Graphically Speaking

ACORN Housing Wade's World

Pearl River      Where there are renters or homeowners, there are going to be evictions.  Agreements with landlords, banks or mortgage companies are serious, when entered in good faith, but that’s not always the case, either in the beginning at move in or at the end at push out.  For tenants, we’ve fought successfully in several cities in England to stop bailiffs from implementing evictions, depending on the cause and circumstance.  In a number of countries, including the United States, we have engaged in eviction defense successfully.

Several years ago, the ACORN Home Savers Campaign targeted with some success a number of companies that were luring people into agreements on a lease-to-purchase or contract buying basis without the buyer clearly understanding if they were a tenant or a homeowner.  We built committees to fight these predatory scams in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Youngstown, Indianapolis, and other cities.  When we worked in Detroit one of our best allies was a unique group that we admired greatly and that I’ve shared beforeDetroit Eviction Defense.  We attended several of their meetings, which were well-organized, but somewhat pickup affairs composed of activists, professors, retired union leaders, and homeowners who either had fought evictions successfully, or were facing eviction and looking for help from the organization: good people in a righteous campaign.  I have the t-shirt, if I could find it, and solidarity forever.

Recently on Wade’s World I talked to Jeffrey Wilson, a professor at Michigan State, who submitted a thesis for his PhD about the organization, its campaigns, tactics, and strategy.  Their work was – and is – important, so it was good to have someone like Wilson take a good luck and study it thoroughly.  The thesis has now become a book, We Live Here:  Detroit Eviction Defense and the Battle for Housing Justice.  This isn’t just any book, though, it’s a nonfiction, graphic novel illustrated by Bambi Kramer.  Putting the two of them together, produced a brilliant way to powerfully explain the work of the organization.  The combination made the people who were the heart of the campaign come alive in a way that a simple narrative would have failed to do as well.  Any reader could have understood the evictions as specific cases, but add the graphics, and the readers would feel like they really knew the people.  Their fight came alive in a special and personal way.

The late Congressman and civil rights warrior, John Lewis, effectively talked about some of his campaigns graphically.   Props to Seven Stories Press for supporting this effort and bringing out the book.  As an aside, ACORN was one of the original backers of Seven Stories at its founding a million years ago in another century.  We need more of this, because in the right hands, it works and gets the job done.  Let me know if are willing.  I’m easy to find.