Feminist Arts Conference, Toronto
Had a lot of fun facilitating at the Feminist Arts Conference in Toronto. Inspiring and provocative discussions, art work, initiatives. Queer dance collective that has revived and subverted burlesque, what they call Unapologetic Burlesque. A print collective that used street signs to campaign and raise awareness around street harassment, the Street Talk Project.
Fran Rawlings and I facilitated a session on Claiming space: navigating gender and power. We adapted the flower power exercise (inter-sectionality) and did some human sculptures and dialogue around power analysis and strategies for change. Some great discussions about how we have agency in some areas and not in others, our negotiability. How we open spaces of power in these small ways as well as the ways that we challenge, hold accountable and organize. The general use of the flower power I find much too binary a treatment of oppression.
I was really moved by the work of Karen Miranda Augustine- Painted Love: Requiems for Salacious Sex Queens. Funeral wreaths for women involved in the sex industry with re-used or discarded tires, hair, nail polish. She led a fascinating discussion on eulogy. Click on the link below to go to her site.
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Strengthening Local Economies
Facilitated Strengthening Local Economies with Yogesh Ghore these past two weeks at the Coady Institute. We start with a critical look at globalization and its effects on local communities- economic, ecological, rights. We explore local responses. A local oyster fisherman, Philipp of Shan Daph Oysters captured it well. "Ecological sustainability, social sustainability. Only then can you sustain the economic." His business is completely off the grid and he keeps it small intentionally. He talked about sitting at lots of kitchen tables.
Local craft production. Processing and purchasing locally. Social bartering systems. Fair and organic trade. These are all part of the solution but Philip captures the most important element. Relationships.
This is really the only way economic models have ever been part of real and lasting change. They are embedded in and built on relationships. Networks and alliances that have the power of both organizing locally and holding policies and processes accountable. We review over 30 case studies from around the world from Aravind Eye Care that offers 2/3 of their eye services in India free to food systems in Vermont. Through their organizing they managed not only to strengthen the local and state economies and impact health, agriculture, transportation. They were also the first State to win in the federal courts against Monsanto and others demanding that GMO foods be labelled.
Community Bank in Brazil that works with Social Currency and Neighbourhood Associations
A lot of my work has been looking at the connections between economic and political in community and member-owned economic models such as savings groups and cooperatives.
Went to Fortaleza Brazil, on behalf of the Coady Institute, to work with the Innovation team there at Banco Las Palmas. They are a Community Bank that grew out of a neighbourhood association that led to remarkable political organizing in the 70s and 80s. Displaced when coastal development was occurring these residents organized and built over 600 homes, 2 daycare, set up a sewage system, a community centre, church, lobbied all levels of government successfully. Since then, they have not only created this Community Bank but also a local exchange/social currency (LETS) based on barter to keep money in the local economy. This approach has been replicated in hundreds of towns and cities across Brazil.
While BP still plays a key role in the local and national dialogue in support of a "solidarity economy," the situation in Brazil has changed quite dramatically. Two things stood out that seemed to be echoed in the other case studies in India, Indonesia and Ethiopia:
- How increasingly restrictive states have frustrated citizen analysis and action in terms of accountability and transparency. Critically, not only states require the vertical accountability but also other forms of visible and hidden power- the market, organized crime, for example. In a globalized world where the boundaries of state are contentious, hidden power becomes both more important to address and more challenging.
- The limitations of associational life in these circumstances. What does this mean for analysis and practice? And yet, what can they achieve? What conditions, what capacities strengthen their influence? Cultural dance and singing groups, interestingly, were critical glue for belonging and organizing locally. Underestimated in these discussions of political and economic and yet, potentially the building blocks for them.
More on Banco Las Palmas.
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A Reading List on Loss, Death and Will
Nox, Anne Carson
One Crow Sorrow, Lisa Martin
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
A Grief Observed, CS Lewis
Adieux: A Farewell to Sartre by Simone de Beauvoir
A Very Easy Death, by Simone de Beauvoir
H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
Goshawk, by TH Whyte
The Long Goodbye, Meahan O'Rourke
Freud, Beyond the Pleasure principle
Adam Philips, Darwin's Worms
Schopenhaur, The World as Will and Representation
Walter A. Davis, Deracination: Historicity, Hiroshima, and the Tragic Imperative
When Pain is the Doorway, Pema Chodron
Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, Alison Bechdel
Bough Down, Karen Green
The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh
Waters shedding shifting
stretching from Five Island Lake
to Seabright offering emptying
into the Bay
bogs below barrens
thick and wet with life
as a child I remember
the roar of the Woodens
the stumps, blackest
signs of eyes
small followed by
bigger followed by
tracks of fishers,
of forests past
two old friends
two first roads
bursting into their own
Granite & root, root & rock
rock & river
Trails inspiring silence
I hear the year’s first insect buzz
the Kinglets & Juncos
I see a Broad-winged Hawk
its slow circled trance
In the wild
we hear with our eyes,
green and rust,
a still lake.
we hear with our feet,
swoosh and glop
What's a little mud?
The forest is full of compensations
and death nestles
an elderly oak
or knobby-kneed beech
Specks of green
nub along branches of
The air so clear
you can see right through the rocks
breathe the granite in
Woods, you’re a
beguiling old man.
There are small creatures
clamouring at your ankles.
still some fern-flirting left in you.
Sunlight danced on the Bluff &
I felt the heartbeat of a birch
Roots, rocks carry me
Back to my sleeping self
Take me to the erratics
Remind me that this is life
We are residuals of history
and forces wild and errant
here in our bodies.
how I love the frog songs
the larch buds breaking
autumn blush of crowberry
spring velvet of the lady-slipper
dragonflies mating tale to neck
Black Felt Lichen sticks to granite
like bits of burned maps
tree roots muscle over muddy paths
Everything in proportion
and a space for us
On behalf of all the wild things that make this
land their home and with reverence for the First Peoples
who preserved this land before us, we dedicate
The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail to preservation.
We can do this
we will work together to
protect this sacred heritage
we trail runners who come weekly
we old friends making the four loop pilgrimage
we family of four plus two dogs
we Crew from England who will definitely be back
we friends from Quebec and BC and Spain and Minnesota
We 10 hiking babes
Troops of scouts and girl guides
We 2 fat guys doing our best
We couple reminding ourselves
what love looks like
outside of the city
we can camp, fish, hike
run, mess around,
collect wild edibles
we can do this
skinny dip in a lake
run the river
paddle full moons
we can take the kids
from screen to green
occupy the forest
keep her secrets
We can do this in trust
we can learn her deep beauty
delight in the wildness
that we share
with the earth and the water,
the spirits that inhabit us
We do this for all
that is teeming and wild
We do this forever
We do this in trust
This found poem was generated from
the monitoring books on the Bluff
Wilderness Trail and two poetry workshops
held on the trail. It is dedicated to Rich Campbell
whose vision and passion led the way.