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, Resources & Downloads

Classic Direct Action Rags – new downloads!

We just posted several new issues of the original Direct Action newspapers – namesake of Luke Hauser’s novel and source of many of the stories contained therein.

Free downloads of a dozen original issues as PDFs, along with activist handbooks and a PDF of the book.

Click here!

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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, 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”