Friday, December 18, 2015

Santa Claus Delivers Lumps Of Coal to Mayor Kasim Reed!

 Today Santa Claus Joined Peoplestown Residents Fighting to Stay in Their Homes.

Residents in Peoplestown who have been fighting to stay in their homes, despite the cities continued threat to us eminent domain to remove them, plan to brought Christmas cheer to Atlanta's City Hall. Residents were be joined by Santa Claus as they sang rewritten Christmas songs around the giant Christmas tree on the first floor of city hall.

Residents and supporters then joined Santa as he delivers a lump of coal to Mayor Kasim Reed's office. Unfortunately Mayor Reed made Santa's naughty list for refusing to work with residents that are desperately fighting to stay in their homes and their neighbors who want more transparency in development projects in the Turner Field neighborhoods.

As of now eminent domain proceedings have not begun, and there is speculation that the Mayor is reluctant to do this because the part may include some sort of non flooding related development, which is what many in the community have feared from the beginning.

Senator Vincent Fort also joined the group of residents in prayer, song, and action.
Check out the campaign video here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Peoplestown Residents Stand Against Their Displacement, Will You Have Their Backs?


Dear Friend: 

The picture above is the view from my kitchen window last week as the 3 houses next door to me were torn down by City of Atlanta bulldozers.  To the City these were simply parcels in the way of their plans to build a park and pond.  To me these were homes filled with families, with whom I had relationships and I miss them.  Despite the City of Atlanta's misrepresentations, THESE HOMES DID NOT FLOOD, and that makes the loss that much more profound. My remaining neighbors and I are determined that our homes and families will not meet the same fate.  WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!!  

After weeks of protest, Mayor Kasim Reed finally agreed to meet with us.  The meeting will take place on Tuesday Dec. 1 and we are asking supporters to be with us during the rally, press conference and meetings from 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. If you can't be there please call the Mayor's office on Nov. 30 and/or Dec. 1 (404.330.6100).  There is a phone script below for the call but feel free to freestyle :-)

Weeks of media pressure, sit ins, press conferences and rallies inspired the Mayor to decide that our neighbor Ms. Mattie Jackson (93) will stay in her home.  He said the City's plan would be worked around her house.  We are delighted for Ms. Mattie and we are meeting with the Mayor to demand the same treatment. We demand that the Mayor DO THE RIGHT THING!  Thank you in advance for your support.  Together we can make the difference!!

Please mark Tuesday Dec. 1 on your calendar and circulate theevent and the enclosed Face Book event post and encourage others to stand with us at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 1 on the Trinity side of City Hall (55 Trinity Street) or make a call on our behalf. 

Peace and Gratitude,

Tanya Washington and Mr. and Mrs. Darden
(Peoplestown Residents, Atlanta, GA)

Phone Script for Call to Mayor's Office (404.330.6100) on Monday Nov. 30 and/or Tuesday Dec. 1 from 9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.

My name is ____________ and I am calling in support of the Peoplestown residents who are meeting with Mayor Kasim Reed to demand that they remain in their homes.  I want the Mayor to do the right thing and allow them stay in their homes just like he decided that Ms. Jackson can stay in her home.  Thank you!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mayor Reed Agrees to Meet With Residents After 3hr Sit-in

Today the remaining residents of Peoplestown descended upon City Hall and the Mayor's office to demand the meeting he promised them weeks ago.  A group of 50 people held a sit-in at the Mayor's office until his Chief of Staff scheduled a meeting with James and Bertha Darden and Tanya Washington, whose homes bookend the block that the Department of Watershed has slated for demolition to build a park and pond. 

After holding a spirited press conference on the steps of city hall and then a three hour sit-in the Mayor office finally agreed to a meeting with terms the residents were happy with.

 The meetings are scheduled for Tuesday December 1 at 10:30 and 11:00 a.m.  The Mayor's office has agreed to direct the Department of Watershed to refrain from threatening the residents with legal action until the meeting takes place.  The residents are grateful that they will be able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays without fearing being pushed out of their homes.  They are looking forward to a meeting with the Mayor focused on their demand that the City's plan accommodate their homes and that they, like their neighbor Ms. Mattie Jackson, be permitted to remain in a community they love and helped build.

Today's bold resident led action is a reminder that regular everyday people can stand up against gentrification and mass displacement. At American Friends Service Committee we believe that communities should be controlled by those that live in them, not developers or other entities in search of new profit streams. Today is a small victory in a much broader fight.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Peoplestown Residents Plan to Hold "Sit-In" at Mayor Reeds Office In Their Fight to Save Their Homes

On Wednesday 11/4/15 at 10am Peoplestown residents will hold a very brief press conference on the steps of city hall (68 Mitchell st) before heading to the Mayor’s office to hold a sit-in. Residents plan to hold the space until the Mayor agrees to meet with them concerning their homes and their desire to not be displaced from a community they helped build.

"When the Mayor decided Ms. Mattie's home can stay, he acknowledged  that flooding in Peoplestown can be addressed without demolishing an entire block in Peoplestown", stated homeowner Tanya Washington, whose home is one of the homes slated to be demolished.

The remaining residents whose homes bookend the block are requesting that the Mayor direct the Department of Watershed to amend the plan so they can also stay in their homes.

Last week, the residents and their supporters held a rally and camped out all night on the steps of City Hall to emphasize the point that if Ms. Mattie stays they stay. 
After holding a 10am press conference this morning they presented a letter to the Mayor, supported by a petition with 5395 signatures, respectfully requesting that he meet with them to address their right to also stay in their homes.

Ms Mattie joined them in solidarity and told her City Council Representative, Carla Smith, that she wants her neighbors to be treated as fairly as she's been treated.

The Mayor's office refused to even schedule a meeting with the residents, who had camped out all night in anticipation of getting some word from the mayor’s office about their homes.  The residents and their supporters plan to return to the Mayor to demand the meeting which he promised.

"We've been here going on 30 years, we've raised our children and our grandchildren here. This is our home and we have no intention of leaving", state Bertha Darden who lives in one of the homes in question with her husband Robert Darden.

We are of course disappointed with Mayor Reed's continued dismissive stance towards these Peoplestown residents but we remain hopeful that he will do right by them as he did right by Mattie.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Sleeping on the Steps Of Atlanta City Hall

Peoplestown Residents and allies spent all night on the steps of Atlanta city hall to bring attention to their fight to avoid losing their homes to development project

"When the Mayor decided Ms. Mattie's home can stay, he acknowledged  that flooding in Peoplestown can be addressed without demolishing an entire block in Peoplestown", stated homeowner Tanya Washington, whose home is one of the homes slated to be demolished.

The remaining residents whose homes bookend the block are requesting that the Mayor direct the Department of Watershed to amend the plan so they can also stay in their homes.

Last night, the residents and their supporters  held a rally and camped out all night on the steps of City Hall to emphasize the point that if Ms. Mattie stays they stay.  American Friends Service Committee was excited to be the in support along with leaders from Occupy Our Homes Atlanta. Most who committed to stay though the night had never done anything like it before and what was initial nervousness about the bold tactic quickly turned into the joy that often comes with participating in collective action driven by a righteous goal; in this case, saving the homes of residents that helped build the community they love.
After holding a 10 am press conference this morning they presented a letter to the Mayor, supported by a petition with 5394 signatures, respectfully requesting that he meet with them to address their right to also stay in their homes.
Ms Mattie joined them in solidarity and told her City Council Representative, Carla Smith, that she wants her neighbors to be treated as fairly as she's been treated.

The Mayor's office refused to even schedule a meeting with the residents, who had camped out all night in anticipation of getting some word from the mayors office about their homes.  The residents and their supporters plan  to return to the Mayor to demand the meeting which he promised.

"We've been here going on 30 years, we've raised our children and our grandchildren here. This is our home and we have no intention of leaving", state Bertha Darden who lives in one of the homes in question with her husband Robert Darden.

We are of course disappointed with Mayor Reed's continued dismissive stance towards these Peoplestown residents but we remain hopeful that he will do right by them as he did right by Mattie. After last night a few things are clear. This fight will not go away, it will continue to escalate as residents make it clear they will not leave their homes. It also seems clear that these residents have already won and they know it, their supporters know it, it's just going to take city council and Mayor Reed some time and possibly more creative direct action to figure it out.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peoplestown Residents to Rally and Sleep Out in Front of Atlanta City Hall

New Campaign Video Released:

After two sit-ins at his office and over 5k signatures on a petition Mayor Reed agreed to take hands off Miss Mattie Jackson’s and allow her to stay.

While this is an exciting development other residents are still fighting to exist in the community they helped create. Miss Mattie has committed to stand with remaining residents against the displacement of her neighbors. Tanya Washington, a resident fighting for her home states, “If they can build a plan around Miss Mattie’s Home, they can build a plan around all of our homes.”

Residents, along with Miss Mattie, will lead a rally at City hall, 68 Mitchell St Sw at 7pm Thursday October 22nd. Residents, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, and allies will then stay ALL NIGHT in front of city hall with a simple demand; “Don't destroy our homes! Find a solution that doesn't displace us!”

The all-night vigil will end with a Friday 10/23 10am press conference and a letter delivery to Mayor Reed’s office requesting he meet with remaining residents.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stand with Blackstone tenants around the world in demanding justice from CEO Schwarzman!

Our Homes Are Not a Commodity!  No Business As Usual Today -- Shut Em Down!
Today members of Occupy Our Homes Atlanta delivered a demand letter to Blackstone Groups Atlanta Head Quarters. We encourage you to take the time to make a call/email as people around the world take a stand against Blackstone's unfair, exploitative housing practices. Can we count on you to make the call?
Blackstone, one of the world's largest private equity firms, is buying up housing all over the world and quickly becoming one of the largest landlord's in our cities.  But at the expense of families and communities.  Blackstone buys up our foreclosed homes for cheap, kicks out the residents, charges exorbitant rents, fails to do proper maintenance and excludes people of color and immigrants!

Fore More background info on #StopBlackstone campaign see below

CALL CEO Stephen Schwarzman NOW at 212-583-5000

If number is busy, call 212 503 2100, 212 583 5799, see all Blackstone #'s globally below

Document # of calls made, city and country here:

EMAIL him at

SCRIPT -- Tell the Blackstone CEO:

"Mr. Schwarzman, I stand with Blackstone tenants and community organizations around the world.  Stop buying up our foreclosed homes and public housing, stop all your unjust evictions and make your rents affordable.  I support this important struggle and will not let up until you meet the tenants' demands.  Homes are NOT a commodity!"

TWEET -- #StopBlackstone

By calling in you are part of an international day of action spanning 4 countries and 3 continents!  TODAY, Right To The City and PAH in Spain are organizing protests at Blackstone offices in the US, Spain, Japan and England!  In the US we are doing actions and delivering demand letters in cities across the country including New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Seattle. Our call in's will be happening in over 40 cities worldwide!!!!!!!!!!!

We are just getting started and in the future, we plan to expand our organizing and protests to everywhere Blackstone is,  including China, Australia, and India.  Our international demands are below and will be paired with local demands in each city.

For more background info on #StopBlackstone -- Our Homes Are Not a Commodity see bottom of this email

The Blackstone Group
Phone: +1 404 460 2321
Fax: +1 404 460 2337

The Blackstone Group
Phone: +1 617 646 2900
Fax: +1 617 646 2905

The Park Hill Group
Phone: +1 312 705 3070
Fax: +1 312 705 3079

GSO Capital Partners LP
Phone: +1 713 358 1400
Fax: +1 713 358 1401

Los Angeles
The Blackstone Group
Phone: +1 310 310 6949
Fax: +1 310 310 6998

Menlo Park
The Blackstone Group
Phone: +1 650 798 3800
Fax: +1 650 798 3801

San Francisco
The Park Hill Group
Phone: +1 415 276 5900
Fax: +1 415 276 5919



Blackstone is one of the world's largest private equity firms.  Blackstone made big money in the last housing bubble and now is cashing in again to make lots more.  It is buying up housing and real estate all over the world and quickly becoming one of the largest landlord's in our cities.  They are raking in the profits.  But at the expense of our families and communities.  They buy up our foreclosed homes for cheap, kick out the residents, charge exorbitant rents, fail to do proper maintenance and exclude people of color and immigrants!

Our International Demands on Blackstone

        1. Stop Buying Our Occupied, Foreclosed and Subsidized Housing
  • Do NOT destabilize our communities by buying homes that should be owned by individuals, the government or local entities.
  • End the purchase of homes owned by banks rescued with public money or homes that were purchased with sub-prime loans.
          2.  No Unjust Evictions
  • Stop unjust evictions of homeowners or tenants in purchased properties
  • Stop forcing tenants out of homes due to harassment, your failure to make repairs and charging unjust fees.
3.  Affordable Rents
  • Do not charge unfair rents
  • Do not make people pay more than one third of their income to housing
  • Ensure that at least 25% of all Blackstone housing in a city is affordable to poor people who make 0 to 30% neighborhood median income
       4.  Quality Conditions and Sustainability
  • Renovate all purchased homes to a high quality
  • Maintain all properties in good condition
  • Make prompt and quality repairs
  • Ensure all utility systems and materials used in building and repairs are sustainable
5. No discrimination
  • Do not discriminate against people of color or immigrants including by using unfair prohibitions regarding former incarceration or arrests, and/or immigration status.
  • Allow equal access to Blackstone homes for all people regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, family status, immigration status, former incarceration, eviction history or credit history.
6. Accountability
  • Provide responsive and quality customer service
  • Provide full name and contact information for one consistent person from Blackstone’s property management company who has full authority to address tenant’s issues promptly and effectively
7.  Transparency of information
  • Provide to the public business and industry information including:

  • Names of all the companies Blackstone has any ownership in/control over and what properties and real estate they relate to and how
  • Terms of purchase of all housing/land/buildings purchased
  • Regular updated list of which properties are securitized, and who are the investors including banks that put up any money
  • Regular updated list of properties that are directly or indirectly managed by Blackstone worldwide
  • Regular updated list of all those evicted from each property and why (names can be withheld if it is required by law)
  • List of who's application was denied and why (names can be withheld if it is required by law)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tenant Leaders South of I-20 Come Together

This past weekend American Friends Service committee was proud to support and participate in a retreat with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and the newly formed SMP Housing Justice Movement. SMP stands for Summerhill, Mechanicsville, and Peoplestown. The retreat brought together longtime resident fighters from Occupy Our Homes Atlanta and tenant leaders from newly formed tenant associations in Peoplestown, Summerhill , and Mechanicsville.

The focus of the retreat was building a stronger structure to build power in neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field.  Tenant leaders took time to build a mission statement, organizing principles, a code of conduct, and an organizational structure.

The retreat also created space for folks to build stronger bonds with each other, sharing stories over meals and around the campfire, and sharing hopes and dreams for the future of the communities we're fighting to preserve. The communities surrounding Turner Field have the cities eye of development squarely fixed on them. Atlanta intown neighborhoods have seen massive development which has brought mass displacement in places like the Old 4th Ward, Kirkwood, and Reynaldstown.

A drive through parts of the Turner Field Communities would tell most that development could be a good thing, in fact most residents would like to see positive development in their communities but not if that means they have to leave. Atlanta needs to find a way to develop without displacing the very folks that have been holding it down for generations and we know it's possible. Gentrification isn't just racist development, it's lazy development that strips a community of its flavor and history.

We're inspired that a group of tenant leaders are stepping up to lead their fight, a fight that could change the way our city is developed in the future, a fight that could challenge the status quo of development deals that benefit a few rich folks and hurt are cities most vulnerable. AFSC is proud to be in their corner and look forward to supporting the housing justice movement soth of I-20.

The SMP Housing Justice Movement is hosting a meeting this Thursday October 15th, attendance is encouraged.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Arrests and Creative Nonviolent Actions at Atlanta's TPP Negotiations

As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks unfold in Atlanta in an effort to finalize the pro-corporate deal, the quickly formed Atlanta #StopTPP Coalition, which includes American Friends Service Committee has come together to organize a number of rolling nonviolent actions to make it clear that the anti-democratic trade deal is not in the best interest of regular everyday people around the globe. The citizens in Atlanta and the global community have continued to nonviolently resist the agreement. We won’t stand for a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.

Community members and concerned citizens from labor, faith, youth, senior, environment, LGBT, and others are coming together and inviting all within our United States and the global community to draw a line in the sand in Atlanta and to demand that the TPP shall not pass!

The Atlanta and global community will not stand for the TPP corrupting our democracy and eliminating our rights by putting corporations such as Walmart, Chevron, Cargill, and McDonalds in greater control of our daily lives leading us into a global race to the bottom. The undemocratic and secretive TPP would threaten good jobs, public services, access to affordable life-saving medicines, the environment and our climate, consumer health and safety and much more in our communities across the world.

Yesterday, during the TPP negotiations, cancer patient Zahara Heckscher was arrested after disrupting the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a protest aimed at maintaining access to affordable cancer medicines in the 12 countries affected by the trade treaty.

Heckscher, in a t-shirt reading "I HAVE CANCER. I CAN'T WAIT 8 YEARS", and holding an IV pole that read "TPP: Don' t Cut My IV,” refused to leave the Westin Hotel, the site of the negotiations between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the other TPP trade ministers. She demanded that they show her the secret TPP text to verify for herself and other people living with cancer around the globe that TPP would not include a "death sentence clause," the text of the U.S. proposal to extend de facto monopolies on biological medicines by up to 8 years.

Heckscher, a seven-year breast cancer survivor, calls herself a cancer thriver. She has been treated by biologicals including trastuzumab (Hercepin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta). She is currently undergoing chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial, and continues on denosumab (Xgeva) treatment as well.

According to Heckscher, "For thousands of women to die unnecessarily of breast cancer because of the TPP is a horrible, cruel, premeditated, and avoidable catastrophe. The provisions being decided by TPP ministers today could allow drug monopolies on biologics for 8 years. Some of these medicines cost up to tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."

"When you have breast cancer today, you can’t wait 8 years or 7 years or 6 years for a treatment to become available or affordable. When you have cancer, even a one-year delay in affordable medicine can be a death sentence. That is why we call this proposed provision of the TPP a 'death sentence clause.' If it passes, thousands of women like me will die waiting."

As the day progressed there were dozens of creative actions including a disruption of a TPP reception hosted by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the use of high powered projection devices to project images on the hotel negotiations are taking place in.

Today community members disrupted the lobby chanting, "Stop TPP, no corporate greed" as longtime human rights activist Daniel Hanely attached himself to a railing on the floor that negotiations were happening. Daniel was eventually arrested and is still incarcerated. Daniel made sure that these trade negotiators got the message that the people across the world absolutely will not stand for these corporate dominated trade deals. Daniel took a big risk today, and his bail is likely to be high, please consider contributing and sharing his to his bail fund by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Displacement of Residents in Historically Black Neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia


By Resident Fighter Tanya Washington

The City of Atlanta, under the direction of Mayor Kasim Reed, is displacing residents to create a new park and a pond. The plan is being billed as a solution to flooding that the targeted residents don’t experience. However, the proposed park and pond will displace Peoplestown residents to make room for the development anticipated after the Atlanta Braves move out of Turner Field. The City’s plan tracks the demolition of the nearly 100-year old African-American church in 2014 to make room for the construction of the new Falcon’s stadium.

The human impact of the City’s plan, which independent engineers and environmental organizations have described as fundamentally flawed, is to displace families and to destroy a community. In fact, the City rejected a proposal submitted by an engineering firm it hired to turn parking lots in Turner Field into permeable space to absorb the water that floods the area, during intense storms. The City rejected the proposal in favor of one that would destroy a historically black community. The City’s priorities are clear: development is more important than neighborhoods and parking lots take precedence over people.

Despite the City’s promises that residents “would be made whole” and people would be “happy” with the offers they received; the City has reached out with offers to people that don’t even allow them to pay off their mortgages, let alone move into comparable homes in comparable neighborhoods. Furthermore, the settlements are communicated against the backdrop of a disturbing threat: if you don’t accept these insultingly low offers we will take your homes. Displacing people for a plan that will not work is irresponsible government. Destroying black neighborhoods is unconscionable. The City says it is taking homes to save residents from phantom flooding they don’t experience. But, who will save the people of Peoplestown from the City?

Please consider signing our petition and join more than 4,000 others opposed to the City's plans to displace Ms. Jackson, a civil rights legend who carried the Olympic torch in the 1996 games, and her neighbors!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Residents Proclaim, "Peoplestown Will Not Go Down"

This past Tuesday  93 year old Mattie Jackson and the remaining residents on her block held a press conference declaring that they will refuse to leave their homes despite the City’s threat to demolish their homes and build a park and a Japanese style retention pond. Immediately following the press conference residents and supporters, including dozens of children marched through the community passing our yard signs and advertising a  “Save Our Block” BBQ Thursday 9/17 at7pm at 163 Ormond Ave SE.

Peoplestown residents attended an Urban Design Commission meeting last week to express outrage that their homes, which do not flood and require no flood insurance, are slated to be demolished to make way for an Old Fourth Ward style park and pond.  It has become clear that the City does not plan to budge, despite the community’s concern over mass displacement and gentrification and concerns expressed by several members of the Urban Design Commission about the efficacy of the proposed plan.

93 year old neighborhood hero Mattie Jackson stated, “I’m not leaving, if I have to sleep on the floor I will.” But it’s not just Mattie Jackson who plans to stand her ground. Tanya Washington, a law professor who lives at 148 Atlanta Ave states, “I’ve worked with engineers who say the City’s plan is flawed and reflects outdated engineering.  The City rejected a plan presented by the firm it retained that would not require displacement.  We’ve been told by the City if we don’t accept insultingly low offers they will take our homes. Displacing people with a plan that does not work is irresponsible government, and I shall not be moved!” 

On Tuesday the remaining Peoplestown residents made it it clear why they have decided not to leave their homes and presented the press with information on alternative plans to deal with flooding that wouldn’t require demolishing a block in the heart of the Peoplestown community.

Last week an online petition was launch that’s already approaching 5k signatures: 
The Dept of Watershed's own expert, other engineers and environmental organizations have proposed plans that will be less costly, more efficient, and more sustainable and will not call for the displacement of homeowners.

The Urban Development Commission expressed concerns about the City's plans to demolish homes in Peoplestown and about the City's failure to provide residents with any notice of the petition hearing. Despite these concerns, the City is moving forward with its plans which includes demolition of several homes that the City does not own and which do not flood.
 Residents of Peoplestown, including 93 year old civil rights activist Mattie Jackson, are opposed to these plans and refuse to give in to the City's threats to take and demolish their homes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Building Tenant Power South of I-20

American Friends Service Committee is excited to be working alongside long term residents in Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Summerhill and beyond in an effort to build and strengthen tenant associations in low income apartment complexes. Atlanta is many decades behind other cities it's size when it comes to a culture of tenant associations and tenant rights.

For over a year we have partnered with Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation, Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, and a number of other community groups to build the SMP(Stands for Summerhill, Mechanicsville, and Peoplestown) Housing Justice Movement.

Last month with the help of Right to the City Alliance we launch a monthly training curriculum specifically for tenant leaders designed to help them build and strengthen tenant associations in the area. Mass displacement is a dynamic problem that happens when communities are developed too fast. It's not a simple problem, and there's not one way to combat the issue. One way mass displacement happens is the destruction of low in complexes, but with strong tenant associations residents can fight back and in some cases force owners to sell the property to tenants at a fair current market price. We've already had some success and we're really excited to be working with a new group of strong emerging tenant leaders in the area!

Right now the project could use support. One way you can support this important work is by making a contribution of any size to our fundraising drive by clicking here!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Training For Change In Atlanta

 This past Sunday American Friends Service Committee had the pleasure of working with the Atlanta chapter of Zulu Gatekeepers to facilitate a community organizing 101 workshop. Participants learned the basics of how to build a new group, develop and launch an issue based campaign, identify allies, and build power in Atlanta communities.

The turnout and energy was so great that we have decided to start offering regular organizing workshops again in partnership with Zulu Gatekeepers. Workshops will focus on base building strategy, media messaging, the art of activism, and campaign development. We will work to keep workshops free to community member's and grassroots organizations.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Community Day! Giving Back While Buiding Forward!

Dozens of young ones got free hair cuts

Dance Parties broke out!
What happens to Turner Field once the Braves leave has been a hot topic in Atlanta. Will that land become a Casino, will new stadiums replace Turner Field, will an Atlantic Station type development go down? One thing that’s for sure is that the communities surrounding Turner Field can’t afford another development project that benefits a few well connected folks while further cutting off and displacing long term residents that have been living here long before it was cool to move into the area.

We need strong, organized communities to make sure that development that happens in the area benefits those that have been holding down the community for years, but we also need to have time to relax and enjoy each other, to enjoy the community we love!

Building a movement takes a lot more then neighborhood meetings and strategy session. Active base building should include cultural events, house parties and other social events that bring people together.

Our giant home defender pledge!
Slip n Slide was a hit!
This past Saturday we had the opportunity to work with community partners to do just that. Community Day brought hundreds of residents together at Four Corners Park in the heart of beautiful Peoplestown. Although the event is in Peoplestown it's a celebration of all the amazing Atlanta neighborhoods south of I-20. Families came out for an afternoon filled with music, entertainment for the kids, community education, and lots of give aways!
Lots of painted faces!
With the help of the dillaFoundation and a ton of local businesses that volunteered to put out donation boxes we were about to give out close to  300 back packs filled with school supplies and dental packs! We also had music all day, food for all, a slip and slide for the kids, free ice cream, and a whole lot more.

Bags, and more bags!
In an effort to bring more residents into the movement to protect, improve, and expand affordable housing we asked folks to sign the pledge to defend their homes and the homes of their community member, hundreds signed the pledge! We’re excited to continue to work closely with the newly formed resident led SMP Housing Justice Movement and Occupy Our Homes Atlanta as the lead the way in the fight to stop mass displacement in the Turner Field area.

This event simply wouldn’t have been possible without the support of:
Zulu Nation
Youth on the Move
Boynton Village Tenants Association
McGruders Grocery

Hop Hop gave back all day!
We even had live hawks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Residents Bring Concerns About Turner Field Development to Mayor Reed

Yesterday American Friends Service Committee joined the TurnerField Community Benefits Coalition at city hall to hold a press conference and deliver a letter to Mayor Reed. Over sixty residents from the neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field showed up on Tuesday morning to send a clear message to the Mayor and city official. One of the residents, Doristine Samuel who’s lived in Mechanicsville since 1957 stated, “We used to have a beautiful community. We had everything we needed. Big development has destroyed our neighborhoods, from the highway to the Olympic stadium, to Turner Field. We need development done right, with community members involved. We know the Mayor wants a legacy, but it must be a legacy we can live with.”

The letter asks the Mayor to make a public commitment to completing the Turner Field Livable Centers Initiative Planning Study (LCI) process before negotiating any development deal. It requests that Mayor Reed use the recommendations from this study to initiate a competitive bidding process for the massive redevelopment project. “Our communities have suffered long enough as a result of top-down development,” says Summerhill resident John A. Colabelli. “We don’t want a quick fix solution. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore the surrounding neighborhoods and reconnect downtown to the entire south side of Atlanta.” The LCI Planning Study grant was awarded to the City of Atlanta in February 2015 and represents the largest LCI grant ever-awarded by the Atlanta Regional Commission. The study is due to be completed by July 31, 2016.

After delivering the letter to the Mayor’s office in mass the group split up into teams and made sure every city council member, every county commissioner, and every Atlanta County recreation authority representative had a hand delivered letter by the end of lunch.
American Friends Service Committee is excited to continue to support this important coalition work. We are informed by the idea that communities should be controlled by those that live in them. We can no longer afford to have a few well connected folks who already live in overabundance make massive profits off public-private development deals while the surrounding communities fall into decay. We have the coalition effort can turn the tide of bad development deals in Atlanta and encourage all to get involved!

The Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition is a coalition of 42 neighborhood associations and advocacy groups representing thousands of residents in the communities surrounding Turner Field. The Coalition seeks community participation in decisions related to the redevelopment of the Turner Field Stadium area.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tenants Organize in Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville!

This week tenant leaders from multiple apartment complexes came together to learn how to organize tenant associations across the Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, and Summerhill communities. We were excited to the room absolutely packed with residents ready to organize against what some see as the coming displacement that often comes with big development or low income communities and build strong tenant associations that have the power to improve their living conditions. It's not only exciting that tenant associations are emerging in these communities, they're emerging together as a rising tide.

The room was absolutely packed and clear next steps were made for each complex represented. AFSC has partnered with Occupy Our Homes Atlanta over the last two years to a listening project designed to launch organizing work that's informed and led by residents. The tenant organizing project is one of the results. By the end of the year we hope to see seven new tenant associations in the three neighborhoods, two have already formed!

Issues raised by tenants included black mold, deplorable conditions, poor treatment by property management, retaliation for individual attempts to organize from property managers, and displacement of long term residents. Despite that fact that there is still a degree of fear of retaliation from property management, it was exciting to hear that when residents act as a collective , as was the case recently with Boynton Village, they win!

AFSC is exciting to continue to support this important work as the eye of development becomes more and more fixated on the Turner Field neighborhoods.

When We Fight, We Win!

Several weeks ago we asked you to sign the petition to stop WRI from evicting Vaniyah and her eight beautiful children and you signed! We asked your to call the private equity group and demand they give the family time to relocate on their terms and you did!

When Vaniyah reached out she was so upset with WRI that she had no interest in working out a deal that kept her family in the house, she just needed a fair amount of time to find acquit safe housing for her and the family.

We quickly organized a press conference, launched an online petition, organized a call in day, and delivered the petition directly to WRI's Atlanta office.

Because of your calls and your signatures, which we hand delivered to WRI's Atlanta office, Vaniyah has been given 60 days to find a new home and the housing authority has agreed to make finding a home a priority. This simply would not have been possible without EVERY one of ya'll!

  Thank you all for your signatures, for sharing, for calling! Together we stopped an amazing family from being put on the street! Please consider making this important work possible by investing what you can into it. We operate on a shoe string so every dollar counts!

When we fight, we win!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Training for Change

American Friends Service Committee has been excited to be a part of the Turner Field Benefits Coalition. Our belief that communities should be controlled by those that live in them has informed and guided our participation in the communities around Turner Field over the last four years.

Last night we were excited to team up with Rise-Up Georgia to facilitate a social media training that focused on how to use social media to build public pressure and win campaigns. Building a movement takes time and lots of training when you're in it to win it. We're super excited to have partners like Rise-Up Georgia stepping up to make dynamic trainings like this happen. We look forward to supporting more trainings for residents in the coalition over the summer.

In the spirit of the training we encourage all of you to like the Turner Field Benefits Coalition on facebook and Twitter!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Organizing to Win in Peoplestown

We were well represented at the launch of the coalition
So I wanted to update folks on all the exciting work going down in and around the Peoplestown community. Some of you might be aware that last year we partnered with residents and community organizations to facilitate a listening project in Peoplestown. After looking at the results it was clear that Peoplestown residents cared deeply for their community and have deep concerns about it's futures. On the top of the list of concerns was the lack of affordable house, access to good food, and trash in the community.
Canvassing Team Gets Ready to Knock on Doors

Residents Participate in Free Tenant Rights Legal Clinic
Since the listening project I'm excited to report that we have worked with Peoplestown residents to develop and anti-displacement campaign and a series of housing justice training's. One of the exciting developments has been a strong effort to organize tenant associations in the communities surrounding Turner Field. We also launched a weekly free tenants rights legal clinic with Attorney Joshua Davis. It's already been announced that the Braves will be leaving Turner Field in 2017 and all that land will be up for grabs for developers. Fighting mass displacement means pushing for a process that includes long term residents and ultimately benefits the surrounding neighborhoods. If history teaches us anything it's that development comes with lots of promises to the community but usually ends up hurting and displacing long term residents. In order the fight for a process and result that lifts up those that have been holding down the community long before it was cool or profitable to buy property here residents have realized now is the time to organize people around a platform insure residents aren't displaced, real jobs are created, and that those that live here have a say in what happens to the land.

Residents Stand Outside Boynton Village Demanding Fair Treatment
One exciting development is that in the effort to organize a tenants association at Boynton Village tenants have won a huge victory. The owners of Boynton Village, the Woda group, have agreed to sign a new agreement with HUD to keep the complex affordable for the next 20 years. This is a big win considering other apartment complexes will consider converting to market rate as the price of rent in this area continues to increase with each passing month. This may not have happened if residents hadn't organized together, holding meetings, launching petitions, and demanding face to face negotiation with the Woda group. That work has been a launching point to meet with other tenant leaders in the Peoplestown area.
Tommy Moore Trains a New Generation of Gardeners in Pittsburgh

Responding to the lack of  good food in the community we have been working with Pittsburgh(right next door to Peoplestown) resident Tommy Moore to help him raise funds to develop community gardens. Tommy is a miracle worker in the garden and has used the resources to develop multiple gardens sights, teach young people to grow food, and feed the neighborhood free of charge. We're so excited to to able to work with Tommy are currently working with him to break ground on a new garden this month.
Spellman Students Help Facilitate Community Clean-up

We have organized to big trash clean up days with college students focusing on the peoples town community.

During Housing Justice 101 Training
We have joined and put energy into building and strengthening the Turner Field Benefits Coalition, with is a coalition of over 40 groups, mostly based in the neighborhoods surrounding Turner Field. At this point the coalition is fighting to insure that those that live in the neighborhood will have a real voice and an impact on what happens to the land the Braves used after they leave. Sadly up to this point it seems as if community members have not been given space at the table. It's a cruel irony that many of the things the neighbor hood wants did used to exist. Fifty years ago Peoples town, Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, Adair Park were considered more a part of downtown than Midtown is today. You had everything you needed to survive in the community. From grocery stores to theaters, to doctors offices, and local business. The highway came through, the Olympic stadium, Turner Field, all came with the promise of positive development for the community, all ended up hurting more than helping. We are excited to be a part of a coalition aimed at challenging the model of development that displaces long term residents and treats the neighborhood like a giant ATM.