July 2020 Update
It's been a long time, family! Thank you for your patience as we've undergone a big, deep transformation. Over the last year, Tightshift shifted its focus from moving jobs in Washington, DC, to growing food, small home construction, a local foods cafe, and re-villaging ourselves in Virginia.
There has been much beauty and many lessons learned through our DC-based work. In the last few years, we worked with 25 people, sometimes for one job and sometimes for two years, with an average of 5 people working closely with us at any one time.
Over $100,000 was paid to workers for jobs completed. The majority of Tightshift workers have been in prison, and most others are at a high risk if another path isn't present.
Over $38,000 was given to workers through free rides to work, meals during or after the job, and subsidizing housing to make it accessible.
Several people were supported in getting a DC ID and driver's license.
Several people were supported in paying off their fines, which continue to double when not paid.
Several people were able to secure full time work at another company with a direct connection or reference from another Tightshift worker.
And of course the love, conflict mediation, and relationships that always have and will be central to whatever it is we're doing. If you're someone who wishes to continue the work in the moving industry in DC, we remain open to sharing all we have learned and supporting that effort in any way we can.
Since the first seeds of Tightshift were planted, we have remained committed to answering the same questions:
What will it take for collective liberation to be realized?
How can we be collectively self-determining (for our homes, food, wellness), and not reliant on systems that never have or will truly serve us?
How can those most thrown away by the mainstream have agency, care, and belonging in the world we're trying to create?
We have had to be honest with ourselves. We could work ourselves day and night, pay better than minimum wage (though $17/hr is sadly still much less than it costs to afford housing in DC), treat people as family, create space for mistakes and the challenges we face -- and still, the systemic barriers to collective liberation and autonomy are high in Washington, DC.
Subsidizing a rental house 15 minutes outside of DC cost us $30,000 per year. With our new partnerships and focus, that same amount of money can build 3 homes for people to own and live in forever, in a collectively stewarded and community owned land trust, in a village that is supported by relational culture. We also have to be honest about the physical strain that working in the moving industry can create, especially for our family who face other health challenges due to generations of injustice.
Our deepest goal isn't for our people to thrive in capitalism -- we know that's a losing battle. Our deepest goal is to support ourselves and others in collectively owning land, housing, our food, wellness, and all aspects of life.
Can you chip in and share our posts on social media?
Tightshift is working primarily with teenagers in Loudon County to learn to grow food, build small homes, create a local foods cafe, and grow the number of people who can live on the land itself. We are raising funds to pay the youth for their work, and purchase any materials that aren't already donated.
We're so thankful to each and every one of you. May we all continue the work of collective liberation, and be supported in the process.