community organizing

Miss Major Is A Trans Elder And Stonewall Icon…And She’s Changing The World

It’s been almost fifty years since the historic night at the Stonewall Inn that many people cite as the beginning of the mainstream fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Decades later, one trans activist who was present the night of the riots is still fighting for the rights and survival of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Miss Major is a community leader ― an organizer, activist, prison abolitionist, former sex worker, formerly incarcerated person, transgender elder and mother to countless transgender and GNC youth. She’s built a legacy recognized globally, particularly with her work with incarcerated transgender individuals. Her tireless efforts as an activist and respected elder in the community have not only saved countless lives but paved the way for modern day trans and GNC people operating in the public spotlight and fighting for queer people on a national level. Her legacy has even inspired an award-winning documentary called MAJOR!, currently making its rounds at film festivals.

In this interview with The Huffington Post, Miss Major reflects on her work over the decades, the history of the Stonewall Riots and how we can move away from a system of mass incarceration towards one of harm reduction.

H/T: HuffPo

If Your Veggies Weren’t Grown in Soil, Can They be Organic? 

A new report by a government task force on hydroponic farming has left this raging debate wide open.

As indoor urban farms continue to show up in more and more neighborhoods around the country, an important question has come to the fore: Can food that’s not grown in soil be certified organic? In other words, can produce that spends its entire life indoors, floating in water, or growing in synthetic material carry the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic label?

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There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
Families deserve homes more than banks do

(Vaya aqui para este cuenta en español)

Hi folks:

I’m part of a community organizing group here in Chicago called Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction (CUAFE).  We assert that housing is a human right, and are working for a world where housing is a resource that belong not to banks or real estate developers, but to communities.  We also strive towards this goal mainly through direct action.  Sometimes this means protesting at a bank, or holding an educational workshop for tenants and homeowners, but it also means liberating a house that a bank is strategically keeping empty for its own profit and using it for its intended purpose: housing families.  What a radical concept, right?! In 2012, one of the families involved in CUAFE moved into an empty house that the bank that legally owns it had foreclosed on.  This is a multigenerational Latino family who are invested in their community and give back in so many ways, from throwing block parties to hosting community organizing meetings in the living room to the community garden installed in the back yard last year.  What would otherwise be an abandoned house is a warm, welcoming home.  Unfortunately, the bank took legal action and they are being evicted. We’re not giving up without a fight, though.  The family and allies of the house intend to use their eviction, which is scheduled for early February, as an opportunity for peaceful resistance to the injustice of a system that prioritizes corporate profit over the need for stable housing.  This is one situation in one city, but it’s part of a nationwide movement that deserves to grow and flourish.  The neighborhood they live in, Rogers Park, is one of the most diverse in the city.  As a former resident, I can attest to its beauty and uniqueness. Chicago would be losing something really special if it was overtaken by gentrification.   How you can help: - As is often the case with political resistance, we are anticipating the need for legal support, which comes at a price.  Please consider donating to our legal fund for this action. We are a grassroots, volunteer-run organization. Except for the small processing fee for GoFundMe, your entire donation will go to support the defense of this house.  There is also the option for you to pledge an amount that we will only ask you donate if there is an immediate need, such as bail money for an arrest. - Follow Communities United Against Foreclosure and Eviction on Facebook, especially if you’re interested in participating in actions to defend this home, as well as other housing rights actions in the Chicagoland area. - Signal boost this story.  Signal boost this idea.  Think about how housing rights pertain to the issues and populations that you’re most passionate about.  Think about what it would look like it there was a family in every neighborhood who liberated an empty, bank-owned home in defiance of the injustices of capitalism.  Learn about how you can help cultivate your local housing rights movement. 

This was a nurses’ station in Building 17 at Norristown State Hospital in Pennsylvania.  A singularly strange building, 17 was used by a local firefighting crew as a training building, since its construction allowed it to be set on fire many times and the fires extinguished - the firefighters-in-training would have to find a way into the burning building to search for “survivors” while fighting the flames.  When the building was condemned after this, it was left to rot.  Some time later, a mentally ill man cut himself breaking into the building, and was found dead by exsanguination weeks later.

A unique, limited edition print of this image was auctioned off to benefit sundayassemblyrochester, a secular community organization that aims to do good in the greater Rochester area; open editions up to 20x30" are available here.

Obama administration wants to restructure neighborhoods that are too wealthy and white

Well, if this isn’t just the natural end result of putting a community organizer in the White House, I don’t know what is.  President Obama  literally wants to re-organize your neighborhood, whether you like it or not. 

from the Hill:

The Obama administration is moving forward with regulations designed to help diversify America’s wealthier neighborhoods, drawing fire from critics who decry the proposal as executive overreach in search of an “unrealistic utopia.”

A final Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule due out this month is aimed at ending decades of deep-rooted segregation around the country.

The regulations would use grant money as an incentive for communities to build affordable housing in more affluent areas while also taking steps to upgrade poorer areas with better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as part of a gentrification of those communities.
“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a HUD spokeswoman said. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

It’s a tough sell for some conservatives. Among them is Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who argued that the administration “shouldn’t be holding hostage grant monies aimed at community improvement based on its unrealistic utopian ideas of what every community should resemble.”

“American citizens and communities should be free to choose where they would like to live and not be subject to federal neighborhood engineering at the behest of an overreaching federal government,” said Gosar, who is leading an effort in the House to block the regulations.

Civil rights advocates, meanwhile, are praising the plan, arguing that it is needed to break through decades-old barriers that keep poor and minority families trapped in hardscrabble neighborhoods.

“We have a history of putting affordable housing in poor communities,” said Debby Goldberg, vice president at the National Fair Housing Alliance.

HUD says it is obligated to take the action under the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited direct and intentional housing discrimination, such as a real estate agent not showing a home in a wealthy neighborhood to a black family or a bank not providing a loan based on someone’s race.

The agency is also looking to root out more subtle forms of discrimination that take shape in local government policies that unintentionally harm minority communities, known as “disparate impact.”

read the rest

This is nothing more than a massive social engineering project, akin to ideas that have failed time and time again in countries like Cuba, China, and Venezuela. It’s failed here in the United States too in places like Decatur, Illinois and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Why? Because poverty can’t be solved with a hand full of cash and a change in your zip code. 

So, here’s a simple solution for this problem: local governments need to stop taking Federal aid money that comes with strings attached.  It’s that simple. 

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Taken after a fulfilling and amazing “Fat 101″ session with so many people who came to share the space with us. This weekend was so special to all of the coordinators, not only for having a great organizing experience but all of the people who came to the space and often never had thought about fatness in a critical way. We’re so thankful to everyone who came out and to each other for creating a supportive organizing team.

GO TEAM! 

dazeddigital.com
Meet the ‘skate witches’ fighting NYC’s gentrification
Brujas are the all-girl Bronx crew opening spaces for Latina and POC skaters in the city – they talk skating, sisterhood, and the movement against aggressive gentrification
By Dazed

For the Brujas girls, their crew is about more than skating: it’s about friendship, and the radical potential of sisterhood to foster real support systems, outside the mainstream social norms. They see the preventative and healing power of friendship as a source of collective empowerment, especially in the context of Western medicine and philosophy, where it’s discouraged to tap into extra-spiritual realms.

[…]

Skateboarding is inherently political: intertwined with the structures of public space, questioning ownership of private property, creating small moments of performed resistance. So it makes sense that through skating, the Brujas open up conversations about gentrification and colonialism. The fact that skateboarding is often stereotyped as an act of wreaking havoc on public spaces is a notion loaded with histories to be unpacked.

Obama: ISIS is a "manageable problem." We need to "organize the Arab world."

So, how does a community organizer respond to the biggest terrorist threat facing our country?  We need to organize it, of course!

Here’s the video:

He’s not a Commander in Chief.  He is a community organizer, and that’s all he knows how to do.

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Peace, 

My name is Bakari Jones and I’m the Founder & Executive Director of Bois of Baltimore. We’re not a non-profit, we’re a group of local Bois that came together to change our city. With the money we raise we’re going to: secure a physical space to use as our headquarters, start a mentoring program for young Bois (including homeless youth!!), expand to other cities (so far we’ve received requests from Oakland (CA), Jackson (MS), Detroit (MI), and Houston (TX), and oh yea, sustain ourselves WITHOUT money from our oppressors!

We have until 11:59pm (EST) on Tuesday, Saturday April 30, 2013 to raise $20,000 or we have to return all the donations we’ve received thus far (at the time of this post over $7,000).  You don’t have to be queer or a person of color to contribute to our campaign. If you ARE a queer person or a person of color or both you should definitely consider donating $1 or more. If anyone has ever stood up for you I’m asking that you pay it forward today with as little as $1.

<Bois of Baltimore LIFT OFF Campaign Link>

In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up. ~Reverend Martin Niemoller

Your reblog would be greatly appreciated. 

Peace & Power,

Bakari

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 "It’s kind of like what they do to us too.” — Southwest Baltimore teen

Baltimore City destroys a park and rain garden built by local youths.

Local youth workers spent this past summer in Southwest Baltimore doing city beautification projects including transforming a vacant lot on the 1200 block of West Baltimore Street into the garden you see in the top photo, with additional landscaping and stormwater management from Parks & People in the autumn.

Today (Feb 17, 2016), Baltimore City carelessly wrecked the park while doing maintenance work, resulting in the second and third photos here. While residents inspected the damaged park, one of the local teens said the above quote.

The city is aggressively neglectful of its low-income and black-majority neighborhoods. And when neighbors and residents pick up the city’s slack and cleans up the city’s messes, the city decides to undo the work.

A Parks & People representative added:

I received several frantic calls today around lunch from community members who witnessed a city contractor working on a water meter adjacent to Stockton Street not only drive through the park, but rip plant material out, destroy the stone edging that was installed, and leave the park and adjacent lots in a disturbed state. This is quite upsetting since this park represents one of the most recent improvements along West Baltimore Street, and had become a beloved green space for the surrounding communities.

Councilperson Pete Welch represents this area. Email or call Councilman Welch at william.welch@baltimorecity.gov or 410-396-4815. Ask what is the City going to do to do right by Baltimore’s residents, especially the youth. Demand the city fix this damage.

Please reblog!

(Not to insert city electoral politics but: John Bullock and Jamie Frierson are challenging Pete Welch for the Democratic Party nomination to the District 9 City Council seat. Welch basically shows up to zero meetings as a city councilperson and got his seat by appointment after his mother retired from the seat.)

Update February 19, 2016: The Department of Public Works has agreed to fully restore the park. They will be using the original plans and will begin work next week. Thank you everyone who reblogged this and reached out!

Communities Build Tiny Homes for the Homeless

In the city of Austin Texas a group of  people have come together and begun to build small mini pod homes for homelessness individuals in the city which has been deemed the Tiny House Movement. There are also homes that have even been called “Dignity Roller Pods” that were built by …

http://www.socialworkhelper.com/2014/02/26/communities-build-tiny-homes-homeless/?Social+Work+Helper

shared via Social Work Helper

Confused Chicagoans sue stores outside the city for “violating their civil rights” by selling guns

There are some woefully confused and vindictive Chicagoans trying to encroach upon the 2nd Amendment rights of the broader state of Illinois around them.  Why?  Because they can’t seem to curb the violence in their own city, and they’re looking for a scapegoat to blame.

from Daily Caller:

Following a violent July 4 weekend, two mothers and a coalition of Chicago residents are suing three suburban Chicago communities for violating their civil rights by having loose gun restrictions.

The mothers have children who have been affected by gun violence in the South and West Sides of the city, Fox News reports.The villages of Lyons, Lincolnwood, and Riverdale are “allowing gun shops in their respective jurisdictions to sell guns in a manner that disproportionately jeopardizes the lives of African Americans, causes mental anguish and distress and diminishes the value of their homes and other property,” according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

Rev. Michael Pflegler, one of the suit plaintiffs, told the Associated Press that many of the guns recovered in acts of violence have been linked back to these areas and their stores.The plaintiffs cite a 2014 study from the Chicago Police Department shows that between 2009 and 2013, 2,000 of the guns bought from stores in these communities were used in crime.
“Illegal firearms are flowing into a pocket of communities violating the civil rights of the individuals who reside there, who are afraid to go near their windows or let their children play in the park, much less their own yards,” Kathleen Sances, a member of the litigating coalition, said, according to Fox.Lyons Village president Christopher Getty told Fox that Chicago is trying to “pass the blame onto outside communities and businesses for the crimes and short-comings in dealing with crime.”

read the rest

First of all, gun ownership is a civil right, and it’s so important that the Founding Fathers put it #2 behind free speech, press, and religion.  So, right out of the gate, these Chicagoans are dreadfully confused.

Secondly, the whole racial component to this lawsuit is absurd. With progressives, everything is racist, and that’s the drum they’ll continue to bang until they stop seeing results from it (which, sadly, doesn’t appear to be any time soon).

Thirdly, I think it’s worth noting that Michael Pflegler, one of the plaintiffs, is one of Obama’s old socialist community organizer agitator buddies. Radicals will be radicals…

Fairness Now in Berea, Kentucky

Since mid-spring, I have been active in supporting and organizing for a fairness ordinance in my current home of Berea, Kentucky. If passed, the ordinance would extend protections against discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations to individuals based upon their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

In an op-ed published today in the Lexington Herald-Leader, I write that the inaction of the city council is unacceptable. This follows an op-ed published earlier this year, which details the beginnings of the movement. 

I hope you will read both, and then visit Bereans For Fairness on the web and Facebook to learn how you can become involved.

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Big Girl Appreciation Day Self Post Pt 2:
“Big Girls Making Big Moves”

1. Opened a Restaurant
2. #notmyidaho rally
3. With Keynote Speakers from Soul Force and TPOC Poet Leader J Mase III at Power of One
4. Chairing Unity, Multicultural Student Caucus
5. Chair of GSA
6. Solidarity with Mizzou at WSU
7. Director of Diversity Affairs, ASUI
8. Pitching Harm Reduction Strategy for underage drinking at UI
9. Planned Parenthood Arson Protest
10. Directing Any One of Us, Words from Prison

At the AFL-CIO’s 2013 convention in Los Angeles, the Savannah, Georgia, Regional Central Labor Council offered a resolution with a rather simple message: Quit messing around and get serious about organizing the South. Global corporations were flooding into the region, the council argued, paying workers wages so low they were bringing down pay in the North as well as the South. It was time, they said, for the labor movement to come up with a concerted effort to rebuild power in the South.

The resolution emerged from years of frustration. With organizing in decline across the nation, and with the traditionally anti-union South becoming only more so, American labor had largely abandoned the South—even though the region was becoming more ethnically diverse and its cities more liberal. Across the South, labor “was not there, and we felt it needed to be,” says Brett Hulme, president of the Savannah council.

But this time the national movement responded, passing the resolution, making a commitment to a new “Southern Strategy” one of the AFL-CIO’s priorities. Also at that convention, Tefere Gebre, an Ethiopian refugee and California labor leader, was elected AFL-CIO executive vice president and has since become one of labor’s foremost proponents of a new Southern strategy.

“As trade unionists, if we have to fix what ails us, we have to go where it’s the hardest to function,” says Gebre, who now spends much of his time traversing the South. “Unless we raise wages and fight in the South, I don’t think we’re safe in the North or the Midwest or anywhere else. What happens in the South sooner or later comes to the rest of the country.”

— 

Labor Goes South, by Justin Miller

It’s a long read but it’s worth it.