Envisioning Abolition

by Samuel Murray

I remember learning about calling 911 in grade school if I was in trouble. Cops would even come to our school and we would ask them questions about bad guys. The socialization of cops as heroic and essential components of a peaceful society starts at a young and impressionable age. And the reliance of policing and prisons is perpetuated by “who are you going to call when ________ happens to you?”

For many white people, and for many people in this police state in general, a knee-jerk first reaction is to call the police when you need help. Not only is it because of the privilege that white folks have, knowing that the police could be on their side, but also we have been scared into believing that this is our only option. This blog post is not about why this is wrong, there are links provided to learn about that, I want it to be about personal embodiment of carcerality, the difficulties of moving away from it, and the outcomes of learning through abolition.


For a large part of my time interning at FCCAN, I have been working through an abolition study guide with fellow FCCAN members and friends. I also facilitated a workshop on Power, Abolition, & Healing Justice taught by Cesia Dominguez Lopez from Color Coded. I highly recommend
checking out both of these links for further resources and to learn more about abolition.

For me, this quote by RWG continuously reminds me of what it means to be an advocate for abolition and what needs to be created and imagined for the future.

However, despite how much I have immersed myself in advocating and learning abolition, I still have more information about what needs to be undone or destroyed than what needs to be created. I have found that it is much harder to envision a future without prisons and policing, than it is to imagine what alternatives there are and how social safety nets could be formed. I have also realized how much I have embodied carcerality, and deconstructing 23 years of that embodiment is difficult. Deconstructing these thoughts and practices has been very challenging, frustrating, and emotional. I am realizing that doing so is just a piece of the puzzle, and is
probably a constant practice when we are flooded by so much hate and systems of oppression in society.

This work has made me open up and become vulnerable about some of the issues that so often we do not think we should talk about or ones that we do not know how to talk about. I asked myself how long have I sought revenge? This question flooded my body when confronted with the demands to put George Floyd’s killers in prison. Realizing that actually doing so would provide no positive outcomes for the future–and would definitely not end police brutality and state sanctioned murders, I still desired to see those cops in prison. In my own life, when I feel like I have been done wrong, why do I desire revenge? I thought of scenarios where I would act on revenge before advocating for abolition–what if someone commits an atrocity on my family or friends? What then? It seems very easy to slip into this mindset, and only focus on the what- ifs.

However, as stated by Ruth Wilson Gilmore, abolition is not necessarily about the what- ifs. Yes, a lot of theory and practice can answer those questions–even looking at statistics of policing and prisons and if they actually help, answers those questions. However, abolition is about creating a new, envisioning what support there will be if an atrocity is committed against you or a loved one. I notice I lose sight of the importance to create and imagine, and I focus on the, “what do we do next? How fast can we get that done?” There is no step-by-step guide to abolition, that is not the point of abolition and it took me a while to realize this.


Here are some resources for community-led life-affirming programs in the Bay Area and Sacramento that are working through abolition:
Sogorea Te’ Land Trust
Creative Interventions
Anti-Police Terror Project, Sacramento: MH First


Before divulging further into what others are doing to advocate for abolition, ask yourself:
1) What carcerality do I embody?
2) Where, when, how, and why do I seek revenge?
3) What is my relationship to my community and who am I accountable to?
4) How can I advocate for abolition without romanticizing communities and system problems in society?

Keep imaging, creating, and loving.

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La Fondita Latina

Creating change with immigrant, workers-owned cooperatives

Haciendo cambio con inmigrante, trabajadores- cooperativas

~Seguido en Español

We are in a rare opportunity to push for economic and structural change, where we are all witnessing and living through the COVID pandemic, racial justice uprisings, climate crisis and a slide towards facism. What history shows us is that crises create enough fractures in the status quo to create real changes to the current paradigm. This is the moment we find ourselves in. So, if we are looking for system change, we have to be clear about what kind of system change we’re talking about. This blog post will shed some light on how Fuerza Latina’s workers owned cooperative, La Fondita Latina is moving us towards a post-capitalist system and way of working together that is focused on workers’ solidarity and cooperation. 

Fuerza Latina first began thinking of the idea of starting a workers owned cooperative in 2018 as a way to solve some of the problems they saw rising within the immigrant community. Namely, through Fuerza Latina’s Immigrant Assistance Hotline, they were seeing a rise in calls from women whose partners had been detained or deported by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and were unable to find jobs due to low work experience, lack of child care, and lack of job opportunities due to their legal status. Given Fuerza’s solidarity not charity model, they voted on trying to start a workers owned coop that could help foster employment for individuals in our community.

Worker owned cooperatives have been started throughout all of the United States and are just one type of option as far as coop structures available. In a worker owned cooperative, the business is usually based on a type of service that is provided and the workers providing the service are also equal owners of the company. Some examples of worker owned cooperatives that have been created in Colorado are cleaning companies, catering services, and restaurants. Worker owned cooperatives offer unique benefits to those who participate in them. To start, worker owned coops are based on a democratic form of governance in which all workers are equal owners in the company and as a result, have an equal say in all decisions of the business. Additionally, because the workers are also the owners, worker owned coops reduce the possibility of abuse of workers and infringement of labor rights. Worker owned coops are particularly beneficial for immigrants in the community because even those who don’t have the legal status necessary to be hired in the United States can be a part of a worker owned coop and work legally through this structure. 

Fuerza Latina is still in the process of helping create a worker owned coop named La Fondita Latina. It is a restaurant based coop that will help generate work for immigrants in the Fort Collins community that might otherwise struggle to find work, especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic where many jobs have been lost and businesses have shut down. As a way to create some awareness about La Fondita Latina as a worker owned coop, Fuerza decided to collaborate with other community organizations and projects dedicated to helping immigrants in Fort Collins in order to bring about the first ever Mercadito. 


El Mercadito was conceptualized as a fair market to support immigrant workers in Northern Colorado. It began as a collaboration between several sustainable, economic justice projects emerging in Northern Colorado through which we sought to educate our community about fair wages and just working conditions while supporting worker-centered employment. The collaborators for this particular market included La Fondita Latina (The Little Latin Kitchen) The Hispanic Women’s Farming Proyecto (a sustainable employment project supported by Buena Vida Farm in south Fort Collins), UPAVIM (a women’s craft project located in Guatemala City, in partnership with a collective of Guatemalan mothers seeking asylum in Northern Colorado) and ISAAC (a Larimer County Coalition of Faith Communities working in solidarity for human dignity and immigration justice). During this first Mercadito, we were able to sell many beautiful things such as tamales, salsa kits, roasted chiles, heirloom pumpkins, and pleated face masks. We had over 270 orders submitted through our online platform, and La Fondita Latina made over 300 dozen tamales. Everyone involved felt it was extremely successful as a first pilot project that we hope to recreate again in the future. 

For now, La Fondita’s next steps are to continue in their process to become registered with the state as a worker’s owned coop. The coop also continues the work of conducting outreach and finding members to join the coop, as well as getting trained to do the work, and finding a location for the restaurant. They plan to also produce some educational videos and materials to educate community members about coops as a viable structure for other businesses. 

The hope for La Fondita Latina is also that it can be used as a model to help create other worker owned coops in our community, therefore, the work also includes creating materials related to creating a coop that can be used to help others. Co-ops are not a panacea, especially if they continue to operate as islands of solidarity in a sea of capitalism. The only way to truly build a more just, better community is to build a solidarity economy and organized workers are the solution to the struggles ahead. 

For allies who are interested in supporting these efforts, the coop is still looking for guidance on creating a business plan and learning more about the legal components related to creating a coop so anyone with knowledge on these issues is welcome to contact us. Additionally, we hope to have future Mercaditos in the future where folks can continue to support our efforts for economic justice and sustainable work in Fort Collins. Lastly, any individuals who may be interested in joining our coop are encouraged to reach out to Stephanie Torres, Fuerza’s community organizer at storres_fuerza@outlook.com.

———————–

Estamos en una oportunidad única de impulsar un cambio económico y estructural, donde todos somos testigos y vivimos la pandemia de COVID, los levantamientos de justicia racial, la crisis climática y un deslizamiento hacia el fascismo. Lo que la historia nos muestra es que las crisis crean suficientes fracturas en el orden establecido para crear cambios reales en el paradigma actual. Este es el momento en el que nos encontramos. Por lo tanto, si estamos buscando un cambio de sistema, tenemos que tener claro de qué tipo de cambio de sistema estamos hablando. Esta publicación de blog arrojará algo de luz sobre cómo la cooperativa de trabajadores de Fuerza Latina, La Fondita Latina, nos está moviendo hacia un sistema post-capitalista y una forma de trabajar juntos que se centra en la solidaridad y cooperación de los trabajadores.

Fuerza Latina comenzó a pensar en la idea de iniciar una cooperativa de trabajadores en 2018 como una forma de resolver algunos de los problemas que vieron surgir dentro de la comunidad inmigrante. Es decir, a través de la línea de asistencia de Fuerza Latina, vieron un aumento en las llamadas de mujeres cuyas parejas habían sido detenidas o deportadas por el Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE) y no podían encontrar trabajo debido a la baja experiencia laboral, la falta de cuidado de niños, y falta de oportunidades laborales debido a su estatus legal. Dado el modelo de solidaridad y no de caridad de Fuerza, miembros del Comité Directivo votaron por intentar iniciar una cooperativa de trabajadores que podría ayudar a fomentar el empleo para las personas en nuestra comunidad.

Las cooperativas de trabajadores se han iniciado en todo Estados Unidos y son solo un tipo de opción en cuanto a las estructuras cooperativas disponibles. En una cooperativa de trabajadores, el negocio generalmente se basa en un tipo de servicio que se brinda y los trabajadores que brindan el servicio también son dueños iguales de la empresa. Algunos ejemplos de cooperativas de trabajadores que se han creado en Colorado son las empresas de limpieza, los servicios de catering y los restaurantes. Las cooperativas de trabajadores ofrecen beneficios únicos a quienes participan en ellas. Para empezar, las cooperativas de trabajadores se basan en una forma democrática de gobierno en la que todos los trabajadores son propietarios iguales en la empresa y, como resultado, tienen la misma voz en todas las decisiones de la empresa. Además, debido a que los trabajadores también son propietarios, las cooperativas de trabajadores reducen la posibilidad de abuso de los trabajadores y la violación de los derechos laborales. Las cooperativas de trabajadores son particularmente beneficiosas para los inmigrantes en la comunidad porque incluso aquellos que no tienen el estatus legal necesario para ser contratados en los Estados Unidos pueden ser parte de una cooperativa y trabajar legalmente a través de esta estructura.

Fuerza Latina todavía está en el proceso de ayudar a crear una cooperativa de trabajadores llamada La Fondita Latina. Es una cooperativa basada en la idea de un restaurante que ayudará a generar trabajo para los inmigrantes en la comunidad de Fort Collins que de otra manera podrían tener dificultades para encontrar trabajo, especialmente ahora durante la pandemia Covid-19, donde se han perdido muchos trabajos y se han cerrado negocios. Para crear conciencia sobre La Fondita Latina, Fuerza decidió colaborar con otras organizaciones y proyectos comunitarios dedicados a ayudar a los inmigrantes en Fort Collins para lograr hacer el primer Mercadito.

El Mercadito fue conceptualizado como un mercado justo para apoyar a los trabajadores inmigrantes en el norte de Colorado. Comenzó como una colaboración entre varios proyectos sostenibles de justicia económica que emergen en el norte de Colorado a través de los cuales buscamos educar a nuestra comunidad sobre salarios justos y condiciones de trabajo justas mientras apoyamos el empleo centrado en el trabajador. Los colaboradores para este mercado en particular incluyeron a La Fondita Latina (The Little Latin Kitchen) The Hispanic Women’s Farming Proyecto (un proyecto de empleo sostenible apoyado por Buena Vida Farm en el sur de Fort Collins), UPAVIM (un proyecto de artesanía para mujeres ubicado en la Ciudad de Guatemala, en asociación con un colectivo de madres guatemaltecas que buscan asilo en el norte de Colorado) e ISAAC (una Coalición de Comunidades de Fe del Condado de Larimer que trabaja en solidaridad por la dignidad humana y la justicia migratoria). Durante este primer Mercadito, pudimos vender muchas cosas hermosas como tamales, kits de salsa, chiles asados, calabazas tradicionales y máscaras faciales plisadas. Recibimos más de 270 pedidos a través de nuestra plataforma en línea y La Fondita Latina preparó más de 300 docenas de tamales. Todos los involucrados sintieron que fue un gran éxito como primer proyecto piloto que esperamos recrear nuevamente en el futuro.

Por ahora, los próximos pasos de La Fondita son continuar con su proceso para registrarse en el estado como una cooperativa de trabajadores. La cooperativa también continúa el trabajo de realizar actividades de educación y encontrar miembros para que se unan a la cooperativa, además de capacitarse para hacer el trabajo y encontrar una ubicación para el restaurante. También planean producir algunos videos y materiales educativos para educar a los miembros de la comunidad sobre las cooperativas como una estructura viable para otras empresas.

Para los aliados que estén interesados ​​en apoyar estos esfuerzos, la cooperativa todavía está buscando orientación sobre cómo crear un plan de negocios y aprender más sobre los componentes legales relacionados con la creación de una cooperativa, por lo que cualquier persona con conocimiento sobre estos temas puede comunicarse con nosotros.

Además, esperamos tener futuros Mercaditos en el futuro donde la gente pueda continuar apoyando nuestros esfuerzos por la justicia económica y el trabajo sostenible en Fort Collins. Por último, se alienta a cualquier persona que pueda estar interesada en unirse a nuestra cooperativa a comunicarse con Stephanie Torres, la organizadora comunitaria de Fuerza al correo electrónico storres_fuerza@outlook.com.

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Octavia Butler on How to Become who we are

Octavia Butler by Katy Horan from Literary Witches — an illustrated celebration of women writers who have enchanted and transformed our world.

Octavia Butler (June 22, 1947–February 24, 2006), the writer and world-creator explores many themes in her works that provide timely and acute wisdom. In Parable of the Talent, she explores what an ideal life looks like. She explores a life of purpose and deep fulfillment where we make what we want to see exist.

Butler writes:

Self is.

Self is body and bodily perception. Self is thought, memory, belief. Self creates. Self destroys. Self learns, discovers, becomes. Self shapes. Self adapts. Self invents its own reasons for being. To shape God, shape Self.

[…]

All prayers are to Self
And, in one way or another,
All prayers are answered.
Pray,
But beware.
Your desires,
Whether or not you achieve them
Will determine who you become.

Butler’s sentiment is only magnified by knowing that the word desire derives from the Latin for “without a star,” radiating a longing for direction. It is by wanting that we orient ourselves in the world, by finding and following our private North Star that we walk the path of becoming.

You win the fight, Butler continues, by the clarity of your purpose and the perseverance with which you pursue it:

“If you want a thing — truly want it, want it so badly that you need it as you need air to breathe, then unless you die, you will have it. Why not? It has you. There is no escape. What a cruel and terrible thing escape would be if escape were possible.”

To want what you want so fiercely, to love it so absolutely, is not a personal indulgence in hubris or delusion — it is, Butler affirms, the mightiest antidote to the terrors of being alive and, in consequence, the fuel for your most generous contribution to the world:

Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
Positive obsession
Blunts pain,
Diverts rage,
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.

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FCCAN & FCSG Joint Announcement

After much thought and careful consideration, the Fort Collins Sustainability Group (FCSG) and the Fort Collins Community Action Network (FCCAN) have decided to separate. Today, we jointly announce the departure of FCSG from FCCAN as an affiliate, effective immediately. FCSG will continue as an independent organization developing and advocating strategies for becoming a sustainable community, with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with a livable climate. We are proud of our years of close affiliation and the community-focused work we have done together, and we look forward to finding new ways to continue to create change in our community and beyond.

Over the past year, FCCAN’s Spokes Council has been engaged in a series of conversations, including formal mediation, about our organizational goals & priorities. While recognizing the history we share and all that we have in common, we have mutually decided that the two groups would do their work more effectively apart than together due to critical differences in our respective approaches to community organizing and our visions for the future.

We recognize that change is one of the few constants in the life of community organizations. Change can also be challenging! Although restructuring an organization can test relationships and patience, we believe that everyone involved has approached this with the best of intentions and with a commitment to finding solutions. We do not make the decision to separate lightly, but with the sincere belief that this will help both of our groups better utilize our strengths to continue fighting for people and the planet.

We jointly affirm the critical importance and value of the work of both the Fort Collins Community Action Network and the Fort Collins Sustainability Group. In the coming months and years, FCCAN will continue the work of coalition building around our core values with the goal of moving us towards a collective, life-affirming culture, and developing programs, strategies, and actions that further economic, social and environmental justice, human rights, dignity, sustainability, and peace for all. FCSG is looking forward to mobilizing people at the local, regional, and state levels to take action to address the multiple facets of the climate crisis. Both organizations affirm one another and pledge to support and honor each other’s work as much as possible in the future.

We are deeply grateful for your support of FCCAN and FCSG over the years, and we look forward to your continued engagement in the future.

Sincerely,

FORT COLLINS COMMUNITY ACTION NETWORK

Rena Trujillo, Acting Spokes Council President

FORT COLLINS SUSTAINABILITY GROUP

Kevin Cross, Convener

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What a mess this is, alongside a glimmer of hope.

Monday reflections by: Annelise Fleming

It seems like these past month it has just been one bombshell after another. RBG dying, Trump getting COVID, ballots being sent out for the election, the cringe-worthy hot mess that was the first presidential debate, the Supreme Court nomination that is happening right now as I am writing this.As these events are occurring, our lives are stressful as hell. These events all will impact future generations, whether we choose to believe it or not.

These bombshells that have been dropping has really had me thinking constantly about the state of this country and what lies ahead for our youth, particularly young women of color. I am anxious for what comes out this Supreme Court nomination, for this November, the climate of this country and world. It has continually been something on my mind and it seems like it impacts everything I do and how I operate.

We can’t run away from it either, which I think is also a huge part of the problem. There is no place to run when the environment is being exploited and harmed by capitalism. The president telling white supremacists to stand by; Black and brown people being murdered by the police every day. The issue of missing Indigenous women and children not being taking seriously when they experience some of the highest rates of murder, sexual assault, and police brutality. Being in a middle of a pandemic! It’s all connected.

I’m not surprised but I am tired.

Tired of all the bad news we have been facing 24/7. But with all these horrible events that have been happening, I have a glimmer of hope.

What doesn’t get talked about enough and often times loses our focus while we are caught up in the constant news cycle of national politics, elections, the world on fire, etc. is the underlying patterns of health, resilience and adaptability that maintain this planet in a condition where life can flourish and be transformed. When we pay more attention to the systemic relationships and interactions that are happening all around us, moving us towards life- sprouting seeds, joy and laughter of children, glimpses of birds and squirrels preparing for winter- We are in fact, resourcing ourselves and practicing what a regenerative, life-affirming culture looks like. We do this, so we can better show up to resource our community in the work that is ahead. Sure, it’s a small shift, but its a hopeful and necessary, joy-filled one. And it’s connected to the larger necessary transformation of the material basis for our society. Pay attention to what the sources are for your own nourishment, and what gives you hope. As Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches us-

In the settler mind, land was property, real estate, capital or natural resources. But to our people, it was everything: identity, the connection to our ancestors, the home of our nonhuman kinfolk, our pharmacy, our library, the source of all that sustained us.”

— Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Potawatomi

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