How Art & Activism Are Essential In Creating Change
Bioneers Pulse – updates from the Bioneers Community
Greetings fellow Bioneers!
“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention”—the sentiment has been reiterated time and again since the 2016 presidential election. This spirit of disillusionment, frustration and anger has inspired a new generation of activists to organize and take action in the face of cruel and deliberate power grabs that disenfranchise people of color, women, immigrants, the LGBT+ community, and many others. In this week’s newsletter we hear from those at the forefront of political and social movements working to effect change in the Age of Disinformation through intergenerational activism and artistic expression. We also get a sneak peek of the inspiring social justice and human rights programming coming to Bioneers 2018.
When politics took a swift turn to the right after the 1960s, college and high school students across the country organized to protest significant budget cuts to school systems and student programs, particularly in urban areas throughout the U.S. The massive slash in funding also inspired the genesis of a number of sweeping youth movements. Can you name the two musical genres born out of social and political protest movements during the 1970s and 1980s? (Read to the bottom of this email to find the answer.)
“This is the moment of truth in this Age of Disinformation. All people of good will and good heart need to break through the political pavement and grow a new politics. We need to do a lot more than change elected officials, although that will help at this fateful time when holding the center is a life-and-death issue for countless people. We also need to change the system, and we need a change of heart. We forget that the Nazis arose from the nation considered the most advanced and cultured in the world. It’s easy to see right now how the ‘good Germans’ came to be. Indeed, silence is complicity, but complicity is also complicity. Are we really going to accept an illegitimate regime that’s carrying out a coup d’etat in slow motion? Are we really going to give this gangster cartel any other name?”
—Kenny Ausubel, Bioneers co-founder, in his recent article on the state of American politics
Tom and Dallas Goldtooth - The Art of Intergenerational Activism
Video to Watch: Bridging the Age Gap
Tom Goldtooth is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and a lifelong advocate for Indigenous rights and environmental health. His son Dallas Goldtooth is the co-founder of the Native American comedy group The 1491s and an organizer for the “Keep It In the Ground” campaign for independence from fossil fuels. In this presentation from the Indigenous Forum at the 2016 National Bioneers Conference, Tom and Dallas talk about intergenerational organizing and what they have learned from each other.
John Densmore, legendary drummer of the Doors, joins visionary spoken word duo Climbing PoeTree in an exploration of creativity and social change. This episode of Bioneers Radio features exclusive interviews with the artists and a special Bioneers performance of Jim Morrison's poem, "American Prayer".
Following is an excerpt from the 2017 book Hegemony How-To, in which author Jonathan Smucker draws from his years of experience and research as a doctoral student of sociology at U.C. Berkeley and as the director and co-founder of Beyond the Choir, which helps social justice organizations plan and mobilize to provide practical tools and advice for the next generation of grassroots organizers and changemakers.
Recently, such a process has been unfolding across the United States as police killings of our black and brown brothers and sisters are now being articulated popularly as a pattern, a structural problem, and a political problem—recognized as such by more and more people. Of course some voices have been saying this for decades and organizing consistently around these issues, but only recently has this analysis and mobilization broken through into a nationally-recognized movement. This means that each needless death and each instance of excessive force is now understood as part of a bigger moral narrative. Victims’ families and communities no longer have to struggle on their own, isolated from each other. There is now a stronger sense, at least, that “you are not alone.” This articulation of a common story about structural racism and economic inequality in relation to America’s police departments provides a stronger basis for the collective mobilization it will take to change this intolerable situation.
However, it is not easy to get people to recognize as a political problem what the prevailing common sense has told them to see as a personal shortcoming. Struggling homeowners in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, for example, tended to struggle in isolation. In the American Dream narrative, homeownership is a source of individual pride. Foreclosure and underwater mortgages have thus been implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, framed as personal problems and even reason for shame. Thus, struggling homeowners often worked extra jobs to make payments on underwater mortgages, or they went quietly when facing foreclosure and eviction. However, as the banks got bailed out to the tune of a trillion dollars, but no relief was extended to struggling homeowners— and as banks’ predatory lending practices started to face scrutiny—the political nature of the housing market crash began to come into focus. At the height of Occupy Wall Street, Monique White went to the public park where Occupy Minnesota had set up and asked the occupiers to help her fight to save her home. By joining with others to take collective action, she was able to fight the bank and eventually save her home. In similar fashion, Occupy Homes campaigns kicked off all across the country, successfully saving many homes along the way. Still, most homeowners who joined the effort did not start out as ready as Monique White. Tim Franzen, an organizer with Occupy Homes Atlanta explained how “The biggest barrier was getting homeowners to fight—to believe that it was right and just for them to fight, instead of just suffering alone in the shadows.” Individual homeowners had to confront the intuitive shame they often felt—a product of seeing their situation as their own personal problem or shortcoming—in order for the personal to become political.
Don’t Miss It: 10 Incredible Activism, Justice & Human Rights Presentations at Bioneers 2018
We’re looking forward to gathering some of the brightest minds and most groundbreaking changemakers at Bioneers 2018. This year, our Activism, Justice & Human Rights programming will include discussions on everything from clean energy with 350.org Executive Director May Boeve to a brutally honest talk with writer, activist and speaker Kevin Powell on how we can transform the modern concept of manhood. You’ll also have the opportunity to attend workshops covering a host of important topics, including How to Be a Good Ally, a primer on creating successful cross-cultural collaborations between indigenous and non-indigenous partners, as well as the experiential workshop Art, Power and Social Change, a collaborative session led by activist/educator/performer Samara Gaev with the goal of creating a safe space for radical self-reflection, systems analysis, community building and articulating visions for change.
Bioneers is thrilled to partner with the brilliant minds behind Pathway to Pariswho will be hosting two evenings of music and art at the Global Climate Action Summit on September 14 in San Francisco and September 16 in Los Angeles. The events will feature well-known artists, including Patti Smith, Flea, Olafur Eliasson, Bill McKibben, Tenzin Choegyal, and more.
Last week the U.S. shocked the World Health Assembly in Geneva by vehemently opposing a resolution brought to the fore by Ecuador to encourage and support breast-feeding among new mothers, instead choosing to throw its full support behind the $70 billion dollar formula industry. (Andrew Jacobs via The New York Times)
From energy generators that produce clean renewable electricity from underwater sea currents to a device designed to prevent erosion, here are eight bold new ideas from changemakers across the country that are inspired by the wonders of nature. (via Bioneers 2018)
In an open letter to the nation and the current administration, some of the most prominent voices in politics, activism and American culture call for the preservation of our democracy through secure elections and national security. (via The Nation)
Carbon farming—using agricultural practices to sequester carbon from the atmosphere—is among our best tools for mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change. In this week’s dive into carbon farming, we hear from leading expert Calla Rose Ostrander, an environmental consultant to the Marin Carbon Project, former Climate Change Coordinator for the city of Aspen and Climate Change Project Manager for San Francisco. Ostrander discusses the methods she's used to successfully advance the carbon farming movement and related agricultural policy locally and federally, and how we can expand the model. She touches on the need for cohesive messaging, face-to-face conversations with government representatives, conservation plans for ranchers and farmers wanting to implement changes, and the monetary and technical support needed to continue moving forward.
ARTISTS: Show your work at the 2018 Bioneers Conference! We are looking for outdoor installations, live painters and musicians to activate the conference grounds. Deadline to apply is August 1, 2018. Apply now.
Bioneers is seeking a Development Coordinator and a Youth Leadership Program Coordinator. Check out our career opportunities page for details.
The Big Question, Answered: Teen Spirit
Punk rock and hip-hop may have evolved into distant iterations of their original forms, but both musical genres were born as movements, protesting injustice and giving voice to the youth generation. In fact, the current state of American politics continues to inspire a new generation of creatives to do the same, including Childish Gambino’s recent hit “This is America,” calling out the country’s problem with racism and gun violence. Youth and student involvement in American politics over the past century is an often-overlooked part of what has shaped the U.S. into what it is today—and what continues to drive us forward. Read more about the history of student activism in the United States at Teen Vogue.
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