Wednesday, April 17

University Internationalization

So, we've been talking about internationalization of my university.  Like, do we want to make it a big part of where the university is heading, etc.

And today as some people talked about it in all the "right" words (the kind you get hired to spearhead such an initiative with), it occurred to me that those "right" words seem kind of wrong.

Like...cross-cultural interaction is supposed to aim for teaching privileged people that they're not the center of the world, but that it isn't necessarily about teaching them that it's wrong if they find themselves there.

I felt like...like it was about setting upper-middle-class white people up to be benevolent dictators in an apartheid country.  "You're going to be the minority in this country, so learn about someone different than you."  But there was no mention of anything like, "You're going to lose your power in this country, so learn how to not be in charge."  Just, "Learn about someone different than you."  Which is why I feel like we were talking about learning to be really noble, nice, friendly white South Africans or something.

The person talking today mentioned how internationalization started after WWII, when we thought having people go to each other's countries could make them such sensitive people that we wouldn't have big wars again, but that we needed to move beyond that.  But ultimately, I felt like that "next step" in "internationalization" was "making a classroom discussion out of your brown neighbors."  (See this post - found via blackamazon)

I'm torn - this kind of education is the STORY OF MY LIFE.  Satisfying curiosity about people who're different than me.  I have lived this model of learning and still live it.  I wouldn't be blogging without that part of my life.

But I feel like there has to be a better way than this to better our local society.

I remember a dinnertime argument w/ a close family member who felt that an immigrant community in my town/state, no matter how big it got, shouldn't ever get majority rule in charge of my town/state, because white people had better ideas about policy-setting than they did.  (Not that she knows anything about that immigrant community's social structure.)

This.  This is the kind of opinion that I think is so important to change.

I feel like the real work is not in putting our immigrant neighbors into an academic mental zoo, but getting privileged people open-minded to the idea of living by policies set by them.  It's not just about surveying Hmong people about their family structure and finding a common pattern and memorizing that pattern as trivia you now know about Hmong people.  It's about cultivating an attitude of being okay sending your kids to a public school district whose board's policies are shaped by Hmong ideas of what's good for children and families.  "Internationalization" of education seems to me that it should be about teaching humility - fostering attitudes that one is not the first person in history to live under a different culture's rules, like them or not.  And so on and so forth - real democratic power, not apartheid.  Something like that.

That's all I've got.

Friday, July 22

My Parents Love Me

You know, the news + people pointing out just how bad it is can really get me down and pissed. And then my dad called me about picking me up from the airport. And I remembered I have parents who love me so much they'll drive my butt all over to see me. My mood lifted.

There's no reason to simmer in worry about possible upcoming economic misfortunes. I have love to get me through anything!

Saturday, July 16

University Avenue

Today I visited the farmer's market on University Avenue.

Still much the same, but 1 new big difference is a retail products stand that I'm guessing is run by Sun Foods (imported produce & treats/drinks).

I stared down the street a couple of times and thought, "This is it. This is its last summer of peace before everything I see goes away. I should come again. A lot more."

Looking the other way, I thought, "Big Daddy's Saturday Barbecue! I still haven't eaten there. And where else did I mean to go each time I said I should come & shop here before it's gone?"

On my way out of the neighborhood, I thought about how I hadn't bought any Big Daddy's because it's out of my food budget. I wondered if I would end up doing all those money-spending activities that it's my "last chance" for. I wondered if there was any point--is a 1x taste of new-to-me, good food worth breaking my budget for?

I missed Art Song's original BBQ shack, apparently--and although there's a sign that reminds me of that all the time--my life is going on despite it. Wouldn't it go on if I never tried Big Daddy's or bought any clothes at one of the tailor shops?


Then I moved on to: What did I do all that protest work for? Was I misguided? 95% of the neighborhood is things I don't & won't spend money on.

Maybe I felt like it was worth working for the 100% to save the 5% I do patronize.

Or maybe I felt like it was worth working for the 100% to save the 10-15% I'd patronize if I lived there (which I have in the past).

Besides the "because what's happening to 'them' isn't fair" part. That was there. I'm trying to reach in and find the "me" that made that particular crusade important.



Photos can't capture it, and my memory's not a steel trap. But maybe I'll meditate on the heat and the wind and the sound and the 3-D and the smell after I finish this post so I can commit it to memory better than I usually do.




Other thoughts as I arrived closer to home:
What the f*** is up with my -isms? I don't "deserve" a lawn and a garden and a lack of retail right outside my bedroom and a convenient bus line (but not right outside my bedroom) all put together any more than anyone else on this earth. But I expect it.

Ditto my job. I doubt we people like me "deserve" a cushy job that makes a neighborhood like that, and a reliable car, possible. But damned if I don't expect it and keep it off the brain most every day. I guess it'd kinda suck not to fit the mold. Maybe the way I didn't fit the mold & felt "under watch" as a corporate secretary; maybe differently. Hm. I don't know where next to go w/ the thought, but it came to me. I guess it's going, now.




Naptime. And ****load of fresh veggies to prep & cook time. Yikes.



P.S. Today is AWESOME!!!! I love heat!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 23

Tornado Prayers + North Minneapolis Curfew

Please pray for people in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. It's the poorest section of Minneapolis, and it was hit by a tornado.

I hope I can help.

Please pray for people in Joplin, Missouri. It was REALLY badly hit by a tornado. 75% of the city gone & 89 deaths from one article I read.

Political opinion: I don't like the North Minneapolis curfew. No curfews in Minneapolis for at least 30 years, and we put one in place on the victims of a tornado? It feels morally wrong to me, for a lot of reasons.

Friday, May 6

We Have To Fight For Michigan & Others, Too!

P.S. And I'll look out for my brothers & sisters in Michigan, too!

We May Have To Fight To Save Cheap, Quality Produce In North Minneapolis

From "In Defense of the Minneapolis Farmers Market" by Susan Berkson:

We are in an under-served neighborhood. A neighborhood without food security. Without us, there would be no fruits or vegetables in this area. So by default, we are the green grocer for this neighborhood. And people want their bananas and pineapples and cherries. And they should be able to get them. Regardless of their income.

I don't know about you, but I like bananas. I like them year-round. Coffee, too. And none of it is grown here.

There is a moratorium on resellers, so no new ones can join. But those who are members now are not being kicked out. They fill a need. And when strawberries and raspberries are in season here, the resellers are not allowed to sell them.

The resellers meet a need. And that need should be met.

We feed families here, Minneapolis families. We are their green grocer.


Feeding families doesn't provide much money to the rich and powerful. Selling families football tickets does. So I'm horrified and frightened by the talk of ceasing to use the land on which the Minneapolis Farmer's Market sits as a farmer's market, and instead using it as a football stadium.

I know, one of the elected (*sigh*--seriously, folks??) Hennepin County commissioners who'd been planning to push for this has said he's not going to go through with pushing for it after all.

But what this has revealed to me is that a beloved Minneapolis site that feeds Minneapolis families cheaply is in the sights of people who want more yachts.

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I'm feeling particularly depressed about this after reading this post about Benton Harbor at the Radically Hott Off tumblr and following up on Benton Harbor + Jean Klock Park (click here to learn more--I was particularly outraged that among the arguments that might be working on the powers that be is that "public"-with-$200-a-day land = "public"-with-$0-a-day land!) and following up with this quote by "attempter," via Art Jacobson's article "Privatizing Public Properties Is Theft:"
Privatization is easy to understand once you see it as the final enclosure onslaught. Once again the people are to be driven en masse off their own property, for no reason whatsoever other than pure robbery.

Even if it were true that “balancing the books” were either possible or desirable (it’s neither; the books are nothing but fraudulent accounting, real “growth” ended years ago; and besides, if these books represented something real, nominal balance could easily be achieved by taxing the rich and corporations a fraction of their fair share), government officials would have no right to alienate public property. That’s a crime against sovereignty. It’s among the most profound forms of treason.

The fact is that capitalism is never sustainable. Even its own textbooks admit that it quickly runs down and reaches stasis. Or, from the point of view of the profiteers, it stagnates. So the only way to prop up profit rates is to continually repeat the process of primitive accumulation, direct robbery in order to accumulate enough of a capital base to recommence capitalist investment.

The classic example was Europe’s land enclosures. Subsequent examples were those of colonialism, imperialism, the IP regime, and financialization. Today capitalism is dead once and for all, since there’s no plunder frontier left. So the only thing left to do is carry out the terminal plunder, the direct robbery of whatever non-enclosed things are still left. Land, services, infrastructure, public heritage information, the water, the air.

And by the time that’s all commodified, it’ll certainly be impossible for anyone to pay for any of it. But by then debt indenture will no longer be meant to extract money, but to enforce the “new” serf system.

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But I guess what I really have to do is not get so depressed. A bumper sticker told me last week, "To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing." (-Raymond Williams, sez Google.)

I admire radicals! I want to be one. So I guess I have to fight FOR feeding families, and not cry ABOUT land-stealing yacht-buyers. Radically Hott Off also recently mentioned activism:
I wonder how much more helpful it would be to...start doing things like reimagining how organizing happens? So that the organizing itself becomes a healing space? (just as an example).


Looking at my tags, trying to see how to classify this post, I see that I've done this before. I have a whole tag called "University Avenue." I crashed and burned because I wore myself out working as a lone wolf. I wouldn't have to volunteer time on work I didn't 100% believe in (like not fighting the light rail's route, and only fighting for mitigation projects). I wouldn't have to suffer the heartbreak of finding out after asking that maybe no one but me wanted to do the project I 100% believed in (fighting the light rail's route). And my project didn't work, despite having 100% support from its volunteer corps of 1, because it had a volunteer corps of 1! :-)

But goddamn, I did it. I have worked to make hope possible. And I'll take all my lessons I learned from University Avenue (including volunteering my time to the projects of the people who are most in harm's way, even if they seem like lousy compromises to me, because 1) they're theirs and 2) they already have a team of affected people on board with the plan), and all the lessons I learn from radicals in the blogosphere, and I will look out for feeding Minneapolis families.

Thursday, August 5

Immigrants Evicted And Then Abused in Bobigny, Seine-Saint-Denis, France

Immigrants Evicted And Then Abused in Bobigny, Seine-Saint-Denis, France

If I don't follow up w/ contact information, harrass me.

Minneapolis Mosque Moving (Not A New One)

As I tried to read about plays at the Twin Cities' Fringe Festival, to see if there was anything worth going into town for, I noticed that a building owner in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis is asking its tenants (a theater and a bike repair shop) to leave and will be renting the space to a mosque.

"A mosque? Right by the train stop? That seems like a great idea!" I thought. (I feel like it's almost all Somalis who use that train stop.)

I investigated more, because I did want to read about why there would be such short notice--I mean, new churches don't generally pop up quickly in the place of open businesses. Not to mention, the article I read just left it as, "losing their space for a mosque." And that seemed too theater-versus-mosque. I wanted to know more about why the building owners were choosing whom.



Well...turns out it's not a new mosque for the community.

Just an old mosque, that it sounds like might have already had train-stop-front property.

And there might be a story of people w/o much money losing their homes to go with it--though I know nothing yet of what kind of "redevelopment" is going to happen to Riverside Plaza and the surrounding apartment buildings that so many Somalis live in. Maybe they're remodeling the Riverside apartments' main areas and doing the vacant ones or something, not razing-and-rebuilding. Another story to look into for another day. But still...not exactly awesome news, either.

By the way, the building owners in question are Sherman Associates & Fine Associates. Sherman owns the Riverside Plaza (where I think lots of the apartments are) and is not only "redeveloping" them, but putting in a new parking lot for them (which is why the mosque's old building is coming down). I think this might be partly because Fine Associates is closing parking/driveways that people who live in Riverside Plaza had been using? And then, a reason Fine Associates is going to rent their extra building to the mosque is that it saves Sherman Associates money. And Sherman Associates is willing to hold back on suing Fine Associates if they get to save money. Or something like that. (I think Fine Associates wouldn't get to close the parking/driveways if Sherman Associates tried to stop them.) I'm not sure. Something like that, anyway.

I'm sure the owners of Fine Associates & Sherman Associates are doing just fine. :-P

I hope the current residents of the apartments around Riverside Plaza get to do "just fine" or better.

I hope the new space works as well as the old one for Darul Quba mosque.

And I hope the theater & bike shop do well wherever they move to.

In Reponse To Motherhood Discussions From BFP's Blog

Damn.

This comment by Alara Rogers gave me new words to describe my fear about becoming a mother.

Alara wrote:

I saw the perception that ... if mothers aren’t completely selfless and also perfect then they will ruin their child ...


This is really tied up in with both of my parents', as well as my paternal grandparents' + aunts/uncles', frequent classist statements about childbearing. "There oughtta be a way to require a license to have kids." And the "stupid" people who wouldn't get a license are almost ALWAYS middle-or-lower in class.

Now that I'm doing more leftist readings, I'm learning that most of these behaviors my family members attributed to 100% stupidity, and yet almost always pointed out in poorer people, were more likely 80% influenced by effects of poverty.

BUT, that doesn't provide me a lifetime of positive alternative models to emulate. I just read about poorer people raising kids.

Now I'm looking at having significantly less wealth & income than the rest of my family. I can't see another way about life that I can stand the thought of.

Back to Alara's quote about "ruining" my child...there's this part of me that, thanks to my parent, is aware of the upper-middle-to-upper-class escape from being completely selfless. You pay to have other people help you raise your child "right."

But...society and my parents at large definitely gave me this message that I have to be completely selfless if I'm going to raise children without enough money, to avoid "ruining" them.

Alara also wrote:
I saw the perception that ... if mothers are completely selfless then they are doormats...
So I'm avoiding having any. Damned if I know how to be selfless. (That's the other thing I learned by observation. Not being selfless. The money ensured they didn't have to do that to "not ruin me.")

Friday, July 2

I Killed An Ant

I don't deserve to wear these flowers anymore.

I picked 2 lilies from my garden to wear in my hair. Knocked off several ants & an earwig. Thought I had them all clean.

On the drive in to work, I saw an ant running frantically around my passenger seat, near the lilies. Missed one!

I refused to use my finger to pick it up. And when the one tool I had didn't work quickly & easily to pick it up & throw it out the window with, I smashed it.

I refused to let it live in a place where it might pop out of hiding one day and bite me.

I killed an ant because it might bite me one day. As if that would be the end of the world.

For crying out loud, I probably get bitten by a single ant several times a summer in circumstances I can't control as easily.

I have so much work to do on respecting animals' lives.

I'm going to wear the flowers, but I don't deserve it.

Thursday, July 1

Free Wedding Flower Materials - Hydrangeas - In Bloom

If you're getting married in Minnesota this weekend, lucky you!

Materials for fancy bouquets can be gotten for free.

Hydrangeas are in full bloom.

I'll bet a church, university, restaurant, neighbor, friend's neighbor, etc. would let you cut lots of stalks off the back of a bush. (Maybe even the front if they really like you.)

Even if you can't get many from one source, they're planted so widely that you can probably put together enough of the same variety by hitting 2-4 of the above places.

I think their leaves are okay for a backing leaf. You just have to use them as separate stalks, best I can tell.

I haven't seen any for sale at farmer's markets yet. Lots of nice stuff there, too, though.

But white hydrangeas, and a few of the blue & pink ones if you're lucky, are in abundance.

Go for it!

Recent headlines from the blog "Black and Missing but Not Forgotten:"