Mierle_Laderman_Ukeles_Celebrates_American_Workers Breaking Bread

A Manifesto for the American Worker

Written by a Hell-raiser with a heart of gold.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles dreams of a culture where no one is forgotten and no one is left out. She turned this dream into her life’s work honoring American workers.

Ukeles was an OG rule-breaker in the 60’s. She even got kicked out of Pratt for her controversial art. After Pratt she wrote Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969  which has one main philosophy: cherish the maintenance of society, not just innovation and new ideas. It was pretty directly a jab at capitalism, and during the Cold War no less.

“The people who were taking care and keeping the wheels of society turning were mute, and I didn’t like it!”


Maintenance Art public performance. Photo: Mierle Laderman


Ukeles wasn’t afraid to raise a lil’ Hell when it’s called for.

“[Maintenance] is trying to listen to the hum of living. A feeling of being alive, breath to breath. And I know that that has to be a part of culture. Because if isn’t, then you don’t have a culture that welcomes in everybody. And, I mean everybody.”

A project she did in the late-70s, called Touch Sanitation, reflects this verve to give voice to the silenced. For part of it she visited the 59 sanitation districts of New York to shake hands with every single sanitation worker—more than 8,500 of them. Why? Because Ukeles knew each one deserved honor and acknowledgement but didn’t get enough of either.

Ukeles’ manifesto is timeless – there will never be a time when listening more and believing in our power to change the world ourselves is anything less than essential.


Photo: Queens Museum / Photographer Unknown
Homeless Shelter for Young Adults Breaking Bread

Harvard Grads Open Student-Run Homeless Shelter for Young Adults

The inclusive space is designed to address a unique problem in traditional shelters.

Being homeless is obviously tough, but it can be especially hard as a young adult. Aged out of foster care, young adults are left to adult homeless shelters where their age makes them more vulnerable than older adults.

Sarah Rosenkrantz and Sam Greenberg – recent graduates of Harvard – opened Y2Y Harvard Square, a student-run homeless shelter for young adults, to offer an alternative solution. Now, homeless youth ages 18 to 24 in the Boston area can count on having a safer place to sleep at night.

“Young people don’t feel safe, and often aren’t, in adult shelters,” said Rosenkrantz told Huffington Post. “We felt it would be wrong not to open up a space for our peers.”


Young Adults Shelter
The shelter serves healthy dinners every night. Photo: Greg Premru


With no application necessary, Y2Y uses a trauma-informed, gender-inclusive approach to welcoming people of all experiences into their sanctuary. Between 20-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ and the shelter makes sure they feel safe – bunks and restrooms are gender-neutral, and staff never ask for gender identification on arrival.

Y2Y also offers resources and support for visitors to have long-term success after their 30-day stay. Demand is always bigger than supply, so helping those who do score a bunk bed at Y2Y find long-term housing or employment is an integral part of their platform.

The 30-person volunteer staff coordinate daily dinners, yoga classes, mental health care, and bring in professionals to coach in career readiness and legal assistance.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are, and support them in their goals,” Rosenkrantz told Huffington Post. “Some people want jobs or to go back to school or to find housing, and we have case managers working to connect them with services. Others just need to rest and recuperate from the trauma of living on the street.”


homeless young adults shelter
Bunks come with a light, plug, and locker. Photo: Greg Premru


Greenberg and Rosenkrantz also believe that exposing Harvard students to homelessness and encouraging a habit of volunteering will make them better participants in society after college.“Not to be excessively crass, but this is why people at Harvard who get the privilege of studying this shit still go into fields that actively increase inequity,” Greenberg told Crimson. He argues that it’s very important to volunteer.

But Rosenkrantz emphasizes that Y2Y isn’t a flock of Harvard students with a savior complex rushing in to save the day. The shelter’s priority is always youth looking for a place to stay, teaching the volunteers comes after that’s taken care of.

Y2Y aims to reach 150 volunteers and we think it can happen. Go here if you’d like to donate money or time.

Feature photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

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