Author: jkusiak2014

Building a Village In the Heart of Detroit

Humble Beginnings

Auntie Na’s House stands at the corner of Yellowstone and Elmhurst on the Westside of Detroit.  Auntie Na’s grandparents, Ernestine and Peewee, moved to Detroit from Missouri in the 1960’s, during height of Detroit’s industrial era and in the midst of some of the greatest conflict the city has ever seen. Over the past 50 years, this house on Yellowstone St. has sheltered 5 generations of Auntie Na’s family through the rise, fall, and rebirth of the city of Detroit. From the cornerstone of Yellowstone, Auntie Na’s family has weathered the storm of urban rebellion and martial law, factory closings and white flight, drug epidemics, mass foreclosures, school closings, financial collapse, bankruptcy, emergency management, water shutoffs, and fire. Through it all, we have maintained, we have survived, we have rebuilt, and we have struggled to bring the ‘unity’ back to our ‘community’. As one of the last intact and inhabited structures on our block, Auntie Na’s House has been a solid rock in the floods of time.

Our Time to Expand

One house cannot provide for all those that have passed through our gate seeking support. Now, it is time to expand our dream. We have begun to build a Village in the abandoned heart of Detroit. Out of Auntie Na’s House we have always provided food, clothing, water, shelter, education, resources and support for all those that stand in need. Over the last couple years, we have begun purchasing abandoned lots and houses on the block in order to expand these programs and build Auntie Na’s Village. So far, we have purchased 3 lots which we have converted into a Community Garden and a Playground. We have also acquired 4 houses which we are rehabilitating and will become our Medical House, Nutrition House, Clothing House and Learning House. Each one of these Village Houses will governed by a Community Board, will provide shelter for Village residents, and will have Community Outreach Programs run out of them. The Village Houses and Land will be collectively owned by our non-profit, and will be held in trust so that we may pass them down as an inheritance for the coming generations.


In Our Village We Defend the Right to Life

In Auntie Na’s Village, we provide a home for the homeless, a haven for the misfits, and a sanctuary where wayfaring strangers can live in community. We are sent the ones who life and society has left behind, has tried to crush, those who have fallen through the cracks of this broken system. What this society will not provide for us – we will provide for ourselves. Rights that are withheld from us –  we will claimWe claim the rights to clean air, pure water, safe shelter, renewable energy, good food, healing medicine, communal land, and freedom. We understand these to be living rights – the rights that give you the right to life.

We Are Planting Seeds

Each person that contributes to Auntie Na’s Village, is planting a seed for a future bountiful harvest. Just as the plants in the garden are helping to feed the body and the spirit of our people, we are planting the seeds of unity and community to nourish the roots of a stronger generation. We are calling on all our supporters – past, present and future – to help us harvest unity by planting a seed for Auntie Na’s Village. This could mean giving your time, your talents, your voice, or your resources to help us build our Village. Please consider contributing to our SEEDS campaign and help us reach our goal of raising funds to construct our Village Houses, expand our Community Outreach Programs, and realize our dream for Auntie Na’s Village. THANK YOU!

Wishing and praying for a better tomorrow

Wishing and praying for a better tomorrow

Thanks everyone for the many blessings and birthday wishes, those near or far, those that forgot and those that remembered. Today I wish for a poem and a prayer, today on this day I was born, today on this day many lives would change, today on this day nothing in this world would be the same, today on this day my steps were in order and my life preordained, today on this day, my prayer/my wish I claim on this day. I’ll take a knee, I’ll take a knee stand, I’ll hold your hand, I’ll take a stand for equality for my child and grandchild, all over the land, today on this day I’ll take a knee on abuse and brutality, today on this day I’ll take a stand for the rights to free clear water and Healthcare, today on this day I’ll take a knee for freedom of speech, freedom of war, freedom of nuclear bombs, freedom of poverty for everyone, I’ll take a stand, a knee, a hand to help hold up my fellow men/women, today on this day I will, will you?! ❤ take my hands, take a stand, take a knee, today on my birthday I wish, I pray.

Harvesting Unity

“By the faith of a grain of a mustard seed, all things can be done.” It is worth repeating Auntie Na’s words of last year so we can marvel at all that has come to pass. Out of the ashes Auntie Na’s House returned stronger and more unified than ever. Our apologies for not posting a lot, but we have been hard at work throughout our (re)building process. The summer of 2015 was filled with fun, games, water, fishing, and more as we kept our babies entertained and off the streets. On the subject of fishing, Auntie Na’s babies refused to let us fry the fish they caught, prompting us to transform a 3-year-old sinkhole on the Eastside into a thriving fishpond ecosystem. The children and fish were thrilled; this city not so much. Upon the city discovering what we had done, the fish found themselves evicted. Nevertheless, “Two legs, four, flippers or fins, if you come through our gate, we’ve got you.” Auntie Na’s words rang true and we took the fish over to the Westside to stay. Toward the end of the summer, Auntie Na began rekindling her connection to Oberlin College in preparation for another school year of engagement and collaboration. Out of these conversations sprung Auntie Na’s Harvesting Unity (ANHU).

ANHU formed in the fall of 2015 as an Oberlin-based supportive organization that would help manage volunteers, communications and technology, fundraising, networking, research, and other efforts to expand Auntie Na’s House into Auntie Na’s Village. Auntie Na inspired this creation when she visited the campus in September for a talk and the group gained momentum through a fall break trip where eleven students spent a week in Detroit working alongside Auntie Na. Through our collaborative efforts ANHU…

– Led multiple weekend trips and a month-long trip to Detroit in January;
– Connected Auntie Na’s House to the internet and started a monthly newsletter;
– Raised over $13,000 from grants and individual donors;
– Connected Auntie Na’s House to numerous organizations, including Georgia Street Community Collective, which became our fiscal sponsor for 501(c)(3) tax status; and
– Researched new programming ideas for the center, ways to acquire more property, and ways to become our own 501(c)(3).

Those days weren’t always positive, of course. For instance, we learned in October of 2015 that the old Midwest Casket Company right next door to Auntie Na’s House was up for auction around $5,000. Through ANHU we were quickly able to raise the funds, but were outbid 8 minutes before the auction’s end by a real estate agent. The next thing we knew, the Casket Company – which would have been the perfect outlet for the expansion of Auntie Na’s House – was up for sale for $69,000. We persevered, however, eventually acquiring three vacant lots down the street for the expansion of our garden and tutoring program. We also manifested the energy to bring 50 cases of water to Flint during their time of crisis and began hosting our monthly Bazaars, where we bring together Detroiters offering everything from clothes to blood pressure checks, bicycles, bounce houses, face-painting, and more. Everything at our Bazaars is free.

As time went by, ANHU itself began to change. The focus shifted from what Oberlin College students could do at Auntie Na’s House to how power could be built in local communities around Detroit. ANHU came to stand for two things:

1) The transformation of Auntie Na’s House into Auntie Na’s Village – a space to ensure the self-sustainability of the community surrounding Yellowstone, and
2) The outreach to other organizations and individuals who have similar aspirations for their community and could learn from our successes and trials in furthering their dreams.

We dream of a unified Detroit with intergenerational grassroots community centers throughout the many communities of our city. We dream that these centers will know one another and treat one another like neighbors, supporting one another and amplifying our collective voices to address the powers that be. We dream of lessons throughout these centers for young and old that advance the, perhaps radical, prospect that they come first, before corporate power and profit, corruption and negligence. Our center may be small, but our dreams are grand, and we know that we are not the only dreamers. We stand in lines at food pantries every week scraping together the supplies to sustain our center and in those lines we hear our same aspirations echoed back to us. We speak to the people who hope for better things and have ideas, but whose ideas have always been shut down by conventional wisdom, by the status quo. Well, we’re here to encourage them to join us in challenging that status quo.

We are taking further steps in service of our dream by using one of the grants we received in the fall to launch our Peewee Planters Program. Through this program – named in honor of Auntie Na’s grandfather – we hired four 16 to 22-year-olds to work for our community center and our fiscal sponsor, the Georgia Street Community Collective. Through this time we encouraged them to light their sparks – those qualities they have or subjects that they are passionate about – ablaze and grow into young leaders in their communities. We taught them about the real history of their city, about the challenges we face and the ways we can move forward. We discussed the impacts of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and more. We encouraged them to be team-oriented critical thinkers.

As we continue to harvest unity throughout Detroit, we encourage you to stay close to us in conversation and support. Please follow us at or, better yet, stop by and say hi. All are welcome.

Out of the Ashes We Shall Rise

In December of 2014, we watched our dreams slip through our fingers as the house that we knew and loved went up in flames. In those first days after the fire, it wasn’t easy to find the will to push on. The damage that had been done to the house was so severe that it was unclear if we were going to be able to rebuild at all. But when we shared the news with our loved ones and asked them what we should do – a resounding reply came back, ‘We’ve got to rebuild. We’ll help you!’

And so, in the weeks after the fire, a team of volunteers started gutting the house and a stream of supporters started sending donations. By the end of January, we had raised almost $6000 online, had secured more than $5000 in private donations!  With those funds, we were able to pay an electrician to redo all the wiring in the house (the old electrical system being the cause of the fire in the first place). We were also able to pay two local construction workers –  Zeek and Mr. Pew – to completely rebuild the walls, ceilings and floors throughout the 3 stories of the house. The transformation was remarkable.

I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to know that in our time of need we can rely on our communities to step up and support us. The support, whether financial, emotional or physical, has been incredible. Thank you all!

This past week, a group of volunteers from Oberlin College came up to Detroit on their Spring Break and put some love into Auntie Na’s House. New murals now adorn the walls, instruments made of found objects sit in the basement, and the interior of Auntie Na’s House has come back to life. In the next week, new windows will be installed through out the house and some of the final interior painting and refurbishing will be completed. As Spring slowly creeps back into the city, life arises anew in Auntie Na’s House.

“By the faith of a grain of a mustard seed, all things can be done.” – Auntie Na, January 2015

All it took was a little faith. We are still holding steadfast to our vision for the future, reaching out to our networks, and putting in some hard work. But we’re sure that the house will come back more vibrant than ever before.

For us, the maxim ‘Out of the ashes we shall rise’ is not just the motto of the city of Detroit; it is more than just a metaphor for struggle; it is a lived reality. It is a prophecy that we act upon in the present to make manifest our dreams for a better world.

For now, we’re gonna keep on pushing. There’s more work ahead of us, but the worst is surely behind. We’re planning on reopening our doors at the end of May. I hope to see you there. Until then, thank you for all you have done.

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Can you believe this is the same room?

Burnt Homes, Scarred Memories

A little after 5pm on Monday, December 8th, Auntie Na locked the front door, piled the kids into the van, and drove off from Yellowstone leaving Christmas lights blinking in the window. Na, the kids, and some volunteers had been making Christmas gifts for elementary school students, and had been packing winter coats, boots, hats, wool socks, and children’s toys into gift bags. Every year, Na does a Secret Santa for the kids and sneaks the gift bags into their cubbies the day before school lets out for Christmas.

This year, Auntie Na’s House was not to live out this gentle dream in peace. Shortly after she left, she got a call from her neighbor telling her to rush home. Na and the kids drove back to Yellowstone to find the house ablaze, flames roaring out the front window, walls and ceiling igniting, wood beams snapping and cracking, charred pieces of the porch falling onto the ground below.

The fire department eventually put the fire out, but the damage was done. The fire swept through the first floor, destroying countless items of sentimental and financial significance. The rest of the house has sustained smoke damage, and subsequent water damage, since many of the windows were broken out. Na and the kids had to watch as that fire swallowed up years of hard work, aspirations for the future, and the present reality of this vital community center, which is a support and backbone for so many who are struggling in this community.

All of us are still reeling from this tragedy. I, personally, have been able to think about little else, and have been struggling to find words to express the gravity of this loss. Many of us have pinned our hopes and faith to this little community center. While the rest of Detroit is spiraling downwards in crisis, Auntie Na’s House has been patiently nurturing and caring for those who are the most vulnerable. While the rest of our country has been grappling with the daily police violences against Black and Brown people, folks at Auntie Na’s House have been doing the incredibly important work of raising up Black youth in an environment where they know that their lives have meaning – that Black Lives Matter.

This senseless disaster – a fire started by some Christmas lights hanging in the window – is too big a burden to bear at this trying time. We desperately need the love and support of our communities. All those who have been involved with Auntie Na’s House, in whatever way, we need you now. We need you to share with us your stories, memories, photographs, poems, songs, artwork, and love. We need you to help us rebuild Auntie Na’s House – with volunteer labor, donations of materials, and connections to other organizations who can help us. We need you to support Auntie Na’s House financially. The home was not insured (a result of the deep poverty of this community). We are relying upon financial donations to rebuild the home. We need funds to purchase some new Christmas gifts for these kids – all of the Christmas gifts were burned in the fire. Also, it has been a constant struggle for Auntie Na’s family to pay the utility bills and property taxes. In the midst of this horrible disaster, the city, banks, and/or utility companies may try to repossess the house and shut off its services.

We cannot, we will not, let this happen. The spirit of Auntie Na’s House – the generosity, compassion, faith, and kindness – lives on in all of us who have been blessed to connect with this community. We would be failing ourselves if we let this tragic fire be the end of Auntie Na’s House. Let us prove to Na, her family, friends, neighbors, and community that we truly care about their struggle – that we are willing to make sacrifices in our own lives to make sure that people can survive and thrive at Auntie Na’s House for generations to come. Let us take this moment to prove that Black Lives Matter – that we will not abandon folks in inner-city Detroit the way that corporations and governments have been doing for half a century.
As I look back at all the photos I’ve taken over the past two years of working at Auntie Na’s House, I see a lot of joy and beauty that has come with the transformation of that house. Those memories are wounds now too – they are scars yet to heal, that open anew each time I revisit them. For me, there will be a long process towards healing. Right now, the only way I can conceive of healing these open wounds is to make sure that Auntie Na’s House does not fade into memory – that it lives on in the present, and holds fast into the future. This story is yet unwritten, but I imagine that it will unfold alongside the story of the rest of the city of Detroit.

In 1805, a great fire swept through Detroit, leaving massive destruction in its wake. A priest, Father Gabriel Richard, had recently opened a Roman Catholic church and a school that were incinerated in the fire. In that time of crisis, he wrote a motto for the city of Detroit, one that is as true today as it was then – Speramus Meliora, Resurget Cineribus – “We hope for better things; it shall arise from the ashes.” Today, if you drive through the city of Detroit, on almost every block you will find abandoned, boarded-up, decrepit, burned out houses. Each one of these was once someone’s home. In fact, Auntie Na’s House has taken in and supported many who have lost their homes to fire. As you drive around the city, you will also see children playing around in the streets, old men shuffling to their cars, pregnant women leaving the Dollar Store, and homeless folks pushing around grocery carts. These people need a place that they can call home, a place to find a hot meal, some baby diapers, a warm coat, and a loving embrace. Auntie Na’s House has been that place for 6 generations of her family. Let us make sure that it remains that for 6 generations more. Resurget Cineribus – It Shall Rise From the Ashes


Free Water in a Time of Crisis

Detroit is in the middle of a serious water crisis. In an effort to drastically cut city services and balance the city’s astronomical debt, the city is undertaking an aggressive policy to shut off the water to 40% of the city residents. Every day, city workers and contractors go around the city shutting people’s water off for unpaid water bills. No water. No showers, no cooking, no washing your hands, no brushing your teeth, no watering the garden, and you damn sure won’t be drinking. They are cutting off water to families with children, pregnant mothers, elderly, disabled, small businesses, churches, private residences, everybody! (who isn’t rich and white).

Crews have disconnected service to 31,300 customers since Jan. 1 due to unpaid bills and will continue that this winter — stopping only during long bouts of below freezing temperatures when the ground is too hard to dig to water connections. At the end of the summer, after intense pressure from activists, the city agreed to a short-term moratorium on the shut-offs. A several-week respite allowed people behind on their bills to enter into payment plans. Shutoffs dropped from a high of 7,200 in June to 1,600 in August. They have since picked back up with 5,100 in September and 4,200 last month.Currently, 74,000 Detroiters are past due on their water bills with bills averaging about $570.

Meanwhile, the people of Detroit have been standing up, protesting the shut-offs and providing water for their neighbors. Groups like the People’s Water Board Coalition and the Detroit Water Brigade have been organizing mass civil resistance, challenging politicians, judges, and the Emergency Manager as they continue to implement the water shut-off policy. In addition, these organizations and others have been mobilizing networks for community self-help, where existing community institutions are provided the tools and resources they need to become a Hub for the distribution of water.

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At Auntie Na’s House, we’ve been giving away food, clothes, school materials, toys, and everything else for years. It only seems logical (in this crazy world we live in) that now we would start giving out water. Since August Auntie Na’s House has been involved in water distribution efforts on the Westside of Detroit. The Detroit Water Brigade assisted us in obtaining large water jugs, bottled water, and a rain barrel, for rainwater catchment. Since then, Auntie Na has been turning on her tap, filling up containers are giving out water to all those in need. The Water Brigade also collaborated with Auntie Na’s House in going door-to-door in the neighborhood, passing out information about how to get your water bills paid, and where folks can find free water. Lastly, the Brigade has offered to help pay Auntie Na’s water bills, so that we can continue turning on our taps and giving water to the neighborhood. Many thanks to the Detroit Water Brigade, and all our volunteers!

It is in these times of crisis, that we learn something about human nature, and the true nature of the economy we live in. In Detroit, the Federal, State and City governments are colluding with corporations to dismantle city services, impoverish the community, and destroy the will of the people. Meanwhile, people on the ground are dealing with a situation of dire crisis and scarcity of basic resources. In this moment, we might imagine that the people would turn against each other, hoarding what little water, food, or money they have to preserve their self-interest. But no, instead we see what true compassion, solidarity and community look like. At Auntie Na’s House, we know that water is a human right, that water is the source of all life, and that for the liberation of all people, water must be free. At Auntie Na’s House, we practice what we preach by giving out water to our neighbors – without asking for anything in return, without demanding they show us ID, or prove they are somehow deserving of this water. We give freely because our hearts demand that we show compassion to our people.

If you would like to support the ongoing work at Auntie Na’s House, please consider donating today.
We’re not doing this for the money, but we do need money to sustain the programs, keep the doors open, and keep the water flowing. Many thanks!

Growing New Shoots from our Deep Roots

12028 Yellowstone St. has been a cornerstone of this community for half a century. Over the years, many people have called this place home. The roots of the tree of life and community grow deep in this soil. In the recent months and weeks, through the patient nurturing of Auntie Na’s family, friends and volunteers, we’ve been reaching out and developing new programs – growing new shoots and flowers that bear new fruit.


From January of 2013 to October of 2014, we’ve transformed many rooms throughout the community center, bringing new vibrancy and color to this old house. We’ve worked hard to create a Reading Area, Music Room, Computer Lab, Kid’s Room, and a revitalized Front Porch, Kitchen, Dining Room, and a Food and Water Storage Pantry. (See Photo section to view the transformation of the house). We’ve also dedicated time to creating a community garden in the backyard. This summer, our community garden grew onions, eggplants, tomatoes, okra, collard greens, ground cherries, and and many herbs and spices. Thanks to many generous donations from crowdfunding campaigns, and our community partners of the Godmother’s association, Oberlin Community Services, the Detroit Water Brigade, Keep Growing Detroit, and several local food pantries we’ve been able to keep this community center running. Thanks to the hard work of Auntie Na’s family, community members in Detroit, volunteer work teams from Oberlin, and a handful of international volunteers – we’ve been able to fix up the house and support the outreach programs. I can’t express my gratitude enough for all of those who have shared their time, resources, and energy with us. Your generosity is the lifeblood of Auntie Na’s House – where the spirit of giving guides us on the path towards freedom.

Let’s be real for a moment – the city of Detroit is in crisis. The flight of the auto industry decimated the economy. The predatory banks have foreclosed on hundreds of thousands of families. The city is run by a dictator, the emergency manager Kevyn Orr. In many neighborhoods, the majority of the houses stand vacant, most storefronts are boarded up, schools are closed, and it’s near impossible to find a grocery store that sells affordable healthy food. On top of all of this, the city is implementing a plan to SHUT OFF THE WATER FOR 40% OF THE CITY RESIDENTS. This is a crisis of capitalism, that impacts the communities of color living in the inner city hardest of all. People are living in this city without access to basic resources like water, food, clothing, and shelter.

And yet, throughout all of this, people have been able to find refuge in our little house on the Westside of Detroit. And this is not the only place. Community institutions throughout the city have been providing for people, building alternatives to the systems of oppression that exist, and fighting for empowerment and human rights. Our network of community centers has been growing, and a broad-based social movement is forming. The struggle continues.

In the past 3 months we’ve seen the rapid development of new programs at Auntie Na’s House. In the throes of the Detroit Water Crisis, Auntie Na has opened up her heart and turned on her spigot, giving out free water to many people in the neighborhood. Because of generous donations, we were able to acquire 2 new computers and are now providing computer access to youth and adults that visit our community center. Also, we have several new athletics programs that happen after school and on the weekends, with regular basketball games, soccer practice twice a week, and karate lessons. In addition to all of this, we’ve been continuing our regular food and clothing distributions, providing temporary housing for young mothers, and have been opening up our doors to any and all that need assistance in the neighborhood.

Please consider donating to our crowdfunding campaign to help us continue our work.
This Winter we hope to continue our Christmas programs, where youth receive warm clothing, boots, coats, and Christmas gifts. In addition, we need money to help pay for heating, electric, water, and Wifi bills – operating expenses to keep the community center open. Lastly, we are trying to raise the funds to purchase the abandoned lot that sits next to Auntie Na’s House, so that our athletics programs and community gardens can expand. Thank you all so much!

New Programs at Auntie Na’s House

This past weekend, we had a very successful barbecue and block party that brought together friends, family and supporters, as well as folks representing their own organizations that are doing amazing work around the city. I believe that it was a beautiful kickoff to a summer of  opportunities at Auntie Na’s House.

This summer, starting June 1st, Auntie Na’s House will be opening up and will be maintaining a regular schedule of programs all summer long. This is so exciting because it signals the end of construction, repairs, and remodeling that has been done to revitalize Auntie Na’s House over the past year and half. We’ve worked hard to make the community center functional, beautiful and vibrant, and now we want to open it up as a resource that organizations and community members can use for projects, programming and events.

Existing Programs

Currently, Auntie Na and a crew of regular volunteers are running several community outreach programs. These include Weekly Food Distributions, where food is picked up from various pantries around the city, reorganized and delivered to families in need. There are also Clothing, Toys and School Supply Distributions organized regularly with support and donations from The Godmothers. Every couple of weeks or so, Auntie Na’s House hosts Community Meals, or barbecue cookouts if weather permits, bringing families, volunteers, and outside supporters together as a community to celebrate our work, plan for the future, and enjoy each other’s company. Lastly, Auntie Na’s House offers Emergency Temporary Housing for those who are houseless, whether it is due to eviction, foreclosure, a dangerous situation at home, or chronic houselessness among Detroit’s destitute population.

New Programs

With the completion of the new renovations of Auntie Na’s House, we are proud to say that we are going to be hosting new programs at Auntie Na’s House.  After recently remodeling the second floor and transforming it into a Reading Room, this summer we plan be hosting a Youth Literacy Program under the mentorship of Shanel Adams, a Detroit-native writer and the creator of the Progressionista program. This program is open to girls age 8-12 who would like to read, write and discuss literature once a week, to develop their English language literacy skills. At Auntie Na’s House, we hope to cultivate a passion for reading, writing and creative arts that kids can carry with them for the rest of their lives. This summer, we will also be hosting a Housing Assistance Program once a week with Laquinda from Creative Housing Solutions. This program is geared towards preparing and educating young people about how to get good deals on apartments and houses, how to recognize a good lease from a bad one, how to deal with landlords, and generally how to budget funds and keep up with payments. Lastly, we just put in work on constructing and planting our community garden in the backyard of Auntie Na’s House. We hope to grow and expand our Gardening Program so that Auntie Na’s House can continue to be supplied with fresh vegetables and so children and adults alike can acquire new skills around working with the land, and learning about urban agriculture.

Be sure to contact us if you would like to be involved as a volunteer or participant in any of these programs. I will post new updates as these programs progress and evolve.

Springtime Celebration at Auntie Na’s House

After a loooonnnngggg, cold Winter it seems like Springtime is finally here!

At Auntie Na’s House we’re wrapping up the last of the repairs that the building needs in order to be a fully functional community center. In the upcoming week, we hope to put the finishing touches on a refurbished Kitchen and Food Pantry, the downstairs Music Room, the Kids Room, the Living Room, and a brand new Reading Room on the second floor! We’ll be doing construction, plumbing, painting, and cleaning over on Yellowstone all week.

We’re having official construction volunteer days Thursday, May 15th and Friday May 16th. Oh, and did I mention we’re building an awesome and beautiful community garden at Auntie Na’s House…?!? We’ll be constructing new raised beds, filling them with soil, and planting seeds/transplants Saturday, May 17th and Sunday the 18th. Hit me up if you want to help out – 617-894-8755,

But really, it’s all about the cookout. Join us for some delicious food and a good time in the afternoon on Saturday. Folks who have been come through Auntie Na’s House over the years will be coming by and we’ll get the chance to connect, hang out, and make some plans for the future.

Hope to see you there. Much love!

– Jackson (aka Josh)



We’re Launching a Crowdfunding Campaign!

We’ve just set up a crowdfunding campaign on to help sustain Auntie Na’s Community Outreach Program. Check out the campaign here:

How does this campaign support the mission of Auntie Na’s House?

The point of this campaign is to keep the doors open at Auntie Na’s House, so that we can continue to help meet the basic needs of community members while providing a location to gather and build relationships. By organizing with people of all colors from diverse backgrounds to build a center for community self-sufficiency, we are attempting to combat the effects of generations of austerity, racism, and economic inequality in Detroit. Ultimately, we are working for a more just and equitable world, but we realize that there are tangible needs that have to be met immediately in order to assure the long-term survival of this community.

Why does Auntie Na need a crowdfunding campaign to keep the outreach programs running?

Auntie Na’s house has always been a community-run organization and has never had institutional funding or support. In part, this is because Auntie Na seeks in her community work to transcend the bureaucratic boundaries imposed by traditional government or 501c(3) social-service providers. Nevertheless, for decades, she has been struggling to pay the bills, keep the doors open, and keep the programs running. Because many houses in her neighborhood are abandoned, Auntie Na has to pay higher bills for water, gas and electric to cover her entire block. The city also continues to raise taxes on its lowest income citizens in order to combat massive municipal debt. For these reasons, Auntie Na needs some funds to help pay for the cost of keeping the doors of the community outreach center open.

We are asking for money to help defray the costs of taxes and utility bills and to purchase much needed materials for the house. Keeping up with these bills has been an incredible strain on the family and Auntie Na has been threatened with the imminent shutoff of gas, electric, and water. Auntie Na’s House already operates on a shoe-string budget, and thus far has been supported by the sheer will power of her family for many years.  As a community center that supports so many others in this neighborhood, keeping the doors open and the house livable will help many families survive the hardest of times.

What else are we doing to raise funds for Auntie Na’ House?

Paying for taxes and utilities is a struggle month to month. We recognize that the long-term sustainability of this project necessitates many sources of funding. This crowd-funding campaign is only one part of a multi-faceted strategy to obtain financial resources. We are in the process of applying for several government assistance programs, attempting to obtain grants, and establishing a network of supporters. Your donation will help push along the process of reviving of Auntie Na’s House, enabling it to serve Detroiters for generations to come.

What will your contribution do?

A contribution to Auntie Na’s house means that a person without a home will not freeze on a cold winter’s night, that a family can get a box of groceries for free every week, and that a child will have a place to go after school to do their homework, play the drums, paint a picture, and eat a healthy snack. By contributing to this campaign, you will do more than pay the taxes, help us obtain construction materials, or purchase a refrigerator–you will contribute to the development of a community center that will serve as a home for those most in need of respite.

What, specifically, are we raising money for?

Taxes and Utilities: $3,000

(We have been falling behind on paying the taxes and utilities and are being threatened with the eminent shutoff of water, gas, and electric. The house is also incurring additional fines for every month that goes by without full payment of taxes. If we square up on payments now, we will be able to keep the center open for months to come.)

Plumbing: $500

(The plumbing in the kitchen and the bathroom are in need of some work in order to be fully functional. A local plumber has quoted us this price.)

Windows for the front room: $200

(Two large windows in the front room are broken, leaving the space drafty, uninsulated, and without much natural light. By purchasing new windows and installing them, we will save money on heating costs and make the space more beautiful.)

Refrigerator: $300

(We have a freezer and a lot of pantry space in the house for food storage, but we are lacking a refrigerator. We hope to be able to purchase one that is energy efficient, so that it does not strain the electric bills too much and conserves energy for environmental reasons.)

Total: $4,000