I hope this finds you in love, light and protection in wonderful and scary times. It's a dark and stormy night outside, and I'm typing at my kitchen table while some bread pudding bakes.
Maybe you've heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - where families pay a monthly fee to a (usually small-scale and pesticide-free) farmer, who then provides them with fresh food for the duration of the growing season? I'm writing because, inspired by Healing Justice track organizer Autumn Brown, I'm interested in using this model to become a Community Supported Organizer to do work at the 2011 Allied Media Conference. And I need your help.
This year, I have the privilege of serving as a coordinator for the Growing Safer Communities Track at the Allied Media Conference, which takes place in Detroit on June 23-26, 2011. This means that I will be working with a team of amazing organizers and advisors, including Esteban Kelly and Jenna Peters-Golden of Philly Stands Up, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Tamara Costa and Morgan Bassichis of CUAV, Mimi Kim of Creative Interventions, Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing of STOP, RJ Maccani of the Challenging Male Supremacy collective and Johonna McCants of Visions to Peace. We're gonna create and facilitate a space at the conference where folks creating ways of dealing with violence and abuse without the state or prisons from all over North America will get together, share strategies, and learn from each other. Growing Safer Communities is going to be badass!
We're all really excited about the new growth that will blossom from this gathering. But it's going to be a lot of work. I know from working on both the Creating Safer Communities and Disability Justice tracks last year that it's probably probably about 10-20 hours of work a week for all of us.
The Allied Media Conference (otherwise known as the best conference in the universe) is a grassroots gathering of folks involved in participatory media to change the world- from building a free wireless network for Detroit to using Twitter to stop immigration raids to queer women and GQ of color skillshares.
The AMC's idea about fundraising is really different than a lot of conferences. Instead of paying, say, one big-name keynote a lot of money, nobody gets paid. Everybody figures out how to build on the strengths that are already within our communities to make sure the whole crew gets there- through pupusa selling, house party throwing or radical women of color spoken word CD making.
I do a lot of organizing work for no money. As a chronically ill person, I can't work a full time job. I work part time, gig based jobs and work from home a lot. I know many, many queer folks of color from low-income lives who are sick or disabled, who work multiple hustles and regularly struggle to make rent and eat. This has always been true for me, and over the past year I've lived on a tighter margin than I have in years. I've been a part of some amazing things, and there have been many months where I've been getting by due to the bulk food in my house's pantry and the fact that I pay super-cheap rent by virtue of living in a little shack in the back of a South Berkeley collective house, but I have $46 in the bank.
I will continue to work for free, but I am also trying to make my living more sustainable, as someone who has to build my life with the understanding that I get sick a minimum of 1-2 times a month. This is something I- like most folks, and especially queer folks of color with chronic illness - have not been able to admit in the past, for fear that being honest about my sickness would make me less able to find work or be valued in my communities. Being a part of amazing disability justice community has made me want to be honest about it now.
For all these reasons, I'm reaching out to my community to ask you to become part of a new kind of CSA, where you donate money to make it possible for me to do this critical work. Read on for details of how this is going to work!
How do you donate and how much can you give?
You give as much as you want. Anything will help me be able to do this crucial work without getting sick(er) or getting in overdraft again. You can donate a small amount monthly ($5-10), or you can make a one-time donation of any size. I would love to pay myself at least a couple hundred bucks a month to do this work, and having it there would reduce my stress load (and subsequent illness/cognitive problems/ scary dizzy spells/fatigue/ mysterio flu that hangs around for weeks- which then makes it so I can't work, which makes the broke/sick cycle worse) immeasurably!
Are you brokeass? Send me five bucks (once, or once a month) and I'll love you forever. Are you a Resource Generation queer? Send me some of your inherited wealth! Are you in between? Send what makes sense for you.
My work as a track coordinator involves:
Everyone who makes a donation will receive monthly updates on the progress the Growing Safer Communities track fam is making in our work on the track. You will also be the recipient of a video blog in early July that will give you a taste of what happened at the Growing Safer Communities Track. I want this initiative to help build the strength of our networks- which includes sharing the knowledge we build at the AMC.
For people who make a donation of $50 or more, I'm still trying to figure out what I wanna give you. Cookies? Copy of The Revolution Starts At Home? Badass tarot card reading? Whatever it is, it's gonna be something!
What is the Allied Media Conference?
The Allied Media Conference, held every summer in Detroit, unites the worlds of media and communications, technology, education and social justice. From this unique intersection, some of the most innovative community organizing models emerge each year. The AMC cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing.
What is the Growing Safer Communities Track?
Putting Transformative Justice at center stage, this dynamic track is chock full of communication strategies, tools and dreams for anyone working to build safety from violence and abuse in their communities without using the police or criminal legal system! Building on last year's successful Creating Safer Communities track, this year we'll take conversations about transformative justice and community-based accountability to the next level. Our communities are using tools like zines, safetylabs, flip cam videos, and neighborhood safety mapping to support a safe, healing, and restorative world. We're tapping into into potlucks, posters, story circles, weekend action camps, elder/ youth inter-generational conversations, Twitter, textmobs, stencils and oh so much more to grow these communities. This track will bring together collectives from across North America and beyond to explore the brilliant ways we're kicking butt and building the systems we need to be safe and free.
Who are you and why should you donate?
You're somebody whose work and self I love and respect and need to exist in the world. You're a QTPOC artist, badass sick or disabled queer, working-class genius or poverty scholar, journalist or writer, teacher or healer, friend, lover, elder, or youth. You're someone who is helping build or cares a lot about building ways of dealing with violence that don't use the state- who knows we need places to come together, share strategies, talk about the places where we're stuck and do the work we need to transform this world to one that doesn't kill us. You're someone who believes in my work, and who believes in supporting disabled and sick people's ability to work - in a way that our society does not. You know my bottomlining Taurus self will do a great job! And you want my sick, queer femme of color, working-class self to do this work without - as I've done in the past - working 18 hour days until my body falls apart.
Thank you for reading and thank you for your presence in the world. I'm glad to be on this journey with you.
as of september 2010, I'm committing to post one new piece a week (disability and travel may remix this intention.) all this work is shared under a Creative Commons license- credit if you share, no commercial use allowed.
This work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.