Whose Corner Is It Anyway

$65,217 of $66,237 goal

Raised by 1,052 people in 20 months
Whose Corner Is It Anyway is a Western MA mutual aid/harm reduction/political education/organizing group led by injection-drug-using low-income and survival sex workers who are mostly street-based, many of whom are houseless or living in unstable housing. We low-income sex workers have created a weekly community and organizing meeting for ourselves--a haven. At each weekly meeting we provide a high-calorie meal/snacks and cigarettes for each other, as well as access to a bad date list, needle exchange and other harm reduction materials such as Narcan and fentanyl test strips, childcare, transportation, and often, toiletry and clothing donations.  At the larger meetings every two weeks, we hold trainings led by local and national organizing and social service experts on  harm reduction/social justice topics that are relevant to us as a community. These have included a Know Your Rights training with SWOP Behind Bars, stimulant harm reduction with Magali Lerman of Reframe Health and Justice, debunking injection myths and how to reduce risk when injecting outside with Jess Tilley of hrh413 and New England Users Union, migrant sex workers' rights with Elene Lam of Butterfly,  being out as a drug-using sex worker activist with ex-Scarlet Alliance president Ryan Cole, navigating the Department of Children and Families with Arise for Social Justice, a session on the housing and shelter system with YWCA staff,  and a PEP (post exposure prophylaxis from HIV) and PrEP (pre-exposure prohylaxis from HIV) info and access informational session with Tapestry Health workers. Some trainings we have in the works are ones on street wound care,  disability rights, and unlearning transmisogyny. We've also incubated many nascent campaigns we're working on in the long term, such as a partnership with the Massachusetts Bail Fund to bail our members out directly from lock up.

The focus of the project is on the needs and goals of  low-income, street-based, and/or survival sex workers who inject drugs. These workers take the brunt of the criminalization and stigma of sex work and so they deserve to be the ones calling the shots on how to fight back. The problem is that in order for survival sex worker activists to lead projects like this one, they need to have the resources to do so. Time spent meeting and organizing is time away from survival work, which is often a financial loss low-income workers can’t afford. The gift cards provided by some non-profits to pay drug users and sex workers for their labor do not meet the needs of their recipients. They also demonstrate how non-profits and social services often infantilize poor people and drug users, not trusting them to make the best choices for themselves with their own money.

That’s why we've been raising cold hard cash for a task force meeting every week, to provide a $25 stipend for street workers or other low-income sex workers to attend, as well as $15 on the off weeks for attendance at the agenda-setting premeetings. Our work and leadership are valuable and deserve to be compensated. The street based and survival sex workers of this region constantly suffer from assaults, arrests, and police harassment. A $15-$25 stipend every week is the least we can give them as a community to support their struggle against this marginalization.  

However, the scale of our project has been growing at an astounding rate, and we are now seeing 40-65 sex workers attend every weekly meeting when we started off seeing  8-20 people at each!  Some months ago, we had to cut stipends for the first time in a year by $5 for two meetings. We want to continue to offer every drug-using low-income sex worker who needs one a place at our table. We aim to keep offering a stipend close to living wage and will not hold meetings in which we have to offer one below minimum wage.  The organizing efforts of low-income injection-drug-using workers are unique and invaluable in a sex workers' rights movement where privileged sex workers are over-represented and a harm reduction and drug users' union movement in which women/non-men and sex workers have often taken a back seat. We hope that you can help us broaden our fundraising efforts to keep up with the amazing recruitment efforts of our membership and the obvious, desperate need for our group's work in our area.

We've already been aided in achieving our goals not only by a growing network of individual donors, but also by community partners.  Besides the many organizations which help us with material goods, services, and presentations, both locally and nationally--like  New England Users Union, hrh413, Tapestry Health Systems, the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, SWOP Behind Bars, Reframe Health and Justice,  Lysistrata, the Western Mass Bail Fund, Western MA YWCA,  SWOP Boston, MASWAN, Arise for Social Justice, and many others--we've also been helped by organizations acting as donors. We were the Western MA  Chapter of Resource Generation's featured cause for December, and their substantial donations allowed us to create a small cushion for our organizational account for the first time, instead of simply subsisting week by week. SWOP-USA awarded us a mini-grant for our International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers in-house event this December 17th. Now SWOP-USA will also be disbursing two needle exchange mini-grants to us this year for buying harm reduction supplies we can't access regularly through our local syringe service provider--finer gauges of syringes, sniffing and crack pipe smoking kits, more fentanyl test strips, and lube. We were also recently chosen by feminist sex toy store Good Vibrations ' fundraising program GiVe as a seasonal partner. GiVe allows Good Vibrations store customers to choose to donate to their charity partners at checkout, and 100 percent of these donations last season went to us. The result was a substantial donation which will help us stabilize further as well as launch new programming. GiVe had this to say about working with WCIIA: "Good Vibrations is committed to sexual justice of all kinds. Since our founding, we have strived to provide education and resources so that each individual can work towards cultivating their own best sexual health. Knowing that resources often means economic resources and seeing the impact of the current social and political climate on the sex workers in and around our community, we feel compelled and honored in this moment to work to support the mission and community of Whose Corner is it Anyway."

If your organization would like to become a patron of ours or throw a benefit for us, please message us over GoFundMe!
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[TLDR we got the grant writing blues, mama] Whose Corner Is It Anyway, Western MA's #harmreduction/#mutualaid/political education/organizing/general ruckus group by & for drug-injecting poor/street/survival #sexworkers, needs $1300 once again for this week's upcoming meeting! I am going to be doing a SHORT fundraising update right now to commemorate and facilitate the fact that we're about to send out the first grant we wrote using our new participatory grantwriting process. This is the first grant we've written including input from several brainstorming sessions with the entire group. under the leadership of the grantwriting subcommittee. Whether or not we get this grant, it'll have been worth going through this process to learn how to work together & share power better. And as we get better at this and y'know, FINALLY ACTUALLY RECEIVE institutional funding at some point, we'll ensure that more group members and group leaders have access to grant writing as a locus of power in a non-profit organization. WISH US LUCK!
Thank you so much for coming through for us last week & helping us end the week slightly "over" budget (we're now asking for less money than we actually need each week,is why that's in quotation marks) when we were 1K in the hole as recently as Weds. Please think of us and give this week, as we diligently work away at grant writing so that we can depend on crowdfunding a little less! And please, pretty please, help us keep expanding the fundraiser by sharing it along with personalized words of love for us in non-local networks certified swerf/terf/drug warrior free. You can bet we sang praises to our recurring monthly donors in this grant--P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note saying so if you'd like to become one of these elite and we'll set up monthly invoices. Please please please just like/comment on/retweet/share IG story/whatever my fundraising posts if you can, to boost them in the algorithm. As usual, your money goes directly into our materialist priorities as poor sex workers--syringes/Narcan/fentanyl test strips; meals/snacks; clothing/toiletries; bad date list access; transport; childcare; cigarettes; stipends; presentations--provided by and for us. No bloat, all mutual aid. (We definitely pontificated a BUNCH about mutual aid in this grant, you can bet on that.)
Thank you for letting us get to this point---an org going on a year and 8 months old, run by and for poor drug-injecting sex workers, run almost entirely on CROWDFUNDING, expanding its scale of operation at a rabidly rapid rate. How is this not science fiction? All we can ask now is for you to help us survive yet another week! Much love and gratitude while I go kill off authorial babies so as to fit the final draft of our grant into the word count.
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ACTUAL EMERGENCY: Whose Corner Is It Anyway, W MA's #mutualaid/#harmreduction/ political education/ general ruckus group by/for drug-injecting poor/street/survival #sexworkers is in a TRULY SHITTY POSITION this week--we still need to make 1K for Friday's goal.

Since our attendance went up to 45-65 sex workers a meeting, even with our higher ask, we've been raising less money than we actually need every week.

We're hoping we can survive till we get more institutional funding by chipping away at moneys like the donation we got through our partnership with sex toy shop Good Vibrations’ charity program GiVe for the excess. But being behind by a whole $1000 would take a substantial portion out of what cushion we have and leave us MUCH less financially secure, putting our ability to offer mutual aid and a space for organizing every week in jeopardy---so we hope you can help us!

Our grantwriting subcommittee members did some polling of the group last meeting, and got some fascinating results from the 43 members taking the poll out of the 59 members present.

*Out of 43 of us taking the poll, 30 of us had been homeless at some point.
*27 out of the 43 members taking the poll were currently doing street-based sex work.
*30 members out of 43 members taking the poll had at one point engaged in the original, more narrow definition of survival sex work--trading sex for food, drugs, a place to stay, or other non-cash goods/services.
*24 members out of the 43 taking the poll said that they were domestic violence survivors or currently in a domestic violence situation. The same number reported being survivors of child sexual abuse.
*6 out of 43 members reported that they would call themselves trafficking survivors/or would say that they were in a trafficking situation currently. 8 members said they were or had been in situations other ppl might define as trafficking.
*Out of 43 members polled, 20 considered themselves Puerto Rican/a, Dominican/a, or otherwise Latina/x, 16 considered themselves white, 12 considered themselves mixed race, 5 considered themselves Black, and 2 identified as Native American.
*21 out of 43 members identified as disabled or chronically ill.

I could go on about these stats in a tedious fashion all day, esp. the stats around sexual identity which revealed a cornucopia of surprising info, but that's enough for now.

Our grantwriting subcommittee will keep on taking these sorts of demographic snapshots with our general membership's permission, since it really helps us identify what we need to focus on specifically as a group. The last time we did a shorter version of one of these polls the other month, for example, we discovered that more than half of the people polled had began doing sex work before they were 18, and more than a third were second-generation sex workers.

During this poll,we discovered that despite the fact that 30/43 of us polled had been homeless at some point, 22 of us now had their name on a lease--a development which made me exclaim, "thank god for Massachusetts!" and had many members ruefully agreeing.

These projects, in which our grantwriting committee members take initiative, are worth meeting for all on their own, let alone the meal made by the cooking committee,the harm reduction supplies distributed by syringe access committee, and all the other mutual aid we do.

Again, our grantwriting subcommittee is ready to hit 6 grants in 6 months, and hopefully we will receive at least one of them.

Our next two presentations will be our long-awaited woundcare training with UMass nursing professor and harm reductionist Kim Dion and before that, Laura Lemoon on trafficking in the context of street work (she had to cancel this week b/c her dog ate a chicken bone!)

We're also planning an in-house presentation led by members on how rape shield laws mostly exclude sex workers, stemming from how one rape survivor member was treated while testifying against her attacker recently.

As usual, we're doing great things and are poised to do great things--please help us get over this hump in between having our needs become greater and securing institutional funding! I squawk a LOT about being behind on this fundraiser, but being $1000 behind on a Wednesday night is TRULY an emergency.

So, blessed as we are with a passel of wildly generous donors and supporters, PLEASE give to us and support us now--donate, or share the fundraiser in non-local swerf/terf/drug-warrior-free places singing our praises, or interact w/my fundraising posts!

And PLEASE consider becoming a monthly donor by P**p**ing us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com and writing a note specifying that you'd like it to be a recurring donation--we'll set up invoices for you.

As usual, your $ goes directly into our materialist priorities as poor sw--syringes/Narcan/fentanyl test strips; meals/snacks; clothing/toiletries; bad date list access; transport; childcare; cigs; stipends; presentations--provided by us and for us. No bloat,all mutual aid.

I know a weekly fundraiser for such large sums is frustrating and tedious-- I can't thank you enough for all the support, and for feeling like we have enough community members pulling for us that I can ask for extra help when we run a huge deficit as we did this week.
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DIRE DIRE STRAITS: We REALLY need your help making goal for this week's meeting, $1450--we finished last week some $300 behind.

It would quite honestly suck to be scrambling anxiously for cash to make the meeting where we finally have Laura Lemoon, our dream presenter, on the agenda--a strong trafficking survivor/ex-street worker leader. So many members of our group have had experiences which meet most definitions of trafficking, w/so many relationships they have blurring the line between domestic violence and trafficking. They need to hear from someone who gets it, like Laura Lemoon does.

Laura Lemoon wrote once, in Tits and Sass: "Us poor and homeless survivors may not have a lot of influence...but we all have a voice.Organize w/other trafficking survivors-talk to people who live in your transitional housing building or folks you get your methadone dose with. There is power in the voices of poor and marginalized people."

Laura Lemoon believes in the powerful trafficking survivor who breaks the rules and speaks with their own voice, rather than the passive, good victim. It's imperative for us as a group full of “bad victim” survivors to hear that.

Our members are often just as at risk from violence from partners as they are from clients and cops. Some members have partners so controlling that before we voted on a rule requiring men/non-members to stay two blocks away, we used to have members who were escorted to the door by boyfriends, who then waited outside to collect members' stipends on the way out.

Our members are often judged for not leaving their abusers when they're dependent on them for their habits. Our members are often turned away from domestic violence shelters b/c they too often mandate abstinence from drug use and cessation of sex work.

Our members are often not believed at all.

Our members are judged for defining their own experiences, for saying that some of their experiences are consensual sex work while others are coercive, even while many middle class observers would find all those experiences degrading.

We are the quintessential bad victims, the kind of women who get killed before anyone even begins to believe us. It's crucial that we start having these conversations among ourselves about consent and coercion--no one else understands what they mean to us. Laura Lemoon will be taking that process and that conversation one step further by discussing how contributing essays to their new anthology can be made accessible to our members. We'll be inviting them back to continue that conversation as they solicit pieces.

We need to start talking about navigating these threats as agents who define our own experiences and decide what we need to do to survive when only a few shitty options are on the table.

As such, it would be nice not to already be starting the weekend badly behind on fundraising from last week--please please help if you can. This week is definitely the week to do it if you like desperate pathetic gratitude!

As usual, your money goes directly into our materialist priorities as poor sex workers--harm redux supplies, meals/snacks, clothing/toiletries, bad date list access, transport, childcare, stipends, presentations--provided by and for us. No bloat, all mutual aid.

This week is THE week to give, yup, and THE week to share us with words of earnest and superlative praise, esp if you've never shared the fundraiser before. Remember to share us in non-local networks which are sex work/drug prohibitionist free, though!

(Also, all fucking daddy issues jokes aside, I probably should mention here that Father's Day weekend is just as shitty as you might think it is to a group of marginalized people often estranged from their families, some of whom are child sexual abuse survivors.)

And this is definitely THE week to share/retweet/like/comment/story-share etc my fundraising posts on any platforms you encounter them when you have a sec, to boost them in the algorithm. And yeah, it's THE week to become a monthly donor if you'd like our all-consuming and eternal lurve and gratitude--P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note saying the donation is recurring.

I know we ask you for a king's ransom in every week, and we're an org coming out of our first year which has only gotten about 1/4 of our money through community donations & mini-grants, the bulk of the rest through crowdfunding. I know we rely on you a lot!

Thank you for allowing for a group self-governed by poor drug-using sex workers to EXIST. Thank you for helping us *continue* to exist. You are our fucking sunshine, people.
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We NEED help getting over our end of the week hump and making the $667 we need for Friday's goal! We had a productive & wide-ranging discussion at last week's meeting,talking more re common nightwalking laws and the dangers of street working in our specific geographical area in W MA-in a tiny conservative city, a tinier stroll, w/a cold, unforgiving winter.

Our members painted a bleak picture last meeting of injecting outside in the cold, with ice crystals forming on syringes that eventually clogged, getting sick from infections like endocarditis and pneumonia, esp when you don't have adequate clothing. Of cars slipping and sliding on ice where there’s no sidewalk to walk on, when you can’t go into a building lest you risk trespassing charges, or hang out in front of places for fear of loitering charges---where people keep beating you up when you try to shelter in hallways. Of being arrested for simply walking in “a known prostitution area”. Of being a constant target for arrest simply because in a city that takes up 18 square miles, the area where the stroll is spans only 2-3 blocks, and it’s all too obvious what workers are doing out there.

We'll be having more free-ranging discussions like these to help develop our political strategy for campaigns, for grantwriting purposes, and just to be able to share info and coping strategies. In the meantime, we hope you can help us so that we're not behind for fundraising next week for our Laura Lemoon’s presentation meeting on trafficking & coercion in the context of street work & on our members contributing to her new anthology!

As usual, your $ goes directly in our materialist priorities as poor sw--harm redux supplies, meals/snacks, clothing/toiletries, bad date list access, transport, childcare, stipends, presentations--provided by & for us. No bloat, all mutual aid.

Our grantwriting committee will be hitting a grant a month starting this month, so we won't be putting all the weight on you, but we hope you can keep helping us w/as much wild generosity as you've shown till we strike institutional funding gold!

I'm behind on thank yous with all the new donors we've been getting, with both large and small donations. And we also can't thank all the ppl who share & retweet this fund w/personalized messages of support enough.

Please do keep sharing the fund with a few words about why it's important, in non-local networks certified swerf/terf/drug warrior free. You can't fathom how much it helps us! And pls just like/interact/comment on my fundraising posts when you can.

And yes, please think about joining that choir of fucking angels we call our monthly donors--P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note specifying that the donation is recurring, and we'll set up invoices. <3

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Raised by 1,052 people in 20 months
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