Walking into the monthly Haus of Codec marketplace at Dexter Park in Providence for the first time, I was greeted with upbeat, catchy tunes, while attendees enjoyed lots of local vendors, music, and food. Food vendors included AS220 Foo(d) and Blush Bakeshop, selling the sweetest vegan baked goods. The energizing DJ Julio, aka Dusknight, kept the tunes pumping between extraordinary acts, such as drag king performances by Randy Andy, Bobby Fresh, Mx. Chievious, and Russell Sprouts, and a drag queen performance by Kiya DaSlaya. It was such an incredible show that the audience whooped and cheered for an encore. Local band Baby: Baby: Explores is described on Spotify as a: “parody of sound, garage-pop future punk project from Providence, RI that makes simple structured danceable songs.” The lively music was perfect to close out the event. The crowd loved every minute of it!
According to the Haus of Codec GoFundMe campaign, their mission is “building the community through the arts and educational empowerment. Based in the creative capital, Haus of Codec is committed to ensuring an end to transition-aged youth homelessness in Providence through the arts and workforce development.”
I learned at the marketplace that Haus of Codec aims to raise $150,000 to create a homeless shelter across from the Cranston Street Armory for LGBTQ+ youth, and have their first residents moved in by November 1. The organization was founded by Julio E. Berroa (DJ Julio) in 2017 as a design firm to support a close-knit community of artists, then pivoted its focus in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the goal of Haus of Codec is to house LGBTQ+ youth in Providence. In addition to hosting the event, Haus of Codec held a free clothing drive for people to swap and add pieces to their wardrobe for free.
This was my first time attending such an event, and I wanted to ensure I didn’t miss anything. As I walked around, marveling at everything, I made sure to stop at every booth, read information, and follow social media accounts. I wish I could have spent all of my money at every booth, but as the kids say, “I don’t got it like that.” However, if one can’t help out financially, spreading awareness and following social media accounts to boost visibility can be just as important. There are so many organizations fighting the good fight in Rhode Island, and some of them made themselves known at Haus of Codec. I’ll tell you about a few that I found particularly intriguing.
Showing up for Racial Justice Rhode Island (SURJ-RI) is an organization that believes in collective liberation, and that none of us can be free until we end white supremacy. At their table, I stopped and grabbed some of the flyers advertising their Teach Truth campaign. This campaign focuses on preventing legislation that aims to block the teaching of critical race theory in schools. This legislation has reached many states, including Rhode Island, and SURJ-RI is working hard against this. To learn more about SURJ-RI, the Teach Truth campaign, and more, check out their website and this Google Doc with more info, including Rhode Island student and teacher testimonials.
One Neighborhood Builders has a mission to develop affordable housing and engages neighbors across Greater Providence to cultivate healthy, vibrant, and safe communities. In addition to affordable housing, community health workers can help with SNAP assistance, emergency food support, unemployment benefits, housing and work programs, domestic violence advocacy, vaccine registration, basic needs assistance, community resources, and undocumented resident advocacy. I took a flyer advertising a COVID-19 memorial that will be taking place on October 16 to honor the lives lost in Central Providence, acknowledge the dedication of our essential workers, and support friends and family who have experienced loss due to COVID-19. The memorial will take place at Farm Fresh RI, 10 Sims Avenue, Providence. Text ONB to 474747 to stay up to date on One Neighborhood Builders and all of their resources available.
One of the best things about this event was the representation of local BIPOC and LGBTQ+ vendors and organizations such as enbytions, who sell the most fantastic custom-made goodies and t-shirts. Duafe Love, a black-owned business, sells beautiful waistbeads, anklets, bonnets, and fanny packs authentically from Ghana. Cedez Tarot offers psychic readings, and has a shop full of homemade spiritual items like ethically sourced Palo Santo, protection mists, and bath soaks. If you’re new to spirituality and are unsure where to start, check out Mercedez’s site for the answers. This is just a tiny taste of the fantastic talent that was present at Haus of Codec. Supporting BIPOC and LGBT+ small businesses is so important, especially for the smallest state. Uplift their voices and help build communities of support for them.
What Cheer Writers Club is a nonprofit that offers a community for makers of the written, spoken, and illustrated word, coworking for introverts, on-demand meeting space for everyone, and news for patrons of the content arts. I learned about What Cheer from Jodie, the program manager who answered my questions and piqued my interest. Located in Providence at 160 Westminster Street, this is an excellent place for writers to find a space outside of the home where they might find inspiration, and immerse themselves into a community of writers. They also offer workshops for writers to “dive deep into a single literary composition through a two-hour skills-building intensive guided by a local teaching artist.” The next workshop, called Sequential Storytelling: The Magic of Mini-Comics, will be held on October 16 at 1pm over Zoom. To sign up, check out this page on the What Cheer website.
Overall, this event was magical and unforgettable. The location, in particular, Dexter Park in Providence, was an excellent location to center BIPOC and create a welcoming environment. Many Providence neighborhoods are majority BIPOC that unfortunately, become gentrified. Providence is a beautiful city, and should be cleaned up, but not at the expense of the people who were there first. Much of the West End has become hipster-focused, with vegan restaurants, brunch spots, and housing co-ops, while other sections are poverty-stricken, run-down, and abandoned. As a Providence native, it is nice to see events like this, with social justice organizations spreading the word and doing their best to make Providence accessible to everyone.
Sometimes we exist in our own little bubbles, and don’t stop to think of solutions to the problems that the city faces. Providence is one of the most LBGTQ+- friendly cities in the United States, but LGBTQ+ youth and adults still face high abuse, poverty, and food insecurity. The problems that we all face won’t be solved in a day, but we get a step closer every day that we fight for social justice. Thankfully there are organizations like Haus of Codec in the community doing the work to make sure that Providence is a city that everyone can feel comfortable in. This event was a glorious LGBTQ and BIPOC-centered event from start to finish.
Kwana Adams is a 27-year-old writer who still likes cats and vintage sweaters.