Lava Mae <p>Taking Radical Hospitality To The Streets
Pop Up Care Villages Community | Empowerment | Homelessness | Wellness

Lava Mae

Taking Radical Hospitality To The Streets

Homelessness is overwhelming. To deal with it is to know that every person living on the streets has encountered some of the hardest challenges life can throw. People on the street no longer have the means to care for themselves on more than one level. It’s overwhelming to consider the magnitude of this very real problem and multiple aspects that must go into making any difference in the lives of the homeless. However, it’s not important to have the whole solution at one moment. Taking steps in the right direction is the only way to accomplish anything.

Lava Mae has taken an aspect of the homelessness crisis and developed a solution that empowers every individual. Those with mental illness, those coming out of violent homes, and those with drug addictions are not left out of Lava Mae’s radical hospitality. In 2013, Lava Mae outfitted city buses with showers and toilets and traveled through the Bay Area providing hygiene, an often forgotten service, to individuals living on the streets. Because of their people-first approach, seen in the personalized care and attention they give to everyone they serve, they operate under a policy of radical hospitality. They consider each customer a guest, and they continue to amplify their impact with their new pop up care villages. (more…)

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Wiz Kid / Lemonade Stand

Wiz Kid / Lemonade Stand

Mikaila Ulmer was 4 when she had an important epiphany inspired by the pain of a bee sting. A couple of bee stings, to be exact. “I got stung by two bees in one week!” she says about her initial run-in with the winged pollinators. “I was super, really afraid of bees.” But after using extensive research as a way to overcome her mounting fear, Ulmer had a realization: “Honeybees were important, they were dying, and we needed to save them.” Her solution? Making a lemonade brand inspired by her great-granny’s recipe that would taste delicious and help the plight of the honeybee. (more…)

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Former Foster Child <p>Devotes His Life to Helping Kids in Foster Care

Former Foster Child

Devotes His Life to Helping Kids in Foster Care

When Rob Scheer opened his door in 2009 to meet his first-ever foster children, he did not expect to be reminded of an old, painful memory that would propel him into philanthropic action.But the jostled memory was so powerful that it eventually prompted Rob and his husband, Reece, to found a charity that has now helped more than 20,000 foster children.

The Scheers’ charity, Comfort Cases, provides foster children with backpacks filled with comforting supplies to carry with them as they traverse what insiders call “the system.” The hand-packed bags replace the standard-issue foster child suitcase: A plastic trash bag. That is what little Amaya and Makai, then ages 4 and 2, respectively, had with them when they arrived at the Scheers’ rural Maryland front door seven years ago. It also is what jostled Rob’s memory of a deeply painful experience.

“The doorbell rang,” says Rob, recalling the day a social worker arrived at his house with the two children. “There stood a little girl in braids, carrying a little boy. The girl didn’t smile. The boy was almost like a wet noodle. And they were carrying all their belongings in trash bags. ”The sight of the bags took Rob’s breath away.“We put our garbage in trash bags,” Rob tells PEOPLE. “We discard our trash. Why would you treat a child’s meager belongings like trash? A child whose life is crumbling around them? What a horrible thing to do to a child.”Rob should know. He went through the experience himself. (more…)

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The Case for Reparations <p> Inside the Battle for Fair Housing

The Case for Reparations

Inside the Battle for Fair Housing

And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.

— Deuteronomy 15: 12–15

Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injurydone to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation.

— john locke, “second treatise”

By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.

— anonymous, 1861

  1. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”

Clyde ross was born in 1923, the seventh of 13 children, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the blues. Ross’s parents owned and farmed a 40-acre tract of land, flush with cows, hogs, and mules. Ross’s mother would drive to Clarksdale to do her shopping in a horse and buggy, in which she invested all the pride one might place in a Cadillac. The family owned another horse, with a red coat, which they gave to Clyde. The Ross family wanted for little, save that which all black families in the Deep South then desperately desired—the protection of the law.

Clyde Ross, photographed in November 2013 in his home in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, where he has lived for more than 50 years. When he first tried to get a legitimate mortgage, he was denied; mortgages were effectively not available to black people. (Carlos Javier Ortiz)

In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob. Between 1882 and 1968, more black people were lynched in Mississippi than in any other state. “You and I know what’s the best way to keep the nigger from voting,” blustered Theodore Bilbo, a Mississippi senator and a proud Klansman. “You do it the night before the election.”

The state’s regime partnered robbery of the franchise with robbery of the purse. Many of Mississippi’s black farmers lived in debt peonage, under the sway of cotton kings who were at once their landlords, their employers, and their primary merchants. Tools and necessities were advanced against the return on the crop, which was determined by the employer. When farmers were deemed to be in debt—and they often were—the negative balance was then carried over to the next season. A man or woman who protested this arrangement did so at the risk of grave injury or death. Refusing to work meant arrest under vagrancy laws and forced labor under the state’s penal system. (more…)

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Homeless-One Stitch Closer

Homeless-One Stitch Closer

The City of Berkeley estimates that nearly 1200 people are living on the streets, but that number only covers those that have been reported (BerkeleySide). That number is too low to adequately cover the amount of individuals moving through homelessness in Berkeley. The homeless community is large and they are up against the same problem: a lack of affordable housing. However, the fact that they are united by this one issue does not mean that each individual does not have different goals and different priorities. With this in mind, it is important to consider the wants of the community when offering up solutions.

One thing that homeless individuals do have in common is the basic reality that they need a way to keep warm at night, but they are responsible for carrying everything they own. The product created by The Empowerment Plan, based in Detroit, started with this idea, and grew into a sustainable business working to break the cycle of homelessness. Veronika Scott created a product designed to alleviate the challenges of mobility and staying warm with her EMPWR coat. The coat can be worn to keep warm, but it also transforms into a sleeping bag and an over-the-shoulder bag. This functional design efficiently addresses the day-to-day needs of a homeless individual. (more…)

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Gangs In Berkeley Ca.

Gangs In Berkeley Ca.

This week, for the first time ever, Berkeley police officers were given carte blanche to speak without filters at a public meeting about gang activity in town and what can be done to help those who are drawn to it. Monday night, BPD gang experts Sgt. Patty Delaluna and Officer Matt McGee offered insight into the main gangs in Berkeley, the history of local gangs, dynamics that have sparked recent violence, and more. The meeting was organized by the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee (BSNC), which has monthly sessions at BPD on public safety subjects such as shootings in Berkeley, drinking at Cal, youth violence and more.

About 20 local residents attended the meeting, and pledged to take information back to their neighborhoods after officers answered questions about the topic at hand. Councilwoman Cheryl Davila, who showed up late, remarked that nearly no one in the room had come to her violence prevention meeting a few days earlier, and said that’s where the community’s efforts should be.

“It just kind of saddens me to hear this kind of talk because, in a way, it sounds racist, discriminatory,” she said. “I’m just speaking the truth right now, from what I just heard.” Her comments echoed disagreements that have cropped up repeatedly in online forums like Nextdoor, where residents worried about crime have clashed with those who say such discussions inflame racial tensions and promote stereotypes and profiling.

Others in the room Monday said their hope is to find ways to curtail criminal behavior, not demonize a particular demographic group. Some residents spoke about city programs and summer jobs available to youth, and said they want to increase them. Officers emphasized efforts they have made to build relationships and connect at-risk youth and their families to resources — which Berkeley does have — and said the success stories have stuck with them over the years. The failures have made an impact, too. (more…)

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Addressing Social Segregation in Mixed-Income Communities

Much scholarly attention has been given to metropolitan and city-level segregation; however, comparatively little consideration has been devoted to within community segregation. In some newly created mixed-income, mixed-race communities, we are witnessing “diversity segregation,” where people of different backgrounds, races, ethnicity and incomes live next to one another but not alongside one another. In these diverse communities, micro-level segregation is thwarting meaningful interactions, making it less likely that these “integrated” communities will enhance the life chances of the poor.

For over a decade, I have studied transitioning low-income minority communities that became more racially, ethnically, and economically diverse in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Additionally, as a public housing authority board chair, I have overseen the financing, construction, and maintenance of mixed-income housing projects in Alexandria, Virginia. During this work, I constantly ask myself, “Are these diverse communities and housing developments sufficiently designed to facilitate social interactions that benefit low-income residents?” (more…)

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Student Parent to Graduate

Her Son by Her Side

Graduating senior Dajanaye Adrow-Hubbard always knew she was destined for college. She grew up in Oakland in a low-income family and knew that her ticket to a more comfortable lifestyle was getting an college education. In high school, she joined College Track, an organization that gives students from under served communities the skills they need to succeed in college. With support from the program’s mentors, she applied and was accepted to a handful of universities, including UC Berkeley.

When she found out she was pregnant as a senior in high school, she never considered changing her college plans. “It was like, okay, I guess me and baby are going to college,” she said. “I didn’t count it out. I was like, well, I guess I’m going to have a best friend to take with me the whole time. I’m not going to be alone.”

But before the 17-year-old could tell her family about the pregnancy, her boyfriend and the father of her baby was shot and killed at a party.“When he got killed, I told my parents about the pregnancy,” she says. Adrow-Hubbard was worried her mom was going to be mad, but she and the rest of her family were supportive. “They were like, ‘Oh, it’s a blessing. It’s like God is giving you a gift.’ ” (more…)

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One of the most toxic attempts to dismiss the prevalence of racism is what Jenée Desmond-Harris calls “vanity sizing for racism,” the idea that a large number of Americans cannot be racist. That “racist” is a hurtful term that only really describes people so outwardly bigoted that they use racial slurs and harass people of color. But in reality, a large number, even a majority, of white Americans can be racist. Their racism is not necessarily overt; rather it is oftentimes more insidious in its subtlety.

Hidden Figures understands this. The film tells the story of three black women at NASA who were pivotal in Project Mercury, the mission that sent the first American to orbit the planet in 1962. The three brilliant women, Katherine Goble Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), struggle throughout the film to have their skills utilized, let alone recognized, by their white “superiors.” They are confronted with misogynoir at every turn, whether it be Dorothy trying to get a book from the whites-only section of the library or Mary trying to receive an engineering degree at a white-only school. Segregation is an inescapable part of their lives.

But their oppressors are not the typical racists depicted in film. It is not random blue-collar white men who advocate for racial violence, but rather professionals in fancy clothing who use “precedent” and “rules” to deny black women access to the resources and basic needs they are entitled to. NASA is segregated, with Katherine, Dorothy, and Mary working at the West Area Computing facility, which lacks the technology granted to the white Langley Research Center. However, the three black woman continually prove themselves to be deserving of what they ask for. Eventually, when their skills are finally realized to be essential to the mission, they are allowed to enter white spaces. (more…)

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