activism, Culture, Photos

Tiny Houses Come to Berkeley

Direct Action co-conspirator Sally Hindman sends this account of a recent grassroots project – story from Oaklandside, Oakland’s community site

It’s been a long road for the Youth Spirit Artworks project, which could house 22 homeless youth starting in the fall.

By the time he was 17, Sean McCreary was tired of telling his life story to people with money and power. Over and over again, he’d speak publicly about his experience getting displaced with his family from their South Berkeley home, and the four years he spent couch-hopping afterward, hoping to convince city officials to do more about the housing crisis.

“It had been two years of going to City Council meetings and pouring my heart out,” said McCreary, who first became homeless in sixth grade. He said he felt it was important to tell real estate developers and politicians what he knew, acutely, about the need to build affordable housing and stem gentrification. But it began to feel like a relentless cycle of emotional advocacy and waiting.

“I was like, I need to start putting things to action,” said McCreary, who’s now 20 and housed in West Berkeley.

He and his friends and colleagues at Youth Spirit Artworks, a Berkeley-based arts and job-training program for homeless and low-income youth, thought: What if we build affordable housing ourselves instead of just asking cities and developers to do it?

Now, after three years of tireless work, funding pleas, celebrations, and setbacks, their “tiny house village” is nearing completion. Twenty-two young people who need a place to live will likely be able to move into the mural-covered homes on Hegenberger Road in East Oakland in the fall, said YSA Executive Director Sally Hindman. Along with the youth, something like 1,400 volunteers—many from religious congregations, as well as schools and businesses—helped construct the houses, with oversight from general ,contractor Rolf Bell.

Each tiny house is 8 by 10 feet, and has a lofted bed, a closet, desk and chair, and electricity and heating. The village is still short four of its planned 27 tiny homes because of COVID-19 construction delays, Hindman said. The others are ready, along with two yurts that will serve as a communal kitchen and a living-room-slash-maker-space, and shared bathrooms. This week, volunteer crews, including 150 kids from Temple Beth El’s Camp Kee Tov, are installing painted fences around the parking lot where the tiny homes stand, and beginning to lay the groundwork to run power and water to the structures.

The village will house youth ages 18-25, for two years each. Residents will go through YSA’s job training program and have access to case managers who will help them work toward personal goals and connect them to city resources. The initial residents will be selected from people already connected with Oakland and Berkeley’s homelessness services, and the hope is to help them find permanent housing before they leave. (Call 211 to get connected with local housing and shelter options.)

“We’re calling it the Empowerment Village because it’s an opportunity for young people to transform their lives, end the cycle of homelessness, and move on to being self-sufficient,” Hindman said.

Read more at Oaklandside – click here

Donate to the Empowerment Village – click here

 

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activism, Black Lives Matter, Photos

Stolen Lives – 2004 SF Vigil

Photos from a 2004 vigil outside the SF Metreon called Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement – a forerunner of Black Lives Matter.

Stolen Lives was organized by community activists from Hunters Point neighborhoods.

Reclaiming folks including Kevyn, Bill, Starhawk, and others brought potted plants to create a living altar. You can see the Pagan Cluster circled up on the widest shot below, and creating altars in others.

Photos by George Franklin/Reclaiming Quarterly

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activism, Black Lives Matter, Photos

Black Lives Matter – Photos of George Floyd Protests in Bay Area

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Outstanding photos from the East Bay Times:

Oakland = Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

SF = Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

San Jose = Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area NewsGroup

Walnut Creek = Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

 

activism, Climate Justice, Culture, Photos, Resources & Downloads, Video

Youtube – A Brief History of Nonviolent Direct Action!

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Direct action has a long and honored place in American history – from the revolution itself through abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, civil rights advocates, feminist and gay rights activists, and on to today’s vibrant climate and social justice organizing.

Click here for A Brief History of Nonviolent Direct Action

Join author Luke Hauser for a profusely illustrated 25-minute journey through our past. We’ll focus especially on nonviolent organizing from 1980 to the present, with sections on the 1980s anti-nuke movement and 2011’s Occupy actions.

Originally created around 2000, the show has been updated with a revised text and many new images.

So make a big bowl of popcorn, pull up your beanbag chair, and get ready for a journey through our history!

Photo by Janet Delaney.

 

 

 

activism, Culture, Photos

Climate Justice – Photos from SF

Several thousand Bay Area activists shut down the central financial district of San Francisco, known as Wall Street West.

Click here for photos by Luke Hauser

The September 25, 2019 actions were part of international climate justice events, including the global student strike on September 20.

Reclaiming’s Bay Area Pagan Cluster – Witches Invoking Creative Climate Action, or WICCA – organized a ritual for mid-afternoon. The cluster processed down California Street singing We Are the Rising Sun, then did a short Equinox ritual in the middle of the “mural district” of Montgomery Street, ending with a spiral dance to Our Hands Will Work for Peace and Justice (Harvest Chant).

Click here for photos by Luke Hauser

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activism, Photos

Why I Joined the Black Bloc

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Or, Where Are the Clowns of Yesteryear?

by Luke Hauser / images by @AlanYuhas

Berkeley, April 15 2017 – Reporting from the amorphous front lines of Berkeley after an afternoon counter-protesting the “Hate Speech Is Free Speech” rally.

I woke Saturday morning and knew I needed to get downtown to oppose the Hate Speech rally.

This wasn’t my kind of event – a lot of standing around listening to people exercise their freedom of speech by yelling at each other, punctuated by interludes of frightening mayhem.

Continue reading “Why I Joined the Black Bloc”