By Liza Smith
It’s the eleventh day of the tour and we’ve introduced a new word to both the Spanish and English languages — it is a cross between “tranquila” which means “relaxed” and is a pop cultural reference to Transylvania: the place in Romania where vampires originated and the planet where the dancing extra-terrestrial transvestites in Rocky Horror Picture Show come from.
Our new word is tranquilandia and it describes the peaceful world of our van; everything else is a rush between places and people, a different bed every night, new streets and getting lost, loading and unloading our suitcases at each stop. But in the van we chill, take a deep breath and reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going. Right now, somewhere between Wooster, Ohio and Allentown, Pennsylvania, we just passed a sign that read, “Dusty Bibles Lead to Dirty Lives” and a confederate flag. It’s slightly raining and Jill Scott is playing in our world of Tranquilandia.
I take this opportunity to chat with Paula about her impressions of the tour so far. What has she liked the most? The yellow leaves she says (we’ve taken a number of pictures featuring Paula and the leaves) and the egg quiche that we ate this morning for breakfast. She’s a bit tired (we’ve been packing it in and always seem to be running a bit behind schedule) and she misses Colombia too.
I ask Paula what inspires her about what she has seen up to this point? She talks about one interesting and exciting example of campus organizing: the Coke boycott. A student we recently met at Loyola University described the organizing process — collect as many signatures as possible among the students and present a petition to the university, with information about the human rights abuses in Colombia in which Coke is implicated and then pressure the university to cancel the contract. Paula saw value in this strategy because organizers don’t have to depend on the usual avenues of state infrastructure (like lobbying politicians), but rather can push for a change in their own community and in the process educate and politicize as many folks as possible.
Next I asked her what seemed like the biggest challenge or obstacle to doing this work in the US? She responded that the students at each campus focus on the war in Iraq or Colombia or maybe another crisis in another place, but notices that the tendency is to focus on issues “over there” and that it seems there aren’t local issues that unite them where they are. For example, at Wooster College after talking about the relationship between displacement and militarism in both Colombia and Detroit, we brought the discussion back into the here and now — and talked about race relations on campus. The all white audience at our panel recognized that while there might not be overt racism at their school, there are “invisible lines that divide us.” Paula connects these “invisible lines” to a culture of individualism where everybody has their own computer, phone, house and car and where people don’t step across those invisible lines to be interested in one another’s struggles. During her talks she often shares how the Red Juvenil also fights against the forces of individualism and works to create a horizontal structure based on a culture of collectivity and solidarity.
Paula talks about how students have access to so much information and many possibilities to learn about different issues. She wonders what makes a person take a step beyond their own education and move into action. How can we encourage folks to go beyond just learning about the issues? With these questions unanswered we continue orbiting in our world of Tranquilandia and head to the next stop — Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
By Maryrose Dolezal
We kicked off the Carbondale stop last Sunday with an Art and Action training attended by ~20 students and community members.
The Art and Action workshops are facilitated by Invincible and Isaac Martin. Along with a mix of pop ed, it includes Invincible’s docu-music video “Locust.” Directed by Joe Namy, Locust features Invincible and fellow Detroit-based hip hop artist Finale rhyming about the impacts of unsustainable development on the Motor City. The video includes interviews with community activists discussing displacement and prederatory planning vs. sustainable development in Detroit. Check it out below or at http://emergencemusic.net.
Invincible frequently says that Detroit is what the rest of the country has to look forward to — the failure of industrialism and capitalism and the opportunity to create new alternatives for resistance. Militarism in the belly of the beast. Further south in the Americas, the people of Colombia are getting hit by the other side of US militarism — a 66% increase in extradudicial killings during the first 5 years of US military aid to Colombia, with a total of $5 billion spent from 2000 to 2008.
Monday we started the day with a radio interview at WBDX 91.1 FM on the weekly radio show “The Composters,” online at radiolive.com, where we continued to make connections between militarism in the communities in the US and in Colombia, focusing on creative youth resistance.
Invincible spoke about starting her independent label, Emergence Media, her solidarity with the people of Palestine, and her work with Detroit Summer.
Briefly, Detroit Summer is “a multi-racial, inter-generational collective in Detroit working to transform ourselves and our communities by confronting the problems we face with creativity and critical thinking. We currently organize youth-led media arts projects and community-wide potlucks, speak-outs and parties.” Learn more at:http://detroitsummer.blogspot.com/ Paula Galeano, our guest from the Red Juvenil in Medellin, Colombia, spoke about the empowering tactic of reclaiming public spaces with art. Red Juvenil frequently turns streets or parks into direct action opportunities, creating a carnival atmosphere that engages and invites others to be part of the action. One impressive example of this is the anti-mili sonoro, an annual concert of political musicians that takes place every year on May 15 to celebrate and mark International Conscientious Objectors day.
In Carbondale, Paula participated in a US version of reclaiming the streets through music — the Carbondale Students for a Democratic Society’s Funk the War dance party. A few dozen students danced in the busiest pathway on campus, passing out balloons with a “Books Not Bombs” message to passerbyers.That evening, we shared vegetarian and vegan food with Carbondale students and community members at the Interfaith Center while Paula shared stories from Colombia.
On Monday night, the eve of Veteran’s Day, the Drop Beats Not Bombs tour participated in an IVAWbenefit show at the local Independent Media Center. Liza Maytok, Dave Adams, president of the Carbondale chapter of Iraq Veteran’s Against the War, gave an emotional appeal to young vets and vet supporters to join in IVAW’s strategy to end the occupation in Iraq, provide reparations for the Iraqi people and provide full health care for vets. More on the Carbondale IVAW chapter at: http://www.ivaw.org/node/2232
Following Carbondale we hit Goshen, Indiana. Check back here for our next blog on that! And tomorrow we hit Wooster College in Ohio. We hope to see you there!
By Maryrose Dolezal
With us on the Drop Beats Not Bombs tour are Invincible, Paula Galeano, Not Your Soldier facilitator Isaac Martin, & FOR staff Liza Smith and Maryrose Dolezal. Missing from the tour, at the moment, are tour members Shauen Pearce and Brie Phillips. Shauen participated in the tour launch in St. Paul last week, and Brie will be joining at the stop in Allentown, PA next weekend. Shauen and Brie are providing back up from the offices in St. Paul and Washington DC.
Tour member Isaac Martin joined at the last minute due to staff illnesses to lead workshop facilitation. He has also been invaluable in helping with merchandise sales, translation, and packing the van! Isaac has been journaling about his experience along the way — check it out below, and check back for more soon!
Hi everyone, this is Isaac Martin. I wasn’t originally set to be on this tour, but a last minute change to the tour has given me the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge of youth activism/organizing and social justice focused youth mentorship.What is social justice youth mentorship, you may ask? Well it’s the engagement of youth to understand the social conditions of their community from a critical thinking lens. Where traditional youth mentorship is more focused on self confidence and self esteem as a way to build personal leadership and develop stronger social interaction, social justice youth mentorship encompasses all that traditional youth mentorship does, as well as develop critical thinking, community based leadership development, and community engagement. Traditional youth mentorship attempts to “fill a gap” or “void” in a young persons life, and help them participate in positive ways in the world around them. Although there is lots of overlap, social justice youth mentorship goes another few steps, supporting youth to take ownership of their identity and responsibility to question the world around them. As a young person who’s been on both sides of the coin, I can speak to the importance of any such program that seeks to make an impact not only to the lives of young people, but the communities that they live in.
There are generally two outcomes, (none of which is mutually exclusive of each other)
1. The young person gains a better sense of their skills and knowledge.
2. The young person develops a sense of self determination and takes more of active role in shaping their future. (Many end up understanding the importance of continuing their education, and while others take more of an active role in changing their communities.)
As part of this tour, we are seeking youth activist/organizers who are dedicated to making an impact in their local community. We are seeking to build relationships with college students who are committed to develop their leadership and facilitation skills as young adult youth mentors, in order to build a movement towards social justice on their campuses and in their communities.
I feel very privileged to be on the Drop Beats Not Bombs tour as a representative of theFellowship Of Reconciliation (FOR) and Not Your Soldier. I consider myself lucky to be on a tour headlined by Invincible, an amazing female hip-hop artist from Detroit, andPaula Galeano, a Colombian Conscientious Objector and Director of the “Red Juvenile” or Youth Network in Medellin Columbia.
“I guess that makes me the unlisted opening act…”
Hamline (11/5 -11/6)
We started the tour on Wednesday in St. Paul MN at Hamline University. We held our first set of workshops, Not Your Soldier & Art in Resistance. Felt good to get the tour underway close to home, well my new home anyway. (I just moved to Mpls a few weeks ago from LA, after my short and good experience organizing with Not Your Soldier and Youth Against War and Racism for the summer Counter Recruitment training and RNCstudent walk out). The response and participation in the workshops was good and gave us a feel for what to expect and what to work on for the rest of the tour. We also got to see Invincible perform that evening and see firsthand the hard work she puts into every performance.
Driving to Chicago (11/7)
We spent just under six hours on the road and got into the windy city with an amazing view of the skyline from the I-90. We’re hungry and are looking for something to eat, if you got any ideas for us while we’re in Chicago, let us know
The tour is well underway here. We stopped at DePaul University and gave our Not Your Soldier workshop to students and faculty. It went very well and we got to share some interesting experiences with the participants. During the panel discussion that evening I began to lose my voice!! (Oh no!!) I don’t know how that will affect the tour as of yet, but I am working to get better fast!!!
*Saturday morning we had brunch at the Living Water Community Church, followed by a presentation on youth militarism and resistance in Colombia.
*Saturday afternoon a few of us toured Chicago, accompanied by our host Gilberto Villesenor.
*Saturday afternoon and evening was the Peace is Always in Fashion Show hosted byAFSC at Q4, followed by an after party at Gilberto’s.
By Maryrose Dolezal
The event, “Peace is Always in Fashion,” started with a fashion show to protest Sear’s new “First Infantry” line of military issues apparel, and to offer non-military based fashion options. The fashions were modeled by students who were involved with the AFSC Chicago’s 2008 summer institute, a program for high schoolers to learn about militarism and alternatives to military service, and other friends and supporters. Following the fashion show, we were entertained by Primo Dance Troup from University of Illinois Chicago, Perfect Kiss, an excellent new wave band, local rapper Popz Crakaz, DJ Orville Kline, & Invincible, who fininshed the night with a full set including guest appearnces by Chicago based FM Supreme and b-boy Super In Light.
Thanks to Sheena, Rachel, Darlene, and all the AFSC organizers who made this event a success! Learn more aboutAFSC’s work to support youth resistance to militarism at:http://www.afsc.org/chicago/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/16715