Micaela Suminski: Pivoting the Campaign

I’m getting to a point in my research where I’m feeling really excited (antsy!) to get to Kansas City and start interviewing folks on the ground. I can’t wait to be there in person, filming and interviewing and catching b-roll and pickups. My research so far has been lucrative – I’ve spent a lot of time reading about housing movements, social movements, grassroots organizing, and housing as a radicalizing and mobilizing issue. (These are all topics that I’ve studied and been immersed in before, but it’s awesome to keep expanding my inquiries and ideas as I read and learn more and more.) My research has even led me to some really specific pieces of other folks’ research; for instance, my favorite find so far has been an article about the role of feminist documentary filmmaking in the squatters’ housing movement in Berlin. (Check it out here if you’re interested!)

One big change so far has been a pivot toward focusing on affordability, and how the governing state body (in this case, Kansas City) defines affordability. Kansas City Tenants have decided to pivot their social housing campaign toward an affordability focus. While I haven’t yet had a chance to touch base with them at length about this since the decision, my guess is that this will open up the possibility for more political activation and mobilization on the topic of how affordability is defined. For instance, I can envision an effort to lobby the city to redefine affordability to include more folks and income levels so that more people can access affordable housing. The tight and unrealistic definition of “affordable” housing is a huge problem across the U.S. and Kansas City is no different.

This means that when I’m in Kansas City at the end of July and beginning of August, I will have the opportunity to film canvassing and tenant union meetings. I can’t wait!

Touching base with Jenay and Patricia about my travel dates – Jenay reports back that the campaign is pivoting toward affordability.
Scouting lodging options in different neighborhoods of Kansas City.