Friday, June 23, 2006

Last minute chaos

So tomorrow is the big day. I feel like I am getting married or something, only I am way more excited about this fundraiser than I ever was about that funny little wedding I had 11 years ago.

Things are actually coming together pretty nicely, considering the fact that up until this week, I have been doing all of this madness on my own. To ease my stressed system, I have decided to make a last minute change to my thesis project and am giving up the research aspect of a cross-cultural comparison between the European witch burnings and the religious and cultural persecution of the Indigenous people of North America. Instead, I am using al of the work I have put into this fundraiser and my motivation to get to Kenya toward my project. I am going to write up a piece about community building and how it relates to the global activist movement and how I fit into it all. Melissa, if you are reading this, I was going to give you the proposal yesterday, but you were sick. ;)

Anyhow, this event will be great. It will bring together most of the most important people in my life all at one time and I am so excited to see the networking and fun and relationships that will evolve out of this! Robert and I went to the food bank via Food Not Bombs today to get all of the organic goods for tomorrow's meal and it is going to be soooo good. Cupcakes will be baked in several kitchens across Sonoma County tonight. Auction forms typed up. Wine will be dropped off. Keys to the school will be picked up. Shadow puppets will be cut out and I will get a decent night's sleep.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Article in this week's North Bay Bohemian

Dani, Champion of the World
Forum-mania overtakes local mother!

Saturday, June 24, at the New College, 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 4pm to 8pm. $20, sliding scale.

Since 2001, the World Social Forum (WSF) has met annually in January, right around the time that the World Economic Forum (WEF) rolls into Davos, Switzerland. What's the difference between the two forums? It depends whom you ask, but here's a start: Angelina Jolie and Bono made the pages of People magazine for appearing in Davos last year. The WSF, on the other hand, brings in speakers less accustomed to the paparazzi's flashbulbs, like Noam Chomsky.

While the WEF has invited Amnesty International, Oxfam and other high-profile do-gooders to discuss global economic and social dilemmas with big-time politicians and executives, the meeting has come under fire for prioritizing profit margins rather than human problems, and for being Western-centric. Citing that "another world is possible," the WSF emerged to come up with alternatives to neoliberalism. It, too, has come under fire: the right criticizes it for being too left-leaning, and many on the left accuse it for being all deliberation and no decision.

Regardless of these issues, Santa Rosa activist and founding member of the Mama Collective, Dani Burlison-Craft, is holding a fundraiser to attend this January's WSF in Nairobi with her two daughters. Her press materials state charmingly, if satirically, "One girl can save the world. Um, with a little help, please?"

Why should we help fund someone else's vacation to Kenya? "It seems to me that as Americans are huge contributors to international and national issues around war, poverty, consumption of resources and the growing gap between the economic conditions in the global south and western society, that Americans should be at the forefront of the growing global sustainability movement," says Burlison-Craft.

Fair enough, especially since the party, sponsored by the Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center, should be a hoot, with music by the Spindles and singer-songwriter John Courage as well as belly dancing, a political puppet show, face painting, a silent auction, vegetarian food and drinks.

If only another world really were possible (sigh). Attend the Dani Saves the World fundraiser on Saturday, June 24, at the New College. (Brett Ascarelli)

Monday, June 12, 2006

updated list of donations

Last week, while I was plugging away on some overdue school work and preparing my 3 hour class presentation/student teaching for school, I was called away from my computer by a knock on the door. Annoyed by the interuption and thinking that it was just my landlord or a mormon, I took my time making it to the front door where I found a very pleasant suprise waiting on my porch from Righteous Babe Records! Inside of the box of donations, I found 4 Ani Difranco CDs, 2 Andrew Bird CDs, 2 Ani t shirts, an Ani dvd and two RBR bandanas- all accompanied by an incredibly supportive and encouraging letter!

I am so thrilled with the unbelieveable amount of support I am getting on this project!

Here is an updated list of donations, performers, supporters, etc:

About 50-60 tickets sold/RSVPs so far… My goal is 100!!!

The Spindles
John Courage
Jay White
And the infamous Jeff Ott

*donors/supporters/auction items:

Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Peace One Day/United Nations Project
Addicted To War
Sonoma County Peace and Justice Center
Ani Difranco/Righteous Babe Records (and Andrew Bird)
Evolution Yoga
Kindred Fair Trade Store
Orr Hot Springs
Taylor Maid Farms
Java Sutra
Krishna Das
Occidental Art And Ecology Center
Iron Horse Winery
Free Mind Media
Santa Rosa Food Not Bombs
New College of California ecological agriculture program (salad galore)
Sonoma County Museum
Roxy Cinemas
Rialto Cinemas
Ram Das tape library
Mothering Magazine
Shambhala Sun Magazine
Just For Play Pleasure Parties
East West Cafe
Melissa Patterson, ND
Wil Smith
Michelle Feileacan/Lemon Head Designs
Jessamyn Harris
Catherine Wright
Meredith Hamilton
The Velvet Teen
The Listening Group
Sara Sanger
Josh Staples
Jacquie Lichstein
Sarah Jane Andrew
Ryan Saari
Julia Lancer
Brian Henderson
Alyssa Rumrill
Jared Powell
Yarrow Mahko
Kirk Saunders and his new permaculture/gardening business
Abby Wing
Nancy Lisk Pottery
Hairspray Salon
A night on the town with the Burlison sisters (big seller!)
Overnight babysitting with 2 movie tickets from Diana Preskitt
3 hour cleaning from Nicole Galasso
Lots of massage certificates...
Some hair-do certificates...

Yes, oh yes. We are going to Kenya...

Monday, June 05, 2006

And the fabulous article that got us to NYC

Women and Children First!: Mama Collective and kids, from left to right: Adler Blaze, Lila Cugini, Xenia Burlison-Craft, Dani Burlison-Craft, Ava Burlison, Terrie Samundra-Girdner, Ceili Samundra-Carr.

Crisis and Opportunity

Santa Rosa's Mama Collective rises to the challenge of the GOP

By Michael Houghton

The three women sitting across the table from me don't exactly look like wild-eyed radicals. But according to the mainstream media, that's what they are. Dani Burlison-Craft, Lila Cugini and Terrie Samundra-Girdner are three of the estimated 1 million liberal "fringe element" that are planning to "invade" New York City in early September to protest the Republican National Convention.

Sure, they look young and hip, with stylish hair and Portland-chic secondhand clothes. And sure, Burlison-Craft has a frenetic swirl of tattoo creeping kudzulike down her arm. But there's one thing that messes up the image. The only time they look particularly "wild-eyed" is when they're laughing about how Xenia, the oldest of Burlison-Craft's two daughters, is in the other room shouting at a broom that she's been trying to levitate with her mind, thanks to Harry Potter.

Burlison-Craft, Cugini and Samundra-Girdner are single mothers and the backbone of Santa Rosa's Mama Collective, a group they founded last year, they say, "to support single and partnered mothers who are involved in artistic expression and activism." Their first official activity has been to produce a zine by the young single mothers of the North Bay, the first issue of which will be out soon. But another, less tangible result is that, with each other's support, the Mama Collective's members are feeling more confident about taking risks--personally, artistically and politically.

"[In art and protest,] there's a lot of fear that you're going to get ridiculed and that you don't have support. You feel really alone," says Samundra-Girdner. "It can be really lonely parenting. You can feel really isolated, and it's good to have a support system."

"Part of a collective," says Cugini, "is that people individually are shy about making art or making political statements. But collectively if there's even one other person, or two other people, then there's strength in numbers; people aren't as shy."

Now that the Mama Collective has set its sights on protesting the Republican National Convention, there's just one problem. "We're single mothers," Samundra-Girdner says, stating the obvious. "We're not exactly rich."

"We need to raise money," continues Burlison-Craft, "at least for our air fare, which is going to be around $1,000."

To do so, the Mamas have planned a fundraiser for Sunday, Aug. 1. On sale will be baked goods and art, as well as a rummage sale. Tables will also offer voter registration, and of course, more information. "My main focus of going to the RNC," says Burlison-Craft, "is obviously to support the cause--to feel that sense of global community and to know that there are thousands of people out there fighting for justice right alongside me--but we're also going to document everything. The plan is to come back and report on what happened. I'll write articles, Terrie will be working on a film and we're going to have an anti-Bush art show before the November elections."

"We're also planning on connecting with other mothers' groups from different areas," says Samundra-Girdner.

The women also plan to highlight what they see as the GOP's manipulative choice of the location and timing of the event.

"This is the first time they've held [the RNC] in New York in the last 150 years," points out Burlison-Craft with obvious frustration. "And on top of that, they're holding it two months later than usual, just a week before the anniversary of 9-11. The GOP is using it as propaganda. They're playing on people's emotions and their fears; it's ridiculous how blatantly obvious what they're doing is: exploiting the grief and tragedy of 9-11--again."

But most importantly, the Mamas are going to New York because the policies of George Bush are affecting their children, now and in the future.

"There are these wars being waged on impersonal slogans like 'war on terrorism,'" says Samundra-Girdner. "I don't want to live with that fear. I'm going there as a mother because this is a burden that our children are going to carry, they're the ones who are going to have to live with it."

"The Bush administration has been a complete nightmare," adds Cugini. "A nightmare for civil rights, a nightmare for national security, a nightmare for the environment . . ."

"When Bush was the governor of Texas," adds Samundra-Girdner, "there were times when children couldn't even go out to play during recess because the air was so bad. That's why I'm going--because I want to stand up for the kind of life I want for my child."

Even closer to home, George Bush's tax cuts are directly affecting some of the Mamas' livelihoods and those social programs that help single parents.

"I was working for a nonprofit social services agency that deals directly with subsidized child's care," says Burlison-Craft. "The funding got cut so badly that they were thinking about closing the agency. I got my hours cut in half and ended up leaving. The first program to get cut was the respite program for kids that are at risk."

Burlison-Craft can literally rattle off a long list of Bush policies that are directly affecting her ability to raise her child. "The subsidized housing assistance I count on to help me to afford my house is being threatened. Medi-Cal services are getting cut way back. Public schools are constantly doing fundraising because their art programs and pretty much everything is getting cut."

But in the end, these women are going because they hope to make a difference.

"It may seem minor to some people," says Samundra-Girdner, "but it's a really big deal to us. This is what we can do on a small scale, on a local level."

"I talk to my mom a lot about what's going on," says Burlison-Craft, "and she's really freaked out about me going out to protest in New York because of what she sees all over the news about how dangerous it's going to be. I try to explain to her, it's like this Chinese proverb I have next to my desk: 'Crisis and Opportunity.' Every crisis carries two elements--danger and opportunity. No matter how bad things are, no matter what huge crisis you're in the middle of, there's always some opportunity for something good to come out of it. So for me, the fact that things are just so insane right now in our country--I think there's a huge opportunity for people to build a stronger community network and to actually do something to make a change."


I just googled myself

And I found this article from a Chicago paper that I completely forgot about!

City Limits WEEKLY
Week of: September 6, 2004
Number: 450

What really happened at the poor people's march? > By Alyssa Katz

When a handful of demonstrators clashed with police on Monday evening near Madison Square Garden--including one who reportedly knocked a cop off a scooter and injured him--the incident and its attendant media coverage drowned out the message of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, which was marching a block behind. "None of us know who did it or what happened," said Cheri Honkala, the group's founder.
So for the record, here's what it sounded like on the group's march from the U.N., which the NYPD permitted to go down Second Avenue and west on 23rd Street: "I went down to the president's house and I/Took back what he stole from me. Took back my dignity/Took back my humanity. Cuz it's under my feet, under my feet, under my feet, under my feet/Ain't no system gonna walk all over me."

Little kids and their moms, student volunteers, teenagers in technical schools, formerly homeless people who now run their own nationally recognized nonprofit organization--this was their song. Their message to midtown: poor people are politically active, poor people can take charge of their lives, and poor people can demand social policies that don't run them deeper into the ground.

"Under My Feet" started as the anthem of the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, a Philadelphia grassroots group that has organized poor and homeless individuals and families since the early 1990s to make themselves seen and heard as a political force. Honkala has taken KWRU to New York before, as part of an ongoing campaign to get the U.S. to recognize adequate housing, health care and food as basic human rights, just like the U.N. does. In 1998, a busload of members (plus yours truly and a documentary film crew) took a cross-country ride to spread the word and come into the spotlight. This time, KWRU and allied groups have come to protest the Republican National Convention under the umbrella of the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. Members camped out in Bushville, a tent city they set up in--where else--Bushwick, at Mount Zion Christian Church of Christ.

Many of the several thousand marchers who joined the midtown procession had never heard of the Philadelphia group or its national offspring. "Any march that's going on, I'm going to be there!" said Eric Pawluk, who's studying business at Fordham University. He happens to think international poverty is the more urgent problem to deal with. All the same, Pawluk sees the trouble at home: his Bronx neighborhood is full of homeless people.

Marcher after marcher had stories like this to tell. There was Lynn Fitzgerald, who works at a Yonkers homeless shelter and is appalled at the quality of that city's schools. And the flip side: California teacher Scottie Smith, who complained that many of her students can't learn because they have unstable housing and pervasive health problems in their families. And the Sonoma, California, mom who's worried that she'll become homeless again if she ever loses her federal rent subsidy. "This is very personal," said Dani Burlison, who raised money to come to the demonstrations.
The NYPD escort accompanying the march under a last-minute agreement was generally respectful and polite--perhaps because Honkala had praised the police as "brothers and sisters working without a contract." "It's great, it's really great," said Miriam Kramer, chair of the National Welfare Rights Union, remarking on the turnout of several thousand for a cause that's usually on the margins. "And the police is marching with us!" [8/31]


Saturday, June 03, 2006

donations so far

I spent a few days about 2 weeks ago typing up and sending out about 150 letters soliciting financial donations as well as donations of auction and raffle items. Many of my amazingly creative friends are donating art, handmade clothing, wine, food, music, services (massage, haircuts, housecleaning) and TIME and I should have everything ready for the auction in the next week or two!

So far, I have received generous donations from these folks in the mail:

Hairspray Salon
Sonoma County Museum
East West Cafe
Evolution Yoga
Krishna Das
Shambhala Sun Magazine
Lagunitas Brewing Company
Orr Hot Springs
The Ram Das Tape Library
The Rialto Lakeside Cinemas
Roxy Cinemas Stadium
Free Mind Media
Occidental Art and Ecology Center (being sent)

I am also going to:
*apply for an "Adopt An Activist" grant
*do a "Dine and Donate" dinner
*possibly ask for corporate sponsorship (at least for accommodations or supplies or travelers immunization)
*ask airlines for discount vouchers

I am feeling a little anxious about the event. Planning something so huge, for my first time, by myself is very overwhelming. There is the music, the food, the auction items, the raffle, the wine, the kid-friendly activities, the publicity and the stress of trying to get the money raised in time to buy the tickets before they cost a million dollars. On top of this all, I am trying to focus on my last semester of graduate school, do thesis research, learn more about Kenya (including where to stay during the forum) pay the bills and do my best to be a decent mom.

I am trying to tell myself that all of my hard work and dedication to trying to "fix" the world is going to pay off instead of making me crazy and that we will make it to the forum...

And announcing...

...The event flyer!!!! Generously provided by my friend, Michael and being printed by my friend Ryan. Kick. Ass.

yard sale

this morning i woke up very early to my favorite sonoma county weather pattern- fog. it was just lovely but made it a little challenging to pop up out of bed and start getting ready for phase one of my fundraising... the dreaded yard sale.

i have spent a lot of time over the last few weeks collecting stuff from friends and neighbors to sell as a part of my fundraising efforts, which was easy. i have also spent the last few weeks trying to convince my kids that they don't need so much crap, which was not so easy. of course i tried using the whole buddhist lesson of attachment and reminded them of the scene in baraka where families are digging furiously through a landfill to find their next meals and how most children in the world don't have the luxury of selling their things because most children in the world don't have much to sell in the first place (a little guilt trip from time to time is a necessary parenting tactic). having xenia away on a school camping trip helped me to sneak out some sale items and pumping up ava with the idea of making money off a bake sale/lemonade stand finally worked some magic as well. we unloaded a lot of things and made enough to get the kids' passports and maybe a water filter or two.

i am left with some pretty big items that my good friends abby and heidi have offered to take off of my hands and i am handing over a few bags of good condition clothing for my neighbor michelle to give away to children in chiapas when she heads to mexico for her yearly trip this november.

i am exhausted and behind in school work and am going to use this rare occasion of having the kids both elsewhere for the evening to get myself caught up.

thanks to michael, hannah, jacquie, michelle, justin, jessamyn, anna, heidi, abby, nicole p, nicole g and everyone else who donated stuff for me to sell!