Friday, October 26, 2007

Craig Murphey Memorial Fundraiser Royal Oak WBurg BK Tonight

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I wanted to take tonight's party post and dedicate it to an event happening in my current home, Williamsburg Brooklyn. It's the First Annual Craig Murphey Memorial Fundraiser, happening at Royal Oak (11th and Union Ave.) tonight from 11-4am, dedicated to remembering and honoring the life of this young man who was taken far too soon in a bike accident not far from here. I never met him, but I've been incredibly moved by the story and the outpouring of love for him, he has clearly touched the lives of many many people, including some who are friends of Pound for Pound. I am going to repost the message that organizers Finger On The Pulse sent out for the event, as well as a letter from the director of the West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty that includes info on donating money to the group. I hope that all readers will send a few dollars to WHANAP, a wonderful organization fighting to make this city fairer and more just. For those in Brooklyn, head to Royal Oak for a celebration of CM's life with the Finger On The Pulse bols and Lauren Flax from White Lightning, all proceeds go to WHANAP, no cover.

-As many of you know, one of our close friends Craig Murphey was killed early last Thursday morning on his bike. He was one of the most passionate, devoted and caring human beings we have ever met. He lived each day to its fullest and would take time for his best friend or a perfect stranger if they needed someone to talk to.

While we are still dealing with the loss of one of the most amazing people we have ever met, we know that Craig would not want us crying about him, but instead celebrating his life (with our arms and fists waving wildly above our heads!) This Friday night at Royal Oak, we are going to celebrate the man we remember with his unique dance moves and his joy for being around the people he loved.

We will be holding the first annual Craig Murphey Memorial Party Fund Raiser to raise money for Craig’s charity work, West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty. Below the flyer we have attached a letter from the Cathedral Craig worked out of which has more information on his life work and on how to donate if you cannot attend the memorial.

Craig was one of the best of us and, as someone put it this weekend, he was just too good for this world. We miss him so much and look forward to celebrating his life this Friday and for many years to come.

Craig Murphey Memorial Fundraiser
Friday Oct 26 @ Royal Oak
All proceeds go to WHANAP

-Craig started working at the Cathedral in November of 2003 as a VISTA volunteer for CCC. He was 22 years old, just out of college, and excited about the chance to live in the very “heart” where everything happens. His task was to strengthen the work of the Upper West Side Colloquium Against Poverty, which consisted of about 5 emergency food providers in the Morningside Heights/West Harlem area. The group wanted to have a VISTA volunteer coordinate its efforts. It was important that the group met regularly, that there were minutes, and an agenda, not just a lot of discussion about poverty. As soon as Craig started his work with the group, membership expanded and the group was able to accomplish a number of projects: a membership agreement and mission statement (as well as the changing of the group’s name to “West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty, or WHANAP), the publication of a resource guide, the sharing of a web database, and a Community Supported Agriculture Project, better known as the “West Harlem CSA.”

Through his ability to build relationships as an organizer and using his creativity and intelligence he fundraised for the continued coordination of WHANAP and stayed on as the Cathedral’s Community Organizer after his VISTA year was completed.

Just this week, we ended the first West Harlem CSA growing season. This collaborative initiative ensured that fresh produce would reach low-income families and the emergency food programs he worked with through WHANAP. This project was close to his heart. He was passionate about the issues of hunger. He understood that combating this issue was not just about feeding people but that it involved getting the freshest and best nutrition to everyone regardless of one’s income.

He ran the WHANAP meetings as if he was an experienced organizer for 20 years. He knew that his job was not to tell people what to do, but to listen and connect folks, pull resources together and make things happen. The CSA project alone involved 5 different organizations and 7 WHANAP members. Somehow he was able to juggle all of this at the same time.

Each week Craig also sent out the “Feed the Solution” newsletter. This newsletter informed church leaders, program heads and volunteers what was going on with social policy issues on hunger and the advocacy work needed to change the systemic issues that lead to hunger. He participated in lobby days in Albany and Washington DC, speaking directly to elected state and federal officials. He testified about his own experience with the Food Stamp program in front of the City Council’s welfare committee. He was in constant communication with the City Council office, working on setting up meetings for WHANAP members so that they had an opportunity to talk about what was wrong with the food distribution system and how to make it better.

He worked tirelessly to make sure that these small emergency food programs had the tools necessary to do their job as best as possible. This included sending out pleas on “Craigslist” for things like computers, volunteers and materials.

Although to many his dress screamed hipster, youth and rebellion his demeanor was completely adult and self-assured. The CCC staff sometimes poked fun at his vegan lifestyle. However his lifestyle was consistent with his personal convictions. He was passionate about ending cruelty to animals, changing the food systems in this country, and was critical about how things were made and produced. Craig talked about the problem with sweatshops and labor and then unlike many others, he only purchased “non-sweat” items. He inspired us every day.

He served as a mentor to many VISTA volunteers at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. He always took the time to explain to them the projects he was working on and how they could create similar opportunities for others. In his free time he even started a volunteer service, Right Rides for Women’s Safety, to make sure that someone was available to walk women home late at night in his Williamsburg neighborhood.

An active listener who would let you know that he understood when he gave his beautiful smile and someone who was the embodiment of what social justice means at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine….this is why Craig Murphey will be sorely missed.


Raquel Granda, Director

Cathedral Community Cares
1047 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10025
The World is as you dream it-- Message of the Shuar People, Ecuador

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