Zach Scott

Zach Scott (Dale Farm Housing Association): Zach completed his undergraduate degree in history and Spanish at Indiana University. He taught English for two years in Romania with the Peace Corps. It was during his time in Romania that Zach became interested in Romi (Gypsy) issues and learned Romanian. Zach also interned at the International Organization for Migration. At the time of his fellowship, Zach was pursuing an MA in Eurasian, Russian and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. After his fellowship, Zach wrote: "The best part of my experience was the diversity of my day-to-day life. I was able to gain a variety of new skills while developing my flexibility. I also gained a great deal of experience working in a stressful environment with limited resources."


13 Jun

“Zach, what’s happening over at the yards?” As I slowly turn to see yet another concerned face, beckoning me to come inside a chalet or caravan for a cup of warm tea, I already have memorized what I am going to say.

Yes, the Development Control Committee of the Basildon Council did vote for eviction on eleven properties at Dale Farm. No, this doesn’t mean that bailiffs will come in tomorrow and begin evicting people from their homes. They have to wait until midnight of July 6th. Yes, we have a lawyer that is trying to find a judge who will issue an injunction to stop the eviction until we can get a judicial review of the committee’s decision to evict members of the eleven properties. No, it isn’t certain that our lawyer will find a judge to issue the injunction, but we feel very confident that he will succeed in locating one before the 6th of July. No, we don’t exactly know when our lawyer will find a judge, but we hope it will be next week, at the latest. Yes, when we find a judge, I will let you know.

As I utter the final words of my last response, I feel as robotic as my answers have sounded. The feeling of monotony that stirs inside of me each time that I explain the legal process to another person facing eviction evokes two emotions. First, it makes me thankful that I didn’t choose to become a lawyer and second, more profoundly, it arouses despair.

The dejection that I feel only grows as I continue to explain the current situation to more and more individuals facing eviction. When someone asks the inevitable question, “but this is our home son, where are we gonna go?” I can’t even bring myself to look the person in the eyes. As my heart tightens and my throat goes dry, I can only wistfully reply that the lawyer is doing the best he can and that I am sure he will find a judge by next week.

It’s not that I don’t believe what I say but, rather, that what I say is trite and not nearly enough for a group of people faced with the destruction of their livelihood.

As each day passes, however, I am reminded of how strong the community is where I live. Rosaries are held every night, parties given every weekend and the christening of the newest member of the community, Daniel, born last week, was performed on Sunday. The threat of eviction has loomed menacingly over Dale Farm for the past five years. People here are tough, resilient and, most importantly, truly believe that they will remain at Dale Farm.

While the legal limbo surrounding the plight of the eleven properties continues to swirl, life goes on at Dale Farm, with each member of the community waiting and hoping for the best.

Posted By Zach Scott

Posted Jun 13th, 2007

1 Comment

  • Teresa

    June 19, 2007


    It has to be rough explaining this whole process to folks especially when the news is not all good. I wonder if there might not be another way to go about it that makes the interactions more focused on positive things while still meeting their needs for information. I’ve worked in communities like this and we tried different multimedia tools when literacy was low and traditional newsletters when it was not to pass on information. Then we focused on regular community get togethers to share, create personal connections etc.

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