The Ishtar Collective, an NSWP member organisation that works with sex workers and allies in the US state of Vermont, is in the running for a $100,000 grant that will go directly to sex workers volunteering on their food farm.
The Ishtar Collective was founded by Henri Bynx and J. Leigh Oshiro-Brantly in January 2020 with the aim of destigmatising sex work and pushing for policy change. However, COVID-19 temporarily derailed those goals, as reported on Seven Days.
"The pandemic really highlighted an already existing disparity between people who have enough and people who don't," Henri Bynx said.
Henri, who had spent time working in agriculture, decided to start a garden and give away food to those who need it with "no red tape."
The Free Food Garden Project takes up about an acre of land and to date it has fed nearly 20 households.
Part of the project, Henri said, is to "demystify the image of the sex worker" for neighbours.
The project is now one of about 60 vying for grants from Expensify.org, the charitable arm of a San Francisco-based software company. Voting has now closed and the top 10 vote-getters will be announced in August, receiving $100,000. All shortlisted projects will receive $5,000.
Henri says the cash would help the collective continue its work and provide for those in need, even as the pandemic ebbs.
"Poverty is still real; wealth disparity is still very real," Bynx said. "If we cannot look to our federal government to fill in these holes and take care of its people, then who else is going to show up? We can."