It is with sincere gratitude that we thank you for coming out to our book launch party on April 28th, 2014 at City Life / Vida Urbana. Unsurprisingly, it was a very special night for us, with a packed room and over a hundred attendees.
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On behalf of the Boston Liberation Health Group, I want to send an extra special thanks to the staff and members of CLVU for graciously donating their wonderful space, with walls covered with real life examples of people transforming their lives through collective struggle. City Life is an incredible organization that we are blessed to be able to call our allies in a fight for a fairer, more just world.
For those of you that are not familiar with their work, it feels important to highlight them here in the blog. CLVU is a community run organization that was formed out of the tenant’s rights movement. It began and still operates from the principle that bringing people together over a common issue or vector of oppression is the best way to generate solutions to these problems. CLVU shows us that the poder popular, has the potential to be more powerful than some of even the greatest forces of oppression facing our communities.
Since their inception, CLVU has participated in events and demonstrations around Massachusetts, from Boston to Lowell. After the housing bubble broke and many families were hit with foreclosures and predatory lending schemes (much like those that caused the crisis), City Life rose up and developed a model called the “Shield and the Sword” which has been replicated around the country with the help of CLVU members. The model harnesses public awareness campaigns and even pro-bono legal assistance from three of Boston’s most prestigious Law Schools to file for injunctions and bring conflicts to mediation.
“we shall not be moved.”
But they also embody the true spirit of the radical tradition with rallies outside banks, demonstrations and perhaps most importantly, eviction blockades. Many families around Boston have come to CLVU destitute, with a constable on the way to repossess their homes and dreams. Many of these same families have had this followed by the life-changing experience of the community coming to the doorstep and blocking entry to the house. When this occurs, a moving picket is mobilized out front, with volunteers specially self-selected for arrest blocking the actual entrance to the home. Atop a home under protection from CLVU and community allies always reads a sign that proclaims resolutely, “we shall not be moved.”
The blockade aside, the radical tradition of City Life is most apparent in the organizational structure. Community meetings are open to all members of the public. CLVU doesn’t organize for people, it organizes with them, alongside them. What you will see at your very first CLVU meeting is a sea of people. Many who have had their homes successfully defended for years. These people keep coming back to stand in solidarity with other families who are earlier in their journey. Many of City Life’s most visible organizers were originally some of the first to come to CLVU for help. This element of participatory solidarity action is what makes CLVU a truly exemplary model of organization in the true radical tradition.