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Whose Corner Is It, Anyway?

$44,021 of $44,520 goal

Raised by 705 people in 16 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!  A few 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.
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[TLDR--RED ALERT re particularly needing help this week--we're behind] We could particularly use help this week at Whose Corner Is It Anyway, Western MA's mutual aid group and harm reduction task force by & for low-income, street-based, and survival sex workers who inject drugs--we still need $1180 for next week's meeting by Tues/Weds/Thurs. I got a late start on fundraising yesterday, so we're behind on where we usually are at this point in the weekend. I'm going to be moving soon, so please bear with me for the next couple of weeks! I just looked over the slides for the presentation on the Department of Children and Families/Child Protective Services that Ivette from Arise for Social Justice's Family Matters Initiative is giving us, and there's such a wealth of historical and practical detail included--really looking forward to it. See my last update for more on that ( https://www.facebook.com/groups/criminalinjustice/permalink/2229535693734426/).
As I wrote yesterday, we're going to be creating a grant calendar and working on a participatory grant writing process which represents all of us. We know we ask you for a sizable amount of money every week as donors, and we appreciate how much you do for us. As a baby organization working on an entirely new model, we're still working on securing other sources of income and doing it our way. Meanwhile, we can't thank donor organizations like Western Mass Resource Generation, Benefits with Friends, and Tanam enough, as well as our monthly/weekly donors, plus Tapestry, Hope for Holyoke, the Recovery Learning Community and all our other local allies which make our meetings possible. But until we get a handle on more institutional sources of funding, NOW would be a great week to give if you've been meaning to, and to share the fundraiser with non-local networks free of those who want to lock up drug users and sex workers if you can't. Monthly donations we can count on are always a great way to help as well--please P*yp*l us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com with a note specifying you'd like to give monthly and we'll set up invoices for you. I say this every week, but with Whose Corner Is It Anyway, you can be assured that all your donations go into direct material help for low-income and survival sex workers who inject drugs. Your money goes into needle exchange, fentanyl test strips, Narcan; meals/snacks, clothing/toiletries; our bad date list; childcare; transport; cigarettes; harm reduction/social justice presentations; and stipends for organizing labor ,provided by and for low-income drug-using sex workers. So please think about helping us out this week in particular, so we can keep this unlikely project going for yet another week!
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[TLDR a training on dealing with child protective services, truly democratic grantwriting and our take on organizing as science fiction, plus no rapist clients in the movement in the name of these marginalized sex workers--] Whose Corner Is It Anyways, Western MA's and your personal favorite mutual aid group and harm reduction task force by and for low-income, street-based, and survival sex workers who inject drugs, is going around again raising $1300 this weekend for next week's meeting. Excited for this week's training on Child Protective Services by Ivette from Arise for Social Justice's Family Matters committee. So many of our members have an open Department of Children and Families case on their kids, or have had their children taken and are struggling to get them back. There's a spotlight turned on poor people's parenting that never shines on the mothering of the rich--the view that allows a DCF worker to turn grocery day into "no food in the cupboards, does not adequately feed their children", for example. The drug-using sex-working parent is always a monster to this agency, regardless of the quality of their parenting. As I noted last week, Arise's Family Matters committee reports that DCF in this area is so dysfunctional that parents cannot even exercise what rights they have, with procedures like 72-hour hearings just falling by the wayside. It's most dire when a case gets opened on a drug-using parent from the birth of their child onwards, even when the birthgiving parent is already in opiate substitution treatment--the option doctors recommend as the best one for opioid-using birthgivers. It's most dire when a case gets opened on a drug-using parent from the birth of their child onwards, even when the birthgiving parent is already in opiate substitution treatment--the option doctors recommend as the best one for opioid-using birthgivers.
We had a great discussion last week about sexual predators and clients infiltrating the movement, and we voted unanimously to come out as an organization against #RobKampia. No one can say that #RobKampia and his ONE alt-right funder Scott Banister's place in the sex workers' rights movement is integral to help THESE marginalized and criminalized sex workers. Not in our name!
We'll be having an even more critical discussion this week brainstorming our million-dollar funding priorities--what we'd do if money was no object. This conversation was partly inspired by Walidah Imarisha 's Feinberg series lecture--"All Organizing Is Science Fiction," ( https://www.umass.edu/history/event/all-organizing-science-fiction) which I attended as a WCIIA member w/my transportation subsidized by the series. What Imarisha said about utopian brainstorming w/Portland's People's Plan got us thinking about no-holds barred speculative planning sessions in the group, as a way to lay the foundations for truly democratic grantwriting. The plan we've tried to implement so far and which we'll expand on going forward is to have multiple authors on each grant representing all of our various subcommittees, and to pull our entire org in on the initial drafting of each one. Grantwriting shouldn't be controlled by those group members who happen to be most capable of codeswitching. We should make every major financial decision collectively.
Speaking of financial planning, we're overjoyed to see the fundraiser back on track this February! We'll be creating a grant calendar and continuing to partner w/orgs who want to help us, but in the meanwhile you donors are the engine that drives us. (We'd also like to thank Tanam, a newly-opened Filipino food and art space in Somerville ( https://tanam.co/ ), for hosting a fundraising raffle for us this week! We made $160 after expenses, and were so grateful for the chance to hob nob.) As always, your donations go towards our very materialist priorities as a mutual aid group--syringes, fentanyl test strips, & Narcan; clothing/toiletries; meals/snacks; childcare; bad date list access; transport; and stipends for organizing labor. And as per usual, please give to us if you can, and share this fundraiser along with commentary on your deep love for us in non-local networks free of drug/sex work prohibitionist jerks if you can't. If you'd like to give a recurring monthly donation and thus earn our undying gratitude, please P*yp*l us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com and we'll set up monthly invoices for you. Thank you so goddamn much as usual for making this unlikely project possible these last 16 months. We're going onward and fucking upward.
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[TLDR--sexual predators in sex workers rights community & marginalized workers as rhetorical props, lovely ppl doing benefits for us!]COUNTDOWN: Whose Corner Is It Anyway, Western MA's mutual aid group & #harmreduction task force by and for low-income, street-based, and survival sex workers who inject drugs, needs $569 more for our meeting next week! Recently, sexual predators inserting themselves into our movement have been defended w/much ado around how their involvement will somehow save marginalized sex workers. (For your reference: https://www.thedailybeast.com/rob-kampia-weed-activist-with-metoo-past-is-now-pushing-sex-work-reform and https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/pot-legalization-activist-turns-sights-on-prostitution-comes-out-as-client , and for those with a strong stomach, https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/article/20986444/spotlight-on-sexual-misconduct-reopens-old-wounds-at-marijuana-policy-project .) The same sort of people who rape street-based sex workers with impunity are now being touted as their saviors. That's because marginalized workers are so often used as rhetorical placeholders without their actual involvement. That's why the leadership capacity building work we're doing and planning more of at WCIIA is so crucial--so more and more of the most marginalized workers can have a voice in the movement instead of being used to prop up civ/privileged worker agendas. I'm going to do a brief presentation this meeting on that above debacle re #RobKampia and Decriminalize Sex Work Initiative et all. I think knowing about in-fighting and treachery in movements is an important part of leadership capacity building! Otherwise the class and race divides and sheer bullshit in sex work movement work come as a surprise to new activists--and then they're told to push those things under the rug so as not to be divisive and air our intermovement dirty laundry. By the time you realize that we can't just Kumbaya our way into activist success by ignoring abusers in our midst, you've neglected to take many stands you should have taken to protect your community. That sort of stuff is leadership development and capacity building too, just as much as more formal advocacy skills are. I'm looking forward to passing along lessons I only learned too late, and learning from our members via their take on this situation.
I also wanted to point out that of course taking money from ethically repugnant assholes and using it to fuel our activism is a time-honored sex worker tradition of wealth redistribution, but that's different than putting a sexually predatory client in a decision-making position in a sex worker group. We were told directly by Decriminalize Sex Work pre-the Daily Beast piece that Kampia was the one who'd be making lobbying and funding decisions. We don't NEED Kampia and his *one* violently transmisogynistic,anti-abortion, Ted-Cruz-backing funder, Scott Banister. Creating a false sense of desperation around the idea that Kampia is some mystical donor whisperer who is the only route towards liberation for marginalized workers is a dirty lie. (More on this here in this excellent Twitter thread by Melissa Gira Grant: https://twitter.com/melissagira/status/1094389710011752450 .) And as Melissa Gira Grant and I were discussing today and as she stated in another Twitter thread
( https://twitter.com/melissagira/status/1094681579904004097), foundations like Third Wave and Open Society Foundation are actually finally putting substantial funds into sex workers' rights organizations to fight FOSTA-SESTA. Marginalized workers don't need Rob Kampia. What marginalized workers need, as always, is to speak for ourselves!
What marginalized workers need is what we provide for ourselves--the mutual aid we've already been doing for each other at WCIIA, stipends through this fundraiser, specialized resources through ally groups, clothing and food donations our members give to the group, home-cooked culturally competent and delicious meals for up to 50 members by our cooking subcommittee, NEX, Narcan, and fentanyl test strips dispensed by our needle exchange subcommittee. As usual, your donation goes to harm reduction supplies, meals/snacks, clothing/toiletries, access to our bad date list, childcare, transport, cigarettes, and stipends for organizing labor at every weekly meeting, provided by and for drug-using low-income sex workers.
We're so honored by the people who've approached us to do benefit events for us! Most recently Tanam ( https://tanam.co/) a Filipino-American restaurant in Somerville focusing on cuisine and storytelling, graciously offered to do a fundraising dinner for us which we're really looking forward to. My co-organizer has volunteered to make the trek out to Boston to represent us.
As per usual, please give if you can, and share this fundraising on non-local networks free of drug or sex work prohibitionist jerks if you can't, along with your heartfelt paeans of praise for our work, of course. (And as usual, if you'd like to give us a monthly recurring donation, please P*yp*l us at whosecornerisitaanyway@gmail.com with a note saying so and we'll set up monthly invoices for you.) Thank you thank you thank you so much as usual for letting us have our weekly haven/boisterous hooker social club/weirdo organizing group/crash course in harm reduction and grassroots activism. Lately I've gone sentimental thinking about all the old friends and internet connections showing up as donors and demonstrating just how much they care. So thank you for giving a shit, internet friends and internet strangers and everyyyyone. We love you!
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(TLDR, upcoming presentation on navigating Child Protective Services and an alliance with Arise for Social Justice, THE regional multi-issue low-income org) Whose Corner Is It Anyway, Western MA's mutual aid group and #harmreduction task force by and for low-income, street-based, and survival #sexworkers who inject drugs, is going around again raising $1300 for our next planning meeting! We have a bunch of plans for presentations in these coming months, from street wound care to #reframetheblame to a host of advocacy trainings. We're really psyched about a presentation on dealing with Child Protective Services we have coming up next! Ivette Hernandez, the lead organizer of Arise for Social Justice's Family Matters committee, will be coming in to talk to us about the work they've been doing on Western MA's profoundly defunct CPS system. This is especially meaningful for me as Arise for Social Justice--a multi-issue, low-income rights org in neighboring Springfield started by four women on welfare in the 80s--is where I cut my teeth as an activist in my early 20s. The WISE (Women In Support of Each Other) committee I worked on back then at Arise, a team by and for criminalized women, is a model I still take a lot of inspiration from. The work we did to attempt to stop the building of the Chicopee Jail grounded my ideas on prison abolition. Michaelann Bewsee, Solobia Hutchins, Holly Richardson and many others taught me so much about low-income grassroots organizing. They also allowed me, a tiny pretentious baby hooker/junkie activist, to influence their ideas, and took a stand against coercive drug treatment/diversion because of my input. 15-16 months ago when our group consisted of about 5 or 6 low-income sex workers and I started this fundraiser, I had the stipend model used at the WISE committee in mind, and I can't thank Arise enough for that.

Poor drug-using and sex working mothers are viewed as neglectful monsters by CPS regardless of their actual performance as parents. It seems like every other member of our group has had a child taken away from them. Most parents don't know their rights when it comes to CPS, and in W MA, it appears the CPS system is so dysfunctional right now that even when these rights are invoked, 72 hour hearings and the like are just not happening. That's why it's vital for the parents/mothers in our group to hear from Ivette on her hard work and research on CPS in this region to have some clue about how to navigate the agency.

After the tumult in the American sex workers' rights community this week, it seems more important than ever to me that we put our energies and resources into grassroots sex worker organizing like Whose Corner Is It Anyway. As usual, you can count on your donations to WCIIA going to needle exchange, fentanyl test strips, Narcan, meals/snacks, access to our bad date list, cigarettes, clothing/toiletries, childcare, & stipends for organizing at every weekly meeting, provided by and for low-income #sexworkers. And as per usual, please give if you can & share the fundraiser with non-local drug/sex work-prohibitionist-asshole-free networks along with your infatuated words of glowing praise for us if you can't. Thanks to you, we had an amazing presentation by Cyd Nova on diversion programs and LEAD last week--we almost went over time because everyone was so engaged in the Q and A session! And again, the fact that your money has gone into allowing us to create a burgeoning alliance with perhaps the most critical grassroots organization for marginalized ppl in this region--Arise for Social Justice--means the world to me and all of us. If you'd like to give us a monthly recurring donation, please P*yp*l us at whosecornerisitaanyway@gmail.com with a note saying so and we'll set up monthly invoices for you. We are still working steadily on a grant application calendar to take some of the financial pressure off this crowdfunding campaign--but in the meantime, as always, thank you so goddamn much for our very existence as an organization and all!
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Raised by 705 people in 16 months
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