Occasional Update #13: August 2014

Occasional Update #13

August 2014

It’s been a pretty long stretch since our last update— and a fair amount of things have happened. We had a ridiculously cold winter that not only kept us inside, but kept the bugs at bay this summer (worth it?). Despite the frigid weather, we were able to run our wood stove hot without buying any wood (thanks scavenging, thanks networks of friends, thanks hard work). We’ve also seen above and beyond contributions to our labor budget—meaning that as the year rolls on, we’ll have even more freedom and flexibility. We’ve hosted potlucks, readings, music sharing, and celebrations. Birthdays have rolled by; bedrooms have been improved (lofts! painting! desks! cleaning!!!); meals have been shared; friends have visited—and time has passed.


{it was the kind of cold that means it took 20 min to get all the clothes on you needed to go play in the snow. brrrrr!}


Our house membership has shifted once again— Eric moved out a few months back, deciding to try to find something that was a better fit. We’re hoping he finds something that is just right. And about a month ago, Phil moved in! Phil grew up in Bowling Green, likes baking bread, and does a lot of theatrical performances around Columbus, including being part of a dance in Taking Place and playing piano in the upcoming community theater version of Hair. Not only have the people living here changed, but Cole and Molly also became full members of our community.

 Right now (summer).

For a lot of folks, summer is a time for traveling. That’s been true for our household this year, too. Wes is planning a trip to New Orleans in August; Mattie just got back from Colorado as he celebrated his mother’s graduation; Cole headed to South Carolina for her sister’s wedding and to the Ozarks for a camping adventure, and Molly spent time in the TN mountains with her mama.

Summer also means gardening and outdoor projects. We just finished our windows (which we started last summer!), installed a little pond, and are gladly watching some of our backyard begin to grow a green ground covering for the first time in a very long time. Our garden is bustling with food and activity— we tried to grow a few less varieties this year in hopes of having higher yields. We’ve planted more flowers (including a lilac bush!) and things to keep pollinators and peoples alike happy. Loofas, Hops, and a hearty kiwi are winding up our back porch, and upside-down tomatoes and nasturtiums are weeping down from it. We’ve also started to learn a lot more about herbs this year and have been drying things for the winter.

       tummytomato                                   DSC01684                                  DSC01676(shirts full of tomatoes, drying feverfew and sage, and lovely spicy nasturtiums!)

 This summer has seen some of the most visible and clear signs of gentrification in this neighborhood yet. Across the alley behind our house, the buildings that were boarded up and shut down (displacing the folks who lived there) years ago are currently being gutted and put back together. Only now, it’s not for those who once lived there, but rather for wealthy (probably white) folk. Two corner stores—longtime staples around here—were bought out and shut down by Campus Partners. A slew of houses have been torn down, and many more are being renovated. Many folks in our household have found ways to resist gentrification, but the tide has been strong, and new neighbors and bigger developers just keep moving in.


(a regular scene of renovation in the ally) 

We, Ourselves, Us.

You in front of You.

Looking back to the past several months, we’ve seen less ‘big’ projects around here (but lots of ‘small’ projects, for sure!). Perhaps because of that, or perhaps just because, it seems we’ve been a bunch of folks who have stayed on our toes and been real busy.

Kate and Wes continue to work with Redbird Prison Abolition, which has been gearing up to reach out to more incarcerated women. Wes, Kate and other Redbirders headed up to Ottawa to present and attend the International Conference on Penal Abolition this past July. Redbird hosted a book release for Bomani, and since Condemned has come out, Mattie has worked to join others in supporting Bomani in fighting for his life. Mattie has also joined the ranks of regular book packers!

Alex and Cole continue to work with folks to establish a Community Land Trust in another Columbus neighborhood targeted for development on the west side of the city. The group of Founding Members has continued to build new relationships while establishing a legal foundation for community-controlled housing. The paperwork sucks, but Alex in particular has been building trust with members by connecting with folks on projects.

Mattie became a coordinator of Third Hand Bike Co-Op and has been helping run some of their open shops— it’s a really cool place and you should stop by sometime! He’s also been working to support the Beehive through (what else?) listening to stories of those involved and finding ways to tie it all together.

Cole has been busy with freelance work, including doing layout (once again) for the 24th issue of 4Struggle Magazine, which you’ll be able to admire as soon as it’s out! And thanks to Molly’s relationship with IMPACT Safety Cole will also soon be working with their Columbus Chapter on outreach and communications.

As a household, we’ve been getting our writing on. Cole started a women’s writing group that both Kate and Wes have been involved in. (Expect a zine to come out of it in the future!) Cole and Molly both wrote articles  for the spring edition of Communities Magazine about gender within our own community. Kate put together a zine about eating, food, and bodies called the BARF! zine that Wes and others also contributed to. Kate toured briefly with the zine, reading parts of it while her friend and zine co-contributor Gus performed a short play about bodies.

With the financial support of the FEC (thanks mutual aid fund!) Molly spent a long weekend in Philadelphia this winter at a training called Whites Confronting Racism, and continues to find value from that experience. Here is her blog post about it, if you’re interested. She’s also continued her educational work with the Beehive Collective, raising enough money to get a True Cost of Coal banner and 2 small Mesoamerica Resiste banners for frontline communities to use.  In the Spring, she helped host a storytelling training for folks in Appalachia. While some really great work happened there, it was overshadowed by the sudden and heartbreaking loss of an anti-MTR movement builder— Scott Ellis. He’s overwhelmingly missed.

                             Copy of DSCN0450                                                     DSC01654

(sharing Mesoamerica Resiste at Earlham College and the True Cost of Coal at the Clearfork Community Institute in TN)

Kate’s been busy as a volunteer with SARNCO- a local sexual assault advocacy group- and has started to the intensive work of being a hospital advocate.

The Capit@l Crushers continue to be movers and shakers (literally)—including bringing some sass and fierceness to the Pride Parade and Doo-Dah this year! We continued our support for the CIW campaign to encourage Wendy’s to sign the Fair Food agreement— while Mattie also stepped into more of an organizing role with the CIW for some of the actions.


{crushing it at the Pride Parade: Agenda, Agenda, Here’s our gay agenda! Housing, healthcare education. Freedom in our copulation. Anti-war, pro immigration. Ending Mass Incarceration. Queer Liberation! Queer Liberation!}

 Alex has increased his work with the FEC, strengthening the network of egalitarian communities. He’s taken on some organizing work, including leading the annual assembly. Soon, he (and maybe others) will head down to Twin Oaks in Virginia for the annual Communities Conference—maybe we’ll see you there?

On top of all that: as individuals a lot of us have been growing and putting energy into healing and changing. We’ve reached out to support groups, books, coaches, doctors, mentors, yoga classes, therapists, herbalists, and friends to help us. As a household, and as individuals, this hasn’t been an easy process. In some ways, at least, our relationships have been shaped and defined by our struggles. 

‘Til next time-

We could say that’s all, but it seems unlikely. There’s so much to say about our lives and our home—this is certainly a good start. We’d be glad to hear about what’s been up with you, and probably to share more about what’s been up with us… so… ‘til then— be well!