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CHMA Updates: June 16, 2020

Statement of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests

Over the past two weeks, we have witnessed uprisings across the country and around the world in response to the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Malik Tyquan Graves, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others. We recognize that we live and work in a neighborhood that has experienced racist police brutality for decades. CHMA stands in solidarity with the ongoing protests, with their demands for justice and structural change, and with their call to defund the police.

For us, "solidarity" means not only symbolic support, but meaningful action. Many CHMA members are attending protests regularly, and some have supported rally organizers with planning and marshaling. At the same time, these and other members continue to deliver grocery aid, send financial assistance, and build partnerships with longstanding movement organizations in our neighborhood. We see protesting and mutual aid as part of the same push for justice. If you would like more information about becoming involved with protests, you can visit our
#blm-solidarity Slack channel.

If you have joined CHMA recently, welcome! 

One of the purposes of this newsletter is to offer some easily digestible insight into what's happening within the expansive world of CHMA. We hope that you will be able to find a way to plug in and get involved — and if you're after something that you don't already see happening, feel free to get it started!

Call for delivery and intake volunteers

Many of our members are stepping back from grocery shopping and delivery after participating in rallies and protests, in order to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19. That means we need your help getting food and other essentials to our neighbors! Before volunteering, please consider the following:

  • Please don't volunteer for delivery if you have any Covid-19/cold/flu-like symptoms, or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • If you have been in large crowds or demonstrations, please wait until you've had a negative test result (5+ days after potential exposure) or 14 days of self-isolation without a test.

If you can help with deliveries, please join us on Slack and check out the #community_needs channel. If you can't help with deliveries right now but can help us call neighbors to assess their needs, sign up for a future intake training!

Updates from our working groups

As you might already know, CHMA is now operating through a number of different working groups. Anyone is welcome to join them! To learn more about these groups, check out THIS WORKING GROUPS DOCUMENT, and get plugged in via the section named "How Can I Get Involved."

There's a lot going on across all the working groups and beyond, but we wanted to share just a few updates and highlights: 

COMMUNITY BUILDING: In Community Building, we are focused on how to involve and support our new members while centering anti-racism within our organization. As new volunteers join our network in large numbers, we're working to improve our weekly orientation and brainstorming ways to engage and follow up with new and existing members to strengthen the CHMA community. 

DELIVERIES: To date, we've completed over 1,880 deliveries! We continue to deliver groceries and other essential items to households in Crown Heights and beyond. It's easy and rewarding work, and is a great way to connect with neighbors, person-to-person (at a safe distance!). To get involved, take a look at our handy delivery guide HERE, and these slack channels: #delivery_volunteers, #community_needs, #cluster_delivery, and #cars_and_bikes. Don't forget to check out THIS AWESOME MAP to help find delivery requests by location!

COMMUNICATIONS: Our TWITTER and INSTAGRAM accounts are both going strong! We have received some great community donations through our Instagram. One of our neighbors, who found us through our social media, donated 20 single-ride MetroCards, which we passed along to Sistas Van to be redistributed. Another neighbor donated about 200 fabric masks, which will also go to SISTAS VAN for distribution amongst the broader community. Feel free to follow and repost us!

INTAKE: Our intake team has been growing by leaps and bounds; we had around 20 new volunteers sign up in the past week alone! Intake volunteers' job is to call neighbors who have reached out to CHMA for assistance, meaning that they are often the first point of connection with our neighbors. It's rich and varied work, and many volunteers have had conversations they won't forget. Nitish Pahwa, one of our intake volunteers, shared the following:

I've gotten quite a few thank-you calls from our neighbors. There have been people praising how professional the entire process is, expressing gratitude for the deliveries, and even calling afterward just to chat. I'd helped out a neighbor who lives right across the street from me, who told me about his history in Crown Heights and he pretty much knew everyone in the area. He told me about how my apartment had previously been a hotel, and explained all the various ways certain stores and spots in the neighborhood had changed. It was so illuminating to get such a close history of my neighborhood, and it was wonderful getting to talk to neighbors I might not have encountered otherwise.
There is always plenty of work to go around, and we would love to have more people on board. If you're interested, you can sign up for intake training HERE.

FINANCE: Over the last three weeks, we've raised $25,000 in pledged donations! This money goes directly toward purchasing groceries and other essentials for our neighbors — whether through individual deliveries or partnerships. Please help us keep this system alive by sharing our PLEDGE FORM with your networks! In addition, we've received donations from community members, local businesses, and other organizations that have hosted fundraisers for CHMA. Thank you to Hope's Virtual Benefit Trivia, Screamer's Pizzeria, Hunky Dory, and everyone else who has raised money to support our efforts!

HOUSING: CHMA volunteers have been busy making banners in support of housing rights. The beauty shown on the left above flew proudly in Fort Greene (photo courtesy of Crown Heights Tenant Union).

On June 1, members of the CHMA housing working group showed up at Grand Army Plaza for an action with Crown Heights Tenant Union, Communities for Change, and Housing Justice for All. People from across these organizations joined voices to demand that Gov. Cuomo cancel rent, which would ease pressure on tenants struggling with Covid-related financial precarity (photo above right courtesy of Brooke Shuman).

  • CSA launch: After a lot of planning work, we started our CHMA Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick-ups this week! CSA members picked up fresh produce for their own households, and to deliver to neighbors.
  • With the help of SEEDS IN THE MIDDLE, a local organization focused on supporting social change through sustainable health, CHMA was able to donate a (figurative) ton of fresh produce to residents of the Ebbets Field and Harry Silver apartment complexes, just south of Crown Heights.

GARDENING: If you're looking for a different way to get involved, we welcome you to visit the #gardening channel in Slack. We are organizing gardeners across Crown Heights to share tips, tools and seeds; teach anyone wanting to learn how to grow food indoors and out; and locate empty lots, or even CHMA members' yards or stoops, to potentially farm them! We'd ultimately like to work toward holding a weekly farm stand, and donate a portion of every harvest to anyone in our community experience food insecurity. More details soon! 

CHMA in the media!

Recently, CHMA members Cat Zhang, Scott Heins and Moné Makkawi spoke with Olivia Schwob for Urban Omnibus, a publication put out by the Architectural League of New York. You can read, listen, and check out more photos HERE

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Crown Heights Mutual Aid · Crown Heights · Brooklyn, NY 11213 · USA

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