Hey Folks… MPLS based writer, Safy Farah and collaborators are in the process of launching a new publication project, 1991, a zine about the past and present written and produced from the perspective of young Somali-Americans artists and authors. It looks like a fantastic project and deserves all the support it can muster to get off the ground. If you have the ability, here’s an opportunity to help with a current fundraiser for the publication.
Now more than ever.
Critical downtime in the Kickapoo, aka; Driftless logic.
This past week I closed up Beyond Repair for a few days to head out with Louis into Ho Chunk land within the Driftless region of southeastern, Wisconsin at the invitation of Nicholas Brown and Sarah Kanouse. Nick and Sarah are part of an old, extend crew of “critical spacial practice” artists from around Chicago that I fell into orbit with about 17 years ago now. The reason for our gathering, and the many thoughts that have arisen from it, I’ll get to at length in writing soon. My experiences over the last few days were rich, complex, and inspiring, not the least of which can be attributed to having spent so many days with people whose desires, imaginings, actions, and ethics I admire so much. But for now I wanted to briefly comment on our experience together with Bill Quackenbush, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation, and our guide for a long and deeply effecting tour through Ho Chunk land within the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. I think it helped a lot that I had visited parts of the reserve with Nick and the kids last summer to climb “Blackhawk Rock.” Having a small taste of the area allowed me the perspective to look on it freshly through another perspective. As with our gathering in full, our time with Bill I’ll need more time to reflect upon, but for now, I want to, in some fashion, simply let the world know how effecting our experience with Bill on his tribal land was. His ability to distill, expand, and complicate ideas around the environmental, social, and historical landscape that he shared with us provided me a wealth of ideas and histories to consider, not least of which was how the land itself allows us to read stories about ourselves, and in turn, tell stories about our present and future.
I love being in rural areas, but I was born in New York City and have spent the majority of my day-to-day life in cities. Bill’s deft ability in sharing the social histories and tools embedded within the tribal land of the Ho Chunk has opened up new ways for me to think about time and our time here together. I am grateful for the experience and plan on giving all that was provided us as much time in return as we were offered.
For the recent G20 meeting of “world leaders” in Hamburg, Germany hundreds of activists staged an action, dressing like the walking dead in gray clothes and faces, passively walking the streets, they illustrated the myriad effects which can, do, and may in the future result from the callous, petty, and greedy actions of the summit attendees. They did this not simply with catchy (or tired) slogans, posters, or even throwing trash bins threw the windows of Starbucks. They did this by visually distilling into abstract all that is possible when we choose money, power, and nationalism, over consideration, solidarity, peace, and cooperation. It was an astounding, and brilliant demonstration and serves, not simply as a wake up call, but a pivot point for all of us. What matters? What more can we do? What haven’t we done? What may come in the future? We need more of this.
Radio days are coming to Beyond Repair very soon. Got a program you want to organize? Get ready for W R/L F/R (With Radical Love & Fierce Resistance Radio).
So much of the violence we experience in America is mediated, composed through the prism of culture, critique, justification to the point of turning people into talking points, objects to be moved around a chessboard. But like so many names that have become familiar over the last few years, Philando Castile was not a chess piece. He was, of course, a human being with family and friends who loved him dearly. There are more people than I expected, who I know in real life, who have been directly effected by this tragedy. People who have to find the words and the courage to tell their children that someone they cared for, counted on, trusted is no longer among the living. People I know who had to brace themselves for the reaction after they told their child, “Mr. Phil was murdered.” If we can allow the repetition of the process of degradation and murder in America for the sake of controlling blackness, then we must force ourselves towards the same style of repetition in the reverse, telling ourselves and others, one time and one time more, that Philando Castile was a human being. Philando Castile was not an object. Philando Castile was not put on this earth to be made an example of.
All municipalist meetings should be followed by a barbecue. Or, preceeded by, or take place during.
Another thoughtful and inspiring gathering around municipalist strategies yesterday as we read over the draft of the Barcelona en Comu International Committees statement for starting municipalist platforms in America. Much to unpack; from ideas around pluralism, difference, power, and notions of commonness, there’s obviously a lot of cultural and political translation to be done between a European and American municipalist model. And yet, so much to grab on to, desire, feel energized and inspired by. An aspect that stuck out for me which bridged this cultural divide was the necessity to begin and aggressively maintain a desire to build critical connections around ideas between people and existing publics, maintaining a close but healthy distance from the electorate. This isn’t to say that an “authentic” municipalist platform will avoid electoral politics, more so that it will access the electorate as a means and not an end. Much more to unpack, many more connections to form and sustain, and more barbecues to have after our get-togethers as well, because you know, those are where those critical connections take root.