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WHAT: Public conversation Compassion & Self-Deception
WHEN: Thursday July 1, 2021, 6:30-8pm
WHERE: The Box Gallery – In The Box Parking Lot, 822 E. Third Street, LA, CA 90013
and streaming on FaceBook live:
With:  Pastor Cue Jn-Marie, Aryen Cohen, Matt Harper, Robby Herbst and moderated by Michael Alexander.

A project of Los Angeles Poverty Department with support from CAL HUM. 
For Further Information Call or Email     Tel. 213 413-1077 | [email protected]

LAPD’s project Compassion & Self-Deception takes on the mind-boggling contradictions of a city (ours) that votes to create housing for homeless people –and then doesn’t want any of it built anywhere near them: whether that be permanent housing, or temporary housing.  

LAPD invited visual artist Robby Herbst to help unravel the situation and he has produced the twelve-page broadsheet exploring the socio-emotional impact of Los Angeles’ housing catastrophe: “Compassion and Self Deception: A Guide To Los Angeles’ Moral Crisis.”  Whether or not your able to attend the event  would love to mail you a copy of the Compassion and Self Deception Guide.  To order a free print copy of the guide, just send your postal address to Robby Herbst/Llano Del Rio at [email protected]

In developing the guide, Herbst engaged three deeply spiritual, social activists: Pastor Stephe “Cue” Jn-Marie is the founder of Skid Row’s Church Without Walls, Matt Harper of the LA Catholic Worker community, and Los Angeles based activist, rabbi, and scholar, Aryen Cohen.  All three contributed their thoughts to the Guide.  And you can get your Guide at the event.

The July 1 conversation, moderated by UCR Professor of religious studies, Michael Scott Alexander, will be an opportunity dialogue further about the moral crises, and contradiction induced stasis —what perpetuates it and how to undo it.

Cue, Matt, Aryen, Robby and Michael will come together —for real / en persona – to dialogue around the questions: 
“How Should an Angelino React to the Suffering They Encounter on a Daily Basis?”   
How can we understand Los Angeles – a living contradiction.  A place where some people put care for the civic body above all else, while others, in the words of Curtis Mayfield, “would hurt all mankind just to save his own.”

Michael Scott Alexander is a professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside where he holds the Maimonides Chair in Jewish Studies.  He is the author of the recently published, Making Peace with the Universe, and Jazz Age Jews.

Aryen Cohen is a Los Angeles based activist, rabbi, and scholar.  He’s involved with the American Jewish University, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action SoCal, and Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE).  He is the author of Justice in the City.  The book is an attempt to frame the obligations for a just and equitable city within the rabbinical textual traditions of the Talmud.

Matt Harper is part of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker community, which spends its time comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.  Matt helps run the CW soup kitchen, is an editor of the CW paper, The Catholic Agitator, and supports CW resistance efforts.  Matt is also an organizer with White People 4 Black Lives, and the Showing Up for Racial Justice affiliate in Los Angeles.

Robby Herbst is known for his idiosyncratic artworks and publications, including his socio-economic-psychological mappings of life in Los Angeles.  Herbst has created a new “guide”, Compassion and Self-Deception; A Guide To Los Angeles’ Moral Crisis, published by LAPD and Herbst’s Llano del Rio Collective and now in distribution.

Pastor Stephe “Cue” Jn-Marie is the founder of Skid Row’s Church Without Walls, which gathers each Friday night outdoors on the corner of Wall and Winston Streets.  He is also an organizer with CLUE, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice.

About The Box & LAPD: LAPD and The Box go way back to the first iteration of the “The Skid Row History Museum” in 2008, an exhibition and series of performances and talks co-curated by LAPD with The Box Principal/Curator Mara McCarthy.  The flexible mind and body of The Box has continued to provide LAPD the space and resources to make and develop work, including an installation of our 60 prison bunk beds for State of Incarceration (2010).  During the month the beds were installed at The Box, we were able to complete the eponymous performance—figuring out how to make it work on, in and between the rows of beds.  And just this spring, we utilized The Box parking lot to once again figure out how to get off of Zoom and realize our performance, “The New Compassionate Downtown” in actual physical space.

About the Compassion & Self-Deception Project: The project includes, Robby Herbst’s Guide, public conversations and LAPD’s recent performance, “The New Compassionate Downtown,” that dared to imagine a Downtown that draws people to it who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row residents and workers.  

The first conversation, “Creating the Compassionate City,” took place Thursday May 6th with arts and social change practitioners Karen Mack, Charles Porter and Jeremy Liu.  The conversation addressed not just the creation of housing but importantly, the creation of agency for all city residents to envision and determine their futures.  The public conversations will continue throughout the summer and fall of 2021, with the next one focused on women activists in Skid Row.

The public conversations are funded by California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit  Other project funders include, Mike Kelly Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts – Theater, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Goethe-Institut, LA County Department of Arts and Culture, and The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), with additional support from The Box Gallery.