Jason Bayless is a life-long activist and is currently working at The Pachamama Alliance. When he is not working he spends his time recording shows, writing blogs, collecting 3D movies, and looking for any reason to use his fog machine and homemade blood.
A couple nights ago the creators of The New Architects sat down for some drinks and enlighten conversation with a friend. Our friend informed us about a very serious situation happening in Richmond, Virginia at Monroe Park.
Monroe Park is the oldest park in Richmond, and the only green, public space in the center of the city. For 20 years churches, food pantries and social justice groups have delivered hot meals, clothing and toiletries to Richmond’s most vulnerable citizens in the park. The problem with the park is that the city government wants to rid the park of these groups and the homeless. In fact, the park’s district councilperson, Charles Samuels, has called these dedicated feeding programs “random”, and claims outright that they actually “facilitate homelessness”, suggesting that the people who need these services more than anyone in the city would be better off without them. He says that it’s time for these assistance programs to be moved to a location miles away – beside the city jail. [singlepic id=3 w=320 h=240 float=right]
Samuels is simultaneously promising to put a 9-foot fence around Monroe Park for between 9 and 18 months for new renovations. The drawn-up plans for the renovations claim that women don’t like homeless people, and that in order to attract more women in the park, the ratio of “apparently homeless” to non-homeless must be 1 to 75-100. The plans also include funding for private security guards.
It must be stated that no one is against the renovations and we believe that the renovations can be done without closing the park. What we are against and should fight is the gentrification that is happening here. The poor and homeless are being openly and forcibly removed from a public space and the city is opening it doors to the park so private interests to move in and police the area.
(more after the break)
If you want to help out there is a petition you can sign at Change.org or If you have more questions, please come to an open community meeting to discuss these issues in the park on Sunday, October 24th at 5:00pm!