By Jane Stillwater

The Berkeley Barb used to be my hometown’s most famous “newspaper of record” and we also had another hometown rag called Grassroots. However both these papers have been out of print for more than 40 years and now most of our local Berkeley newspapers have gone digital — except for Grassroots, which has bucked that trend and simply gone “residential”.  It has changed from being a newspaper into being, er, a building.

Located on Blake Street just below Shattuck, Berkeley’s Grassroots House still does all that crusading-against-injustice type of stuff that the newspaper it was named after used to do — only now it does it with shingles, wood and windows instead of with newsprint.

Grassroots House provides space for many social justice organizations.  And one of those social justice organizations is the Free Palestine Movement — which is currently helping to financially sponsor one-half of the cost of a boat in an international flotilla sailing from Greece to Gaza with construction and medical supplies at the end of May (pictured).

Does this make Grassroots House “The place that launched a half a ship”?

Local Free Palestine Movement members Janet Kobran and Paul Larudee will be on board the FPM-sponsored half-boat when it — and seven and a half other boats — leaves Greece for Gaza in a flotilla meant to break Israel’s four-year-long siege of Gaza by providing Gaza with various much-needed humanitarian supplies. And Ehud Barak, Israel’s Minister of Defense, has promised to send almost the entire Israeli Navy out to intercept this small flotilla.

Has Berkeley’s Grassroots House once again gotten itself into hot water? Like its namesake, the original Grassroots newspaper, it looks like the Grassroots House has again assumed the role of a biblical David by attempting to take on a very formidable Goliath — one who has threatened to use whatever force necessary to stop this humanitarian relief effort.

Track the flotilla’s progress via a spot-locator on the FPM website.

First published on Jane Stillwater’s Weblog.

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