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Solidarity Not Charity
Updated: 15 hours 2 min ago

MADR TOUR RECAP: FALL 2018

Sat, 12/29/2018 - 13:48

December 29th, 2018

At the end of a long year, our second workshop tour is complete! Over the course of three months, we worked our way from Albuquerque to San Diego, then north toward Seattle, and across the midwest into Wisconsin, making a total of 21 stops.

The MADR Network has only been around a couple years, and is mostly focused on supporting response efforts to hurricanes on the east and gulf coasts. In traveling west, we wanted to understand the unique disasters that communities are facing, the lessons they’ve already learned, and explore how a grassroots network could carry resources, information, and stories across the so-called U.S.

When calamity strikes, it’s not uncommon for people to ask why the Red Cross has failed to help, leaving them to rely on those closest for support. We say that the true first responders aren’t paramedics or fire crews – and they certainly aren’t the police. They’re the people most directly impacted on the ground. On tour, we emphasized cooperation and self-determination, rather than waiting for aid to swoop in from above. If you missed us, plan to host a training in your hometown, or simply want to review our materials, please download and share the first draft of our evolving facilitator toolkit. We’d love feedback on this!

Our workshops began by acknowledging disasters as much more than the acute catastrophes of climate chaos or sudden ruptures of infrastructure. We live in the disasters of colonization and capitalism every day, and it’s these systemic disasters we spend our time responding to after the embers have gone cold or the waters clear. Earth’s natural cycles aren’t the problem. The disaster is the way institutions capitalize from and create inequality. It’s the power structure that holds a monopoly on aid, but refuses to distribute it to those in most dire need.

In defining “disaster” this way, we casted a broad net, met with communities that had different levels of preparedness, and brainstormed the logistics of an intersectional approach to organizing that learns from the past and builds survival programs for the future. We spent a lot of time with our new friends discussing hopes and fears, the collective work of grief, and how necessary it is to move forward at the speed of trust – to create a commons of care rather than a culture of burnout. A major theme we shared was that our “audacity is our capacity.”


We constantly refined the content and narrative of our lessons to evoke more magic in our conversations. Our intimate team supported each other to make quick decisions, plot logistics, craft Instagram posts, drive long-distance, and manage funds, all while providing each other constructive feedback and making occasional time to stop in nature.

This work is heavy, but, we joined tour with a whole lot of heart, and, as we traveled some 5,000 miles, were replenished with so much care and inspiration by the people who invited us into their communities.

We understand that everyone, regardless of how rich, racist, or capitalist they are, can practice mutual aid in their daily life. However, it’s the capitalist, patriarchal, colonial cultures that stratify care. Right wing militias have their own form of mutual aid work in response to crisis. Of course, the demographic they offer support to is blatantly narrow, and their aim is to gain power in the greater white community.

In Grants Pass, OR, the Oath Keepers have been cooking for the firefighters and organizing evacuations for the white, middle class residents and their animals. Along with State of Jefferson advocates, they’ve taken advantage of the public’s goodwill to grab more seats of power at the city and county levels, and are pushing anti-immigrant, racist, and classist policies into law. Similarly, MADR folx responding to Hurricane Michael have been dealing with the League of the South presence in the panhandle.

In common, we’re all witnessing the crises of gentrification, lack of affordable housing, vanishing public infrastructure, a growing white supremacist movement, and an increasingly toxic environment. Many of us have witnessed the State fail to respond in the wake of acute disasters, and many of us are seeking ways to take direct action.

Along the west coast, people are discussing the lack of institutional preparedness for the next big earthquake along the San Andreas or Cascadia faults. While a tsunami following the earthquake would add to the crisis, a lack of adequate infrastructure in poor areas and bare minimum evacuation plans for disabled and senior populations are expected to exacerbate this type of disaster as well.

Despite such a daunting landscape, we found people preparing their communities for responses to acute disasters while organizing mutual aid efforts that seek to collectively address the ongoing ones, too. After our tour stops, some communities have been meeting around the topic of preparedness to build upon pre-existing trainings, resource-sharing, and relationships of solidarity in advance of crisis. Folx we met in Chico, CA, have begun organizing under the name North Valley Mutual Aid and are sorting out the pressures of immediate response and long-term planning as the smoke clears from the most destructive wildfire in state history.

From many angles, it seems like we’ve been losing ground. We’re told it’s too late; that humanity is forgone. We watch dark clouds loom over communities. But, on tour we met with countless organizers who are walking forward to meet the bright alternatives they’ve been imagining. One of the best parts of tour was hearing people express gratitude for the opportunity our stops opened to gather with people across their regions and hold a little space for each other to talk about the nightmares that keep them up at night, and the dreams that keep them going.

The MADR Network has a few intentional conversations to have before we can discuss future workshops. We’re sitting on some big questions, and have been humbled by thoughtful feedback regarding our content, outreach, and accessibility. Now, we’re taking time to reflect on how to come in a good way, in response to crisis and on tour as well.

We’re focusing on how best to make collective decisions, what it means to actually uplift the most marginalized voices, and how people outside of the often white, anarchist demographic can be empowered to host trainings in their communities, too. In the meantime, we want to support folx in connecting with each other and growing their communities.

We’re beyond thankful for those who took us in, cared for us, and trusted us to hold a little space in their communities, and we really are so inspired by the work we see folx doing. People are organizing, and, as a network, we hope to carry those projects and stories together.

Stay tuned for more updates by checking out our website to join the mailing list, or by following us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

In love and light,

The MADR Fall Tour Crew

What Is Left After The Ruins?: Tent City Cleared After Nonprofit Took Charge Of “Aid” Efforts

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 06:54

On December 11, 2018, in Panama City, Florida, a large tent city located in the parking lot of a church was transformed into a demolition site. Hundreds of people were left with nowhere to go, and many had all of their possessions destroyed. The eviction was overseen by UMCOR, an international relief nonprofit. Below is the story of how they mislead and manipulated the most vulnerable people in Panama City, and left hundreds worse off than before they arrived.

Coffee with Comrades

“That coffee is too weak,” one volunteer suggested. “Let’s make the next batch extra strong and combine them so it will even itself out.” We were preparing to visit the nearby tent city on the morning of December 11, 2018. The previous night, Panama City saw temperatures in the 30s, and we wanted to continue our support of the residents of the makeshift community who were housed in vehicles, tents and tarps.

While we were serving the coffee on site at Forest Park United Methodist Church, six police cars arrived.

Police talked briefly with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) officials inside the church, then began their mobile loudspeaker warnings, telling residents they had three hours to pack up all their belongings and leave the premises or they would be arrested. The Panama City mayor backed the eviction saying, “This cannot exist.”

The tent city had sprung up about one month earlier, as families displaced by Hurricane Michael found themselves with no place to go and migrant laborers arrived in the city looking to aid the rebuilding efforts. Several weeks after the tent city’s spontaneous formation, the first representative from UMCOR arrived. UMCOR is an international nonprofit with over $100 million in assets, and is the “humanitarian relief and development arm of The United Methodist Church”. A week before the eviction, an UMCOR representative, Shawn York, made a rousing speech about being a people of faith who would resist the city’s stated intention of evicting the camp. As the days wore on, representatives of UMCOR made more promises to camp residents about helping to solve their problems, and “not just kicking you out to the curb.” However, as it became apparent on the day of the eviction, not only did UMCOR fail to resist, they actively supervised and directed the police eviction.

Confusion and Panic: A New Disaster

What had began as a calm morning sharing coffee with residents of the encampment rapidly escalated into a panic as families rushed to pack their belongings under the threat of imminent arrest.

To our dismay, the sight of panicked disaster survivors being forced into a secondary diaspora was not what troubled the UMCOR representatives–even though tents holding precious personal belongings, life-saving medications, collected food and drink and other supplies needed for surviving outdoors, new and donated by the local community, were all being bulldozed and destroyed.  What troubled UMCOR was the sight of people filming this wholesale destruction of people’s lives. People videotaping or assisting tent city residents in salvaging their belongings were one by one trespassed from the property. UMCOR then stepped up their threats of arrest, impounding vehicles (many of which doubled as people’s homes), tents, personal belongings, and tens of thousands of dollars. An UMCOR representative noted that a couple people who fit the right profile and who they thought were worthy were helped into apartments by UMCOR. But the only “help” UMCOR offered most tent city residents was a bus ride to a $10-per-night shelter in Pensacola. Those who did not accept were left two options: disperse to the margins or face arrest.

Here is just some of what we witnessed as the day wore on:

  • An elderly man slowly pushed a shopping cart, piled high with all his belongings, away from tent city. Where? He didn’t know. Just away.
  • One of us drove a man to his place of employment for the last time. Without the tent city, he couldn’t continue his job and would have to start over at a shelter in Tallahassee. Before she dropped him off, she emptied her wallet into his hands. It was everything, but it didn’t feel like enough.
  • A man suffering from dehydration, upper respiratory issues, and now heightened anxiety and panic, stood on the sidewalk. He had been delaying his needed hospital visit because he suspected that if he were to go to the hospital, by the time he got out, everything to his name would have disappeared. We helped him stow his belongings so he could be taken to the hospital, and helped him find temporary shelter afterwards.
  • A woman in crisis mode paced back and forth. After losing almost everything in Hurricane Michael, the truck and trailer was all that she and her partner had left. Their truck and trailer had been disabled since somebody tried, unsuccessfully, to steal it several days before. An UMCOR representative had promised to help repair the vehicle and ensured them that they had at least ten more days. An hour later, the same representative told the couple that their vehicle and home were minutes from being impounded. We towed the trailer and truck away ourselves.
  • A woman searched through piles of bulldozed trash, frantically looking for her diabetes medication and other important items. Her family’s van was impounded after UMCOR called a towing company to tow all the remaining vehicles and trailers.
  • Dozens of people, including a family with eight children, returned from their jobs and schools, to find their tents, clothing, and other items bulldozed into a pile of garbage.
  • A single mom, illegally evicted from her apartment in Lynn Haven after the storm, then again evicted from tent city, brought U-Haul trucks and trailers to salvage people’s belongings but was turned away and not allowed onto the property by UMCOR. Not to be moved, she is now pooling funds with other families with children to try to get everybody into apartments, even if multiple families have to share one apartment.

“We survived Hurricane Michael, just to go through another hurricane: ‘Hurricane tent city,’” one resident noted after nearly all her belongings, including sentimental items passed down from her mother, were lost in the eviction. Echoing the experiences of poor people who lived through Hurricanes Katrina, Maria and Florence, natural disasters are always followed by disasters of human design. Hurricane Michael has been no exception.

Slum Clearance as Disaster Relief

Stigma and condescension marked almost every interaction that UMCOR and the church had with tent city’s residents, despite their flowery rhetoric of “restoring dignity to the people of tent city.” Residents were not only kept from attending church on Sundays, but were reportedly required to walk around to the outer perimeter of the church, barred from going near the entrances and exits during services due to the perceived “threat” residents embodied.

Upon its arrival, UMCOR erected a tent big enough for a wedding, where they sat and waited for residents to enter and ask for help. The whispers about eviction had begun weeks before, but nobody seemed to have a full grasp on when the date was going to be and what measures UMCOR might take to help people before the final date. Although members of the church and UMCOR seemed to share a desire to help people get a move on, nobody seemed to put forward a serious effort to disseminate straightforward information. No signs were posted, and nobody spoke to the camp on a loudspeaker until three hours before the eviction. Shawn York of UMCOR embodied UMCOR’s vision of “respect and best practices” by overseeing jovial Panama City police officers employing intimidation stratagems in a tent-by-tent verbal eviction of horrified, stranded survivors and workers under threat of arrest–with three hours notice.  Even hurricane Michael gave Panama City more warning than UMCOR did.

The forcefully scattered tent city populous now suffers from further displacement and additional trauma at a time when they most desperately needed care and dignity to own their recovery. People from tent city who are still struggling with capitalism, climate catastrophe, class war and poverty still remain – now just conveniently out of sight.

To add insult to injury, one day before the surprise eviction, the Alabama-West Florida Conference of UMCOR (the branch of UMCOR in Panama City) “joyfully announced” themselves to be recipients of a $628,768 grant won in part for by their grand role in supporting the displaced residents. Although we can’t confirm any relationship between the grant and the eviction, we think that the coincidental timing only gives further credence to the idea of UMCOR as a disaster profiteer.

Disaster colonialism includes both the hard occupation by armed forces such as the US Army, National Guard, ICE, for-profit mercenary groups, and law enforcement, and the “soft” colonialism of the nonprofit industrial complex which seeks to subvert spontaneous manifestations of mutual aid and experiments in self-organized communal survival efforts. In traditional charity models, non-profit professionals insert themselves as managers and enforce a sharp separation between so called “givers” of aid and “receivers”. In Chico, California, a Walmart parking lot briefly became a space of possibility and refuge after the historic Camp Fire, only to be cleared by Walmart Bronsan security and Red Cross officials. In our eviction and theirs, the lines between nonprofit worker, private security and police were eerily blurred.

We think it is important to recognize, in this moment of pain and trauma, that setting personal limits is a crucial part of doing any kind of relief work; but we are able to do it in a way that is either responsible or irresponsible. We recognize that any church, homeless shelter, or other aid group will have limits to what they can reasonably accomplish and that they will not be able to help everyone forever. But we also witnessed firsthand as UMCOR’s abhorrence of the poor led directly to this violent eviction, which was at best irresponsible, and at worst cruel and inhumane. UMCOR’s inability to communicate effectively, their false promises, and their violent disregard for life and personal property created a crisis for hundreds of people already living in extreme poverty.

One resident from Callaway who moved to the encampment after a tree fell on their home and whose belongings were then crushed by a bulldozer during the eviction of tent city reflects, “After you go from one tragic situation to another, it tears you down…I thought they were genuinely helping people, but they were con artists…What it was made out to be, and what it actually was were two totally separate visions.”

Despair is not an Option

When our survival and the survival of our loved ones is at stake, despair is not an option. The traumas can cut deep. We often can’t fight back the tears. But the traumas don’t cut as deep as the wells within us that we tap into when we envision a better world together, a world we bring into existence in spite of (or, perhaps, because of) our broken hearts, our calloused hands, and our weary feet.

What is left after the ruins? Just our ties with one another, our shared sorrow, and the knowledge that not every seed sprouts and grows into an Oak or a Redwood or a Northwest Florida Pine. But every mighty tree once began as a seed. So we will keep planting, keep watering, learn, heal, and strategize. Power stands above, with an air of condescension and seemingly unlimited resources to destroy, Truth may forever be on the gallows, but the future is shaped from there, from below.

Still dreaming of what we will build tomorrow,

-Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

 

 

We Are Rooted Here: North Valley Mutual Aid

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 18:42

The following is a report back from the North Valley Mutual Aid group, which is organizing an autonomous response to the Camp Fire from Chico, CA:

WHO WE ARE

We’re North Valley Mutual Aid (NVMA). As you’ve probably heard, the Camp Fire that started on November 8th is the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history. What you should also understand is how connected the people of the north valley are, and the impact this disaster is having on everyone here.

There are many relief efforts but ours is different. We are operating on a set of values defined by a national network known as Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR). What’s important to know is that we are rooted here, are all volunteer, we offer solidarity instead of charity, and our group seeks to break down the top-down model of powerful givers vs. passive receivers of assistance—we recognize disaster survivors’ rights to determine what their needs are and how best others can assist them. We place a strong emphasis on the emotional and physical needs of survivors. We currently have six working groups and a loose network of around 100 community members participating—but this number is increasing daily.

Our immediate priority is to assist victims of the Camp Fire but recognize that our ideas, energy, resources, and organizational values will still be in demand down the road and in many contexts. By working with, listening to, and supporting impacted communities to lead their own recovery, especially their most vulnerable members, we build long-term, sustainable, and resilient communities. The town of Paradise and the surrounding communities are generally low-income, with a largely elderly population. We will support these community members who are going to face a stiff headwind in their efforts to rebuild their lives from bureaucrats, developers, and institutions like FEMA.

As this disaster is emergent, we will be on the ground to listen to the voices of the impacted community to understand where we can best be of service.

WHAT WE HAVE DONE

We have begun organizing around the core values and principles developed by Mutual Aid Disaster Relief (MADR). We have open group meetings which have given rise to several working groups taking action here every day. These groups include a central hub/organizing space, emotional and physical first aid, clean-up and re-build, navigating bureaucracy, child care, supplies and distribution, and outreach and media. These groups are emergent and fluid and may merge, change or dissolve as events unfold, and new groups may arise as needed.

The first week was spent reaching out to those folks directly impacted by the fire, especially those with the least resources. This included finding sources for donations and supplies and matching them to needs. We began distributing masks, clothing, tents, food and other essential items to folks in need, mostly around the encampments that began to spring up around Chico.

We made herbal medicine, food and teas and distributed them. We practiced deep listening for people who needed to talk and offered emotional support when asked.

We secured a dedicated space with a commercial kitchen and have started a Food Not Bombs kitchen which is collecting food, cooking, and distributing meals daily. The space is also being used as storage for supplies and tools.

We began offering child care to parents and caregivers.

We began collecting and distributing information on resources and how to navigate the bureaucracy faced in receiving aid from state and NGO orgs.

We are also not making a distinction between ‘displaced’ and ‘homeless’ persons. There has been a lot of discrimination against those perceived as long-time homeless with assistance being denied.

WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW

The town of Paradise and the other affected areas are under blockade by National Guard and law enforcement, effectively keeping everyone out. Homeowners are being arrested for trying to come  back into town to see the destruction for themselves. This means that any cleanup and rebuild is likely still weeks away, so our efforts remain focused on the people who evacuated to the Chico area and how to support them, while planning for future cleanup and rebuild efforts.

We have rain and storms in the forecast and this is potentially going to create a new set of problems for our relief effort.

We are continuing to support the folks who have chosen to remain in the camps despite growing pressure from outside forces to leave and resources being taken away. We believe in the right for everyone to make these decisions for themselves. There are many reasons why someone might not want to be placed in a shelter situation, especially when their only option at this point seems to be being bused out of the community.

At the Walmart encampment we have been helping fortify tents with pallets and tarps and have set up a NVMA tent with info and resources. We have also been keeping overnight vigil to keep an eye on the police and ‘security’ presence and have created a rapid response network to mobilize in the case of forced evictions.

Outreach, meals, medicine-making, child care and emotional support are ongoing.

We are working with environmental orgs to help shore up some of the most vulnerable sections of the watersheds and creeks before the storm which will potentially create landslides and erosion.

Working groups and individuals are outreaching and meeting daily to assess and discuss the needs of the community with an eye towards the emergent and the long term. This disaster is going to change our community forever and we need to have a voice in shaping what that change is going to look like.

We are working on being able to facilitate out-of-area volunteers and organizations who wish to help with the project of Mutual Aid and step up the scale of what we are able to do together.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

  • We’re collecting donations on our GoFundMe page.

  • You can also help boost our Amazon wishlist. (Please make sure the North Valley Mutual Aid address in Chico is selected for delivery at checkout!)

  • And if you’re looking to help volunteer in person, we ask that you first read our mission statement (below) and our core values. We also ask for your understanding in that we are building this organization starting from scratch and so our resources and capabilities are still getting up to speed, but we are learning and growing fast! Some of the projects to plug in to could include outreach, emotional first aid, Food Not Bombs, construction projects, transportation, media, and more (and we are always open to your great ideas!).

    Also please know that this disaster is emergent and ongoing, and our commitment here is for the long term. As things on the ground change, the needs for help will change as well. We will need support and solidarity down the line.

    That said, we can use your help! If you would like to come to Chico and volunteer with NVMA please let us know the following by emailing us at nvma@riseup.net:

    NAME
    HOW MANY ARE YOU?
    DO YOU HAVE A VEHICLE? WHAT KIND?
    DO YOU NEED A PLACE TO STAY?
    HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY?
    WHAT DATES?
    ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR EXPERIENCE YOU WANT TO SHARE
    ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US?
    ANY QUESTIONS FOR US?

 

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission statement and core values are based on the collective organizing being done by Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.

The mission of NORTH VALLEY MUTUAL AID is to provide disaster relief based on the principles of solidarity, mutual aid, and autonomous direct action. By working with, listening to, and supporting impacted communities, especially their most vulnerable members, to lead their own recovery, we build long-term, sustainable and resilient communities.

NORTH VALLEY MUTUAL AID envisions strong, vibrant, resilient, connected, and empowered individuals and communities as part of an awakened civil society that will restore hope following crisis, and turn the tide against disaster capitalism and climate chaos, in favor of a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world. Whether future disasters become focal points for the powerful to entrench policies that uphold their privilege and political, social, and economic control or whether they become opportunities to build more empowered and resilient individuals and communities that strengthen our movements for radical social change is up to us and the choices we make.

 

Bonds Not Ballots

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 06:30

As another election year spectacle has come and gone, and as we inch closer to irreversible, cataclysmic shifts in our climate, we are reminded that our hope is in each other, in relationships of mutual support that bind us to each other.

 

Many of us have very differing opinions about engaging with electoral “democracy” and its (f)utility, but we find common ground in voting everyday with our bodies, putting our whole weight towards our dreams and desires, rather than merely one strip of paper or button on one day. In Florida, as another proto-fascist (DeSantis) ascends to power, we continue to plant the seeds that we know can take root and bring the fortress down.

These seeds look small: cleaning supplies, baby items, rides, medical care and companionship for a birthing immigrant mother and her family; diabetes care, paying for prescriptions, tree-cutting, supplies, and assistance finding a temporary shelter for an extended family that knows what it means to weather a storm; tarping roofs, clearing debris, checking on prisoners, distributing harm reduction kits, rescuing animals, resisting illegal evictions, applying legal pressure. We are finding, voicing, and building something together that is deeper and truer than the mirage of power authoritarianism offers.

 

Many tenants in numerous public housing facilities have successfully resisted illegal evictions, remaining in their homes while awaiting repairs or relocation. Community barbecues and make-shift stoves have emerged as landlords shut off electricity and gas to force tenants out. One woman shouts from across the street, “You with us, you may as well eat too.” We take a break from helping a new friend move to savor the food and the moment.

 

The state demonstrated its inability (or lack of will) to respond to climate catastrophes at a public town hall meeting. FEMA representatives deflected questions from an audience comprised primarily of low-income residents of color. The FEMA representatives responded robotically, patronizing the residents who sought answers about housing and financial aid. FEMA claimed that the state of Florida requested trailers on the 23rd of October but couldn’t answer to where they were or if they would even arrive at all. Residents shared their difficulties in locating housing in hotels and rentals even with the aid of vouchers and rental assistance. The nearest available housing is between 2 to 7 hours away, rendering it inaccessible to those without transportation and those with jobs, children, or families with disabilities. To this concern, a FEMA representative responded that there are three shelters available. The town hall attendees quickly corrected her, pointing out that there was only one, and it was at capacity.

Disaster Capitalism meets Disaster Bureaucracy. Top-down, bureaucratic institutions and predatory, exploitative landlords both impose their “solutions” and “participation” is just a smokescreen for coercion. Real participatory efforts necessitate sharing power, something the state and predatory capitalists avoid like the plague.

 

As the weeks pass, visual reminders of the destruction of Hurricane Michael are still ever present. But we have learned to listen. Even with the weight of governmental inaction, landlord abuse, and newfound homelessness for many, people recognize a different way of being as possible and desirable.

 

“I know my neighbors better now than I have for the past 14 years.”

 

“People are at their best when things are at their worst.”

 

“There is always good that comes from tragedy.”

 

This is what we hear from disaster survivors in Panama City. And we echo it.

 

When the grid fails, when roads are impassable, amid the profound suffering and loss, we see clearly that all we have is each other — that relationships are what matters — and when things fall apart, people come together.

 

We listen to our hearts, to each other, to strangers quickly becoming friends. We listen to the unspoken words and warnings in the winds. We listen to a world slowly dying — or being born. We are not sure which. We think it is still up to all of us and the choices we make. A movement elder taught us that we will be either the most loved or most hated generation; that we will be known as the generation that either saved or squandered life as we know it.

 

A just recovery and a just transition are necessities for our collective survival. Now is the time to experiment with ways of living that give us the flexibility and freedom to do what we know needs to be done. Now is the time to gain practical skills and knowledge that can be used to further people’s survival in crisis and beyond.

 

Storms are coming. Let’s be ready. Humanity, liberation, justice, belonging and, yes, paradise will never be on the ballot. But if we know where to look, we can still find them — in each other. 

Stronger than the Storms: Dis(ability), Power, and Friendship After Hurricane Florence

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 14:58

“I was scared, I already knew I had Jackie, a 24/7 job. My sister would have never survived in a home. They wouldn’t have given her the care. Plus she was my sister. I was probably 12/13 when I learned to feed her, change her diaper. I wasn’t seeing her go nowhere… I had my hands full. I had a little meltdown. But I was strong. I had to be,” Pam says. “We do what we got to do. We survived it. We survived it. We’re alive. We’re breathing.”

Meet Pam Lewis. Pam was one of the many heroines of Hurricane Florence. Despite having a disability herself, Pam ensured her sister with cerebral palsy who is unable to speak or walk, and her son, who also has a disability safely evacuated the floods of Hurricane Florence. When Pam’s host was hospitalized, Pam and the family returned to their flooded home. Mold was present, the air conditioner was destroyed, the electricity was not working in some areas and acted as a fire hazard throughout the house. Pam waited and actually watched FEMA walk by her house. When she called FEMA later, they said her house was inaccessible.

Pam navigated broken promises, bureaucracies, and a host of other challenges with dignity and grace, always insisting that her loved ones be treated with the respect they deserved. Older adults and people with disabilities are much more likely than the general population to be killed as a result of a disaster. Institutionalization adds to the vulnerability. Pam understands this intuitively, and has insisted on being her sister’s caregiver, come hell or high water.

Vanessa Bolin, an indigenous organizer with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief painstakingly scrolled through comments on Facebook attempting to find people overlooked. Vanessa found a comment written by a friend of Pam’s and reached out. Soon after, Vanessa organized two people to go with her: Gerome and Jimmy, to check on Pam and her family.

Jimmy and Pam quickly became friends.

Jimmy too has a disability, although he quotes the Icarus Project in affirming that madness is not a disease to be rid of, but a “dangerous gift” to be cultivated and taken care of. Despite being diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia, Jimmy is an active volunteer and coordinator with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief. In Jimmy’s words: “We don’t have visions by accident. We have visions so we can see them through into existence. When a seed breaks open, it can feel like death. But really, it’s a coming into life. Sometimes devastation, loss, and trauma, can act in the same way. Sometimes it’s only through disasters that we unearth a power within that cannot be measured or contained.”

For both Pam and Jimmy, they have found hidden strength in their vulnerability.

Over the next couple weeks, Jimmy and other Mutual Aid Disaster Relief volunteers cleared debris, brought requested supplies, networked with other individuals and organizations to get the necessary repairs done on Pam’s house to make it livable once again, assisted with mold remediation, and paid for a hotel room for Pam, her sister, and her son until they could safely return to their home.  But the friendship and connection that was established was perhaps even more meaningful to both Pam and Jimmy.

Solidarity is different from charity in that instead of “powerful” givers of aid, and “powerless” receivers of aid, all participants recognize their shared oppression and stake in each other’s survival and wellbeing. It is a transformative, mutually beneficial, and soul-filling process. Solidarity is about creating authentic relationships and friendships.

“We thought Hurricane Matthew was a once in a lifetime event,” Pam notes. Hurricane Florence flooded her home even higher than Hurricane Matthew did two years ago. “They say things are just gonna get worse. All I do is take one day at a time and do the best I can.”

Pam’s vehicles were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew two years ago. Pam had collected Barbie dolls, still in their cases, throughout her life. Her whole collection was destroyed by the floodwaters of Hurricane Florence. “They’re just things,” Pam says, with a courageous strength and wisdom.

They are just things. In truth, nothing can be taken with us in the end, except the knowledge that we have been there for each other. It may get worse. There may be more floodwaters and disasters of all kinds with such great magnitude and scope that we don’t know where to start. For us, it helps to just jump in and do one thing, however small. And suddenly, we find others doing one small thing and another and another. These drops, very slowly, become an ocean. We invite you to do one small thing too.

Please send Barbie dolls with a note of encouragement to Pam to replace these lost items and show her that we recognize her quiet strength, determination, and beauty. Packages can be addressed to:

602 S Willow St.
Lumberton, NC
28538

With love & solidarity,
– Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

Lumberton, NC: Vision and Action

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 17:31

It’s hard to believe that over a month has already passed since Hurricane Florence dropped a seemingly endless supply of rain onto eastern North Carolina.

We reflect back on the Indigenous led relief efforts out of Lumberton, NC. An effort we have been fortunate enough to be a part of.

What follows is just a snapshot. The friendships formed and the sense of possibility birthed defies quantification, but we want to give a picture of the magnitude of what people have done in the area post-Florence.

Since the passing of the storm, in addition to rescuing nearly 75 people from flood water, we have given out over 100,000 lbs of supplies directly to the community and Migrant farm workers throughout Robeson and nearby counties, passed out harm reduction kits,  tarped 10 homes,  repaired 3 roofs and a floor along with electrical wiring and an entry door.  We have and continue to do mold remediation work in multiple homes.  And  we now have a rented warehouse space to set up a food bank and supply distribution hub and have sent supplies in solidarity to communities impacted by Hurricane Michael in Florida.

We currently have 3 houses that are waiting for us to start the repairs on right away.

The Lumbee have a proud and rich history of fighting off the Klan and taking care of each other. Recent relief efforts are the latest manifestation of their fighting spirit and dedication to a better world.

Revolution.

Collapse.

Fascism.

Climate disaster.

Apocalypse.

What do these words have in common?

  1. They’re not single events, they are emergent processes
  2. They are currently happening
  3. We are all in the middle of it

Many worlds have ended. This is where the difference between world and earth are useful. Many worlds have ended. And ours will too.

Supplies and monetary donations have slowed down in Lumberton. We believe this can be attributed to media fatigue and everyone moving on, but it’s important to remember that relief efforts take time, rebuilding lives takes time and the need is still very great.

We’ve had to move out of our original distro warehouse, well… that move is happening now, that is. The good news is that we have a new permanent location for relief and community organizing. The bad news is we’re down to a skeleton crew of 3-6 people at any given point while trying to move a whole warehouse on little resources.

We have multiple critical projects we are working on, involving gutting flood damaged houses for families and making the necessary repairs. This is both costly and demands more bodies than we have. People cannot live in mold infested homes. There are children and elders and people with compromised immune systems.

All that being said, we need:

– volunteers, bodies, workers, with any or no skills (we’ll find work for you to do, there is plenty), but especially people with any background relevant to repairing these homes.

– food, water, cleaning & building supplies, baby supplies, etc.

– funds, to go toward these projects, keeping the lights on, keeping it all moving

– if more convenient, we’ve had folks send lowe’s & wal-mart gift cards, as well as cards for local grocery stores; food lion and aldi.

Those can be mailed to: 102 N Cedar St. Lumberton, NC 28358

If you can come help, please get in touch by emailing WeKeepUsSafeVC@protonmail.com or mutualaiddisasterrelief@gmail.com

The legendary Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse, once said “A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.”

We are building power while the lights are out, a power from the inside, outward and from the bottom upward. And we are following our visions through the deepest blue of the day and all the darkness that surrounds us at night. In moments of tragedy, our hope rests in each other. We know that with any disaster, there will always be flowers growing up from the rubble and ruin.

We invite you to join us.

Panama City Landlords are Finishing What Hurricane Michael Started

Sun, 10/21/2018 - 20:08

A call to action.

Hundreds of residents in low income housing projects in Panama City have gotten eviction notices in the days following the category 4 catastrophe of Hurricane Michael, which shredded the region into a state of nonrecognition.  In short, it looks like a war zone.

In an area where no bush, no tree, no building was spared in some measure by Michael’s thrashing wind gusts, were relieved occupants of impoverished communities whose walls weren’t felled.  The survivors of a storm bearing the same descriptor all storms as of late- historic- pulled through only to find landlord issued notices pinned to their doors.  The notices gave them one to three days to leave.

They were given no rent reimbursement, no contingency directive and with the caveat that all things left behind would be destroyed courtesy of land owners.

In the Macedonia Garden Apartments, the morning after landlords gave verbal assurance that residents could rest easy until November 1st when further decisions on eviction would be given, the residents woke to find 72-hour eviction notices on their doors.  And when the landlords were spotted on site, they had a small army of police escorts with them, a homage to collective years of their tenants’ rent paying and occupation which cushioned their pockets in the good times and will spell out a windfall in the bad times when the shock and awe developer brigade come sweeping through to gentrify spaces over the bones of dilapidated tenements.  The residents of which were given their marching orders on one of the worst days of their lives.

A resident of Macedonia Garden Apartments holds up their 72 hour eviction notice

Parking lots of these communities were pacing ground for evicted people with heavily limited access to fuel, alternative housing options, medication  food or running water and in a time of acute crisis.  And in a time where the ominous travesty of capitalism had awakened in a fury to look them in the eye and kick down whatever semblance of home remained with them.

As Mutual Aid Disaster Relief autonomous medics and distribution crews with trucks and vehicles full of supplies continuously came through these spaces, free legal aid information was disseminated of pro bono lawyers standing by.  Those left behind in sweltering apartments thick with moldy air, were still waiting for FEMA after they had already cancelled two appointments to get assessments for residents’ federal assistance.

FEMA’s cancellations and no shows came in the aftermath of their delivered directions to occupants who were waiting for them that “every person who lives in the home must be present at the house when we come for the assessment.”  Thus, what a cancelled appointment looks like is a mother of a one-year old baby staying in an apartment for days on end which is half exposed to open air and “with nails and ceiling falling on us when we are inside.”  With the looming deadline for their eviction notice, some families can’t leave because FEMA is coming.  “And we can’t not be here when they arrive.

To further the atmosphere of high anxiety and despair, whereas there the absence of FEMA is heavily felt, so is the concentrated presence of police and military back-dropping the destruction.  These disaster colonialism actors zip through the streets, cutting through traffic in multi-dozen vehicle caravans and post up with military outside of collapsed houses of commodity where products that have been laid bare are causing a frenzy of panic to capitalist watchdog law enforcement.  Police have been arresting people in violation of the sun-up to sun-down curfew in desperate effort to quell the scenes of frenzied looters from their darkest post law and order fantasies.

While efforts to guard hurricane felled liquor stores are in full effect, climate catastrophe jerks forward, promising favorable profit margins for those who sweep forth in their wake.  What future do we have when literal armies are assembled to alienate the masses from goods post-disaster while nary a feather is ruffled within these military and militarized bodies who enforce status quo deregulations to ensure the train of society is propelled ever faster down the tracks towards environmental destruction?

ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with CBP Customs and Border ‘Protection’ who are fresh off of earth quaked by their participation in the abduction and imprisonment of hundreds of migrant children and the families they were torn from.  These modern day kidnappers and human traffickers declared border enforcement ops frozen during and in the aftermath of hurricane Michael, yet reports flooded in through social media of CBP standing by as police gatekeepers trickled hoarded goods to ID checked community members in food distro lines.

Dozens upon dozens of lit up CBP vehicles flanked with police escorts flew through traffic throughout the days following the storm.  No matter what purpose for their highly visible and highly invasive presence in the hurricane devastated region, the tension and fear their vehicles stoked was in direct opposition to any possible assistance they could possibly state they were contributing to storm traumatized communities.

The script is the same.  And has been for decades. “This strategy has been a silent partner to the imposition of neoliberalism for more than 40 years. Shock tactics follow a clear pattern: wait for a crisis, declare a moment of what is sometimes called “extraordinary politics”, suspend some or all democratic norms – and then ram the corporate wishlist through as quickly as possible.” Here, Naomi Klein lays bare the shock and awe playbook of disaster capitalism, of which the Florida panhandle is being carved with the blueprint of at this moment- as residents pace, as military gathers, as police occupation supersedes any semblance of meaningful federal relief.

We are mobilizing to hold the landlords accountable, remove the specter of police and military from catastrophe stunted communities, exist in resistance to the prioritization of profit and opportunism over people and community and the substantive victory of solidarity over charity.

Liberation is a bridge.

They have defined disaster and we are left to define recovery.

 

 

The post Panama City Landlords are Finishing What Hurricane Michael Started appeared first on Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.

Solidarity Through The Storms

Fri, 10/19/2018 - 19:40

Greetings, comrades and co-conspirators!

To say that we at Mutual Aid Disaster Relief have been busy the past few weeks would be putting it mildly. Between our ongoing recovery efforts in the Carolinas following the fallout of Hurricane Florence to our new struggles in the Florida panhandle in the wake of Hurricane Michael, Mutual Aid Disaster Relief has been making an active effort to respond to climate catastrophes with compassion and solidarity. Our training tour is also in full swing on the West coast. Included in this post are links to other recent updates on our website, interviews and podcast appearances exploring the work of Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and a list of ways you can donate or get involved in the relief efforts.

A little over a week ago, Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida panhandle, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane. Hurricane Michael collided with Panama Beach, FL with reported 12-13’ storm-surge swamping and subsequently demolishing homes in Mexico Beach, FL. Florida, a state known for its year-round tourism and exquisite beauty, witnessed the terrible ferocity of a natural disaster exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and late-stage capitalism. Click here for the initial post-Hurricane Michael update: Mutual Aid Efforts in the Wake of Hurricane Michael. 10/11/18

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept into the Florida panhandle with a ferocity unlike anything seen in the region’s recorded history. The intensity of the devastation is difficult to overstate, if not impossible. We caught a glimpse of the future this week in the Florida panhandle. And the future is bleak. Click here to read Dual-Power in a Three-Way Fight: Critical Reflections on Hurricane Michael, 10/14/18

Together with Fight Toxic Prisons, we helped organize a phone zap to urge the evacuation of prisoners in the path of Hurricane Michael: URGENT: Hurricane Michael Phone Zap, 10/10/18. Ongoing disaster prisoner solidarity is still needed.

To read about our efforts standing in solidarity with farmworkers in North Carolina, click here: (In)visible Disasters: Farmworkers and Hurricane Florence. 10/8/18

In Lumberton, NC we are in the process of transitioning to a long-term space. In Panama City, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bay County has been generous enough to let us use their space to serve the community.

Here are some podcast interviews & appearances exploring this work more in depth:

–         The Final Straw interviews Vanessa Bolin of MADR, indigenous solidarity in NC

–         The Final Straw: Mutual Aid in the Wake of Hurricane Michael

–         By Any Means Necessary, MADR Discussion

–         Coffee with Comrades, Ep. 15: “Solidarity, Not Charity” Feat. Jimmy Dunson

–         It’s Going Down: This is America, Ep. 35

–         MADR’s latest update was also read aloud on Ep. 20 of The Guillotine

–         The Hotwire, Ep. 41: October 17, 2018

As always, for quicker updates and to follow the ongoing work more closely, you can always check in on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

As Naomi Klein notes, there is a battle for paradise taking place. This is happening in Puerto Rico, in Texas, in North Carolina, Florida, and wherever disasters strike. Disaster survivors do need your support and solidarity. Displacement and trauma while in homes or communities made unrecognizable are the realities. And so is the reality of people coming together and creating a better world in the ruins of the old. Many pathways for autonomous relief and response alongside community led efforts exist. Please consider donating to Mutual Aid Disaster Relief or one of our comrades’ organizations doing disaster relief work.

–         Mutual Aid Disaster Relief Donation Page
–         Tallahassee DSA Fund
–         Florida People’s Advocacy Center
–         Amazon Wish-list for the FL Panhandle 
–         Amazon Wish-list for the Carolinas
–         Blue Ridge Autonomous Defense 
–         Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice
–         Tidewater Community Hurricane Fund
–         NC Solidarity Network
–         Mutual Aid Carrboro 
–         Appalachian Medical Solidarity
–         Support the Port
–         BeLoved Asheville
–         NC WARN
–         Blueprint
–         Proyecto Apoyo Mutuo de Mariana
–         Centros de Apoyo Mutuo
–         West Street Recovery

Or better yet, if you would like to join us in assisting with relief and recovery efforts, email mutualaiddisasterrelief@gmail.com .  Arborists, people with chainsaw experience, people with construction experience, Spanish speakers, and people able to do mobile distribution with their vehicles are especially needed at this time. If you would like to assist from afar, that is always welcome as well. If you don’t know where to start, consider a tool or other supply drive or hosting a benefit show. Just get in touch and we can explore these and other ways of plugging in.

Thanks, as always, for your support and solidarity.

With love and rage,
– Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

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Dual-Power in a Three-Way Fight: Critical Reflections on Hurricane Michael

Sun, 10/14/2018 - 15:09

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept into the Florida panhandle with a ferocity unlike anything seen in the region’s recorded history. The intensity of the devastation is difficult to overstate, if not impossible. We caught a glimpse of the future this week in the Florida panhandle. And the future is bleak.

Over and over, we found ourselves saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this.” We watched U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hoard food and water in an Altha, FL warehouse swarming with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents lying in wait to kidnap and deport undocumented migrants who were desperate enough to seek supplies. We fought through roadways burdened with debris to access rural communities where folks are literally trapped inside their homes without food or water while the Florida police stand around arbitrarily blocking traffic with squad cars, prevaricating with their hands in their pockets.

People in Lynn Haven, FL were told they had three days to clear their belongings out of their eviscerated homes in Pinnacle Apartment complex or their remaining belongings would be tossed in the trash. The tenants’ October rent was not yet returned as they were kicked to the curb. We saw a middle school in Blountstown, FL that had its roof ripped off, strewing yellow, water-logged insulation all across the parking lot. The entry hall to the school had the words “In god we trust” written along its frame, looking over a ransacked foyer of shattered glass, overturned furniture, and broken computers tossed end-over-end by hurricane-force winds. We harbor doubts that the school will ever be rebuilt.

Trees were bent like toothpicks, entire forests reaching to the horizon leveled by tornadoes, snapped cleanly in half in stunning uniformity as if the hand of god had reached down from the heavens to topple them. We looked into the tired eyes set in starving, sun-burnt, haggard faces of people looking for just a single water bottle to quench their thirst.

Homes flattened. Community centers ripped asunder by tornadoes. And all the while not a single FEMA vehicle or distribution center in-sight.

The folks directly impacted by these disasters are often marginalized communities of color and ecological collapse breeds environmental racism. Disaster capitalists take advantage of these communities—as they did in New Orleans and Puerto Rico—turning these traumas into profits. Predators lurk in every corner, seeking ways to benefit from the disaster relief efforts of grassroots organizers. Politicians eager to pose for photo-ops with chainsaws or pizza dinners sit comfortably in homes powered by gas generators while many languish in the heat of the Sunshine State without energy to power their A/C or charge their electronics.

The American Empire is in fierce decline. The global economic system is on the brink of full-scale collapse. We have yet to recover from the ’08 recession and experts predict the next economic crisis is just around the corner. Anthropogenic climate change is currently overturning the apparatuses of neoliberalism, fomenting the rise of full-scale fascism. As capitalist countries and corporations continue to exploit the global south for its resources, arable land shrinks and regions of the planet become inhospitable to human life. The far-right has their response ready: blame the immigrants and refugees, scapegoat people of color, and build an ethnostate devoted to patriarchy and white supremacy.

What will our answer be?

The state is not coming to save you. Capitalists aren’t going to rescue you. We are going to have to help each other. Mutual aid is a factor of evolution. Solidarity, not charity, is our refuge in times such as these.

Hurricane Michael is not a warning, it is a promise. This Category 4 storm reveals the limits of neoliberalism and the perils of our contemporary moment. We sit on a precipice, teetering on the very brink. As anthropogenic climate change accelerates the collapse of state infrastructure, working class and marginalized people are stranded in the mires of dehydration, starvation, addiction, and homelessness.

If we truly believe in the project of creating a better world, then we must possess the humility to shed our ideological purity in efforts to meet the material needs of human beings. We need to get offline and be organizing in the streets, practicing communication that centers those impacted by ecological crisis while simultaneously responding in an egalitarian manner than prizes consensus and snuffs out hierarchy and bureaucracy. Urgency is just as essential as strategy in the midst of these crises. These are just a handful of the lessons we’ve learned mobilizing for disaster relief here on the ground.

We struggle at times to see hope in the future. Often, if we’re being forthright, many of us see little to inspire optimism. Anthropogenic climate change is horrifying to behold. We are in the opening moments of a global shift, an epoch maligned by industrial waste and late-stage capitalist excess. Climate change isn’t something that will happen; it is something happening right now. If we are to confront these systems rationally, we must immediately cease speaking of global warming as if it is some event in the future. Rather, it is something we find ourselves at the center of at this very moment.

As the state cedes zones and territory to collapse—as it has in Flint, Michigan and in Puerto Rico—we find opportunities to build new forms of community and fellowship in the ashes. We can flee, retreat, abdicate our responsibility to ourselves and to one another. Or we can recognize that it is the obligation of those who have everything to help those who have nothing. The maxim “From each according to their ability; to each according to their need” is not a trite axiom. We must develop robust ways to protect and defend one another if we are to survive.

To that end, consider this an invitation. Get organized. One of the predominant sentiments that us community-organizers in the Panhandle have returned to time and again in recent days is, “I wish we were more prepared.” Preparation is vital if we are to develop the resiliency to defend our communities from social and ecological crises. Building food kitchens, community-centers, and intersectional organizations is not extraordinarily sexy work—it doesn’t get lots of retweets or shares on the internet. But it will make a difference between whether or not people go hungry.

We do not know if we will win. Some days, many of us don’t think we will. But we do not fight fascists because we will win. We fight fascists because they are fascist. Our Sisyphian hopes and all our struggles may, in the end, prove futile. But we will love and we will rage. We will create and we will destroy. We will build dual-power in this three-way-fight. And we will do all in our collective power to build a better world in the shell of the old.

Community-organizers on the ground will continue to need your support in the days, weeks, and months ahead. If you cannot come to the Florida panhandle to participate in the ongoing relief efforts, please consider supporting the organizations doing this vital work on the ground.

Tallahassee DSA Fund

Florida People’s Advocacy Center

Mutual Aid Disaster Relief

Amazon Wishlist

The post Dual-Power in a Three-Way Fight: Critical Reflections on Hurricane Michael appeared first on Mutual Aid Disaster Relief.

Mutual Aid efforts in the wake of Hurricane Michael

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 18:48

Wednesday night, Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida panhandle, making landfall as a Category 4 hurricane—the fiercest storm in recorded history to strike the region. Hurricane Michael collided with Panama Beach, FL with reported 12-13’ storm-surge swamping and subsequently demolishing homes in Mexico Beach, FL. Florida, a state known for its year-round tourism and exquisite beauty, witnessed the terrible ferocity of a natural disaster exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and late-stage capitalism.

The so-called United States and its various colonies have been wracked by climate change and not-so-natural disasters over the past two years. Irma, Maria, Florence—Michael is just the latest in an extensive lineage of traumas that working class people have suffered at the mercy of global warming. The IPCC recently released a heavily discussed report on the future of the planet and it looks increasingly dire.

Yet, in the wake of such a storm, the Tallahassee community came together to support, defend, and empower each other.

Starting at 9am Thursday morning, folks affiliated with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, Tallahassee DSA, the Dream Defenders, the Poor People’s Campaign, and Tallahassee PSL met in historic Frenchtown just a stone’s throw away from the capitol of Florida. Our crew moved out through the area, sweeping down major road-ways, then side-streets, clearing out trash and debris. As we went, we passed out water, sandwiches, snacks, and had conversations with folks from all walks of life.

We saw inspiring acts of mutual aid from our neighbors, some of whom jumped at the chance to lend their solidarity to the clean-up efforts.

“Why are you folks out here?” one group of brothers asked us.

“We’re just trying to be good neighbors,” one comrade replied.

For the next hour, the brothers helped us clean up 3 different streets. Disasters have a way of bringing people together, bridging the arbitrary divides that the state or capital attempt to thrust between us. As these barriers collapse, humanity flourishes. In the face of an apathetic apparatus that segregates our communities, we can find hope in our shared nature. As the state continues to self-immolate from its crises and contradictions, we can seize the moment and take the initiative to protect and defend our communities. The ethos of solidarity, not charity offers us a path beyond climate catastrophe and towards the never-ending struggle of building a better world in the shell of the old.

For those in Tallahassee, FL Florida People’s Advocacy Center in Tally is a safe space for people to come for disaster relief. The Florida People’s Advocacy Center is trans* inclusive and welcomes undocumented folks.

If you’re not in the Tallahassee area but would like to donate, you can do so here:
Tallahassee DSA Fund
Mutual Aid Disaster Relief
Amazon Wishlist for the Panhandle

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URGENT: Hurricane Michael Phone Zap

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 06:16

 

Hurricane Michael, now a Category 4, is slated to be the worst hurricane to hit Florida in over 100 years and the the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) refuses to evacuate 15 state prisons in mandatory evacuation zones.

We need your help putting pressure on each state to ensure the horrors that happened at FCI Beaumont during Hurricane Harvey don’t happen again. This tactic proved effective just last month when North Carolina and Virginia evacuated prisons ahead of Hurricane Florence!

Demands-
  1. Immediate evacuation of all prisoners from every State Prison in the Mandatory Evacuation zone.
  2. Stockpiling of Water and Food at every facility that may be impacted by power outages.
Numbers to Call-

FDC Region 1 Director Angela Gordon (angela.gordon@fdc.myflorida.com)

Phone – (850) 627-5511

FDC Region 2 Director Eric V. Hummel (erich.hummel@fdc.myflorida.com)

Phone – (386) 496-6000

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Southeastern Regional Office- (678) 686-1200

No word on: FCI Marianna, FPC Pensacola, FCI Tallahassee

When you get a response use #EvacuateFLPrisoners and tweet @FightToxicPrisons & @iwoc_gnv! Numbers aren’t working? Tweet us with number updates too! 

If you can, record the phone call and email it to us. If it turns out they’re lying, we’ll have voice-recorded evidence. (Email FightToxicPrisons@gmail.com)

Also, we don’t trust ANY Department of Corrections. Per Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s advice, “If you know any prisoners in this storm path, it’s important to tell them to fill up any containers or bags with water NOW!! Prisons are notorious for not giving adequate drinking water to prisoners if any at all after the water is contaminated.”

Still Have Energy? Tweet the link to this post to any journalists and news outlets you can think of!

List of Prisons That Haven’t Evacuated in Mandatory Evacuation Zones:

Bay County

Bay Correctional Facility

Citrus County

Citrus County Detention Facility

Dixie County

Cross City Corrections Department and East Unit

Gadsden County

Gadsden Correctional Facility

Quincy Annex

Gulf County

Gulf Correctional Institution Annex

Jackson County

Jackson County Corrections

Liberty Correctional Institution

Apalachee Correctional Institution, East Unit

Jefferson County

Jefferson Correctional Institution

  • UPDATE 8:40am EST- The wife of a prisoner reports that “My husband is in Jefferson CI and they sandbagged all the entrances, they will leave the phones on all day today for them to keep in contact with us.” She is advising him to tell everyone he knows to fill up anything they can with water.

Levy County

Levy County Jail

Okaloosa County

Okaloosa Correctional Institution and Work Camp

Taylor County

Taylor Correctional Institution and Work Camp

Wakulla County

Wakulla Correctional Institution

Walton County

Walton Correctional Institution

Franklin County

Franklin County Jail Facility (Right on Coast) Phone: +1 850-670-8500

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(In)visible Disasters: Farmworkers and Hurricane Florence

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 06:19

Even without a devastating hurricane, farmworkers face slow, steady invisible disasters of low wages, unsafe working conditions, the breath of ICE down their necks, wage theft, and even modern day slavery. Organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, United Farmworkers, and Farm Labor Organizing Committee are working to change this reality.

However, for many farmworkers, change can’t come fast enough. During the floods of Hurricane Florence, county officials ignored 911 calls from migrant farmworkers abandoned and trapped in the floodwaters, proving once again that we are all we have and we cannot rely on the authorities or “experts” in times of crisis. We must be there for each other.

Post-Florence, farmworkers in North Carolina continue to work tirelessly in tobacco, sweet potato, and other fields. In some instances, workers are wading through over a foot of flooded farmland digging up sweet potatoes. Moldy potatoes go in one bucket, and non moldy potatoes go in another. Workers are not given a minimum wage, but instead paid .40 – .50 cents per bucket for this demanding work, and are threatened if they report abuses.

Many farmworkers in North Carolina were out of work for weeks after Hurricane Florence. Since the storm, we have been steadily getting culturally appropriate food and other needed supplies directly into the hands of migrant farmworkers.

We are currently accepting volunteers to assist in these and other Hurricane Florence relief and recovery efforts. We especially could use more Spanish speakers, skilled workers, and logistics folks, but physical labor and drivers are needed as well. We are asking people to make a 4-14 day commitment. If interested, send an email to WeKeepUsSafeVC@protonmail.com

No matter how many times we hear it, these words always cut deep, and leave us with hearts in freefall and our eyes fighting back tears: “You are the first help we’ve seen.”

We know the disaster didn’t begin with Hurricane Florence. Migrant farmworkers in communities from Florida, to North Carolina, to California are struggling daily through ongoing crises and inviting us to walk side by side and envision a revolution in the agricultural industry ensuring dignity and safe, just working conditions for all farmworkers. We also know that there are times when solidarity doesn’t look like a march, but instead frijoles, tortillas, and hot sauce shared without stigmatizing roles or paternalistic hands.

If your hands want to join with ours, if your feet long to find themselves walking these paths, there is much work to be done. And we are only limited by our imaginations.

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