We have been inspired by the dramatic rise of the Occupy Wall Street
movement, and we are building this movement right here in Western
Massachusetts with the intention of overturning the grip of corporate
power on our lives.
The current economic crisis is affecting our region unevenly with the
city of Springfield one of the hardest hit. Among the most affected in
Springfield are people who either rent homes or who have been made
homeless. Springfield has been known as the "City of Homes" but
increasingly it is becoming the "City of the homeless" with the ongoing
economic crisis compounded by the loss of homes during the June 1, 2011
The housing crisis in Springfield is not only a local issue. Under the
present economic system there is a perverse incentive to push people
living in poverty out of cities by replacing their homes with housing
that they cannot afford. We see this happening in cities across the
country such as New York City, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
One solution to the housing crisis is to transform vacant buildings
into homes, apartments and single room residences, but this is not what
is happening. Instead, we see priority given to attracting people from
the professional class and wealthy people to spur "economic development"
- a common code word for the drive to build expensive townhouses,
boutique shops, and office parks designed for short-term profit. This
approach ignores the immediate needs of current residents and long term
This inhumane economic system results in the uprooting of people,
overflowing shelters, and countless children, families and individuals
with no place to call home. Those in power make decisions based on what
will increase profits, ignoring people living in poverty because they
can't help further increase "the bottom line".
Solving this housing crisis requires a movement to fight for decent
housing as a basic human right. Although some of us are affected much,
much more than others, the most strategic way to change this system,
which threatens all of us, is to stand alongside those hurt the most by
it. These dire times contain within them the possibility of having a
much greater positive impact than most people imagine, as more and more
of us are awakened to the need to change an economic and political
structure that only benefits the tiny few.
We think it is important to stand in solidarity with the people who have
been most dispossessed by this economic system in Springfield, and with
the organizations that are providing leadership in connecting struggles
over housing with broader demands for fundamental social change.
Most prominent among these organizations are Arise for Social Justice,
which is calling for a mass rally and march in Springfield on April 2,
and Springfield No One Leaves, which has endorsed this action and which
fights for the rights of people who face losing their homes to the
unjust foreclosure practices of greedy banks.
We need each other in order to challenge the priorities and policies of
increasing corporate and military control and to create the world we
want to live in. We ask people to heed the call of our friends and
neighbors in Springfield to gather on April 2 at noon in Court Square in
Springfield to show solidarity with those leading the fight for housing
rights. Together we will take the next step toward the transformation we
- Ben Grosscup and Susan Theberge
DEMANDS ISSUED BY ARISE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE:
* City: Replace the housing lost in the tornado!
* State: Make shelters available to all in need!
* Feds: Fund housing, not wars!
For more info, contact: Arise for Social Justice (413)734-4948
CARPOOLS BEING ORGANIZED FROM AMHERST AND FROM NORTHAMPTON TO
SPRINGFIELD. BRING YOUR CAR AND IF YOU CAN OFFER TO DRIVE, PLEASE DO.
Rides leaving from Amherst:
Meet at 10:45 AM; Depart at 11:00AM
LOCATION: Parking lot of First Congregational Church of Amherst on the
corner of Spring and Churchill Streets in Amherst
Contact: Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rides leaving from Northampton:
Meet at 11:15 AM; Depart at 11:30AM
LOCATION: Parking lot of Daily Hampshire Gazette at 115 Conz Street,
Contact: Paki at email@example.com