In late October Occupy Our Homes Atlanta (OOHA), an independent offshoot of Occupy Atlanta, held their first housing justice academy to train everyday citizens to be Home Defenders. The conference drew people from Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. It was organized by OOHA’s small, but efficient, and sponsored in part by the American Friends Service Committee.
The crowd was racially diverse and mostly composed of older homeowners and young activists. People were friendly and gracious. Everyone was enthusiastic about attending and that enthusiasm bubbled just under the surface for the entire conference. The first day was focused on imparting a large amount of information. Some of the highlights of the information session was the presentation by OOHA staff member, Rob Call, on the history of the foreclosure/housing crisis. I took copious notes during that section. More notes than I’ve had time to organize and research over the course of this semester. Another highlight was the four part home defense informational session. In groups we went from station to station and practiced the foundation skills for a home defense.
The second day was spent learning about non-violent direct action. There was a field trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. It was a moving experience. I don’t think that I’ve been there in probably ten years. But every time that I go it’s a unique experience. Since I’ve changed, the things that I notice or understand change. It’s pretty cool. I think that’s just how it goes with anything that stays the same while you change. It manages to teach you new or different things just by virtue of your aging.
The Housing Justice Academy concluded with a direct action at Senator Isakson’s strangely remote office in an office park. If I didn’t know better I would think that he didn’t want visitors. The conference concluded with a closing reception and a graduation ceremony where people got to talk about what they learned and their hopes for the future.