Friday, April 30, 2010

first thinning

Started thinning the first crops of the season- radishes and carrots.

In 5 weeks my garden will be full of food, and in 6 weeks I'll be off to make a new home.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

think it will work?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

failing to compromise?

I've recently been involved with some campus political drama (weird right?), about the Take Back the Night March. The march, which has been happening here at OU for over 30 years, is a rally/march to raise awareness of sexual assault and to empower women to feel comfortable to walk home alone at night. At OU- men can't march. Personally, I see this as incredibly misguided and have said many times that I won't march until men can march with me.

And as I try to read an article for class on microbes- I keep thinking about this. Am I being stubborn beyond need be, am I failing to compromise on the issue and failing to work towards the goals of sexual assault prevention?

See- I think the problem is- I don't only see this as misguided and exclusionary, but as harmful. Harmful not only to a 'movement' but also to women who may be battling with sexual assault issues, or may in the future. For me, the exclusion of men from the march sends a few messages, but the one that is most perturbing to me is this: By having a womens only march, it seems that the ball has been put into the womans field (so to speak). If it were up to women to empower themselves to say No to sexual assault and to feel safe walking home alone tonight, I can't say I think we'd still be having this issue. Sexual assault would be a thing of the past.

But, it's not up to women. Generally, men are the ones making unwanted sexual advances and doing the assaulting. This is not to say that men cannot be attacked, or that women cannot sexually assault someone, but speaking to the norms- it's men. Men are choosing to sexually assault others. So, to hold a march where women come together and act out of sisterhood to make their streets safer, seems really harmful. I think this allows the idea that women can make choices to not be attacked (a blaming the victim of sorts) to be perpetuated. Saying No, knowing self defense, and feeling confident certainly can help- but ultimately it is up the the person doing the attaching to stop sexual assault.

As someone who has dealt with these issues myself, I know it was not a choice I made. I chose to say no, i know how to defend myself, and generally feel pretty confident. I can't say I couldn't have acted differently and had a different outcome, but what I do know is- I didn't make a choice. He did. And in the process, I always felt it was my fault. I didn't push away hard enough, didn't say no loud enough, and didn't avoid compromising situations well enough. it took me a long time to realize, it wasn't my fault.

it seems to me, that a womens only march tells women they can choose to stop sexual assault. they can choose to take back the night, to feel and to be safe walking home at night. but i don't think they can. men have to make that choice.

either way- the question remains, at what point to i compromise my views in order to act in solidarity with others trying to achieve the same things as I am, and when do i hold my group because i see their efforts as harmful to what we're trying to achieve?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

beehive collective

I recently got an email from some folks at the beehive collective- with some things for me to read over. After reading them, I'm feeling even more excited that I was before about working with the beehive over the summer. And since I feel people (family, mostly) are a little confused about what exactly the Beehive Collective is, I thought i'd give out some details.

In the words of the Beehive- their mission is to cross pollinate the grassroots, (and my favorite part...) they "think about and hold in [their] minds the macrocosm and the microcosm and think about the play between those things. So, like the big picture and the little picture and be able to exercise both those parts of our minds that way." Woah. Then the question becomes, how do they do that?

Well, also in their own words the bees "hover between being a land-based, locally-focused group of folks who live together as domestic collaborators and being a decentralized swarm of bees who are based across the hemisphere and network with each other in a consistent, semi-organized way."

What that manifests its self as (as it seems to me) is they have a strong home base in Machias, Maine (the land-based, locally-focused part). There are a few ways this seems to happen, most obviously being work on the Grange Project. The Machias Grange Hall was an old grange (1800's old), which the Beehive has worked with folks around the community (and at large) to fix up and make into a beautiful space for people to be proud of and for people to utilize. It now serves as a community space (all ages, drug and alcohol free, lots of free events). It seems pretty amazing! And the other part of this land-locally-focused aspect seems to be they way the beehive lives. The housing is collective, and when living with many people (as happens- particularly in the summer) that within its self sort of becomes a project. Living together on consensus based decisions, while working on very complex social issues (both in house, and through their work). The other part, is also something that should be part of everyday life, but doesn't seem to be- being part of the community. This sort of blurs the line between something like the grange project and internal living situations, but is really important- especially when living in a small rural town.

And then, there is the macro- the decentralized swarm of bees across the hemisphere. This is what first attracted me to the Beehive- originally as an admirer and now as a to-be-bee. In order to cross pollinate the grassroots (the most known way at any rate) the beehive creates large graphic stories about global issues (social/political namely), to help breakdown these super complex issues and cross language/education barriers that exist. For me, their posters are sort of intimidating. They are super details, and when looking at it as a whole image it seems impossible to understand (not unlike global issues- no doubt). This poster below is Plan Columbia (a 'aid' package).

*this is only 1/2 the image. I can't figure out how to make my blog images not get cut off if they are too big... so for now- you'll see half. you can see the webverion here

Pretty intense. And pretty complicated. But when you focus in on one area, you can start to break it down. In this case, the folks the beehive spoke to had shared stories that the issues they now face, can be traced back to colonization. (this image come from the top right corner of the poster)

You can start to see the detail that goes into this work. And as I sort of suggested, they don't just decide what story to tell, but rather go to the communities being effected by the issues the beehive is working on, and turn stories into artwork to communicate to a larger audience. The poster goes through a long history of how things got to be how they are in Columbia (particularly, considering the coca plant), but ends with (as their posters often do- from the 2 i've seen) with an optimistic view of what is happening. Stories of resistance and of what can be. What might be my favorite part, is the ants on the side of the image, breaking it down and carrying it underground (which, that type of ant it is, does in real life). Through their hard and persistent work, they are helping to uncover a world of story sharing, solidarity, and permaculture.

So, that's a bit about the Beehive Collective.

If i didn't make it clear, I'm insanely excited to work with them! This is how I currently see them, but maybe it's not fully how it is. I'm sure it's super complicated and after a summer I'll have a better grasp of things- but for now- that's what I have to say them.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to fully explain their work to everyone later (and maybe get a hold of some posters to share in person)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


a recent mine explosion killed 29 miners in wv, and the two that survived were horribly injured. it's the worst explosion in the coal fields since 1970, and the horrible thing is, both massey and the government knew that mine was unsafe. the mine had been cited many times, yet it was never shut down. miners still had to show up to work, even though they knew it might not be safe.

risk their lives or risk their livelihoods.

in a recent article, which also said massey did not give fellow miners time off to attend the funerals of their deceased co-workers, had this quote from a an unemployed underground miner:

“Everybody knew that mine was about to blow up,I told my friend not to work there. That was three months ago; he worked two months and quit. If you check the work records, you’ll see that a lot of experienced miners left the mine because the conditions just got worse and worse as they ramped up production.”

it just seems unfathomable that a company would put people, their people, at risk in order to get more coal. i guess maybe it shouldn't surprise me, the history of coal says that's exactly what coal companies do. and after all, history has a way of repeating its self. but why? why does such a horrible, violent, exploitative, deathly history have to repeat its self and how many times can it repeat before it stops happening?

i can't say i understand the struggles of a miner, and i won't pretend to. i also can't make claim that i understand what it means to have to work against so much in order to provide for my family, to risk my life in order to maintain a job that pays the bills. i'm fortunate enough to not know that first hand. but while i acknowledge that, i still cant come up with a situation in my head that i would risk my life in order to further the profits of some company that has been violating my people for generations.

i wish i could say their lives were not lost in vain. that something positive will come out of it, for other miners in the future. i wish i can say that people would begin to see the lives of miners as part of how we keep our lights on in this country, and acknowledge that to be priceless. beyond priceless. it's not even an externality really, it's so far beyond what you could ever think about including in the 'cost of business.' peoples lives.

but i can't. maybe this time it will be different, but in all likelihood, history will keep repeating itsself. companies, like massey, will continue to be able to murder their workers in name of profit and cheap coal, while 'our' government continues to look the other way, and let it happen.

it's well said that mine companies saw a mule as worth more than a miner. i guess that saying proves true today, but this time it's not mules, but pure profits that are worth more than miners.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

wild edibles

earlier this week, Jim Merkel was in athens for a presentation during earth month. an interesting fella no doubt, but one of the most interesting things he talked about was wild edibles. i guess i've known for a while that wild edibles are good. high in nutrients and if harvested carefully, sustainable (thought, with all of the habitat fragmentation out there- it is a questionable practice these days).

My housemate and I went scavenging for wild edibles this weekend. He's sort of like a mini-wild edible book, and pointed out about a million and a half more things in the forest than i can remember. but, what we picked, i now know- and thought i'd share. but, unfortunatley, i've been unable to find nutrition facts on these things.

Trout Lilies

These delightful little things, are trout lilies. They are sort of spotted, like trout, with lighter green markings. These tend to grow on the shady side of hills, down in the valley. They are similar to spinach, and are sort of sweet. They make a great salad, and I imagine you could cook them down too, but I don't plan on it. When we were out, the patches were few and far between, so again, being aware of the amount you're taking is key.


Ramps, ramps, ramps. These well known appalachian wilds are great. Sort of garlicy, sort of oniony. They have fairly large, long green leaves and tend to have two leaves per plant (from what I've seen anyway. maybe they get more later in the season). These tend to grow in patches, and hang opposite side of the valley from the trout lilies. Many people dig up the bulb of these, because it tends to be spicier and pack a bigger punch. But, you don't need to do that and you probably shouldn't. if you take ramps out by their bulbs, you've killed the plant, it won't come back. and the leaves are plenty full of flavor. These were more abundant and the patches tended to be very full, but it's always good to be aware of how much you're picking. i tried to only take one leaf from each plant, and to not over harvest any patch. these can be used sort of like green onions. cook them, use them raw on salads etc. i have not cooked with them yet, so am not sure what happens to their flavor intensity, but i did make a really delicious ramp pesto (as inspired by integration acres). from a brief look, you can find lots of recipes online using ramps (none of which i've tested). But, fair warning, as with strong garlic, ramps can fend off those close to you (particularly close to your mouth). totally worth it.

Wild Ginger

These lovely leaves are also found around these parts, but seem to be pretty uncommon. i didn't notice (or perhaps more accurately, joe didn't point out to me) any kind of growth pattern, but these were very sparse. Therefore, we only took a couple of leaves, mostly just to try them out. We made tea with them (along with a few other things, like pine needles- which hold a ton of vitamin c).Like ramps, the roots can be harvested and apparently are quite wonderful, but that kills the plant. And since these were so sparse, we didn't even try them. We've planted some ginger in our yard, so hopefully in a couple years folks living here can have a solid source of wild ginger.

Red Buds and Violets

There are a lot of wild flowers that are edible, but these two are great, and both of them are in my yard. Violets don't hold too much flavor, but they look very nice and likely pack a decent amount of nutrients. Red buds, however, do have some nice sweet flavor. Both of these look lovely on a fresh salad, but in this case I added them to some homemade yogurt. (which, is so easy to make and wonderful- you can check out how from the Ohio Food Shed blog, Eat With The Season)

other totally edible things around here: dandelion leaves, root, and flower, stinging nettles, wild onions, milkweed, wild lettuce, garlic mustard, Sheppards purse, clover flower, wild asparagus- and probably a lot more.

oh- and just saying- take someone out with you who knows whats happening before you go around eating a bunch of things you're not sure of...

Monday, April 5, 2010

spring wish list

- eat sweets= bake sweets
- sat= no work, no computer, no way
- outside every fair weather day (non trans)
- learn one banjo song (and get a banjo)
- read 1 non school book
- develop a post graduate reading list
- learn more about black struggles
- come to terms with leaving athens
- stop comparing myself to other people
- write down every phone number used once a week, plus 5 more
- back up computer once a week
- sleep outside twice a month
- bike to nelsonville
- go to an old growth forest
- get involved with a community, not student based, organization
- practice nonviolent communication (particularly patience)
- shower in the rain
- drink beer more often (good beer, with friends, in reasonable quantities)
- keep up with good habits from winter of contentment wish list
- take life in stride
- eat more foraged food (like dandelions!)
- challenge gender roles
- graduate!
- let people know they are important to me

off to a late start, so better get going..!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

fulfilling my role

So I've been battling with the idea of gender roles recently. Trying to find that balance between doing what I love and doing what I'm told to do. i love to bake, cook, sew and even clean sometimes. i like to garden (but not farming really, which i might like i don't know) which also falls into the role of a woman. i spend most of my time when i'm at home in the kitchen. If someone else is around, I'm certainly trying to feed them. That goes for both guests, but also people i live with. I really love feeding and caring for people. I guess that's what most people refer to as 'motherly instinct,' which based on my instincts means i should reject that. if i don't want to be a mother, why would i have those instincts (which, is also sort of funny because a good friend of mine often tells me I'll make an excellent mother- normally after i bring her food i made- followed by my reminder to her that i don't plan on being one, let alone an excellent one)?

(the cookies i baked, that i then realized matched my apron. gender. role.)

But the thing is, I really don't know why I love those things. But do I love doing those things, or have I always been told I should love them? And if I love those things, because I have always been told I should, but now I really do, does it matter?

I guess maybe the balance is to do things that aren't within my role as a woman, traditionally. but there again, lies a problem. sort of. it's not that i don't want to, or that i wouldn't enjoy it, but i've never really had much of a reason (or a teacher) to know how to fix my car, or build something cool, or mow the grass and cook on the grill. that's not to say i'm not learning some of those things. I can put a hammer and nail to work, and am in the process of ensuring my oil changing abilities. i can (now, thanks to the guidance of a friend, yes a woman friend), change a tire. i can light a grill, but never do.

so maybe women just are more naturally drawn to 'domestic' work and have deeper urges to care for people. or, maybe that's a load of shit and i'm way deeper programmed than i ever thought i was before.