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Keep Monroe Park Open and Free!!!

Power point by Mo Karnage, with help from many excellent friends, to educate on the Keep Monroe Park Open and Free bid for Monroe Park, versus the Monroe Park Conservancy. Including broader issues around homelessness, lgbtq, youth, people of color, and poverty in rva.
Clarifications: Beer Garden idea is not implying a beer garden should be in Monroe Park! just that one downtown might be a way to prevent open container issues in monroe park and other public areas.

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Keep Monroe Park Open and Free!!!

  1. 1. Keep Monroe Park Open and Free The Monroe Park Conservancy ● Unnecessary ● Unfunded ● Unwanted ● Unrepresentative
  2. 2. The Contenders ● MPC = Monroe Park Conservancy and their Bid ● KMPOF or us = Keep Monroe Park Open and Free and our Bid – which posits that our bid is better than the MPC bid, but that no lease is best. ●
  3. 3. Unnecessary ● MPC offers no critical function to fundraising or renovation of Monroe Park. ● No need for a 3rd party ● Other existing 501(c)3's who could serve function – without lease, privatization, or administrative control over the park. ● No compromise of the public aspects of the public park
  4. 4. Unfunded ● MPC reported zero income and zero fundraising over the past 3 years of its existence ● The City has budgeted 3 million towards renovations – lighting, electric, drainage, sewer, water, and pavers on paths ● The entire plan calls for 6.2 million ● Not all of the plan is necessary or desirable, ● Funds for a superb and inclusive renovation could be raised without the Conservancy.
  5. 5. Public- Private Partnerships Leave City Holding the Bag ● The Broad Street Community Development Authority – taxpayers were left with a debt out of their control that they were – initially promised would be impossible
  6. 6. Who will profit from renting the Checker's house as a restaurant? ● The tax payers are paying for the utilities ● MPC plans to rent the building out as a restaurant and keep the profits ● Our bid will: – Reestablish as a place for anyone to play checkers year-round – Construct a commercial kitchen to allow for feeding the homeless
  7. 7. Hunger and Edible Landscaping ● The need for cheap and free food by a large segment of Richmond's population is not addressed by Parks and Rec or the Monroe Park Conservancy ● We should be enhancing Monroe Park's use as a free food distribution site- community gardens not petanque courts! ● Renew Richmond has offered to partner with us to provide edible landscaping in the park. ● The City should invest in landscaping and plantings which will allow people to harvest fresh and local fruits and veggies.
  8. 8. Unwanted ● Public does not want privatization ● MPC has acted in secrecy – repeatedly no call no showing to public meetings – 2010 even removing their renovation plans from the internet ● In 2010 and 2011, massive Campaign to Keep Monroe Park Open and Free ● petition reaching over 1,000 signatures, a party in the park, and a 10 day occupation of the Park –
  9. 9. Unrepresentative ● The Monroe Park Conservancy clearly represents only the elite in the City ● Controlled 1/3 by the Mayor, 1/3 by VCU, and 1/3 by the wealthy ● 26.7% poverty rate in Richmond – not represented by MPC ● 40% of the children in this City live in poverty ● The rich and powerful trying to take a public park away from the poor must be stopped!
  10. 10. Why is the Mayor on the Board and allowed to appoint 1/3 of the Board? ● Member of Venture Richmond ● Sits on the Conservancy ● Appoints 3 other members, all of whom are under his authority. ● Where is City Council's voice? ● Where is your voice?
  11. 11. If there is no neighborhood representation then who is being heard? ● MPC not inclusive/representative of users ● WILL NOT include Venture Richmond – 2 direct members – 7 indirect connections (family or employer on board) ● Board must be: – Inclusive/representative of users – Flexible – Accountable to Public ● Keep Monroe Park Open and Free Committee Board of Directors – 16 members – 2 houseless people – 1 formerly houseless person – 1 unemployed person – 1 senior – 1 public housing resident – 1 person from each neighborhood surrounding the park (Oregon Hill, Jackson Ward, Carver, the Fan) 1 student – 1 Parks and Rec worker – 1 City Council member – 1 elementary school student – 2 people from organizations which serve free food or distribute free clothing
  12. 12. To Whom Does Monroe Park Belong? ● Urban Outpost ● Feeding programs fill need ● Who has oversight? ● Monroe Park is the People's Park!
  13. 13. Empty Promises ● Statements at meetings are not legally binding ● Remember, talk is cheap! – Must be willing to make the changes in their contracts ● City Council should never vote on an ordinance until all promised changes are actually written in legally binding contracts
  14. 14. If you can't feed the homeless in Monroe Park then where can you feed the homeless? ● Our bid allows free/gift economy to continue ● No permit or fee for non-profit activities ● Food is a Right Not a Privilege! ● ● The Conrad Center? ● Salvation Army? ● Other Locations & Restrictions
  15. 15. Conrad Center ● Was partially funded by VCU ● Built across the street from the City Jail ● No public transit access to it – the long walk made it very ableist ● City officials tried to coerce all organizations serving free food to centralize there ● Non profit running it shut down in April 2013 ● It was an inhumane attempt at invisibilizing the homeless ● And it was unsuccessful ● Ableism and accessibility are major issues in all of this
  16. 16. The Salvation Army ● Long history of anti LGBTQ actions around the world ● Have literally shut down their programs serving the homeless to avoid having to follow anti-discrimination laws ● Actively lobby against legislation to protect LGBTQ people from violence and discrimination
  17. 17. Why Outside? ● Downsides to outdoor meals and distributions are the obvious- the weather. But there are upsides as well ● Many do not realize the inaccessibility of indoor meals and distribution for homeless ● Pets – not allowed in most indoor settings. Studies have shown the benefits of dog ownership for the homeless ● Bags- many places have a bag limit which restricts the belongings folks can bring with them. Leaving bags outside is not safe. Even the Richmond Police seek out and destroy the belongings of the homeless.
  18. 18. If you can't demonstrate in Monroe Park then where can you demonstrate? ● Bid allows for true free speech and demonstrations ● Keeps vibrant alternative history alive ● MPC bid poses a serious threat to free speech in Monroe Park, starting with a $35 application fee and ending with private security
  19. 19. If the City does not protect the trees what will happen to them? ● Urban Forestry Department in charge ● Redskins Training Camp ● Importance of urban forestry
  20. 20. Why is lease term so long? ● The 30 year lease – Ends in 2044 – Avoids accountability. ● This bid offers: – a month to month lease – City can end lease at any time
  21. 21. What's the Rush? ● No renovations until after 2015 UCI Race ● Allow public input on design/renovations ● Just & equitable lease terms ● This bid does not – require a $6 million price tag – remove the historic streetlights and other features – does not try to turn the park into a DisneyLand
  22. 22. Layer on Layer of Oppression – Richmond can be Complicated to Love ● Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center – built 2013 ● NFL team from Washington DC – Racist Name – 3rd richest team ● Practically gave away a school building – Late Invoice ● City committed $500,000/ year to the Redskins ● Exclusion of local food vendors ● From Congressmen to the DC Council- demand the the team change their name to something not “racist and derogatory” ● Dozens of Native American organizations have also come forward
  23. 23. Why are the two parks with the best locations being privatized? ● Brown's Island – Leased to Venture Richmond – No taxes paid. – Once open and free events, began charging for attendance. ● Venture Richmond has many connections to the Monroe Park Conservancy. ● Public Parks are the Public Commons – necessary for free assembly and fun!
  24. 24. Sports vs. Social Justice ● Loving RVA Proposal- 2013 – Baseball stadium in historic Shockoe Bottom – 80 million City dollars – Covering/Adjacent sites related to the slave trade – Solomon Northrup, author of 12 Years a Slave, was trafficked as a slave in Richmond ● Poor financial results widely known ● 2013 City Council Budget – 3 million for Monroe Park ● Half million annually on a racist football team ● Another 80 million for minor league baseball stadium? ● WHY can't they come up with the other 3.2 million for Monroe Park?
  25. 25. Making Connections ● McGuire Woods lawyer Eric Finkbeiner represents the Washington Redskins ● John W. Bates III of McGuire Woods sits on the Monroe Park Conservancy and Venture Richmond.
  26. 26. Safety and Perceptions of Safety ● The last murder in Monroe Park happened in 1959. ● VCU Police 2013 Crime Logs- most crimes Open Container and Drinking in Public violations – about 10 crimes a month ● Uncomfortable or Vulnerable? – Rich and white – poor, people of color, homeless, and LGBTQ
  27. 27. Beer Garden Not in Monroe Park ● Prohibition does not work – see War on Drugs and also, Prohibition ● If there is an apparent need for an appropriate public space for drinking alcohol, one ought to be created ● There is a flourishing of both food carts and local breweries in Richmond. A downtown, free to enter, no purchase required (as in you can BYOB too) Beer Garden would likely benefit both the houseless and local businesses. Location should be not in Monroe Park, but in the general downtown area ● This is just one alternative idea of how to deal with the fact that people will drink outside – there may be other, better solutions
  28. 28. “The First Will Be Last” by Derek Jones ● Plan dismisses chronically homeless citizens as valid and stable park users – " Park goers generally fall into 2 groups: VCU students and transients" (pg. 55) ● Plan underestimates need and activity of Church & Community feeding programs – About 400 people waiting on food or clothing this past Saturday, – Weekday Services ● "though the hiring of a park keeper in 2007 has helped to deter homeless feedings, that park remains a popular gathering place for Richmond's homeless population during the day" (pg. 55) ● Plan calls for controlled visitor ratios – "[privately financed park managers] must make frequent visitor counts, with special attention paid to female/male ratios… The ratio of non- homeless to apparently homeless ones must be at least 75-100: 1 to draw female visitors in great numbers” (pg. 61)
  29. 29. Violence against the Homeless ● March 28, 2014 report – “In 2013, homeless Americans experienced a 23 percent increase in violence compared with the year before, according to preliminary figures by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).” – “The U.S. homeless population declined over the same period, with 610,000 people going without shelter on any given day in 2013 — 20,000 fewer than in 2012.” ● Safety is a huge concern for the homeless ● Currently marginalized, MPC would further marginalize
  30. 30. Homeless People Of Color ● Striking Disparities ● National Coalition on Homelessness: – In 2007, the homeless population was 47% African- American, though African-American people made up only 12% U.S. adult population.” – “The homeless population was only 35% white, though white people made up about 76% of the U.S. population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003; U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2007).”
  31. 31. Intersectionality- Violence against LGBTQ People Of Color ● June 4, 2013 Colorlines – “That increase is the focus of a new report on anti- LGBT hate violence released today by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. The report looks specifically at incidents of reported violence that took place in 2012 and found that transgender people of color were among the most impacted communities.”
  32. 32. LGBTQ Youth ● According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, “20% of homeless youth are LGBT. In comparison, the general youth population is only 10% LGBT.” ● Statistics suggest that queer youth are at higher risk for engaging in "survival sex" or being victims of sexual violence. Shelters with services geared specifically to their needs are rare, and regular municipal shelters can be unsafe environments due to the attitudes of residents and staff alike. Faith-based shelters may be outright intolerant of any suggestion of homosexuality or gender difference. Transgender kids can be forced into a shelter that doesn't conform to their identification. - Sarah Goodyear the Atlantic Cities
  33. 33. We are not against renovation ● City of Richmond has been derelict in its maintenance duties – due to 'agreements' between VCU and the City – leaves accountability regarding basic maintenance vague ● We are against the entire park being closed for any amount of time ● We are against in privatization, private security, or fees for distribution of free food and items.
  34. 34. To Sum it All Up ● Public Parks Should Not Be Privately run, leased, or owned ● Marginalization of already marginalized groups who enjoy the park is an act of hate and violence ● Unsafe and Uncomfortable are two distinct things ● The City can find other avenues of better renovations for Monroe Park without risking privatization or losing control
  35. 35. City Council ● Stop all attempts to privatize the park – vote no to the MPC plan ● Start the 3 million in renovations you funded last year – while keeping a section of the park open the whole time ● Reevaluate the Renovation plans, and get public input from all demographics ● Demand any more funding for renovations from the Mayor, or get a coalition of non profits to help raise the funds
  36. 36. Further Reading: ● ● ● ● ●
  37. 37. Even further reading ● park/article_537d9fbb-c4fc-5bc ● Proposed amendments may be found in Ordinance No. 2014-10 (hyperlinked). ● “To provide for the granting by the City of Richmond to the person, firm or corporation to be ascertained in the manner prescribed by law, of the lease, franchise, right and privilege to use and maintain certain property located at 12 North Belvidere Street for the management, maintenance, and operation of Monroe Park in accordance with a certain Agreement and Deed of Lease[, as amended]. (As Amended) (Mayor Jones and President Samuels)" ● f4af3b01ed51.html ●;jsessionid=yTMtDVdNWrj3RwlbdF1sgg__? ein1=383840559&names=monroe+park+conservancy&city=&state=All...&zipCode=&countr y=US&dispatchMethod=searchEpostcard&submitName=Search
  38. 38. Further down the rabbit hole ● ● ● monroe-park-plan-in-its-tracks/article_a47d3665-9d46-5ee1-8d68-12db34115aa6.html ● Botched Play- with Richmond's Redskinsdeal, the needs of children in Richmond Public Schools Once Again are being treated as an after thought. ● ● party-117105/ ● council-raises-concerns/article_782eb40a-7a31-11e3-b9d6-0019bb30f31a.html?mode=jqm