Any Day Now

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with John Braxton, a fellow who I was told had been connected to Movement for a New Society and the Life Center here in West Philly.  His life is one incredible glimpse into one path guided by a passion for social justice.

John wasn’t just a part of MNS—he started his illustrious career as an activist while helping to man a boat that was sailing illegally to North Vietnam to provide medical supplies to the “enemy” during the Vietnam War.  When he returned and graduated from Swarthmore College, he became a “draft resistor,” refusing to comply with a system that only provided “outs” for those with money or other forms of privilege.

It was during his time as a draft resistor—facing prison time on and off for about two years—that John first starting living in West Philadelphia, first in Powelton, then eventually moving in with George Lakey on Springfield avenue with the founding of Movement for a New Society.

Photos by Jenna Spitz

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Living in community provided John with many things—companionship, a sustainable economic model, inspiration for living a life of meaning and intention.  Throughout his life in community, John was living with his partner, Marcy, whom he eventually married.  They continued to raise a family in community. (Listen to more about John’s experience by clicking on the audio clips to the right.)

Of all the wonderful advantages of living in community, however, stability is certainly not one of them.  At least, not for long, anyway—eventually, George Lakey and his wife decided to move out and return to a more traditional nuclear household.  John said that it was difficult to transition—he and the Lakeys had been living together for nine years, after all—but that change brought with it other opportunities and, perhaps, more of the stability that many search as we grow older.

John still lives in the house he purchased all those many years ago on Windsor Avenue, surrounded by a strong, stable community. He is a stalwart and a total inspiration.

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