Downstairs Seabreeze, Cob on Wood. Say their names. Like the names of so many of our dead, they are the names of two California Bay Area homeless encampments. But to say their names is to remember their history.
Last Monday morning I received this SOS:
“Live from the eviction happening NOW at Downstairs Seabreeze. There is an abundance of COPs but no one from the #CityofBerkeley. No one from #MentalHealth. No one from the new shelter in #HorizonTransitionalVillage. There is no one here offering hope, options, or shelter.” You can watch what happened Monday at University and 2nd in Berkeley.
Say their name.
Cob On Wood
End of July one of many articles appeared describing Cob on Wood, the homeless encampment at the intersection of Wood Street near Beech St. under the 880 freeway. It is state owned land, but it is the place where cops bulldozing other encampments tell homeless people to go so they can be left alone. Cob on Wood is an indigenous type of construction. The encampment was started by a local activist whose organization Essential Food and Medicine teamed up with a tiny home building group, Artists Building Communities, and a local construction business called Living Earth Structures who began building Cob on Wood on a former junk yard piled high with torched abandoned cars, illegally dumped building materials and trash. It housed its own medical clinic, shower, kitchen, free store, garden and pizza ovens.
It restored dignity and will to live to countless homeless people. You can read about it here:
But the land is the property of the State. The State saw no reason to clean up when it was a dump, and now that people were on it, the State in its mighty wisdom came to tear it down. No one sent me an SOS.
Say their name.
On August 4, WaPo reported Cori Bush slept on the wind whipped steps of the U.S. Capitol as rain fell. After three nights during which she was joined by activists and fellow Democratic lawmakers, the White House suddenly remembered that, altho Congress was happy to award the Pentagon trillions of “defense” dollars to kill more people and thereby hasten planetary climate collapse the IPCC has just described as close to the tipping point, it would adjourn having done nothing to extend the eviction moratorium, putting millions of Americans at risk of homelessness during a pandemic.
Everyone in Congress needs to live homeless for a month to begin to understand why a nation that can allocate trillions for war and weaponry must manage to house its people, feed and clothe them, and restore their dignity and will to live, and provide them with living wage jobs.
Cori Bush describes her time living homeless with her children: “When I was living out of my car, I did not know where we were going to eat, use the bathroom, rest or enjoy a quiet moment. I used McDonald’s bathrooms to mix baby formula and wash my body because I had no other options. I received food from food pantries, but I could not eat the items that had to be refrigerated or cooked. This never ending instability, combined with the constant fear of interacting with the police, losing custody of my children, having my car impounded — even losing my life — left me stressed, traumatized and exhausted.”
Now imagine Nancy Pelosi with her 2 gelato-full freezers writing that.
If you could write to Cori Bush, what would you want to say to her? See sample letter provided below:
Rep. Cori Bush
563 Cannon House Office Bldg.
Washington D.C. 20515
Thank you for doing what I could not join you doing. It’s not everyone — and almost no one in Congress — who would choose to sleep on the Capitol steps in the wind and rain, inside a soaked-through sleeping bag to make a point. Thank you for representing us, the millions of Americans at risk of homelessness during a pandemic and for those millions more living in encampments along the railroad rights of way throughout the United States. Homelessness is very much a part of California life. The attitudes of housed people ranges from “call the police” to genuine grief to see our fellow beings reduced to lives that challenge their very existence. To my own way of thinking, our entire society suffers from the misery of its few.
Thank you for breaking the Congressional tradition of suits and red ties and pearls to get right to the point: impoverished Americans have had only a tiny minority representing us since the Democratic party chose to become a second business party aping the old Republican party, which seems to have morphed into a separatist movement.
As long as money and politics are linked, as long as Congresspersons can move their investment money providing they make their financial maneuvers public, as long as they are beholden to corporations for moneys that allow them to conduct the campaigns that keep them in office, impoverished Americans will never again have the representation we had under the old Democratic party before it discovered greed. I hope that you and the other members of the Progressive Caucus will fight to get money out of politics, and to restore some sense of balance where CEO pay does not exceed 1000% of ordinary worker’s wages.
I hope that you and the Progressive Caucus will motivate our government to allocate some of the trillions it invests in militarism, war, and the consumption of fossil fuel that military activities entail in caring for its people, housing, clothing, feeding and educating them.
Thank you for your good example in getting right to the point. Camping out is worth hours of empty rhetoric.
DONATE to Cori Bush.
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