Building Alliances for Social Engagement
Copyright 2011: Building Alliances for Social Engagement All rights revert back to the author upon publication.
Jamie Claeys Sean Daly Mickey Ellenwood Yolande Geyer Kelly Kaoudis Aaron Smith SGFB Arts and Sciences Student Government Council of Colleges and Schools Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Estey Printing CU Imaging Services Writers/Artists/Photographers
Letter from the Letter fromeditor the editor I never intended to be the managing editor of an activist journal. In fact, if you had told me that I would at one point be composing a letter from the editor for BASE while I was still in high school, I would have certainly laughed in your face. That is not to say that I am not capable, as I hope this edition of BASE proves, but more that I never felt like the “activist type.” I cringe when I remember my attempts to take a backseat during my first semester with BASE. I was sure I had nothing to contribute, feeling ill-informed and trying desperately to conceal my lack of confidence. I thought I would be found out and the real activists would politely ask me to leave. However, while reading contributors’ essays and poems,
looking at submitted artwork, and talking with writers, artists, and our readers, I gained the confidence to rise to the occasion. Where I expected to meet a pile of extremists and tree huggers – a group of Chacowearing, Nalgene-carrying hippies – I instead met a dedicated staff, an open and affirming staff, who brought my notion of activism crashing down. I realized that BASE does not exclude; BASE does not judge. BASE makes a place for everyone to get involved. BASE is for all sincere and thoughtful voices, much like activism. I see the look on people’s faces when I say I am the managing editor of BASE; they are surprised. I want to tell them that I get it, that I’m not who they expect me to be. But that’s the problem: we think we know what
an activist looks like, and we wait for them to solve our problems. Too often we sit back and wait for someone more “qualified” to pick up the reins and save us from floundering and looking foolish, but we could be the ones changing things. Activists are not measured by the amount of dirt on their Birkenstocks or the number of state senators they can name. The best activists are defined by their passion for a cause. They are people who are willing to make time to begin reading and thinking about issues, to start at the bottom with everyone else. So I invite you to start at the bottom because you never know what’s at the top. Sincerely, Anne Robertson Managing Editor
Mission BASEâ€™s mission is to create a free journal run by student volunteers, acting as a forum for those with concerns relating to cultural diversity, gender/sexuality, human, rights, and environmental issues, among other areas of interests, in order to explore and discuss these issues, while educating ourselves and a broader communitythe creating of which we endevor to achieve. We wish to faciliate communication between groups of people who could one day be partners in a common effort. As a result, we hope to promote the involvements of new voices and perspectives of people with passions that we help foster.
Staff Anne Robertson - Managing Editor Paul Bauder Becca Conway Patrycja Humienik Ashley McPhee Joe Salazar Evan Sandsmark
Table of Contents Essays
01 13 26 35 49
A Ring for a Hand: The Added Costs Associated with CÔte d’Ivoire Diamonds Christina Uhlir A Future in Permaculture Patrick Brunner Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival in Over the Edge and the Watts Riots Leonid Vaisberg Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities Rose Robitaille Unconventional Development Ashley McPhee
25 32 Art 11 12
HAIL THE MARKET ECONOMY Becca Conway
On a Blue Sky Day Sean McNeely
Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners Sean Daly Mule and Metal Container Katie Shetlick
19 20 22 24 33 34 47 48 52 53 54
Silhouetted Figure Surrounded by Stone Walls Katie Shetlick Alternative Ways to Use an AK-47 Aaron Young Oswiecim, Polska Patrycja Humienik Chair/Satellite Dish with Buildings in the Background Katie Shetlick Qui Fait Rage En AmĂŠriqu Stuart Hayden Red Writing on the Wall Katie Shetlick Precedent Stuart Hayden Corporate Zombie Tony McKendry You Are What You Eat Lyndie Raymond Pride Parade, Columbus, Ohio 2010 Scott Surovjak Untitled Tony McKendry
01 A Ring for a Hand: The Added Costs Associated with CÔte d’Ivoire Diamonds
Christina Uhlir “Short sleeve or long sleeve?” That is the question asked by actor David Harewood in the 2006 movie Blood Diamond. Soldiers who enforce laws made by the members of military regimes in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, and Côte d’Ivoire have asked the above question for more than a decade and are asking it still in spite of the efforts to extinguish the conflict diamond trade. The purpose of the question is to ascertain whether a civilian wants to lose his or her hands (long sleeve) or his or her arms (short sleeve). To this day, the conflict has caused an estimated 4.1 million Africans to lose their hands, arms, or lives. Currently, Côte d’Ivoire is
the only African country that sells conflict diamonds. The diamond traffickers, Forces Nouvelles, troops controlled by Côte d’Ivoire’s newly elected president, Alassane Ouattara, have a stranglehold on the diamond mines in the northern part of the country, according to Amnesty International. The November elections, in which Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo ran, resulted in chaos. One major issue that
...the country itself is being run down by the diamond mines and actions by the warring factions
emerged is the fact that Alassane Ouattara is the de facto president, but Laurent Gbagbo is unwilling to step down from the presidential seat he has occupied for the past decade. However, according to the supposed treaty struck by Ouattara and Gbagbo, Gbagbo is within his power to reject Ouattara because Ouattara agreed to withdraw the Forces Nouvelles from the north to legitimize his presidential campaign and has not yet complied with those terms. In spite of the various agreements from both sides, 173 civilians were killed immediately following the election and an estimated 70,000 Ivoirians have fled to refugee camps in Cote d’Ivoire and other countries such as Liberia.
Beyond the instability that has sprung from the elections, the country itself is being run down by the diamond mines and action by the warring factions. The diamond mines are predominantly alluvial, meaning the diamonds can be found in eroded Kimberlites, a variety of micaceous peridotite, which are located in shallow rivers and streams. Alluvial diamonds are the easiest to mine; the diamonds can either be sifted out of the riverbed or manually extracted. The operations in the north that are maintained by the Forces Nouvelles, are actually carried out by civilians with military watch dogs to monitor the progress and collect the diamonds gleaned. The citizens are motivated by fear for their families and for their own lives under the AK-47 surveillance
detail. If a civilian chooses to rebel against the military oppression, he or she will either be relieved of his or her hands or life. The children of such dissidents are then employed as child soldiers to keep them from acting in the same manner as their parents, continuing the humanrights violations. These child soldiers, who are under the age of 18, are still being put to work in both the diamond mines as harvesters and on the roadside as soldiers, with no ability to direct their own future. The diamond mines themselves are also doing nothing for the Ivoirians. In fact, the mines make Côte d’Ivoire unsuitable for farming because of the various types of environmental degradations that they cause. The lack of environmental resources
The humanitarian and social deprivations of the Ivoirians are directly linked to the violent actions of the military and the environmental degradations caused by the diamond mines.
that has resulted from these mines could get even worse if the presidential elections are any indication of the country’s stability. In short, the humanitarian and social deprivations of the Ivoirians are directly linked to the violent actions of the military and the environmental degradations caused by the diamond mines.
The unstable political situation, the bad mining practices which cause surface and groundwater to be contaminated (causing local populations to contract dysentery), and the suppression and violence committed by the Forces Nouvelles leaves the people of Côte d’Ivoire without basic resources that are necessary to live and support themselves or their children. The cycle of political misrepresentation, unsustainable resource extraction methods, diseases, and continued human-rights abuses cannot continue; the economic disparity between the military and civilian classes will create civil unrest. The rights violations, combined with the mining practices that render obsolete the agricultural endeavors the Ivoirians undertook before
the conflict started, will inevitably give rise to resistance. Back in January, a study by RADICAL-8, a humanitarian think tank, estimated that the death toll of the ongoing conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, based on the death tolls of similar wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone that have now concluded, will reach 1,080,000. The study also estimated that the number of internally displaced persons will reach 10,390,000. If these two estimates accurately capture the total damage that will be caused, the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire will cut the current Ivoirian population of 21,600,000 in more than half, and the estimates do not even take into account the number of Ivoirians who have died and will continue to die because of starvation, unsafe water, and any
other disease that could crop up as a result of the conflict diamond mines. Beyond the Côte d’Ivoire conflict diamond operations, distribution of conflict diamonds has occurred in Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, and the Democratic Public of Congo. All of these countries had three unifying characteristics: an existing agrarian society, one or more youth militias, and an overabundance of natural resources, diamonds especially. Conflict arose when civilians and militias alike felt that the government was hoarding the diamond mine proceeds and using the money as leverage to help particularly corrupt politicians. The factions decided to emulate the government diamond hoarders, but instead of promoting the government, the proceeds
A Ring for a Hand
from the mines were used to buy firearms, which were used against the political regimes, according to Jean-Pierre Chauveau and Paul Richards in their article “West African Insurgencies in Agrarian Perspective: Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone Compared.” Today, however, there are no rough diamonds being exported from Côte d’Ivoire because of the embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council in 2007 and the Kimberley Process Certification System, which was implemented in 2001. Before the KPCS was implemented, however, the rebels were wreaking havoc, plundering, massacring, and mutilating civilians across the African Northwest. The timeline of the conflict diamonds started in 1993, when the insurgents
decided to act against duplicitous politicians who mismanage the agrarian societies to which they had formerly belonged. In 1995, after 4 million or more people had been killed collectively in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the rest of the world became aware of the human-rights violations via various modes of media, according to Philippe Le Billon in his article “Diamond Wars? Conflict Diamonds and Geographies of Resource Wars.” Until 1999, no real action was taken, however. In the beginning of 1999, the UN took a stance against the not-yet-illegal consumption of conflict diamonds and proposed the idea of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, according
to Billon. In 2000, the Kimberley Process Certification System was implemented. By 2001, the buying, selling or exchanging of conflict diamonds had been reduced to roughly one percent of the international diamond trade, with actions being taken at home and abroad to stop the insurgents and to verify the origin of diamonds. Conflict diamonds are diamonds that fund antidisestablishmentarians in Africa, especially Côte d’Ivoire. In 1995 “blood” diamonds represented 15 percent of the total world diamond trade. The diamonds are mined by Africans who have been enslaved by militaristic rebels bent on taking over the legitimate government. The rebels recruit, mutilate, or kill the townspeople and set up camp in the areas they have
pillaged. The insurgents set up camp in an area and mine in the rivers for diamonds with the help of the new recruits. The mining activities commence until the legitimate military drives them out of the area or the diamond supply is exhausted. The mines, in addition to being a cesspool of diseases, degrade the surrounding environment to the point that it can no longer be used as an agricultural resource . Côte d’Ivoire was governed by President Felix HouphouëtBoigny from 1960 to 1993. In spite of being an authoritarian, President Houphouët-Boigny, kept the country from falling into debt and destruction like the rest of Africa. As stated by Howard French, a writer for Africa Report, in his article “Closing a Chapter,”
the other dictators in Côte d’Ivoire admired his “artful coercion” techniques that “smoothly” guided the Ivorian populace. HouphouëtBoigny died in 1993 and Henri Konan Bédié was his successor, according to French. Unfortunately, Bédié was not “smooth” and was quickly overthrown by the current
The effect diamond mines have on various natural resources is not as pronounced as the disastrous effects diamond mines have on civilian liberties and the promulgation of human rights
President, Laurent Gbagbo, and the vicious cycle of diamonds and conflict began. Since his takeover of the Bédié government, President Laurent Gbagbo has repeatedly agreed, but then backed out of, peace deal after peace deal. First, he puts on a façade and wholeheartedly supports the deal with no initial reservations. Once an agreement is reached, he either decides to renegotiate certain terms or insinuates that he is not willing to uphold his part of the contract because it either impinges on his power or shifts the balance of power to the northern Mandes, who Gbagbo feels are too foreign to have too much power bestowed upon them. The deal, at that point, either falls apart or bits and pieces of it are salvaged and incorporated into the
A Ring for a Hand
government, according to Josephine Akarue in her article “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.” The effect diamond mines have on various natural resources is not as pronounced as the disastrous effects diamond mines have on civilian liberties and the promulgation of human rights. However, over time, the degradation of the environment will have an increased impact on the economy and food supply of the region. Deforestation, soil erosion, diverted surface drainage, and flooding all result from diamond mining. Today, there are fewer and fewer operational mines, but the rebels need continued financial support. Therefore, forests are destroyed so new mines may be built. The deforestation and razing of various crops also takes away the
top soil needed to produce healthy vegetables and other agricultural resources. Flooding is precipitated because of the lack of firm soil to dam up river flows and the viability of the land as a crop region is decreased. Additionally, the waste that the mines produce is siphoned into various bodies of water, which become contaminated and unfit to drink. Conversely, if the water is consumed, it causes dysentery, according to Deborah Du Nann Winter and Mario M. Cava in their article “The Psycho-Ecology of Armed Conflict.” Although the people of Africa are perhaps most directly damaged by the conflict diamond wars, Africa is not the only continent that is affected by the selling of illicit gemstones. As a result of the
Kimberley Process Certification System, there are now 75 countries that are involved in eradicating the consumption of conflict diamonds, including the U.S. The Kimberley Process Certification System is a mode by which the origins, suppliers, and exchangers of diamonds are traced and verified, and then on the basis of this analysis the diamonds are either confiscated or sold. If the origin cannot be fully ascertained,
The deforestation and razing of various crops also takes away the top soil needed to produce healthy vegetables and other agricultural resources.
the diamonds are confiscated. Conversely, the diamonds are sold if their origin, including those who obtained them, are identifiable. The 75 countries are represented by 49 Kimberley Process Certification System participants who legally agreed to neither buy nor sell conflict diamonds or diamonds of untraceable origin, an agreement that was ratified in July of 2000. The fact that less than one percent of the world diamond trade is now represented by conflict diamonds is attributable to the Kimberley Process Certification System, according to the Kimberley Process website. However, because of off-thebooks stones, the problem persists in Côte d’Ivoire and the statistics are not pretty: there are still 350,000
child soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire alone, according to Amnesty International. The children are threatened at gun point to leave their families, and then are often made to look on as their family is killed by a firing squad. On other occasions, they are told to kill their families or be killed themselves. Sometimes the rebels entice the children with promises of a better life, money, or the chance to continue living at all. Once the children are captured, the rebels keep them in line by repeatedly committing depraved sexual acts against the children, demonstrating how to participate in firing squads, or making the children kill their compatriots. Additionally, if the children are not obedient, they are mutilated or killed. According to Ricardo René Laremont in his book
The Cause of War and the Consequences of Peacekeeping in Africa, the majority of child soldiers in Côte d’Ivoire are actually from Liberia and are continually displaced because of the resurgence of border conflicts or the support needs of fellow tribes across the border. Recently, another obstacle has prevented the happy ending so many envisioned for conflict diamonds. Ian Smillie, a world renowned blood diamond expert, has resigned from the Kimberley Process. According to reports regarding Smillie’s departure, Smillie stated that he resigned because he feels that “when regulators fail to regulate, the systems they were designed to protect collapse.” Smillie also said that he “can no longer in good faith contribute to a pretense that failure
A Ring for a Hand
is success.” Smillie was unhappy that the KPCS had ignored multiple infractions, such as Venezuela’s lack of records and the fact that Zimbabwe has not observed certification rules, especially with regard to mine control by military officials. The obstacles are compounded by the lackadaisical attitude the general public has towards conflict diamonds, the interest in the movie Blood Diamond notwithstanding.. Julie Hollar, a writer for FAIR, notes that “during the entire length of the country’s civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002, the central role of diamonds in the conflict came up a grand total of 26 times—an average of just over twice a year.” The general public still has no idea the conflict exists because
there is little media coverage of the continued abuse of human-rights in Côte d’Ivoire. The KPCS, which still provides oversight for world diamond trading, has recently been unable to provide the humanitarian and social aid to the countries that are enmeshed in conflict and is ineffectual when action has been called for. The question of this decade is: “who is willing to directly or indirectly finance civil wars and the continuation of the torture of innocents in Côte d’Ivoire?” As stated by Nicky Oppenheimer, the De Beers Group chairman, the “resource curse” is not a valid explanation of conflict diamonds, and he advocates for the reopening of trade with Africa. The only problem with his suggestion, as
Who is willing to directly or indirectly finance civil wars and the continuation of the torture of innocents in CÔte d’Ivoire?
stated by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Danny Archer, in Blood Diamond, is this: You control the supply and you keep the demand high so they can keep the price high. Now there’s an underground vault where they put all the stones they buy up to keep [sic] of the market so they can keep the price high. Rebels want to flood the market with a billion dollars worth of rough. Companies
like [De Beers] who says they’re rare can’t afford to let that happen, especially when they are telling some poor sod he’s supposed to shell out three months salary for an engagement ring. Technically, they are not financing the war, but they are creating a situation where it pays to keep it going. The excerpt from Blood Diamond outlines the interaction between the insurgents and the De Beers Group. Shortly after the movie aired, a disclaimer was added so as not to implicate the De Beers Group, presumably by the World Diamond Council. However, the interaction was verified by Alex Yearsley of the Global Witness, an international NGO. Yearsley refuted the De Beers claim that only four percent of the World Diamond Trade was
represented by conflict diamonds, asserting that “the number is closer to 8 percent and that, according to observers in the diamond capital of Antwerp, Belgium, the number could be as high as 10 percent,” according to an article by Dick Durham, a journalist for CNN. The Antwerp World Diamond Center buys the majority of its stones from De Beers and BHP Billiton; annual sales are, on average, $45 billion, according to some estimates. Hence, if the 10 percent estimation is correct, $4.5 billion, or at least a significant portion of this amount, finances the insurgencies, and that is only the money from a single diamond center. So, who is willing to directly or indirectly finance civil wars and the continuation of the torture
of innocents in Côte d’Ivoire? Evidentially Nicky Oppenheimer, the chairman of the De Beers Group, who said that his company is willing to buy and distribute diamonds of unverified origins across the globe to Belgium, China, India, the United States, Russia and many other locales. Oppenheimer has asserted many times that only four percent of the World Diamond Trade was represented by conflict diamonds, which has been disproven. He also stated that the De Beers Group, once the Kimberley Process Certification System was in place, did not buy conflict diamonds, and yet that was proven untrue when it was learned that diamonds from the Marange and Chiadzwa areas of Zimbabwe (an area De Beers mines) were conflict diamonds,
A Ring for a Hand
according to Gilbert Nyambabvu, an editor for NewZimbabwe.com. Oppenheimer’s assertions should not carry any weight, and he should be held accountable for all his false statements. Children are forcibly removed from their homes and, in some cases, ordered to shoot their families so rebels can use them as soldiers or miners. Corrupt politicians such as Gbagbo and Ouattara use funds from the mines to further political schemes. The impact on the environment is such that in a few years the land will not be viable as an agricultural resource anymore. Millions of lives will continue to be lost, abuses of human rights will be perpetuated, and economic burdens will continue to be levied on nations. A suggestion: verify diamonds, stay
out of Côte d’Ivoire and other unstable African countries, and maintain awareness of the issue because it is pertinent to modernday politics and it affects millions worldwide.
11 Free Julian Assange and All Political Prisoners Sean Daly
Mule and Metal Container Katie Shetlick
April 2010, Petra, Jordan
A Future in Permaculture Patrick Brunner
If you drive through America’s corn belt of the Midwest, the endless fields of identical green plants, packed tightly in straight rows with their golden tassels waving in a summer breeze, are a breathtaking sight. By forcing the plants closer together and breeding high-yield varieties, industrial agriculture has increased crop yields substantially. According to Richard Manning in “The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq,” this agricultural style produces lots of food, but it requires many oil-based products and sometimes uses more calories of oil than the food calories the crop produces. To reach such substantial crop yields, industrial agriculture has to increase soil
productivity with fertilizers that must be bought. After harvest, when all the plants are cut and the field sits fallow, the soil nutrients erode and more oil-based fertilizers have to be applied. The soil erosion and lack of nutrients produced by this style of agriculture, not to mention its pervasive use of toxic pesticides, has
By using intensive cattle grazing and rotation, many cows can use the small pastures, while grass in resting pastures has optimal time to regrow and build starch.
decimated the microorganism life in the soil. Because the soil has less microorganism life to break down nutrients into available forms for the plants, industrial agriculture has caught itself in a decreasing spiral of productivity, where naturally produced nutrients must be replaced by oil-based fertilizers to keep the same yields. Industrial agriculture is not our only option, which is evidenced by Polyface Farm, a sustainable farm located in Swoope, Virginia. It opened in 1961 on land that had been decimated by intensive monoculture industrial farming. Polyface Farm replanted trees on three quarters of its farmland to rebuild the soil and use for wood
products. By using intensive cattle grazing and rotation, many cows can use the small pastures, while grass in resting pastures has optimal time to regrow and build starch. “Salad bar beef ” is the term owner Joel Salatin uses to describe his beef because they eat only forage and can choose their favorite forage material in his pastures. By carefully planning the farm interactions, Polyface Farm capitalizes on the natural cycles and functions of plants and animals. The cows and chickens provide all natural fertilizers and apply them right to the fields, eliminating any need for oil-based fertilizers. The chickens are moved into a pasture four days after the cows so they can enrich their diet with grass clippings and hatching cow-fly larvae, while they inadvertently spread cow
Polyface Farm capitalizes on the natural cycles and functions of plants and animals.
manure and their own manure to fertilize the grass. Because the animals rotate pastures, there is never a build up of manure that causes disease in both species. Polyface chickens are nutritionally loaded; they are rich in vitamin D because they are in the sun all day, as well omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and B from their varied diet, as noted by Salatin. Though there are many other aspects to Polyface, Salatin claims to be a grass farmer, since grass feeds most of his
farm. With this style, Polyface Farm has recovered from the past wounds of industrial agriculture. Every year it has increased the productivity of the land and depth of fertile humus soil just by using natural systems. Farms like Polyface have been gaining attention recently, but they still represent only a tiny fraction of the United States’ food supply. Because much of the food today comes from industrial agriculture, the majority of the United States’ food system is dependent on oil. In Peak Oil: Info and Strategies, Alex Kuhlman estimates that human civilization might have already passed the event known as peak oil, when oil output from reserves worldwide have reached their peak and only decline as it becomes harder to grab the last drops. As our
reserves of oil run dry worldwide, we will have to find a solution to free us from our oil dependency. Permaculture design, the template for Polyface Farm, will become a high-growth field in the next five years and could lead America and the world toward a sustainable future. Permaculture is a holistic style that combines agriculture and architecture to create sustainable ways of living using todayâ€™s knowledge to mimic natural systems. By combining multiple trophic levels of plants, animals, fish, worms, and various decomposer organisms, permaculture systems become food webs that cycle all nutrients while producing a varied crop. Permaculture draws from ideas practiced by almost every ancient
culture, such as the Three Sisters method of planting in groups, used by the Maya and Anasazi. These systems show us how to live with and use the local environment instead of fighting it. These old ideas have been combined with more recent biological knowledge of nutrients and mutualism to create biological systems that help each other or solve a task. According to sustainable architect Michael McDonough, three areas of consideration that are crucial to all sustainable development are ecology, equity, and economy. By this definition, any sustainable development must be ecologically safe, accessible to all social classes of people, and economically viable. Permaculture addresses environmental health, social justice and monetary cost,
all three of which are crucial in creating a sustainable future. With careful design and planning, this type of agriculture mimics a diverse ecosystem and increases environmental health. Since our environment keeps us alive by producing oxygen and regulating climatic conditions, all future development shouldnâ€™t harm environmental health. Permaculture builds healthier soil by increasing humus levels, the broken down organic matter which plant roots pull nutrients from. The system doesnâ€™t rely on putting all eggs in one basket; diversity contributes to the stability of any ecosystem and increases its ability to withstand disturbances that might be harmful to life, according to Martin Dovciak and Charles Halpern in their
A Future in Permaculture
article, “Positive Diversity-stability Relationships in Forest Herb Populations During Four Decades of Community Assembly.” This ensures a steady supply of food, no matter what the weather brings. For example, a field with many species can withstand weather extremes and natural disasters better than a field with only one species. Permaculture design can also be applied to improve other aspects of environmental health. John Todd, a visionary thinker and student of Buckminster Fuller, pioneered methods based on permaculture to address the treatment of biological wastewater. Todd’s design mimics the natural filtration of a marsh and pond system to clean our wastewater. These designed wetlands of plants, bacteria, algae, and other organisms
create useful byproducts. They can clean water better than conventional methods that use harmful chemicals and leave toxic byproducts to be disposed of. It also costs much less to build a simple greenhouse-style biological-wastewater treatment plant than a conventional one with complex treatment, aeration, and sludge-digestion phases. Wastewater treatment with “living machines” can be applied on any scale, enabling it to serve cities or individual homes. Biologicalwastewater treatment increases environmental health and has a great potential to increase personal health by reducing exposure to trace chemicals in our water supply. Permaculture can also bring us closer to our food supply, allowing us to see what we are really eating
and how it was made. The satisfaction of eating home-grown organic produce can be increased with an appreciation for the work that went into caring for it. There is a certain pride that comes with the independence of growing your own food. By reconnecting to cycles of life and providing healthy food, permaculture can improve personal and mental well-being. A great case study that suggests that permaculture can increase personal health is the Urban Organics’ Grow Haus project in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. There are no grocery stores in Elyria-Swansea and this project will create the only farm in the area, providing much needed produce and fresh fish to the inner-city neighborhood.
The largely low-income residents of the neighborhood will finally have access to healthy food. This nonprofit project reclaimed a warehouse in a rundown area and features permaculture-design principles, such as the integration of gardening and aquaponics. The garden is hydroponically watered and fertilized by nutrient-rich waste water from the fish tanks. The fish eat duckweed, worms, ground-up salad greens from the greenhouse, and algae from inside the tank. The Grow Haus project will not only improve the neighborhood’s personal health by providing access to healthy food, it will also address issues of equality. Healthy food will be available in the neighborhood and affordable for everyone. The field of permaculture is
likely to grow because it addresses social equality issues stemming from the high cost of healthy food. It also shatters the myth that food production is time and labor intensive and requires vast areas of land. Permaculture design can be practiced by anyone, allowing for a healthy and steady food supply to be grown regardless of social status or income level. People with limited space have adapted, using
Permaculture design can be practiced by anyone, allowing for a healthy and steady food supply to be grown regardless of social status or income level.
window boxes, containers, or even abandoned lots to garden. An idea as simple as the Three Sisters planting group, where corn, bean, and squash plants share nutrients to help each other, can be used by anyone to grow cheap food without fertilizer or much work input, as elucidated by George Keupper and Mardi Dodson in Companion Planting: Basic Concepts and Resources. Moreover, Hen and Harvest Gardening’s website conducted a study which established that growing an organic garden can save a huge amount of money. Individual results vary, but their $282 investment yielded $2,400 worth of produce on their 1/25th acre garden. Though they are skilled gardeners, they did note that they planted varied crops and could have instead grown only
A Future in Permaculture
higher value crops, like salad greens, which would have increased cost efficiency even more. Because of its efficiency, permaculture will become a huge area of growth in the near future. It can help our nation drastically reduce our total energy consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Permaculture reduces our dependence on foreign oil and imported food products. The transportation of food, which requires a huge amount of energy, would be relied on far less if dinner grew in the backyard. As oil becomes more expensive, our wasteful practices will have to change. With these economic reasons driving it, the practice of Permaculture design will experience exponential growth in the near future.
Silhouetted Figure Surrounded by Stone Walls Katie Shetlick
April 2010 Petra, Jordan
Alternative Ways to Use an AK-47
21 Base 3.0
23 â€œThe one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.â€? -George Santayana
Chair/Satellite Dish with Buildings in the Background Katie Shetlick
May 2010, Amman, Jordan
HAIL THE MARKET ECONOMY Becca Conway Curse those environmental terrorists! How dare they say the American way has failed. Of course we consume how else could we profit? To protest is absurd for I couldnâ€™t care less about nature or the trees or the birds. Littering? All the time. Recycling? Only for hippies bums and other hooligans. And liberal propaganda about the depleted ozone layer? Such radical communists need to be jailed. Resources are infinite; itâ€™s the simplest truth of capitalism. For those who reduce, reuse, recycle, they need to be arrested.
HAIL THE MARKET ECONOMY
Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival in Over the Edge and the Watts Riots
Leonid Vaisberg In order for society to function, all citizens must recognize a set of taboos and agree to follow social norms. In Rabelais and His World, theorist Mikhail Bakhtin argues that these taboos and norms must be suspended to allow citizens to experience repercussion-free independence. This time is labeled the “carnival.” During this time of carnival, society created “a second world and a second life outside officialdom, a world in which all medieval people participated more or less, in which they lived during a given time of the year,” Bakhtin writes. Some form of transgression, then, is at the center of Bakhtin’s conception of the carnival. In 1979, Jonathon Kaplan directed Over the
Edge, an edgy film about teenage rebellion in the fictitious town of New Granada, Colorado. This film explores the carnivalesque aspects of the rebellion. In 1965, the neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles, California was held ransom for five days due to riots that broke out in the streets, and the citizens of Watts were held in a perpetual state of carnival. Although Bakhtin’s main body of work focused on the idea of carnivals, the rebellion portrayed in Over the Edge and the Watts riots serve as compelling case studies of the carnival atmosphere. Both the fictional rebellion and the actual riots have elements of the grotesque, and in both occurrences social limits are tested and traditional
power structures are challenged. The grotesque, as defined by Bakhtin, is a material object that is unnatural in appearance. In “Living in a Carnivalesque World,” Carolyn Shields builds on Bakhtin’s theory by exploring the abstract aspects of the grotesque. Relying on the American Heritage Dictionary, Shields explains that the grotesque can be conceived as “artistic conceptions of the world” that are a “combination of ‘natural forms and monstrous figures intertwined in bizarre or fanciful’ ways.” Fundamentally, the grotesque, whether manifested in reality or the realm of art, is disturbing in its abnormality. For Bakhtin, the “monstrous figures” that Shields refers to take the form
of agents of violence, such as the military, police force, and street fighters. Understood in this way, the grotesque is suffused throughout both the Watts riots and Over the Edge. The 1960s was a very transformative time in American history. The Vietnam War was in full swing and racial tension was driving the civil rights movement. On August 12th 1965, the Los Angeles Times wrote of how Lee Minikus, a
The grotesque was formally limited to the war thousands of miles away from the United States, but the riots brought chilling images close to home.
white highway patrolman, arrested Marquette Frye for driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result of the arrest of Marquette Frye, a group of a few hundred individuals started rioting in protest. The group grew from a few hundred to a few thousand in a matter of hours. Weena Perry, a reporter, wrote of how the grotesque elements of the Vietnam War were transposed to the streets of Los Angeles. Writes Perry: “August 12’s front page of a machine gun aimed toward snipers hidden in the Vietnamese landscape […] now gave way to images of armed National Guardsman and police officers patrolling the streets of Watts.” The grotesque was formally limited to the war thousands of miles away from the United States, but the riots brought
chilling images close to home. Commenting on a photograph of an arrest, Perry provides further insight into the grotesque nature of the riots: “A UPI (United Press International) photo…depicts a shirtless black youth, his face contorted in pain, being shoved into a squad car by two policemen, one of whom carries his legs, the other of whom carries him—solely by the neck.” The brutal handling of a young man (who, it should be noted, is presumed innocent until convicted of a crime) by the overbearing police officers, as depicted by the photograph, is undeniably grotesque in that it strikes the viewer as violently unnatural. The concept of the grotesque is also on display during the riot scene at the end of Over the Edge. The film
Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival in Over the Edge and the Watts Riots
ends with the children taking control of the school parking lot while their parents are trapped inside the school (which is itself an unnatural scenario). During the rebellion, the children experiment with explosives, guns, and ammo. Their inexperience with violence leads them to harm themselves. Cory, the new girlfriend of Carl in the film, is found with blood and wounds all over her face from an explosion during the riot. Cory’s face, along with the black youth’s in the UPI photograph, are used as symbols of the grotesque. The juxtaposition of the innocent human faces set against blood and violence makes the images grotesque. Bakhtin also discusses social limits in his text, writing that “during carnival time life is subject
only to its laws, that is, the laws of its own freedom.” Although these are laws of freedom, they are laws just the same. This notion is applicable to the riots in Watts. In his book Violence as Protest, Robert Fogelson claims that the rioters “displayed a marked degree of restraint” – that is, they showed moderation in their transgressions – a conclusion he reaches because of a number of factors, including that the rioters attacked comparatively few whites. The restraint that was shown exemplifies that even though carnivals involve the suspension of social norms, there are still certain taboos set in place to hold society together. During the rebellion in Over the Edge, the children for the most part only do harm to property and themselves, demonstrating once
again that a carnival scenario doesn’t necessarily lead to the complete dissolution of taboos. The children acted with drastic disobedience, but they didn’t violate any categorical prohibitions by, say, committing murder. The Watts riots and Over the Edge also explore authority and the transfer thereof, an issue Bakhtin
...the children for the most part only do harm to property and themselves, demonstrating once again that a carnival scenario doesn’t necessarily lead to the complete dissolution of taboos.
discusses. The violence during the Watts riots allowed the government to exercise more control over the citizens in the area. Before the riots, police were not allowed to go into Watts and arrest whoever was in the streets. As the riot grew out of control, however, the government gave the police more authority. The handing over of power to the police can be seen as the crowning of a carnival king, as described by Bakhtin. Shields elaborates on this point, noting that “ritual acts” – i.e., acts like the crowning of a king – “remind us that both individuals and structures are relative and transitory.” The police’s newfound authority over the rioters exemplifies how a carnival setting leads to the shifting of positions of power. Although the Watts riots
eventually led to increased police control, a suspension of authority preceded it, thus allowing a period of radical liberty. In the following passage, Shields explains how the suspension of hierarchy – an idea taken from Bakhtin – allows for freedom of expression: “We do not have to bite our tongue, repress our thoughts, or clench our fists in an earnest attempt to stifle our attitudes, but instead we may find ways to express our true feelings, to communicate who we are and what we are about […] We do not take advantage of this opportunity in a way that leaves us vulnerable. Instead, we enter into the joyous mood of carnival, enjoying the costumes, masks, and grotesque representations – and under their cover, we seize the opportunity for
free expression.” Although there is nothing joyous about riots that left 34 people dead and thousands injured, the suspension of social norms allowed the rioters to experience freedom. Sorin Matei and Sandra BallRokeach, two professors at the University of Purdue, note that when the police withdrew from the scene, “the pent-up fury [was] unleashed. Cars driving down Avalon Boulevard […] were stoned. Encounters with police or even fire units invariably ended in violent confrontations.” Here, Bakhtin’s idea of a “temporary suspension of rules” comes to the front of the riots. In Over the Edge, the temporary suspension of authority is explored through the character of Officer
Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival in Over the Edge and the Watts Riots
Bakhtin argues that a government must allow its citizens to experience carnival, as it allows them to relieve built-up tension during a time of extreme boisterousness.
Doberman, played by Harry Northup. Throughout the film, the power of Doberman is challenged by the children of the community. The main rebel of the community, Richie, is Doberman’s antagonist. The carnivalesque noncompliance of Richie takes form when he talks back to Doberman upon his initial arrest, as well as when he talks back
to the investigation officer. When Richie jumps onto Doberman’s car and treats it like the rioters of Watts treated the cars of Avalon Boulevard, Richie’s disregard for figures of power is demonstrated further. The disrespect of authority is seen perhaps most dramatically at the end of the film, when several children, not just the confirmed rebel Richie, blow up the police car, a symbol of the destruction of an oppressive force. In a Time article entitled “Los Angeles: The Far Country,” a journalist explores hierarchy and power. Bakhtin argues that social eminence allows people to know their “proper place.” In the article, a young interviewee exclaims, “We know the cops are scared.” With the newfound freedom from the riot,
the rioters in this time of carnival were able to capitalize on the lack of governmental control by taking over the neighborhood and imposing their own rules. Bakhtin argues that a government must allow its citizens to experience carnival, as it allows them to relieve built-up tension during a time of extreme boisterousness. Before concluding, it should be noted that Bakhtin’s theory does not suggest that all carnivals are exactly the same. One difference between the riot in Over the Edge and the Watts riots is the goal of the rebellions. The children revolted out of rage for being under represented in the decisions of the community, and their goal was to show their parents that they are in control of their surroundings. The goal of the
Watts rioters is captured well by Chris Jenks in “The World Turned Upside Down,” wherein he writes that the riot is “not the end of the problem, it is rather an illumination of a problem.” The rioters of Watts wanted to bring attention to the fact that they had been marginalized by society and that they have had enough. Elements of the carnivalesque – the grotesque; the loosening, but not the complete termination, of the rule of law; the shifting of power – are evident in both the film Over the Edge and the Watts riot. Rebellions and riots are real-world examples of carnivals, in Bakhtin’s sense of the term. Moreover, the transgressions of the rioters in both Over the Edge and the Watts riots are consistent with the ideals that Bakhtin described
in his theory. The rebellions were based on a deep sense of resentment and a desire to be liberated from the policies of society.
Mikhail Bakhtin’s Carnival in Over the Edge and the Watts Riots
On a Blue Sky Day Sean McNeely
A man once told me on a blue-sky day that no matter what you do, the sun will always have its say. I asked the man for some elaboration or something else to tickle my imagination, and just as I made my request, a cloud came billowing by. It covered the sun, so we stood in the shade, and I pushed for an answer to the appeal that I’d made. The man sighed a sigh and looked into my eyes and unfolded the story I’ll tell to you now. He spoke of a backdrop distorted by blue and the cream of the nebulous pillows that grew. They grew and they grew until all that was true was boxed into boxes and hidden from view. These boxes—they stacked until one became many, and some
overflowed into others: now there were plenty. I asked him to share with me what was inside, and he told me those boxes were full of the lies. He told me their secret— these boxes were ties; they were tethers that bind us with chains to our lives. At this I recoiled at the thought of it alone. These boxes, it seemed, were imposing their tone. They were traps, he explained, they were prisons for kings, and then he asked me if I knew why the caged bird still sings. I answered perhaps that they didn’t know better, but he told me the reason in six simple letters: B-E and A, he started, and then U-T-Y, and it was then that I understood not the how, but the why.
33 Qui Fait Rage En AmĂŠriqu Stuart Hayden
Red Writing on the Wall Katie Shetlick
May 2010, Jerusalem
35 Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities
Rose Robitaille Art has been a tool for communicating emotion throughout human history. An image conveys feeling without words, creating a language that is universal. Through this language, art makes contemporary issues and their impact on communities accessible to different demographics. In contemporary society, modern art reaches beyond museum walls. Public art pieces act as visual reflections of social conundrums and give communities a means by which to re-evaluate their realities. The use of art in justice movements is effective because art has the ability to “shape our ideas and political behavior,” according to Jacqueline Adams in Sociological
Forum. An excellent example of this occurred under the Pinochet regime in Chile, during a period of political chaos. Within this chaos, many organizations arose to aid the people of the region. One program, which was created to help women in shantytowns gain more stability and have their voices heard, utilized
Art is the natural response to these issues; it displays the emotions, cultural heritage, and the social connections between the people and their society in relation to an issue.
art. Vicariate of Solidarity, a human rights group funded by the Catholic Church, taught the women to make aripilleras, a type of tapestry. In addition, they guided political and human rights workshops, which encouraged the women to converse about the injustices they were experiencing. Simultaneously, foreign purchasers of the aripilleras were being educated about issues pertaining to human justice in Chile. The aripilleras became symbols, communicating the injustices felt by the women in the shantytowns. This program was integral in gaining the support of foreign aid in the Chilean resistance movement, proving that the arts can act as a vehicle for justice movements. They
help to bring an issue to the surface, gain support for the issue, and attach an image to the movement. This program proves that art can act as a catalyst, shifting an opportunity for change to an organized protest. Art is the natural cultural response to these issues; it displays the emotions, cultural heritage, and the social connections between the people and their society in relation to an issue. As the Vicariate of Solidarity did in Chile, the use of art to empower a group can raise awareness and funding, as well as create international coalitions. Though there are many avenues for protest, art is uniquely effective because it can also be purchased. It is one of the few forms of protest that can both become a symbol of a movement and also bring in revenue. The
aripilleras were successful because they gave the women an opportunity to express the deep injustice they were experiencing, and then use the product of their expression as a vehicle for awareness. In addition, the money made from the sale of the aripilleras financially supported the movement to counteract the injustice. Art is able to appeal to personal experience to create emotional responses, making it an effective tool to ignite social movements, in addition to being a provocative and successful form of propaganda. The two major components of a social movement are framing an issue and mobilizing resources; art has the ability to directly assist communities in doing both. Framing consists of identifying an issue, suggesting
Art is able to appeal to personal experiences to create emotional responses, making it an effective tool to ignite social movements...
possible solutions, and rallying a community in support of the issue. Art has the ability to harness the crucial elements of framing, namely, “trying to attract and shape media coverage, win the support of public bystanders, constrain movement opponents, and influence state authorities,” according to Doug McAdam, John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald in Comparative Perspectives on Social Movements. Framing is vital to attracting
and educating people within the community (the same applies to those outside the community too), and has been achieved by many public works of art. An example of successful framing is Pablo Picasso’s mural, Guernica. Created in 1973, the mural depicts the tragedies of the bombing in Guernica through Picasso’s use of abstraction. Picasso was commissioned to decorate the Spanish Pavilion during the Paris International Exposition. He designed and painted this mural to comment on the bombing. A public display of this piece at the World’s Fair and later in galleries and museums all over the world brought attention and awareness to the bombing. The piece is also a commentary on the atrocities aimed at those within his home country.
As his final symbolic act, Picasso refused ownership of the priceless art to Spain until its citizens had “public liberties and democratic institutions.” Picasso used the piece to frame larger issues of violence during World War II and to address internal issues in Spain on a domestic level. Art’s ability to draw in resources is particularly important because the kinds of communities that are affected by issues such as environmental degradation typically do not have the many resources, or means of mobilizing resources, that are needed to inspire social change. It has been determined that areas with the most severe environmental problems, as well as the industries which cause the most waste, are often located in poor or
minority neighborhoods. Residents of low income and minority communities in the United States are nearly twice as likely to live near a hazardous waste handling facility or an abandoned waste dump than those living above the poverty line or in non-minority communities. These areas of urban poverty are characterized by inadequate income, public infrastructure, and/or protection from law operations. These communities are also among the least equipped to mitigate environmental health hazards because of past and current discriminatory practices, which have resulted in decreased social and personal resources. Urban neighborhoods usually do not have sufficient access to political or economic resources and tend to
Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities
bear the brunt of environmental burdens. Though the federal government is under an obligation to protect these communities, there seems to be a problem disseminating information to and within them. In these communities, “the role of citizens in policy-formulation processes may vary and is determined by the agency’s informational needs and preferences, and by the citizens’ willingness and capacity to participate,” according to Mathur and Kellogg in Public Administration Review. Often, information is gathered during “public meetings and hearings or through written correspondence.” This makes the potential for isolation of the effected communities very large. The federal government and its agencies are required to allow all
persons access to information about environmental decisions, but much of the information is shared through technological resources, which impoverished urban communities do not readily have access to. Even if individuals do have computer access, it is very difficult for them to use it without previous education or training. Additionally, websites on environmental issues will not always contain the most up-to-date
Urban neighborhoods usually do not have sufficient access to political or economic resources and tend to bear the brunt of environmental burdens.
information. It is imperative, if a community wants to act in response to an environmental injustice, that they have the power to access all of the information pertaining to that issue. Activists in the community must also know how to gather the information and then use it effectively to influence public processes. This can be difficult because acquiring information about environmentally degrading actions requires knowledge and resources, as does the ability to cite evidence that supports activists’ claims. To effectively use information in a public process, a community must be able to provide support for their claims to raise internal and external awareness, which in turn is done to gain media attention and funding.
An excellent example of how a community’s access to information can be limited can be found in Kettleman City, CA. The citizens of Kettleman City are still in the process of fighting the construction of a large toxic-waste facility because they were unable to incorporate themselves in the public hearings and discussions. Kettleman City is a primarily Latino community; however, all of the public meetings pertaining to the construction of the waste facility were conducted in English, without a Spanish translator. Such a grave oversight in community outreach by both federal and state governments is a clear cry for alternative approaches in the dissemination of information. It also begs for the creation of new avenues to guide resource
mobilization for communities that are stripped of a voice during the legislative process. The groups targeted are usually socially and economically disadvantaged. They become voiceless and powerless within political systems. Art is a universal language with the power to transcend political, economic, and cultural boundaries – in addition to mobilizing resources. Resources, in this case, would be defined as “money, land, labor, technical expertise, facilities, legitimacy, time, authority, skills, technical tools, or habits of industry,” according to McAdam, McCarthy and Zald. The collection of these resources is achieved by appeal to emotional attachments; therefore a piece of artwork, when being used to mobilize resources, must both evoke
emotion and create empathy for its justice movements. It must also be able to do this in communities outside of the benefactor’s daily reality. Despite its abstract forms, Picasso’s Guernica has the ability to inspire an emotional response from contemporary viewers. The anguish and screams expressed by the distorted figures displayed in the mural are nearly audible. Even though the forms are ambiguous, they can still be identified as human; they are not individualized by traits because they represent the greater global community. From flower arrangements on the side of the road to a highprofile memorial, art can be a visual homage to those who have lost their lives. These public displays communicate visually and draw
Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities
from an individual’s personal experience, evoking an emotional response to an issue. War memorials are a common type of public art that can vary widely in their representations of the act of war. Most war memorials are potent in their convictions and content; they have the power to influence an audience and shape their perception of an issue such as war. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. is one of the most influential and controversial representations of war in the world. It is tailored to influence the viewers’ experience by drawing on simple techniques that are designed to involve the audience in the travesties of war. The memorial was constructed in a minimalist fashion. There is a wall where the names of
those lost in the Vietnam War have been carved into black marble. The wall is V-shaped, with each end sunk into the earth and a raised middle. Maya Lin, the architect who designed the wall, avoided listing the names of deceased veterans alphabetically, instead placing them in chronological order, in order to create a taxing and overwhelming method of locating an individual. To find a specific name, the viewer must walk the length of the wall, wading through the tens of thousands of names of the deceased in order to locate the desired person. Lin’s method of organizing the names adds another dimension to the Vietnam Memorial. The viewer must confront the names of a multitude of dead soldiers, an experience that mimics the
Viewing the memorial takes the form of a personal journey that allows the individual to experience the atrocities of war.
feeling of digging through bodies to uncover a loved one, as you would have to do at a war site To further enhance the audience’s personal experience with the wall, it has been constructed out of polished and reflective black stone. As the viewer searches through the names carved into the wall, their image is superimposed onto the list of veterans. This technique forces the viewer to consider the otherwise unknown physical identities of the
veterans, causing each death to have a personal impact on the memorial visitor. Viewing the memorial takes the form of a personal journey that allows the individual to experience the atrocities of war. By communicating with the viewer through their personal experience, the piece can successfully shape one’s perspective of the Vietnam War. The experience is personal and unique to the individual, but they share a common thread in that the public art piece was designed to elicit an emotional response to an event from all who view it. Another practical application of visual art as a tool to communicate information is the use of maps. In 1999, the Neighborhood Audit Profile used maps to compare land use; over time the community
realized they were located on an area that had been used as a dump in the past. The map was used to educate the people of the town about past land uses and drive action in response to the newly acquired knowledge. Access to information is essential in the mobilization of resources within a community; the information displayed on the maps would not have been as effective if it were stated verbally. The cartographers’ research and discovery of degraded areas, as well as the people’s awareness of it, helped the community become engaged in an issue. Though a map is not a conventional form of modern art, it still has the power to evoke an emotional response to a situation by visually compiling data. From a
map, one would be able to identify a site that was environmentally degraded. Additionally, a map can calculate distances from schools, hospitals, and other resources that will inevitably drive an emotional response to an issue. Calculations based on recent census data can reveal crucial information, such as the number of households, men, women, and children in the effected area, clarifying the impact of an issue. People can see the damage’s impact on both themselves and the larger community. This avenue for the dissemination of information allows more information to be communicated in a way that transcends societal boundaries. A map, in particular, allows communities to see the interaction between an environmentally
Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities
degraded area and a community, drawing direct parallels between personal experience and a current issue. The Neighborhood Audit’s map also gave community members information to use to present a case for their community. Not only did the community have access to the visual representation of data, they were also given the information itself. The map acted as a tool to present this information to other people in the community and those outside the community as well. These pieces of art inspired public efforts to change the conditions that contributed to violence. The success of art in spurring social movements has to do with how information is processed. Humans can process information in many ways, but
“of all information absorbed, 75 percent comes visually,” according to Eleanor J. Lopez in The 2005 Sourcebook for Advanced Practice Nurses. However, if humans receive such a large portion of their information visually, and in many cases they are viewing similar things, why do their perceptions of the visual often differ? Motivation has a profound effect on an individual’s visual perception. The influence of motivation can create a dissonance in visual perception within an audience. The importance of social and cognitive conditioning upon individual visual perception is a clear indicator that visual perception varies between individuals. Visual perception has also been proven to involve selective awareness. In a study monitoring
visual perception, undergraduates were told to count the number of times that people in a video passed a basketball back and forth. In this video, a person in a gorilla suit appeared, beat his chest and then walked off screen; 40 percent of participants in the study did not notice the intrusion in the video. The participants of the study engaged in a type of situational visual perception. If the participants had been told to look for a person in a gorilla suit, the gorilla would probably have been noticed by a larger percentage of the participants. The notion of selective perception also brings to light the inherent bias in perception. A simple example is to think about looking at a bridge in the distance. One might think the bridge is not very tall, but if asked
to look down from the top of the bridge and jump off, the individual’s visual perception would probably be altered. Situational and personal experience can also affect the way people perceive things visually, which shapes what is absorbed by an individual cognitively. Bias is created by the desires of people. In a study completed by Emily Balcetis and David Dunning, it was found that bias is rooted in either fear of one outcome, or hope for another. When shown an ambiguous object that could represent a desired outcome, it was more likely that the subjects would witness what they wanted to see. This difference in experience poses some issues for the use of art as an educational tool, since people
accompaniment. When attempting to manage the perception of an art piece, particularly in a public display, it is also important to either accentuate a bias to create a tangible disconnect, or reveal an issue in society. Balcetis and Dunning’s study also asks how people are capable of creating “self-deception crucial to the execution of motivated reasoning.” will have differing experiences with Balcetis found that “people fail to a given piece of art. This makes it recognize such self-serving biases if important to recognize bias and its those processes remain outside of origin in visual perception. When conscious awareness, monitoring, or trying to evoke a universal emotion, control.” particularly in modern art, where For the purposes of this paper, ambiguous art forms are often left an environmentally impacted to be interpreted by the individual, community will most likely have it might be necessary to set some few resources or little access to precedent for the piece with its title, modern art, while the philanthropic placement, installation, or other sources that are targeted for the When shown an ambiguous object that could represent a desired outcome, it was more likely that the subjects would witness what they wanted to see.
Using Visual Art as a Tool to Mobilize Environmentally Impacted Communities
support of this community have resources and are considered to be experienced in viewing art. The community can use art to convey information and mobilize resources internally, but the type of artwork that will be the most successful in doing so will differ from art used for external resources. Both the community and the external levels’ accessibility of artwork will depend on what the viewers already know. In all cases, interesting and relevant subject matter is necessary for a tool to be successful in mobilizing resources. When attempting to evoke emotion in experienced art viewers, there should be an increase in the complexity of the chosen forms. For inexperienced viewers, specialized information that is not known in the community should be
avoided. Conversely, viewers that are experienced in art collecting, “want to [think of art] analytically, using facts and figures; seeking information is itself an interesting pursuit,” according to Phillip Yenawine. If funding is required from the sale of artwork, it is a good idea to cater to the more experienced art collector’s palate, which in some cases will include abstract artwork that is open to interpretation. Specialized information and increased complexity in a piece will allow the experienced art viewer to be more engaged in the content of a piece. Additionally, when catering to the experienced art collector, information about the artist who created the work, the methods used by the artist, and the decision-making or concerns
of the individual artist will help to engage the audience, according to Yenawine. The classical notion of visual attention is that it is determined by object location, which has been prevalent in visual perception theory. However, recent studies have revealed that visual perception may be based on “more abstract object-based representations,” according to Nancy Kanwisher and Jon Driver in Current Directions in Psychological Science. The objectbased representations are called object-tokens; object-tokens are the movement of the visual features or attributes. Their movement visually binds the attributes with the object itself. This links continuity of movement to an object more than the physical attributes of the object
itself. This theory lends added importance to the fluidity of objects in capturing the visual attention of the intended or unintended audience. In addition, Abigail Housen’s research on the stages of aesthetic development has identified that depending on the amount of experience people have had interacting with art, the response to an image will vary with the complexity of the image. Generally, once an emotional response to a given image is reached, it will allow for increased confidence levels in evaluating the content of that image. It will also increase the likelihood that the image is perceived in the way it was intended. To mobilize resources within the community, the art used will need to be accessible to
community members and should draw upon common ideas or experiences in the community. If the viewer is able to apply their prior knowledge to evaluate an art piece, this cognitive process will lead to a greater understanding and personal investment in a work of art. Effectively evoking emotion from inexperienced viewers creates a greater need for expressive narratives and diversity of content. Beginning art viewers will tend to look for stories within an art piece in order to relate to it. Art that is both
In many cases art can reach where other forms of communication cannot.
captivating and easy to decipher, in addition to being based on the interests of the community, will be more accessible to community members. The application of art in contemporary advocacy movements should be widely explored as a tool to mobilize resources for environmentally impacted communities. After identifying a target audience, varying mediums of visual art can be chosen to effectively create the emotional response needed to mobilize resources for an environmentally impacted community. In many cases art can reach where other forms of communication cannot. Given its versatility and the range of emotions art can convey, the use of art in social movements allows
for a more effective response in of communities. aiding communities affected by environmental degradation. Art is such an important facet of both human development and expression that the use of it to promote justice in a social movement is imperative. Humans retain and absorb information more readily through visual channels, making art an excellent medium for communication. There are many artists within communities that have sparked social reform, but issues such as environmental degradation and pollution often leave behind minority groups, particularly those that are economically challenged. If art is used in bringing this to the attention of greater political spheres, it will draw attention to the injustices brought on by the isolation
Unconventional Development Ashley McPhee, the founder and original editor-in-chief of BASE, is currently continuing her education in activism and development as a Peace Corps Community Economic Development volunteer in Paraguay until August 2012. Her role in her community can best be described as creative problem solving and youth empowerment. She believes strongly that all real change will come from the young generations.
I had the pleasure of giving a workshop on using recycled materials to make artisan goods at a camp for environmental studies students from the National University of Pilar, a city in Paraguay where I work in the Community Economic Development sector as a Peace
Corps volunteer. I taught the students how to make beads, in different shapes and sizes, out of glossy magazine paper I cut from a Black House White Market catalog. I showed them how to use strips of cardboard to make lovely protective plates for hot pots and pans, and from the bottoms of milk and fruit juice cartons, we made change purses. It occurred to me, preparing for the workshop, that given the choice, most people opt for what is new, trendy, and commercial over what is recycled, reused, and homemade. Newer generations of Paraguayans are no different. Globalization has shown them already what life can be like in a modern state. They want the same goods, the same quality,
the same “new car smell.” My workshop, sadly, would be more fun and interesting than utilitarian. When I think about my work in Paraguay, I think about what economic development means and the consequences it can have. Should all people have access to clean, running water and electricity? Should all people have secure means of transportation, good health care, proper alimentation, and adequate housing? Absolutely yes. These things and much more. But too often good living becomes plain consumerism. It is necessary to rethink why we need and want money. Economic development is all good and well, but how will the new money be spent? Who gets left behind when a state develops rapidly due to new
industry and foreign investment? What are the environmental impacts of large scale growth? Is it really necessary to have so much money to buy bigger televisions and newer cell phone models? An interesting article in Foreign Policy Magazine by Immanuel Wallerstein entitled Unconventional Wisdom talks about the end of the capitalist world economy. I am not an economics expert. In fact to be honest, I’ve never taken an economics course in my life (though I am currently reading Development as Freedom by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen). But it doesn’t take an expert to see the consequences created and havoc wreaked by the large, capitalist societies of the world. Sweat shops and workers’ rights abuses, illegal immigration,
Who gets left behind when a state develops rapidly due to new industry and foreign investment?
environmental degradation, continued colonialism, civil wars, the ever growing gap between the rich and the poor, longer work weeks and less value placed on the family, higher blood pressure and increased deaths from heart attacks; the list goes on. I do not want to help Paraguay contribute to the problem by promulgating the same capitalist model that has successfully brought the world economy to its knees. But
how do you convince a country full of people who want what I have enjoyed in my own country my entire life that they have the opportunity to develop differently, in harmony with the environment and human values, to keep it local, sustainable, and natural, to focus on education and personal freedoms as way to promote economic growth, and that they should seize that opportunity and follow a different path from conventional development?
This is not something that can be easily answered, but it is something I believe all development agencies and individuals around the globe should preoccupy themselves with. The developing countries could lead the world down a new road, towards a different kind of world economy. Will we, the developed nations, help them realize that potential or continue to use the same ideas, propagating the same problems, often for our own gain? I can only remain optimistic.
The developing countries could lead the world down a new road, towards a different kind of world economy.
â€? Unconventional Development
You Are What You Eat Lyndie Raymond
Pride Parade, Columbus, Ohio 2010 Scott Surovjak
Untitled Tony McKendry
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