I do my academic work in an ethos of what Richa Nagar and Susain Geiger (2007) name as “situated solidarity,” an approach that Kate Derickson and Paul Routledge argue “works to create spaces of encounter, resource productive dialogues, and, in so doing, challenge assumptions and norms” (Routledge and Derickson 2015: 401). In practice, this means that I work closely with Picture the Homeless (pictured above), a homeless-led activist group in New York City that fights for housing justice and civil rights for homeless New Yorkers. Members, leaders, and staff at Picture the Homeless understand that the politics of the visual are of immense importance to understanding the seeming intractability of homelessness, even as they also know that housing, not shelters or the warehousing of vacant property, holds the solution to homelessness. Their beliefs and practices inspire my own research in both the questions that I ask and how I go about answering them.
I am also one of the co-founders of Power at the Margins, a research collaborative active at the University of Minnesota from 2016-2018. Power at the Margins brought together activists and scholars working at the margins of homeless and tenant-led organizing and interdisciplinary scholarship focused on a vision of housing justice emanating from the grassroots. In collaboration with the Insurgent Midwest collaborative at the University of Illinois, I organized a series of gatherings, culminating in a major conference at the University of Minnesota in March of 2018 that brought over 70 scholars and activists together to share their work from around the globe. This effort has led to ongoing collaboration and a future gathering in the works for 2020.