Going to CTCnet Con in Cleveland

This Thursday I’m flying out to Cleveland, Ohio for the Community Technology Centers Network (CTCnet) 14th Annual Conference. I’ve never been to Cleveland. It’s part of my AmeriCorp VISTA service with the CTCnet VISTA Project. [Thanks to the Durham Literacy Center for paying my way.] I’m really looking forward to seeing all the Boston folks and the other VISTAs I met last September. It’ll be fascinating to hear what everyone has learned and see how folks are holding up. I plan on doing some podcast interviews of VISTAs ’cause they’re SERIOUS grassroots activists. You need to hear these voices! They work very hard to serve and support their communities. Also there should be many folks from the email lists I’ve yet to meet in person. That’ll be cool. PLUS we’re going to the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame!

One Man Protests Racism at Walmart

This weeks podcast is a short interview with a African American man with his own message. He was standing outside a Durham, NC shopping center with a sign that said, “Walmart some staff have the disease of racism. To support it is evil and demonic.” The other side of the sign said, “Racism by some staff is common. Responsible managers act.” He shares his experiences with racism at Walmart perpetrated by staff and ignored by local and regional managers. Thankfully this mans story has begun to be told. How many more stores like this are there?

MP3 3m 55s 1.8MB 64kbps

Media Reform and Media Revolution

Dru Oja Jay has a well-written and detailed article called Media Reform and Media Revolution: A Critique of Free Press and the National Conference on Media Reform. Here is one of my favorite parts.

“If we want to reform the media, we must undermine their credibility and their very existence from one end, while providing a “reasonable” way out on the other. If they do not heed the call of reform, and we replace them, so much the better.”

This article makes all kinds of wonderful points. It ends very constructively with 12 great suggestions for Free Press and us. They’re about how to “water and fertilize the grassroots and sow seeds of resistance” and how the media reform agenda can mesh with radical media’s concerns for social justice and a more democratic society. It really gets to down to the issues with both sides – reform and radical – who want to change media. This article hits me to the core and puts into better focus the goals of AudioActivism. Thanks for the link Rabble!

Making vs Lobbying reform movements

Rabble over at AnarchoGeek.com has a post called Follow up on the National Conference On Media Reform. It describes the tension between the two reform movements. The making your own media groups (one ex. Indymedia) and lobbying for media reform within the existing media establishment groups. I am absolutely in the making media reform crew, but feel caught inbetween sometimes. On one hand I’m in AmeriCorp and on a town tech committee (within established systems) on the other hand I make grassroots media and sometimes think traditional media should just be allowed to die a slow respectful death (outside established systems). Damn I’m split! How can I live in both worlds? Crazy thing is I enjoy it. If I can build bridges between the suits and the brilliant kids in the streets I will. (Maybe blow up ‘the bridges’ too. Metaphorically speaking that is.) But I will not facilitate the trade of someones individuality and personal rights – how ever they define them – to a Corporate entity with no feelings of it’s own.

Trimtab: Individuals Exert Great Influence

In a email on the Digital Divide Network mailing list Dave Pentecost brought up the concept of the TRIMTAB. Here’s the definition he presented:

“trimtab” – a small unit that exerts great influence on the course of a large vessel.

I did a bit of google searching and found this page describing trimtab thusly:

So what’s a trimtab?
A trim tab is a tiny flap that controls the rudder on a ship or airplane. When the rudder needs to be moved, this tiny trimtab is adjusted which creates a low pressure area on one side and turns the rudder. Buckminster Fuller used the word to illustrate what an individual can do to turn the great ship of human society. Bucky’s gravestone says simply, “Call me Trimtab.”

The concept of a very small actor on a huge stage with LOTS of other actors having a significant effect on all of the other bodies is very important to grassroots efforts. This is especially true in a world were many of us feel increasingly without power to make a difference or bring about POSITIVE change.

We know now, more than ever, the roll the Internet can play in allowing the trimtab to exist and be empowered in global society. Now we all need to learn how to play the tiny flap, called the trimtab, with great finesse. Much of this seems to be about HOW WE WORK TOGETHER.

How can we “[C]reate a low pressure area on one side and turn the rudder”? If we look at this directive as a allegory for other things what is the rudder? What is the body of water that the rudder flows through?

Could the “rudder” represent politics and the water it flows in is our planet? Fuller believed he was the trimtab that moved the “ship of human society”.

What if the rudder is human communication (like media) and the water the rudder flows though are connections we all have between each of us. By making new media to communicate we strengthen and alter the connections we have between us and alter the direction of the “ship of human society”.

Quinonez from BlueLatinos.org to petition Dobbs on CNN

A few weeks ago I posted a great MP3 PSA (Public Service Announcement) from bluelatinos.org. Today I found out that Jose Quinonez from bluelatinos.org is going to appear on CNN to submit his petition to Lou Dobbs himself! GO JOSE! He’ll be on CNN Friday, May 6 at 6:00 PM EST. I suggest you wait until a video file of the show appears online. 🙂

If you’re just finding out about this, Lou Dobbs has been saying racist shit and inciting hatred towards Hispanics. All over some fascist concern about immigration to the US. Groups like the Minutemen are becoming vigilantes to arrest and threaten. The Governor of California is talking crap and so are Congressmen.

Jose Quinonez is doing something about it by speaking out! U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois is speaking out too! You can read a transcript of his speech to congress here. Here’s a small part of it.

“In Congress, on cable shows and in newspaper columns across the country, we witness undocumented workers being unfairly and inaccurately blamed for all of our Nation’s ills. In fact, it seems as though there are some cable show hosts out there who have made this practice the cornerstone of their programming. Just look at Lou Dobbs and his “Broken Borders” segment. If you ask me, it should be called the “Broken Record” segment. Because night after night after night, it is the same thing. It is about giving a platform to anti-immigrant extremists so they can espouse their misguided, misleading, and often malicious views.”

The Power of College Athletes’ Voices

Yesterday the University of North Carolina won the men’s NCAA college basketball championship by beating University of Illinois 75 to 70. Here in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the home to this incredible group of athletes, just about every one is ecstatic! I watched them all season on TV and a few times in person at the Dean Dome. (UNC’s stadium) I’ve been in North Carolina just four years now and I am officially been converted to a college basketball fan. It’s really amazing. The fans here are wonderful, intelligent, passionate, diverse, and caring people.

After a few big games we’ve had some impromptu street parties, the media likes to call them riots, all over our small downtown. Last night after Carolina won was no exception. Yet this time the numbers of people attending were higher and so were the number of injuries. Fortunately, there apears to have been no fatalities. Some how over fourty five thousand people were able to get together and celebrate in THEIR OWN PUBLIC STREETS with great JOY!

From my perspective these events were more than just basketball parties. They were group therapy. Major simultaneous release of energy and pent up emotion. Expressions of joy and freedom. These are all qualities of other similar events that occur but ostensibly for very different reasons. How can winning a national college basketball championship inspire tens of thousands of college students and other fans to take to the streets but thousands of dead American solders, dead Iraqi men, women, and children can not inspire the same number of people to take to the streets in downtown Chapel Hill?

I realize there is some overlapping of participants. I am one. I went to the March 19 Bring Them Home Now anti-war rally in Fayetteville, NC and the Carolina Tar Heels Championship street party. Yet some how I didn’t recognize the same faces or voices at both events.

I’m sure ya’ll have lots of answers to my question in bold but another series of actions could change it. College athletes could engage in political protest. For example the young basketball players who are so idolized and revered could make statements of peace. An good historic example is 1968 at the Mexico City Olympic games Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads, raised their black gloved fist, and were shoeless as they accepted the gold and bronze metal. This was a non-violent and effective way of drawing attention to the fact they had a message. Later they told the media, who was undoubtedly curious, what there message was.

Quote from the article Civil Disobedience by John Gettings:
“Smith later told the media that he raised his right, black-glove-covered fist in the air to represent black power in America while Carlos’ left, black-covered fist represented unity in black America. Together they formed an arch of unity and power. The black scarf around Smith’s neck stood for black pride and their black socks (and no shoes) represented black poverty in racist America.”

The student athletes of UNC could do something as simple as these young men did in 1968. What is preventing them? Their lack of concern? Their fear of political reprisal? Fear of loosing a big NBA contract?

I humblly request that all student athletes through out the United States and the world contemplate their concerns and think about the unique power of voice they have. There is so much attention being payed to you by the media. Why not give back to the fans and the world by opening the minds of the world through non-violent action? A practical example of action: Speak out publicly about an issue you care about!

Fix it Apple. Make the iPod Green.

Like a lot of electronics the Apple iPod has a rechargeable battery. But with the iPod you can’t remove the battery making replacement complicated and expensive. The big problem isn’t the inconvenience but the environmentally irresponsibility of such a manufacturing decision. The folks over at The Green Guide are asking you to tell Apple to fix the iPod and make it GREEN.
Continue reading “Fix it Apple. Make the iPod Green.”