St Mary’s Academy is an all girls high school in downtown Portland. Right 2 Survive, Right 2 Dream Too and Dignity Village was invited by Maria Fleming, who is coordinating the Poverty Awareness Day on April 17 to speak on Women in Poverty . Lisa Fay, from Right 2 Survive, Amber Dunks from Right 2 Dream too and Lisa Larson from Dignity Village spoke at the event.
Here is Lisa Fay Speech for St. Mary’s Academy Poverty Awareness Day
My name is Lisa Fay and I’m the Chairman of Right 2 Survive, hear in Portland,Oregon.Right 2 Survive’s primary mission is to educate the unhoused on their Civil,Constitutional,and human Rights.What this means is that when we hear from the unhoused community that they are being harassed by the police we can explain how they can exercise their rights. When R2S hears about changes to federal and state laws we can inform ppl of how the laws have changed and how they will effect the people. Portland’s City counsel has been very busy over the last decade creating harsher ordinances under the “Sustainability and Livability” category The intent is to make moving around the streets safer and more accessible to the public. But at the same time prohibits ppl from exercising their constitutional rights.
Are you aware that there are sections of the sidewalk ppl are not allowed to stop and rest,stand or sit on? Did you know the city has allowed Business Improvement Districts to block off sections of public streets? Portland is spending millions ang giving millions to large developers and corporations like Nike to create a few jobs while continuing to cut vital services for the poor and the homeless!
There are “No Camping ordinances”that prohibit people from sleeping in public spaces. This means you have no place to call home, no roof over your head and need to sleep, if caught camping or sleeping under a bridge, in a park behind a dumpster or on private property, the private security or the police will come wake you up, harass you and have been known to search your belongings. Then most likely scenario you are ticketed and possibly go to jail, and your property ends up in a dumpster after the illegal search. Depriving a person of sleep is a violation of one’s Human Rights as declared by the United Nations. How is a person expected to function rationally when they are sleep deprived?
Homelessness has many inticate facets! Facets that include different races, religions,LGTBQ, disabilities, behaviors,and ppl who experienced incarceration. Houselessness is inclusive! I mean a person who never finished school could be standing in line at the shelter for a meal, next to a person who graduated from college with a master’s degree, or a couple who’s home was foreclosed or someone who made a lot of money but chose bad investments. The houseless are young and old and everyone in between.For most becoming homeless is not by choice or design. Very few ppl make a conscience choice to be living on the streets. Some ppl that choose to may call themselves “Road Scholars”, while others like the freedom of moving around without permanent ties to a place. Some ppl are running from bad situations and others can’t afford to have housing and don’t have family that would take them in to their homes. There is an increasing amount of college students out on the streets. Yes, I said college students! They have to make the choices between school materials they need for their classes, food and transportation or having housing. WOW! The discipline and determination that a young person has to have to want an education so badly that they would sacrifice being indoors out of the element is incredible. The odds of them reaching graduation are near impossible, yet we see this everyday.
These are some of the reasons R2S feels our mission to educate ppl on their civil,constitutional and human rights is so important. Seeing, knowing and feeling oppression, discrimination and violations against our fellow human beings isn’t enough. Being a witness to injustice,creating solutions, opening minds and educating ppl provides tools to combat these situations and leads to create change. Giving ppl a voice and a solution is empowerment!
Some of the ways R2S as an organization we are involved in the community are: A biweekly news letter that we distribute on our “Under the Bridge Walks’. This is a time to connect with the houseless community on their struggles and at the same time do direct outreach updating ppl on issues that directly impact them.
Conduct “Solidarity Marches and Demonstrations to educate and inform our communities that injustices, oppression and tyranny are occurring all around us.
Right 2 Survive also has social media sites like Facebook, twitter and wordpress.com
. We are working toward a you tube channel and a TV show with Portland Community Media, to air hopefully late this year. Right 2 Survive has a Radio Show that airs on KBOO 90.7 FM On the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 6 pm. R2S radio discusses topics that have direct impact on the houseless community and brings a voice to the other wise silent community.
R2S is a large part of a coalition of social justice organizations that is working very hard on a “Homeless Bill of Rights”. This bill would make violations of human rights unconstitutional as well as protection under the bill in regards to housing, employment, police harassment and access to services that would improve quality of life.
Direct actions,fairs, training’s and forums are a few ways that R2S participates through out the country and encourages ppl to be inclusive and involved in social policies.
This year is the 3rd year we are utilizing a city ordinance to pitch a tent and have a camp out along the parade route for the rose parade. The Ord. allows the city to buy a permit for the housed ppl to come down town and sleep out on the streets the night before the parade. So, the question is; Why does the city pay for a permit to allow the housed ppl to come pitch tents along the parade route overnight but doesn’t allow a houseless person to pitch a tent for survival? Doing this for survival is illegal! As we camp out along the parade route we will use the time to educate and inform ppl this Ord. and about the coalilition”s work on the “ bill of rights” and it’s importance. We use this time to create a safe friendly environment that is inclusive of everyone in our community and invite friends from other organizations in Ca, OR, and Wa to come and take part in the events. It’s a celebration with food, music, fun, radical cheerleaders and night time movies. And then on Saturday morning we all gather with front row seats to watch the parade of floats and bands go by. We also make acknowledgements to the housed campers that they have spent the night along side homeless persons and encourage them to share what they learned and help to break down some of the myths and misconceptions of houselessness. The theme for this years “Pitch A Tent III” is the Homeless Bill Of Rights”, and the date is June 7 th – 8 th, look for us on SW 4 th ave. here in town.
Another direct action of R2S is located on the corner of NW 4 th and Burnside. I am a Co Founder and proud supporter of “Right 2 Dream Too” R2DToo, began On World homeless Day, October 11 Th 2011 and has been VERY SUCCESSFUL on many levels. I won’t go into much detail , I will let Amber tell you about this community more.
I want to Thank you all for taking an interest in social justice and how ppls lives are affected by the decisions we make. I encourage all of you to find something you are passionate about and use that platform to make our world a better place for all inhabitance.
Thank you once again to St. Mary’s Academy. They also painted a door. See pictures above and also visit our FB to see the rest of the pictures.