers are learning how to resist and overcome everyday in our classrooms. How would that fit with PSR’s marketing material such as the following quote? Clearly it would be hypocritical to sell a dream of social justice to current and potential students and then participate in some of the harshest gentrification and displacement ever to take place in Berkeley.

Instead let us recognize we are all in this together, and partner to create the greatest example of faith groups standing against injustice ever to take place in Berkeley.

*Directly copied and pasted from the PSR web site:

Now, more than ever.

In the scriptures and sacred texts of many faith traditions, we are told to “be not afraid.” How will you answer this urgent call in the face of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, environmental destruction, xenophobia, and Islamophobia?

The whole world is watching, and is counting on religious and spiritual leaders to speak and act in ways that demonstrate justice, kindness, and humility. Perhaps you feel called to transformational leadership for such a time as this.

At Pacific School of Religion, we will give you the tools to challenge the status quo; to speak truth to power; to lead congregations and communities to create a just world. We provide you with the opportunities for ecumenical and interfaith conversations as a member of the Graduate Theological Union, a consortium of eight seminaries and twelve academic and spiritual/religious centers.

Fear not! We welcome you. We need your voice and your experiences.

Graduates of Pacific School of Religion, a progressive, multi-denominational, radically inclusive seminary, have been boldly transforming the world since 1866. Our degree and certificate programs give you the tools to help make the world a better place. Here are just a few to consider:

Master of Divinity (with a Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change or a Certificate of Sexuality and Religion)

Master of Arts in Social Transformation

Master of Theological Studies

We are home to the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion and the Ignite Institute @ PSR, where you can frame your work for peace and justice.

Our world is crying out for hope, peace, joy, justice, and love. Our world needs you.

Come learn how to lead.

Therefore together let us partner to do exactly as this marketing material challenges PSR and all of us to live up to. Together with faith we can accomplish the miraculous: permanently affordable GTU housing -- The Beloved Community Land Trust.

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