We believe education should be used to provide people with skills that can help them succeed in life as adults, to develop critical thinking skills and knowledge that will liberate people’s minds to rethink what a just future could look like, and to build up people with leadership skills.
To support our people’s development to succeed in life and step up as leaders and advocates, we developed two education programs: Street Smarts School and Forward Forever Academy
Street Smarts School
This series of trainings and workshops offer leadership development, know your rights trainings, media training, civics education, curbside community management skills, and life skills by and for unhoused residents (like proper hygiene, making a resume, navigating thru systems & services, financial literacy). Participants are provided with meals and transportation support to participate in the trainings. This education program has been able to develop unhoused residents into advocates for themselves and their communities when the city or state attempts to evict them, take their property or harass them.
Forward Forever Academy: Life on the streets is it’s own universe with its own set of rules and expectations. In many ways its a concentrated, hyperversion of the larger system of capitalism and colonialism.
Being part of something and contributing to the whole is a common mode of existence in poor, working class and immigrant communities. It’s the only way we can survive and ultimately thrive. In its most pure form its the basic foundation of what it means to be in community. Community being a thing healthy humans perform. As communal beings we come together for survival.
On the streets, displaced populations form groups and families that make up their curbside communities. Folks are expected to give one’s energy and time to the protection and survival of one’s life under inhumane and non-ordinary social conditions of today. This need for community is the basis for survival in the streets to make it thru the crisis of poverty, addictions formed as coping mechanisms, and mental health struggles.
Unfortunately, our natural tendencies to be a part of something, or to not be the odd-ball and even more outcasted are taken advantage of by predators, drug dealers, opportunists, hurt-people hurting people, and gangs in the streets.
Many lives are ruined by degradation of their moral resolve. Any given curbside community is likely to have violence against women, LBGTQ members, the sick, the disabled, the elderly. Theft, fights, extortion, and other violent ways are common in street life. When one witnesses the amount of violence unchecked and allowed, they may question their ability to remain safe. This causes most to not say anything to stop the crimes of violence, drug sales, or even rapes. People learn to turn a blind eye to the atrocities some individuals and groups plague upon others to stay out of trouble. And most succumb and become members of predatory groups, believing in the false sense of security promised by such social groups. For some, crime becomes one of the only forms of activity many displaced residents of Oakland will rely trustingly upon, due to what is witnessed on the streets.
To secure their lives in the moment or to see another day, many have no choice for survival. They become prostitutes, pimps, assassins, dealers, boosters, or whatever the predators demand. There is a well known expectancy to put ones skills to use in being viable to a group or one’s self, to prove one’s self worthy to be a part of the group, and to be actively involved in a community, or family. It is the cornerstone of the futures we build together, that what progresses, is that which we give our time and energy to. To not instill, build, or adopt a more positive form of building community, is to miss a fundamental aspect of society, community and our existence as human beings. And to ultimately not give the displaced populations something worth working for in their lives.
Forward Forever Academy, is a series of workshops that begins the process of decolonization from individualism, capitalism, greed, violence and the deadend life on the streets. We introduce principles to help sustain wellness, accountability, transformation. We dive into values like cooperation, team work, taking care of each other, harm reduction. We look at history and power to understand how our community arrived at this moment, we explore what it means to be part of a healthy and just community. We have real conversations about being part of a community that sustains the health and maturation in their own existence rather than a desperate means of survival in dangerous and inhumane conditions. The goal of Forward Forever Academy is to make a paradigm shift amongst the most marginalized of our communities, so we can create the spaces where people feel safe and empowered to be critical of the culture of violence, exploitation and “me first” imposed upon us by capitalism and colonialism. A culture that becomes a way of life to survive. Forward Forever Academy seeks to offer our people that another way and another world is very possible. And we are the change we need.
Folks must complete the Street Smarts School to be able to enroll in Forward Forever Academy. Participants will receive a stipend, transportation support, and meals for participating in the program.
Panels, Conference & Teach-Ins
The Village has links of recorded educational and informational events that cover many topics related to homelessness, including building for trauma, crisis and justice; how was this housing affordability crisis and the homeless state of emergency created; community based solutions to get out of this crisis; how the COVID19 pandemic is impacted the unhoused community.
One Paycheck Away: Addressing Homelessness in the Bay Area: February 2019: Every night, more than 130,000 people go to sleep homeless in California. An estimated 25,000 of them are in the San Francisco Bay Area: sleeping on couches, in cars or sometimes in tents on the sidewalk. At this point, people from coast to coast know that the Bay Area is in the midst of a housing crisis. But what is the city doing to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis?
Come hear from some of the Bay Area’s leading experts on issues surrounding homelessness. From working on the service and legal sides to fighting for policy changes to having experienced homelessness themselves, our speakers will discuss the state of the crisis, how we got here and where we’re headed next.
Arrestees of Housing Justice Village speak out – In November 2019, unhoused leaders and residents and housed allies created a protest camp in front of Oakland City Hall at Oscar Grant Plaza. In less than 24 hours, The City of Oakland arrested 22 residents of the camp, sent them to Santa Rita and held them at $5,000 bail each. Arrestees responded to the arrests, uplifted the trauma the brutality of the City’s practices towards curbside communities, and discuss how gentrification and elected officials created the homeless state of emergency.
Village in Oakland and KADAMAY in Philippines conversation: A March 2020 conversation between Needa Bee of the Village in Oakland, California, and KADAMAY in the Philippines, on organizing the unhoused. In 2017, KADAMAY mobilized 12,000 homeless people to occupy 6,000 vacant and unused homes in #OccupyBulacan, which continues to this day. From the US to the Philippines, housing for the houseless! Services, not sweeps or demolitions! And no militarized response to #covid19!
Frontline Advocates Speak Out on Homelessness and COVID19 in Oakland: In April 2020, homeless advocates held an online Town Hall to speak out about the crisis faced by Oakland’s curbside communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 100 people watched and/or participated. Questions from the media were taken at the end of main panel discussion. Moderated by Talya Husbands-Hankin, Panelists included Village in Oakland Essential Workers Yanna Johnson & Needa Bee; Candice Elder of The East Oakland Collective; Ale del Pinal of Punks With Lunches; Vera Sloan with Love & Justice in the Streets; Michelle Bunker-Alberts with One Love Health Clinic; and EmilyRose Johns attoney with the Law Office of Siegl, Yee & Brunner and member of the National Lawyers Guild’s Right to Shelter Work Group.
Press Conference: Response to OPD’s Continued Harassment of Village in Oakland frontline workers: April 2020. After spending a day distributing clean water and provisions to curbside communities in East Oakland and moving in the first residents into Hotels Not Graves – our COVID10 Emergency Shelter in Place Program, OPD pulled over, violated, terrorized and traumatized two of our essential workers. Hear first hand from the essential workers and witnesses about the injustices they endured, demands for justice and moving forward.
Needa Bee with the VIllage in Oakland was the Original creator of Homeless Self-Governed and Co-Govern models of curbside communities in in Oakland. Needa’s Model of a Self-Governed community was reflected in the SANCTIONING of the 77th Ave Rangers Tent City in East Oakland. Derrick Soo, founder and leader of 77th Ave Rangers interviews Needa Bee about the work the Village was doing to support the community behind Burger King in E12th Street and 16th Ave in East Oakland.
April 2021. This line-up of effective, make-it-happen organizers is taking action, not tomorrow, but today. They work with those who not only are forced to live outside but then targeted by cruel, inhumane policies. Moderator, Janny Castillo is transforming these systems as the Hope and Justice Coordinator at St. Mary’s Center. Needa Bee and Ayat Jalal-Bryant of The Village Oakland and First They Came for the Homeless are building tiny houses dedicated to dignity and justice for those living in our city’s encampments. Candice Elder of the East Oakland Collective is working towards a better future for underserved populations and communities in deep East Oakland. Get ready for real talk and real solutions!
Building for Trauma, Crisis & Justice: In May 2021, Village in Oakland Leadership Council Members presented to students in Yestermorrow’s Design Build School in Vermont. The topic of the lecture was using architecture, design and construction in a way that is informed by the trauma and crisis folks on the streets face, and the struggle for achieving equity and justice in a era that is marked by development that displaces.
People Led Solutions – Models of a Shared Future Panel Discussion: February 2021. As our country experiences a wave of evictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, many residents are experiencing homelessness for the first time in their lives. Not everyone has a contingency plan. People can find themselves precariously living in dangerous unfamiliar environments when lacking resources and information. Homelessness can be a lonesome journey. But through community, advocacy, friendship and love, these films shed light on solutions unhoused residents have found for themselves to build home on the streets. Build community. Build civic love.
The film screening is paired with a panel discussion of grassroots organizers working with unhoused communities, sharing knowledge on tactics to better survive on the streets, solutions to housing our neighbors and how to bring healing to our community. After the discussion, the audience will be prompted to do the healing work for other community members through the act of Love and Care. Participants will be given an opportunity to write a love note and assemble a care package for unhoused residents in Chicago, Berkeley, and Oakland.
Ultimately, the goal is to spring diverse communities into discourse and action to create lasting social change by teaching our community members to care for another fellow human being – a stranger.