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2013 Will Award for Peace and Social Justice

On Sunday, December 22 at the 10:30 service the Urban Outreach team presented the 2013 Will Award for Peace & Social Justice to Timothy Harris of Real Change News.

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The Herman and Margarita Will Award is named for two people who dedicated  every day of their long lives to the fight for social justice. Herman Will died some years ago and Margarita in this past year. In the award’s own words,  it intends to honor “the lives of those in the Puget Sound region who have dedicated themselves to peace with justice through efforts to change social norms, laws and policy to improve the quality of life for all.”

First Church is giving this award to Timothy Harris,  Founding Director of the weekly newspaper Real Change.   We have the joy of  thanking him for his gift to everyone who sells and to everyone who reads Real Change.

Real Change dates from 1994 when Tim moved to Seattle and began its then monthly publication. Over the years it moved from monthly to bi weekly to its present weekly form. This past year saw the paper move from $1 to $2 , with vendors keeping $1.40 on each paper sold, an audacious move that should be remembered as we discuss the “minimum wage” and it movement somewhere past minimum and closer to living. 2013 saw other honors and changes including 11 journalism awards and a move to sell the paper in Bremerton and on the Eastside. There are many people on our streets, wearing Real Change badges, whose lives are made bearable because of the opportunity to sell the paper. There are thousands more, their customers, whose lives are also made better, whose understanding grows, by weekly  encounters with those vendors and by reading the newspaper.

From the beginning Tim’s voice and actions have been a guiding, relentless force for social justice. I chose the word “relentless” because he won’t give up and he won’t let others give up. But he also understands the city and its citizens, all of its citizens. I wish I could read all of a piece Tim wrote in Real Change recently describing a meeting about homelessness in my own neighborhood,  Pioneer Square. He speaks with great insight for the plight of all of those living with injustice and struggling for justice. I can’t read the entire piece, so I will end with his closing paragraph:

“We live in a very broken world, and real solutions aren’t going to arrive at our table like a plate of barbequed wings with a cold beer.  They’ll come if we care enough to work for them. Meanwhile, let’s try to have a little less anger and a little more compassion all around. This isn’t easy for anyone.”

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