by Tiburcio Garcia/sun of Tiny, grand sun of Dee
“7600 BlackArthur was pre-approved for 14 luxury condos,” Tiny said, lip curling at every word in that sentence. “I knew right then we would have to pray, teach and activate everything to De-Gentrif*ck that land, take it off of the commodities market.” Thus began the journey to liberate the stolen and hoarded mama earth on the corner of 76th & MacArthur aka BlackArthur, so named by the Black Riders as my mama refers to it.
Six months and non-stop work teaching, praying and activating the conscious folks with race and class privilege, who are part of POOR Magazine’s solidarity family, that small part of Mama Earth was “bought” with radically redistributed dollars, so we poor/houseless, indigenous folks could begin the process of UnSelling it, as my Mama Tiny calls it.
There was not a cloud in the sky the day we all gathered on the land for our first all nations prayer ceremony to begin the Herstory that is Homefulness 2. Chunks of rebar piercing through the yellowish dirt, city flowers reaching for the sun. A black, crumbling metal fence surrounds the land, adorned with necklaces of Gazzali’s branded plastic bags.
We all gathered in a circle, and the elders stepped forward to launch the blessings and listen to the ancestors’ messages and listen to that corner of Mama Earth. Corrina Gould, a representative from the Chochenyo Ohlone nation and a long-time POOR Magazine/Homefulness family member, laid down prayers and blessings for Homefulness 2. Other prayer bringers and elders came up, including Aunty Frances Moore, the founder of the Self-Help Hunger Program, Xochitl Maiz Valdez, and Richard Rosario aka Brother Mink.
“Homefulness is a good thing because like I said, it takes homes, and it takes fullness, and it makes it a family, where a co-op can become a family,” said Brokin Cloud, smiling while looking at the land of Homefulness 2 and the work that was being put into healing it. Him and other formerly houseless people in the Bay Area, including myself, are now housed and comfortable because of this beautiful movement.
We spent 11 years building and fighting the city of Oakland for Homefulness 1 just to open rent-free, forever homes in a poor people-led, self-determined movement, born from the dream of my mother Tiny and grandmother Mama Dee while houseless in LA and the Bay Area throughout my mama’s childhood and young adulthood, and then later when I was a young child after violent displacement from the mission district of San Francisco. Homefulness 1 at 8032 MacArthur is the original model and template for all the Homefulnesses to come.
Bit by bit, piece by piece, we broke the shackles that were constricting that land, the rebar was moved away, and the concrete was jackhammered and lifted from out of the ground with efforts from all of us at POOR Magazine, along with Mayan povertyskola trabajadores who did the final part of the asphalt lift.
Once the asphalt was cleared away, there was a four corners prayer done in the tradition of Aztec dance. We honored the east, the side of the men, the west, side of the women, the north, side of the children, and the south, side of the elders and ancestors.
There are never any gates or fences between the people and the fresh vegetables we grow.
“Oh, this lot is not empty, this lot is definitely not empty,” LaMonte Ford emphasizes, while shaking his head and smiling. “I am almost to tears when you say that. This lot already has new energy thriving through it that wasn’t here before; that wasn’t here one month ago, two months ago. Not to mention, it’s already coupled with ancestral energy.” LaMonte is a resident of the Wood Street Commons, a houseless encampment and community space in West Oakland on Wood St. He is one of the core group that has been collaborating with us in the building of Homefulness 2.
Homefulness, and by consequence Homefulness 2 are movements that don’t just house. “Yes they are homes and buildings, but there is also a village where we provide healing for our folks who have trauma from being houseless, from being poor,” said Muteado Silencio, long-time POOR Magazine member, poet and resident at Homefulness.
We are starting our Homefulness 2 with that village process, and one of the ways we do that is to include the actual community that was already living around Homefulness 2, and ask them what they wanted to see being built here. We did a series of those workshops and once they were finished and the asphalt was lifted, a garden ceremony was done with everyone from the community.
The ComeUnity gardens at Homefulness, which we call Pachamama (Mama Earth), are another part of the dream. We always launch Homefulness’ by growing food that the whole ComeUnity can access, there are never any gates or fences between the people and the fresh vegetables we grow.
For us Pachamama garden is one of the gifts we always bring to the barrios or neighborhoods we launch Homefulness in, because as my mama says: “If you truly believe as we do, that no-one owns the land, then no-one owns what grows on the land. Instead, we are blessed to steward it for everyone’s use and benefit, which is so important in our hoods and towns where intentional blighting and gentriFUKing ensures us poor folks have very little or no access to fresh fruit and veggies.”
One of our students at the liberation school, DeeColonize Academy, that my mama and other low-income/no-income mama and uncles at POOR Magazine launched in 2013, Kai and his mother Deja, brought seeds from the Sogorea Te Land Trust, a piece of Decolonized Land in Oakland run by Deja and Cheyanne and Corrina and other 1st Nations Lisjan mamas and daughters. They also together brought prayer and blessed the land of Homefulness 2, for bountiful harvest and safe living.
Now, the work that is to be done are preparations for the future. The soil of Homefulness 2 was tested by a solidarity family member and earth scientist Cole, in a workshop he did to teach the children of DeeColonize Academy how to test soil to see how good it is to grow plants in. As we always do at Homefulness, the next step is to use art as a way to teach the history of our land, so we are making a series of murals by artists in the community to show alternative housing projects like what we plan to build on Homefulness 2.
“This HERstory is just beginning. Please relatives and comeUnity, help us as we continue to live, walk and Mamafest a poor and homeless peoples solution to homelessness,” concluded my mama (tiny). Join us for one or both of these powerFULL events MamaFesting Homefulness 2:
Thursday, March 23rd at 1:30 p.m., join Kiss My Black Arts, POOR Magazine, Wood Street Commons, DeeColonize Academy youth artists and other artists as we launch a ComeUnity mural on ancient building technologies at Homefulness 2.
Tuesday, April 11, at 10 a.m., a ComeUnity Building Workshop led by Afro-Indigenous builder Kenya Wright and Afro-Pomo builder; artist Ras K’D from Audio Pharmacy.
Tiburcio Garcia, formerly Houseless youth povertySkola resident of Homefulness – graduate of DeeColonize Academy and POOR Magazine youth journalist.