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Writing for Progressive Change

issue 52 | fall 2012



FALL 2012


tion does not limit itself to “hot button” political issues, but also


brings light to socio-economic, gender and racial inequalities; en-

has been serving as a local alternative to right-wing, commer-

vironmental injustices; humanitarian efforts and other socially and

cial and corporate-owned media for more than five years. The

politically conscious topics often ignored by mainstream media.

InterActivist staff publishes the magazine independently with participation from the Ohio University student group InterAct along with funds from the Ohio University Student Activities Commission, the Campus Progress division of the Center for American Progress, reader donations, advertising revenue and fundraising events. The InterActivist features independent reporting and politically progressive commentary on a wide range of underreported social

Cameron Price

justice issues and draws attention to the work of local and regional grassroots activists, groups, campaigns and events. The publica-

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Although the InterActivist staff reserves the right to reject submissions, the views expressed in The InterActivist belong to individual authors and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of its publications or co-sponsors, the members of these organizations, the magazine’s staff or its contributors. For information on joining our staff or supporting work, please email or visit us at


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In this issue... 5






OU InterActivist
















COPY EDITORS Elizabeth Cychosz Sam Flynn




Lindsay Boyle Elizabeth Cychosz Sam Flynn Brandon Logan Rebecca Myers Alice Ragland Ashley Weingard Phil Wight



Brooke Baldi Emily DuGranrut Cover design by Brooke Baldi



After four busy years of working for The InterActivist, we would like to thank our readers for keeping up with social and political issues in Southeast Ohio, our staff for putting up with us, and each other for pushing this publication into the hands of our fellow students. Here are a few words about our experience with this magazine and how it’s changed our times at Ohio University and in Athens:

LINDSAY’S WORDS Three years ago, as a slightly unsure yet highly ambitious sophomore, I had the opportunity to take on the position of editor-in-chief of The InterActivist. I accepted, not knowing that what would follow would become one of the most fulfilling experiences of my entire undergraduate career. With each meeting, each new staff member, each edited articled, each magazine, I have been able not only to teach, but, more importantly, to learn. I have watched intimidated freshmen become confident sophomores. I have worked to maintain the fun, informative and laid-back atmosphere of the meetings that existed when I first joined. I have smiled as members told me that The InterActivist is their favorite organization, as past members have reached out to us with ideas, as readers have commented on the quality of the magazine. I have spent countless hours with managing editor Rebecca Myers in dorms, apartments, offices making sure that every article is perfect for publication. But, most of all, I have acquired a group of friends that I know will remain strong regardless of distance. For me, the magazine and its staff have been my go-to, my rock, my happiness and my family. It’s an InterActivist thing. REBECCA’S WORDS As slightly intimidated sophomores who took on running this magazine without much guidance except our love for social justice, Lindsay and I have learned more than just

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writing and editing skills. We’ve seen our staff very small; we’ve seen our staff grow. But it has always been excited. We’ve made a publication that asks for more. It asks for dedication of its writers and designers, for passionate change creators, and for group camaraderie. Not to mention some hard work, too. Going to The InterActivist’s weekly meetings has always served as a reunion of thoughts and fervor for me: a safe place among the collegiate sea of homework, stress and exhaustion to express our troubles, worries and frustration. Without the allegiance and talent Lindsay has lent to this publication, I don’t know what my college time would have been like. We have spent so many nights editing, sent so many text messages to coordinate plans, and laughed about so many silly jokes; she’s been a fantastic partner in crime. Writing for this magazine has brought me in contact with fantastic activist souls around Athens and just-asdedicated students, with whom I’ve made such great friendships. I wish them all the energy to keep it up. I can’t wait to read next semester’s InterActivist. Seek peace, love, justice and a good conversation. --In solidarity, Lindsay Boyle, editor-in-chief Rebecca Myers, managing editor Class of 2013



he United States, with more than 72 million of its citizens considered obese, has the highest obesity rate in the world — a rate that continues to increase. It is no secret that the United States has been battling issues with health for years. However, the U.S. food system is one area where many changes can be made to help reverse that trend. One issue in the U.S. food system is the way in which food is grown and sold. Small farms have been declining for about 70 years, largely because conglomerates have taken over the food industry. Comparatively, owners of smaller farms utilize more natural and safe farming methods than conglomerates, which allows them to maintain the nutritional value of the foods they grow. As health becomes a growing issue in the United States, small farms may be the potential solution. Because of its advanced technology, the United States is among one of the top producers of food in the world. The United States produces more than half of the world’s corn, 10 percent of its wheat and 20 percent of all meat. Because of that, U.S. citizens spend less on food in relation to their incomes than any other nation’s citizens. Cheap costs are an advantage, but there are also disadvantages related to the production of food in the United States. In the 1950s, farm employment was more than 12 percent of the total U.S. workforce, whereas now it is less than 2 percent. Since 1981, 75,000 farms have gone out of business, and 1 million jobs in rural communities have been lost. The agricultural share of the United Sates’ total GDP is rapidly decreasing. In 2000, farm incomes were at their lowest level since the Common Agricultural Policy began more than 50 years ago. As small farms continue to be wiped out, manufacturing output and production of industrial farms increase. The power that conglomerates possess poses a threat to the survival of small farms. Since 1990, large conglomerate production has increased 5 percent every year. According to Becky Rondy, the financial president of an Athens-area farm called Green Edge Gardens, it is important to keep the bigger picture in mind. “It’s not about one individual small farm trying to compete against conglomerates,” she

“It’s not a red or blue issue. All of us need healthy foods, but the government hasn’t been giving us that option. We have to ask our state representatives.” - BENJAMIN BUSHWICK junior said. “It’s about small farms everywhere trying to compete as a whole against large farms.” In 1970, farmers were getting 50 percent of the retail market share. Currently, they receive 25 percent. According to Warren Taylor, the owner of Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy, the company’s biggest conglomerate threats are the Dairy Farm Association and Dean’s. “They are bullies,” he said. “They make it harder for small farms like mine to just survive.” Taylor said he believes that a farmer should never have to compromise the value of his or her goods in order to appease the public. “To compete with these national producers, the government tells me I need less regulation,” he said. “Well, that’s bullshit.” In the United States, many mass-produced foods are grown and retailed using dangerous methods. For example, conglomerate farms often produce genetically modified (GM) foods. Although cheaper, those foods are infused with chemicals and pesticides, and they are often poorly regulated. Rondy said she believes that U.S. citizens should question genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “Because GMOs aren’t labeled, consumers therefore can’t know what will happen to their bodies when they eat GMOs,” she said. “We won’t know for several years, but I don’t want to

take the risk.” The current U.S. political administration has not directly addressed the issue of unlabeled GM foods. “Obama promised us four years ago that he would challenge GMOs, but he hasn’t done it,” Taylor said. Taylor suggested that U.S. citizens should pressure the government to address the issue. One change that many small farmers hope to see is with the labeling of foods. Benjamin Bushwick, an Ohio University junior studying psychology with a focus on sustainability, said that boycotting is one of the best ways to take down conglomerates using GMOs, but that it could be difficult when GM foods are not explicitly labeled. “It’s not a red or blue issue,” he said. “All of us need healthy foods, but the government hasn’t been giving us that option. We have to ask our state representatives.” California is one state where there is a proposition to begin labeling GM foods, and there is a national campaign to endorse the proposition. Additionally, there have been several improvements in industrial farming recently, such as more careful analysis of soil and crops through the use of better technology. However, the pesticides used on plants today are much more potent than chemicals previously used. Applying phosphorous fertilizer to certain plants increases the yield of the plants and raises their phosphorous levels, but also drastically lowers the levels of other minerals. Evidence shows that commercially grown foods lack nutritional value. For example, protein in wheat and barley concentrations declined by 30 to 50 percent between 1938 and 1990. When 45 corn varieties were grown side-by-side throughout an 80-year period, there was a noticeable decline in the concentrations of protein, oil, and amino acids in the newer varieties. Official U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that calcium content of broccoli averaged more than 12 milligrams per gram in 1950, but, in 2003, averaged about 4 milligrams per gram. That phenomenon — when methods used on industrial farms to produce larger yields through fertilization, irrigation and other environmental means cause a decrease in concentration of minerals in plants — is known as the genetic dilution effect. Although greater yields


are now produced at lower prices, the quality of those foods has diminished. Additionally, producers in the United States sometimes try to create foods with higher levels of carbohydrates. “There is more nutritional value in a cereal box than there is in the cereal,” Rondy joked. According to Rondy, time and money are big factors in the foods people choose to buy. “Not very many people have time to cook fresh food every day, so they rely on partly processed, partly prepared foods because that’s what their schedules allow,” she said. She also pointed out that places that sell locally produced foods, such as farmers’ markets, typically have limited business hours. Although 91 percent of all U.S. farmers are considered small, the other 9 percent receive more than half of all agricultural revenue. In the beef industry, there are four main firms that control more than 80 percent of the total meat production in the United States, even though there are thousands of farms nationwide that produce meat. In the United States, Dairy Farmers of America produces half of all raw milk, and Dean’s produces half of all pasteurized milk. In Bushwick’s opinion, though, a company called Monsanto is the most threatening of all conglomerates, because it is “the mastermind behind GM plants.” Bushwick said that although the original mission of Monsanto was to create genetically superior plants that could feed the whole planet, the seeds Monsanto sells alter the soil so only genetically modified plants can be grown there. “A lot of farmers have had a lot of issues with Monsanto,” Bushwick said. “It’s a David and Goliath kind of fight, though, because if you try suing Monsanto, they will reverse the lawsuit to you and put your farm out of business. People just don’t mess with them anymore.” Taylor said that Snowville Creamery would never be able to lobby Monsanto and suggested that the government should step in. “The solution for sustainable farming is democracy,” he said. “We need leaders who react to what people want. We aren’t holding officials accountable for the change we want to see.” Taylor emphasized that money is not the main issue for small farms. “We aren’t competing for dollars and cents, but for value-for what people really want and need,” he said.

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Adam Fitch, left, and Eric Osbourne work together filling milk bags from Snowville Creamery to send off to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams stores.

Several governmental policies favor conglomerates more than small farms. The Department of Agriculture, for example, has very few agricultural subsidies available for small farmers. However, the government continues to support tobacco farming. In recent years, only some agricultural aid money has gone toward labeling or eliminating GMOs, putting healthy goods back into the U.S. food system or aiding small farmers. In Athens, however, many people do care about fresh foods and show support to local farmers. “Athens is completely unique,” Taylor said. “It’s the best place in the world to be trying to achieve local sustainability.” Although in a small county, Athens farms can still act as models for nationwide farming. “Snowville’s goal is to make a future for dairy farms in America, to be a model for dairy industries in America,” Taylor said. Rondy emphasized that Green Edge Gardens focuses on the quality and affordability of its products. “Our priority is to provide high quality fresh organic produce to our customers at a price that is affordable to them, and provides an income for us that allows us to compensate our employees at a level that is a livable wage,” she said. Additionally, Athens is home to restaurants such as Casa Nueva, Fluff and Salaam,

which all use local ingredients, thus supporting local farmers. Bushwick said that those restaurants, as well as things such as the Vegan Cooking Workshop and the Athens Farmers’ Market, help strengthen Athens’ farming economy. He also said that most farmers who participate in the market do not use GM seeds. Taylor said that one way to help the atmosphere in Athens become more common elsewhere is to encourage political change, especially at the state level. Ohio, for example, has 15 state representatives who can affect agricultural policies. “It’s time we start focusing more on who we elect as our state representatives than getting so caught up in who our next president will be,” he said. “We can’t focus on the nation as a whole if we can’t first focus on what’s going on right around us.” Taylor also suggested that an end to governmental subsidies altogether could allow agricultural policies to be based on the demands of consumers rather than on the needs of conglomerates. “We are lost if we let people with more money make all the decisions,” he said. “The solution is to find the right candidates and know more about how we can connect with our state representatives to make change.” 

Installing Security, Protecting Education Ohio University student raises funds for Ghananian school written by L IND SAY B OYL E photos by SHANNO N FEL L ER


hen she first saw the library at Bakatsir Methodist Junior Secondary School in Cape Coast, Ghana, Ohio University sophomore Shannon Feller’s mind was filled with big plans to improve it: more books, new technology, a fresh coat of paint. However, when she explained her plans to a teacher at the school, he informed her that the library’s computer lab used to have a few more working computers, until thieves broke in and stole them. Her plans for a library makeover quickly changed — the school, she realized, would first need a security system. Feller, an early childhood education major, has been in Ghana since mid-August as part of OU’s Teach in Ghana study abroad program. Although she primarily teaches mathematics, she has also given her students a lesson in

discipline, as well as — at their request — cone in making comparisons between U.S. and Ghanaian students. After she gave the discipline lecture, Feller said her students showed a visible increase in interest. “The children at this school have so much energy and excitement, and as soon as they realized I really came to help them learn, they became so much more interested in their schooling,” Feller said. Many of Feller’s students are about 14 or 15 years old — just four years younger than her. Although their school is noticeably less equipped than many in developed nations, they will soon be expected to compete in the international job market, regardless. When the teacher explained the role of the lack of security in the building that houses the school’s library and computer lab, Feller real-

ized she could help the students become viable job candidates in ways aside from just teaching. Feller admitted that, at first, she was disappointed she would not get to do something “more fun,” such as painting a room or building a bookcase. However, she said she quickly decided that if the teacher thought the installation of a security system would help the school most, then that is what she would try to accomplish. “I was left with the task of making it so that people in the future that come to teach don’t have to worry that what they contribute won’t be safe,” she said. “The greatest gift that can be given to a school and its students is the knowledge that their education will be protected.” Shortly after deciding to take on the project, Feller visited a nearby shop for steel security installations to find out how much it would cost to secure all of the building’s windows and doors.


Because of the school’s proximity to the ocean, workers at the shop informed her that only galvanized steel would be able to withstand the conditions. They estimated that the total cost would be about 4,000 Ghanaian cedis, which is just more than $2,000. Feller, knowing she did not have that much money to spare personally, decided to create an account at to ask friends, family and others to donate to the cause. At the end of October, Feller had raised almost $900. Feller, who will return to the United States Dec. 7, said she hopes to have raised enough money to install the security system by mid-November. When she first learned about the theft of the computers, Feller said that, although she was surprised, it did not seem rare or shocking to the teacher with which she spoke. Although Ghana is generally peaceful with a relatively low crime rate, she said she learned that theft and robbery are still somewhat common. Often, when such is the case, poverty is a driving force. As of 2007, 28.5 percent of Ghanaians lived below the poverty line. Recently, Feller said she took part in what she called an “eye-opening project,” where she learned how long someone making minimum wage in Ghana would have to work to buy certain common needs. For example, milk in Ghana costs about 4 cedis, 50 pesewas, which is equivalent to about $3. Feller explained that at minimum wage it could take up to 16 hours for a Ghanaian worker to be able to afford that. To put that in perspective, she pointed out that a U.S. citizen working 16 hours at the federal minimum wage level would make about $116. “It’s like us paying over $100 for milk,” she said. Despite that, Feller said that Ghanaian poverty is not too noticeable, because “people know how to get by,” and because the kids are typically happy with whatever they have. “I will take home the knowledge that people don’t need nearly as much as they tend to think to be happy,” she said Feller said she has enjoyed her experience thus far, and that although she still has much to learn about being a teacher, she now knows for sure that she is capable of being one. She said her departure from Ghana in December will be bittersweet. “If I didn’t miss my family, I would totally be OK with staying here,” Feller said. “I’m still getting used to a lot of things, but it feels like a second home.” Feller plans to continue to donate to the school even after her departure and said she hopes to be able to return someday. “There’s no way I could leave thinking I’d never come back,” she said. 

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The greatest gift that can be given to a school and its students is the knowledge that their education will be protected.” - SHANNON FELLER, student teacher

HOW YOU CAN HELP... Help Shannon Feller meet her fundraising goal of $2,000 by late November. Visit Feller’s account to donate money at:



END GOAL: $2,000

e c a e p g n i k



t e n a l p e h t written by PHILIP WIGHT


n Sunday, Sept. 30, the world lost one of the greatest advocates of ecology: Barry Commoner. He deserves to be remembered for his pioneering work in the early environmental movement — but Commoner’s dream was for peace both on Earth and with Earth. He believed humanity should live for the sake of one another and of sustainably with the biosphere. Famed health advocate and environmentalist Ralph Nader recently reflected on Commoner’s legacy in a public statement following his death. “Dr. Barry Commoner should be considered the greatest environmentalist of the 20th century,” Nader said. “His great work is reflected in his many campaigns that succeeded and in raising public consciousness to the silent violence of toxic pollution.” Although trained as a zoologist and biologist, Commoner rose to fame as the “Paul Revere of ecology.” Following Rachel Carson’s lead — her 1962 “Silent Spring” helped launch the modern environmental movement — Commoner emerged as America’s foremost ecologist. He became a leading advocate of sustainability, organic farming, recycling and preventing global warming when those ideas were still considered radical. Commoner was not merely a brilliant scientist cloistered in the ivory tower, though — he believed the public had a right to scientific knowledge. While working with the St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information, he argued that, without the relevant scientific findings, “citizens cannot, with reason, give their consent to any public policy.” Commoner’s mission to warn U.S. citizens of the pervasive presence of toxins and of the harmful effects of nuclear bomb testing — which led to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty — earned him the February 1970 cover of Time magazine. Time wrote that Commoner had “probably done more than any other U.S. scientist to speak out and awaken a sense of urgency about the declining quality of life.” After studying the unintended consequences of nuclear testing and the spraying of DDT, Commoner decided to argue for the “precautionary principle,” because he believed that new

chemicals and technologies should not be produced if they could potentially be harmful to human health. He thought that new chemicals should only be produced after conducting rigorous studies. Warning of the harmful effects of early detergents, pesticides, chemicals and smog, Commoner advocated for natural products and affirmed “nature knows best.” A 2010 report by the President’s Cancer Panel — one of the most prestigious cancer research groups in the United States — highlighted Commoner’s concerns. The study noted that only a few hundred of the 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have ever been tested. It warned that newborns regularly leave the womb with 300 chemicals in their bloodstream, making them “pre-polluted.” Commoner argued that the failure to regulate those chemicals resulted in the United States’ staggeringly high cancer rate, which currently afflicts 41 percent of the nation. Commoner’s study of ecology led him to what was perhaps his most important conclusion: “Everything is connected to everything else.” He believed that a myopic focus on the environment obscured the underlying issues: social injustice, violence and the structure of the economy. Commoner’s criticism of free markets earned him enemies, especially in academia and corporate America. Yet, the Harvard-trained biologist asserted, in his essay “The Scholar’s Obligation to Dissent,” that an academic’s duty is “not to truth for its own sake, but to truth for society’s sake.” When environmentalists advocated for simple living, Commoner agreed, but warned that as a social solution, thrift was an ineffective tactic. He explained that too many people in the world were starving, even in the United States, and that the mantra “consume less” would be laughed at in the ghetto and grape fields. He understood that social justice was a prerequisite for environmental justice; an environmental movement based on affluence and “green consumerism” was destined for failure in a world beset by poverty and hunger. When the early environmental movement blamed poor and developing nations for overpopulation, Commoner offered a pithy retort. Reducing population, he wrote in the best-selling “The Closing Circle,” was “equivalent to attempting to save


a leaking ship by lightening the load and forcing passengers overboard. ... One is constrained to ask if there isn’t something radically wrong with the ship.” He argued that the leaky ship was the economy. The week after the first Earth Day in April 1970, Commoner spoke to an audience at Brown University. “Pollution begins not in the family bedroom, but in the corporate boardroom,” he said. His diagnosis of the world’s social and environmental problems was as simple as it

and durable goods, and remove toxic chemicals and pesticides. “At least in principle, such a system is socialism,” Commoner wrote in his 1976 “The Poverty of Power.” In a 1997 interview with Scientific American, Commoner outlined his pragmatic vision for solving the environmental crisis: “Restoring environmental quality means substituting solar sources of energy for fossil and nuclear fuels; substituting electric motors for the internalcombustion engine; substituting organic farm-

production system’s toxic pollution. Commoner was not disappointed with losing, which he had expected, but expressed dismay that his campaign had not sparked a larger public debate about the injustices of the nation’s economic system. Despite his early successes and fame, Commoner’s diagnosis and prescription for the environmental crisis went unheeded. As professor Sharon Beder wrote in the academic journal “Environmental Politics,” the general public “accepted the conservative definition of the problem: that environmental degradation

Barry Commoner, biologist and professor, died Sept. 30, 2012. (Photo from

was radical. Commoner blamed the “thoughtless way in which we decide what we’re going to produce and how we’re going to produce it.” He argued that the problem and solution were found in the private production system which, unintentionally, created pollution, inequality, war and hunger. “The current environmental crisis is the unanticipated outcome of the ways in which the corporations that are entrusted with these decisions have chosen to provide us with transportation, food and power,” he said. To counter those injustices, Commoner believed the economy needed to be reformed to satisfy social needs rather than private profit. He argued for the social control of production that would respect natural laws, produce useful

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ing for chemical agriculture; expanding the use of durable, renewable and recyclable materials — metals, glass, wood, paper — in place of the petrochemical products that have massively displaced them.” To achieve such a system, Commoner argued that only the “collective power of people working together” in the political sphere could forge a more peaceful future. Although he said that people must tap into their individual talents and passions to advance this vision, he rejected individual solutions to the environmental crisis. “The hard political path is the only workable route to the soft environmental path,” he wrote. In the 1980 presidential election, Commoner represented the Citizens’ Party and attempted to spark a nationwide debate on the

results from a failure of the market to attach a price to environmental goods and services.” Commoner’s vision of government prohibition or strict regulation of dangerous chemicals has not become reality. Despite being marginalized, Commoner kept his head raised high and dreamed of a more peaceful future, even as he warned the time to take action was rapidly diminishing. He believed that the collective power of people working together would bring about peace, which he said “the world ought to have.” At the age of 90, Commoner was interviewed by a reporter from the The New York Times. “I’m an eternal optimist, and I think eventually people will come around,” he said. 


written by A L I C E R A G L A N D   |  illustrated by M I C H E L L E D O E

Because manufacturing and discarding clothes can have such a negative environmental impact, why not reuse them by shopping at a secondhand store? Buying used clothing is a simple way to save money and the environment:

98 percent of clothes purchased in the United States come from other countries.


Gallons of water required to produce a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

Transportation releases fossil fuels, such as carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere that pollute the air and can possibly contribute to climate change. Because the only fossil-fuel emission associated with secondhand shoping is the fuel it takes to drive to the thrift store, buying used merchandise has a smaller carbon impact than buying something new. | ABC NEWS


It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides to produce one cotton T-shirt. Those pesticides pollute the ecosystem when they end up in the water and atmosphere. - EARTH911.COM

Americans only buy 10 pounds of recycled clothing every year, while they throw away an average of 68 pounds. - EARTH911.COM

Americans throw away 11


pounds of textiles per year, and an estimated 80 percent of discarded clothing ends up in the landfill. - ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY





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100 Columbus Road | * Accepts donations



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“IT’S JUST VIETNAM” written by TO M P E R N E C K E R


hen I walked through the exit of Ho Chi Minh City Airport, I had no idea what the next few weeks would have in store. I certainly couldn’t entertain my imagination after the amount of anti-anxiety meds I had taken to combat my fear of flying. However, even after 30 hours of flying, waiting in terminals and smoking through a pack of Newports, I was about to board a sleeping bus that would take me from Saigon up the coast of Vietnam to a place that would become my home for the duration of my stay — Nha Trang. It’s amazing how the marbled, corroded sidewalks intertwined with the never-ending filth on the streets of Nha Trang. And how, if I walked alone, I was almost guaranteed a referral to one of the many exclusive massage parlors that offer much less than a happy ending. It was either that, or a motorbiker riding slowly by my side trying to sell me something to get me high. Vietnam, Vietnam... Yet, there was something beautiful and enchanting about the country, something more than the organized chaos of the streets, the backpacker district and the squalor of the everpresent shanty towns. It was the little ripples that could be seen in the street puddles when the gutters flooded from a torrential downpour. It was the random smell of fish sauce that mixed in with the smell of the city and stung my nose just enough to make me appreciate how far away from home I actually was. It was how, no matter how certain I was that I had never seen the people before, they all looked so familiar. The city never slept. Instead, it had more of a pulse, rising to a hectic pace each day, and then, at night, racing even more quickly, as though the

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city was speeding on something. However, as the moon grew brighter and clearer, and as the stars drew my attention away from the seashore and the crashing of the waves, the city’s pulse slowed, only to be kick started again prior to the break of dawn. That was Vietnam, and, from being there, I now understand what the term “lawless” actually means. Sure, there was a police presence, but there was very little to which they would not turn a cheek. One night, I was making my way back from an Indian restaurant, where, in addition to my order of lamb samosas, I had made a purchase from a street vendor who came up to my table: two oil pastel paintings for 150,000 Vietnamese dong, which is roughly equivalent to $7.50. I had haggled the price down from 200,000 dong, only to feel regret once the vendor told me that my money would help provide his daughter with schoolbooks. Anyway, I was walking back to my hotel from dinner, and the same motorbiker who had tried to sell me women and pot earlier in my trip had pulled up next to a man walking in front of me — a middle-aged backpacker from the UK. I made that assumption based on the backpacker’s accent. As I was approaching the biker and the tourist, all I saw was the backpacker shaking his head in a rather definitive “no” motion and then stepping back, quickly and shakily, toward a police officer who happened to be standing near one of the shops alongside the street. The man exchanged words with the officer while the biker defiantly waited next to the curb. After about 10 seconds of nothing happening, the biker rode off, and the backpacker resumed his stride. I asked him if the man had tried to sell him a woman, as he had tried with me. He shook

his head and said, “Only some stuff to snort.” He then asked me if I knew of any good eateries around town, and I quickly pointed him toward the Indian place I had just left. I recommended the lamb samosas, which were both a bargain and quite tasty, in my opinion. Things like that are common there. In a weird way, that instance was almost usual and expected. Almost. Whenever I thought about it, I would remember, “It’s only Vietnam.” The soundtrack of the city, as I recall, was a blend of hard techno blaring from shops and people noisily riding by on their various modes of transport — typically motorbikes or mopeds. The nondescript techno played early in the morning, when people sat around sipping coffee and tea. For the record, Vietnamese coffee and tea is some of the best coffee and tea I have ever had the pleasure of trying in my life. The volume of the music was always easily muffled by hundreds of horns beeping erratically in the streets, becoming increasingly louder until rush hour peaked. However, the horns never truly subsided at any time of the day or night. They kept time with the city’s pulse. Along a stretch of tourist-inhabited road, which the locals lovingly refer to as Foreigner Street, I witnessed a stark contrast between wealth and poverty. Travelers sat outside backpacker joints, talking with various English accents and in other languages, buying rounds for everyone, while, just behind the rows of bars, Vietnamese squatted in back alleys, waiting. I’m not sure for what, and I’m fairly certain they did not know either, but they seemed complacent in doing so. Even though Nha Trang was thriving with energy, a sort of calm enveloped the population there. They were waiting. Living. 





Jaylynne: A philosophical tale story and photos by R E BE C C A M Y E R S


ike falling dominos, one small action can trigger another and another, creating a mass movement, leading to change. Everything is connected. Interdisciplinary is the word on the street for Jaylynne Hutchinson. Activism is her game. And activism can start with a single email. After receiving a message about 15 years ago from an interested student on the west coast wanting to secure an internship in social justice at Ohio University, Jaylynne said she’d help. The student and her friend started a project — “The Free Student Press” — designed to embolden high-school students’ speech and press freedoms. The friend then enrolled at OU, and he co-founded the student service group InterAct, which developed into the organization that produces The InterActivist magazine. Jaylynne is this magazine’s adviser, seeing that the publication receives funding and support. She is an associate professor in cultural studies in education at OU and is in her 16th year at the university. Mismatching friendship bracelets poke out from behind a sweatshirt sleeve, athletic shoes peak out from underneath a pair of jeans. Jaylynne synthesizes, analyzes, philosophizes. Critical thinking is her mantra. Her office is steeped in color. Books with primary color covers sport succinct titles like “Democracy” and “Empowering Education.” Tibetan prayer flags of secondary colors give depth to a rectilinear office space, mirroring the opposing wall plastered with an “upside down” world map. A philosopher, Jaylynne questions the why and how of the conventional. What’s up and what’s down, she wonders. Breaking down concepts such as U.S.-centralized cartography is just the tip of the iceberg. Lizzy, one of Jaylynne’s graduate students, steps into the office, handing her professor a coffee before they both head to class. A few second-year cultural studies graduate students are about to visit this semester’s colloquium in critical studies in education to present creative projects they put together last year for the same class when they took it. For Jaylynne, incorporating creativity into every class she teaches is imperative. Cup of joe in hand, Jaylynne closes her door, which is a wall of pictures, office hour listings, famous quotes and stickers. She makes her way down the hallway to the late afternoon colloquium, balancing a few notebooks and a tray of brownies for her students. “I always say the reason I got a Ph.D. was so I could decorate my office door,” she says. With an eyebrow ring piercing a learned face, Jaylynne peers out to her students, who circle up during the introduction to graduate studies colloquium. Today’s visitors inspire current class takers with a dis-

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cussion on the seven chakras of human energy, with raps about culture, education, change. Jaylynne takes notes and taps her foot, her long, straight brown hair bouncing to the beat. Three years ago, Jaylynne created the undergraduate diversity studies certificate at Ohio University. Race, class, sexual orientation, gender and disability — those diversity “domains” are the framework for the certificate program, meant to strengthen general education for any student studying any major by focusing on what it really means to be diverse. The program has since picked up speed and interest. Graduate students are asking to be involved — that’s the next step, and it’s in the works. She perks up talking about the certificate. It goes beyond a single group of critical thinkers. It’s designed for the entire undergraduate student body, she says, reaching its arms throughout the university. It’s something she can give to Athens — something lasting. She says, “Once I leave, it’s still here.” Like strong trees, people’s roots go deep. Whether walking by herself in the woods of her native Seattle or visiting the ocean and mountain scapes of the Pacific Northwest, Jaylynne holds experiences from growing up close to her heart. She now spends her summers near those valleys, those highlands, enjoying family, the lack of humidity. “Everyone needs to find what replenishes them,” she says. But facing a new chapter in her life in the mid-‘90s, a reverse manifest destiny lay ahead. Braced with a new job in Southeast Ohio, she placed fear into two categories — fear of the unknown and fear of losing. She didn’t fear the new, but what loss could mean in a new life across the country, challenged with the prospect of moving her two teenage sons away from friends and family. But not allowing fear to reign, they headed east. Her oldest son, having seen his high-school and college days from this new Athens home, fine-tuned his musical interests by playing the bass in a few rock bands. Jaylynne, even as Mom, got to be immersed in the music scene of the town, witnessing the unity of the community. Music and art permeated not just her new Ohio home, but also her childhood. A nine-month visit to Switzerland in her 20s left Jaylynne wanting to share the country’s iconic alp horns, pastoral hills, yodeling and cathedrals with her own mom — a pianist, lover of art, mother of seven. Religion came in the shape of liberal Lutheran ministers — her grandfather and father. They veered away from preaching the gospel of salvation. Instead, social gospel came from the pulpit: Live like Jesus lived. Her father’s politics of viewing people from a holistic perspective meshed with the morals he preached, leading Jaylynne to contemplate going into ministry. Although being a woman entering ministry would have been uncommon during the 1970s when she was growing up, she veered toward something else unusual for females to study — philosophy, and the notion of “Why are we all here,”

which had sparked that philosophical match. Though not claiming Christianity as her own as the years went on, a few sugar skulls from the Day of the Dead celebration sit neatly on her bookshelf. The November holiday brought some unique traditions to Jaylynne after she ran into an Athenian friend on the street who extended a unique invitation. She later found herself sitting down with friends to a meal — a meal without speaking. Called a “Dumb Feast,” the dinner serves as a silent time of reflection about loved ones who have died, with diners sharing their loved ones’ favorite dishes. At first, Jaylynne, not knowing many at the table other than her host, was uneasy with the quiet while eating. But then she began to appreciate the space for thanks and for thinking of those who have shaped her in her life. New traditions and new experiences propel us all forward, she says. With those innovative thoughts, educators should work toward interconnectedness, she says — cultural roots that are fortified with what’s new, what’s fresh. Education also shouldn’t be so divided. Examining the small pieces of the puzzle, like different classes at a university, and also seeing the big picture, like how those classes fit together and relate, breeds critical thinking. Students need to make those connections, to be interdisciplinary, she says. And they need the “new” too, as her eighth and ninth grade English teacher showed her. A Shakespeare buff, Jaylynne’s teacher didn’t forget the “new” as he brought together social music of the time with the ancient writings of the Bard. Simon & Garfunkel and Bob Dylan made curriculum appearances. Hamlet and “The Sound of Silence.” He paid attention to the needs and interests of his students, creating a basis of the old that propelled the classroom and its thinking forward. “You could have a university without research, but you couldn’t have a university without teaching,” she says. Students are her first priority. And she’s connected to them, too. She makes time to see how her students are involved, spending her Friday night to see a play her student Krista is acting in, venturing uptown to listen to some more of D.C.’s rap lyrics. Marlene Swartz, who has worked for many different universities for the past 28 years, sits at her desk outside Jaylynne’s office every day. Easy going, Marlene calls her. A talker. Has a real sense of justice. An administrative associate for the College of Education’s department chair, Marlene has been at the university since 2003. She smiles at the colorful door opposite her desk. She sees Jaylynne’s fervor for supporting so many different causes, encompassing so many different types of people. “She’ll go to bat for just about anybody,” Marlene says. Jaylynne doesn’t think her car would have enough space for all the political and social bumper sticker messages she wants to share — like “Coexist” and “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” So she pins them to the bulletin board on her west office wall instead.


But, deep roots are often unyielding ones. Family and mountains and ocean and home always keep Jaylynne’s Pacific origins in the back of her mind. She promised her sons not to move their family again until they were both finished with high school, but, after that, she said all bets were off. Well past her kids’ secondary education, Jaylynne now hopes to find a job that will take her on a one-way road trip back west. But not without all she has gained from a unique city in the Hocking Hills.

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If she could pick up Athens with all its grassroots activism and intriguing characters and transport it to Washington, she would. She says her heart lies in two spots. But when she has a bad day, she wants to return to that Washington water. Some days, she’ll throw her kayak on the roof of her car and go in search of the element. Sitting level with the surface of a lake takes her home. There are just some mountains missing. 


LEARN WORK written by MEGAN MOLNAR photo provided by KELLY HATAS


he Learn & Work Program, a new program under the Hocking-AthensPerry Community Action umbrella, provides participants with the safety skills and training needed to be successful in volunteer and employment opportunities. Program participants attend a HAPCAP orientation and safety training. Kelly Hatas, the employment services manager, explained that the safety training consists of a series of videos that focus on topics like workplace violence, safe driving and ergonomics. “HAPCAP is really committed to having zero accidents in the workplace,” Hatas said. After the safety orientation, the program becomes less structured. “We try to get (participants) linked into other programs HAPCAP is offering, or we try to

refer them to other organizations who might be able to help them,” Hatas said. Learn & Work members have recently become involved in an initiative to maintain and care for a Native American mound owned by the Athens County Historical Society and Museum in The Plains. Participants in the program mow the grass around the mound and clean up debris and litter in the area. “We’ve only been working on that project for maybe a month or so, but it’s something that we plan to do on an ongoing basis,” Hatas said. Members have also helped coordinate a program focused on developing computer skills. The program, Connect Ohio, has taught participants basic Internet navigation skills. “I guess you could call it Internet literacy,” Hatas said.

According to Hatas, the Business Training Center at Tri-County Adult Career Center, which partners with HAPCAP, has orchestrated six two-hour sessions about workplace habits, personal characteristics, balancing home and work lives, and conflict resolution, among other topics. The Learn & Work Program helps participants learn basic skills that can be applied to both long-term and short-term volunteer and employment opportunities. “I see the greatest outcomes when someone who’s done the program that has been trying to get a job secured finds employment,” Hatas said. “You know, that’s really what we want for folks: for each individual who’s participating to reach whatever goal they have established for themselves.” v




An Examination of Single-payer Health Care and its Advocates written by S A M FLYN N


hat do you think of when you hear universal health care? Political buzz words and phrases such as “socialism,” “death panels” and “higher taxes” occur to some people. Others think “human rights” and “war on women.” Whatever the personal belief, not much is actually understood about a single-payer system, particularly because many politicians hide the truth behind negative rhetoric. There are myths that the system would be too expensive, discourage innovation, and would amount to socialism. According to experts in the medical field, consolidation would eliminate excess administrative costs, cost-shifting and unnecessary duplication, thus lessening costs. United States citizens currently pay for health care in multiple ways: through paychecks, prices of goods and services, taxes at all levels of government, and out of pocket. Some believe that there would be no innovation in the health care industry because of lack of profit and corporate benefit, and patients would be added to waiting lists. Although countries with national health-care systems such as the UK and Canada pay larger taxes, it is because they spend much less than the U.S. on their health coverage. The UK spends a third of what the U.S. does per capita. For the UK, the problem is not the system, it is the money. For the U.S., it is the system, not the money. The most common myth about national health care is perhaps that it amounts to a socialized bureaucratic government takeover. However, that is counterintuitive, as most of the waste in the current U.S. private system is the excess paperwork and contradictory regulations within the chaotic world of numerous private health insurers. Ten percent of the patients — those who are the most acutely ill and/or chronically ill — generate 70 percent of all health-care costs, according to Dr. Johnathon Ross, an internist at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, a 500-bed center city teaching hospital in Toledo, Ohio. If insurance companies can avoid even 1 percent of those patients when signing them up for their insurance, the companies will guarantee they will be overpaid by 7 percent if

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patients are receiving average premiums. Many doctors have been forced out of private practice into the monolithic world of for-profit hospitals and insurers. Dr. George Randt, a 26-year veteran of private practice in Cuyahoga County in Northeast Ohio, was fired from his job at University Hospitals after three years, because he spent too much time with his patients. His patients were quoted as saying he kept them “too healthy” and therefore the costs down, which were fiscally bad for the for-profit institution. Proponents of the single-payer system argue that the benefits are many. Universal and comprehensive coverage eliminates the need for out-of-pocket payments such as co-pays and deductibles that are barriers to access. By consolidating medical care, the system would avoid the unnecessary overhead that costs billions. Patients would be free to seek care from any licensed health-care provider without financial incentive or penalty. For-profit health-care providers distort care and divert resources from patients to investors. One organization working specifically for single-payer health care is SPAN Ohio, the Single-Payer Action Network. It is an entirely volunteer-based organization and is described on their website as a “statewide coalition of organizations and individuals in Ohio seeking fundamental health care reform in our state and country so that every resident is guaranteed full and comprehensive coverage.” The group includes notable endorsements from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Debbie Silverstein is the state director for SPAN. Her passion for affordable access to health care is in part because of her progressive father. “You have to arm with knowledge. I remember my dad was the one who had the talk because my mom didn’t talk about things like that,” Silverstein said. “‘I believe sex is something shared by a man and woman in marriage, but you’re an individual and you’re going to make your own decisions, and if your decision is different than what mine is, I would hope you’d protect yourself and no matter what, you’re my daughter, and I love you.’”

44,789 Total deaths in 2011 due to lack of health care

One of the more famous critics of managed care is Linda Peeno, a physician who was a former medical reviewer for the insurance provider Humana and the medical director for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), which is a federation of 38 separate health insurance organizations and companies in the U.S. which combined provide health insurance to more than 99 million Americans. Members of the BCBSA include Humana, WellPoint and Highmark. Peeno has been one of the most vocal critics of managed care and said she was rewarded for saving the company money at the expense of a man’s life. She testified before Congress on May 30, 1996, condemning managed care. “I contend that ‘managed care’ as we currently know it is inherently unethical in its organization and operation,” Peeno said. “Furthermore, I maintained that we have an industry which can exist only through flagrant ethical violations against individuals and the public.” Johnathon Ross is one of many physicians standing behind SPAN and the single-payer system. He graduated from Cornell University and received his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio at Toledo in 1975. In addition to his medical degree, he has a master’s in health policy and administration from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. He is a past president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), and he served as a member of the Ohio State Medical Board and as a chairman of the department of internal medicine at St. Vincent. His experience inside the health insurance industry convinced him of the logic and need for a national health insurance program. According to the Census Bureau, cited in Ross’ recent article, “Worse than War: Deaths from Uninsurance,” 48.6 million Americans do not have health insurance. Forty-eight thousand Americans die annually because of untreated or undiagnosed illnesses. That is close to the number of U.S. combat deaths during the decade of the Vietnam War. That does not account for the unmeasured suffering and disability from lack of treatment for non-mortal illnesses and injuries. Medical bills are also responsible for more than half of personal bankruptcies. Alice Faryna is a licensed physician with experience in primary care, veterans affairs and academic medicine. She was previously the medical director of Medicare Part B for Ohio and West Virginia and is active in the leadership of SPAN Ohio. “My experience as a volunteer in a free clinic taught me that many of those folks were working at one or more part-time jobs with no ability to qualify for coverage,” Faryna said. “This is patently unfair, and the chorus chanting ‘Take personal responsibility’ just doesn’t understand how the system is rigged against

58,156 Complete death toll of the Vietnam War between August 1965 and May 1975

people willing to work.” As both Ross and Faryna attest, there is no education about the money flow and the economics of health care in medical school. “It is a little like when you start to wonder about sex, but no one is talking about it,” Ross said. It was that impetus that made him decide to get a master’s degree in public heath in administration and policy. “It seemed to me that the system was always focused on the results of the wallet biopsy. No green, no care.” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was written into law in March 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2012. It is the first achievement in health-care reform since the passage of Medicare in 1965 and the result of 100 years of failed reform attempts by U.S. presidents, the last one of which was infamously spearheaded by Hillary Clinton in 1993. Despite campaign rhetoric, the ACA is heavily based on reforms passed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Both reforms expand coverage, but the Massachusetts reforms rely on subsidies for the mandatory purchase of private insurance and have left 200,000 uninsured to this day — while costs for health care per capita in the state are the highest in the world. Unlike most bills today, the ACA was primarily authored by one individual, Liz Fowler, a key staffer for Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) who led the drafting of the ACA. Four months after the bill was signed, Fowler joined the Obama administration as the deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, where she oversees the law’s implementation. Prior to working for Baucus, Fowler was the vice president for WellPoint — the largest for-profit managed care provider in the BCBSA and the same organization that Linda Peeno worked for as medical director. In essence, the former vice president of a major insurance company wrote the bill that mandates the middle-class buy said company’s product and now is in charge of making sure it is enforced. Even if fully implemented, the ACA will still leave 30 million uninsured in 2022. “Part of it was upholding the corporate mandate, so it was a corporate-written bill,” Silverstein said. “The question was will they uphold it, because the Supreme Court likes the corporate interests or will they get rid of it because they hate Barack Obama. So they were in a kind of quandary: Do they hate him enough to betray the corporates, or do they like the corporates more than they hate him.” Physicians such as Ross and Faryna see Medicare as an CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE



example of a successful single-payer system and support an improved and expanded version for all. In that expansion, state-based studies show the program would save about $400 billion annually and provide care for all patients with pre-existing conditions who would then have a choice of hospital and doctor. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated and business would be freed of the burden of the administrative costs of the insurance system. Faryna’s experience in Medicare showed her that it was run by competent professionals who worked hard to apply the law fairly and with the beneficiaries’ best interests in mind. Faryna compared that to the millions CEOs of private insurance companies receive.

This is patently unfair, and the chorus chanting ‘Take personal responsibility’ just doesn’t understand how the system is rigged against people willing to work.” - ALICE FARYNA, physician and active member of SPAN Ohio “Health care and health insurance are not the same.” Silverstein said. “Health care is getting the care, the medication, whatever you need. Insurance is a payment scheme.” The debate over whether health care is a right people are entitled to is at the center of the issue. In 1948, the United Nations and almost every country in it, including the U.S., ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which in Article 25 stated: (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. 2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection. The question of the line between personal responsibility and civic duty remains a contentious topic of debate. Seasoned physicians and advocates such as Peeno, Silverstein, Ross and Faryna say single-payer health-care is the answer. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. 

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Feed the Peaceful written by BR A N D O N L A BO N T E


eed the Peaceful is a new free meal program in the Athens community hosted at University Campus Ministry on 18 N. College St. Athens currently has several free meal programs on different days; Feed the Peaceful is held on Mondays. It distinguishes itself from other free meals by hosting anti-oppression workshops before every meal, and by hosting presentations and discussions during each meal. The anti-oppression workshops explore the definitions that are ascribed to oppression, how oppression is manufactured, and how oppressive actions can be approached. The presentations vary weekly and have included local musician Allen Strong, who shared his tunes for all, and speakers from the heart of coal country who represented the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation and explained the devastating consequences of mountaintop removal coal mining. As an Athens resident and the founder of Feed the Peaceful, I hope to create a sanctuary where students and area residents can nourish themselves while becoming enabled to make a difference in their lives. I see

Feed the Peaceful as a way to escape the stress of monetary restrictions and segregation implications while dining in an educational and familyfriendly setting. I hope to continue to serve nutritious meals made from ingredients from Community Food Initiative’s donation station and the Chesterhill Produce Auction as long as monetary donations can be steadily obtained. The meals occur in coordination with the development of Athens Community Awareness Network (Athens C.A.N.), a program aligned to improving core elements of Athens County by applying intrinsic values to the community through collective projects. Ultimately, collaboration among multiple groups to take on the larger task of bettering the area and increasing the quality of life is ideal. Jamie Betit, co-founder of Athens C.A.N., said he feels the Monday night meals are the catalyst behind the program’s ultimate goals. Athens C.A.N. aims to give the citizens of Athens a voice in their community that will empower them to make the changes they want to see rather than feeling silenced and powerless. 

FEED THE PEACEFUL WEEKLY MONDAY SCHEDULE: 4- 5:30 P.M. – Anti-oppression workshop 5- 6:30 P.M. – Cooking 6:30- 7:30 P.M. – Meal and discussion (See websites for updates:,

NOVEMBER PRESENTER SCHEDULE: Nov. 12 – Appalachia Resist!: The Grassroots Efforts for Health & Rights in Appalachia Ohio Nov. 19 – Colin Higgins: A Brief Peoples’ History of the United States

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NO LONGER SO FAMOUS T H E R I S E A N D FA L L O F K O N Y 2 0 1 2 written by E L I Z A BE T H C Y C H O S Z illustrated by BRO O K E BA L D I


ONY 2012,” an activism campaign by the advocacy organization Invisible Children, swept through mainstream Western culture in March. Countless youths busied themselves by vying for peace in a central African country previously without such attention, even though the region had been full of social and political conflict for decades. In 1988, Joseph Kony sought to overthrow the newly elected President Yoweri Museveni’s administration and led a regime founded based on the Ten Commandments. To do so, he needed an army. Throughout the northern region of Uganda, Kony and his men raped, mutilated, pillaged and murdered their way into an army that is now 250 strong, mostly composed of child soldiers. Today, the army continues

to grow. Like a gang, the Lord’s Resistance Army acts as a family to abductees; with their homes gone and families dead, they often have nowhere to turn. In 2008, after the LRA fled Uganda into neighboring countries, it was attacked by Uganda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which were all backed by the United States. The LRA called for a ceasefire in 2009, and the conflict was presumed to be over, but Kony is still in hiding with his child soldiers. In 2003, three film students from California — Jason Russell, Laren Poole and Bobby Bailey — took a trip to Uganda. As depicted in “KONY 2012,” they met a young boy named Jacob, who relayed his version of the conflict to them. Touched, the students founded a nonprofit organization, Invisible Children, and vowed to stop the LRA. Through films they produced themselves, they called viewers to action, explaining Invisible Children’s mission and encouraging them to donate to their work. Although the students have made several films, “KONY 2012” was by far one of Invisible Children’s most successful video productions. It went viral, reaching more than

APRIL 2012

GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR “KONY 2012” Google tracks trending keywords and measures their search volume over time. The original “KONY 2012” video’s total search volume in the U.S. peaked at Google’s absolute maxiumum, 100, in early April 2012. SOURCE | Google Trends

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OTHER KONY VIDEOS The advocacy group Invisible Children works to spread the word about unrest in Central Africa. Although the “KONY 2012” video quickly became a viral sensation, comparing other videos by Invisible Children and their views/release dates shows the group failed to gain similar momentum. SOURCE | YouTube

93 million views on YouTube. Ohio University’s campus buzzed with excitement, and the university’s chapter of Invisible Children, ICOU, quickly filled with new members. “(Membership) went up a lot, and there were new people coming in all the time. It was really awesome,” said Krista Mobley, a junior studying global studies: war and peace and the former president of ICOU. “I feel like everyone, originally, was left with such a great impression of the film.” Ellie Hamrick, the founder of OU’s chapter for STAND Against Genocide, said, “Invisible Children is great at empowering young people to take action for human rights.” Many OU students were still interested when the culminating event of the KONY campaign’s first video, “Cover the Night,” came to campus. ICOU rented the Scripps Amphitheater April 20, and many students came and went during the evening, listened to a DJ, and gathered supplies to chalk the sidewalks, put up banners, and stick forks inscribed with “KONY” in the ground. “A lot of the people that showed up to the first meeting (after the film became popular) also brought their friends,” Mobley said. “It was awesome and inspiring. It was just a shame because it rained, and a lot of people tore stuff down.” Despite the hype, ICOU no longer exists on campus. “ICOU kind of phased out by the end of last year,” Mobley said. “There were a lot of people who got involved with the KONY campaign, but not enough of them were committed to the organization as a whole. “As unfortunate as I think it is, KONY was

a fad. It was hard for me to admit that people aren’t going to keep caring forever, but I understand. Life does get in the way.” Many people left ICOU after the midpoint of Spring Quarter when classes started picking up, and the club dwindled to nonexistence during the summer. “Put a sad face on TV, and the crowd will bite until they get bored,” said Rachel Figley, a second-year master’s student in public relations. “It’s sad, but it’s America’s media culture.” Since KONY 2012: Part I, as the first video is known, Invisible Children has released three follow-up videos. According to an analysis of the YouTube page views of the videos, there was a 97 percent decrease in viewership between Part I and Part II, and the campaign’s popularity fell even more during the summer. Ironically, the later videos were meant to encourage people to remain interested. “That’s what KONY Part II was trying to address: Get these people to understand the criticism and draw them back and know the whole cause isn’t a scam,” Mobley said. “The intentions are good, but I just don’t think it got enough publicity, which is upsetting.” Oct. 7, Invisible Children released “MOVE,” its most recent film, in which the executives of the organization wanted to convince a waning viewership that its campaign is still a worthy pursuit. Soon after Part I was released, Invisible Children came under fire for questionable practices. “MOVE” stated those issues had no bearing on the validity of the campaign. Regarding the questioned integrity of Invisible Children, Mobley said, “I was so taken aback originally, and I couldn’t understand what (they


were) saying. How could anyone criticize such a great organization and campaign?” Because the financial records were publicly available, critics focused on the details of Invisible Children’s expenditures. Only 32 percent of its funds were being used for its aid programs on the ground in Uganda. “We all worked hard to raise money for this organization, and I wasn’t sure that our contributions were being used as well as possible,” said Madison Koenig, a sophomore English student and former ICOU member. Not everyone disagreed with Invisible Children’s money distribution. “The financial accusations were too harsh given Invisible Children is an advocacy group, not an aid-based group,” said David Pence, a senior philosophy student. Invisible Children spends a good deal of its funds on travel and film production expenses that it directly uses to raise awareness. Ethnocentrism — viewing one’s own culture as better than another’s — was another widely criticized aspect of the film. “It deals with the white-savior complex that America seems to have,” said Kristin Salasky, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

JULY 2012



People were mistaking watching a video and making posters [for] activism.” - DYLAN SAMS, sophomore studying journalism

I appreciate the conversation it started and the enthusiasm it seems to have generated among young people with little or no previous interest in human rights. I hope to see those people develop an informed, critical approach to advocacy and then take their advocacy offline.” - ELLIE HAMRICK, senior studying anthropology

“I don’t want to downplay the significance of the situation, but there are things like this happening all over the world, including in our own U.S. backyard. I would prefer to invest in something I can have a direct and consistent impact in.” - RACHEL FIGLEY, second-year master student studying public relations


a sophomore studying journalism. “Like our culture is the best and the most right.” Through its films, Invisible Children’s founders condemn a historically ethnic war and say that Western activists can do much to achieve peace. Part of the ethnocentric problem is how Invisible Children represents itself. Its videos are narrated by white, Western members who encourage Western audiences to take action. “It seems to be all about them, and they’re up front, and their funky jeans and their tattoos, and they look so cool, and ‘Here we are getting down in Africa,’ and I think it’s a bit hokey,” said Steve Howard, director of African studies at Ohio University. “I’d rather use African voices, African perspectives, and let’s see what African people have to say and think about this particular problem rather than listen to (me).” “I’d like to believe in the infrastructure they’re working on over in Uganda and other parts of Africa,” Mobley said. “They take culture into account there. Of everything I’ve seen in the videos, and the films and the people that I’ve encountered, and the Ugandan representatives and speakers that have come here to speak about it, I don’t feel like there’s any form of ethnocentrism.” In “MOVE,” Invisible Children calls for another day of action by encouraging supporters to gather in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, for a summit of world leaders to discuss the topic. The popularity of the cause has fallen, but only time will tell just how impactful this date will be. “I don’t think the huge level of notoriety Invisible Children received from ‘KONY 2012’ served as the movement’s peak,” Mobley said. As of Nov. 5, “MOVE” had reached more than 18,500 views. Although “KONY 2012” may have been a fad to some, to others it has been the inspiration to keep fighting for peace and justice in the world. “Above all the criticisms and everything, at least the people from IC had the audacity to stand up for something they believe in, whether or not people think they went about it the wrong way,” Mobley said. “I think that’s admirable.” 

paradox written by A L I C E R A G L A N D illustrated by E M I LY D U G R A N R U T I just don’t see how it can be That some believe government should oversee Certain aspects of humanity That should be handled naturally. Love and sexuality, Babies and matrimony… Yet other parts should be forever free (That need the most monitoring, if you ask me). Corporations, the economy, The continuous cycle of poverty... Maybe my views just don’t agree With the politics of such a society. But one must ask eventually If that should be called a democracy, Or a borderline theocracy Tangled in the paradoxy Of capitalism and morality.


Circle written by AL L I S O N RA G LA ND The world is a circle, Continuous and connective. All of it will malfunction If one part is defective. Nobody can eat If somebody is famished, No justice can exist If in one place it has vanished. No one can be warm If someone is cold, Nothing can glitter If not ALL of it is gold. No water can be clean If one river is damaged, No society can thrive If another is mismanaged. The world is not a series Of disconnected points. It’s a continuous place, In which each of its joints Connects to another, No matter how far apart. What appears at the end Re-appears at the start. For the world is a circle, Continuous and connective. All of it will malfunction If one part is defective.

26 | T H E I N T E R A C T I V I S T   |   F A L L 2 0 1 2 

BROOKE BALDI I’m a sophomore in visual communications, with a focus in publication design. It is my goal to make The InterActivist the best-looking magazine around. When I’m not fussing over fonts and margins, I am playing mellophone (it’s like a bigger version of a trumpet) in the Marching 110 and testing my reflexes with video games. After testing the waters at several other publications, I have found my place at The InterActivist.


t the


LINDSAY BOYLE I’m a senior journalism major who has been involved with The InterActivist since my freshman year. I became involved when I saw the content covered by the magazine and the depth of its articles. After almost three years as the magazine’s editor-in-chief, I can say that I’m very happy I found The InterActivist. My passion in life is to cover underreported issues and inspire change, and I consider the time I’ve spent with The InterActivist to be just the first stage. So, to my readers — remember each day to be thankful for what you have. Smile at someone and make his or her day a little better. And, most of all, never let the fire that drives you burn out. ELIZABETH CYCHOSZ I’m a sophomore studying in journalism and anthropology. I believe that a focus on progressive issues is what drives us forward as a society and keeps us relevant geographically and demographically. In addition to working with The InterActivist, I write for College Green Magazine and volunteer at the Athens County Historical Society and Museum. MICHELLE DOE This is only my first semester with The InterActivist, but I am pleased to say it has been an awesome and creative experience. I’ve also contributed in the redesign of this semester’s issue and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the magazine’s new identity. Come May, I will be graduating with a double major in journalism and publication design, and I plan to find a job within the magazine industry post-college. EMILY DUGRANRUT I am a sophomore magazine journalism major from Lima, Ohio. I became a designer for The InterActivist this semester because I wanted to become more involved in and educated on issues about Athens. In my spare time, I write, edit and play guitar in a band back home. SAM FLYNN I am a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in creative writing. I am a copy editor for The InterActivist, secretary for Theta Chi fraternity, and columnist for Rascal and Uloop blogs. I am passionate about all writing and hope to use it to benefit the world through fiction and nonfiction. I enjoy writing, social justice, MMA, hockey, tattoos, motorcycles, rap, film and literature. I wrote about SPAN and single-payer health care to educate myself and fellow students about an issue often kept hidden behind misinformation. Peace and love. MEGAN MOLNAR I am a freshman French and linguistics major. I have had several articles published in a newspaper in Bainbridge Township, but this is my first time writing for a magazine. I am interested in The InterActivist, because it publishes stories about important social issues that more people should be aware of. I am also in love with all things French, and I was able to spend this past summer working in France as an au pair (a nanny). French and writing are my two favorite things, so being able to combine the two into one career would be a dream come true.

REBECCA MYERS I’m a senior journalism major who has been involved with The InterActivist since my freshman year editing and writing. It’s been a fantastic addition to my college experience — social justice is exciting, changing and necessary. I chose to spotlight our adviser to shed a light on her work and character as a professor and activist herself. Keep fighting, standing up, spreading peace and knowledge, laughing and reading The InterActivist. M. HASHIM PASHTUN I am an Afghan graduate student in the environmental engineering master’s program. Graduating from India, I was the editor-inchief of my college’s annual magazine and selected as the Best Student of University in 2011. I am also vice commissioner for International Affairs in Student Senate and Environmental Engineering Representative in Graduate Student Senate. I am fluent in eight languages and was assistant lecturer in the Civil Engineering Department in Kabul. ALICE RAGLAND I’m a senior, and I’ve been writing for The InterActivist since I first arrived at OU. All social justice issues interest me, but usually I focus on environmental and political issues in my writing. I believe that all things are connected, so I try to show people how their actions affect other people and the planet as a whole. My passion lies within creative nonfiction writing, but I also love playing the flute and traveling the world. JASON SCHWARTZ My name is Jake Schwartz, and I don’t actually write for the magazine (Editor’s note: Jake works on marketing for The InterActivist). I attend meetings for the same reason I get up in the morning: to provide emotional support for Sam Flynn. He needs a lot of it, and it’s getting to be a pretty tough job, so please pitch in however you can. ASHLEY WEINGARD I’m a senior in communication studies at Ohio University. I’m the PR coordinator, and I really love The InterActivist. It is a familylike organization that supports the progressive issues with which I identify.




FALL 2012

Nov. 16-18 | APPALACHIA RESIST! ACTION CAMP Day 1: Arts West in Athens Days 2-3: ACRE in downtown Amesville The camp will be aimed at gearing up local anti-fracking activists for the coming political fight. It will offer workshops including Community Organizing, Navigating the ODNR, Media Activism, Know Your Rights, Direct Action Planning, Water Testing, Blockades and more. For more information, visit:


1000 E. State St. Athens Local farmers and distributors gather together to provide the Athens community with fresh and local food. Find fresh, homegrown vegetables, fruits, meats, flowers, teas and more. The Athens Farmers’ Market is a community gathering place that supports sustainable agriculture and the local economy. It takes place from 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.


Every first and third Monday of the month

Baker fourth floor – Women’s Center Hear Katherine Sprecher discuss classic and contemporary readings in education feminism. The discussion will last from 12 p.m.- 1 p.m.

Council meetings are held in the Council Chambers room on the third floor. Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. Observe what’s going on in Athens-area politics.



Baker fourth floor - Women’s Center Learn about global feminism from scholars from the Women’s and Gender Studies department at Ohio University. Discussion will be held from 12 p.m.- 1 p.m.


Casa Nueva – 4 W. State St. Come to Casa for a dance night sponsored by Ohio University’s LGBT community. Dance will last from 10 p.m.- 2 a.m. Admission is $3 for people over 21 and $7 for those under 21.



United Campus Ministries, Lower Level Enjoy a free weekly meal every Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Volunteers and donations are welcomed. Come at 3:30 p.m. if you would like to volunteer. Call 740-593-7301 for more information.


United Campus Ministries, Lower Level Enjoy a free weekly lunch at 1 p.m. every Saturday that Ohio University is in session. Arrive by 10:30 a.m. if you would like to volunteer. For more information, call 740-593-7301.

Issue 52 | Fall 2012  

The Interactivist is a student run magazine at Ohio University. "Writing for progressive change."

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