“I’ve made FUREE my home and family because I want our communities and our people to gain the power we need to be successful in this world without being pushed down and oppressed. We can’t win if we don’t fight so I wanted to join an organization that’s led by my people, fights for my people, and cares for my people!”
– FUREE Member-Leader, Paula Smith
Talk about a FUREEous year, huh?! 2017 proved to be quite an exhausting and sometimes worrisome adventure for a nation divided in ways by current socio-political dynamics building from long-standing identity relationships, and somehow also united in ways by those same forces. We’ve been devastated and resiliently hopeful, pridefully mobilized to action while also at times self-doubting, while some of us have been joined by many others who’ve come to grapple with understanding our individual and collective relationships with identity or what it really means.
Jan 2017 ‘ItTakesRoots Inauguration Week Actions & Protests’ and ‘National Women’s March on Washington’
– Washington, D.C. against Trump Administration and Climate Injustices
Our collective struggle and movement-building towards social justice and equality has been built, nurtured and guided by our principles and desire to be led in loving unity, while this year has challenged us in ways we imagined were relics of a past we had learned sufficient lessons from to avoid repeating them. It seems we’ve all barreled through 2017 fast as lightening seemingly trying to outrun the year’s start, stuttering to regain footing in one moment then defiantly marching forward heads high refusing defeat or surrender. We will continue to build and move in our own direction, we refuse to be swayed by those who seek to keep us in the shadows!
FUREE’s efforts have taken our member leaders, base and staff through obstacle courses of growth, struggle, successes and set-backs. We’ve fortified foundations, built new and stronger structures, expanded our reach, and redefined how we show up in this work. None of this would even be remotely possible without the support and love from our communities and people like YOU! We hope our work can continue well into the future but for now we’ll settle with excitedly ushering in 2018 a full year stronger and wiser, equipped with the resources we need to keep up the momentum we have striven so hard to gain!
Can we count on your support and contribution this year during our end-of-year ‘Holiday Giving Fundraising Drive’? It’s the generosity of your donations that help sustain our work and ensure we can maintain a level of self-direction and truly member-led organizing… Any and all amounts large and small are equally accepted and appreciated, and make sure to read below for FUREE’s 2017 Campaigns & Program highlights as we look back and share our journey over this past year with you, and celebrate making it to the other side with joy and light!
In Solidarity and Unity,
FUREE Staff, Member-Leaders & FUREEous Youth!
FUREE (Families United for Racial and Economic Equality)
388 Atlantic Ave., 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11217
All donations are tax-deductible, please make personal checks, cashiers checks and money-orders payable to ‘Fifth Avenue Committee-FUREE Program (2017 Holiday Drive). IRS donation letters will be mailed out to all donors for tax purposes, please make sure to provide complete mailing address and contact information for our records.
FUREE’S 2017 CAMPAIGN & PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
“FUREE is a place where people can help to make change. It’s also an education in people, politics, and life in the city for people like me who hook up with the group.”
-FUREE Member-Leader, Lehman Weichselbaum
After the powerful energy and momentum of participating in the National Women’s March on D.C. and other inauguration week actions/protests, FUREE re-centered and brought 2017 in right with the first implementation of our F.I.R.E.D UP Leadership Academy’s “Train the Trainer” series, allowing graduates of the academy to try their hand at being workshop facilitators through a series of training workshops so they could lead our academy going forward! It was a test drive to see how far we could push our leadership development and deliver on our promise to help build a stronger base of community leaders who could take on the responsibility of sharing knowledge with our people in the pursuit of liberation!
Then our former youth organizer Cadeem Gibbs offered a glimpse into the FUREEous Youth Program and the circumstances that
inspired him to begin his journey of empowerment and enacting change!
How will Trump’s foreign policy affect our communities?!
This question was the basis to explore, discuss, and make plans to fight back during a day of teach-in’s and presentations/discussions at St. Joseph’s college in Brookyln! Our program coordinator Shatia Strother participated in ‘Taking Action to Defend Our Communities: How can we build a unified movement in Brooklyn and our city that can protect all of us in our different communities and areas of activity?’ with Leslie Cagan, long-time peace and social justice activist, and co-organizer of the giant 2014 People’s Climate March in NYC, Brooklyn activist Karen Yau, Director of Outreach and Capacity Building, New York Immigration Coalition Patricia Francois Gray, Domestic Workers United, and Anthonine Pierre, Lead Community Organizer, Brooklyn Movement Center
Co-sponsors: Brooklyn For Peace Fort Greene Peace Office of Campus Ministry/St. Joseph’s College Students for Justice in Palestine/St. Joseph’s College Social Thinkers/St. Joseph’s College
In March FUREE welcomed its newest youth organizer Mo Beasley on board who’s work as an artist and activist brought valuable knowledge and guidance to our FUREEous Youth program as they continued the journey they embarked on with Cadeem Gibbs in relaunching the program back in 2016, envisioning the work they wanted to engage in along with how to utilize the power of arts and media to accomplish their goals!
The ‘Gowanus Neighborhood Coalition for Justice Launch’ (GNCJ) was formed and kicked-off its campaign with a press conference announcing its formation, platform for just outcomes to be prioritized throughout the city’s planned Gowanus rezoning initiative, and its commitment to a resident-led process!
Check out the article from City Limits on the press conference here:
… Then our ‘Turning the Tide’ (T3) Environmental Justice Workshop Series closed out with a graduation and celebration to proudly commemorate all of the participants who stuck it out through the series, which consisted of 6 workshops and 2 local tours in the Gowanus/Boerum Hill area of Brooklyn!
Onward to April as FUREE joined other housing justice organizations, groups, community residents, labor unions and supporters to rally against the proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in lower Manhattan.
Allies included CVH, DC37, RHI and CAAAV among others…
May snuck up on us but we were ready because our annual fundraiser event was a night to remember, gettin’ down on the floor for the “People’s Power Dance Party” at The Pacific BK event venue in Brooklyn, to the tunes being spun by DJ Lumumba! We had auctions and raffle prizes, amazing food catered by GTGreat Catering Services, old-school dance contests and so much more! We definitely can’t wait for 2018 and our next fundraiser to roll around, folks over here really know how to throw a party and have fun!
After partying hard we were ready to launch our annual F.I.R.E.D. UP Leadership Academy workshop series in June,
which included a series of new workshop topics in direct response to the current socio-political climate we’ve found ourselves in!
“Capitalism’s Curse: Oppression + Inequality” was the first workshop of the series and participants got to play a very interactive and at times highly competitive game FUREE developed understand exactly how capitalism was born out of feudal Europe, how it grew and developed, as well as how it has manifested itself in our current time and affects us all in various ways.
June through August we focused on completing our F.I.R.E.D. UP Leadership Academy with the remaining workshop series including:
- Big Brother: Digital Privacy & Identity Protection
- Talk the Talk: Effective Communication & Media Messaging
- Community Organizing in an Age of Rising Fascism: Community Self-Defense
- Economic Power: Financial Health & Long-Term Security
- Building Movement: Social Justice & Political Education
We were on a roll in September! CUNY TV even honored FUREE by asking us to interview for their “Short Docs” web series to accompany their screening of our ‘Walking with FUREE’ documentary….
The Brooklyn-wide March against Gentrification, Racism and Police Violence led by our fearless allies, partners and close friends B.A.N (Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network) busted through September and pushed NYC, to face the realities of housing injustice and displacement caused by lazy public policy paired with a powerful real-estate industry, which threaten the low-income and working class people and families who call this city home.
The Brooklyn-wide B.A.N. march got us all FIRED UP right in time for the National Renter Week of Actions and Assemblies (RWA)
organized by the Right to the City Alliance- Homes for All campaign, of which FUREE is a long-time active member and leader of!
Here in NYC FUREE led the charge with other partners and allies to show our unity, strength and force with two actions during the RWA: The ‘Protect Public Housing’ Rally on Sept. 21st and the city-wide Renters Assembly on Sept. 23rd!
Labor unions and housing groups such as Picture the Homeless, DC37, CAAAV,
Tenants & Neighbors, Fifth Avenue Committee, NYCC, CVH, and others came together
to rally in front of NYCHA headquarters at 250 Broadway in NY against the privatization
of public housing and the loss of jobs as well as demand adequate and full permanent
funding for NYCHA/HUD!
(SEE THE AMAZING PHOTOS OF 2017 RWA EVENTS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY HERE)
TruthOut: Tenants Push Back Against Corporate Landlords During “Renter Week of Action”
Shatia Strother, program coordinator with Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, worked to coordinate a march to the office of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) this week to call for full funding for HUD and push back against programs opening up public housing to privatization.
September also gave us a BIG WIN! A long time fought for and coming… On October 18th at the District 33 town hall, Mayor De Blasio announced that the city will fund the reopening of the Gowanus Houses Community Center and the placement of a Cornerstone Youth Program to handle programming once the center is up and running.
This marked a key victory in a now 4-year old campaign to open the space once more for community use after its pivotal role as a hub for services and supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy when several buildings within Gowanus Houses lost power because of the storm.
Through Participatory Budgeting and other discretionary allocations from Council Member Stephen Levin, there exists $475,000 for physical improvements to the center that can be used immediately to make sure it is structurally sound. Even now, we still need your help to put pressure on the mayor to keep his promise!
Community residents in front of Gowanus Community Center during press conference on October 4th.
Like we said, 2017 has been a wild ride and we’ve got the battle scars to prove it! But we’ve also got some wins under our belts, resilience in our hearts and determination in our minds! We spent October and are now spending November until the end of this year looking inward to where we’d like to go from here and how to get there! Our focus and energies will be on assessing where we’ve come and how, what lessons we can pull from that journey and what we want to strive for on our near future.
We really hope you’ll tag along for that ride, and we’ll see you on the other side in 2018!
Universal Partnership’s“Practicing Justice” retreat at The Watershed Center upstate NY: The practicing justice retreats uses a somatic lens to un-layer, unpack & reveal the many ways oppression limits our ability to align our leadership with the values & principles that drive our work. by awakening deep understanding, this training enables individuals to generate new pathways towards a whole & complete shape that can hold our true individual $ collective leadership potential in service of our liberation.
FUREE MISSION AND CORE VALUES
Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a member led Brooklyn-based multiracial program of Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) led by mostly women of color. We organize and unite low-income families to build power to fight against systems of oppression so that the work of all people is valued and all of us have the right and ability to decide and live out our own destinies. We use direct action, leadership development, community organizing and political education to win the changes our members seek. Our guiding principle is that those directly affected by the policies we are seeking to change should lead the organization because they are the true experts. At FUREE, we bring together people with common problems, to work together, grow together and come up with solutions for a better community. Our core values are:
Collective Decision Making & Community Power
Leadership Development & Self Determination
Political Education & Equality for ALL
Supporting Women of Color Leadership & Uplifting Youth Voices
Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) is a community organization in South Brooklyn that advances economic and social justice by building vibrant, diverse communities where residents have genuine opportunities to achieve their goals, as well as the power to shape the community’s future. FAC is a nationally-recognized nonprofit community development corporation formed in 1978 that works to transform the lives of over 5,000 low- and moderate-income New Yorkers annually so that we can all live and work with dignity and respect while making our community more equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and just. To achieve our mission, FAC develops and manages affordable housing and community facilities, creates economic opportunities and ensures access to economic stability, organizes residents and workers, offers student-centered adult education, and combats displacement caused by gentrification.