Homefulness is seeded, planted and grown in so-called Bellingham, Washington
by Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, Frances Moore, Momii Palapaz, Tiburcio, Amir, Akil and Israel, with photos and video by Momii Palapaz, Pancho Pantera, Amir Cornish, Akil Carrillo and Tiburcio Garcia
“You’re supposed to have a badge!” Disgust shouted out of the heavy walnut door. Overly ornate with gold-leafed handles and huge 15th century locks. Violent colonial ghosts past and present lurked behind that door. Settler lies of private property, 528 years of Mama Earth theft, hoarding, genocide and protected, complected class hate seeped out the sliver the ghost-like white man stood between, barely visible.
“Get off my property!” Two translucent hands appeared from around the edge of the massive doorframe, making a brushing movement towards me and Aunti Frances and Youth Poverty Skola Tiburcio. “Get away!” And then it closed with a thud.
This Klanmark – as I call it – aka historic landmark, aka huge house that seemed to jump right out of the pages of an ancient horror story, was just one of our UnTour stops on the stolen land/hoarded resources journey across Mama Earth, where we humbly share prayer for First Peoples and ancestors of homelessness, poLice terror and colonial terror as well as share the medicine of radical redistribution/comeUnity Reparations with wealth-hoarders, land-stealers and the vision and medicine and love of Homefulness and Poverty Scholarship with fellow unhoused poverty skolaz living wherever us houseless peoples can sleep – doorways, park benches, back seats of cars, RVs – until we are seen, harassed and swept like we are trash.
“See that houseless Mama and daughter sleeping in a tent – that’s cuz we don’t got money for the rent,” says tiny, poverty skola.
All this violence on the poorest people for the crime of having nothing.
In so-called Bellingham, like all of occupied Turtle Island, aka all of the United Snakkkes – in addition to racist poLice, scamlording, gentriFUking, colonial land and resource stealing and evicting – violent sweeps have rained down on houseless residents.
Last year, a thriving encampment of over 100 people was violently “swept.” Not only were trash trucks throwing peoples belongings away, ‘cause as houseless people we aren’t allowed to have “belongings,” but they also used deadly force, guns, batons, arrests and harassment. All this violence on the poorest people for the crime of having nothing.
Because of this entrenched poor people hate and violence, some of the beautiful and conscious housed residents of that territory invited and raised resources to bring POOR Magazine family there to share the medicine of Homefulness and hopefully try to launch, seed and grow a Homefulness.
“I’m Lummi, call me Pocohontas,” said a tiny woman huddled up in the pouring rain, under a doorway of a shuttered store in downtown, gentriFUKEd so-called Bellingham, Wash., aka Occupied Lummi and Nooksack territory.
“We are here to share the vision of what we are building in occupied Ohlone territory, taking back land and building our own solutions to homelessness.” We asked Sis Polly, like we ask all fellow unhoused folks, to envision her own poor and houseless Indigenous solution to homelessness. Her response: “That sounds beautiful. I would love to be involved.”
Everywhere we went – from a drop-in center for houseless, Indigenous youth, where we did a beautiful Po Poets workshop and met some amazing youth poets, to every street corner, doorway or alley – people were tucked away, humbly trying to survive in pouring rain, 45 degree weather and cold wind with rivers churning and rising or threatening kkkops looming nearby.
Unlike non-profiteers, akademiks and anti-social workers, our RoofLESS radio reports and street writing workshops are not another useless survey or study to prove something all of us already know. We don’t “collect” information and stories for a CorpRape media article or speak on a panel or get a grant from what I call a philanthro-pimp to talk about poverty and homelessness.
way too many little murders of the soul
We do these street based workshops – which are also poverty scholarship planning meetings – to lift up poverty skola leaders and visionaries and implement – mamaFest – a different way to hold each other, love each other and take care of each other on stolen land, where literally thousands of Black, Brown and Indigenous disabled elders are without a roof or safe space to sleep, are subjected to endless and violent “sweeps” like they are trash, or death from exposure or violence.
And, as a matter of fact, we support each other with food, cash money as a stipend, water, sleeping bags, sweaters, tents and blankets.
“They are ‘sweeping’ us almost every day,” a small man who didn’t want to go on camera spoke with RoofLESS radio. “I’m Lummi and this is our territory, but the colonial terror continues,” he concluded. His eyes, like his voice, were crushed, like someone who had way too many little murders of the soul, as my tortured, disabled and houseless mama used to call it.
The other purpose of RoofLESS radio is what I call WeSearch – poor people-led research. One of the “findings” in so-called Bellingham, as with many more occupied settler towns on Turtle Island, is over 60 percent of the unhoused community of youth and elders are disabled and First Nations, “proving” again what we already knew considering the non-profiteer lies of “affordable” (not really) housing, real estate speculation, Mama Earth theft, banksters, poisoning, extraction and the endless and violent trauma of now 21st century colonization on this stolen land.
Why we say Homefulness the World and Homefulness in active resistance to so-called Climate Change, just like our ancestors and First Nations relatives who act as our spiritual guides and family elders from Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, who we asked permission and guidance from, teach and model for us every day.
“I became homeless when I lost my mama. She was my everything. I thought I could handle it, but I couldn’t,” said John, one of over 200 RoofLESS radio reporters who spoke their stories and visions, all of whom are future leaders of the Homefulness projects in so-called Bellingham and so-called Eugene, Ore.
“I’m the son of a millionaire who made his money in the meat-packing industry,” said a 22-year-old college student who came up to the microphone upon my invitation on a Homefulness Handbook Teach-in that we held after six roofLESS radio street workshops and a Po Poets performance at a venue called Flow Shala.
“Homefulness, a poor and houseless peoples-led solution to homelessness, is here in this occupied Lummi and Nooksack land to share the template of poor people solutions to poverty, scarcity, homelessness and the violence called sweeps,” said Aunti Frances Moore to the capacity crowd at the Homefulness Teach-in.
Aunti Frances is one of the warrior poverty skolaz, POOR press authors and co-founders of Homefulness who was on the UnTour with us. Aunti Frances, a Black Panther, is also the founder of POOR Magazine’s sister movement, Self-Help Hunger Program.
The Teach-in, which included youth and elder, formerly houseless skolaz Tibu, Amir, Akil, Momii, Israel, me and Frances, drawn from our newly released Homefulness Handbook, was extremely powerful, bringing together not only the future poverty skola leaders we had met with on the occupied streets but the future Solidarity Family members – folks with race and class privilege who resist the complexion protection that enables wealth-hoarders to hide, never claim their privilege, sit in rooms talking about poverty and economic justice and homelessness and never claim their own access to resources that could potentially solve these desperate issues by enacting radical sharing like we teach at People Skool and our Solidarity family at POOR Magazine does, which is how we built Homefulness No. 1 and now have 11 liveable units for houseless families and elders to be homeful.
“I’ve got 10 dollars.” When we presented a direct ask to the crowd, a little hand shot up from the back. Thanks to love-work by another formerly houseless poverty skola sisSTAR Sin and support from the powerful team of peopleSkool graduates who brought us up there and were carefully following the teachings of the Poverty Scholarship text-book, of love-work as opposed to anti-social work, Polly, aka “Pocohontas,” made it to the Teach-in and in the typical ways of us humble poverty skolaz who don’t got nothing but always radically share whatever we do have, was one of the first people to respond to the direct ask, while wealth-hoarders in the room pondered what to say and do.
Notions of what I call ComeUnity Reparations, Radical Redistribution and Radical Sharing aren’t new. It’s how us poor and Indigenous peoples have been operating for generations. It is a direct resistance to violent krapitalist scarcity models and is what POOR Magazine has been operating with since our inception in 1996.
Helping poor mamaz and disabled elders and youth with rides to get to meetings and workshops. Helping people with food, diapers, medicine, childcare and cash money. In other words, whatever they need with resources we raise from conscious PeopleSkool graduates.
“Lifting us up in prayer – prayer for First Peoples and all of us.” Momii Palapaz, poverty skola, member of the UnTour, elder with POOR Magazine and Self-Help Hunger Program, laid down opening prayers all the way through the UnTour to launch all of our work in a good way.
So-called Bend, Warm Springs and so-called Eugene
Us poverty skolaz were invited in to these territories to share beautiful poetry, flowetry and poverty scholarship in all of these occupied territories, thanks to the powerFULL work of Indigenous leaders from Indigenous Helpers Society, Central Oregon Peacekeepers and Stop the Sweeps Eugene.
“There is so much racist hate in this town. Indigenous houseless elders are constantly getting swept, and now we have a conscious person with resources who has offered to help us get some LandBack – and the “seller” won’t respond to their offer,” said Rachel, one of the warrior truth-tellers who, along with Jonny, lift up, support and provide service to unhoused Indigenous folks in Warm Springs and so-called Bend, which is Klamath Nation territory.
“One of my Suns was sleeping under a bridge and was burned alive. Instead of ever doing any proper investigation, the poLice questioned me and my family right while we were grieving, implying we knew what happened,” said Raimano “Smokey” Miller Sr., an elder from Ewaksikni Nation, aka what the colonizers wrongly re-named Klamath tribe.
Smokey spoke with us at a Po Poets Poetry reading at Spork, organized by Rachel and Jonny and comrade Stevi, who, like longtime warrior Lisa Ganser, are poor wite poverty skolaz who leverage their skin privilege as we teach wite poverty skolaz to do, even if that “privilege” is only complexion protection to help MamaFest Homefulness,
Smokey told myself and Momi some of the buried herstories of that territory and the ways that poLice and colonizer residents are still profiling and predating against First Nations peoples. In addition, the colonizers wrote so many fake treaties and pushed so many peoples off their lands that it is unclear which territory is which. The area known as so-called Bend is also inclusive of Wasco and Warm Springs Bands and Paiute peoples were forced to relocate to the Warm Springs reservation as well.
The violence of all that colonial HIS-story CONtinues today as peoples work to take their language, lives and land back. Smokey was a keeper of the original Ewakniksi language and will be on Po Peoples Radio in the coming weeks to continue to teach and share back the real herstories that have been leeched from the colonial so-called history.
“One of my Suns was sleeping under a bridge and was burned alive.”
“The poLice are constantly threatening, posting and sweeping,” said Mike C, one of the poverty skolas who reported with RoofLESS radio in occupied so-called Eugene, Ore., aka Occupied Kalapuya Nation.
The minute all of us poverty skolaz from POOR Magazine arrived in so-called Eugene, we encountered a “sweep” in progress at a peaceful encampment under a bridge. There were poLice officers holding their guns talking about a “posted” eviction date and insisting that people should leave and “utilize” the “services.”
“It’s all they have here is endless non-profiteers stepping all over themselves to provide temporary, never permanent services and shelters, never actual permanent housing” said Eli, a warrior with Stop the Sweeps Eugene who was on the scene trying to disrupt the violent sweeps and ended up getting arrested.
Us youth and elder skolaz set up a workshop in the middle of the encampment where I encountered a CorpRape media reporter, who explained that she was the “homelessness” reporter for the local newspaper and that she was blown away by POOR Magazine’s poverty scholarship informed process of paying fellow poverty skolaz for their stories.
“We are taught that paying someone for their story in some way will impact the outcome of the story,” she said. To which I replied yes it will impact them, it will help them to buy some food, a blanket, some gas or some other resources that have been stolen from them.
. . . like I teach the privileged folks who come to PeopleSkool . . .
POOR Magazine, a poor, houseless, disabled and Indigenous people-led movement has been operating this way since our inception in 1996 with me and Mama Dee, doing street writing workshops in welfare offices and street corners, where we lived and worked, because we know what it’s like to, as my Mama Dee would say, miss a meal. We know how useless the endless extractive process of poverty voyeurism, media and art, written, created and produced about us without us is.
And, like I teach the privileged folks who come to PeopleSkool, we know that these mostly middle class reporters, documentarians, photographers, artists and media producers, who have come from homes and families that protected them and provided them with a roof, will benefit from our stories, they will achieve byline privilege or a notch on their resume, with our stories and our struggles – and what, really, will we end up with?
No, we don’t actually want your useless stories and photographs and movies, we want equity to build our own. We want support to manifest a solution. We want our own byline privilege, we want to be heard in our own voices, and at the very least we deserve to receive support for the story we just shared with you.
These are the dreams and the realities of Homefulness, and us poor and houseless peoples are MamaFesting it right here in occupied Huchuin – Oakland – with Indigenous leadership and now have seeded, planted and launched Homefulness No. 3 in so-called Bellingham and are here to share it with the rest of the world and whoever is ready to listen to poverty skolaz about poverty and walk a different way on MamaEarth.
Support Homefulness the World here and learn more at poormagazine.com!
Go to poormagazine.org/magazine to read all the stories by all of the powerFULL members of this tour. Stay tuned for the next edition of Deccolonewz to read all the stories from our newest poverty skola reporters and go to PoorNewsNetwork on YouTube to listen and watch the RoofLESS radio reports.
Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia, aka “povertyskola,” is a poet, teacher and the formerly houseless, incarcerated daughter of Dee and mama of Tiburcio and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America” and “Poverty Scholarship: Poor People-led Theory, Art, Words and Tears Across Mama Earth” and co-founder of Homefulness, a homeless people’s solution to homelessness. Reach her at www.lisatinygraygarcia.com or @povertyskola on Twitter.