by Chris Knestrick
Transitions are an important part of our work. As we know from living in Northeast Ohio, the four seasons transition every year from summer to fall and winter to spring, just as social justice organizations slow down, speed up, and transition. These moments are important to inspire new ideas, build new alliances, and produce organizational growth. Established leaders step back to make room for fresh people to bring new energy and innovation. Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless is in this moment.
As I start my position as the new Director of NEOCH and in turn become the new editor of the Street Chronicle, I want to recognize this moment. I am filled with gratitude to be chosen to lead and edit a paper with such a legacy of raising the concerns and the voice of people who are shelter insecure. These voices are all too often silenced in our communities, governments and institutions. I take this position determined that the paper remains a place for people experiencing homelessness and previously unhoused people can express their views and tell their stories.
I bring years of experience working with and building relationships with people experiencing homelessness in the city of Cleveland. I have traveled the globe partnering with human rights defenders struggling for a more just world. In Colombia, I worked alongside local small-famers as they defended their land from mass displacement by documenting human rights violations and calling for accountability. I bring these experience with me to this position as I return home to do social justice work in Cleveland
I promise to uphold our mission statement that has guided us in our work for so many years. I will continue to work “to organize and empower homeless and at risk men, women and children to break the cycle of homelessness through public education, advocacy, and the creation of nurturing environments.” We believe that this paper is part of fulfilling this mission statement. This project is empowering to those that write in the pages. The writers find their own power and voice by telling their stories. Lived experiences offer wisdom and knowledge that cannot be taught in a classroom. In turn, the reader is offered a chance to learn.
We cannot do this work alone. In the coming years, we need to come together to strengthen our community. Federal and local policies being implemented will continue to impact communities of color, the poor and working poor, and those living through a housing crisis at this moment. We need to center the voices of those being impacted by these decisions. This paper seeks to do just that.