ONE DC Monthly Voice July 2018

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 Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love of Revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give your life for the people. -George Jackson


Organizing for Our Right to Housing: July People's Platform

The cost of housing has reached frightening levels in the nation's capital. At our July People's Platform, we emphasized the importance of knowing your tenant rights and how to exercise collective power to protect our communities. Three tenant leaders joined us and shared their ongoing fight and wins to preserve affordable housing where they live. The event was held at the ONE DC Black Workers Center, located in Anacostia, with the goal of identifying more tenant leaders living East of the River who want to organize in their building.

ONE DC members talk about the first steps to forming a tenant association

During the panel, we heard from three tenant-leaders who have been organizing at their property to protect their right to affordable, safe, and decent housing:

The Hodge on 7th

Ms. Deborah Brown is a tenant leader from the Hodge on 7th, a 55 and older building in Shaw. Residents at the Hodge are dealing with poor property management, safety issues, and property management turnover. They are organizing a tenant association and taking steps to have their demands met by the building owners.

Barry Farm

Ms. Paulette Matthews has been living at Barry Farm for almost 22 years and has been fighting, along with other tenants and Empower DC, against the demolition of the public housing property, which would mean the displacement of hundreds of Black families. Barry Farms residents demand redevelopment without displacement and the preservation of truly affordable public housing that meets the needs for large families in Washington, D.C.

Congress Heights

Mr. Robert Green is a resident at Congress Heights, where residents have been organizing against slum conditions for over five years. Recently, they have achieved several major victories! 1) Sanford Capital, the slumlord responsible for creating uninhabitable conditions at the property where Mr. Green lives, has been banned from doing business in the District for the next seven years by Attorney General Karl Racine's office after the CH tenants brought Sanford's shady business practices to light. 2) On Friday, July 13, D.C. Superior Court Judge Mott ordered CityPartners to pay $900,000 in repairs to rehabilitate the property. CityPartners (owned by Geoff Griffis) took control of the property from Sanford Capital in a potentially illegitimate transfer in December 2017, which the tenants and the city continue to fight in court. For more info about the ongoing struggle at Congress Heights, visit JusticeFirst.org.

All of the stories shared by Ms. Brown, Ms. Matthews, and Mr. Green had common themes: the critical need for tenants to organize themselves; the importance of knowing your tenant rights and how to exercise collective power; and that the struggle must go beyond our individual needs toward building tenant solidarity not only in our own building, but across properties, the city, and the world!

The People’s Platform is a movement of low-income and working class DC residents of color and people who share our values and vision. We seek to organize, educate, fight for and win truly affordable housing, sustaining work, and wellness for all in DC. Our monthly People's Platform general body is a space where we work towards our goals by prioritizing political education and leadership development in our work.

Our August People's Platform will commemorate Black August by exploring the intersection of mass incarceration and gentrification. We will meet on August 23 at 6:00 PM at the ONE DC Black Workers & Wellness Center, located at 2500 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. Click here for more info and to RSVP


Join us for Co-op Day this Saturday!

Cooperation DC, a project of the ONE DC Black Workers and Wellness Center, is celebrating its new home in Anacostia. To bring awareness to our work, we are inviting you to a cookout this Saturday, August 4th from 4pm-7pm. Stop by the ONE DC Black Workers and Wellness Center (2500 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, SE) to enjoy food, learn about the benefits of worker cooperatives in Ward 8 and throughout the District, and brainstorm how Cooperation DC can uplift workers in Southeast. We would like to strategize with everyone that comes through about your vision for future dignified workplaces.

Click here to RSVP


What is a worker cooperative?
A worker cooperative is a business that is owned and governed by its employees. Instead of being run solely for profit, a worker cooperative operates with shared leadership at its core. It measures its success in the well-being of its members, its sustainability as a business, and its contribution to the communities and environments in which it operates.

Why worker cooperatives?
- Better wages, better benefits
- Higher quality jobs
- Worker control over jobs and work environment
- Increased job security
- Prioritization of human, community, and environmental needs over product/profit


ONE DC Shared Leadership Team Updates

We are excited to report that at our May Shared Leadership Team meeting, we voted to approve an updated set of by-laws for ONE DC. To read and review the new by-laws, click here.

A few important changes:

  • Added an additional elected position to the Board of Directors. Now, three (3) of the nine (9) Board positions will be elected by the membership at the Annual Membership Meeting and the remaining six will be appointed.
  • Redefined our committee structure to reflect current non-profit law.
  • Created two co-chair officer positions rather than a president and vice president.
  • Senior staff can now be formally appointed as voting members to the Board of Directors.
  • Lowered the regional membership dues from $50 to $30 for members living outside of Washington, D.C.

We are now exploring how to incorporate training on our by-laws and organizational structure into the ONE DC member orientation process. If you have questions, please reach out to ONE DC Admin Organizer Claire Cook at ccook@onedconline.org.

The Board of Directors also appointed officers at the May Shared Leadership Team meeting. Officers are appointed on an annual basis following the Annual Membership Meeting:

  • Co-Chair: Nicole Newman  & Jessica Gordon-Nembhard
  • Treasurer: Rosemary Ndubuizu
  • Secretary: Gwendolyn Johnson

The ONE DC Shared Leadership Team meets on a monthly basis. All our meetings are open to the public and we invite ONE DC members especially to attend to learn more about our governance structure. For more info on meeting dates and location, email organizer@onedconline.org.


What Does Development Look like in a Culture of Health?

By Haley Cureton, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Minneapolis

On June 7-8th, I visited ONE DC to learn about Making the Just City, a research project on gentrification and displacement in Washington, DC and Orange, NJ, led by Dominic Moulden, Mindy Fullilove and Derek Hyra with support from Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL).


A story I heard from a ONE DC member especially struck me on my visit. It was about a family member pressured to move out of her home by developers. She described the overwhelming number of phone calls, notes on the door, and uninvited developers who came knocking and made offers to buy the property claiming that they were giving her a “great offer.” She said the process continued with building intensity. The story struck me because first-- how is that legal? And second-- it took me out of my mind and into my heart very quickly to show me that the issue of gentrification is not abstract, it is immediate, pervasive and deeply personal. The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to build a culture of health in the US—and the ONE DC member’s story made me think, what does development look like in a culture of health? Definitely not that.

In a culture of health, people have a right to the city where they live. A home is a place to lay down roots, a safe place that is free of outside pressure to move or sell or relocate before a family is ready for any reason. In a culture of health, residents and neighborhoods benefit from development rather than being displaced by it.


The research findings from Making the Just City will be useful to cities around the US dealing with a crisis of affordable housing and questioning how to slow development and address gentrification. Additionally, so will the model of HOW this research project is being co-led by researchers, organizers and community members. It reminds me of a core teaching in eastern philosophy: actions are examples as much as they are actions. Making the Just City is a research project, and it is also an example of the power of research partnerships in addressing shared concerns about the wellbeing of our communities.

Thank you for having me, ONE DC! Peace from IRL in Minneapolis.


Homes for All Assembly Report-back

By Brook Hill

Between July 18th and 22nd, ONE DC members Keisha Harden, Janice Underwood, and myself attended the Homes for All Assembly convened by the Right to the City Alliance in Atlanta. The assembly brought housing justice organizers together from across the country to discuss housing challenges, share solutions, and plan how to react to those challenges nationally and regionally. The assembly was also an opportunity to introduce attendees to and invite comment on a training tool that includes a blueprint for building a grassroots group and an articulation of shared values. The ONE DC delegation was able to establish ties with groups working in nearby cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Newark, and to strengthen ties with folks from D.C. that we were already familiar with.


The first full day of the conference was spent discussing the current state of our housing work and collectively planning what we would need to do over the course of the next decade to achieve our goals. Despite the fact that the group included people from east, west, north and south, many of the problems they faced were surprisingly familiar. Low-income communities of color face displacement fueled by commercial and residential real estate development not only in cities that have been earning reputations as expensive places to live like DC, New York and the Bay Area, but also in places like Lincoln, Nebraska; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The solutions they are seeking to implement are familiar too; just cause eviction, right to counsel, tenant opportunity to purchase, and rent control. Even though these tenant protections have not solved all of the problems facing tenants in cities where they exist – such as the District of Columbia – tenants’ rights would be a lot more elusive without them. It was inspiring to hear about serious campaigns to pursue them in so many places. If tenant protections become common outside of DC it will be easier to push for even stronger protections in DC. Folks were serious about what it would take to accomplish these things, as much of the plan for the next ten years included spending a lot of time door knocking, making phone calls, recruiting members, building coalitions and raising funding. 

The second day of the conference was about what it would take operationally to achieve the plans that were laid out the day before. Appropriately the day began with a direct action because after we do the work of bringing people together, disrupting the status quo with protest is important to bring about change. However, the rest of the day was spent discussing the less glamorous work of building a group that can fight for housing justice in a meaningful way. To that end, the Right to the City Alliance introduced the Homes for All Handbook, movement DNA. It is a pamphlet with a dozen or so pages that lays out the shared values of the Homes for All Coalition along with step by step instructions on how to build a group. The techniques reminded me of what I had learned as an organizer at ACORN and New York Communities for Change and they were packaged in an inviting and digestible fashion. The Homes for All Handbook has the potential to be an invaluable tool for new organizers and tenant leaders.

On the third day, everybody attended a training session. The one I decided to attend was about development without displacement and community control. We participated in an exercise where we imagined that we were planning our ideal community and the facilitators would approach us and try to offer us things that would ‘improve’ our communities – we’d have to think about the consequences and reject or accept the offers. It was a great exercise. After that, we heard about how one Bay Area community group teamed up with a community development corporation to successfully fight for an alternative vision of development in their community.

ONE DC members Janice Underwood, LaKeisha Harden, & Brook Hill

All in all, the conference was a great experience. We were able to deepen our ties with other DC organizers, networks with other organizers in the region, do some reflection on our work in recent years and begin planning the future. The other ONE DC members and I left Atlanta inspired and anxious to continue building at home. 


Happy Hour Fundraiser on August 9th!

Come out to support ONE DC's work at a fun and lively night at Madam's Organ! $1 from ANY drink or food item will go toward ONE DC! Listen to live music while helping us create and preserve racial and economic equity in DC. You can also support by purchasing ONE DC t-shirts, posters, and tote bags; enter to win a raffle; and connect with fellow ONE DC members & supporters.

Click here to RSVP


Mass Action August 12: NO Nazis, NO KKK in D.C.

ONE DC is joining forces with ANSWER Coalition and other local organizations to defend Black and Latinx communities in DC against white supremacist and fascist violence. Just as the government facilitates the violent destruction of public housing and displacement of working class DC residents, so too we see our public resources used to protect the KKK and other hate groups gathering in DC. Join us on August 12 to say NO! White supremacy is not welcome here! Click here to RSVP


Initiating organizations include: ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Justice First, Link-UP, Justice Center en El Barrio NYC, ONE DC, Internationalist Students Front-George Washington University, GW Queer Radicals, Philadelphia Liberation Center, GW Progressive Student Union, GW Young Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU.

Click here to sign on to show your support!


Upcoming Events

Black August Kick-off
Wednesday, August 1 - 6:00 PM
The Potter's House - 1658 Columbia Rd NW
Hosted  by Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign, DC Letters to Prison, & The Potter's House
We're kicking off August with a special letter writing night! As attention focuses on the U.S. border, we recognize that this nation is founded on shattering families: the separation of enslaved African children from their parents, the forced enrollment of indigenous children in Residential Schools, and the separation of migrant families today are only a few examples. On August 1, we'll spend the night urging decision makers to release mothers whose incarceration has separated them from their children for too long. Black August began in the 1970s as a month-long commemoration of the Black freedom struggle, including martyrs to state violence and political prisoners. Activities often include writing and visiting prisoners, political education, and other acts of solidarity.
Click here to RSVP

The Ask Rayceen Show: Poetry Slam
Wednesday, August 1 - 6:00 PM
HRC - 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW
Hosted by The Ask Rayceen Show: First Wednesdays, March through November
Annual #AskRayceen Poetry Slam. Audience favorite receives $100, sponsored by DCHomos. Authors’ Corner with #OutWrite2018 participants. Listening Lounge: Live music by Roz White, Burlesque by Private Tails, Guest DJ for the evening: DJ Rosie (Rosie Hicks), Announcer: Anthony Oakes, Host: Rayceen Pendarvis. There will also be interviews with special guests, Shameless Plugs, vendors, exhibitors, and more.
Click here to RSVP

 

Night Out for Safety & Liberation DC 2018
Tuesday, August 7 - 5:00 to 9:00 PM

Maroon House - 1005 Rhode Island Ave NE
Hosted by DC Movement For Black Lives Steering Committee
Join us for the Night Out for Safety and Liberation 2018, an annual event where we redefine and re-imagine what public safety means for our DC community. Too often, conversations about public safety revolve around policing and punishment. But safety is about more than that—it’s about having a living wage, healthy food, healthcare, affordable housing, education, and more.
Click here to RSVP


Empower DC Membership Cook-out
Saturday, August 11 - 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

1254 Pleasant St SE
Hosted by DC Grassroots Planning Coalition & Empower DC
Food * Fellowship * Music Get updates on our work:
- DC Comprehensive Plan
- Public Housing
- Crummell School
- Equitable Development
Meet and build with DC residents who share your values! Join or renew your membership. Meet Empower DC's new staff!
Click here to RSVP


Art Brings Us Home: Street Sense Media Celebrates 15 Years of Impact
Tuesday, September 25 - 6:00 PM

Big Chief - 2002 Fenwick St NE
Hosted by Street Sense Media
Join us on September 25th at Big Chief in Ivy City to celebrate 15 years of Street Sense Media! Our talented artists will present a multimedia gallery that shares their stories through photography, illustration, interactive art, poetry and writing, theater, film, and audio production. Attending guests will have the opportunity to meet the artists and purchase displayed pieces which will be on sale for donation to support the artists and grow our media center where the work is created. All support for this event will advance engagement and education between our vendor-artists and the public.
Click here to RSVP


Uprooting Racism in the Food System One-day Workshop with Soul Fire Farm
Friday, November 16 - 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

St. George's Episcopal Church - 160 U St NW
Hosted by Common Good City Farm
The workshop is intended for folks working in food justice, food access, sustainability, and agriculture to discuss how we can collaborate to achieve greater equity in our local food systems and our own organizations.
Click here to RSVP


Lack of Subsidy not the Crux of Housing Affordability Challenges

By Gregory D. Squires

Roger K. Lewis is simply wrong when he asserts “The crux of housing affordability problems is a lack of money for necessary subsidies.” (“A lawsuit won’t begin to solve the lack of affordable housing in D.C.” Washington Post, June 22, 2018) Rather, as the lawsuit he refers to filed on behalf of several African American residents against DC government asserts, the problem has long been and continues to be development policies geared to attracting new middle class white residents to neighborhoods long inhabited by African Americans and other people of color, enriching newcomers while displacing long term residents. This was true during the post-World War II urban renewal years when Lewis rightly notes housing subsidies were more readily available. It remains the case with contemporary “revitalization” initiatives like efforts to displace DC's Barry Farm residents. Whether the racial effects are due to intentional racism or disparate impact, it is time to recognize that the uneven development of the nation’s metropolitan areas is not just a budgetary matter. And it is time for the long disenfranchised to have a seat at the table so that affordable housing becomes a right for all rather than a privilege for the well connected.


ONE Bit of Good News - BWC Hosts Children's Studio School "Anacostia Reimagined" Art Exhibit

By IBe' Crawley

The Children's Studio School (CSS), founded 41 years ago by Marcia McDonell, exhibited the Children of Mine Youth Center's summer culminating exhibit 'Anacostia Reimagined' at the ONE DC Black Workers & Wellness Center on July 26, 2018. In the children's summer experience of multi-dimensional studios, 39 children ages 4 to 14 engaged in architecture, engineering, construction, and city planning.

The children participated in identifying and defining the future businesses and buildings for their community. IBe' Crawley of IBe' Arts created the curriculum and coordinated the four studios at the Children of Mine Youth Center for CSS. The arts educators -- Uptown Shane, Courtney Dowe, and Roderick Turner -- engaged the children in discussions, visualization, and creation of an Anacostia that reflects the children's love and families.


A special thanks is extended to ONE DC for hosting the 'Anacostia Reimagined' presentation. In addition to being a visually beautiful representation of buildings, maps, and drawings, the storytelling and singing demonstrated the verbal and writing skills the children developed in this summer experience. The parents and community members filled ONE DC to capacity with love and pride for their children contribution to the Anacostia resource mapping the organization is currently engaged in. Click here to watch video from the exhibit.

You can find past editions of the Monthly Voice here.
Do you want to be a writer, editor, or designer for the ONE DC Monthly Voice? Email organizer@onedconline.org
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