Friday, July 10, 2009

ROC Summer Institute 2009

Just a couple of the upcoming workshops offered this summer. Contact City Life for more info....

Identifying the Local Power Structure
Meets Saturday, July 11, 1-3 at the CLVU office, 284 Amory St. (in the Brewery), JP
This workshop offers power analysis tools. 1) power mapping: this process is about building grassroots power as well as doing a power analysis of targets; and 2) power/political landscaping exercise: a participatory/collective process that can be used to illustrate and monitor shifts in power during a campaign/organizing project.
Contact: Camilo,, 508-674-7146

Health and Fitness for the struggle /Bike Riding
3 Saturdays -- July 11, 25, and August 1; meet at the CLVU office, 284 Amory St. (in the Brewery), JP
Two sessions on nutrition, one on diseases we face as we get older, one on physical fitness and training programs. The training session will involve actual exercise.
Facilitator: Paula Taylor, physical trainer, bank tenant

Friday, May 1, 2009

What is moral?

"If Deutsche Bank forecloses on Joe Schmoe the best they can do is to sell that property at real value. So if Joe Schmoe can afford the property at real value, why not sell it back to him? But the only reason the banks aren't doing that is because of what they call moral hazard. They say basically that homeowners should be punished because they signed these loan documents.

These are the same guys who have run our entire economy into the ground and who have been rewarded with billions in taxpayer bailouts and have used billions of that money to give bonuses to the very executives that drove their companies and the whole economy into the ground. And they are citing moral hazard as the reason why they can't resell that property to the existing homeowners at the real value. That is disgusting and hypocritical and in the extreme." Steve Meacham on Bill Moyers Journal May 1, 2009

The Message Comes Through Loud and Strong on Bill Moyers Journal

The word is being heard more and more clearly: people can stand up to the political and economic powers that have created the rules that benefit the few at the expense of the many; our institutions are accountable to the people. Thank you Steve and Melonie and Roxan and Jim and Mary and .....everyone at City Life! Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PROTEST BANK OF AMERICA Copley Sq. Boston 4/29 5 - 6 pm

Why we are here at Bank of America Protesting!


·        Workers didn’t cause this economic crisis—but we sure are paying the price. We’re getting foreclosed on, laid off, and the CEO’s are making millions.

·        Taxpayers have had enough, bank workers have had enough, and its time to make some real changes if we are going to create an economy that works for everyone again.

·        B of A takes our taxpayer money and pays themselves bonuses. And still have the nerve to fight the rest of us getting a fair share by fighting Employee Free Choice Act, credit card protections, and foreclosure victim protection. Reforms that would help our economy.

·        Bank of America took $45 billion in taxpayer bailouts which makes us the largest shareholders. Then, after taking our money, they announced plans to lay off 35,000 workers ¾ but still paid $5.2 billion in corporate bonuses.

·        B of A CEO Ken Lewis took home close to $35 million over the last 2 years. But the average bank teller makes $22,000 a year, barely above the poverty line. That is just plain wrong. 

·        Ken Lewis and other CEOs like things the way they are. They get rich at our expense. And they don’t want that to stop. That’s why they’re fighting Employee Free Choice Act that would help put money in working people’s pockets. Today, I’m here to say that business as usual is over for big bad banks.  

·        Bank of America made millions off of risky loan and deceptive practices, and as a result is one of the largest holder of foreclosed properties and is responsible for evicting thousands of people across our state.


What we want:


·        We need Congress to act now to hold banks & these CEO’s accountable. Banks can’t be allowed to use our tax dollars to fight against:

  • The Employee Free Choice Act that will give workers a voice on the job and better wages and benefits.
  • We want an end to foreclosures and evictions
  • Real banking reform that will stop banks from doing the things that got us into this mess in the first place and make sure they can’t rip us off with high interest rates and forcing their employees to sell us products we don’t need.
    Access to quality & affordable health care for every single person living in this country.

·        Workers in America need an economy that works for everyone.  Not more of the same.


Steve Meacham 4.29.09



Monday, April 27, 2009

City Life/Vida Urbana Receives Award From the National Community Reinvestment Coalition

On March 13, 2009 City Live/Vida Urbana received the James Rouse Award for outstanding work by an urban non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. at the annual National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) dinner.  The award was presented by the Rev. Jesse Jackson who spoke at the event.  Roxan McKinnon, Steve Meacham and Melonie Griffiths accepted the award on behalf of City Life/Vida Urbana.

Following are the remarks of Nadine Cohen, of Greater Boston Legal Services, who introduced the City Life/Vida Urbana awardees:

It is my great pleasure to present the James Rouse Award for most outstanding non-profit organization to City Life/Vida Urbana from Boston, MA.  CL/VU is one of the most innovative, effective and kick-ass grass roots organizations in the country.  Begun in 1973 in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, they have been involved in tenant organizing, the struggle to preserve affordable housing, organizing against racism and for community control of public resources. 

CLVU has played a major role in the current foreclosure crisis - trying to stop foreclosures and eviction in Boston’s neighborhoods.  They bring together tenants facing eviction and homeowners facing foreclosure to support each other and to develop effective strategies to keep people in their homes.  They hold eviction blockades where they bring out community members to surround the homes of the tenants being evicted, preventing the constables from carrying out the evictions.  In 2008 they were successful in preventing 11 out of 14 evictions.  They got arrested in 3 of the blockades, but because of the all the bad publicity for the lenders, and the support for the tenants, those too were victories.

In addition to helping tenants and homeowners negotiate the sales of their homes after foreclosure – sometimes at half their pre-foreclosure value – CLVU also holds public protests against Bank of America, protesting their unfair foreclosure policies.  City Life/Vida Urbana has recently begun to surround foreclosed homes with crime scene tape saying, “White collar crime scene.”  They are a strong and consistent voice against predatory lending and unfair foreclosures.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined non-conformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

It is my honor to present the James Rouse Award for outstanding work by an urban non-profit organization to City Life/Vida Urbana – very disciplined non-conformists, who stand up for what is right and who lead the way by their actions.

Nadine Cohen

Managing Attorney

Consumer Rights Unit

Greater Boston Legal Services


Friday, April 10, 2009

City Life/Vida Urbana On Bill Moyers Journal

CL/VU will be featured on Bill Moyers Journal. The projected date of airing is May 1. A producer was onsite for much of a week in March filming and interviewing.

The Bill Moyers Journal is aired on PBS. In the Boston area on WGBH Channel 2 at 9PM. (there are other times when it repeats)

~will be interesting to see how “the Journal” interprets CL/VU’s work and what kind of story is told in this very well respected, award winning program.

Congrats to everyone at CL/VU for doing the work and occasionally getting some recognition! It makes a difference!

People before profit!

Viewers of the Journal are encouraged to post comments and to contact CL/VU using the contact info in the sidebar.



Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eviction Blockades

Dear friends,
    City Life maintains a list of families in foreclosed buildings who we will defend, if necessary, by eviction blockades.  Several families are on our eviction blockade list at this time.  We hope that a blockade won't be necessary.
    One good reason there have been no recent blockades is that the Banks are backing down in the face of pressure.  Two weeks ago we began to organize a blockade for Mr. Freeman.  This gentleman has lived all his life in his home in Grove Hall.  He takes care of his disabled uncle and mom and his 3-year old daughter.  He started a juice bar for area teens to visit, a safe place to go without alcohol or drugs.  Faced with the possibility of an eviction blockade, Wells Fargo backed off.  There are negotiations now to enable Mr. Freeman to repurchase his home at its real value (half loan value).
    Three times (out of 15 organized blockades), the banks have succeeded in evicting our members.  But even those evictions have turned into movement victories for us.  Paula Taylor's eviction on September 5, 2008, has helped launch a growing movement against Bank of America.  On March 22, Paula Taylor was a featured interview on Dateline NBC exposing bank practices.

Contact us at City Life if you would like to be on the Eviction Blockade email list.

Steve Meacham

City Life/Vida Urbana Director of Tenant Organizing

[submitted by Stewart L.]

Friday, April 3, 2009

Six Weeks of Bank of America Protest at Copley Complete- Watch for Next Actions

For six weeks in March and April, each Thursday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 PM, hearty souls gathered at the Bank of America in beautiful Copley Square, Boston to remind passersby and bank customers that while Bank of America accepted federal bail out funds, it is not serving the interests of our community. It evicts tenants of foreclosed properties without fault, and without the option of continuing to pay rent. Protesters chanted: "Banks get bailed out, people get thrown out."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bank of America Protests

On a cold windy February 14, Valentine's Day, over 50 people protested outside Bank of America in the Fields Corner section of Dorchester, MA. They were encouraging those with accounts to participate in the National Day of Account Closures at Bank of America! While some banks have stopped evicting tenants of foreclosed properties, BoA continues this practice, displacing families, disrupting school attendance, blighting communities. BoA has refused to accept fair market rent or to negotiate resale at appraised market value. US tax payers now own a significant portion of should serve the interest of our communities!

Purim, Progressives and City Life

On March 21 young radical Jewish friends from Workmen's Circle, Kavod House, and the community threw City Life a Radical Purim Party sponsored by Workmen's Circle, and held at SEIU Local 615 Union Hall. Progressive Jews reclaim Purim as a celebration of speaking truth to power in all its forms and the theme of housing justice, specifically the issue of foreclosures and evictions, was woven into the traditional staged Purim spiel performed that night. About 200 supporters celebrated and it was fantastic to see youth so committed to a vision of justice. Proceeds from the party will support City Life's Campaign to Halt Post-Foreclosure Evictions!


The members and friends of City Life/Vida Urbana embrace a vision of a world where there is:
• peace among nations and peoples
• respect for our cultural, racial and sexual diversity
• cooperation rather than competition
• no extremes of wealth or poverty
• respect for nature and the condition of the environment for ourselves and future generations
• production that serves the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few
• a guarantee that each person has the right to food, housing, health care, education, meaningful employment, and the right to exist in freedom without fear of displacement or deportation.
We understand that these changes will not happen spontaneously. We hope to be part of a city, state, national, and international movement that believes in a similar vision and is prepared to build the organizations and leadership that it will take to create this new world.