My head is a great ship, sinking.
Flecks and pocks hide under your
Smooth, matte finish.
Like a towering structure,
I am your base.
Now hold on
Fill your palm and fingers
Drop your head and
I’ll wash over you.
Build upon my frame
With sturdy shivers,
And I will climb.
Your majesty, we bob and dip like
Weighted bows in
Rich and salted waters.
Melt into the glowing rush
When ripples calm,
Regard the perfect circles reaching out
As ripples passed
Yet coming back.
Climate disruption is so strongly tied into a scientific battle that humans have made it an issue of religion versus science, of economics versus mother nature, and it is a battle between humans themselves. I simply have to ask: what harm is spent in an attempt to improve the condition of the earth?
The numbers that Bill McKibben displays in the article, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” are completely astounding. The change that we’ve seen as a planet, and the carbon emission “budget” alloted for by science henceforth, has space for a change of .4º celcius. This is after assessing the change of .8º currently, along with the notion that accumulation of gases, even if carbon emission halted today, would approach a difference of yet another .8º. Two full degrees is what we can withstand, according to McKibben. I don’t want to simply summarize his article, but this was information that had me halted, because of the carbon assets that are already in trade economically – five times our earthly budget.
We viewed the documentary Chasing Ice, which was more photographic than some of the information we read, but its point is pertinent nonetheless. Observing change in ice sheets and glaciers is intrinsically fascinating, but what he uncovered was vast recession and even disappearance of entire, huge areas of ice. Displaying the surface in reference to the size of Manhattan, breaking off and floating away, seems awful foreshadowing. Anthropologically, we are observing evolution – change – on earth.
Why, then, is this still treated as an environmental issue rather than something largely political that requires immediate action? Sandra Postel, in National Geographic, reflected on President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, noting that although he addressed concern about climate disruption, the proposal to utilize natural gas as a “bridge fuel” as we seek a more renewable energy cannot explain the amounts of natural gas made available through extraction technology. This is congruent with McKibben’s stance on what is economically already in trade.
Perhaps, after reading and viewing the treatment of this issue, we can find solace in what humans are already doing to keep fossil fuels underground. It seems clear that action is needed beyond the political sphere; though numbers of people working together with governmental figures and urging ethical action could be the way to slow the trade. I’m inclined to interview my anthropology professor now…
The idea of working as a positive collective or community is something that I continuously gravitate toward. It is inherently political – challenging the ideals, values, characters and thought processes of our culture – but it is mostly just human. It’s simple, but it’s often missing in American society.
I want to seek individuals and organizations who challenge the receding ideas of community and set the pace for those in pursuit of true freedom and success: happiness. Through interviewing a diverse selection of humans, I will seek answers to such profound questions as:
What is important?
How do you achieve that?
What makes you happy?
What do you do to achieve that?
How do you share what you know?
I want to tackle an existential beast that beckons society, and expose it through writing and images of differing experiences. Specifically, I intend to take myself on a proverbial “pursuit of happiness” through processes of interview, observation, and research.
I hope to find methods of positivity that have functioned for organizations, groups, activists, artists, etc. and incorporate those into the analysis. If this gains any sort of following, my more direct endeavor will be to influence a space or group of people and share – almost as an extension of the “Spread the Good Movement”, but composed as a zine and/or other media-based abstraction of the action.
It’s a little ambiguous now, but the intent is to elaborate through the reactions of interviewees, my experience gained, and what wondrous things this pursuit may offer.
Date: Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Mission: Learn and share with the Beehive Design Collective
A beautifully eclectic group of mostly Milwaukee natives gathered at the Center Street Free Space to hear what two gentlemen from the collective had to say about their process. We began a little past seven, because “punk time runs rampant here”.
The Bees introduced the organization – a collective of activist artists dedicated to sharing stories through images – and then dove into what that can mean for us, right here and right now.
We began with some exercises to recognize each of our roles as quite integral and meaningful. Then, we created a brain map around the question of:
What are Milwaukee’s biggest issues, and what are some solutions to those issues?
It was a curious and engaging question to ask a group of total strangers. Nevertheless, spit flew down the table as each individual got excited to share tales of their own experiences in the city. The web held cultural identity, political issues, gender issues, police brutality, education and inequality. Then we regained the notion that we needed to also include solutions, and the root of all of this seemed to be bringing our community back somehow. We kept revisiting the ideas of shared space and food/gardens. Some of those in attendance included zine artists, skateboarders, Victory Garden Initiative enthusiasts, beekeepers, and long-standing activists.
Breaking into groups, then, refocused our energies on a few more directed issues. We worked collaboratively as artists, activists and educators (which were categories we chose), and our group took on the beast of SEGREGATION.
What that means, for us, is something racial, something highly economic-based, and thereby a root of other huge inequalities like access to quality education, housing, jobs and food.
We translated our “story” into a network of symbols to create a large, master image. A highway, separating sides of town, ends in an open garden with a huge tree arching over the road. A child jumps from a swing, landing across the divide; ants work together to remove garbage from a tree; members of the community come together at an open space; a troll cop sits under a bridge; and new growth flourishes throughout the piece.
This all became a really groovy tool for communication within groups. I wish that more people could have seen the ideas, and that we’d have had more time to work on the “finished product”. The Beehive Collective takes years to complete some of their brilliant works! Milwaukee is so rich in passion when you take the time to notice.
Vigilance in sniffing out your every pencil tap and jacket rustle, and how flour dry your mouth is. You have a coffee spit paste, but can’t move yet. Concentrated tongue, you think, don’t sit too close.
Your dad taught you about searching new spots to collect old treasures because your mom yelled all the time, and he hid in thrifted bottles. She farted in the bathtub and the family would laugh from the floor below as the blow emerged and quaked the porcelain.
You probably hear the clock changing pitch as it reaches fifty-six, fifty-SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE, and back down to ground zero. A fresh new minute.
And you know that someone in the subdivision smokes mary jane in the middle of the night, because a skunk would linger for more than a window-crack. It would sour your sinus at a particular spot, say, as you pull in the drive. You’d sniff, sniff, squint, sniff, and confirm that it was an animal.
The tendrils in the window, however, only float in between eleven and twelve o’clock. That is when you write, window open, a La Croix on your desk.
You would prefer whiskey. You are hopelessly, obsessively hyper aware. Write now.
But actually, this:
That’d be awesome if.
I don’t really want to.
They don’t like me, they like husbands
And purses in the subdivision.
Why bother? That’s not even,
Not anything like,
Couldn’t be further from,
I’ve forgotten all about,
What the fuck do I do for,
Who will understand,
Do I do enough for
When will I care about,
Have you ever seen,
Can I help you?
This week, we hopped through the Chicano/a movement through art, and its principles are really intriguing to me. Our guest, Raoul Deal, talked about a lot of different pieces, rich in Latino history, but what got me really thinking was one vague, umbrella claim that he made. It reaches across any and all walks of life with the intent to raise some kind of awareness. He said this:
A lot of art wants to change the world, but it doesn’t always want to change it for the better.
I just had to write it down and ponder it some more. What is art that changes the world for the worse? He presented us with a few examples of racist art, and knock off styles that satirize society or politics. That seemed like the most prevalent mode, in fact, of representing art for the worse.
It’s all in the eye of the beholder, again, what becomes of a piece and its quest.
So then, we had a chat about wheat pasting images into public spaces, and legal forms of “graffiti” (if that term can be used in this context) such as chalking and mud stenciling. What tied that in further, I think, was taking the ideas of grand, elaborate Mexican wall murals and transferring that idea onto a less-permanent, yet still provocative, image. And I just really dig that.
As the Chicanos emerged from the hope for a new political identity, and an involvement in the history of the community, this seems a pretty powerful method of communication. I’m stoked to see what becomes of the work that Raoul has planned for his pupils.