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Member Reflections

Here are some reflections from two of our youth leaders who participated in the youth programing at the Hope Garden:

 

"There are many things we do at the garden and one of those are media. In media we used DJI cameras and drones to capture people's stories at the Hope Garden. Telling stories are important because stories are your experiences you had throughout your life. Stories also inform people of the many problems we face. One of the problems we face is homelessness. Homelessness is a big problem all over the world. Poverty is another problem we face in the world, including Harlem Park. Storytelling is a way to make people more aware of these problems so they can help stop these problems. Telling stories with our media will help people see the truth instead of the many lies we can find in the news and media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more." -Michele Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader

 

"I really enjoyed building a shed and garden beds. I learned about the different parts of a drill and how to help people build. I planted potatoes and carrots with Ms. Vern. Ms. Vern taught me how to take care of the plants. Also each Tuesday we paint our history and future. So if you like to build and paint and garden, come to the Hope Garden."- Marquis Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader

  • Member Reflections

    Here are some reflections from two of our youth leaders who participated in the youth programing at the Hope Garden:

     

    "There are many things we do at the garden and one of those are media. In media we used DJI cameras and drones to capture people's stories at the Hope Garden. Telling stories are important because stories are your experiences you had throughout your life. Stories also inform people of the many problems we face. One of the problems we face is homelessness. Homelessness is a big problem all over the world. Poverty is another problem we face in the world, including Harlem Park. Storytelling is a way to make people more aware of these problems so they can help stop these problems. Telling stories with our media will help people see the truth instead of the many lies we can find in the news and media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more." -Michele Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader

     

    "I really enjoyed building a shed and garden beds. I learned about the different parts of a drill and how to help people build. I planted potatoes and carrots with Ms. Vern. Ms. Vern taught me how to take care of the plants. Also each Tuesday we paint our history and future. So if you like to build and paint and garden, come to the Hope Garden."- Marquis Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader

  • It's Movement Time!

    It’s Movement Time!!!


    United Workers has been making moves this month in more ways than one. As a mass organization of the poor in Maryland, we’re contributing our energy towards a national and statewide mobilization push for the Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly & Moral March on Washington on June 18th. This weekend is our annual Leadership Day in which we reflect on the kind of leadership required to build a mass movement to end poverty led by the poor. This year’s Leadership Day will focus on how we as an organization and as individual leaders carry on the legacy of Dr. King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in our times. In this e-alert, we’ll share updates around these efforts, as well as content written by our members. We’ve included a letter to the editor authored by Shirley Eatmon, a MD Poor People’s Campaign leader in Western Maryland, and reflections on the Hope Garden from two youth leaders—Michele and Marquis Coleman.

    If that weren’t enough to keep us moving, we’ve been making some physical moves as well. United Workers said goodbye to our home of 9 years in the basement of St. John’s Church at 2640 St. Paul Street and moved our office to our new location at 2239 Kirk Ave. Some readers might be familiar with the space as the former home of the Oak Hill Center for Education & Culture. We’ve participated in events here before, including some of the initial meetings around the 2018 re-launch of the Poor People’s Campaign. That relationship continued to deepen in this space through Oak Hill Center’s popular Books and Breakfast event hosted in collaboration with the Baltimore committee of the MD Poor People’s Campaign. This space will now be our permanent home.


     


    The Hope Garden in Harlem Park also had its own move this month, having outgrown our former space at 1314 Harlem Ave. We’ve moved across the street to an inner block park that offers us more space and more sunlight while retaining easy access to the rec center and the surrounding community that has come to love the garden. Thanks to contributions of time and seedlings from the community, we’re already growing food and minds in the new Hope Garden.

     

    Here are some reflections from our youth leaders who participated in the youth programing at the Hope Garden:

    "There are many things we do at the garden and one of those are media. In media we used DJI cameras and drones to capture people's stories at the Hope Garden. Telling stories are important because stories are your experiences you had throughout your life. Stories also inform people of the many problems we face. One of the problems we face is homelessness. Homelessness is a big problem all over the world. Poverty is another problem we face in the world, including Harlem Park. Storytelling is a way to make people more aware of these problems so they can help stop these problems. Telling stories with our media will help people see the truth instead of the many lies we can find in the news and media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many more." -Michele Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader

    "I really enjoyed building a shed and garden beds. I learned about the different parts of a drill and how to help people build. I planted potatoes and carrots with Ms. Vern. Ms. Vern taught me how to take care of the plants. Also each Tuesday we paint our history and future. So if you like to build and paint and garden, come to the Hope Garden."- Marquis Coleman, United Workers Youth Leader


    Moving to these new spaces is an opportunity for tremendous growth and new beginnings in our work. Just as United Workers returns to the space where we contributed to the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign, so too is the Poor People’s Campaign returning to its roots in Washington D.C. in another mass mobilization that will transform our nation. Movement facilitates growth- in our movement, in our work, and even in the crops at Hope Garden. If you want to join us in this growth, sign up with us here. You can also register to join us on June 18th by clicking the link below.

    Register for the Poor People's Campaign Moral March on Washington!

    The June 18, 2022 Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly & Moral March on Washington and to the Polls will be a generationally transformative and disruptive gathering of poor and low-wealth people, state leaders, faith communities, moral allies, unions, and partnering organizations. Click here to learn more and register!


    Letter to the Editor:

    Government Must Stop Turning it's Back on Homelessness

    An article in The Carroll County Times on March 15,

    “Cities change course, clear homeless camps,” reports on the problem of homeless encampments in cities across the country. Cities are planning to use aggressive measures to remove encampments rather than treating homelessness as the humanitarian crisis it is. Instead of addressing the root causes of homelessness, cities have focused on criminalizing people who are homeless. While doing outreach in Carroll County with the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign, I talked with people who are homeless and those working yet facing eviction and possibly becoming homeless. A woman working two jobs had hours cut and when unable to pay rent, the landlord told her to pay with her credit card, putting her more in debt. A mother with a young child was three months behind in her rent due to her place of employment closing several weeks during the pandemic and then cutting her hours. The landlord did not inform her of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that would have paid her back rent to keep her housing. A palliative patient on continuous oxygen was evicted by a landlord during the rent moratorium. These stories are not unique to Carroll County and can be heard all over Maryland and throughout the country. At the root of homelessness is systemic poverty, racism, ecological devastation, a war

    economy and the distorted moral narrative that seeks to blame the poor instead of addressing systems that cause poverty. Social welfare and antipoverty programs have been underfunded to the extent that only a quarter of eligible families receive federal housing assistance. We live in a country where there is an abundance of resources, but our government chooses not to use the resources to uplift people. Housing provides stability, security, community and belonging. Without housing, everything else collapses. On June 18, I am joining the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign with thousands of people coming from across the country in the Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Worker’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington to demand changes in a system that ignores the needs of people. It’s time to stand in solidarity to demand our basic rights to housing, healthcare, living wages and voting rights. Somebody’s hurting our people, and we won’t be silent anymore.

     

    Shirley Eatmon, Finksburg

    Eatmon works for the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign — Western Region


    We need to build a mass movement of working class people to end poverty, and we need your help to do it. If you’d like to support our work by volunteering your time and skills, please reach out to us at [email protected] to get involved in our ongoing campaigns. You can also support us by clicking the button below and donating to United Workers. Your financial support will contribute to us becoming independently sustained by our base of members, family, and friends.

     

  • March 2022 Update

    Hello again from United Workers!

     

    Since the start of the new year, United Workers has been engaged in our annual strategic planning process. This is an important time of reflection for the organization. We review the work of the last year, draw out lessons learned, and set our priorities for the forthcoming year. Although this is an annual process, this year’s strategic planning is especially significant. For one, we have reached a critical milestone in our organization’s history. This summer will mark our 20 year anniversary as a membership-led human rights organization of the poor and dispossessed in Maryland. From our founding by homeless day laborers in an abandoned firehouse turned homeless shelter to our Living Wages Victory at Camden Yards, from the fight for Fair Development at the Inner Harbor to our multi-issue fights for our human rights to housing, healthcare, and clean air, we have a lot to celebrate, but also a lot to learn from. In recognition of our upcoming anniversary, we’ll be including in our upcoming e-alerts a segment looking back at important moments in United Workers history, starting with the founding of the organization in this edition (see below).

    Additionally, this year’s strategic planning process is also significant, because we are envisioning the next phase as a period of “reconnaissance” to help determine our next focal point campaign.

    One of the slogans we often say in the United Workers is that the struggle is the school. However, the school extends beyond critically reflecting on our past struggles. We are also studying the history of the poor organizing the poor, and lessons from contemporaries in the movement to end poverty today. Reflecting together on the struggle is how we grow as leaders in our movement led by the poor to end poverty.

    Though the usual activity of the organization continues, we have been scheduling time twice a week to meet as a collective and talk about the work, past and future. These deep discussions are about more than our plans for the year- they’re an opportunity for political education and developing strategic unity. We are incredibly grateful to those fellow organizers who have joined us thus far in these conversations. These guests have included our own emeritus Leadership Council member Willie Baptist, Nijmie Dzurinko and Phil Wider from Put People First! PA, and Sarah Weintraub of Vermont Workers’ Center and the WI Poor People’s Campaign. They’ve generously shared their insights on strategies for leadership development, challenges and setbacks they’ve overcome, and ways to think more critically about the work we’re doing.


    This upcoming year will be a “year of reconnaissance” for United Workers. We will focus on research and education as we develop our next campaign. As Willie Baptist teaches us, you cannot correctly identify the solution if you cannot correctly identify the problem. We are not fighting for moderate reforms or crumbs from the table of the ruling class. We are fighting to end poverty, to attack it at the roots and change the system that produces it. To do this, we need to understand that system. Over the next period, we’ll be engaged in an intentional listening and research process to determine a focal point campaign- one that unites poor people across Maryland, and one that builds upon what we’ve discovered so far in 20 years of learning as we lead.

    Part I: The Founding Years

    Watch a video from our archives: “United Workers Founding Years”


    United Workers’ history began with asking questions- Why are we working so hard but still living on the street? What has happened to the economy that has kept our wages low and our basic survival needs unmet? Can we unite homeless brothers and sisters around these questions, reach a better understanding of our circumstances and the powers-that-be that are oppressing us, and do something about it?

    This video clip from our early days showcases two important aspects of the organization that have been central to our work since the beginning. First, United Workers comes out of a history of organizing among the poor and dispossessed - particularly the National Union of the Homeless movement of the 1980s and 1990s. Willie Baptist, featured in the video, was an educator and organizer with the Union of the Homeless during that time period. His emphasis on collective study and being about to develop ourselves so that we might outsmart our opponents comes from the lessons of that period - where people with little in the way of money or other resources were able to use their intelligence and resourcefulness to outsmart who and what they were up against. The connections to Willie Baptist (now an emeritus board member of United Workers) and others were instrumental in our formation and ability to stick and stay.

    Secondly, the video shows the emphasis we placed on leadership development and study. During this period in 2002-2004, we largely centered our work around two precious hours at the Eutaw Street homeless shelter. The abandoned firehouse turned small shelter afforded us a time and place to study. We started out organizing day laborers who would work all over Baltimore at some of the most powerful institutions in the city. We studied how this work was organized, compared notes on the worst and best jobs, saw how we were being divided by race and gender, and dug into the question of who is benefiting from this system, what did we see as weaknesses that we may be able to exploit and where were our leverage points as day laborers who were hired and fired every day. This was an active process that would continue when we left the shelter. Our outreach to workers as seen in the video was a central way we began to formulate and test our analysis. It was through this theory and practice that we developed and launch our first campaign - the Living Wages Campaign at Camden Yards, where we would organize the hundreds of day laborers who cleaned the stadium during and after home games.

     


    United Worker's very first protest!United Worker's very first protest! (2)

     

     

     

     

     

    United Workers launched our first campaign in 2004 with a protest march to Camden Yards.


    Register for the Poor People's Campaign Moral March on Washington!

    The June 18, 2022 Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly & Moral March on Washington and to the Polls will be a generationally transformative and disruptive gathering of poor and low-wealth people, state leaders, faith communities, moral allies, unions, and partnering organizations. Click here to learn more and register!


     

    We need to build a mass movement of working class people to end poverty, and we need your help to do it. If you’d like to support our work by volunteering your time and skills, please reach out to us at [email protected] to get involved in our ongoing campaigns. You can also support us by clicking the button below and donating to United Workers. Your financial support will contribute to us becoming independently sustained by our base of members, family, and friends.

     

     

     

  • Letter to the Editor- Shirley Eatmon

    Letter to the Editor:

    Government Must Stop Turning it's Back on Homelessness

    An article in The Carroll County Times on March 15,

    “Cities change course, clear homeless camps,” reports on the problem of homeless encampments in cities across the country. Cities are planning to use aggressive measures to remove encampments rather than treating homelessness as the humanitarian crisis it is. Instead of addressing the root causes of homelessness, cities have focused on criminalizing people who are homeless. While doing outreach in Carroll County with the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign, I talked with people who are homeless and those working yet facing eviction and possibly becoming homeless. A woman working two jobs had hours cut and when unable to pay rent, the landlord told her to pay with her credit card, putting her more in debt. A mother with a young child was three months behind in her rent due to her place of employment closing several weeks during the pandemic and then cutting her hours. The landlord did not inform her of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program that would have paid her back rent to keep her housing. A palliative patient on continuous oxygen was evicted by a landlord during the rent moratorium. These stories are not unique to Carroll County and can be heard all over Maryland and throughout the country. At the root of homelessness is systemic poverty, racism, ecological devastation, a war

    economy and the distorted moral narrative that seeks to blame the poor instead of addressing systems that cause poverty. Social welfare and antipoverty programs have been underfunded to the extent that only a quarter of eligible families receive federal housing assistance. We live in a country where there is an abundance of resources, but our government chooses not to use the resources to uplift people. Housing provides stability, security, community and belonging. Without housing, everything else collapses. On June 18, I am joining the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign with thousands of people coming from across the country in the Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Worker’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington to demand changes in a system that ignores the needs of people. It’s time to stand in solidarity to demand our basic rights to housing, healthcare, living wages and voting rights. Somebody’s hurting our people, and we won’t be silent anymore. 

     

    — Shirley EatmonFinksburg

    Eatmon works for the Maryland Poor People’s Campaign — Western Region

  • End of Year Newsletter

     

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