The Heavy Worlds of our Unhoused Lives- Homefulness Un-Tour Across Mama Earth


admin_general - Posted on 22 November 2021

Homefulness Un-Tour Across Mama Earth

By Tiburcio García /POORMAGAZINE 

Youth povertySkola 

 

It was the story of John that paled the brilliance of the leaves of orange, red and yellow behind him. His eyes glistened as he told me of everything that could have been. Him, along with many others I interviewed, needed a place they could call home even if they didn’t want to be surrounded by four walls. We went to Eugene to do a workshop that we have done before, capturing the heavy worlds of our unhoused family, flowing through my ears, and into my heart and mind. 

 

The moment I slipped and slid down the metal stairway of the airplane, and out into the stinging winter air, I felt that history was going to be made. Us seven poverty scholars were going to three cities, doing two workshops, one tour, and two readings, in four days. From the moment we piled out of the airport and back into the cool Bellingham air, we knew exactly what we were going to do over the next few days. The next morning  after wolfing down a full breakfast and reading over the scripts for the five hundredth time we were on the move. 

 

We needed to reach out to houseless people in the area and let them know what we were doing, as well as record their stories and give them 20$ in return. We met Autumn, a powerful unhoused leader and healer who shared with us her experience with the police and how when they camped at Bellingham City Hall they were met with snipers and armed forces pushing them out. David, another unhoused resident who was just visiting, talked about his experience with construction and plumbing, and how he was the one who set up Autumn’s tarp and goes around helping others when the rain comes. 

 

From there we met Frankie, whose fingers moved with calculated precision as he secured a tarp over his tent, protecting him and its inhabitants from the downpour that assaulted us all. Frankie is a builder, and therefore a valuable member of what we hope will become Homefulness in Bellingham. See, us overworked and busy poverty scholars didn’t go all the way out to Bellingham to hang out with other houseless folks, as fun as that would have been, but instead worked the entire time with the poverty scholars and the race and class privileged members of Bellingham to recreate what he have done in Deep East Huichin (Oakland) and that is the template of Homefulness. 

 

My mother has been on zoom meetings for the past few months working with the people with race and class privilege of Bellingham, WA as well as Bend and Eugene, OR, to unlearn the krapitalist ways that have been taught to them, and use their stocks, bonds, trust funds, and real estate to replicate what we have already done here in the Bay Area, and these three places are only the beginning. After talking with Frankie, we met and interviewed Pauline, aka Pocahontas, a native elder who was constantly being harassed by the local police for sitting on the sidewalk and trying to stay warm. The harassment was so frequent that it was being perpetrated while we were interviewing her, and an officer coldly told her and her friend that this was a “No Loitering” zone and they had to get a move on. We knew that those no loitering laws are the modern day versions of the early 1900’s “Ugly Laws” that would take the bodies of houseless disabled folk and throw them in jail for the sole act of being not nice to look at while sitting, walking, or lying down on the street.

 

Directly from seeing Paulie, we rushed over to the Ground Floor, a community center for houseless teens, and held a writing workshop. Us graduates of Deecolonize Academy, our liberation school that is run right here on Homefulness, begrudgingly performed our Slam-Bios, realizing that they had a long way to go until getting to the polished level of the Po Poets - Aunti Frances and my mom. Once the workshop was finished and we relaxed at the Hotel for a few hours, we headed out to a book/poetry reading at Flow Shala, where we did our GentrifFUKation Reading, along with our slam bios and important reading from our new book The Homefulness Handbook, a guide on how to recreate this template. 

 

The next morning was a flurry of activity. We all gathered what we needed to prepare for the two major things of that day: Our privilege acknowledgment workshop at Karate Church, and arguably the most important part of the trip, the Stolen Land Hoarded Resources Tour in one of the richest neighborhoods in Bellingham, WA: South Hill.

 

The Karate Church reading and share back gave me hope, seeing many children of land stealers and wealth hoarders ready to do what they could to help, and poverty scholars being able to share their stories. But by the end, I felt much like a tuning fork that was smacked against a metal pole, vibrating with apprehension and nervousness about the tour to come. 

 

We were doing Danza Azteca, a form of prayer that us at Homefulness practice where our prayer is the offering of our bodies through a fierce dance. By the time we got to South Hill, we could hear the heavy rattle of rain beating down on the top of the car, the sidewalk outside, and see the sheets that came down. With grim determination, my comrades and I dressed for our prayer, garbed in our traditional manta (cotton) shorts and not much else besides the shoes on our feet and a headband and sash around our waist to protect our navel and head from bad intentions. As was custom, regardless of the weather, we kept our legs and torsos uncovered, and danced with no shirts. We marched, and laid down prayers and demands for that community, as well as listened to the people in our group with race and class privilege who did research on the million dollar, barely used homes of South Hill. 

 

By the end of the march, once we got to the Mayor's House, my comrades and I could no longer feel 80% of our limbs, but we preserved, and closed our prayer with a song for Mother Earth, asking for forgiveness for all of the pain we have caused her. The next day, the fingers of dawn crept across the land and the road beckoned.

 

We were off to Bend but between us lay a grueling seven hour drive. Somehow, with plenty of snacks and a perfectly preserved Spongebob popsicle, we made it to our destination: Bend, Oregon’s Olive Garden, then La Quinta Inn. That wasn’t the end of our day however, because immediately after eating and settling into our rooms, we were off to the races once more, this time landing in a dazed manner at a 5pm poetry and book reading along with a writing workshop.

 

Just like that, the final day was upon us. One could argue it was our busiest day, and I might just have to agree with them. We stopped at two different encampments and did two writing workshops. In each workshop I was able to hear the thoughts on how people would think about having a Homefulness in their area, and I heard no objections. In fact I heard quite the opposite, people were eager and sometimes disbelieving of such a utopian idea. It was until I showed them evidence that it actually existed already were they interested and wanting to recreate it. History was made on this trip. This was not the first time we have gone to a different state to replicate and teach on the idea of Homefulness nor will it be the last, and I definitely am excited to see what the people of Bellingham, Bend, and Eugene will do in their journey to replicate The Homefulness Project.

 

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