A Toolkit For Building Power

Posted on September 13, 2012 by Paul Boden

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the
person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels
pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have
seen the future, and the future is ours.”

Cesar Chavez

WRAP has created a Without Housing Organizers’ Toolkit and we offer it here to any community based organizing effort, be it Rural or Urban. We offer it in order to preserve and build on what we already know to be fact and we will add to it as we move forward in the work we are doing.

In 2006, WRAP published a Without Housing report that clearly showed the world why America’s “approach” to ending homelessness has been overwhelmingly ineffective. In 2010, we updated the report, now available in both English and Spanish. To date, tens of thousands of copies have been downloaded.

Clearly, this message resonated with groups across the country and in 2010, we updated and expanded the analysis. At its core, homelessness is a visible manifestation of racism, classism, criminalization of poverty and commodification of the basic necessities which people need to survive. We identify the extreme policy shifts both legislatively and through funding that addresses education, healthcare, housing, immigrant rights and income support. They all connect with each other.

We will continue to do the research, conduct outreach to the community, analyze data, document our facts. Now we need to work with and teach each other in order to truly change the horrible direction that our country is rapidly heading down.

We know the history, we documented it, we fact checked it, we lived it . Now, we will be teaching it.

The Toolkit puts into one place in a way accessible to everyone, the indisputable facts that have gotten us to where we are today. With a core focus on our communities’ housing and civil rights issues, it includes factsheets on housing and criminalization, funding trends on affordable housing (both rural and urban), a historical timeline of mass homelessness in the US going back to 1929, and a fact-based analysis on how these housing and criminalization issues impact all segments of our society.

The Toolkit has A LOT of information broken out into different sections. This way people can go to the section that is going to be most helpful to them without having to go through the whole booklet whenever they need something. All the information will get “live time” updated on the website as policies or funding changes: Thus ensuring the Toolkit stays relevant on an ongoing basis.

It includes a PowerPoint presentation unlike any one you’re likely to run across. It uses hard-hitting factual bullets to pierce the wall of racism and classism that so dominates public policy on poverty issues in America. Once again, it shows the power of having committed artists to translate our information into images that impact people at their heart as well as their brain to drive our message home.

Use the PowerPoint presentation in public forums at every opportunity – WRAP staff will assist you to add local slides that will connect the federal to your local community. Use the artwork (all of WRAP’s artwork projects a message) which resonates throughout the Toolkit.

The Toolkit is focused broadly enough on the federal government so that any group in the country can use it to do inclusive social-justice community organizing. It is designed as a tool with which we can educate ourselves as we continue the struggle for our right to exist in dignity.

Our members created this Toolkit because we know it is time to connect our individual community-based organizing efforts, whether they be rural or urban. They are real and by connecting them to each other, we build power. Once we all know the facts, once we have the ammunition of truth, whether it be through a HUD spreadsheet or a street outreach, we have an inherent responsibility to each-one teach-one and spread that truth far and wide.

On our website, we offer you the work we have done over seven years and we hope you will use it as a training and organizing tool. It validates that all of us can be our own teachers, experts, and educators.

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