One Year Out: An Update from the Hummingbird Collective

We’re writing with updates from the RG Migrant Justice Solidarity Working Group, recently renamed the Hummingbird Collective. (Much less of a mouthful, right?) This funding project was born out of an idea at last year’s Making Money Make Change, and has grown and developed in ways we couldn’t have imagined when we first sat around a table together in the redwood forest. We continue to be excited about, deeply committed to, and totally inspired by the work of funding grassroots migrant justice in Arizona and beyond. Throughout this work we’ve been asking ourselves the question, “How, as people with wealth, do we respond to critical moments in the struggle for racial and economic justice?” We continue to be challenged and driven by this question. So, where are we at in our process?
The work
We continue to be in dialogue with organizers from 8 organizations we connected with while on a delegation to Arizona last April.  A core belief held by our funding collective is that people most impacted by injustice know best what the solutions to injustice look like. We’re working to shift decision-making power over how money is allocated away from ourselves, and towards the organizers who have direct experience in the struggle for migrant justice. Though we’ve learned from some amazing models of cross-class giving, navigating what it looks like to move money in a way that resists the traditional power dynamics of philanthropy is totally challenging! We’re collectively working through a lot of questions about what makes the most sense to fund, what being democratic in a funding process looks like, and how to do justice to process while recognizing some amount of urgency. We’re learning a lot, y’all. Concrete ideas for what we’re funding, when, and how, are brewing and coming together. We’re working hard to move a significant chunk of money by the end of the year.
Turning the Tide on Hate Conference
We moved over $2000 to support Turning the Tide, a conference and strategy session that took place this May. Turning the Tide was a convening of grassroots migrant justice organizations from around the country, with a focus on stopping the police and ICE collaborations that are leading to more deportations now than ever before in US history.  Many of the organizers we’ve met through our work in Arizona were part of the convening, and 6 members of the Hummingbird Collective joined as well. We had a chance to learn from organizations around the country about the strategies they’re using to resist anti-immigrant bills in states that limit non-citizen’s abilities to attend school, rent property, and work. We learned about the community defense networks (Committees for Defense of the Barrio) being organized around the country to build resilient, self-determining neighborhood networks of defense against deportations. We did a lot of listening and learning, and we got to engage in conversations about the role of donors and of white folks in this work. By sharing our experiences in this space, we were able to connect with other folks thinking about privilege in similar ways, and growing the dialogue and network of allies.
Building our skills
In August, 6 of us went through a fundraising training in RG’s New York office. Our amazing trainers, Emily Nepon and Yasmeen Perez, each have over ten years of grassroots fundraising under their belts. As someone who has had no fundraising training, I left feeling excited and demystified, and with the reflection that as people with access to wealthy networks, learning how to fundraise is an important part of being accountable to the movements we’re committed to.
Resistance in Georgia
A massive anti-immigrant bill was recently passed in Georgia, and a huge day of action was called for July 2nd.  A call went out around the country for organizers to support the mobilization. James and Margot drove to Georgia for the July 2nd day of actions. They painted banners, helped out on a media team, and were marshalls for the massive march that took place. They showed up, they threw down, they sweated, a lot.
First round of grants
On August 1st we moved $8,000 in the form of $1,000 grants to each of the 8 organizations we’ve been partnering with. A few examples of who this money is funding:

  • 3rd Space, a fabulous collective of queer folks of color and allies working for to make the invisible visible in Phoenix
  • PUENTE, who were central to organizing the 200,000 person mobilizations last summer in opposition to SB1070
  • Arizona Dream Act Coaltion, a group of incredibly fierce students fighting for their right to education regardless of immigration status
  • Tierra Y Libertad Organization– working to build vibrant and resistant community in Tuscon, mixing art, health education, urban farming and some tight political analysis

MMMC 2011
The Hummingbird Collective will be representing at MMMC this year. We’re co-facilitating a workshop on donor organzing along with the fabulous Wayside Center for Popular Education and the Diverse City Fund. If you’re going to be at the conference, this will be a chance to hear more about what our process has been—the challenges, the feelings, the conference calls, the personal transformation, the how and the what.
FEX conference
James and Sarah A. headed back down to Arizona in September for the Funding Exchange Skills conference. FEX has identified Arizona as a crucial place to set up a new social justice foundation, and we showed up to be part of the dialogue. We were able to bring several of the organizers we’re working with to the conference with us, and were in several conversations with FEX staff about what a social justice fund in AZ could look like, and what our role in this could be. It was dope to be able to act as connectors between FEX and folks in the movement in AZ.
The sense of community we’ve built through this work has been beautiful. It’s so powerful to engage in the work of resource redistribution as a collective. Both in the act of moving money to grassroots organizing, and by the model of doing so collectively, we resist the isolation and independence we’re taught to value as owning class people. The political and interpersonal community we’re building through this work will extend far beyond this project.
Want to get involved? Email [email protected]. We’d love to plug you in.
Follow us on facebook!