This Saturday, all the groups working on or interested in working on
spring actions surrounding the 3rd year marking date of the war in Iraq
will be meeting 1:30 - 3:30 PM at the Mount Pleasant Public Library at
Lamont and 16th Street NW (accessible by Columbia Heights Metro, 4 blocks,
also easily accessible from the 42 bus, the S2 or the S4 buses, as well as
the H2, H4, and H8 buses).
One event that groups have been working on is a March 18 scenario that
involves a march, a teach-in, and a community service component. I bring
this up because DAWN's weekly action working group is actively taking up
the community service action, but we want to invite all groups to
Let me explain.
On March 18, the plan was to service the homeless with food. However, as
we talked about it, we realized that it would be wrong simply to show up
and then leave as though we had done some great deed. What DC's homeless
population needs is respect and interaction with others in the community,
as well as all the material needs and resources that we are able to help
with (whether that be food, or warm clothing, or know-your-rights
trainings, or what have you).
So, we decided we needed to show up in the weeks leading up to March 18 as
well as the weeks following are action, and hopefully make this a
To be sustainable, we need help. We in DAWN can no doubt keep this up for
the next 7 to 8 weeks on our own, but we likely wouldn't be able to
sustain such an action longer, and so we invite people who want to make
the connections between the war abroad and the war at home to join us and
help us make this happen.
We have access to food, to pots and pans, and a kitchen - and most of the
time, even a vehicle to transport. Over time (though, not this weekend),
we'll need help with cooking. We'll need people to show up.
This Saturday, following our meeting, a group of us will be preparing to
go to the Canadian Embassy at 501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Outside this
embassy, very large numbers of homeless live in a plaza and in the alley
ways nearby. We plan on going at 5:30 PM (and, if the homeless who live
there tell us that that's an ideal time for them), we will continue this
every Saturday through March 18 and beyond. We as a group have committed
We believe that this would be a great opportunity for people simply to
show up and talk and get to know DC's homeless population, as we get to
know this particular group (assuming they want to get to know us). It
will also be a chance to eat, as there's liable to be extra food. For
this action in March to work, we have to connect these tragedies abroad
back to the local community. This is one way to do this. DC officially
has over 8,000 homeless people. Many estimate the number to be double
that. They live often right outside the doors of places of power, whether
it be the White House, the World Bank, or outside of places like the
Canadian Embassy (there's no symbolism of choosing the embassy; it's just
we know so many live there). Money that could be used for social services
go instead to fund baseball stadiums and wars. The price of rent drives
people to the streets, and even though many homeless people work, they
still can't make it. What's even more important is the serious lack of
respect that people living as homeless receive in society and the cruel
and demeaning stereotypes that they receive. This perpetuates itself over
and over again. Homelessness isn't simply a social problem of material
need, it's a problem of societal mindset. What I'm getting at is
paternalism, and we often take a paternalistic and patronizing attitude
toward the homeless, just as we do in places like Iraq. That attitude
connects and explains many of the actions we take.
Anyhow, we'd love for people to start joining us, starting this Saturday
after our important meeting.