21 February 2009

This Beard Is For Siobhan

Rude Mechanical Orchestra showing support for Take Back NYU!'s occupation this week back in NY (stolen picture, facebook)

"The occupiers, including both undergraduates and graduate students, issued a list of demands, including: open accounting of the NYU operating budget and investments; university recognition of GSOC, the graduate student employees union; a socially responsible finance committee composed entirely of students, with full control of NYU's investments; re-imposition of a recently lifted ban on Coca-Cola products, as a protest against Coke's complicity in the murder of Colombian trade unionists; tuition stabilization; and public access to NYU's Bobst Library.

The students are also asking NYU to divest from war profiteers--in particular, companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In addition, the occupiers are asking for 13 annual scholarships for Palestinian students and donation of excess school supplies to the Islamic University of Gaza." - read more here: The fight to take back NYU (socialistworker.org)

The Purchase Independent is getting shittier with every issue. I try to stay somewhat connected to school but all I'm reading is about how there are different students from different places at Purchase and a whole section about Panther sports news. Also despite budget hikes, the school is going to be spending $53,000 for an online news service sponsored by the journalism department that no one will read.

Post-high school secondary learning is no different then high school, reproducing hegemony, keeping us all in check. I think even though I feel detached from everything in NY it's in a unified way. Everything I read and do here somehow reminds me of things at home.

I finished the weaving part of my project this week. I just have to attach a strap of sorts. I think it will become a sweet fanny pack. I want to take a weaving class when I get back to NY. come weave with me!

Yesterday we ended the week with a tortilla making workshop. Pedro said the first step to making perfect tortillas is to dance first, so we did that. I had enough guacamole and fresh corn tortillas to feed a small family. Today at the market, 5 avocados cost 8 pesos, or about $0.54.

LA RESTENCIA ES FÉRTIL (stolen, Oventic)

photo from the Mayan Medicine Museum last week. we were posing in a sweat lodge.

speaking of the museum, they had a whole section about childbirth. taken from an e-mail to a friend: "the way they see birth is very different then in western societies. the woman hugs the man and is squatting on her knees because it is the most natural position in terms of alleviating back pain. i liked the idea of the hugging of the partner for physical and emotional support."

13 February 2009

"Fancy a rabbit without any hind legs!" And he began to laugh.

Claudia and I on top of the mountain

Dan walked past one of the new chicks the other day and on his way back he saw it squished with its guts hanging out of it's butt, so we think someone stepped on him. In the amount of time it took him to tell us, the little bugger was discarded somehow by one of the compañeras.

This week at Oventic some of us planned our vacation weeks. I will be in Oaxaca City for a few days starting 3/7 and then end the week in Mazunte on the southern coast of the state of Oaxaca. Claudia, Hannah, Nick, and I will swim in the clear water and go harpoon fishing. It'll be great, and after that we're going to Tlaxcala for the next few weeks of our semester.

I learned how to do a simple stitch with a backstrap weave this week. It felt like lanyard for grownups. I hope to finish the bag before we leave Oventic. It's really a pleasantly repetitive process once I got over the difficulty of learning the steps as they were told to me in Spanish.

We went to an autonomous municipality yesterday called Magdelena de la Paz and I've decided that the word “autonomous” is just as elusive as a collective or co-op in the US. It seems like they're autonomy exists in the way that they are collectively reject any involvement from the government because of the lack of rights and respect Mexican bureaucracy grants them. This reminded me of our class earlier in the week.

My notes read,

“* - but how do we change? Not by modifying current system, but 1. by rebuilding alternatives to capitalism at community levels and 2. fighting exploitation through cooperation at local levels

in Zapatismo: the state loses relevance, therefore loses power”.

Autonomous communities are the first steps towards this.

At Magdalena de la Paz, we visited a weaving cooperative, a metal shop, and a tiny schoolroom. I bought a small patch of a burgundy flower with one coral leaf embroidered onto it that probably took a lot of time and patience, yet it only cost the equivalent of less than $2.

Today we hiked one of the smaller mountains overlooking the caracol of Oventic and sang “...and the green grass grows all around...” and learned about how infertile the land is and how houses with red roofs are part of some government project that gives them out (yet barely anything else...). The skies were clear and somehow even at the top I heard a rooster crow.

I'm back in San Cristobal for the weekend and guzzled soymilk on the street when we discovered it at some natural foods store. Before today I was reconstituting powder with water and simple syrup.

PS: I met another Sara(h) Louise this week. She was staying at Oventic for their language school program and had recently worked on this documentary, Crude Independence, about oil drilling in North Dakota:

"...through revealing interviews and breathtaking imagery of the northern plains, Crude Independence is a rumination on the future of small town America—a tale of change at the hands of the global energy market and Americas unyielding thirst for oil"

trailer below:


Read The Velveteen Rabbit with illustrations here.

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”


07 February 2009

la digna rabia

stolen from Sadie
The other day three little kids were sitting under the clothes lines when the sun finally started to come out and the girl asked us if I could put her hair in a ponytail. it seemed like there is a specific verb in Spanish that covers this request, almost more specific then you could get with English, but I don't really remember the word. but maybe it was just that commands in Spanish just sound better.

I'm in Oventic, a Zapatista community, for the next few weeks. we came back to the house for the weekend but I think I'll be staying at Oventic for the next two or three weekends. next weekend there is a festival on Valentine's Day, but apparently it's not for Valentine's Day. i'm glad it's not. The next weekend I'll be learning how to make my own boots at the zapateria.

Tonight my friend Nick and I made a perfect vegan dinner. we made a ton of chili with zuccini, tomato, green bell pepper, dried chili peppers, whole cumin seeds, garlic, onion, lime, beans...i think that's it. we also made stovetop biscuits because the oven doesn't work and they were super dense and amazing. we made "buttermilk" out of soymilk powder, water, and vinegar. the best part was seeing Tom, our professor, enjoying our creations.

at Oventic we spend two days discussing the readings for the week and two days in Spanish class. this is one of the few times in college that i actually feel i am really getting something out of all this, although this week's readings about political economy of neoliberalism are making me a bit crazy.

some of my challenges is that most of the discussions and seminars about zapatismo and indigenous rights are in spanish, and my spanish is not at a good enough level that i can really benefit from more complex discussions. these exist outside of class time, as sort of supplements. I find my interest in the culture here somehow stifled because of my language barrier. it'll get better here though, as I keep mentioning...

Things in Mexico are really inexpensive and it makes me feel weird.

One of the best parts about this week was meeting with some of the girls from the secondary school and discussing the "Ley revolucionaria de mujeres" (the link will go to the google translation which is pretty ok, I think):

"En su justa lucha por la liberación de nuestro pueblo, el EZLN incorpora a las mujeres en la lucha revolucionaria sin importar su raza, credo, color o filiación política, con el único requisito de hacer suyas las demandas del pueblo explotado y su compromiso a cumplir y hacer cumplir las leyes y reglamentos de la revolución. Además, tomando en cuenta la situación de la mujer trabajadora en México, se incorporan sus justas demandas de igualdad y justicia en la siguiente LEY REVOLUCIONARIA DE MUJERES"

Neoliberalism & Mexico Solidarity Network
"Neoliberalism is the dominant economic, social and political model of our time - the latest phase of capitalism. In the neoliberal era, western-style representative governments have largely abandoned their (at least theoretical) roles as representatives of and mediators among a range of social actors. Joachim Hirsch refers to the 'national competitive state' in which government represents the interests of capital at the expense of popular sectors of society."