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Whose Corner Is It, Anyway?

$53,788 of $55,063 goal

Raised by 876 people in 18 months
Whose Corner Is It Anyway is a Western MA harm reduction task force and mutual aid 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, such as a Know Your Rights training from SWOP Behind Bars, stimulant harm reduction with Reframe Health and Justice, navigating the Department of Children and Families with Arise for Social Justice, a session on navigating 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 creating a sensitivity training for best practices for treating opioid-using sex workers for local hospitals and our participation in #ReframeTheBlame, a feminist-led national drug users' rights campaign in  which drug users are signing symbolic Do Not Prosecute orders in the event of their deaths from overdose to protest drug-induced homicide laws. 

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 as a response to this problem 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 36-50 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 task force'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, 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."
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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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Brief update to say that we still need $650 by Thurs/Fri! The presentation went beautifully, btw--I'd forgotten what a truly magnetizing speaker Toront Asian migrant sex worker org Butterfly's Elene Lam was! (For more of her brilliance, see this transcribed Tits and Sass interview ( https://bit.ly/1WgF1bQ ) I did w/her, Kate Zen, & Chanelle Gallant in 2015 on their work in the Migrant Sex Worker Project.) She connected the racism Asian sex workers experience when they're cast as passive victims to the racism our group members experience as Black and Latina sex workers when they're cast as criminals--all tropes that justify police control of our bodies. We identified many of our Puerto Ricana group members' experience as one of internal migration, too. We also learned some of Butterfly's story as an organization--from their humble beginnings asking for a space with a photocopier from a labor org to their art projects to the way they recently massed 100 strong appearing at Toronto City Hall. I was particularly interested in Elene's explanation of how Butterfly uses shelters as sponsees for migrant sex workers, b/c often immigration will assume male individual sponsees are clients and female sponsees are massage parlor managers/traffickers. So, yeah, awesome presentation on migrant sex work, and it'd be great if this meeting didn't put us behind for next week--if you can't give to the fundraiser, please share it along w/a message of support or interact with my fundraising posts on any platform. As usual, P**p** whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com if you'd like to be a monthly donor and we'll set up invoices for you. Thank you thank you thank you for being there for us and even just tolerating these updates! ;)
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Still need help at Whose Corner Is It Anyway--$900 by Thurs for a meeting including Asian migrant sex worker org Butterfly's presentation and a discussion on our partnership with Mass Bail Fund. I'm going to let someone else speak for me this time on why you should give to support this meeting--our weekly donor and supporter Shielding wrote a thread on twitter ( https://twitter.com/ShieldingC/status/1117283531821080576) which I'll reproduce here:
"1) Funding the Butterfly Project presentation means supporting migrant sex-workers - paying the people whose stakes in immigration reform are life-and-death or -indefinite-detetention.
"2) Whose Corner and Butterfly Project are both solid investments in prison reform and decarceration; members of both groups in surviving so many arrests are pushing back every day against these systems. Collectively both groups are forces of resistance we can't afford to lose.
"3) Enabling a collaboration between both groups means information, skills, and human connections can be shared. Both can expand and both can better support and amplify the resisters of both communities.
"4) Supporting a workshop with Mass Bail Fund means supporting yet another organization devoted to decrimalizing poverty, making their research, funding and experience available to resisters on the front lines.
"5) Whose Corner members can use these resources to survive and avoid incarceration. The families and communities that rely on these members every day can also survive and continue to benefit from their presence and experience in our lives.
"6) Supporting Whose Corner means supporting a restorative justice model of conflict resolution, because this is what they did with the information from the restorative justice presentation. Integrated it, used it, and made it part of their work.
"7) The overall pattern: this group is nurturing the roots of peace in the middle of life-taking violence. Each week they come together, planting connections and finding each other, is a week when something good comes to life.
"8) I give because I want to be part of the stand against violence and abuse in my community."

Anyway, I also wrote a long megilah yesterday about why it's important for drug-using/survival sex workers to ally with migrant sex workers, and why our growing alliance with Mass Bail Fund will save members' lives--said megilah is here, by the way-- https://twitter.com/marginalutilite/status/1117127209125339136--...why our work with the Bail Fund may ultimately provide a model for bail work w/populations, esp opioid-dependent ones, which are controlled and punished by numerous small arrests criminalizing their poverty and their right to be in public space......about all the presentations we plan in the future on the safer bathroom movement, banking and debt, street woundcare, SESTA/FOSTA and the national sex workers' rights movement, media bias in reporting on street sex workers, and more...and about how Whose Corner is inspiring many nascent and incubating new projects led by street-based and poor sex workers for them, projects which understand that activism has to be accessible to truly be led by those most directly impacted. So today I'm just gonna repeat my weekly plea 2 pls give, SHARE,& interact w/this fund! Again, I know I court what I euphemize as donor fatigue-truly donor disgust-but there's no stability in an almost exclusively crowdfund dependent project like this one! And as usual, if you'd like to become one of our monthly donors, pls P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note saying so, and we'll set up invoices for you. SO many new donors lately,tho,w/both large gifts and small.Thank u for helping us grow this community of supporters--it's so tough not 2 just keep hassling the same networks, as it's difficult 2 find ppl receptive 2 giving to drug-using street sex workers. As usual, yr $ goes towards our materialist priorities-syringe access/Narcan/fentanyl test strips,meals/snacks,cigs,bad date list,childcare, transport,clothing/toiletries,presentations,&stipends for organizing every wk, provided by & 4 low-income sworkers. Anyway, thank you thank you thank you for your patience w/my promotional noise, your *considerable* material support, your testimonials to us, your recruitment of new donors--for everything you do which allows us to survive.
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[TLDR Whose Corner Is It Anyway need $1300 for next meeting--a migrant sex worker 101 with Butterfly activist and international organizer Elene Lam, life-changing new programming with allies at Massachusetts Bail Fund , help us continue through April as we inspire more orgs like us into being.]Whose Corner Is It Anyway, Western MA's fave mutual aid & harm reduction group by & for drug-injecting low-income/street/survival sex workers, is raising $1300 again for this wk's meeting--a presentation by Butterfly's Elene Lam on migrant sex work 101. Our members are 40 percent Puerto Ricana, so many of them are internal migrants, but as a group, we need to know more about the struggles of sex worker migrants crossing borders. The year since SESTA-FOSTA passed has only made it more clear how critical it is for the most marginalized sectors of the industry to band together. As poor drug-injecting sex workers, we need to find solidarity w/migrant sex workers--as a counter for all the times both groups have been pushed aside and ignored or even viewed as a liability by the larger movement. We're pleased to welcome organizer extraordinaire Elene Lam as a speaker, Her international work with other migrant sex workers through Zi Teng, Butterfly, and the Migrant Sex Worker Project is unparalleled.
We'll also be discussing our growing partnership with MA BailFund during this meeting. Like many other street-based and outdoor sex workers globally and nationally, our members are often arrested *weekly* on charges like trespassing, loitering, and disorderly conduct as well as drug possession, solicitation, and common night walking. There are innumerable public nuisance laws making up the legal machine criminalizing poverty which members can break by simply existing in public space. Many of these charges don't even stick--common nightwalking, an absurd 19th century statute still in MA general law that I've railed about here often, is actually unconstitutional with its limitation on freedom of movement & its low burden of proof. (Not to mention against public health best practices with the way it's often paired w/using condoms as evidence, a law enforcement tactic that's been eliminated in many major cities and states since the NYPD banned its use in pros related arrests in 2014.)
But for poor opioid-dependent sex workers like us, it doesn't matter if the charges don't stick--the arrest itself is the punishment, as well as a clear threat to our lives. When we're arrested, we often have no money on us. If it's a sex-work related arrest, the cops often confiscate whatever cash we do have on us as "earnings." We can't bail ourselves out. Sadistic cops often make sure to arrest us on a Friday, so we stay in lock up with no access to a bail commissioner over the weekend. While our state promises that opioid-dependent ppl in jail will have access to suboxone in the fall, the ordeal of withdrawal in lockup remains a sanctioned torture here in progressive MA and elsewhere. And while being dopesick in a cell for 72 hours for LOITERING is something most of us wouldn't wish on our worst enemies, this goes beyond trauma to life-or-death stakes---every time we ARE finally bailed out of lockup or released on our own recognizance after detoxing cold turkey at the police station for a day or three, our tolerance is lowered and we're that much more vulnerable to overdose. The faster we can get bailed out of this somehow legal lockup/cold turkey limbo, the less tolerance is lowered, and the more likely we are to survive the next time we get well on the outside. Also,our allies at Mass Bail Fund reminded us of another crucial factor--the ppl who get to go home after being arrested,who get 2 shower & change clothes and take care of what they need to before their arraignment, invariably have better outcomes in court. It's that arbitrary and that classed, and we can see that easily enough just by comparing sentences between those of us who are more or less lucky within our group. We thank the Mass Bail Fund for being willing to help us figure out ways to make sure as many of our members as possible can be the lucky ones for once, getting bailed out to avoid overdose after days dopesick in a cage.
Had our 1st grant brainstorming session last meeting, tackling a grant app question together as a group. We discovered that *half* of the ppl at this meeting were 2nd generation sex workers, & more than half started sex work before turning 18. So our participatory grantwriting process is already paying dividends early on, just by spurring us into having conversations we wouldn't have otherwise.
Thank you so much for making the beginning of April so much better for fundraising so far than the dismal returns we had in March, with FB banning us every other week like it did so many other sex worker charities. We have so many exciting presentations planned for the future, finally pinning down that one on street woundcare we've been eyeing for ages, plus one on media bias and reporting on street sex work, and one on banking access and debt. We had a bunch of new donors big and small last week, including one who left a note making me grin saying they were donating as a fuck you to an antifa comrade discriminating against a friend w/a drug user past. (The left is far from free of double stigma versus drug use and sex work, which is why we have to lean so hard on those few networks which are truly intersectional.) We hope you can continue to support us through these spring months! As usual, please give if you can, and PLEASE, share us w/a personalized message of support to non-local networks free of drug/sex work prohibitionists--twitter,tumblr, FB, IG...Please interact with my fundraising posts on Twitter and Facebook and boost their prominence in the algorithm! GIFs as comments weirdly seem to work best on Facebook for boosting purposes. If you'd like to become part of the elite team who get the bulk of our pathetic gratitude every month and become one of our monthly donors, please P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com with a note to that effect and we'll set up invoices for you. As usual, your $ goes towards our materialist priorities--syringe access/Narcan/fentanyl test strips, meals/snacks, cigarettes, bad date list, childcare, transport, clothing/toiletries, presentations, &stipends for organizing every week, provided by & for low-income sworkers. Thank you so fucking much as per usual for letting us exist. We get more and more inquiries every week from people who'd like to do what we're doing, or people already starting burgeoning projects led by street sex workers and drug-using sex workers. The very existence of Whose Corner Is It Anyway these past 18 months has allowed for the existence of more projects like it, mutual aid, harm reduction, & activist projects and services led by the most marginalized sex workers--projects which recognize that organizing needs to be accessible to people, that drug user and low-income sex worker activist labor needs to be compensated and supported. Thank you so much to all our donors and supporters for not only allowing us to thrive, but also for helping create this larger phenomenon. Please help us continue into this week and these next few months.
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****We REALLY need your help as previous donors this week.**** We've only had $105 donated on our weekly drive since last night, leaving us needing $1195 this week by Weds/Thurs after the worst fundraising month we've ever had. One of our most integral subcommittee heads has also been arrested, leaving us further off-kilter--in this organizing, any one of our leaders can be arrested at any time. (We'll be revisiting her plight with you as a community after her bail reduction hearing, with her family's help and permission,) We're constantly under siege. Facebook is still intermittently blocking the fundraiser as "against community standards," in a pattern that's been popping up with other sex worker activism funds and charities. If you like your donating tinged with desperation--or even if you don't--there's never been a better time to give. Or you can SHARE this fundraiser in a personalized manner which shows your followers it means something to you--on twitter, FB, IG, tumblr, etc, in non-local networks where we're safe from drug/sex work prohibitionists. If you'd like to become a monthly donor, you can P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com with a note to that effect, and we'll set up invoices for you. 35-50 mostly houseless or unstably housed poor, street-based, and survival sex workers depend on this meeting every week for something to eat, afterhours syringe/Narcan/fentanyl test strip access, a stipend, clothing and toiletries, bad date list access, a restorative justice and trauma counselor to help deal with conflict, and a place to share information, organize, lead, and see presentations of interest to the community.
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$53,788 of $55,063 goal

Raised by 876 people in 18 months
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