Great Read! "Why Do We Turn to Stories in the Midst of a Disaster?" By Madeleine Wattenbarger (From LitHub)

 

Why Do We Turn to Stories
in the Midst of a Disaster?

ON NARRATIVE AND TRAUMA IN MEXICO CITY

"“In this version of the story, a disaster has a beginning, middle, and end, a narrative arc.”

Storytelling requires a listener, and post-disaster storytelling tends to take place in the context of communities, as Rebecca Solnit examines in her book A Paradise Built in Hell. “A major loss usually isolates us from the community, where no one else has suffered thus, and we are alone in being bereft of beloved or home or security or health,” she writes. “When the loss is general, one is not cast out by suffering but finds fellowship in it.” To an extent, communities are always held together by shared narratives—the Scriptures that undergird a religious community, or the histories that fraternity pledges commit to memory, or the origin stories that shape a nation. But Solnit argues that the shared experience of a disaster tends to create a new, momentary utopian community out of its victims. “[Disaster] drags us into emergencies that require we act, and act altruistically, bravely, and with initiative in order to survive or save the neighbors,” she writes. The suspension of everyday routine brings, if only briefly, a new social order...."

Read the full article from LitHub here

Explore More--Articles & Great FIction--on LitHub here

 

 

 

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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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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Great Read! "13 Books to Teach Children About Protesting and Activism" by Jackie Reeve (from Geek Mom)

"It’s a politically charged time to be alive in the US. Yesterday’s Women’s March brought out incredible numbers of people in cities and towns around the world who exercised what we consider a fundamental right in America. Maybe you had your young children with you, like I did. I realized while we were marching in a local protest that activism can be a hard thing to define to young kids. Keep the conversation going with these books that help explain and demonstrate what it’s all about...."

Read Jackie Reeve's Excellent List on Geek Mom

 

Collage by Jackie Reeve

Collage by Jackie Reeve

Creating Peace in Your Classroom- Three Things You Can Do Tonight by Amanda Baker

“Establishing peace is the work of education.”-Maria Montessori

We teachers love teacher movies. You know the ones I’m talking about- bad kids, low-performing schools, difficult administration, absent parents, and the rising star teacher who inspires the kids to “come together to learn and be their best selves.” And it works out every. single. time. “How do I DO THAT???” we ask from our post on the couch, covered in ungraded papers and potato chip dust. They make it look so good and so easy!

We want to create that sense of belonging in our own classrooms. We want to give our students that sense of peace that passes all understanding when they step through our doors. We want to be inspirational too! And so, we pack up our papers, adjust our ties and our attitudes, and head out in the morning ready to HAVE A GOOD DAY IN OUR CLASSROOMS AND CREATE OUR OWN PEACEFUL LITTLE COMMUNITY, DAMMIT.

And the same student that you normally have trouble with doesn’t respond to your smile and chirpy greeting of “Good morning! Welcome! It’s a great day to learn!” And the same skippers skip. And the same kid who is sullen is still sullen. That kid still got into a fight in the hallway. This kid still cussed out a fellow classmate. Your greeting didn’t matter. Your new lesson plan with an article about achieving inner peace, written by the Dalai Lama no less, and your carefully-crafted guided reading worksheet and thoughtful journal response flopped. Most of the kids refused to write the journal, and the worksheets had one or two-word answers that didn’t really make sense. You think, “If only this kid wasn’t in my room,” or “Uuuggghhhh… if those two kids were just different,” or instead of the awful “he’s/she’s a bad kid,’ we say the equally damning but more polite, “Well, she’s/he’s a ring leader, you know.” Insert extreme teacher eyeball roll here, add resigned slow head shake for full effect.

THOSE kids just RUINED it.

Relax. Take a deep breath.

One worksheet is not going to “fix” a decade or more of a chaotic home life, undiagnosed learning difficulties, substance abuse, physical abuse, neglect, or even a rumbly tummy from no breakfast and lunch.

Banishing one kid to in-school suspension every chance you get isn’t going to help your classroom climate more than temporarily. Blaming the classroom disruptions on one kid as the “ring leader” and wishing for their family to suddenly move away isn’t going to make your classroom Hollywood perfect either.

There are some things you CAN do, however.

Things that aren’t blinking neon arrows that say “HERE IS THE WAY TO PEACE AND HARMONY!” They are subtle and quiet, they don’t require you to chang e your seating chart (which we all know is a nightmare), or for you to send out “that kid” again.

1. Do some self-care.

Normally we teachers see this at the bottom of lists like these, as an afterthought. But you know that whole “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” cliché? It works for classrooms too. If you, dear teacher, are tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out, your classroom is going to feel that stress, and your stress negatively impacts everything you are trying to do. The University of Groningen in the Netherlands did a research study on the effects of teacher stress on students. They found that teachers “…who showed higher levels of stress at the beginning of the year displayed fewer effective teaching strategies over the rest of the school year, including clear instruction, effective classroom management, and creation of a safe and stimulating classroom climate for their students, than did the teachers with lower initial stress levels” (Sparks).

So, whatever you do to get unstressed, do that. Use the “check plus, check, check minus” grading system for some minor worksheets if it helps you clear that stack off the desk. Ride your bike after class. Force yourself to stop grading by a certain time so you can have time for a bath and a book. And do not feel guilty about it at. all. If you’re less stressed, then you’ll be more at peace, which means that feeling will carry over into your classroom too.

2. Watch your mouth.

Sometimes, we are own worst enemy. I teach high school, and every year I hear stories about “the mean thing that Ms. So-and-so called me when I was in 3rd grade…” or a class reminisces about how they drove Mr. So-and-so to yelling in 5th grade and how red his face gets. Those throw-away words stay with a kid FOREVER. They internalize the “Oh my god, why are you so stupid??” comments. They never forget the “You just need to shut up” snap. The frustrated “What is wrong with you? It’s a simple word!” sinks into the deepest parts of them, and it trickles up to effect that student’s response to every teacher they have after that. It’s hard for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and think, “Ohhhh… I’m the problem here,” but many times, we are. In the article “When The Teacher Is The Bully," one teacher admits that he bullied his students, particularly special education students. He was eventually forced to resign because of parent complaints. It took him three years to come to terms with the damage he had done, and when he returned to the classroom, he said he hasn’t raised his voice even once. Your mouth can wreck a kid for life.

3. Create a space for peace to live in your room.

“Flexible seating” is all the educational rage right now, and I am lucky enough for the first time in fourteen years to have a classroom big enough for a loveseat, a rug, and a pretty floor lamp… and thirty desks. You might not. But a rug under your desk, a glider rocker in the corner, and a nice desk lamp might be do-able. Pinterest is full of ideas for small classrooms spaces. The point is to create a physical place that the kids see, can access if they need it, and offers peace and quiet when needed. That bit of peace in your room might be the only peace they experience all day. And for a kid to know day after day, week after week that that space is there for them to use when they need it gives them something special to look forward to in your room. Montessori schools are experts at creating peaceful, safe spaces for their students. Their entire model is based on the “prepared environment” that makes for peaceful, productive learning. Make time to go check out one someday and see how it’s done.

Dear Teacher, you are the author of your own peace and the peace of your classroom. I’d like to say that my classrooms are always peaceful, but they aren’t. I teach teens, notorious for outrageous language and fights and rebellions, but every grade level is challenging for different reasons. I will say that I have very few arguments even though we discuss tough and controversial social issues. In fourteen years, I’ve had only two scuffles in my room. I do yell sometimes, but it’s mostly “STOP TALKING!!!” five thousand times. Last semester a kid gratefully threw their bookbag on the floor and sank in relief onto the couch and said, “I am so happy this couch is here. I really needed it today.” You and I can’t control what is going on at home. We have very little say in what they do from 3:30pm to 8am, sixteen hours of NOT us. In many schools, teachers aren’t allowed to touch their students at all, never mind give them the hugs they so desperately need.

We have a small window of opportunity to model for them what life CAN be like, what they can create for themselves and their futures, the endless possibilities of peace for all of us. Don’t waste it.

_____________________________________________

References

Kelmon, Jessica. “When The Teacher Is The Bully.” Great Schools, October 2017. https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/when-the-teacher-is-the-bully/

Miller, Alice Lawson. “Cultivating Peace In The Classroom.” Montessori Services, 2011. https://www.montessoriservices.com/ideas-insights/cultivating-peace-in-the-classroom

Sparks, Sarah. “How Teacher Stress Affects Students: A Research Roundup,” Education Week Teacher, June 2017. https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2017/06/07/how-teachers-stress-affects-students-a-research.html

________________________________________________

Amanda Baker is a member of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace. Mother, teacher, daughter, friend, writer, Amanda has been teaching high school English for fourteen years and in two states. Currently living in Southside Virginia, this Yankee transplant has been a waitress, a technical writer, a truck driver, a business owner, a corporate secretary, and an educator. In addition, she volunteers for the Halifax Dog Squad helping to rescue and transport dogs, and in the summers, she helps to sew costumes for The Prizery's Summer Theater Celebration. 

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AMAZING RESOURCE FOR EDUCATORS: "Starting at the Margins: An Invitation to Writing Our Civic Futures" (from Educator Innovator)

"We invite educators to a year of social reading, collaborative web annotation, and public conversation that explores our civic imaginations and literacy landscapes. As civic engagement changes and evolves, Writing Our Civic Futures will discuss and consider implications for connected learning and teaching...

In this collaboration, we partner with—and draw texts from—a range of educators, youth, scholars, media makers and journalists to think about the landscape of civic engagement and education while imagining ways that we can engage ourselves and our students as writers and makers of our civic futures. This project leverages the web annotation platform Hypothes.is, adding multiple voices to critical conversations about equity and education...."

How it works:

  • Writing Our Civic Futures will kick off the first week of October 2017 and runs through May 2018. See the Writing Our Civic Futures Syllabus for details!
  • The first week of each month a new reading will be posted on the syllabus as a live annotatable link for sharing and social annotation.
  • Related events happening that month will also be announced. CLTV broadcasts will be aired at educatorinnovator.org; follow @innovates_ed and #marginalsyllabus (on Twitter) to keep abreast of these opportunities.
  • We encourage your participation in the week-long annotation of each text, though readings will remain online throughout for annotation and discussion.
  • We encourage you to use these readings and the opportunity to annotate however it best works for you—organize a study group, bring a class you are teaching, engage as an individual, connect it to a meeting....."

Explore This Amazing Resource Here

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Important Read! "Am I Invisible? The Pain-Relieving Response to Being Rejected or Excluded" by Rachel Macy Stafford

Thanks to Sara Bausch for this share. 

“Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be. And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”

.....

"Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness."

Read Rachel's Post Here at Hands Free Mama

 

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INSPIRATION: "Young Activists Who Made History This Year" by Zing Tsjeng (from Broadly at Vice)

"When historians of the future look back on 2017, they'll probably agree with our current assessment of this year: It really, really sucked. From Trump rolling back Obama-era protections for transgender students to his travel ban on Muslim people, each month seemed to bring a fresh hell to look forward to. It's enough to make anyone flee to their nearest forest witch seeking succor and comfort.

Rather than sinking into despair and pulling out the motherwort, however, young people everywhere have taken the events of 2017 as a rallying call to stand up and challenge our increasingly abysmal status quo.

From trans rights activists like Gavin Grimm and Lily Madigan to mental health advocates like Elyse Fox and anti-Islamophobia campaigner Hebh Jamal, the world isn't short on inspiring individuals who made 2017 a little less hellish for people everywhere....."

Read More About These Amazing Young Activists 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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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 

GOOD READ: "Why Online Activism Is Important For Social Justice" by Sareeta Lopez (from The Wanderer)

"Why is online activism important? For one, the internet has completely changed the way people communicate. It is now a legitimate place to do something meaningful. Discussing social justice issues online is a valid form of communication through which we can learn to be better activists. Engaging on online forums, blogs, and other websites educates others AND yourself. Just because the medium may not be a printed magazine or a university stage does not make it worthless, especially now that our world is increasingly online. It is true that online activism may sometimes do more harm than good: with so much information out there, it’s common to find false information. While this is a flaw, we must be able to think critically about what we find on the internet...

"The fact that people are talking online means that dialogue is happening: something every social justice movement needs...."

"...Social media has given us an amazing tool: a way to connect with like-minded online activists, and community is one of the most important things for any activism. The most fantastic result is that online activism only helps offline activism. The number of offline conversations I’ve had around social justice issues, whether feminism or something else altogether, has definitely increased since I started sharing my blog with people I know in real life. People in my offline life have reached out to me because of my online activism, sharing very personal stories about their struggles and telling me that they are inspired to do things offline too. When someone shares with me, I know I’ve made a difference...."

READ SAREETA LOPEZ'S FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

ABOUT THE WANDERER

Conceptualized by a small group of students at the University of Alberta in the summer of 2012, the Wanderer has grown to a full-fledged Edmontonian publication that has produced over a 1000 articles to date. The Wanderer has always operated in an open environment that values creative freedom and autonomy, which has resulted in our diverse and dynamic content. With a writing team that continues to grow and is always seeking new talent, the Wanderer is committed to expanding our readership while maintaining the same spirit that has been unique to our publication since its inception."

CHECK OUT THE WANDERER HERE

 

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Social Justice Wizard: On Gaming & Accountability from Stephen Ownby

Hobbies are important. We need escape from the stress of what can seem from tweets and headlines to be a spiraling out of control society.

This is to say nothing of the pressures of work, school, friends, and family. Some people watch or play sports. Some read and many of us mainline TV shows from various streaming services. Me? I sit and yell about dragons and elves. I love tabletop card games and my main obsession is Magic: The Gathering. Most weekends I can be found slinging spells in hobby shops and in kitchens over drinks.

If my mentioning the 25-year-old trading card game summons images of entitled man-babies casting cards between misogynistic slurs that’s… not entirely unfair.

Magic, like much of nerd culture, is having to come to terms with its “boys' club” reputation.

While less high-profile than the recent kerfuffle over Star Wars daring to have strong female characters, and then the toxic mess that was “Gamergate,” Magic has had its fair share of scandals.

To their credit, Wizards of the Coast (the game’s publisher) has stepped up their social justice game. The YouTube content creator who was responsible for driving a cosplayer from the game was banned from organized play for life. Wizards have added LGBT and neurodiverse characters in several recent sets. While obviously still evolving and imperfect, it is nice to see this effort on a corporate level.

It’s too easy for me, a white cis straight man, to sit back and ignore the ongoing toxicity in the Magic community at a local level. “Society is progressing,” I might say, “it is only a matter of time before these issues are erased.” After all, I deserve to enjoy my hobby, right?

But the diverse gamers with whom I share tabletops deserve to enjoy it as well, and to enjoy it now.

Contrary to stereotypes, I play with kids and adults of multiple genders, races, orientations, and gender identities. The kids on the spectrum I play with deserve to play without hearing casual ableist slurs. The LGBTQ players deserve to play without hearing that an overpowered card is “gay.” The women that I play with, who are already asked too often which players’ girlfriends they are, as if that is the only reason they have taken an interest in the game, don’t deserve to have to sit next to cards sleeved with pictures of half-naked anime girls.

This where I have to be better.

I have to remind myself that, even it’s uncomfortable, I have to tell the kid at the next table that his racist joke isn’t cool. No matter how bad my work week has been, I have to call out casual utterances of “f*ggot” and “r*tard” when I hear them.

The game does not just belong to me, and as an enfranchised player, I have a voice to make the community better for everybody involved.

I have to do this even if it means having awkward conversations with store owners and tournament organizers. I cannot be perfect, but I have to be better. Now, especially now, hobbies are important for everybody.

________________________________________

Stephen Ownby is a member of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace. He graduated from Longwood University in 2010 with a BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. He writes, hopefully with increasing frequency, poetry and nonfiction about politics and culture. Stephen lives in Henrico County with his wife Carey and their two spoiled cats.

 

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Good Read: "The Food Activist Handbook" by Ali Berlow

"Small steps can create big changes in your community’s food quality and food security, helping to get more healthy food to more people and support a better food system. Ali Berlow shows you dozens of things that anyone can do, from creating a neighborhood kitchen for preserving fresh food to mapping farmland, connecting food pantries with food producers, starting a school garden, and organizing a community composting initiative. Every action you take can help keep farmers on the land and family farms intact, keep money in the local economy, reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation, and preserve local landscapes. If you’ve had enough of E. coli scares, disappearing farmland, pesticide problems, and hunger in your community, this inspiring book will show you exactly how one person really can make a difference."

"One person really can make a difference. From starting neighborhood kitchens to connecting food pantries with local family farms, Ali Berlow offers a variety of simple and practical strategies for improving your community’s food quality and security. Learn how your actions can keep money in the local economy, reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation, and preserve local landscapes. The Food Activist Handbook gives you the know-how and inspiration to create a better world, one meal at a time."

Read More on Ali Berlow & Buy The Food Activist Handbook Here

 

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GOOD READ: "10 Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism" from the ADL's Anti-Bias Education Resources

Never underestimate how powerful you are, how crucial your role in creating change, how integral your beautiful spirits to making the world better for everyone.

from the ADL's Anti-Bias Education Resources:

"Our country has a long history of youth-led movements that brought about significant social change. Young people have advocated for child labor laws, voting rights, civil rights, school desegregation, immigration reform and LGBT rights. Through their actions, the world has changed. Because young people often have the desire, energy and idealism to do something about the injustice they see in the world, they are powerful agents for change....

1. Educate others

2. Advocate for legislation

3. Run for office

4. Demonstrate

5. Create a public awareness campaign that includes social media

6. Do a survey about the issue and share the results

7. Raise money

8. Write a letter to a company

9. Engage in community service

10. Get the press involved

READ DETAILS & MORE IDEAS HERE

 

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"A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves" by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

Important Read.

"Two decades after O’Donohue’s beautiful words, we have somehow found ourselves in an era where even the brightest, kindest, most idealistic people spring to judgment — which is nothing other than negative wonder — in a heart-flinch. Questions invite instant opinions more often than they invite conversation and contemplation — a peculiar terror of wonder that O’Donohue presaged:

'One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them. This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise. We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wildness that is in our own hearts.'

Paradoxically, in our golden age of identity politics and trigger-ready outrage, this repression of our inner wildness and fracturing of our wholeness has taken on an inverted form, inclining toward a parody of itself. Where Walt Whitman once invited us to celebrate the glorious multitudes we each contain and to welcome the wonder that comes from discovering one another’s multitudes afresh, we now cling to our identity-fragments, using them as badges and badgering artillery in confronting the templated identity-fragments of others. (For instance, some of mine: woman, reader, immigrant, writer, queer, survivor of Communism.) Because no composite of fragments can contain, much less represent, all possible fragments, we end up drifting further and further from one another’s wholeness, abrading all sense of shared aspiration toward unbiased understanding..."

READ MORE HERE

 

What Does Peace Mean To You? We Want To Know! Submit Your Video to Peace Vines!

What does Peace mean to you?

We would love for you to join us in this conversation, one that needs to happen more now than ever!

Check out the full details on our Current Projects page! 

If you're interested in submitting a video for inclusion in Peace Vines:

  • Make your video, no more than two minutes, talking from the heart about what peace means to you.
  • Upload your video as Unlisted to Youtube
  • Then send the link for your video, with the words Peace Vines in the subject line, to the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace at the following email: wfpcentralvirginia (at) gmail (dot) com

For the camera shy, you don't have to appear on the video. We'll happily edit images with your audio.

(If you've already agreed to submit a Peace Vines video, if we could get those by January 15th, that'd be awesome! <3 Thank you for sharing your wisdom!)

We can't wait to hear from you! Peace, y'all! 

 

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