Progress is Happening at the BWWC

Posted on October 12, 2018 | Claire Cook, ONE DC

A heartfelt sign for the BWWC made by ONE DC members.

Every few weeks, the Weissberg Foundation features a story from one of our Reframing <Washington> Empowerment Fund grantee partners to shine a light on their critical work. Learn more about these powerful organizations by visiting their websites.

ONE DC exercises political strength to create and preserve racial and economic equity in Shaw and the District. Through a shared leadership model involving community members; tenant organizing; popular education; and its Black Workers Center, ONE DC works to transform the nation’s capital into a place where low income, poor, and immigrant communities are organized, educated, and trained to take action to create and preserve social and economic equity and achieve the people’s vision to develop grassroots leadership that will build a movement for positive systematic change.

In 2018, ONE DC’s Black Workers and Wellness Center (BWWC) in Anacostia officially opened. The BWWC is affiliated with a national consortium of Black Worker Centers. The BWWC is a resident-led space that creates and maintains racial and economic justice through popular education, direct action, and the creation of worker-owned alternatives. To combat a capitalist system which exploits and under-employs, the BWWC strives to establish systems for dignified and sustainable work.

Since the purchase of the building to house the Black Workers and Wellness Center in December, ONE DC has been continuously expanding its vision and capacity to improve economic equity for working-class District residents.

A Vision for Our Space

  • Cooperation DC: Cooperation DC is a project of ONE DC that works with residents to expand employment opportunities in low-income communities of color by developing worker-owned cooperative businesses and other alternatives to the current system.
  • Black Workers Center Chorus: In late June, seven members of our twenty-six chorus members attended a three-day activist musicians conference at the Great Labor Arts Exchange.
  • Code on the Block: We are developing a year-long free technological training that will help Ward 8 residents develop the skills to enter the in-demand field of coding. Trainings will be member based and member-led.
  • Timing Bank: As a member of the DC Time Bank, the BWWC provides opportunities for the community to participate in a mutual aid program where everyone’s time is valued equally. Examples of exchanges include car rides, child and pet care, and music, language, and art lessons.
  • Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUna): ONE DC, in partnership with LiUna, will continue to offer jobs and apprenticeships primarily in demolition and concrete and build collective power through the Black Workers Center.
  • Hosting Events: The BWWC will be a space to host various community events and coalition meetings.
  • Workers Rights Clinics: The BWWC hosts Workers Rights Clinic in collaboration with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Low-wage workers receive free legal advice on employment matters, such as unpaid wages, discrimination, sexual harassment, illegal termination, and more.

To learn more about ONE DC’s Black Workers & Wellness Center and ways you can get involved, click here.

Claire Cook has been organizing with ONE DC as an administrative organizer since 2013. She first joined ONE DC working alongside members on the Right to Income campaign, conducting outreach to recruit over 3,000 unemployed and underemployed DC residents to apply for the Washington Marriott Marquis Jobs Training Program. Currently, Claire conducts outreach to long-time, low-income DC residents of color to join the ONE DC People’s Platform and the Black Workers Center. Claire holds a MA in Sociology from The George Washington University, where she wrote her thesis on new-build gentrification and exclusionary, luxury development in the NoMa neighborhood of Washington, DC. She is originally from rural Maine and spends her free time playing with her pitbull pup named Snoop.

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