cups runneth over

where to even begin with all the amazing and beautiful stories i’m hearing today? and still tell some funny stories…but at the bottom. i’ma try to communicate what i’ve heard as well as what i know of how it was organized so y’all can replicate these 4 WORKING RELIEF EFFORTS wherever you are:

1. last night we had our fundraiser at the habana outpost in ft. green brooklyn and raised $6,500 plus 4 carloads of towels, sheets, clothes, soap, kitchen items and toothpaste. we organized this in three days. here are the steps we took:

a. the manager of the location (lopeti the lovely who y’all may remember as one of my favorite and most charming characters from previous posts) had the idea and asked us to help him

b. we brainstormed all the local businesses that could give us stuff to raffle or actual cash donations. manager wanted to give to red cross and fema. we promised to look into best options for him (got most $ now going to the sparkplug foundation!)

c. we picked a day when a regular crowd would be out and built around their interests and what we thought would make them most willing to give (raffle, auction, movie, bingo and djs {we brainstormed our favorite folks who could move a crowd and would be down to come on short notice as a donation – thanks JP, Tyler, Chris and RABBI DARKSIDE}). we threw the details together and handed off to a graphic designer who comes in the spot a lot who made it look nice and printed out copies to post at local businesses.

d. we reached out to our local city councilmember letitia james and her staff abeni and kate for support in outreach, flyer copies, mc’ing, media, and getting permission to have an all-night dance party even though they aren’t usually licensed for that. she’s campaigning this hood so it worked for her, worked for us!

e. a team {jenn, shane j., sofia, and shane a.} worked on going from business to business explaining the relief effort and picking up donations {included wine classes, a massage, several dinners for 2 or 4, gift certificates to local stores, and clothing made by local vendors}, while the manager called everyone he knew to come out. one person coordinated djs, making sure equipment needs were met and music collections were diversified.

e+. made sure folks of all different levels of privilege and resource could give to the full out extent. those who could give $1, those who could give $1000, those who could give nothing but had canned food, unopened soap and toothpaste, etc. no inkling to give went unreceived! thanked people constantly and made them feel good about their give. 

f. those of us with any media contacts sent out press releases. we agreed on basic info to send but froke it however it made most sense to get folks to respond.

g. we TRUSTED each other to handle our business.

g+ we had t-shirts that listed all donating orgs and had a pic of a new orleans marching band on the front, the business fronted the cost and we sold them for $50 or as a potential prize for a $1 raffle.

h. we found out malcolm x grassroots movement/pmp are doing a clothing drive and had the party serve as a drop off point for supplies.

i. we did the damn thing, kept the energy up all night, had drink specials and giveaways throughout the night. we big up’d the uniqueness of the locale to folks – its solar powered, with corn plastic cups and sugarcane plates. we gave props to the owner sean and the manager lopeti and made them aware of what an amazing feat they’d pulled off. the community also educated them on the red cross and fema’s histories and now they are going to get the cash to the sparkplug foundation and mxgm and the network looking to lobby and advocate to keep the community strong, front and center in the rebuilding effort. 

the key thing to remember here is every one just did what they were already good at, and counted on others to do what they said they would. AND constantly thanked folks for coming and made attendees understand how every bit counts.

2. Get a Vehicle and GO:

a) i just heard from my mother that one of her brothers, my uncle andy, borrowed a SEMI truck from a friend in north augusta south carolina,

b) went door to door to his neighbors and asked them help him fill up the back of it.

c) to complete the filling, my mema Mary Jo and my aunt lynn went to winn-dixie and bought all the supplies and non-perishable food items they could.

d) andy and his wife then got in the convoy of folks taking supplies to the effected area.

these are my white southern christian relatives, some of whom home-schooled their children; some of whom disowned my mama for a while after she married my black father; some of whom voted for bush and still cringe when i rail against him. this is my family who has been teaching me about different ways to believe in the people and what it means to be working class. this tragedy is changing people’s entire framework for thinking about their role in this world. and something beautiful to add – there are folks along the convoy helping by providing food and water to drivers so they don’t have to go off the road and spend $ on that. our government is not in line with its people, and the people are rising up and we are seeing a resistance in the form of people’s aid, a revolution of people’s resource provision and help.

3. malcolm x grassroots movement/pmp in brooklyn are doing a clothing, food, supplies drive. everything i know is secondhand, but we worked with them last night to gather materials and here’s some of what i’ve heard that is working and you can do in your community:

a. have actual folks in a specific locations down south to get items to, and identified their core needs. they are sending to their groups in jackson, mississippi and selma, alabama where mxgm fam are located.

b. have a location easily accessible by bus, train and car as a drop off point. willing to be a central location for entire community to bring through materials.

c. have volunteers on call for sorting the donations to take that burden off of those who receive it

d. have multiple drop-off points and contact available for folks in different parts of the city. (see previous post)

e. able to quickly communicate out to folks helping gather supplies about most crucial needs.

f. make sure to gather some $ with clothing/food donations for gas or shipping costs!

Dasaw and Kate said they are collecting there all week. They have lots of clothes and need more of other things like towels, non-perishable food options, bathroom items, kitchen items. They are at 388 Atlantic Avenue, white buzzer.

4. Last night the Hip-Hop UN had a call of all sorts of hip-hop organizations around the country. Celeste says like 100 people were on the call and folks shared what all work is going on. They are going to help make sure folks stay aware of what kind of work is happening, and what the pressure points are within the family (i.e. 20,000 people in Atlanta) where we can focus aid. This is the kind of unified thinking that leads to strong and smart responses rather than emotional reactionary chaos.

Now in the midst of all this I have to say that my friend Janine is safely back from Cape Verde and I can’t describe all the ways in which it was a blessing, and has been a blessing, to get to see all my loved ones this week. Shouts Andre, Chelsea, Yahonnes + Regine, Ejike, Ben, Rashad, Khari and everyone else who came out!

I also have to tell y’all two funny tales from last night.

First is one from the landlord chronicles: I ran over to the benefit last night after two days in a league strategy session {one sign of the strength of the organization right now I think is exemplified by our response to this tragedy in a way that reflects our capacity and strategy but doesn’t jack all our planned programs} and was a little dazed.

i loved my outfit tho, and if i get pics will post one here. oh but here’s a totally random pic:


so i left co-worker celeste in my spot to do the hip-hop call from a quiet place. a couple hours later she calls and says, "Um, Adrienne? Your landlady is here and she says she wants to fix your floor?"

Time check: 9:32 pm on a Sunday night on a holiday weekend with no prior notice that she was coming.

Why would my landlady suddenly be in such an odd rush to fix my floor?

Well she gave me a lease the other day with a rent increase of twice what we had negotiated in our strange courting, dodging, weaving tango. I signed the lease after correcting the rent amount to what we agreed on. mind you we agreed on that smaller increase IF she fixed the floor, the bathroom and gave me an oven. then she said no she didn’t think i could have an oven. she caulked the bathtub which now doesn’t drain. and there was, until late last night, a hole in the middle of my floor. i foresee her trying to negotiate an extra $15/mth now that the floorboard is in place but i will pushback by hopping in the shower for three minutes till the water reaches my knees.

sidenote: you know how when the bathtub won’t drain for a few days you get tired of wiping it out and it gets all slick on the bottom and you forget that and you step in to take a perhaps slightly tipsy shower and suddenly you are on the slip’n’slide of life and death? i HATE that.

And second story!

After all the fun and dancing finally ended at like 4am, lopeti and i were hungry and talked shane and sofia’s cousin paola into coming with us to eat. Lopeti was too fabulous for any Brooklyn diners, and insisted on taking us for a jaunt to the city. Along the way we decided to eat at Wo-Hop, a late night tasty fast Chinese spot on Mott. My magical woman time decided to arise from the womb in the cab ride over and the pain was deep and wide and confounding as i was steadily moving away from my home painkiller cabinet. We went in the restaurant and I was on the edge of my senses, and Lopeti disappeared. Then the waiter arrived and immediately started yelling at us that the kitchen closed in 15 minutes what did we want??

Then Sofia called like where y’all at so we told her to come to the restaurant. We worried, wringing our wrists and twiddling our thumbs about what Lopeti and Sofia might want to eat, and where was Lopeti? What if something bad had happened to him? We worried while ordering an insane amount of food. Then realized we had but one questionable bank card among us, and worried more.

We worried while the food arrived in T-minus 15 seconds – an amazing spread of kung pao, general tso’s and garlic and brocolli chicken, vegetable dumplings, fried wontons, egg rolls and more. We worried as we began stuffing our faces Scarlett O’hara style.

Finally with 1 minute to spare at the door, Lopeti comes sweeping in followed by Sofia. We start to rail them – where WERE you? Why didn’t you tell us what to order??

And then Lopeti pulls out a handful of Motrin, Advil and Bayer packets and tosses them to me like its nothing.

"I had to walk all the way to Canal Street to find these! Took a cab back, so crazy, and there was Sofia coming in!"

Lopeti is an angel. He’s totally my hero of the weekend, one of those nearly impossible and completely fabulous type people with no email, no cell phone, super humble and bossy (crazy as that sounds) and a clear sense of his own way of doing things. And a delight.

So they sit sown and Lopeti tries to add an order of Sizzling…Oyster? Lobster? something…the answer is Hell No Kitchen Closed! We filled them up with what we ordered which ended up being the perfect amount of food for everyone. But now we had 5 people to get home, so there we are stumbling up Bowery dead tired with the ITIS trying to bribe a cabby into taking us across the bridge.

Finally, Lopeti flags one down and pushes us in and tells the driver: "I’ll double your fare." The fare across the bridge, mind you, is $6. Still, how long have you wanted to roll with someone who tosses these words out in a blink when you’re all too exhausted to beg?

6am I finally laid my head down on a couch at Sofia and Shane’s and passed into oblivion for a couple of hours. This morning woke up at 10 to get in the war room with Dani McClain generating a response from the next generation of journalists on the debaucle of coverage on this tragedy. And here I am. Last day of being 26, y’all, and I gots to go over and check out the West Indian Day Parade. or possibly just blaze and wander.

interesting note: i heard from nathan berger who i mentioned missing just two short days ago!