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SURVIVORS VILLAGE

SPRING CELEBRATION AND

TREE PLANTING CEREMONY

 

On Sunday, March 20, 2011 we will plant trees at the FIGHTBACK center in honor of Troy Avery and Ms. Gloria Irving & create a living testament to the hard work and sacrifice that they gave to the St. Bernard community.

 

This will be followed by a celebration of the continued struggle that we will wage in their honor and memory.

 

WE INVITE ALL OF OUR FRIENDS AND ALLIES TO

JOIN US AT THE FIGHTBACK CENTER

FOR OUR FIRST DAY OF SPRING CELEBRATION.

 

Date: Sunday March 20, 2011

Time: 3 pm. until ??

Place: The FIGHTBACK Center

3820 Alfred St.

New Orleans, LA

 

please bring a dish/drink or both to share if you are able

On Saturday, February 12, 2011 there was another spirited and successful work day at the FIGHTBACK center. The amount of work that has been accomplished in the last year is amazing, and I am truly grateful to the group of volunteers who have become passionate and consistent workers at the center.


The building at 3820 Alfred Street is the last vestige of the history of the struggle that was waged for decades in the St. Bernard community. It was really wonderful interacting with the many former residents of the community who came over to discuss the history of the building with the Delta corps volunteers during an earlier workday on MLK Day. I had forgotten some of the contributions that this building has made to the community and how many people had special times and events associated with it that they were anxious to share with others.


Since 1989, when the building was purchased by the New Day Black Community Development Corporation until now, this building has had only one purpose, to serve the people. Based on what was shared on MLK day it did its job well. As the headquarters for the movement, a daycare center, open office space for community residents, drug prevention services, youth recreation and social services, sponsoring sports teams and Sunday functions, headquarters for armed struggle against drug dealers during the crack epidemic, church services and other functions that even I didn’t know about.


I am looking forward to continuing this history in the future. The entire movement to stand up for the rights of people to safe, decent and sanitary housing post-Katrina was launched from this building, and the upcoming struggle for the right of the community to determine the future of this area will be based at this building.  I am very thankful to those that have seen and accepted my vision for the future use of the center.

On March 20, as spring returns to the earth, I plan to plant a liberation flag in front of the center and fruit trees for Mama Glo and Troy Avery, two passionate and strong community warriors who we lost in the past year. I hope to see you there.

Endesha

Another work day was held on Saturday, Feb 12. We cleared the back yard of all debris, and it is now ready for planting of a community garden. The reusable wood from the demolished portion in the back of the building has been separated into neat piles, and we have a good start on removing the nails from it. Here are some pictures from the workday:

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Survivors Village joins with other groups nationwide this Valentines Day to stand against the proposed cuts to housing.  Click on the link below to read more and HAVE A HEART!

Fact Sheet on Pending Housing Cuts

Also see this press release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition

Update 2/22:   For more info on the House budget proposal:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/2012-budget-housing-aid-house-gop_n_824189.html

Five years ago, on the Martin Luther King Birthday holiday in 2006, a group of public housing residents and New Orleans community activists announced that they were going to begin cleaning up public housing units and urging residents to return to their homes. In response, the federal government built six feet barbed wire fences around most of the public housing in the city and announced that residents would not be allowed to return to their homes and that most of the public housing in the city would be demolished.

On the Martin Luther King birthday holiday in 2007, hundreds of residents and community activists from around the city tore down the fences in the St. Bernard development and allowed residents to reclaim their space, recover their personal items and briefly occupy the places they called home prior to hurricane Katrina and the government caused flooding of the city.

The long struggle for the recognition of the right to housing in New Orleans and the rest of the nation continued this Martin Luther King birthday holiday, January 17, 2011, when a large and energetic group of volunteers from the Delta Corps joined a spirited group of community members in investing their time and effort into rehabilitating a building that is called the FIGHTBACK center. This building is a former community center, day care center, youth development center and headquarters for the New Day organization, a long time advocacy group in the St. Bernard community. It also was the base and beginning point for the post Katrina housing struggle in the city of New Orleans.

Those who continue to struggle for safe, decent, and sanitary housing as a human right plan to use this building to rebuild the spirit and continue the struggle. As we move to help the residents of Iberville fight for their survival, organize a renters rights movement, fight against the selling off of public housing

to private banks, link our local struggle with the national movements, and fight for public policies that are fair and just to those who lack the resources to represent themselves, the FIGHTBACK center will be a vital base from which to launch our struggle.

As I emphasized to our volunteers on Monday, we do not have time to worship the accomplishments of others: “ Each generation has an historical mission to either accomplish or betray”.

Martin Luther King Jr accomplished his mission, its our turn now !!

Before and After:

the back of the Fight Back Center before the workday

the back of the Fight Back Center after all the good work...

and some more pictures of all the good work!  

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photos by Kwame Juakali & David Ferris

The Survivor’s Village headquarters is located in an old community center on Alfred St. in St. Bernard. On Jan 17, Delta Corps members removed the shutters and began stripping the aluminum siding of paint to prep it for new paint. We scraped window trim and soffit. We deconstructed the back shed area, salvaged and removed nails from the lumber to be reused. We cleaned the back area as much as we could – we filled an entire dumpster until it was spilling over the top. We removed stumps along the south wall, to make way for raised beds of herbs and vegetables. Some things did not go as planned, yet we still got a lot of work done.

Neighbors and supporters told us about the history of this building and this block, as a place where babies were cared for while parents were at work, kids were offered tutoring and mentorship, teenagers would come and dance and socialize, and neighbors could congregate to make groceries and conversation together. SV cooked us lunch – grilled chicken (donated by Magnola Meat Market), salad (donated from Our School at Blair Grocery and Hollygrove Market and Farm), and Stephanie’s white beans and rice (made vegetarian specially for us). Endesha reminded us that Survivor’s Village started 5 years ago on Martin Luther King Day at this center to promote the right to housing, the right to dignity, and the right to self-determination of poor communities in New Orleans. We were led on foot through the new Columbia Parc development, and around the blighted and largely vacant neighborhood adjacent. “St. Bernard and other displaced residents have fought and fought against losing their homes, against losing their community,” Endesha told me. “I want this building to be the center of positive development in the neighborhood, something people can fight for and believe in.”

I am proud that our network took some leadership from Survivor’s Village and leveraged some of our resources to further their mission. I am proud of our ongoing effort to learn from SV and from the residents of New Orleans, to listen and respect the experiences of ordinary people. I am also proud of our effort to engage in an honest dialogue with SV about housing and about their struggle, despite some reservations, confusion, or discomfort we may have experienced.

Reading the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I recognize that he always chose love. In the face of white hatred, bigotry, and withdrawal, and African American fury, frustration, and disenchantment, King implored us to love, as a choice and an action, which means to challenge one another, to be humble, caring, responsible, nonviolent, honest, respectful, and committed. This is my favorite quote:

 

“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

There are many people, neighborhoods and organizations in New Orleans and across the world working to change their circumstances for the better, to free themselves from domination and injustice, to create loving community. Our fate is bound up with theirs, “pressed down, shaken together, and running over,” in a larger struggle to realize Dr. King’s dream, to make a world where we can all realize our potential. We all bring valuable knowledge and resources to this mission. Let us be aware, let us learn and teach, let us love, and let us have faith in our potential.

This coming Monday, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, a group of 40 volunteers from the Delta corps will work to clear up all the violations the city have cited for the FIGHTBACK center. This is a great and much needed action.

It is very appropriate that it happens on MLK birthday for it was on this day in 2006 and at this building that the long struggle to preserve public housing and the right to safe, decent, and sanitary housing for poor people in New Orleans was started.

It is very important that we preserve this building as the base for our continued efforts to represent the interest of the poor, black, and unwanted survivors of the war against the poor in the city, state, and nation. Last year at this time the building was unoccupied and was a major eyesore, which made it a target for the city. We occupied the building and have made major progress with the help of a small but dedicated group of volunteers–the FIGHTBACK CENTER (FBC) ACTION group. We have made the building both viewable and usable. We have water, electricity, and plumbing. The yard is in decent shape and we are prepared to start gardening soon.

With your help we can remove the dangers of demolition and/or liens being placed on the building this Monday. We will have many workers.  All we need is the materials to do the work. A small donation or a Home Depot or Lowes gift card from you could help solve this problem. If you are in New Orleans and can donate or loan materials, see the list of needed supplies below.

If you can help please let us know. Donations can be mailed to the FIGHTBACK CENTER at 3820 Alfred St. , New Orleans, LA 70120.

The struggle continues…with your help! Thanks ! Endesha

Supplies we Need:

Dumpster

New hack saw blades

Gloves ( 30 pairs)

Masks

Eye Shields

Nails and Screws

1x4s, 2x4s, plywood

Brushes and rollers

Sand Paper

Sander

Caulk

Wood Siding

Scaffolding

Paper plates, forks etc.

Water

Port-a-potty ($60 – $70/ month)

Tissue paper

Sharon Jasper keeps her voucher!!

A major victory for residents and the movement!

The recent failure of the housing authority to take away Sister Sharon Jasper’s voucher is a major defeat for (King) David Gilmore and the regressive forces that are currently managing HUD/HANO. Make no mistake, King David needed his other subjects to understand that not groveling at his feet could have serious and dreadful consequences. When he summoned Ms. Jasper to his throne, and told her that if she would apologize, he would stop the termination process and she showed up with her lawyers, refusing to give up her dignity and self respect, and accepted the threat of homelessness, she set a bad precedent for his other subjects.

The cat is out of the bag now: the king is not invincible. He can be beat. Residents can fight back and win. The Jasper case shows that.

NOW ON TO IBERVILLE!!

This victory also shows that there is still a very strong, diverse group of social justice activists in the city of New Orleans, and the struggle appears to be getting its second wind after the devastation of December 20, 2007 and the great sadness that enveloped all of us after we lost the battle to preserve the public housing communities after Hurricane Katrina.

The local movement has been joined by strong support group of national and international progressive social justice activists. This is a very important development because New Orleans will be the epicenter of the attempt to implement all of the private property related initiatives that the right envision for the next decade. Subsequently, we need progressive forces to continue to support the front line forces and soldiers as we fight to stop the flood of injustice and greed that has infected our city since we were weakened by Hurricane Katrina.

We must stay on the battle field with our swords and shields held high!!

 

FUTURE BATTLEGROUNDS :

  • the “one strike rule” is cruel and unjust on its face and has caused many poor black women to lose their homes. It must go!!
  • Iberville must be preserved for current residents and preserved in a manner in keeping with their right to self-determination!!
  • PETRA must be opposed!!

 

Many thanks to all who have fought these battles with us thus far!!

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES…

Sharon Jasper found guilty of battery in Municipal court.

The attempt by the government to punish our sister Sharon Jasper for standing up for her constitutional rights continued today as a judge found her guilty of battery and sentenced her to time served.

It is clear that the persons behind the campaign of racial and ethnic cleansing in the city of New Orleans see Ms. Jasper as a dangerous symbol of strength and resistance, and are persecuting her in an attempt to strike fear into other residents and discourage future dissent, even as they remove poor people from the valuable land that they occupied prior to the storm and place it in the hands of the white and/or middle class citizens.

Ms Jasper left the court with her

head held high and vowed not to be

intimidated and to continue the fight

for safe, decent, and sanitary

housing for all citizens.

The trial today was a part of an all out attack on Ms. Jasper.  Yesterday, she and her supporters spent all day at the housing authority in a hearing to determine whether she can maintain her voucher and continue to have affordable housing.

We must all say  HANDS OFF MS. JASPER’S VOUCHER

and support her appeal of this unjust conviction!!

Watch for an announcement early next week about the next step in this struggle and ways you can support Ms. Jasper.

HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!!

the struggle continues…

UPCOMING EVENTS


Sharon Jasper’s fight against HANO and HUD is coming to a head this month.

Voucher termination hearing: October 27, 2010 at 10 am.

Info about location will be forthcoming.

Final verdict on her trial will be the next day–October 28, 2010 4pm —Municipal Court Section D

WE NEED EVERYONE TO SHOW UP AND SUPPORT MS. JASPER IN HER FIGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH!!

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SURVIVORS VILLAGE MEETING

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2010

3PM at the FIGHTBACK Center

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