Luz en lo Oscura

By: Shirley Coenen

In “Light in the Dark/Luz en lo Oscura” Anzaldua’s final life work, she plunges head-on into the transformational potentiality of liminal spaces- for moments like these, when “death and destruction do shock us out of our familiar daily rounds.”

As many students and educators are taking deep sighs of relief and closing their textbooks, I’m looking forward to keep reading, without a seminar or school to hold me accountable. This post is a brief reflection sharing what I’m reading right now and how Anzaldua, as an ancestor, provides so many lessons for these times.

Light in the Dark⁄Luz en lo Oscuro


To Anzaldua, these shocks that disrupt our daily life create dissociation and fragmentation of the self and society, tearing through the fabric of “the illusion of consensual reality” of global extractive systems, and giving us the opportunity for “otra forma de ver” – other ways of seeing.

These are the times of nepantla, “a psychological, liminal space between the way things had been and an unknown future.”

It is the role of nepantleras, the stewards of the in-between, to be with the multiple and conflictive worldviews that emerge and swirl together in the chaotic remolinos of crisis when alternative viewpoints abound and compete for the ability to be breathed into reality.

Nepantleras must be with the tensions, find harmony and integration within the storm, and through art and activism, “help us mediate these transitions, help us make the crossings, and guide us through the transformation process.”

They help warn us away from desconocimiento, what we could today call the false solutions of disaster capitalism, and towards conocimiento, a collective awakening that moves us towards compassionate relationship with all living beings, what we could call disaster collectivism.

Through these words, Anzaldua is speaking through time, to this moment of pandemic, to remind us that “we’re connected by invisible fibers to everyone on the planet and that each person’s actions affect the rest of the world.”

These moments of disaster are opportunities for conocimiento. “The healing of our wounds results in transformation, and transformation results in the healing of our wounds.” So let us be that healing in these times.

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May Day 2020: Take Action

As Amazon, Walmart and others profit amid Coronavirus crisis, their essential workers are planning an unprecedented strike. Get ready for May Day.

Essential workers risk their lives and their families’ lives every day — they deserve appropriate safety equipment, standards, and job guarantees. On May 1, International Workers Day, we’re taking action with essential workers everywhere:

SOLIDARITY: The working class keeps us alive. As consumers, we are not separate from the problem. Do your part by joining the action on May 1 from wherever you are, joining us as we organize around these global demands for justice during the pandemic.

BOYCOTT: The way to really leverage your privilege is through your consumer power. Show your support by boycotting/unsubscribing to Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx.

SUPPORT: Essential workers are showing up for all of us. Here’s how to help the essential workers in your life avoid burnout.

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FCHC Update April 27th: Protect Homeless Folks & Write to City Leaders Today

Today, the City of Fort Collins intends to begin shutting down the encampment in Heritage Park. The Fort Collins Homeless Coalition is deeply concerned by this move, and believes that the City should not clear the encampment before everyone is safely housed in individual or family housing.

  • Clearing the encampment defies CDC guidelines 
  • Dispersing campers does not end homelessness, it just makes people less visible and less able to access health and hygiene facilities
  • Evidence shows that disease spreads faster in congregate shelters, and that people experiencing homelessness are at greater risk of serious complications from COVID-19, including death
  • In the absence of housing, vehicles and tents may actually be the best option available for many to self-isolate and socially-distance
  • Housing keeps people safe and saves lives

The CDC has this to say about closing encampments: 

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”(1)

This recommendation is in place for the duration of the pandemic, and is not contingent on any stay at home order. The City of Fort Collins is defying CDC guidelines during this pandemic, creating risks for vulnerable people and community health.

The encampment has porta-johns, trash services, and access to hand-washing – all necessities for personal and public health. With the encampment closing, people are being forced to choose between staying in congregate shelters or dispersing to areas that do not have bathrooms, health services, or hygiene facilities. People who sleep outdoors or in vehicles will face a renewed threat of camping tickets and continued dispersal, in continued violation of CDC guidelines and humanitarian principles. This is not a solution to homelessness, and is particularly dangerous right now.

This pandemic is shining a spotlight on many radical injustices in our society. Universal housing has always been the solution to homelessness, but the ability of housing to literally save lives has been headline news for months now. A recent report from the University of Pennsylvania and Boston University suggested that people experiencing homelessness who are infected with COVID-19 will be twice as likely to be hospitalized, two to four times as likely to require critical care, and two to three times as likely to die from the illness as the housed population.(2) Moreover, there is significant evidence emerging that asymptomatic transmission is highly likely in congregate shelters, including among younger and apparently healthy people.(3) 

Organizations, including Homeward Alliance and the Health District of Northern Colorado, have been working hard to implement crucial health improvements at our congregate shelters. We understand that they are also trying to find ways to safely expand to include the influx of highly-vulnerable guests from the encampment, despite the challenges involved. We applaud these efforts, and deeply appreciate the hard-working and overwhelmed people involved. However, while congregate shelters can take steps to improve sanitation and crowding, they are not able to offer the same level of safety & health that individual and family housing does. Congregate shelters have always failed to meet the needs of many…

In the absence of housing, vehicles and tents may actually be the best option available for many to self-isolate and socially-distance. Tents offer individual space, fresh air, and the opportunity to choose your neighbors. In a shelter, hundreds of people share the same air and touch the same surfaces. Significant research supports the fact that congregate shelters are not safe places during pandemics, and municipalities are being urged to find non-congregate options (including hotel rooms) for people experiencing homelessness. While they work on this, a safe outdoor space simply makes sense.

The Fort Collins Homeless Coalition has joined with homeless people and organizations across the state in filing legal action against the State of Colorado for not doing its job to protect all Coloradans by providing housing, which is well-within its emergency powers during this epidemic. After 21 days of good-faith negotiations with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Department of Health has chosen to file a request for extension of time in response to Plaintiff’s Extraordinary Petition, therefore using court processes and delay tactics to wait out this epidemic and evade responsibility for the health and well being of the homeless and overall safety of the people of this State. Tens of thousands of people who are homeless across the State are still living in mass shelters and on the streets. Countless service providers are being stretched to their limits, trying to cope with the current and expected tsunami of need, and have been urgently joining the call for housing. We are united across our state and our community in demanding that governments care for all of us.

(1) Center for Disease Control, “People Experiencing Homelessness and Covid-19: Interim Guidelines.” Online at: https://tinyurl.com/y8kq69ea

(2) Dennis Culhane et. al., “Estimated Emergency and Observational/Quarantine CapacityNeed for the US Homeless Population Related to COVID-19 Exposureby County; Projected Hospitalizations,Intensive Care Units and Mortality.” March 27, 2020. Online at: https://tinyurl.com/tqmfg2g

(3) Waldstein, David, “CDC Stresses Need for Testing at Homeless Shelters.” The New York Times, April 23, 2020. Online at: https://tinyurl.com/ycg9jkhx

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COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Undocumented Immigrants in Fort Collins

If you, or someone you know would like to apply for this fund please call Fuerza Latina’s hotline at 970-472-1501.

Donate to the emergency fund for undocumented immigrants in Fort Collins here!

Fuerza Latina recognizes that the nation-state does not provide a safety net for so many people, and that the United States government’s response to COVID-19 has only deepened pre-existing hierarchies that make people vulnerable to premature death. We hope for a world in which universal basic income, universal health care, and other functioning social systems exist. We know that what we are doing is an imperfect solution to a very large problem, but we are trying anyway.

We have partnered with other community organizations such as ISAAC of Northern Colorado and other faith groups to raise and distribute emergency funds for undocumented immigrants in Larimer County. This Emergency Immigration Fund, is the only existing fund in Larimer County that has a precise mandate to support immigrants in our community who are experiencing a crisis and who do not qualify for other forms of relief.

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Community Leaders Must Act Now to Provide Housing for All

This was oringially published in The Coloradoan

Sign the homeless coalitions’ petition here. and check out the legal action filed on behalf of FCHC and other groups in the state of CO to demand housing for all.

By: lynn thompson

From where I stand, Fort Collins and Larimer County need to act immediately to keep unhoused people safe. The Fort Collins Homeless Coalition is calling on our elected officials to ensure:

  1. Temporary housing for everyone.
  2. Quarantine housing for people experiencing homelessness, and a sensible plan for moving people into quarantine that takes into account the dismal shortage of tests.
  3. An immediate end to camping ban enforcement.

We need to house everybody as quickly as possible. A majority of the people experiencing homelessness in Fort Collins are elders, have disabilities, are immune-compromised, or have other medical concerns that place them in the “higher risk” category. And most unhoused people are constantly exhausted, traumatized, and are frequently the targets of stigma, criminalization, and other mistreatment that increases stress and vulnerability. Not only are people more likely to be exposed to illness while staying in shelters, but people experiencing homelessness are among those likely to require intensive treatment to survive. Housing is a form of healthcare that we can offer immediately, and which will help our entire community.

Experts have told us that an immediate period of hardcore social distancing is necessary. We are being ordered to avoid gatherings of more than ten people, and Denver and Boulder residents are being told to “stay home.” Yet hundreds of people have no home to stay in, and no choice but to gather together in shelters. Even with increased distances between sleeping mats on the floor, a highly contagious disease such as Covid-19 will spread faster in a shelter environment than across individual/family housing. If infection spreads rapidly, our hospitals will be overwhelmed, and our most vulnerable neighbors will suffer greatly.

We know that our local governments are already responding to this pandemic, and we stand with them in demanding that they receive all the resources they need. Other cities around the world are leasing hotels for unhoused people, which seems like a good way to support local businesses. 

During this time, we need shelters and services to remain open, and to have all the resources they need to keep helping people. We need vastly improved public hygiene facilities. We also need to make sure that nobody loses their housing – our state and nation need to issue immediate moratoriums on evictions & foreclosures, and on rent, mortgage, utility and loan payments. 

In Fort Collins, we also need to stop enforcing the camping ban, so that people who feel safer sleeping outside of crowded shelters can do so, and so that everyone can stay in contact with outreach and health workers. The CDC recently published guidelines which urge law enforcement to not break up encampments and to let people sleep outside at this time.

We need to act together, now, in this moment of clarifying global solidarity. It is necessary for your health, for mine, and for ours. Right now, our community has empty rooms and buildings, and also people who need housing. Our community has struggling local restaurants, and also people who are going hungry. Our community has what we need to get through this crisis, and to fight for what we need beyond this moment, so that together we can build a healthier community with more justice, more safety, and more care. But we need to act with urgency.
Email your city leaders at cityleaders@fcgov.com and county leaders at https://www.larimer.org/bocc and join our call to action. Visit fccan.org/fchc to keep updated on our efforts.

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