Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Umoja Village Full to Capacity


After just one month and four days, the Take Back the Land Umoja Village Shantytown is built and occupied to full capacity. We have no more land on which to build and we have already turned away no less than three (3) homeless people looking for permanent shelter.

The Umoja Village Shantytown houses approximately 35 full time residents who, otherwise, would have no where to live. These are people who CHOOSE to live in a wooden structure and work for free building and maintaining a shantytown in the United States. We have no more land onto which we can safely build on our side of the lot.

This turn of events is important because it shows the critical need in South Florida for low-income housing and the extent to which local governments are unresponsive to the needs of the people. The needs of each and every developer are met upon arrival, yet the needs of the poor- especially in the Black community- languish.

This does not mean we do not need your support- in fact, quite the opposite. We ask people of good conscience to do one or more of the following:

VISIT THE UMOJA VILLAGE SHANTYTOWN. Come see what has been built and feel the love and buy in of the residents. Make the Umoja Village a permanent part of Miami by visiting and granting us legitimacy.

MAKE A CASH DONATION. We have several things we need to build and purchase on the lot besides additional units. You can make that happen by making a cash donation. Donate via PayPal on our blog (takebacktheland.blogspot.com) or by following this link:
Take Back the Land PayPal Donation

DONATE STAPLE GOODS. We are always in need of the basics: fresh food; canned food; water; ice; hand soap; forks and knives; clothing; shoes; large garbage bags; plastic tarps; plywood and 2x4s; and anything else needed to run a city.

DONATE A BIG TICKET ITEM: We need some other items, including: twin sized mattresses; a metal shed; carpet; wooden doors; two 150 gallon water containers with spouts; a 55 gallon drum; four pop-up canopies;

TELL THE GOVERNMENT: HANDS OFF UMOJA VILLAGE. In spite of doing the government’s job for free, the city of Miami continues to send agencies and provocateurs to the shantytown in an effort to disrupt us and our neighbors. WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THEY WILL RAID AND DESTROY UMOJA VILLAGE. You can stop them. Contact Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and tell him to keep his hands off of Umoja Village. You can help by:
1. Visiting Umoja Village and signing our petition.
2. Sign our on-line petition (www.ipetitions.com/petition/TakeBacktheLand/index.html).
3. Email and call Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and tell him to keep his Hands Off Umoja Village (email: mannydiaz@ci.miami.fl.us; phone: 305-250-5300).
4. Email and call Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez and tell him to keep his Hands Off Umoja Village (email: mayor@miamidade.gov; phone: 305-375-5071).
Let them know we are providing a needed service and should be left alone. If they know we have support, it decreases the chances of them attacking us.

Thank you in advance for your support.


Max Rameau
Center for Pan-African Development
Take Back the Land

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankstaking, er, Thanksgiving Dinner

It is that time of year again: the time to celebrate made up stories of imperialist settlers offering food to the Natives they had not yet killed. We call it Thanksgiving, but it was Thanks-taking for the pilgrims.

In spite of the shady pedigree, the Umoja Village Shantytown is planning a full dinner for our residents and neighbors on land we took over ourselves. We have turkeys out of our collective wazoo, however, we are in need of some contributions from you.

If the spirit moves you, we need the following items for Thursday, November 23, 2006:

- Money. Cash, check and paypal contributions are needed to complete our meals.
- Side items (cranberry sauce; mashed potatoes; potato salad; macaroni and cheese; dessert; fresh fruits and vegetables; any side item you and your family would enjoy. Store bought items are welcome)
- Blankets. It is still very cold and we are still picking up additional guests. We need blankets.
- Drinks. Water, juice, soda and any other non-alcoholic drinks are needed.
- Paper plates, paper cups and napkins.
- Time. Spend some time serving and cleaning up.

We are eating at 3:00pm on Thursday, so drop your contribution anytime on Tuesday or before 3:00pm on Thursday. Thank you!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

UMOJA (unity) Village!

After much anticipation and debate, the Liberty City shantytown has a name: the Umoja Village.

Umoja is the Swahili word for "unity" and one of the principles of Kwanzaa. It is also the name of the Shantytown built in Liberty City.

The naming ceremony was attended by about 50 people, followed by a catered dinner. After the celebration and cleanup, residents are getting ready for bed and another potential rainstorm.

Thank you to everyone who attended the naming ceremony and to all else who sent their well wishes.

Forward from the Umoja Village.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Shanytown Naming Ceremony

Fed up with the government corruption, housing crisis and gentrification, a group of organizations and individuals took control over public land on Monday, October 23, 2006. Today, the lot on the corner of 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. in the Liberty City Section of Miami is full of life and providing housing and food for the homeless.

Take Back the Land invites all to the Shantytown Naming Ceremony on Thursday, November 16, 2006 at 6:00PM, at the Shantytown on 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. There will be free food and fun as we give name to the land we liberated.

Please make plans to attend.


Max Rameau

Monday, November 13, 2006

What we need- Donations List

In order to move our shantytown to the next level, there are a number of big ticket items we need to get a hold of. We will ALWAYS need the following:

- Money
- food (canned and fresh)
- dinner (cooked dinner for 25 people)
- water
- blankets
- firewood

However, there are some bigger items that we need to get out hands on, including:

- two (2) 150 gallon water containers with spouts. They cost $150 each.
- two (2) 55 gallon oil drums
- large tarps
- four (4) pop up canopies
- small metal shed for storage
- twenty (24) single sized mattresses (no boxspring, just the mattress)
- tons of nails
- plywood sheets 8 feet long
- 2 x 4 wood planks

Thank you for your donations.


We have made a great deal of progress at the shantytown. Thanks to ten (10!) volunteers from University of Miami who stayed several hours on Saturday and three who drove down from University of Florida in Gainesville (!) for the entire weekend, we were able to build out and clean up quite a bit.

As it stands, we have 12 shanties built, for a total of 23 living units, and one shanty still under construction. We also have three tents.

We have been quoting 9 - 15 residents staying per night, however, over the past four nights, we have not had less than 13 residents, and we may have risen above 15 last night, so we have to rethink our numbers.

In addition, we are almost done with our shower, the kitchen is fully functional and we have a full purpose storage room.

Thank everyone for the gifts of money, time and goods. Keep it coming because more people need shelter and food.

More pictures are coming soon!

Media Coverage

Here are links to media coverage of the Take Back the Land effort

Indy Media

Orlando Sentinel

Biscayne Boulevard Times


Max Rameau

Friday, November 03, 2006

Grand Welcoming Report

We were all concerned about the turnout for our official Grand Welcoming because it rained all day long. On top of that, we recieved a donation of a dumptruck full of mulch just a few hours before the event. So, we had to spread it all out before the event and during the rain.

All our worries were baseless. The community turned out for our Grand Welcoming. We had over 100 people show up to celebrate taking back the land and our shantytown. The residents worked hard all day long preparing the ground for guests.

The evening saw inspiring presentations by supporters, neighbors and shantytown residents alike. It was a heartwarming night.

Because we recieved support from local radio (thank you WTPS! thank you HOT105!), we attracted two more residents last night. As such, we have more residents than we have structures built. We must get more structures up quick, fast and in a hurry to keep up with the demand. The donations we have collected thus far will allow us to keep up with the demand.