Feminist Arts Conference, Toronto 
Had a lot of fun facilitating at the Feminist Arts Conference in Toronto. Inspiring and provocative discussions, art work, initiatives. Queer dance collective that has revived and subverted burlesque, what they call Unapologetic Burlesque. A print collective that used street signs to campaign and raise awareness around street harassment, the Street Talk Project.

Fran Rawlings and I facilitated a session on Claiming space: navigating gender and power. We adapted the flower power exercise (inter-sectionality) and did some human sculptures and dialogue around power analysis and strategies for change. Some great discussions about how we have agency in some areas and not in others, our negotiability. How we open spaces of power in these small ways as well as the ways that we challenge, hold accountable and organize. The general use of the flower power I find much too binary a treatment of oppression.

I was really moved by the work of Karen Miranda Augustine who created funeral wreaths for women involved in the sex industry with re-used or discarded tires, hair, nail polish. Click on the link below to go to her site.
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Strengthening Local Economies 

Facilitated Strengthening Local Economies with Yogesh Ghore these past two weeks at the Coady Institute. We start with a critical look at globalization and its effects on local communities- economic, ecological, rights. We explore local responses. A local oyster fisherman, Philipp of Shan Daph Oysters captured it well. "Ecological sustainability, social sustainability. Only then can you sustain the economic." His business is completely off the grid and he keeps it small intentionally. He talked about sitting at lots of kitchen tables.

Local craft production. Processing and purchasing locally. Social bartering systems. Fair and organic trade. These are all part of the solution but Philip captures the most important element. Relationships.

This is really the only way economic models have ever been part of real and lasting change. They are embedded in and built on relationships. Networks and alliances that have the power of both organizing locally and holding policies and processes accountable. We review over 30 case studies from around the world from Aravind Eye Care that offers 2/3 of their eye services in India free to food systems in Vermont. Through their organizing they managed not only to strengthen the local and state economies and impact health, agriculture, transportation. They were also the first State to win in the federal courts against Monsanto and others demanding that GMO foods be labelled.

Community Bank in Brazil that works with Local Exchange Currency and Neighbourhood Associations 
A lot of my work has been looking at the connections between economic and political in community and member-owned economic models such as savings groups and cooperatives.

I'm about to go to Fortaleza Brazil, on behalf of the Coady Institute, to work with the Innovation team there at Banco Las Palmas. They are a Community Bank that grew out of neighbourhood associations who did a lot of political organizing and movement building in the 80s and 90s. Since then, they have not only created this Community Bank but also a local exchange/social currency (LETS) based on barter to keep money in the local economy. This approach has been replicated in hundreds of towns and cities across Brazil. They even have a Socio-economic Council that holds a social audit on the Community Bank. Excited to learn more and work with them.

Read the paper below for more background on the fascinating evolution of Banco Las Palmas.

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A Reading List on Loss, Death and Will 
Nox, Anne Carson

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

A Grief Observed, CS Lewis

A very easy death, by Simone de Beauvoir

H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald

The Long Goodbye, Meahan O'Rourke

Freud, Beyond the Pleasure principle

Civilization and its Discontents

Schopenhaur, The World as Will and Representation

Walter A. Davis, Deracination: Historicity, Hiroshima, and the Tragic Imperative

When Pain is the Doorway, Pema Chodron

Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Alison Bechdel

Bough Down, Karen Green

The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh

Our HRM Alliance- Greenbelting and Complete Communities 
WRWEO, the environmental association that I Co-chair is an active member of Our HRM Alliance. Comprised now of 54 local groups and organizations, Our HRM Alliance accompanied and lobbied the Halifax regional planning process that took place over the last few years. The Alliance has adopted a two-pronged approach to going forward:

1. Greenbelting (including an initiative for people to hike, bike, canoe the greenbelt around HRM to explore its possibility)

2. Complete communities. Suburbs are not the problem. If suburban communities are built with transit at their core, walkable design, and a mix of shops and other business, they can encourage healthier lifestyles and produce considerably less emissions.

The problem is single-use, low-density sprawl. When communities are built in a way that makes cars the only option for doing every single task of the day, they engender enormous costs.

See the related link below for more detail including our own David Patriquin's brief on the impact that green belting will have on biodiversity.
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