Good Read! "Comic book artists and survivors address gun violence" by Chauncey K. Robinson (from People's World)

...

he anthology contains over 70 stories from over 150 different creators who collaborated with Las Vegas locals to come up with both fictional and eye-witness accounts. One hundred percent of the proceeds for the “Where We Live” anthology will be donated to the nonprofit organization Route91Strong, which seeks to help “survivors with support through financial assistance hope, strength, change, and love.”

One of the contributors, best-selling author Neil Gaiman, remarked about the project, “It’s a strange place, this time and this country, in which having tools that can only be used to murder is seen as human right… It’s about wounds and healing, about death and forgiveness, about pain and childhood and the dark. I hope it helps make people think, and I’m honored to be part of the conversation....."

Read the full article here on People's World

Buy the anthology Where We Live here from ImageComics

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Great Read! Walking Wildwood Trail by Artist, Activist, & Poet Amelia Williams

Amelia Williams is an artist/poet/activist from the Rockfish Valley area of Nelson County, Virginia, and author of Walking Wildwood Trail: Poems and Photographs.

Walking Wildwood Trail is more than just a beautiful books of poems. It is a brilliant artful act of protest against the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Amelia is planting copyrighted art works with poems incorporated into them along the pending path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and copyrighting the entire installation.

When the proposed pipeline path was changed, another alarmed landowner contacted Amelia, and she started a second series of art installations. The newest project in Bath County consists of three parts in a large triangle, each separated by a thirty minute walk from the next, made of materials that include rocks, bone, copper pipe and jewelry parts. They represent the pipeline itself, the blast zone for construction, and the threatened homes.

Williams decided to begin this creative journey when she read about Canadian artist Peter von Tiesenhausen, who waylaid a mining company when he registered his 800 acres as intellectual property in the form of land art.

Now Amelia is teaching others how to do this, both the art and the copyright process, in an ongoing fight against the construction of this dangerous pipeline through farmlands, old growth woodlands, national forest, and near homes and schools.

“Amelia’s artworks are designed with place in mind; the sixteen on the Wildwood Trail are in muted earth tones and made of biodegradable materials. They will not be permanent in the landscape. A GPS map and trail map allow people to track down each piece, often located off the ground in trees. Working with wool, recycled paper, wood, found materials and beeswax, both plain and colored, her work looks almost as if it has grown there.”

Read More About Amelia’s Art Activism Here

Buy Amelia’s Beautiful Book Here!

Proceeds donated to Wild Virginia for the battle against construction.

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Good Read! "Visualizing the invisible: Arab women artists reveal untold stories" by Aisha Doherty (from Middle East Eye)

Arab women artists talk to MEE about breaking stereotypes, pushing boundaries and succeeding where politicians have failed

"I make autobiographical works about my identity and childhood, but I am rarely featured in it. I am always the observer rather than the one being observed," ElKalaawy said. 

ElKalaawy says that the West only shows interest in the Middle East, including Egypt, her country of origin, in times of unrest, rather than for its art and cultural scene.

I noticed my homeland and the Middle East in general do not really matter to the world other than at times of crisis 

- Nada ElKalaawy, artist

“When I relocated to the West, I noticed my homeland and the Middle East in general do not really matter to the world other than at times of crisis,” ElKalaawy said. “I feel responsible for showing the Western world what the place I come from looks like and to share the Egypt I know with others."

Read This Artist's Story and More Here

Art in the Age of Understanding by Joel Worford

Art shifts with culture while culture shifts with art—making it difficult for us to determine which one needs to change first when we decide something needs to change.

The popular idea that the artistic community holds the progressive mentalities while everybody else lags behind is largely a misconception.

Consider this: the lead single from Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic contains the clearly misogynistic line “bad bitches and their ugly ass friends,” among others, yet that didn’t stop the song from winning Record of the Year or from selling over one million units in less than 12 months. Some would argue that the success of Mars’ music, along with the success of a number of popular Hip-Hop, Country, RnB and Rock artists who play large stadiums and sell millions of records every year, regardless of the antiquated stance their music may take towards women, or the problematic ways they may represent race and/or sexuality comes down to the difference between popular music circles and underground music circles. This idea falls apart, however, when one considers that, even within the independent music scene, artists tend to separate themselves by genre—genres built around cultures whose make-up often reflects the prejudices and racial distinctions of the United States’ socio-economic situation.

As art shifts and shapes with culture, its communities grapple with the cultural climate of the time, just like any other group.

So how are movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo affecting artists? Surely the same musicians who perform at The Women’s March and speak out against bigotry and hate on social media are taking such ideas into account while they’re producing and presenting their art?

I believe the difference is small, yet substantial in the way that it manifests. I listen to Bruno Mars’ new album and enjoy the 90s throwback style quite a bit, yet as a working musician and singer-songwriter myself, I would never cover the song 24K Magic, because that one line about “bad bitches and their ugly ass friends” makes me uncomfortable. The reason it makes me uncomfortable is because I understand that it makes some of my friends who are women uncomfortable. This understanding is crucial, and represents the moment where the conversations brought to the forefront by Black Lives Matter and #MeToo begin to influence culture. As people begin to understand one another differently, culture will shift to accommodate, and so will art. When I listen to Bruno Mars’ new album, I skip that song, because the moments of misogyny take me out of the album’s groovaliciousness and remind me of the stories that my roommate tells about her negative experiences with men—some of whom surely mistreat women because they hold mentalities similar to the ones Mars glorifies in his song.

Skipping that song is my choice, just like it was Bruno Mars’ choice to write that line, record ’24K Magic,’ and include it on his album.

Both choices are valid—to regulate art and creation would be to regulate conversation, and such artistic stifling isn’t conducive to understanding. Our choices are just different, and reflect different ideas. I wouldn’t say that my choice is so much an act of protest as it is an act of necessity. Why should I listen to a song if it makes me uncomfortable? With that, you could ask—why should Bruno Mars change his song if he feels comfortable with it? Plenty of people, both men and women, love the song, and that line.

As society shifts in response to conversations on human rights and morality, the way we interact with each other will change, and the way we interact with art will change. Lyrics deemed bigoted or misogynistic will cause songs to fall out of the mainstream, and at that point, it will be the artist’s choice on whether to change with society, or to try and change it back.

___________________________________________

Joel Worford is a singer-songwriter from Richmond, Virginia. He currently studies English at Longwood University with a concentration in Creative Writing. Joel’s short story “The Naked Eye” appears in the 2017 edition of Good Works Review.

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Great Read! "What Is Literary Activism?" by Amy King (from Poetry Foundation)

"This past summer, I was asked to talk about my literary activism as part of an acceptance speech for an award I was receiving. This request threw my current actions into sharp relief. Was I doing "literary activism"? How to define if this is a thing and not simply a medium used on behalf of another movement (I.e. a poem as vehicle a movement can utilize)? Or is literary activism stepping back and looking at how the cogs and wheels of the literary world go together or grind and crunch in order to respond critically?...."

Read the rest of Amy's excellent article here.

Visit Amy King's website here. 

 

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Who We Are & Why We Care: WFP Member Profile: Courtney Rose

Hi! My name is Courtney Rose and I am an aspiring wedding planner and flash writer from Richmond, as well as a member of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace.

As an only child growing up in a single-parent household, I have always been curious about the concept of family—what it means for me, as well as for others, and for humanity in general (For example: For me, the idea of family is inherently female.). This led me to pursue a career in marriage where I have the opportunity to start two people off on the right foot through their wedding, most people’s idea of the traditional start of a “family.”

Family dynamics tend to be prominent in my writing. I have always been a very observant person, and, as a child, I noticed how different my friends’ home lives were from mine—sometimes better, sometimes much, much worse. I became hyper aware of divorce, abuse, hunger, and homelessness. My writing is an extension of that hyper-awareness: how family is defined, and how the idea of family survives (or doesn’t) in suffering.

I am involved in Writing for Peace because words have the power to open eyes and hearts. Too often we use words to divide us, but I believe that a far better purpose for our words is to connect us. Peaceful activism is so important in our society, perhaps now more than ever. Not everyone has money or time to donate to a cause, but everyone has a voice.

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Resource: Richmond Young Writers!

Looking for something awesome for kids to do? Check out Richmond Young Writers! 

Richmond Young Writers is a creative writing incubator for ages 9-17. We write, we read, we laugh, we cry, we get messy, we polish things up, we bond. We make each other better.

RYW offers once-a-week fall and winter/spring after-school workshops in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, comics, and other topics.

In the summer, we offer 18 different week-long creative writing camps, complete with amazing guest author appearances, snacks, deep thoughts, wordy goodness and a new crew of crazy writer friends.

About

Richmond Young Writers was founded in the summer of 2009 at Chop Suey Books with the intention of introducing young people to the joy of creative writing through workshops taught by professional writers in the community. Our workshops are now held right down the street at 2707 West Cary Street.

Full and partial scholarships are offered in each workshop to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in our programs.

We have had the pleasure of writing with young people ages 8-17 from Richmond, Henrico, Glen Allen, Ashland, Chesterfield, Midlothian, Montpelier, Powhatan, Moseley, Mechanicsville, Afton, Rockville, Gloucester, Charlottesville and more.

Learn More Here

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Must Read! Thirteen Types of Activism by Roland O. Watson

THIRTEEN TYPES OF ACTIVISM

"The following are the standard types or methods of modern activism:

1. Volunteer: Volunteer on your own or with interested groups to assist disadvantaged and underprivileged people, and threatened species and habitats. In an international context, volunteer to work in refugee camps, at local schools and medical care clinics, or for some other NGO (non-governmental organization). There is a huge network of volunteer organizations around the world, and once you are part of it, once you start volunteering, it is easy to find new and fascinating opportunities.

2. Grassroots activism: Found or join community, student or other groups and then engage in “tabling,” where you set up a table at some social event and hand out literature and talk about your cause. In addition, such events are often supplemented with, or designed around, activist speakers and performances and exhibitions by activist artists.

The objective of grassroots activism is to increase the publicity of, and most importantly the support for, your cause. You particularly want to engage the interest and if possible the involvement of members of the different groups that are being negatively affected. Your goal is to organize them, to pull them out of their complacency and defeatism, and to assist them in their opposition.

For activism to be effective, we must organize large-scale movements to express discontent and to demand change, movements of such a size that they cannot be ignored. But to do this, we will have to find ways to unify the disparate sources of rebellion that exist, including environmentalists, workers, students, ethnic and indigenous rights activists, religious groups, and even the disaffected individuals who listen to gangsta rap and hard core rock. Further, we must solicit the concern of those individuals who one day will suffer the most, if we are unable to solve our problems: schoolchildren. (They must be recruited as well, to help protect the world they are destined to inherit.)

Activists also must recognize that only one thing, historically, has led to large-scale rebellion: the deaths of a great number of people. Rebellion has never been instigated by the destruction of nature (although the taking of land has been a contributing factor in some popular movements). This is a reflection of human chauvinism, that we only get upset when bad things happen to us. For example, this is one of the reasons why the debate over genetic engineering is finally starting to gain some prominence: it involves a threat to people. (The history of the twentieth century included a number of significant victories against government repression, but far fewer against environmental destruction.)

Lastly, there is the problem that activism is usually reactive. We assume, because we are ethical, that other people are as well; that they have a conscience and are not wholly dominated by personal selfishness. Then, when they demonstrate that they are so dominated, we have to react.

To be effective we must build large-scale movements, and we must anticipate this: we must be proactive, and unpredictable....."

Read the Rest of This Important List Here

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Friday Hashtag #ReadersResist, from Writers Resist: Write Our Democracy

"Words are the tools writers use to create change, but without readers what we write cannot come alive. Readers must be at the heart of this movement. We invite you to resist normalizing "alternative" truth and narratives that contradict the bedrock principles of our country. Resolve to seek out and share truth and initiate inspired conversations. Together we can shift the narratives that define our future and help recover democracy.

On Fridays join us on social media with the hashtag #ReadersResist and share prose passages, articles, photos, poems, or any written material that demonstrates the solace, resolve, and resistance so essential to renewing our democracy.

Learn More About Writers Resist: Write Our Democracy Here

 

GOOD READ: Your Turn: 4 Things You Can Do to Honor Martin Luther King in 2018 by Carlos Galindo-Elvira (from The Arizona Republic via ADL)

(From ADL--This article originally appeared in The Arizona Republic)

"As we head toward another day of remembering Dr. King, his own words are most suited for the moment: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”

4 tangible things you can do

"King's work is far from over. Here are things to do in 2018:

1. Work in a bipartisan effort with state legislators to codify a standalone criminal provision for hate crimes. The law should be more inclusive and comprehensive, covering hate crimes based on race, religion, ethnicity and national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability......

2. Support a clean Dream Act – one that gives “dreamers” a path to citizenshipwithout other stipulations attached, such as border-wall funding. It's a moral imperative.....

3. Ask Congress to support the full restoration of the Voting Rights Act.....

4. Shrink the space for extremists to grow and thrive......"

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

Learn more about the Anti-Defamation League Here

 

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GREAT ART: Inside Out/Dreamers, A Participatory Collective of the Inside Out Project

"We are here to start a small business, write a song, find a cure, open a law firm, become a teacher, discover a new star, bring home a gold medal, develop new technologies, and so much more – If you give us that chance. We are the same as every immigrant who has come before us. Filled with dreams. Determined to contribute. See our potential. We are all here.

And our story is an American story."

"In the face of the Administration’s decision to rescind DACA, Emerson Collective is participating in the Inside Out/ Dreamers project to provide communities and local leaders a unique platform to amplify their voices.

Beyond any political debate about dreamers, these portraits remind us that behind the policies are real human stories that are deeply rooted in the story of this country. Inside Out/ Dreamers aims to represent the diversity and unity of people that can call America home. It is a nationwide participatory art initiative aimed at creating a portrait of America that includes immigrants and the descendants of immigrants alike.

The project takes part in Inside Out, a global participatory art project initiated by the award-winning artist JR to pay tribute to the power and dignity of individuals by displaying their portraits in public spaces around the world. People share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into works of public art...."

Visit the Inside Out/Dreamers Project Here

Find Out When the Inside Out Photobooth Trucks Will Be Near You

Learn more about the Inside Out Project Here

From the Inside Out/Dreamers website

From the Inside Out/Dreamers website

Good Read: "Art and social change: Five artists with a cultural strategy for change" by Sara Z.E. Hughes (From the American Friends Service Committee)

From the American Friends Service Committee

"As an artist committed to racial and economic justice, it can be difficult to navigate the arts and activism worlds. They can range from a pressure to abandon history and have beauty be “apolitical” to a pressure to be outright, literal and dogmatic at all times. There’s few pathways laid out for those of us trying to navigate that space in between. 

For me, the role of artists in social change movements is not to just provide visuals for activists’ communication strategies and immediate needs, but rather to develop what artist Favianna Rodriguez calls a “cultural strategy” to help shift the way people think about the world. It’s our job to imagine the possibilities, shift the thinking on individuals and situations through our representations of them, to explore the grey areas that make humans complicated and interesting, and to uplift the hope and resilience of communities we are a part of to sustain them. 

Here’s a list of five artists who are people I look to as models of how to do this kind of cultural work. Each of them is creating work within their discipline to initiate the conversation with their audiences of what it would look like if everyone’s humanity was truly recognized...."

READ ABOUT THESE FIVE AMAZING ARTISTS HERE

 

Robert Karimi, Performance Artist, The People's Cook 

Robert Karimi, Performance Artist, The People's Cook