The Church in Ocean Park’s 8th Annual Communitas Awards honored former State Senator Tom Hayden, John Maceri and Elizabeth Keller.
The emcee for last Saturday’s soiree was ex-Santa Monica City Councilmember, Reverend Jim Conn. Conn explained that these Communitas (Latin for community) honorees “are people who made a significant contribution to us and our community because they achieved important things on our behalf at great personal expense.”
Conn introduced Hayden by noting the activist’s1962 Port Huron Statement, which called for “the transformation of the political process that would create a government and a society of dignity, justice and community.”
Hayden served in the state legislature for 18 years, eight in the State Senate and ten in the State Assembly. During his tenure in Sacramento he helped pass over 100 measures, including those that obtained funding to restore the Santa Monica Bay and the rebuilding of the Santa Monica and Malibu Piers as well as prohibiting MTBE in drinking water.
During his acceptance speech, Hayden stated, “This church, this community, represents a community of meaning for people of a certain disposition who want to live an enriched private life but want also to be engaged in public life. We value the community of meaning because the process of struggle for justice is so long and the victories are so few and far between.”
Hayden also commented on the war on terrorism by noting, “The war on terror can be as long as the Cold War if we don’t start to speak about it. We have to start a new movement to question the war on terror. We have to ask questions that are not yet ready for the political process, such as how far are we willing to go to defend Israel at all costs? How far are we willing to go to support the Saudi dictatorship at all costs regardless of the effect on our children.
“We’re living on borrowed time because Bush is no more capable of fixing up our infrastructure, our ports and our vulnerable facilities than he was fixing up the disaster from Katrina. Externally, he’s doing everything possible to provoke a greater confrontation in the so-called war on terror with Iraq, with Lebanon, with threats against Iran as if there was no option besides the military one in Bush’s mind and, unfortunately, in the minds of many Democrats.”
One of the evening’s other honorees, John Maceri, is the Executive Director of Santa Monica-based OPCC (formerly Ocean Park Community Center). OPCC serves adults and children who are battered, homeless, mentally ill and/or low-income. Conn introduced Maceri by stressing, “He has worked on the behalf of the most desperate and marginalized in our society.”
After accepting the honor, Maceri stated that he “sees the work of building community as a relay race that never ends. Because of the kind of work we do, we never get to the finish line because there’s so much work that needs to be done.”
Susan McCory, Conn’s wife, introduced the third honoree, Elizabeth Keller. She described Keller as the “embodiment of loving kindness in the world. When I think of Elizabeth I think of the words: yes, generosity and grace. A woman who operates from the communal we.”
Keller has provided and shared homes to help several families raise their children and has contributed to justice in her community by working on teacher’s unions’ issues, renters’ rights, peace and health issues and as a volunteer with both the Catholic Worker and Sojourn’s battered women’s hotline and shelter.
Keller stated during her acceptance remarks, “I have hope because we love one another we can carry on.”