Explosions Rock Tent City in Kalamazoo

Explosions Rock Tent City in Kalamazoo

On Sunday evening at approximately 6:30 pm, a series of fiery explosions wreaked havoc at the site of Kalamazoo’s Homeless Encampment on Mills street near downtown. The Encampment, often unofficially referred to as “Tent City”, sits on a brownfield redevelopment site just east of the city’s downtown business district, and serves as de-facto “home” to 15 plus residents – some of whom were previously ejected from other locations such as Bronson Park when city leaders began cracking down on what they considered a nuisance – the presence of houseless citizens in close proximity to high rent business and residential properties. Setting up tents and other temporary shelters is more often than not a last resort for residents who have been unable to find a safe place to stay elsewhere as a result of the lack of resources afforded by the city of Kalamazoo and what many see as a failure on the part of city leadership as well as private organizations such as the Gospel Mission to adequately and humanely serve the city’s houseless citizens.

Reporting live from Tent City just after the area was declared safe, Majyck Dee spoke to residents  and others who had come to help. The cause of the destruction is still under investigation, but those on the scene say that a fire began inside of one of the tents and quickly spread, igniting several propane tanks on the site that had been donated in order to provide some heat and cooking fuel to residents during the cold winter months. Tanks that remained after the fire were removed by the city, and many are concerned that propane will no longer be allowed on the property – a chilling prospect, literally,  for this small community.

It is unclear how many people have been or will be displaced as a result of the fire, but individuals who spoke with Dee on Sunday night expressed a need for tents, sleeping bags and blankets to replace items destroyed by the flames. While fortunately no serious injuries were reported, many residents’ essential belongings were reduced to ash, or destroyed by water. The backened, soggy remains of blankets, clothing, tents, and other items dotted the encampment on Sunday night. For those that had little to begin with, the loss is great.

Those interested in donating are encouraged to reach out to local organizers who have already been working to provide basic needs to residents. Kalamazoo Coalition for the Homeless is one such group. On their facebook page, they keep an updated list of specific needs, offer guidance to those who want to help, and coordinate volunteers to collect items and deliver them to the encampment. 

 

 

 

 

urban democracy feast organizers cancel march feast

urban democracy feast organizers cancel march feast

March 28 event at Eastside Neighborhood Association

Kalamazoo, MI

The UDF planning committee decided it was best to cancel the 28 March Feast event. We will be rescheduling this event to occur during the fall (November 2020). Given the  CDC advice about canceling gatherings of 10 people or more, and the closure of all restaurants in Michigan, we believe canceling the 28 March event is best. 
We are working on a podcast to air close to the 28 March date, and an online event to discuss gaps in prevention, planning to deal with consequences of the virus, and other needs in the city.

We will let you know how to link to these events. 

Visit www.urbandemoracyfeast.org for more information.

 

 

FEEDING Our kids in the midst of covid-19

FEEDING Our kids in the midst of covid-19

Kalamazoo, MI- The atmosphere at Fox Ridge Apartments was calm this afternoon, as a food truck stationed near the community’s office to distribute food packs to children in the community. Still, as of 12:45, workers reported that they had handed out over 100 food packs so far, and anticipated many more before their shift would end.

With more than one-third of Kalamazoo Public Schools households living below the federal poverty line, 14% of which are experiencing “deep” poverty (at or below 50% of the poverty line), this service is essential to the wellbeing of children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches to meet their nutritional needs and would otherwise be unable to access regular meals during the Covid-19 school closures. In addition to children, food is available to any person up to age 26 who is enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled, according to the Kalamazoo Public Schools website.

The process of handing out food packs was efficient, with no identification, proof of enrollment or family size required to collect needed items. Workers, wearing gloves while sorting crates and handling pre-packed bags, were courteous and helpful, making sure to let folks know when they would come back again.

Included in each bag, meant to provide two days’ worth of nutrition, were milk, juice, cheese, sliced apples, graham snacks, yogurt, muffins and whole grain crackers. 2-day packs will be given out on Monday and Wednesdays, and on Fridays the packs will contain 3 days’ worth, to last through the weekend.

Courtesy of : Tandy Moore

While collecting items for my own family, several small children, clad in surgical masks, came to the truck to pick up their provisions. Cheerfully thanking the workers in the “Meet up to Eat up” van,  a few even moved their masks aside to share smiles. Crisis or no, children’s joy can’t be contained!

Families with more than one or two students will want to make sure to bring reusable shopping bags or totes (or extra hands)  to transport their items – take it from this mama, who hadn’t thought that through before making the trip.  Lugging five kids’ worth of milk three blocks home proved challenging!

Food will be distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:30 to 12:30 at all Kalamazoo Public Schools, with the exception of

Meet Up Greet Up Mobile Food Service

Indian Prairie, and Winchell Elementary, as well as A.L.P. and South Westnedge School. Additional sites Include Interfaith Homes and Eastside Neighborhood Association from 11:30 to noon at each, and Fox Ridge Apartments and New Village Park from 12:30 to 1:00. Any changes to this schedule will be posted on the KPS website.

People’s Lobby Day 2018 Attracts Local Youth to State Capital Building

People’s Lobby Day 2018 Attracts Local Youth to State Capital Building

Kalamazoo, MI- Hundreds of socially activated citizens from around the state descending to Lansing for, “The People’s Lobby, known in recent past as, “Capital Day”. 2018 makes the 7th year residents meet with their local legislators on issues ranging from Criminal Justice Reform, the Long Term Care Study Bill, Universal Family Care, Medicare for All, Water for Flint and Immigration.

S.E.E (Social. Economic. Educational) Change, group of families, students, educators, and community members working together to break the School to Prison Pipeline and dismantle
barriers to success through advocacy, education, empowerment, and action. S.E.E Change took a group of teen members from Kalamazoo’s area Girl Scouts and Kalammazoo Public Students and parents to meet with 60th House District Rep. Jon Hoadely and State Senator Margeret O’Brien.

Students were able to participate in a Direct Action Rally demanding a resolution for Flint residents and the water crisis that continues to this day.

S.E.E Change youth invited Representative Jon Hoadley to the 2nd Annual E.R.A.S.E Celebration on June 13, 2018 to celebrate all youth and the end of 2017/2018 academic school year at 1009 E. Stockbridge Street in Kalamazoo, MI.

La organización local organiza una película y debate sobre la reforma de la justicia penal

La organización local organiza una película y debate sobre la reforma de la justicia penal

Majyck Radio-Kalamazoo, MI

Escritor colaborador- Tandy Moore

El miércoles por la tarde, S.E.E. Change, defensores locales del cambio social, económico y educativo en Kalamazoo, se asoció con el Centro Arcus para la Justicia Social para presentar un documental que explora la respuesta actual y la perpetuación del trauma personal, intergeneracional, racista y de pobreza en el sistema de justicia penal. Nuestra sociedad. Producido y dirigido por la Dra. Shakti Butler, Healing Justice se basa en entrevistas con ex delincuentes, víctimas, artistas, expertos en justicia penal y practicantes de justicia restaurativa para proporcionar cuentas personales emocionantes, contexto histórico y cultural, y datos para ilustrar la filosofía y efectividad de utilizando un enfoque de sanación en línea con las Prácticas Restaurativas para reducir las tasas de delincuencia violenta y de reincidencia en las comunidades de todo el país.

Elisheva T. Johnson SEE Change Organizer

Durante la proyección, se invitó a los televidentes a participar en discusiones en grupos pequeños y compartir ideas entre la audiencia más amplia sobre cómo podemos trabajar juntos para abordar el daño causado por un sistema de justicia punitiva: una población en prisión cada vez mayor, estructuras familiares rotas, privación de derechos económicos, niños traumatizados, víctimas olvidadas, crisis de salud mental no tratadas y avance hacia un enfoque más efectivo y proactivo para lidiar con el delito y la delincuencia, uno que aborde las causas de los comportamientos dañinos y se enfoque en las necesidades reales de los delincuentes y las víctimas.

El evento del miércoles contó con la participación de activistas comunitarios, líderes, académicos y jóvenes, así como del Fiscal del Condado de Kalamazoo, Jeff Getting, quien según los informes está explorando la posibilidad de implementar la Programación de Justicia Restaurativa en el sistema judicial juvenil local. VER. Los organizadores del cambio esperan que esto sea solo el comienzo del diálogo continuo y la colaboración de buena fe entre los miembros de la comunidad, los funcionarios de justicia penal y los líderes electos en Kalamazoo.

Se anima a los interesados ​​en unirse a la conversación a conectarse con S.E.E. Cambiar a través de Facebook o correo electrónico seechangekazoo@gmail.com

Se puede encontrar más información sobre Healing Justice y otras películas de World Trust en: www.world-trust.org/films

Una lista completa de los próximos eventos en el Centro Arcus para la Justicia Social está disponible en: https://reason.kzoo.edu/csjl/

Community Members Meet to Coordinate a Response to Recent Tragedies in Kalamazoo

Community Members Meet to Coordinate a Response to Recent Tragedies in Kalamazoo

Majyck Radio-Kalamazoo, MI-

Contributing writer-Tandy Moore

Majyck Radio Photo

Douglass Association Townhall Meeting Feb. 7. 2018

A town hall event Wednesday evening at the Douglass Community Center offered a chance for local residents discuss concerns about child safety in the wake of the tragic murder of a Grand Rapids teen, an attempted child abduction in Kalamazoo, and scandal relating to a violent incident at Kalamazoo Central. Co-hosted by Jermaine Jackson, the Circulation Director at the Alma Powell Branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library Antiracism Transformation Team member, and Jacob Pinney-Johnson of Kalamazoo’s 4Dad Fatherhood Initiative. The event was well attended by parents, caregivers, community leaders and other residents eager to discuss concrete ways to support and protect the city’s kids.

Mr. Jackson spoke of the recent abduction of a 4-year old girl in Kalamazoo was thwarted as a result of an adult intervention. Jermaine expressed his hope that the would-be tragedy will serve as a wake-up call for adults who too often feel that they should “mind their own business” when they have a feeling something isn’t right. He also stressed the need for parents to have frank conversations with their children about how to stay safe away from home, and about what to do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Pinney-Johnson, Community Educator and advocate adding that the important role men and fathers play in safeguarding the lives of young people should not be overlooked.

4Dad’s Care Coordinator Derek Miller, alongside Mr. Pinney-Johnson work to support fathers in Kalamazoo by offering fellowship opportunities for men to share their experiences with fatherhood, free parenting workshops, and direct outreach to new or expecting dads.

Elisheva T. Johnson, Community Organizer with Michigan United’s S.E.E. Change, a campaign focused on educational advocacy and the School to Prison Pipeline, expressed her support for the teacher who was harmed in an attack by a student at Kalamazoo Central High School, as well as her deep concern for the minor child who was arrested the same day.

While he should be held accountable, Ms. Johnson said, his actions indicate a possible history of trauma and deep social and emotional struggles that will only be worsened by involvement in the criminal justice system. She urged the community to advocate for Restorative Justice measures in the prosecutor’s handling of the case, and called for the implementation of supportive, proactive policies at Kalamazoo’s schools, in line with Restorative Practices, to address the needs of vulnerable children and prevent future crises.

Many in attendance eagerly shared concerns and offered creative ideas for increased supervision and involvement in the development and safekeeping of neighborhood kids. Suggestions ranged from establishing specific homes as “safe houses” for children to go in case of an emergency to organizing “bus stop ministries”, whereby volunteers keep a watch over kids as they wait for their school bus.

Local organizer Ed Genesis announced a plan of action, modeled after the Black Panther’s Block Patrols of the 1960’s. The collaboration between S.E.E. Change and WE ACTIVE, a campaign focused on decarceration and criminal justice reform, is designed as block-by-block, a street-level initiative involving committed volunteers who will work in shifts around the clock to actively patrol and safeguard their streets.

Anyone wishing to get involved should contact the organizers via email: ed@miunited.org or elisheva@miunited.org.

While Wednesday’s agenda revolved around safety and neighborhood collaboration, an unexpected announcement of Jermaine Jackson’s candidacy for a seat on the Kalamazoo Public School Board drew enthusiastic applause. Mr. Jackson’s long record of youth and community involvement, as well as his enthusiasm for literature and education, will likely make him a popular choice for voters in November.

Discussions WIth 4Dad is held every Wednesday from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Douglass Community Center, and is open to men and fathers of all ages and experiences. For more information on other events and services offered by Kalamazoo County’s 4Dad Fatherhood Initiative, Mr. Johnson can be reached via email at dsmill@kalcounty.com.

Upcoming events at the Douglass Community Center can be found online at dcakalamazoo.com

Kick-Off to Without/-Borders? 2016 on Kalamazoo College

Kick-Off to Without/-Borders? 2016 on Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo, MI-
without-borders2016-friday-morning

Friday morning on K-College,busy with visitors local and distant for the kick-off of With/out-Borders? 2016.
Facilitating the dialogue for the first AfroFuturism Plenary are Alex Lubin.  Alex Lubin is Professor and Chair of the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, Shante Smalls-Assistant Professor of English and African American Literature & Culture at St. Johns University. Joining them as well, Cynthia Young, Adrienne Marcee Brown, writer, sci-fi/Octavia Butler scholar, organizational healer, pleasure activist, organizational healer, facilitator, live/love/relationship/work coach, doula, speaker/singer. Kai Green, Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

To view live:

http://livestream.com/KalamazooCollege/events/6494897

With/Out – ¿Borders? ll Conference

With/Out – ¿Borders? ll Conference

Kalamazoo, MI-

On the campus of K-College, many social organizers, educators and community members with meet up Friday, October 21-22, for a two-day conference, With/Out – ¿Borders? ll Conference. The event with focus on cultural and academic work, powered by Afrofuturism.
Facilitated modules around visioning of post-oppression desires through fantasy, film, technology, and speculative fiction.

Target areas of conversation:*Radical teaching
Campus activism
Education advocacy
Liberatory educational structures and paradigms

*Ideologies and technologies that move toward a renewable energy [r]evolution and sustainable future
*Global and local work creating next systems and deploying new economic possibilities and strategies.

Featured Keynote Speaker, journalist and author Naomi Klein will speak on Oct. 21 at the Arcus Center for Social Justice. The conference includes a robust panel of experts serving in local, national and global organizations. For more information visit

SEE Prosperity Speaks Out in Kalamazoo, MI

Kalamazoo, MI- An aspiring group of WMU social workers hosted SEE-(Social,Economic,Educational) Prosperity, a collective of community members graciously sharing their experience, living Black in the world, specifically in Kalamazoo.

Four black representation of systemic barriers and stereo types put a face, emotions and their own words on issues that they face every single day. All of the participants, raised in single parented homes were able to create a life for themselves and try to prosper despite their daily struggles.

Elisheva Johnson, organizer from Michigan United said, “I too, made a mistake over 20 years ago, which resulted in a felony. I have been forced to live that mistake over and over again and this has greatly impacted my life and my children’s lives to this day”.

SEE Prosperity is working on Raise the Age, a nation-wide initiative that has “seeded” in Kalamazoo. Raising the Age currently from 17 to 18 years old in the state of Michigan. Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency

Raise the Age is packaged as-The “Youth in Prison” package also includes:

*Increasing the maximum age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years old;
*Increasing the County Child Care fund reimbursement rate for qualifying community-based services for youth by 25 percent;
*Prohibiting the placement of youth under 18 in adult jails and prisons and provide access to age-appropriate rehabilitation;
*Eliminating three offenses from the list of Specified Juvenile Offenses;
*Requiring equal consideration of all mitigating factors prior to waving jurisdiction in traditional juvenile waiver cases;
*Requiring public monitoring and oversight of youth under the jurisdiction of the MDOC who entered for an offense committed prior to turning 18 years old;
*Restricting the use of administrative segregation in prison for youth aged 18 and under; and
*Establishing a family advisory board within the MDOC to ensure effective partnerships with families and victims.

SEE- Social, Economic, Educational Prosperity, and many other campaigns and community stakeholders will be traveling to the state capital on May 17, 2016 for “Capital Day”.

[huge_it_slider id=”7″]

MLK Activities in Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo-There are many activities and volunteer opportunities available for folks to participate in a city-wide celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Legacy. Many organizations are seeking volunteers to help with specific programming or projects at each location.
MLK March Kalamazoo MLK March Kalamazoo MLK March II

9am-2pm-Fresh Fire Workers
Community Homeworks
City of Kalamazoo Parks and Rec Workers
9:30am -12pm-Girls on the Run-Coach Kit Organizer
5-6:30PM Bronson Community Gathering(free information available about many grassroots organizations)

For more information visit:

Urban Democracy Feast Shows What Democracy Looks Like

Majyck Radio-Kalamazoo, MI- Preparations and planning were well underway for a group of locals gathering food donations and decorations to transform the Hispanic American Council located in Kalamazoo, MI for their second micro-crowd funded dinner.

The first UD Feast happened back in May, where three community projects were presented. Those recipients were required to report back what was done with the monies they were given. Institute for New Leadership, Urban Exposure and Majyck Radio were present at the second feast to share and be accountable on what was done with the monies to advance their projects.

Well over 100 hundred people were in attendance to feast and listen to four presenters, Allison Kennedy-Humans beyond boxes, Sokhna Heathyre Mabin-Mama Sutura Loving Arts, Elisheva Johnson- Raise the Age, and Marissa Ross-Kalamazoo Peace Center present their projects in five minutes. Attendees were able to ask questions after the presentation and presenters went around to different tables answering questions about their project.Humans Beyond Boxes Allison Kennedy and Kendall Jackson

IMG_0228 Sokna Heathyre Mabin-Mama Sutura Loving Arts
IMG_0231 Elisheva Johnson and Brea Jackson-Raise the Age

IMG_0232 Marissa Ross-Kalamazoo Peace Center

Donations of food from individuals and organizations from Kalamazoo along with great collaboration, skills and talent a plethora of volunteers that help to prepare food for the feast.
JahRay, Randy, Annie, Brooke, Laura, Shima, Amazing, Sasha, Bailey and many other volunteers that help serve the food as well.

Live music from local talent, Mr. Blues, Rusty Fingers and Lady Abbie putting out sounds of classic soul with a kick of blues, a pound of rock & roll and funk with a obvious love of music. Calvin Green, a young musician, drummer performing on the african drum engaging all those in attendance. Attendees were in for a special surprise performance by world renowned dancer, Tamango Vancayseele Stanislas.

Pin It on Pinterest