The green faced house on northwest 12th, known as the Peace House, or People’s Embassy, has a long and wonderful history. Bought at a tax auction in the early 90′s by William Thomas, founder of the White House Peace Vigil, the house serves the purpose of bringing together people from all over the world who want change. It is a house of constant movement, of people of many movements. Mira Yolanda, a Palestinian activist fighting Israeli Apartheid, says ” Its the place that makes us work without limits or fear of difference , its a family of crazies that love and teach justice . its a place where miracles happen,” about the house. She has involved in the house from December 2011 and does what she can to keep the house moving. She has the thankless job of waking us up at 7:30 each morning and keeping the house clean. Ferhia Kaya, another activist who has been a main organizer and a main support for the Freedom Plaza occupation since October 2011 and originally from Turkey, says ” its an important space for activists . its a safe place and its my home.” She is another of the house managers, and keeps the house running smoothly. Having a space for 15-20 activists and protesters can be a nightmare and we are not a group of people who are fans of getting up early. The army may get more done before 8 am than most, but the activists of the Peace House generally work very late into the night. But we still get up, clean the house, and get to work.
Sarah Hines, who works with progressive religious groups, loves that she can connect with those organizations whenever she can, as well as being a legal observer for the marches and actions we plan. Brian who runs social media and offers counterpoints for the house, had this to say about the house ” Amazing resource for activists for peace to come in and make connections , have a safe work space and be a part of an amazing legacy of non-violent activism” which is a very important part of the services the Peace House has to offer. Most of activists in the house are veterans themselves of the Occupations of McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in DC, and a safe living space with showers and some food supply is very important. Internet, a place to get mail, a kitchen and the thoughts and dreams, and the planning capabilities of the activists who live there is extremely valuable.
We also offer a space for travelers to stay. Muriel, who is visiting DC from New York City, is a student who is originally from the Dominican Republic, found that it was nice to have “wonderful dysfunctional crazy family working together on a variety of important causes.” Which is true. We call ourselves the Peace House, but oddly enough, there is a lot of yelling. At each other. Being that everyone is working diligently on a variety of projects and actions, the stress level is very high, and we get very agitated. Then we all sit down and have a good laugh. Yes, there is a lot of laughter. Juan, who is doing a study on Colombian North American Relations at the National Archives, “I like the peace house because its a space in which people with a common interest in different social events and activism and share their experiences in this process of sharing they can get to improve their projects and get involved in New projects.” Yes, we do have a SQUIRREL problem. We do get things done, but there is a problem of too many things going on to get involved with. This is a place for everyone.
Finally, Rudy Roberts, a gay activist who is fighting for LBGQ rights and equality, “the peace house to me is a safe haven since I’m homeless . By staying here it gives me the opportunity to continue my activist work. I fully support and love the peace communal home that continues William Thomas’ vision of the peace house!”
That’s the truth. The mission of the Peace House, the People’s Embassy, is to fulfill the vision of William Thomas. That the house be used by activists as a safe space, a staging ground, a place to call home. Most of us have been homeless, and would still do this even if we were on the streets. But this is our home. We are carrying the torch for the dreams of William Thomas, and we will not back down.
We need your help. The People’s Embassy is under threat of being sold, and we must raise money so that the house will be the property of those who inhabit it. To help, please visit http://www.occupypeacehouse.org or come by the house at 1233 12 NW, Washington DC, 20005. We would love to see you!
Written by Tim “Gonzo” Anderson