Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Brief History of Washington D.C.'s Olive Branch Catholic Worker House

Just sitting here in my room in San Francisco, remembering the five times I was at Washington D.C.'s Olive Branch Catholic Worker House at 11th & M Streets in the Shaw neighborhood, beginning in June of 1991. 

Initially, the district's Catholic Worker group moved out to a more comfortable location, and then claimed that they had succeeded mightily by turning over the house to the homeless whom they had taken in, thus doubling in size the Washington D.C. Catholic Worker group, housing formerly homeless individuals, and pulling off a small miracle essentially.

     Reality is that the group did in fact move to a more comfortable house in a higher income neighborhood.  Otherwise, the Olive Branch Catholic Worker House was a crack house!  The previously homeless residents never joined with the Catholic Worker volunteers who showed up to volunteer at Zacchaeus Kitchen, and who were initially unaware of the crazy situation in the house.  If that weren't bad enough, an assortment of feminists moved in, taking advantage of the rent free living situation, and none of them gave a shit about anything spiritual at all, and they did no service work.  The ensuing chaos from their aggravating anti-social behavior, (supposedly appropriate to uplift downtrodden women everywhere) made the house rat population look friendly.  At war with the crackheads, the punk bitches moved out and the rats stayed.

     And then something actually worthwhile happened around April 16, 2000.  For three days thousands shut down Washington D.C. in protest of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund policies.  We had the Midnight Special Law Collective in the front room downstairs.  We had a media center set up two blocks away in Blagden Alley in an artist collective studio.  We housed an endless stream of direct action oriented radical environmentalists and the black bloc.  We shut down Washington D.C. for three days and informed the whole world about the global situation of materialism's insanity.  Finally, the Olive Branch Catholic Worker House was important.  I guess Jesus just woke up!!

     Later, the house was used by anarchists to challenge Washington D.C. city government insofar as the mistreatment of the homeless population was concerned.  Eventually, the Metropolitan Police Department raided the house, tossed everyone out onto the sidewalk, boarded up the front door, and pressured the owner into selling the building.  Currently, the building is divided up into condominiums.  Jesus moved out.  We don't know where He went.  

~End of Story~

Craig Louis Stehr
October 17, 2017
San Francisco