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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

http://kathang-pinay2.blogspot.com/ -- I started a new blog. It's about time, enit?

Blogger is weird. I am not able to post new ones but I can edit the old posts....

Free Speech TV coverage of the USSF

Peoples Movement Assemblies
Process
History

My education about the World Social Forum and the US Social Forum has just begun. Although I have known of the WSF and USSF, I haven't felt connected to it...until now. This first time attendance at the USSF is like kindling to the next steps that I know I will be thinking about a lot. Not just thinking but acting and making decisions to support the movement from my own location/position. Another world is possible. Another US is necessary. Another Detroit is Happening. Yesterday, before leaving Detroit we went to Avalon Bakery. This is one of the gems in Detroit and just one of the many social entrepreneurships sprouting all over the city -- urban gardens, coops, Heidelberg project, Urban Network, Catherin Ferguson School, Boggs Center, ALlied Media Project. As we drove in around the city on my last day in Detroit, seeing the devastated neighborhoods, burnt and abandoned houses ...somehow it didn't sadden me. Perhaps it was the surprise of urban gardens sprouting around the city; all the good news I heard about community grassroots organizing; the people I met who work tirelessly in feeding the homeless; or those experimenting in intentional communities; or those marching to stop foreclosures, to stop incinerators in their neighborhoods; to stop the city from gentrifying the city and abandoning the poor -- these and so many other stories and especially the voice of 95-yr old Grace Lee Boggs talking about the hope, the re-spiriting, the re-imagination of Detroit -- all of these encouraged me and inspired me.
If Detroit is a mirror into the future that we are facing as we move into the post-peak oil phase, I am wondering how to transition. Transition movements are all over the US now...and one of the main hubs is right in my backyard - Sebastopol. But how to plug in?


I suppose the answer will reveal itself. What is important is that the question has been raised.


Thank you, USSF. Thank you, Detroit.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

continued....

I picked up enough literature from various organizations to fill up a small suitcase. So much to learn about the many sites of resistance and sites of creativity. It is also interesting to see how decentralized this entire event has been and most amazing to see the leadership  of young people. Grace Lee Boggs' emphasis in all of her talks is about the need to give young folks every opportunity to develop their leadership skills, share with them an alternative vision, and then let them take responsibility.
***
On Friday, I spoke briefly with one young black man from Detroit on the way to a rally at the Chase tower (to stop foreclosures); he is a junior in high school and is planning to move to California and go to Berkeley. He is part of a youth organization (didn't catch the name) and he said most of the members had returned to Berkeley and he was asked to document the rest of the forum so he was running back and forth between events with his video camera.

The rally at Chase Bank was successful as the management decided to meet with the organizers to discuss the demands of the community to stop the foreclosures. Another rally today (Sat) was held at the proposed incineration site. There was twice the size of rallyists at this site than at Chase.

There was also a Healing Walks led by the Indigenous People's Assembly from Cobo to Fort Wayne. It is a 5-mile walk. I wonder how many went with the group. I wasn't able to go.
***
One of the objectives of the USSF was to support the Detroit communities that are being assaulted by the plans of the city government to: close all the public schools and turn them over to private entities; to contract the size of Detroit and gentrify within city limits. From what I've learned, the communities that are going to be most affected by these changes have not been consulted. So now these communities are mobilizing, creating alternatives and showing the city government the potential for re-envisioning and re-spiriting the city. The new slogan 'Detroit City of Hope' is the mantra around here. Very encouraging. and very scary.
***
On Thursday night, the forum celebrated Grace Lee Boggs' 95th birthday. Two hours wasn't enough to have time for all the thanksgiving and expressions of gratitude for her commitment to Detroit for more than have a century. Today, another bday party at the Boggs Center was a continuation of those praises. But Vince HArding reminded those present that Grace will not always be around and so he gave those present the charge to continue the great work of the Boggs Center.


Day 4

The dialogue between Immanuel Wallerstein and Grace Lee Boggs  brought into focus what most folks at this forum already know: Capitalism is in crisis. We need to develop new ways of thinking and being beyond oppositional thinking, beyond hierarchies, beyond consumption. We need to organize our communities and imagine alternatives to the present way of living.

Wallerstein:  Capitalism as a world system is racist!! 

**
PM: I went to the Indigenous People's Assembly organized by the Indigenous Environmental Network
Notes:
* The USSF must link the Indigenous People's movements of the Global South with the Global North.
* Re the politics of "Another World is Possible" at the USSF in relation to IPS: what about issues of reparations? decolonization and healing? enrollment lists? How to be visible within USSF? What should other movements do to support native communities?
* USSF in Detroit (based on lessons learned from USSF Atlanta) was able to plan and prioritize the inclusion of Native Peoples in the USSF.

Day 5
Can another world be possible that is not rooted in the experience of the subaltern? (workshop title)
This workshop is about the process of the World Social Forum and the US Social Forum.

Bill Copeland (Detroit organizer): USSF Detroit planning meetings were about:
* The role of culture and the political culture of USSF (Intellectual and linear)
* Generational shift: can we trust the youth as leaders?
* Local Detroit history: against globalization
* Role of Allied Media Project
* How can USSF benefit Detroit?
* Gaps between Black and Indigenous communities - how to bridge
* Low tech vs high tech
* Youth organizing (strengths and weaknesses)
* Political question for Detroit: what does it mean to hose the USSF?

to be continued....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3
I missed the Indigenous Water Ceremony and so I went to the qi gong session in Cobo and then walked around the vendor tables before the 10am session.

AM: Attended Gabriela USA session on "militant global women's movement in the 21st century". Kudos to Lolan Sevilla and her crew for this workshop which was well attended (about 40). Good mix of folks from various backgrounds. It's good to see Fil Ams represent at the USSF.  Bayan USA and IBON North America are also doing a workshop tomorrow.

I felt that two hours is not enough time for the workshop to come up with answers to the question: How should a militant global women's movement in the 21st century look like? But we tried. I specially found this question difficult to answer because my relationship with the "women's movement" has always been ambivalent (and I explained why in the small working group). I liked the answers of the two young women in my small group:  Creativity is needed for a militant movement.

PM: Attended Word and World session on Sabbath Economics. Bro in law and sister led the first part of this session. Jim provided the biblical context for Sabbath economics and then Lily led the group in the interpretation of MAtthew 20 (Parable of the Vineyard Landlord and Workers) ala theatre of the oppressed. The purpose of the exercise was to learn to read the parable as a political cartoon, to read it against the grain and hopefully, the participants would come up with a reading of the parable that is critical of imperial economies; a reading that questions  the very notion of "owning the land"; or a reading that questions the concept of work vs job, wage fraud and wage theft, etc....

Following this exercise a fishbowl session with Grace Lee Boggs and Vince Harding (look them up if you don't know who they are), Jenny Lee, Lisa Richter, Julio Guerrero -- all were tasked with telling local stories of "Another Detroit is Happening"...

Grace framed the discussion by providing the historical context of Detroit in the 50s to the Detroit of the present - its industrial rise to its decline in the present. Seminary-Sanctuary-Streets -- these are the interconnected parts of the faith-based movement that is a key player in re-imagining Detroit as a City of Hope. The other panelists then told stories about Detroit Summer, Allied Media Project, Urban agriculture projects, and labor movements that are revitalizing Detroit and leading the rest of the country in modeling the values (sustainability, spirituality, grassroots/localization) that will undergird our communities in the future.

Vince Harding provided the inspiration on how to continue to struggle. It is a time of opportunity and it is a dangerous time. But transformation happens because people like Grace Lee Boggs choose to stay and build a community.

I'm glad I was at this session. Learned a lot about many of the things that Detroit is doing right...

Here's photo with Grace Lee Boggs and sis Lily.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2

Joined the small group from the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and St Peter's Church (as my host is affiliated with this group) and we met up with the rally right in front of the seminary. The USSF Marshal told us to join just past the globe -- the giant inflated balloon - that has been present at each social forum. So as we walked right alongside the balloon, I soon noticed that perhaps one of the girls carrying one corner of the balloon needed a little relief so I volunteered to take her place. It was heavy!! But happy to, for a change, carry the world on my shoulders.



Turns out the young woman was with the Transition movement in Madison, Wisconsin...working in a farming coop.

Go to the USSF website to see the hundreds of groups represented. As I was marching, a young Pinay woman in front of me was with a group, WES PAC, from New York. I asked her if she has seen other PInays, she said she hasn't...but that she would like to see more representation of Fil Ams at the forum.

I'm glad I'm here.  The leaders of the USSF march included the Native communities from the metropolitan Detroit area and beyond. They also blessed the opening ceremonies with their ritual song and dance and prayer. However, the plenary hall was packed with folks who were socializing and meeting up with their crews and so it felt like the Indigenous Rituals were not truly respected. Yes, there were attentive folks in the audience but for the most part, there was just too much excitement in the air. Not that these rituals need to be solemn or anything....but people should be respectful.

There were greetings from various sectors of Detroit including a Filipina poet, Aurora Harris. Bill Copeland, a local poet who is battling cancer (I was told) and waiting for a kidney transplant, delivered his famous "Breathe In, Breathe Out" poem. Hip hop took center stage as well as other performing groups.

Finally saw some Pinay sisters from Gabriela...only because one was sporting a babaylan tattoo in Baybayin. When I introduced myself to Claudia, she asked 'did you write a book about decolonization?" and I said yes and she jumped up from her seat to hug me. Sweet. Gabriela will be doing their workshop tomorrow Wed. Also saw Riya working as a volunteer as a door watcher at Cobo Hall. Muki texted but we haven't met yet.

Early day tomorrow starting with an Indigenous Water Ceremony at 8am....

Monday, June 21, 2010

US Social Forum

This 10-yr old forum has 22,000 registered! When I was touring downtown Detroit on Sunday, the streets were almost empty (very little traffic). Today, we did a dry-run of the walk from home to the venue site (over 1mile).

The workshops plus cultural programs plus all kinds of other spaces... is overwhelming. I don't even know where to begin. My instinct is just to let things unfold. Maybe I'll have a better sense after tomorrow's rally and opening ceremonies.

It's strange that I have not attached myself to a group. Almost everyone that's coming is affiliated with a group or a movement.

Well, I suppose there's enough to learn by just being around 22,000 people who are imagining 'another world"...I should feel right at home.

I just need to find my 'family' here....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Babaylan book is dedicated to Kalpna Mistry.

You would have turned 30 on June 13.
Thank you, Kalpna, for inspiring and challenging me to forge ahead and create energy out of the abundance and beauty of my indigenous Filipina soul.
The Babaylan conference brought together folks who have been hiding in the woodwork, laboring alone with their love for indigenous Filipino knowledge and practices. They are artists, storytellers, healers, educators, mothers, sisters, daughters, activists, scholars -- we all came together, Kalpna, and in my heart I held you or you held me close.  I know you were there in the midst of it all. You were happy with me and Miriam. You were happy with the community that was gathered there.  You helped me create this container - yes, it is a container - for all these precious gifts that we have.

My grief was transformed as I slowly learned the lessons I needed to learn about death and departures. Katrin said death doesn't separate us, there is only a veil between us and that if I want to, I can talk to you anytime. So here I am, Kalpna, talking to you, writing to you as if we're only separated by time. In mythic time, there is no separation. We are one. We are kapwa.

My teaching has been transformed, too. This past semester I changed the way I teach. I remember the stories you told about your classroom and how you connect with students and I wanted to be that kind of teacher. I wanted to be passionate and uninhibited by stale norms. And I did and it was fun and it created community.

Dear Kalpna, please continue to be my guide. I have much to learn.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Gift from Mila Anguluan Coger today.

Dearest Leny and Katrin,

Today is Philippine Independence Day.  It is a symbolic day as it is the day that I am finally starting to write the draft to my pilot project, the prelude to my dissertation, after months and months of wandering among reams and reams of Eurocentric theories and frameworks that I feel the academe requires me to use in my proposed study. 

It is my own claim to independence, the act of freeing myself from my own internalized oppression, as a minority PhD student who has been struggling to find meaning and coherence amidst the white dominated academic landscape.  I have been increasingly frustrated going around the circle of these alien theories, seemingly lost and yet now, realizing that this experience is the labyrinth necessary so that I can find my inner self; and in finding, be able to speak my own voice and write my own paper, guided by my own intuitive knowledge and practices of the Filipino indigenous way of life. 

I am once more moved by what you both have written, as they echo with deepest resonance my longing to express who I am and the sacred, timeless space I share with you and with all my other fellow Filipinos and life sojourners. 

Today I declare my writing as grounded on the Kapwa Theory of Transformative Decolonization:  the theory of liberation through indigenization, starting from the self and positing the self as inseparable from a collective bound by ties to the ancient and the sacred.  I shall use this theory as the guiding star that has been accompanying me throughout my journey for freedom and total artistic expression, first in the Philippine homeland, continuing to America , my adopted land, and visioning this position as the springboard to a worldview and movement for Indigenous Liberation through the expressive arts therapies.

Today is my day of declaration of independence.  I pray to Bathala for continuing illumination, strength and perseverance.  I pray for your continuing support, guidance and nurturing. 

I thank you with my tears flowing from the heart.

Mila   


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