Saturday, October 6, 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012
Location: The Moon Cafe, 2/323 William Street (corner Newcastle), Perth
Time: 6pm, Sunday September 9th
RSVP: in the comments here, or on the Facebook event page.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Saturday, August 11, 2012
One day while waiting for my daughter's gymnastics class to let out, I decided to steal a few minutes to read my book. I hadn't finished one chapter when a woman plopped her gym bag on the couch seat next to me and asked, "What are you reading?" I replied that I was finishing up "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin." She paused and then said, "There's a name for women like you, intellectual women, blue something or other." I told her that I was not familiar with any such term. After rummaging in her bag for a moment she made a hasty retreat. I didn't think a whole lot of the exchange until I recounted it to my husband that evening at dinner. He encouraged me to look it up, and thanks to the infinite knowledge of Wikipedia, I discovered what she was trying to call me: a blue stocking.
I had never heard this term before, so I read the entire article. Wikipedia defines "blue stocking" as an 18th-century term for an educated, intellectual woman. OK, that's not so bad. But as I read further I discovered that the term had mostly negative connotations, and the blue stocking name itself came from the cheaper stockings allegedly worn by educated women as opposed to the more fashionable black stockings that were in style. What really got to me was there was only one word in the "See Also" section of the entry. And that word was "nerd."
Upon further investigation, I also found that in 1811 an Irish playwright wrote a play titled "The Blue Stocking" that parodied such women. On the flip side, I also discovered the Blue Stocking Society. Established in England in the mid-1700s, the society was a circle of women interested in the education of their fellow females. They would meet, invite learned men to attend and discuss the intellectual issues of the day.
Since women were not allowed to attend college at that time, meetings like this attempted to fill the gap in their education. One quote from one of the most famous Blue Stocking members, Elizabeth Montagu, really struck a chord with me. In 1743 she stated: "In a woman's education little but outward accomplishments is regarded ... sure the men are very imprudent to endeavor to make fools of those to whom they so much trust their honour and fortune, but it is in the nature of mankind to hazard their peace to secure power, and they know fools make the best slaves."
In the 20th century, some women's groups and colleges have tried to reclaim the name much the way Revolutionary War soldiers reclaimed the word "Yankee." Not to much avail, however, since the term is rarely used.
Now I won't pretend to know the woman's motivation or intentions when she called me this. Perhaps she didn't mean it as an insult. Most of my friends think that she did. Whatever her reason, I am thankful that she did it.
Who knows if I would have ever encountered this term or learned about these women who so bravely sought equality and an education?
Shannon Green writes from Frederick, Maryland where she still reads in public, no matter what the cost.
From Fairtrade Australia New Zealand
Click on Find Fairtrade on the Fairtrade Australia New Zealand website to use a great new product search function. Type in a product type, location or simply browse the many brands of Fairtrade Certified products available. Generated by Fairly Local, you too can contribute to the database by submitting locations where you have seen Fairtrade Certified products - read more here on how to contribute.
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Uranium Mining in Australia
There have been three main bursts of uranium mining exploration in Australia. The first was in the mid-1940s and 1950s, after pressure from the US and UK governments encouraged the federal government to offer tax concessions. The second came in the late 1960s as nuclear power began to take off, and the third has happened since 2002 (driven, in part, by claims that nuclear power will help to provide an energy source with a lower impact on climate change than coal).
|Photo courtesy of Alberto OG on Flickr|
Opposition to uranium mining has accompanied these developments, with activists concerned about the environmental impacts, the impacts on Aboriginal communities and lands, and the links between uranium mining and nuclear weapons.
The Wikipedia entries on uranium mining in Australia and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia both provide useful overviews.
This interactive map provides a useful overview of previous, current, and proposed nuclear sites, covering processing facilities and waste storage sites as well as military and mine sites.
The RoxStop website offers some suggestions on how to take action on uranium mining in Australia, including signing petitions and shifting your super away from funds that invest in uranium mining.
The Lizard's Revenge website provides information on the upcoming attempt to highlight the problems with the expansion of Olympic Dam.
For people in Western Australia, the Conservation Council of Western Australia has provided an overview of the problems with the proposed Toro Energy mine at Wiluna.
Fracking in Australia
|Photo from Darth Ambiguous on Flickr|
This article in The Economist, Gas Goes Boom, looks at the development of fracking in Australia, as well as some of the concerns about the environment and effects on farmers.
Dennis Cooke's Explainer: coal seam gas, shale gas, and fracking in Australia on The Conversation is also a good starting-point for those wanting to find out more.
For more on opposition to fracking in Australia, you can visit:
- No Fracking WAy (in Western Australia)
- The Lock the Gate Alliance (Queensland)
Friday, June 1, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The film: Kony 2012 was created by Invisible Children, Inc. and released on 5 March. The purpose of the film is to promote Invisible Children's 'Stop Kony' campaign which seeks to make Ugandan war criminal, Joseph Kony, globally known to assist in his arrest. In the film the acts of Joseph Kony are explained through filmmaker Jason Russell's explanation to his son. The film also features Jacob Acaye, whose brother was killed by Kony. In the film Jason Russell promises Jacob that he will do everything possible to 'stop Kony'. The film is approximately 30 minutes and it has received over 100 million views. Following criticisms of the film, Invisible Children Inc. released a sequel video, 'Kony 2012: Beyond Famous' on 5 April. It received much less interest, with only 1.7million views in its first two weeks.
Joseph Kony: Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). He claims to be a spokesperson of God and a spirit medium. The LRA formed over 26 years ago and according to the film, in that time it has kidnapped over 30,000 children, many of which have been subjected to appalling crimes including rape and mutilation. Initially the LRA claimed it was a resistance movement against the central Ugandan government who were viewed as privileging southern Ugandan ethnic groups at the expense of northern ethnic groups. The LRA has been classified as a Christian militant group although many commentators argue that it no longer has any ideology or political programme.
The 'Stop Kony' campaign: The purpose of the movie is to raise global awareness of Kony to assist in generating support for foreign military involvement in his capture, such as preventing the cancellation of a US advisory group mission that was deployed by President Obama to assist the Ugandan military. The film suggests that people go to the Invisible Children, Inc. website and send emails to 40 influential people, including 20 'celebrity culture makers' and 12 policymakers. The campaign also involves the 'Cover the Night' action which took place on 20 April. To raise awareness of Kony, the film advocated plastering campaign materials across cities around the world on 20 April. Invisible Children offer posters online and sell action kits that include buttons, posters, bracelets and stickers.
Responses: 'Cover the Night' was widely perceived to be a failure. Across the globe the anticipated crowds did not come out, leaving many cities 'unplastered'. The LRA purportedly released a statement that condemned the film as 'a cheap and banal panic act of mass trickery to make the unsuspecting peoples of the world complicit in the US rogue and murderous activities in central Africa'. Meanwhile, two US senators put forth a resolution on 21 March condemning Kony and backing the efforts of a combined central African military force to capture Kony. It received bipartisan support from 37 senators. On 23 March the African Union announced that it would send a brigade of 5000 troops from central African countries where Kony is believed to be active, namely Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This force is led by the Ugandan military and has the backing of the US. It is planned to exist until Kony is captured.
Support: Many influential and high-profile people and organisations have supported the film, including Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor at the ICC; Abou Moussa, Special Representative and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Support for the film has generally centered on the high degree of public interest that the film sparked.
Criticisms: The film received many criticisms. It was argued to be highly simplistic in that it barely mentioned that Kony and his forces, now much reduced in numbers, are no longer in Uganda. Nor did the film highlight the Ugandan military's earlier use of child soldiers during conflict with the LRA. The film's focus on the capture of one person as a solution to this conflict was also criticized. The film also did not highlight the importance of a Ugandan-led solution in ensuring the longevity of any solution. It was argued to unfairly represent Uganda, given that the country is no longer in a state of conflict. Alex de Waal also argued the campaign glorified Kony, rather than presenting him as a "common criminal and failed provincial politician". The finances of Invisible Children Inc. have also been the subject of controversy, given that they received funding from anti-gay Christian groups.
Monday, March 5, 2012
5:30pm - 7pm Sunday 11th March 2012, Moon Cafe (Northbridge).
Welcome to Bluestocking’s Discussion Group series for 2012!
The first Discussion Group of the year will look into the ‘Occupy’ movement which is sweeping the globe. Our very own Sky Croeser has recently returned from Occupy Oakland in the US, and will share with us some of her experiences and insights.
Come along for a fun, informal discussion! At the Moon Cafe (323 William Street, Northbridge), 5:30pm this Sunday. All welcome. RSVP here.
For more information on Occupy Oakland:-
Over the last few months Sky has been populating her website (and the media) with her accounts of Occupy Oakland, and the broader Occupy movement, including activities here in Perth. This experience has been part research (via Curtin University) and part personal interest for Sky. And, as you can read in the articles below, she has certainly been keeping in the thick of it.
Below is a few links to Sky's blogs, and a copy of her article in Global Comment concerning her experiences at Occupy Oakland:
“Occupy Wall Street: movements and manifestos”
“The violence we don’t see” http://skycroeser.net/2011/11/15/the-violence-we-dont-see/
“Why I’ll be at Occupy Perth (and the protests against CHOGM)” http://skycroeser.net/2011/10/26/why-ill-be-at-occupy-perth-and-the-protests-against-chogm/
February 8, 2012 - Global Comment
As we marched down the road a man with his face covered in a black bandanna ran up to me and tapped me on the shoulder, pointing to the intersection ahead of us. “The police are up there,” he said, knowing from an earlier conversation that I had to be careful not to get arrested, “you might want to get onto the sidewalk.” I ran up towards the front of the march: police were blocking roads in at least three directions, and I couldn’t see the fourth. A group of people who’d been arrested at Saturday’s Move In Day started walking off down a side street and I joined them, worried that the police would start moving in at any moment.
Occupy Oakland has been criticised for taking a more militant tone than other Occupies. The Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan, has attempted to widen divisions within Occupy by calling on ‘leaders’ of the Occupy movement to oppose Occupy Oakland for its failure to commit to nonviolence.
On January 28th, Move In Day, which was meant to lead to a building takeover to set up a social centre, people brought down home-made riot shields, barricades, and gas masks. For the last six weeks, sections of Occupy Oakland have also been having a ‘Fuck the Police’ (FTP) march every Saturday night, which the Tactical Action Committee describe as “a militant action” and “not a march intended for people who are not fully comfortable with diversity of tactics” (a phrase which refers to tactics that might include resisting the police and property damage).
However, what critics often miss is that the same people who carried barricades at Move In Day go to Occupy events in San Francisco empty-handed. When I went to Occupy Wall Street West in San Francisco on 20th January, I didn’t see any barricades or riot shields, and very few gas masks. The reason for this is clear: activists don’t expect to be teargassed, shot with rubber bullets and beanbag guns, maced, and beaten in San Francisco.
The FTP march may make some activists uncomfortable. Honestly, if I wasn’t trying to get a better understanding of Occupy Oakland for my research, I may not have attended: it’s not the kind of event I would usually be comfortable with as an activist. But then, I was never teargassed, shot at, or kettled until Move In Day, and my interactions with the police have been shaped by the fact that I’m a middle-class white woman living in Australia. I am now more anxious around police than I have ever been before.
What the FTP march, barricades and gas masks assert is the right of protesters to be in public space, and the willingness to resist being pushed out of that space. This is a vital right for activists to assert. It is possible for activism to take place in private, or in public only with permission: in rented offices, through letters to politicians or news sources, through decisions to boycott products or buy fair trade, in marches that have been granted permits or ad campaigns paid for by donation. But to believe that activism should be bounded by what is polite, unthreatening, and legal is to accept a system that configures as primarily as consumers, and channels our politics through the funnel of consumption. It means accepting that only those who can afford to speak loudly should be heard.
Being present in public space is an important part of activism. It makes it easier for people to stop by and get involved, to watch from the fringes and try to work out what is going on with the movement. It is a small step towards reclaiming the commons, asserting that healthy communities need shared spaces in which people can spend time without participating in acts of consumption. It also forces activists to work out ways to deal with the contradictions we face: to organise across lines of race and class, to build safe spaces for women, for people who are queer, trans or genderqueer, for children, but also to include those who have been pushed onto the street by a lack of mental health and welfare services.
Saturday’s FTP march demonstrated that people are willing to stand up to police intimidation in order to reclaim their streets. Many of those there were nervous: some had been arrested on Saturday and held in terrible conditions, others knew that being arrested might get them fired. They marched anyway. There were young people there with their faces masked, but also older people in suits, couples holding hands, people carrying pets, people who had never been to a FTP march before but came because of what happened on Move In Day. As they walked through Oakland I saw people watching from balconies and windows and cars, often waving and smiling. I didn’t see any hostile reactions from those who were watching.
I don’t know where Occupy Oakland is headed. In a week, I’ll get on a plane and head back to Australia, where I doubt I’ll be teargassed in the near future. In the meantime, the debates will continue, and activists will keep trying to build a public space for themselves in the face of police confiscations of their property and bad weather.
And, as I have heard so many activists say: Spring is coming. Who knows what the sunshine will bring?
Monday, January 9, 2012
How do we translate passion into a useful campaign?
How can we make a big splash on a tiny budget?
Activist Campaign Tools (ACT) is a series of three day courses for community organisers in Perth, WA. Priced for an activist budget, they are designed to provide practical skills and campaign secrets for people trying to improve the world. The courses are designed to provide practical skills and professional training for non-profit organisations, advocates, and anyone working for change!
Three ACT courses are coming up soon:CAMPAIGN SKILLS: Freo Sunday 29 Jan, 5 & 12 Feb
Translate passion into action! Campaign Planning, marketing and media, politics and lobbying, events, activism tactics and people skills.
COMMUNITY SKILLS: Perth Sunday 11, 25 Mar & 15 Apr NEW
Build your organisation! Volunteer recruitment and management, fundraising secrets, increase membership, Web 2.0 and Cyber-activism, networking and partnerships.
SPEAKING SKILLS: Perth Sundays 6, 20 May, 10 June
Compelling Communications: Speaking with Confidence, Speech Structure and Content, Vocal Skills, Body Language, Persuasive Psychology, Dynamic Debating, Impromptu Speaking.
For more details and bookings, visit ACT or call Katrina Bercov at ACT on 9443 7454.