Whose Corner Is It Anyway

$63,492 of $64,587 goal

Raised by 1,029 people in 20 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 45-65 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 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."

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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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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[TLDR--Whose Corner members ace interviews for sex-worker-made Under The Red Umbrella documentary ( https://t.co/K28lqe8LCI), we need $707 more for this week's meeting]We need your help raising $707 by Thurs/Fri for this week's political brainstorming & agenda-setting meeting. B/c our members' recruiting success continues (45-65 sex worker at attendance at each meeting!!!) & our subcommittee work in between meetings is gaining momentum, our needs and our weekly ask have grown w/them. But we're looking you proudly in the eye while asking for an even bigger sum every week. For one thing, I'm reliably informed that five Whose Corner members, many subcommittee heads & other leaders among them, KICKED ASS at their Under The Red Umbrella documentary interviews last week.

People talk a lot about "passing the mic" and "listening to directly impacted ppl" in this and other movements. WCIIA and the deliberate capacity building we pour so many resources into,as well as the mutual aid and direct services we provide to each other to support this leadership development, provides a concrete PLAN for how we can pass that mic to the most marginalized.

The Under The Red Umbrella documentary makers originally wrote just asking to interview me. This is how the cult of microcelebrity in our movement perpetuates itself--we have a few names at the top of our heads and we keep referring each other in a closed loop. It's no one's fault, but it's hard for new leaders--esp the most marginalized who lack access, online presence, social capital, etc--to grow and be offered opportunities when we're in a recursive loop recing our go-tos.

Even when emerging leaders who represent more marginalized sex workers ARE offered opportunities, the lack of material support & activist skill-sharing that comes along with them often sets ppl up to fail.

We bucked this trend b/c I immediately referred other WCIIA members for interviews and my co-organizer Naomi Lauren thought of a plan to hold flexibly scheduled interviews at a centrally located site.

The Under The Red Umbrella documentary makers worked hard to help us,and they'd already taken another critical step to make being interviewed accessible--they paid interviewees generous stipends for their time. By doing this, Under The Red Umbrella veered away from inapplicable standard concepts re journalistic purity & tainting info. Instead, they understood that not paying interviewees for a documentary about a movement of marginalized ppl meant that once again, only the most privileged among those marginalized ppl--those who could afford to be interviewed for free--would be heard.

We'd already had a few discussions about doing media at WCIIA, including a media training I'd led about how to navigate confidentiality issues plus depiction and messaging when being interviewed.

For too long, as activists in an underfunded movement w/few allies, we sex workers have been gaining organizing skills by being thrown into the deep end & learning by doing. The less cultural context you have for things like grantwriting, policy research, & media b/c of your class background, the harder it is to learn by doing this way--it's a twistedly unfair game of catchup.

"Leadership capacity development" often reads as a grantwriting phrase w/little meaning, but at Whose Corner, it's one of our main focuses. Ppl get so excited about the grassroots organizing of the directly impacted, w/o stopping to think about how that organizing can be made possible and sustainable.

For example, WCIIA & Under the Red Umbrella set up slightly shorter interviews of a half hour to ninety minutes for WCIIA members rather than the Under The Red Umbrella 3-4 hour interview standard,allowing for inexperience w/public speaking and the fact that members could go into withdrawal after a few hrs. Members put in time sitting down to consult on their interviews on several occasions before the scheduled date, discussing options around how out they wanted to be and what info was given to the filmmakers about them.

See, passing the mic to and listening to more marginalized ppl is a process--it's support and mutual aid work. You can't just wave the mic around in the air a few times & give up b/c no one has the wherewithal to grab it from you w/o help.

We're eager to keep applying these principles with our next presentation, when Laura Lemoon will have the first of several conversations w/us about how to make contributing to her new essay anthology accessible to our street-working and houseless members. (They’ll also be talking about what the spectrum of choice and coercion looks like for street-based sex workers and trafficking survivors--we truly can’t wait.)

And we're eager to keep doing this work for each other through the materialist priorities your money goes into--harm redux supplies, clothing/toiletries, meals/snacks, transport, childcare, bad date list access, presentations, & stipends by and for low-income sex workers.

As usual, PLS share this fundraiser in non-local networks certified swerf/terf/drug-warrior-free, PLs interact w/my posts to boost 'em,&PLS consider monthly donations--P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note saying you'd like it to be recurring. I'm always saying we can't thank you enough--we LITERALLY can't ever thank you sufficiently, it's true--but I esp feel that way in light of donors rising to meet our new increased ask starting last week.
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If there was ever a day to give, it's today, on International Whores' Day, when Whose Corner Is once again raising $1300! And if you do one sex-worker-directed good deed today, share this fund w/a personalized blurb about why you love our work and why this marginalized-sw-led project biz is important. (Share us in non-local networks certified swerf/terf/drug-warrior free, please!) Just like the French sex workers who occupied that church in Lyon in 1975, we poor drug-injecting sex workers are demanding our rights and carving out space for ourselves.

Highlights of Whose Corner's constant growth this week:

*Heard the amazing news that the serial rapist one of our members testified against was found guilty. We're preparing to provide transportation again for the member to speak at his sentencing and for other members to support her, as well as for another member to testify against him in another trial!

* As I write, our harm reduction advisor Jess Tilley is giving a training to our new syringe access subcommittee head and syringe access subcommittee members on cutting edge skills like safer bathroom protocol. We recently discovered that this subcommittee often facilitates more instances of syringe access in 20 minutes weekly than some MA brick and mortar syringe service providers do in a day. We are lean, mean, and staffed entirely by drug-injecting sex workers--and working for us!

*Our subcommittees are exploding in their activity! Our cooking, bail fund, and grantwriting subcommittees also continue doing their work in between meetings. and members began planning a translation subcommittee which will improve access to meetings for a large contingent of Spanish-speaking members. Members have donated labor to these committees on and off as they began, but now we're getting serious about paid regular work for the burgeoning leaders and members of these groups.

*Did I say "exploding"? We've gone from 35-50 sex workers per meeting to 45-65. Because of this and expanding leadership activity, today is technically the first time our ask will be $1460 instead of $1300. (We got $170 so far and I started the fundraiser a bit late, so I still get to ask for $1280.) Our genius grantwriting subcommittee should hopefully start paying for itself and then some soon enough, but until then, pardon our exponentially increasing awesomeness and help us out.

*We have an exciting doubledecker presentation meeting planned this week. First off, Jess Tilley will be repeating her popular presentation on the best needle gauges and sizes for different injections and for women/non-men's smaller veins, lesser known medical myths around injection, and harm reduction for being forced to inject outside.

* Jill McCracken of SWOP Behind Bars will be presenting on the community-based participatory research she did in collaboration with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. Jill has already interviewed WCIIA co-organizers and members for her book on this research process, and she discussed our mandate to compensate poor sex workers' organizing labor and our experiences w/researchers in a chapter on of how marginalized research subjects should be paid.

*Which, on this #InternationalWhoresDay, leads me to reflect not only on how important it is for a small group of poor drug-using sex workers in the boonies to connect to the rest of the sw rights movement, but also on the influence we've had on that movement already. A movement which only ten or fifteen years ago shunned poor drug-using sex workers as embarrassments, walking stereotypes which complicated the happy hooker company line! Yet in our brief 20 months of existence, we've been met by a movement full of people eager to learn from and collaborate with us.

There's so much more to talk about, but for now, let me end this update citing our infinite gratitude for the donors and supporters who've allowed us to fiercely stake out this turf.

For #InternationalSexWorkersDay, please give to a constantly growing grassroots org by and for poor drug-injecting sw whose $ ONLY goes to direct services for us or stipends for our organizing. I also can't think of a better day to become a monthly donor to Whose Corner Is It Anyway than #InternationalSexWorkerDay. Please P**p** us at whosecornerisitanyway@gmail.com w/a note saying the donation will be recurring, and we'll set up invoices for you. As I always say, that money goes straight to our materialist priorities as poor sex workers--syringe access/Narcan/fentanyl test strips,meals/snacks, clothing/toiletries; bad date list;transport; cigs; childcare; presentations, & stipends.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU [typist print until page is full]
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Raised by 1,029 people in 20 months
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