WCCC 2016 Keynote

Moving Beyond Diversity To Collective Liberation:

Engaging the Communities Movement in Racial & Economic Justice

Presented by Deseree Fontenot & Tavi Baker of the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network


Struggles for equitable land-use and fair housing policies have intensified across the country at an unprecedented rate in recent years. As a result of neoliberal urban renewal policies and the entry of predatory financial institutions into the rental market, low-income communities and communities of color have been swept into new waves of gentrification and displacement. What does the suburbanization of poverty, the gentrifying face of the urban inner city, and the ongoing challenges of rural immigrant communities have to do with existing and forming intentional community networks? With the well-known lack of socio-economic, cultural, and racial diversity within the communities & cohousing movement, it’s hard to tell where these intersections might merge. How could an entire discourse about placemaking and modelling ecologically sustainable lifeways be strengthened by a grounded racial and economic justice analysis and practice?  What would it take to build a more accountable & expansive Communities Movement that fosters connections with social justice movements and proliferates radical alternatives to human relationships with land, place and home?

In this presentation, we will offer an historical and political framework for exploring these questions, as well as highlight visionary present-day community & cohousing projects that are grasping at the root causes of racialized displacement, environmental racism, and wealth inequality by challenging the commodification of land and housing, engaging in practical land redistribution and reparations processes as part of growing their membership, and building cooperative and democratic housing models that are led by communities of color, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ-identified communities and low-income communities.


About the Presenters:

desipicDeseree Fontenot is a co-organizer of the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network (POCSHN). As a scholar and activist, Deseree’s work is centered at the intersections of geography, ecology, ethics, spirituality and land-based movements. She is part of a number of political & community organizing projects in the Bay Area, including the Queer Ecologies Project, Abundant Beginnings, and POC SHN.  Deseree is committed to co-creating radical approaches to queer, ecological, racial and economic justice work that centers the experiences of communities of color and proliferates models of resilient, sustainable, and life-affirming economies. She has lived in communal houses for almost a decade.

tavi_woc herbal symposiumTavi Baker is a co-founder of The People of Color Sustainable Housing Network (POCSHN).  Since moving to Berkeley in 1996, she has lived in three coops:  the African American Theme House (Afro House), Rochdale Village, and Parker St Coop, where she has lived since 2009.  She was inspired to start POCSHN as a way of centering the wisdom and experience of black, indigenous, and people of color communities in the current intentional communities movement.

About the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network

POCSHN is a resource network for people of color (POC) interested in building intentional, healthy, and affordable housing communities in the Bay Area and beyond. Since starting in February 2015, it has grown to become an intergenerational network with seven co-organizers, 1,000 members, and bi-monthly meetings. The network was established in response to extreme increases in housing costs, rapid gentrification, and the lack of socio-economic and cultural diversity within the intentional community movement across the United States. POCSHN is committed to creating an entire ecosystem of POC-centered communities that are ecologically, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally regenerative. For More Info visit: www.pochousingnetwork.comhandsimage