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View Full Version : Take Back The Land [and the HOMES!] Movement



Peter Lemkin
04-05-2010, 01:23 PM
http://takebacktheland.org/

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The Crisis and the Movement

In the face of the most severe economic crisis in two generations, people are fighting back. Many are protesting the lack of bank lending, there is open rebellion against unfair credit card rate hikes, a burgeoning movement to divest from major banks and move assets into credit unions and community banks and a growing number of homeowners refusing to pay their predatory mortgages while demanding the banks “produce the note” and staying in their homes.

Most dramatically, a growing anti-eviction movement is directly implementing public policy by defending the right of families to remain in foreclosed homes and public housing. The effort has garnered national attention- featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, a nationally distributed AP story, on CNN, ABC World News Tonight, PBS' NOW program and in the recent Michael Moore movie Capitalism: A Love Story- and is building support across the United States. This is the Take Back the Land Movement.

With the backdrop of millions of families losing their homes to foreclosures, a massive public bailout of the financial industry and skyrocketing unemployment, the general public is compelled to rethink and reconsider the dominant paradigms and assumptions about the world around them, including their relationship to housing, the proper function of government, the role of large financial institutions and their own responsibility for each other and, indeed, the world.

As a direct consequence of the rethinking, this society is on the cusp of a major social movement and transformation, the likes of which have not been experienced in the US since the Civil Rights era. More than the opportunity to change one law or alter a series of regional practices, there exists the potential to fundamentally transform this society, in far reaching ways, in the areas of land relationships and housing.

This confluence of factors represents a unique historical opportunity for the social justice movement to articulate a well developed vision of the way things can be to a newly captive audience, and to meaningfully engage in the process of transforming this society.

The potential exists to fundamentally transform land relationship, in this society and in our lifetime, and in doing so, elevate housing to the level of a human right. Towards this objective, we are building the Take Back the Land Movement.

A Trans-local Network

Changing times and new challenges demand new and fresh approaches, including innovative ways of thinking about and organizing our communities. Inspired by anti-eviction campaigns in South Africa, Take Back the Land is a trans-local movement: a network of organizations engaged in their own local communities and campaigns, linked together by a common framework of principles, objectives and strategies to achieve those objectives.

The Take Back the Land Movement, then, is not one single national campaign, but, rather, one thousand independent, but interconnected, local campaigns directed towards the common objectives of community control over land and elevating housing to the level of a human right.

Local campaigns and actions are not directed by a centralized committee, but entirely driven by Local Action Groups (LAG), who operate independently while benefiting from shared experiences.

The Land & Housing Action Group (L&HAG), of the US Human Rights Network, facilitates communication among the LAGs and provides them with campaign and technical support.

This decentralized network model focuses power, flexibility and decision making in the hands of local impacted communities and individuals.

This historic opportunity to fundamentally transform land relationships in this society, thereby elevating housing to the level of a human right, will only be realized through prolonged and rigorous public policy campaigns and legislative initiatives, propelled by a critical mass of trans-local direct action civil disobedience campaigns, specifically, liberating vacant government owned and foreclosed homes and defending families from foreclosure and public housing related evictions.

Realizing the unique potential of this moment demands new thinking in forging a comprehensive and robust movement. This movement will make effective use of both traditional mass media as well as new social networking tools, to frame and present the concept of housing as a human right and inspire a new generation of social justice actors.

The Take Back the Land Movement is defined by common framework of principles, objectives and strategies to achieve those objectives.

Principles

The Take Back the Land Movement is rooted in the following principles:

Housing is a human right.
Local community control over land and housing.
Leadership by impacted communities, particularly low income women of color.
Direct action oriented campaigns.

Objectives

As with each one before, this movement will be defined by the social objectives it articulates, and judged by the extent to which those objectives are achieved. While protests and other actions will prove exciting and effective at dramatizing injustice, the mechanics of social transformation involve translating theory into practice and ideals into concrete, achievable objectives.

Objectives exist on three levels: Movement objectives, campaign objectives and action objectives.

The overarching objective of the Take Back the Land Movement correlate significantly with our principles:

Fundamentally transform land relationships;
Elevate housing to the level of a human right;
Community control over land and housing;
Empower impacted communities, particularly low income communities of color.

In order to achieve these movement objectives, we must design and implement a series of campaigns, whose objectives support those of the broader movement. A campaign, for example, designed to win a moratorium on evictions, directly supports the broader movement objectives of housing as a human right, although, by itself, the campaign does not achieve that broader objective.

Campaigns often focus on achieving mid-range objectives, such as shifts in public policy or specific laws. Campaigns to support the broader movement objectives might focus on winning a series of policy shifts in a number of areas. Some public policy areas include:

Establishing the human right to housing under law;
Keep families in their homes;
Utilize vacant land, homes and buildings;
Protect public housing;
Community control over land and housing;
Right to return;
Financial institution reform;
Build and Strengthen Alternative Democratic Institutions;

Local Action Groups develop and pursue specific legislative or behavioral demands inside of one or more of the policy areas from the local, state or federal government, housing agencies, bank or other financial institutions, land speculators or other appropriate targets.

Where a movement is comprised of a series of campaigns, a campaign can be comprised of a series of actions, including protests, letter writing, legislative proposals, teach-ins and direct action.

While actions are designed to support a campaign, and to advance the objectives of that campaign, each specific action has its own specific and unique objectives. That means an action often has at least two objectives: a campaign objective and an immediate or action objective.

For example, a campaign to win an eviction moratorium might include any number of actions, such as a teach in about the economic and housing crisis, a petition drive calling for the moratorium and a direct action to defend a family facing eviction. The immediate or action objective is to stop the eviction of the family from the home. However, if the action is successfully and the family is allowed to remain in the home, the campaign is not over, because the action is also demanding an eviction moratorium beyond the one family.

When developing campaigns and actions, the L&HAG urges organizations to consider designing campaigns which support the broader movement objectives, and actions which support campaign objectives.

To reiterate, while the Land & Housing Action Group is proposing a broad framework of objectives and public policy areas, campaigns and actions must be developed and executed by appropriate Local Action Groups.

Campaign Strategies

The direct action component of Take Back the Land style campaigns focus on:

Foreclosure related evictions. In the context of the worse housing crisis in memory, evicting families and creating more vacant homes in communities is counterproductive.
Foreclosed homes. The economic and housing crisis has resulted in perfectly good homes sitting vacant, for years on end, devaluing entire neighborhoods and transferring to the ownership of banks that already have been paid for the homes by the federal bailout. These homes must be filled with families in need of housing.
Vacant foreclosed and government owned buildings. As the homeless sleep in the streets, cars and parks, vacant buildings, owned by banks and local governments, dot the urban skyline and shock the moral conscience. These structures must be put to use for the benefit of people in need of housing.
Vacant foreclosed and government owned land. During the housing “boom,” local governments made publicly owned land available to politically connected developers at fire sale prices. Now that boom times are over, vacant land must now be returned to the common good.
Public housing. Even as the housing crisis intensifies, municipalities across the country are shedding public housing units through demolition, deliberate vacancy and privatization. In this time of great need, we cannot afford to lose low-income housing. Public housing must be protected and expanded and people must not be evicted for lack of income.
The right to return. Whether through gentrification, public housing demolition or the combination of natural disasters and government actions, large numbers of people have been forced to leave their long-time communities. People must have the right to return to historic communities and rebuild them when disasters occur.

In the broadest sense, the strategy is to overwhelm the status quo with a critical mass of Take Back the Land style actions, whose local campaigns and victories result in a social transformation of land relationships.

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Magda Hassan
04-05-2010, 02:22 PM
Yep. Many families can live in one banker's house. :damnmate:

This is a great movement Peter. I hope it can get momentum. Residential housing needs to be removed from the commodity market. It is a human right and, yes, I know, there are some who seek to commodify those too. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Peter Lemkin
04-05-2010, 07:07 PM
Yep. Many families can live in one banker's house. :damnmate:

This is a great movement Peter. I hope it can get momentum. Residential housing needs to be removed from the commodity market. It is a human right and, yes, I know, there are some who seek to commodify those too. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I give it not a chance...sadly - though I'd like to be proven wrong! I spent many years homeless and again face that ignoble reality in the near future....with homes I'd love to live in aplenty empty....but the system is built by the rich, for the rich, and to keep those who have 'fallen' or never having 'become of the annointed' from having even the basics of life.....Capitalism is in my opinion an evil system of the domanance paradigm. It benefits less than 5% - really about 1%, but uses propaganda and bread and circus to convince all too many that they are happy and self-realized in their happiness. Ha!