Building for the future

Sunlight streams into the People’s Weekly World’s new editorial office in Chicago’s Unity Center as graphic designer Marguerite Wright lays out a page on her computer. In Los Angeles, PWW contributing writer Rosalio Muñoz taps out an e-mail in the cheerful, freshly painted Los Angeles Workers Center. In New York’s renovated Unity Center meeting hall, PWW reporter Dan Margolis helps host a reception for representatives of the global antinuclear movement who converged on the United Nations this month. The three buildings are the focus of a nationwide capital fundraising campaign to build a solid financial base for these “community centers of education and struggle.”

Members of the PWW editorial board have been visiting readers and supporters of the paper to ask them to be part of this capital project.

After a recent trip to Minnesota and North Dakota, editor Terrie Albano said she was gratified by the response of “plain-spoken people from the Great Plains.” She returned to Chicago with two checks for $1,000 and promises of more to come.

Board member Marilyn Bechtel recently traveled from her Bay Area home to Los Angeles, where she found “very keen interest” in the project. One vigorous 90-year-old activist made an open-ended pledge of $100 a month.

The renovation of the Los Angeles Workers Center is a “very, very exciting project,” Bechtel said. Exterior work is about 90 percent complete. Both front and back will be landscaped, and murals are planned for the fence in back. The two-story building, located in a diverse central city neighborhood, has several balconies and patios, some of which are big enough for outdoor meetings. Inside, a “wonderful” kitchen will be able to serve major meals in a dining room that sports new wood floors and natural light. The hallways are lined with artwork.

“We’re really looking forward to the future,” said Arturo Cambron, a member of the committee working on the LA center. “We will focus on being a ‘beehive’ center, alive with activity.” Already, he said, a Salvadoran youth group holds weekly meetings there, and the local World Youth Festival committee has held activities and fundraisers.

PWW national political correspondent Tim Wheeler and his wife, Joyce, have given $1,000 to the campaign. “The payback is so immediate and so clear,” he said. Looking at a photo booklet prepared to help the campaign, Wheeler said, “You can see how magnificent the results are. It’s seeing the future right in front of you.”

Wheeler, who lives in Baltimore, will be visiting Oregon and his home turf in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula to help the fundraising effort.

The “Building for the Future” campaign is being conducted by two nonprofit groups, Chicago-based Workers Education Society and New York-based Chelsea Fund for Education. PWW Labor Editor Roberta Wood is a WES board member. Nearly 100 people have made donations to WES so far, in amounts ranging from $10 to $10,000, she said. “This is a different kind of contribution,” she noted. “It’s something that will be there for the next generation.”

For more information about the campaign, call 646-437-5318 (Chelsea Fund for Education) or 773-446-9925 (Workers Education Society).