Sunday, May 27, 2012

Melissa Harris-Perry's Commencement Speech: Wellesley College May 2012

Professor, political scientist, author, Nation columnist, MSNBC host, and rising "nerdland" icon Melissa Harris-Perry addresses the members of the Class of 2012 and an international audience of their families and friends at Wellesley College's 134th Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 25, 2012. Some good words of advice for the women who will redefine success in the world.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Plant the Plate

A great new infographic from the Union of Concerned Scientists does an awesome job of showing the discrepancy between the typical American diet and the one recommended by the USDA. It also shows how subsidies to producers of the Big Five commodity crops (wheat, corn, soy, rice, and cotton) prevent U.S. farmers from planting the fruits and vegetables we need to be healthy. To make the essential transition to plant what's actually recommended for Americans, it would take $90 million, less than 2% of what's currently spent (more than $5 billion) on subsidies for the Big 5 commodity crops. Given that the outcome would be job creation for local food systems, better health for Americans, less reliance on foreign exports, and more local eating, I think it's a really worthwhile investment.


Image and information courtesy of Union of Concerned Scientists. More information and full sized image available here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rough Guide to Community Energy

Rough Guides, a world travel guidebook company, and M&S has recently come out with a free book on community energy. This book, Rough Guide to Community Energy, brings together resources and advice about creating sustainability in local communities through citizen action.

It's often been said that individual action is too small to make a difference and government action is too slow to change anything, but communities are the right scale to get the movement going. For anyone who's interested in starting a community group to tackle climate change or solar energy, but doesn't know where to start, this book provides a lot of cool case studies from the UK and many a practical advice on getting a project off the ground. The guide only covers energy issues and only draws from successful models from one geographic region, so there's a lot more out there that's possible, but it's a good starting point.

The book is available for download free on the website here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guerrilla Girls: Conscience of the Art World

I went to a lecture tonight by two of the founding members of the Guerrilla Girls. Best decision I made in a while, I must say. The lecture was AWESOME, very enlightening and humorous. I remember the first poster I saw of them was of a nude female statue with a gorilla mask on and the caption, "Do women have be naked to be in US museums? Only 3% of artists in the Met Museum are female, but 83% of the nudes are female". Apparently they did a resurveying of the Met a few months ago and now the statistics read, 4% female artists and 74% nude female statues. So CLEARLY, there's a lot of work to be done still about the representation of female artists and artists of color.

Guerrilla Girls 2007 Shanghai poster

The two Guerrilla Girls spoke a lot about the lack of museum ethics (trustees paying their way to show their private collections, fixed art auctions, tokenism), the evolving set of issues they've addressed over the years (from complete lack of female artists in exhibition to token multicultural or female artists to the bad money issues to other social justice issues), politics, and many a museum protest. Who knew museum directors make so much money?? The black market for art is 5th behind drugs, sex, guns, and human trafficking. I mean, I kinda knew that art was lucrative, but not THAT lucrative. It's funny how the museums have now started to invite the Guerrilla Girls to exhibit their work and they've taken the opportunity to make some criticial pieces of tough love against the system. But it does get the message out.

The take home message at the end (and directives for future aspiring Guerrilla Girls):
  1. Complain, complain, complain. Every person who stands up to demand more female and minority presence in museums and other institution makes a difference.
  2. Be anonymous. There's a lot of power in the mask - it takes the focus off the personality and on the issue.
  3. Don't be afraid to make liberal use of the F word - FEMINISM.
  4. Do one thing at a time and if it doesn't work, try something else. There are a lot of social justice issues out there and trying to battle them all at once is pretty overwhelming. Just take it one step at a time and don't give up.
  5. Be funny! A little humor goes a long way in getting awareness about social justice issues.
  6. Tough love to the system! Don't be afraid to speak your mind about it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! We often think of Mother's Day as a holiday of those Hallmark cards with the perfect blond mother with her perfect children giving her breakfast in bed and dear husband with flowers and chocolate. But really, there is so much more to motherhood than that. So here's to all the strong women out there, the single mothers, the women of color, the disabled, the queer, the incarcernated, the poor, the stay-at-home carers, the professionals, and everyone in between. Keep fighting the good fight. Today is the radical envisioning of what can happen when you put women in the center of action. Make sure to check out the Strong Families Initiative, read the stories from all the complexities of motherhood, from nursing to sexuality to working to race and immigration, and show some appreciation for the women in your life today!

Mother's Day card from the Strong Families Initiative

Saturday, May 5, 2012

International Permaculture Day Celebrations

May 6 is International Permaculture Day! It's a day to celebrate sustainable, productive, and self-reliant households and communities. Check out the Australian and international events here.

For Melbournians, here's a local Permaculture Day event.

Sunday 6 May, Permaculture Celebration at Fairfield Community Garden

Time: 10am to 4pm

Address: 1 Hamilton St., Fairfield, Vic, (behind Interactive Learning Centre)

Come and join the celebration of Permaculture Day at Fairfield Community Garden!

-10:15am Weeding and mulching the paths
-11:00am Autumn Leaf Harvest (also a TD event)

Other highlights
- Gardening workshops
- Child's play area
- Book corner
- Sustainable finger food ( 12.30 to 2pm , by donation)
- Talks on sustainability
- Music and much more!

Please bring your picnic rug, food, cups, plates, cutlery, garden tools or skills to share and enjoy a day out in the garden!

Entry: $5 or by donation