North Philly Peace Park Conscious BBQ 2015

Our open mass revolutionary experiment with community controlled Permaculture, radical education and fence free urban farming was momentarily disrupted this season, but we’re gearing up for a tremendous 2016. We need all hands on deck as we stand with our fellow citizens and challenge the powerful vested interests to transform the face of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Come help us to REBUILD FARMLIFE.

Gender & Nationalism in #BlackLivesMatter

By DARASIA ALAADE originally posted on https://dawtaofthedust.wordpress.com/

On Monday, July 27 there was a demonstration in my hometown Philly in honor of Sandra Bland and other Black women who have died at the hands of police. This #SayHerName demonstration was organized by “Black Men in Defense of Black Womanhood.”
I had every intention of getting to the protest a little after 4, which was the start time. However, after missing a day of work to attend the Movement for Black Lives National Convening in Cleveland, the catching-up I needed to do had me leaving work a half hour before the rally ended. I darted out the door, texting folks to let them know I was coming.
“Can you talk?” This was the response I got from one of the sistas I knew was at the demonstration.
Uh-oh.
I called her. “Yeah…there is a situation down here. How far are you?”
At this point I was about 10 minutes away, but traffic was good so I made it in 5.
When I got to the Clothespin, it was clear that something had gone awry. This article describes what happened at the demonstration so there is no need for me to give a full rundown but, basically, there were Black women at the demonstration who shared publicly that they didn’t appreciate that brothas were taking over Black women’s space, that they shouldn’t be speaking at a #SayHerName demonstration, that Black women did not need Black men to defend them, to think otherwise was rooted in sexism and patriarchy, and some of the Black men present were guilty of sexism.
This situation occured before I got there and the women who made these proclamations had already left the scene. However, the energy was still very tense, with many people feeling unsure of how to proceed. “This was an argument, a schism, between the nationalists and the feminists,” one of the female activists present stated. Eventually, we were all able to circle-up, air some grievances, and then hug each other in solidarity and unity. So it all ended on a positive, though somewhat shaky, note.
There were a few things that really bothered me about what happened and reading the article I posted brought it all back to me. As a Black nationalist who is also a a feminist, I find myself often explaining what revolutionary nationalism is and what feminism is to people against a background of false knowledge, stereotypes, and genuinely negative experiences with both nationalism and feminism. And the situation that occurred two days ago, at a demonstration meant to honor Black women, was one of the worst examples of “feminist” thought and practice; in fact, I don’t even want to call it feminism.
For one, Black men and women are in this together. This understanding should always been our Ground Zero, our starting place, the core from which we live and breathe and organize. Black women and Black men should condemn sexism but we have to learn to do this from a space of love and unified struggle. This does not mean that we should allow ourselves to be abused or to suffer but each of us has a ton of work we need to do in the transformation of our consciousness, and understanding this should help open ourselves to be patient and understanding with our comrades. We all have to grow in this together.
Secondly, I have heard Black women complain that when Black men are killed by police or vigilantes, both Black women and men organize around their cases but when Black women are killed by police or vigilantes, only Black women (and sometimes fewer Black women) organize around their cases. So when we have Black men who are intentional about remembering Black women who were killed, why would we close them down and shut them out? The article quotes one woman as saying,”We have been in the forefront of protecting not just Black women, but also Black men. We were on the forefront when Trayvon Martin was killed, when Michael Brown was killed, when Tamir Rice was killed. So, now we’re asking for our brothers, our Black men, to do the same thing in return…” Isn’t that what happened? In this case, didn’t Black men do just that, jump up to protect Black women as we have done for Black men countless times?
Third, some of what was said suggests that fighting for Black women and honoring Black women should be work that is exclusive to women. The organizer interviewed for the article said, “I’m extremely troubled by the fact that we say we are having a #SayHerName demonstration and brothers are speaking…It’s men taking over spaces that are reserved for women.” This is downright craziness. Yes, some spaces should be intentionally led by sistas. But this rally was not meant to be female-only space, or that would have been stated. Not only that, one of my homegirls hosted the demonstration and said she was practically pleading for Black women to come and speak. So when the brother started speaking it was only after space was made for women to speak.
Finally, nationalism is not inherently sexist or patriarchal. Sure, you have men who claim to be nationalists who think that Black women’s role in movement is to be barefoot and pregnant. But revolutionary Black nationalism states that Black people in the US are one nation, that we need land (Malcolm X said the land is the basis of all independence), and that our struggle for self-determination is linked to the global struggle for African liberation. Black nationalism doesn’t mean Black male-centric. Queen Mother Moore is one of the founders of the Republic of New Afrika, which is based in Black nationalism.
We have to do better. We have to treat each other better. We have to learn when, where, and how to address issues in a way that will bring clarity instead of alienation. As the Combahee River Collective Statement says, “We struggle together with Black men against racism, while we also struggle with Black men about sexism.” Black feminists are with Black men, not against them.

Philly Peace Park in limbo, PHA delays demolition in Sharswood

This article was originally posted on ALDIANEWS.COM  June 2, 2015 written by Max Marin.

 It has been six weeks since the Philly Peace Park, a grassroots community and garden space in the Sharswood neighborhood, had the “park” stripped from their name.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) erected a fence around the Peace Park, reclaiming the long-neglected parcels of land. The move came as part of a $500 million redevelopment project that affects the Blumberg housing project and the surrounding area.
PHA’s work was supposed to begin this summer. But now, demolition plans on the two Blumberg towers have been pushed back to September.
Meanwhile, negotiations about a land exchange remain in limbo.
While not legally required to do so, PHA has offered legal ownership of two parcels of land near 22nd and Jefferson Streets in return for taking the Peace Park that community members had been cultivating for the past four years.
But Amia Jackson, the Peace Park’s garden director, says they have still not received a contract, and it’s unclear if the plots they’ve been given are suitable for greening. PHA confirmed that the two groups are still in negotiations.
After PHA fenced off the original park at 2400 Bolton St., Jackson and other garden volunteers moved the freshly planted seeds to the new garden space just a few blocks away. But older residents told them there used to be an auto garage where the new garden proposed to be. Jackson stalled planting and sent soil to be tested for lead content at Penn State University.
“We’re kind of in this weird place where we’re trying to mobilize people for if we get the green light, but at the same time, we don’t want to invest too much time and end up not being able to garden there at all,” Jackson said.
Soil remediation isn’t cheap. If the lead levels are unsafe, Jackson says they will “cross that bridge when they get to it.” But PHA has made it clear that will not financially reimburse the Peace Park for any of its costs incurred over the years.
“Unfortunately the Peace Park conducted operations without PHA’s permission,” PHA Communications Manager Glynnis Richard told AL DÍA. “Therefore under the federal Uniform Relocation Act they are not permitted to receive relocation benefits.”
PHA did not say whether it would offer a more suitable plot of land for gardening should the soil be unfit to grow.
Meanwhile, the original Peace Park remains partially fenced off. What perennial crops Jackson couldn’t move have come and gone. Weeds took over the onions and the asparagus. All of the collard greens and kale have gone to seed.
Luckily, the Brewerytown Garden at 27th and Master has donated three plots to the Peace Park so that they can continue their food distribution network throughout the summer. They are growing “what the people really wanted,” Jackson says: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, okra, and collard greens.
More information will be available next week about the plan to transition Blumberg housing project residents to a new location.
“There’s not a lot of communication,” Jackson said. “Different organizers are hearing different things from different people. That’s how it was at the Peace Park, too.”

A Hidden Gem in North Philly

If you haven’t heard of the North Philly Peace Park, then you are missing the story of a hidden gem in the Sharswood community of Philadelphia. The NPPP is directly in front of the Blumberg Projects in N. Philly. Close to Girard College and the newly closed-down Vaux High School. Residents of this community started this garden and learning center three and a half years ago on land that stood vacant for many years.

Long time resident Tommy Joshua spearheaded the idea to create a place where residents would have access to free vegetables and herbs, as well as educational classes; effectively building the self-sufficiency and resilience of the community. With the enlisted help of some occupy groups in the city, residents set out to create what is now the North Philly Peace Park and educational center.

Through the years the NPPP has been home to hundreds of volunteers, residents and visitors where they help to create a thriving vegetable and perennial garden, earthship classroom ( a sustainability designed building created from reused materials), and small food forest. On weekends there are shared meals and bonfires, learning experiences and friendships made. This past summer they hosted the first community-run Urban County Fair where over 300 people came to participate in workshops, listen to local musicians, lend their voices to the urban agricultural scene is Philadelphia and build relationships in the community. This is truly a community-driven project! From the intergenerational relationships being built to the collaboration of people from different cultural backgrounds, learning and growing is happening here.

I mentioned this was a hidden gem earlier in the article for a few reasons. Being located in between the infamous Blumberg Projects and lanes of abandoned blocks, where development turned its face away from the long-time residents in need, decades ago, this garden is a welcomed addition. The residents who are active in this project have shown their interest and skills in community planning and put themselves in the driver’s seat of what is being built in their neighborhood. I have been volunteering at the Peace Park for the last two years, and what is most promising about this venture is the ownership and pride that the children & elders of the Sharswood and Blumberg area have shown for the park. On any given weekend you can drive by and see dozens of children working and playing alongside the elders in their communities.

What is concerning is that The North Philly Peace Park is now being threatened with the promise of development in this area. After years of abandonment and decay, the Philadelphia Housing Authority has acquired funds to tear down the Blumberg Projects, and has created a new neighborhood design that includes moving their official headquarters to the area. Some residents see this project as a sign of progress and improvement. However, the current plans also appear to effectively displace the NPPP. At best, NPPP will likely be moved to an unknown location. Blumberg Project senior residents currently only have to walk or wheel themselves across the street to harvest vegetables or participate in the activities held there. Will a new location be accessible to them?

Last week PHA held a meeting with the residents of the Blumberg project and surrounding Sharswood residents where they talked about the expansion and services that would be offered and answered questions from the nearby residents. They laid out their plans for development, introduced their community partners and even our councilperson, Darryl Clarke was there, giving his blessing to the project. Though throughout all this, the tenure of the Peace Park is still in question. The PHA director indicated that NPPP would have a place in the new development, but it’s still unclear whether NPPP can stay and serve the seniors across the street or if the Peace Park will be given a new home or where that home might be. In essence, there is still no clear answer to the security of the North Philly Peace Park with regard to these new development plans.

If you would like to find out more information or get involved in helping the North Philly Peace Park secure land tenure in the Sharswood community. Please email phillypeacepark@gmail.com

or check out their facebook page atwww.facebook.com/northphillypeacepark

3rd Annual Philly Stand Up Youth Parade

Philly Stand Up Collective is proud to present our third annual Philly Stand Up Youth Parade: Bands That Make Them Dance! We believe music is a powerful and universal tool that unites youth, family, and surrounding communities. Philly Stand Up Youth Parade was inspired out of providing interactive programs and activities for youth to be productive, and prevent violence, truancy, bullying, and all sorts of crimes. Philly Stand Up and our community supporters encourages youth leadership, and creativity to the teen ambassadors of tomorrow. This year Philly Stand Up Youth Parade: Bands That Make Them Dance is happening on Saturday August 9th, 2014 form 11-8pm. We are taking an enjoyable walk starting at Love Park to make a statement that youth and young adults do care about their community. During the duration of the parade, drum line bands, live music, performances, speakers, and spoken word artists is what will take Broad Street by storm!! From there we will end off at Broad and Erie for our dynamic live concert of poets, emcees, speakers, and dancers ! We are doing an People to People Philly Stand Up Food Drive to feed the many 100’s of youth and young adults that will courageously take a walk for better change in Philadelphia. With the support of the community, we believe phenomenal things can happen. All donations are welcomed!
If you have any questions about the event please contact Keturah Caesar at 267-237-5127 or keturahqiturah@gmail.com
Questions about the food drive contact
Malika Love Lace at 215-375-4437 or malikalovelace@gmail.com The Philly Stand Up Collective is excited and ready for this year extraordinarily event!20140707-153812-56292821.jpg

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North Philly Peace Park begins to take shape

This article was originally posted on PhillyTrib.com about our work in Urban Farming

Volunteers with the Philadelphia Coalition for the Heart completed the first phase of the North Philly Peace Park Schoolhouse and Community Ecology Center, located near 24th and Jefferson streets, on Nov. 23.

Constructed entirely from recycled materials, the center is planned to open in March 2014 and will be a place for neighborhood youth to come and learn various sciences and hands-on skills.

“We are going to bring in the most skilled, qualified and love-filled instructors to teach our kids in agricultural sciences, math, engineering and conflict resolution,” said Tommy Joshua, a coalition volunteer who is leading the effort. “The purpose is to promote ecology and community and to give the children of north Philadelphia the benefits of an advanced education.”

As of Nov. 23, the volunteers, including kids from the neighborhood, finished construction of the building’s frame and base — composed of wooden panels, recycled tires and cement.

The windows, made from, recycled plastic and glass bottles — and ceiling were to be completed later that weekend.

Joshua said the materials were all gathered by the volunteers or donated by passersby wanting to help in some way.

“We built this school completely from volunteer labor and from materials that are readily available in our community,” Joshua said. “We got tires from abandoned lots and we also a got a lot of donations. People from the community donated tires, concrete, wood, sand and tools. Before we knew it we had everything we needed.”

Joshua said phase two of the project will include completing the cement work, laying the floor, hanging the door, furnishing, painting and decorating the schoolhouse.

The third and final phase, planned to begin after January, will be arranging programming for the community.

Meanwhile, some of the kid volunteers from the neighborhood said they enjoy working on the project and are using it as a learning experience.

“It’s been fun, coming out here everyday, seeing kids you’ve never met,” said T. Lawrence, a seventh-grade home school student who lives in the neighborhood. Lawrence has helped build the schoolhouse from the beginning and said he has taught some of the more recent child volunteers how to do the cement work. In the process, he said he has learned “roofing” and “how to build one myself.”

His mother was also glad he was a part of the project, because it keeps him from “going out and getting into fights.”

Other volunteers said they are using the project as a means to give back.

“I came today to help. I’ve been placing bottles [for windows] and putting concrete up,” said Amanda Andrade, a sustainable design graduate student from Philadelphia University. “I plan to continue. Whatever I learn in life, my aim is to teach as many people as I know.”

Joshua agreed, noting he and the other volunteers plan to work through the winter to have the schoolhouse completed on time.

The only thing, he said, that would slow the work is the “snow,” especially considering what he described as the urgency of such a program in the neighborhood.

“It’s worth it because an education is the most important thing a person can have,” he said. “If you miss out on that, you miss out on [your] potential. Reynolds [Elementary School] Vaux [High School] have both been closed down. So this is a neighborhood that really needs what we are doing here.”

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