ONEWORLD Washington University ● Issue 8 ● Spring 2011
STA F F
d e a r R ead ers,
E di t o r - in- Chie f JORDAN WAGNER
C re at i ve D ire ctor s MICHELLE HO BECCA MOORE
P re s i de n t JOHN DROLLINGER
A s s i s t ant E d itor s BRYNE HADNOTT DANIEL STAROSTA
Tre as u rer RACHEL FOLKERTS
D e s i g n e r s, E d itor s, a n d Wr i ter s: KIMI BOLCH CICI COQUILLETTE MELANIE DRISCOLL LEAH EWALD JASON PARK ELEANOR PEARSON LYDA ROSSI ALLEGRA SKURKA LAUREN VAN DYKE SOPHI VELTROP
S t af f A b r oa d
Change is unavoidable. It happens on a yearly, monthly, and even daily basis. Most changes are so small that they are not even recognized or acknowledged in our daily lives. We tend to become complacent with change, only willing to strive for the bare-minimum amount needed to make a difference, believing that nothing more can be done to fix or solve an issue. Yet occasionally these changes manifest themselves into an international headline, something that grips the entire world for weeks. Welcome to the 8th edition of OneWorld! We have been working hard this past semester to compile an issue that focuses on our theme of Social Justice, and, specifically, on change. We explore how change is created and how change can affect a single person to an entire nation. In these next pages, we will share only a few of the hundreds of stories that Washington University students have undertaken, hoping that their stories might motivate you. Through empowerment and a change in currency in a small community in Brazil, a village that once lived below-poverty is now a strong, self-sustaining community. The Turner Center for the Arts, an art studio right here in St. Louis, inspires those disabled people who have always been told “No” to make decisions and to change into a more confident individual. Egypt encouraged an entire nation to demand change after thirty years of being repressed. With this issue, we encourage you, as the reader, to challenge yourself. Challenge yourself to become less complacent with the world around you. Challenge yourself to grow into a better person. Challenge yourself to take a risk, because more than likely, that risk will benefit not only yourself, but the world around you. We hope this issue inspires you to question yourself and your surroundings. We continue to support our mantra, “knowledge is power.” You have the knowledge, but what will you do with your power?
JOHN DELUREY RACHEL SACKS
fr o n t a nd ba ck cove r by C o n stan ti n o Sch i l l eb eeck x
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tabl e ofCONTENTS Is s u e 8
Spri ng 2011
OBSERVATIONS OF A REVOLUTION
TURNER CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Aceitamos Palmas: Banco Palmas and the Brazilian Economic Solidarity Movement t ext by K im i B olch p hotos by Ce lso Wh i te an d Ban co Pal ma
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I was staring out the window of the #59 minibus as it lurched down the street, swerving madly to avoid the many potholes and few brave pedestrians in its way, when a sign at a gas station caught my eye. It read: “Aceitamos Palmas,” We Accept Palmas. After a forty-minute ride from the center of the city, I knew I had finally arrived in Conjunto Palmeira, a favela of 32,000 residents on the southern periphery of the city of Fortaleza and the home of Banco Palmas. Banco Palmas, the last stop on bus 59’s route, is a community development bank and micro-finance institution that seeks to create opportunities for the residents of Conjunto Palmeira to generate income through practices of economic solidarity and the circulation of a local currency, the Palma. “Deus criou o mundo e nós construimos o Conjunto Palmeira,” God made the world and we made Conjunto Palmeira. This statement is engraved in Conjunto Palmeira’s center square. Sitting on a faded red couch in the lime green living room of “seu Augusto,” an aged, respected, and relentlessly active local leader, I was told a story about struggle and community on this hot Brazilian afternoon that offered me a glimpse into the depth of this inscription’s living history.
The neighborhood of Conjunto Palmeira began as a forced resettlement community on an undeveloped land tract in 1973. As a result of growing land speculation in the coastal zones of Fortaleza, the government initiated an act of “sanitary cleaning” and evicted and relocated the disfavored residents inhabiting the favelas of these areas. This new location further inland was completely void of any infrastructure. The first residents of the neighborhood constructed shacks out of wood and mud, crowding up to four families in each. Demanding better living conditions, the community organized to form the neighborhood association ASMOCONP (Association of the Residents of Conjunto Palmeira). Through their efforts, the residents of Conjunto Palmeira gained access to basic services such as clean water and electricity but remained economically marginalized by a lack of access to jobs, education and professional training. In 1997
when the community met to evaluate their situation, they reached the conclusion that while their favela had been urbanized, the poverty of its residents had increased. In 1998, in an effort to alleviate the prevalent poverty in the area, ASMOCONP facilitated the creation of Banco Palmas with help sought from community organizer and Ashoka fellow Joaquim Melo Neto, who remains the bank’s coordinator to this day.
When ASMOCONP asked the community why they thought they were poor, they responded, “because we have no money.” However, ASMOCONP was not satisfied with this answer as it seemed to be lacking a critical perspective about what happened to the little money that did enter the neighborhood. After mapping the community’s production and consumption patterns, ASMOCONP realized this money was being spent, and most importantly, it was being spent outside the neighborhood. ASMOCONP returned to the community with a new insight: “We are not poor because we do not have money. We are poor because we have lost the money that we have.”
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The philosophy of Banco Palmas is to create a local network of production and consumption in an effort to generate and circulate more wealth within the community, a model they describe as “economic solidarity.” The bank seeks to stimulate local consumption by creating local jobs and local products through lines of credit and the circulation of a social currency, the Palma. One note of Palma currency is valued equivalent to one note of the national currency, the Brazilian Real. As such, the Palma is backed by the Real, but it is distinct in that it can only be spent at stores within the neighborhood. Local vendors typically offer discounts around
10% to shoppers if they pay for their purchase in Palmas, an arrangement that both helps the residents save money and the local vendors keep business. The bank offers credit at much lower interest rates to residents than the formal banking system and evaluates credit requests based upon other community members’ testimonies and recommendations of personal character rather than a formal credit history, which most neighborhood residents do not have. This situation is hardly unique to Conjunto Palmeira, as one third of Brazil’s population is excluded from formal financial services due to poverty-induced conditions. Banco Palmas offers consumption loans in
Palmas to qualifying residents in the form of a Palma Credit Card at 0% interest to incentivize local consumption; it also offers production loans in Palmas or Reais at 1.53% interest to incentivize local production and promote entrepreneurship. Banco Palmas has built creative collaborations with national banks, international NGOs, multinational corporations, foundations, and governments to support their local economic development efforts. For example, through a partnership with a Swiss banking corporation, Banco Palmas is able to offer micro-insurance policies. Through its partnership as a banking correspondent for the national bank
Banco do Brasil, Banco Palmas is able to use the fees generated to cover the costs of wages and operation. By collaborating with Walmart’s corporate social responsibility institution, the bank is able to create an entrepreneurial training program with a special line of credit for women. An essential tenant and practice of the economic solidarity model of Banco Palmas is self-management. The bank is owned and managed by the community, an important distinction from traditional MFI models. As the community is both the customer and the owner of the resources, the income generated from credit operations, interest, and fees remains within Conjunto Palmeira, rather than generating wealth for an outside financial institution. A common question surrounding social entrepreneurship in the micro-finance debate is the ethics of third party profit, whether or not MFIs should be making money in this “industry” and “profiting from the poor.” Banco Palmas suggests an alternative model, in which it is the poor who are profiting from themselves.
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While perhaps not as “economically” successful as some of its peers, this model is arguably far more sustainable in the overall reduction of poverty and production of social capital. Conjunto Palmeira has not only seen an increase in the community’s wealth, but also an increase in the community’s pride, arts and culture, educational opportunities, and decreases in the levels of violence. Banco Palmas has begun a revolution in Brazil, challenging the distinction between social and economic capital from the bottom up. It has created new economic spaces tangential to the capitalist system in which communities can promote their own collective development through local monetary systems designed to empower and support its members. So far fifty-one neighborhoods in nine states in Brazil have joined this rede, or network, of community banks. From Ceará to Rio Grande do Sul, communities have worked alongside Banco Palmas’s non-profit entity, Instituto Palmas, to create their own local community banks
and social currencies. Yet this rede is hardly limited to national borders. During my short stay in Conjunto Palmeira, I met both governmental representatives and academic researchers from Japan, Germany, Spain, and Cape Verde interested in learning from Banco Palmas about strategies for local poverty alleviation and the role small grassroots economies can play in addressing the deep disparities that so often arise as part of a capitalist “development” process. While talking with a friend who has lived in North St. Louis for forty years about Banco Palmas, he smiled and said, “Hell, we need something like that here. We’ve got the same problems.” While I don’t mean to suggest that the implementation of a St. Louis currency would be necessarily be a viable solution to overcome the economic and social hardships the area faces, I do challenge readers to give a second thought to the implications of buying locally and what it means to consume in a community.
text and photos by Lauren Van Dyke Antarctica is a place where few dream of venturing. Cold and desolate year round, the continent has an average winter temperature of -40°F, with temperatures plunging to under -100°F at times. Because the continent is below the Antarctic circle (66° 33′ 44″), it experiences 24-hour darkness for the six months of winter, and 24-hour light for the six months of summer. Antarctica probably is not a firstchoice destination for most people, but I have always thought it would be a great trip. When my dad wanted to travel there to visit his seventh and final continent, I jumped at the chance to accompany him. Travel to the continent is nearly impossible during the winter due to extreme weather conditions, so our trip to Antarctica took place in January, at the peak of the Antarctic summer when temperatures average a much more habitable 20°F. Our voyage began in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in South America, where we boarded our ship, the National
Geographic Explorer. The ship is run by an expedition company, Lindblad Expeditions, and National Geographic sends their photographers on the expeditions to help passengers with photography and to take photos for the magazine. After traveling through the Beagle Channel for about eight hours, we reached open water in the Drake Passage, the roughest passage of water in the world. Although our captain told us that the conditions were average for our passage through the Drake, I had never seen anything like it. Thirty-five mph winds and 25-foot waves brought on seasickness that kept me in bed for most of the day. It took about two days to reach our first stop, Elephant Island. Although the water was too rough to land on the island, we cruised around the zodiacs and saw crab eater seals, leopard seals, and three kinds of penguins. As we traveled closer to the main continent, the water became calmer and we began making about two landfalls a day. We stopped at numerous
islands, including Deception Island on New Year’s Day, and as a celebration, we did a polar plunge off the shore. Hot springs run under the beaches of Deception Island, but the small trickle of hot water coming from these springs was no match for the 33°F ocean water and it was a very cold swim. At each stop, we hiked around the area and saw thousands of penguins interspersed with the occasional seal. According to the Oceanites crew onboard the National Geographic Explorer with us, we saw over 10,000 penguins during our 10-day trip.
Oceanites is a research group that counts penguins and their nests throughout the summer (breeding) season to track changes in species concentration and breeding success. On our fourth day in Antarctica, we made our first landfall on the main continent. Before this, we had only made landings on the islands of Antarctica. The fog finally lifted and we got our first glimpse of the Antarctic sunâ€“ perfect timing! The huge glaciers surrounding us were perfect for sledding, and with the amount of icy snow on the slopes, a sled was not even necessary. A few of the crew members brought snowboards and took turns giving the huge glaciers their best shot. On one of our final days in Antarctica, we were confronted with a huge sheet of ice not yet melted by the warming summer waters. I assumed that the captain would find an alternate route, but instead he drove the ship straight into the sheet. The naturalists on board unloaded the gangplank and checked the ice thickness. It passed their tests and we were allowed to go out onto the ice. To walk off the gangplank of our ship, not onto a dock, but onto an endless expanse of ice, with only the occasional glacier breaking up the vastness, was incredible. As we made our way back toward South America, we saw the occasional lone seal or penguin on an iceberg floating by. An albatross and pods of Minke and Killer whales accompanied us through the ice. During our two-week voyage, we saw whales, seals, birds, and thousands of penguins, along with more ice than I have seen to this point in my life, and I am from Wisconsin. Few people are fortunate enough to make this voyage, and the scenery is something that cannot be found anywhere else. The icebergs, glaciers, and wildlife we saw during our trip can all be found in other locales; however, nowhere else can they be found to the same magnitude or vastness as in Antarctica. Pictures cannot truly do this place justice. Antarctica is an incredible place, and seeing it for myself was an experience that cannot be beat.
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t e x t by D a nie l S ta ro sta p ho t os by D a nie l Staro sta an d fami ly For too long I’ve been spoiled with good adventures. My boxes full of faded photographs and vivid memories, scars, scribbles and artifacts all tell tales of reckless wanderings in the strangest of places, and the more dust they accumulate, the more I find myself acutely aware of one fact: I am terrified. I fear for the loss of stories, the stranger than fiction yarns of extravagant misadventure and the far simpler, beautiful moments that never escape the mind (even when the rest of your memory might have). They are endangered, and I’m afraid for their sake. The modern world is smaller than it used to be. Every subtle
detail of the planet has been mapped and charted to no end. There are fewer places to be discovered in the beckoning alleyway shadows, less firsts, even if less than a century ago this world was one of constant firsts, from Cape Horn to Cape Town. Where travel has become more common, adventure ever more rare. Every life extinguished from the last generation takes with it a weight of stories never to be told again, to be laughed at or re-imagined. They disappear. I’m more than a sucker for a good story-I’m desperate for them, and it pains me to see those embers put out. I’m a beggar for whatever’s there, for the vagabond raconteurs that are convinced there are still a few good ones left worth telling.
I grew up on my own grandmother’s stories, a wide-eyed child enchanted by the descriptions of places beyond the scope of my still-dinosaur-infested imagination, and, though it has been years, those stories still lie at the pit of my stomach like immovable lead weights, the rest of who I am and who I’ve become built around their foundation. For two decades I pressed her constantly for more, sure that this woman who seemed to know everything—who was fluent in multiple languages, who had her best memories locked away good as new in a secret compartment in her museum of a home—sure that she had one left for me. And when she passed away, I was devastated. Me, this beggar for smiles and tattered back-pocket tales, knowing I could never know how many had vanished into thin air with her. Perhaps she’d been saving the best for last. Something that could trump her knowledge of every street corner and back alley in Mexico City and all the wonders she’d seen growing up there; when
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her wheel of pungent Roquefort cheese had a plane-full of passengers fearing gas leaks, only to have an airline attendant calm everyone down and personally ensure its survival; when at seventy years old she made her way to Siberia to find a distant relative that might have survived the Holocaust. Her life was like a refrigerator covered in magnets, each one giving away a tiny moment that made up her famously colorful life. It was never about travel, it was merely about learning something new, finding the new connections that bind countless experiences together, and seeing the backyard marvels that the untrained eye overlooks. She opened my eyes to a way of thinking I would have never found by myself. My own travels, whether chasing hurricanes up the eastern seaboard or having my tent torn apart by the wind on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, are a direct product of what I learned from her. The truth is, I am a seasoned wanderer. I know how lucky I’ve been to see the world
and I only wish the same opportunity for strange and wondrous experiences to be given to every reckless young soul as it was to me. Whenever my friends have asked me what they should do if they go to this place or that, those that I’ve been to and those I barely knew existed, my answer is always to go to the city square and to find the old man sitting on a bench happily feeding the pigeons. To sit with him and just talk to him. Because he’s always got the best stories. He’s been there, a constant when so much has changed, for a century and a half. He could be the gifted photographer who moonlights as a graffiti artist, his age only betrayed by his cane—he’d been looking for someone to inherit his post. Or the Armenian shopkeeper who sells his old photographs, the fascinating Jerusalem he found in the 1920s after surviving ethnic massacres, escaping slave labor, and drifting across the Near East as barely a teen. And the quiet simplicity of feeding birds is as much peace and wisdom as
anything he’s picked up along the way. In different places he shows himself as a different figure, of course, but he’s always there, in some form or another. Whether walking barefoot in the Negev desert, nursing a cup of steaming coffee by the Bosporus, or sipping tea on an oasis strip of sunscorched Moroccan clay. But he is universal: his faint grin betraying years of giant smiles, crows’ feet burrowed deep as valleys, and his eyes, still sparkling with a glint of youthfulness and mischief that will never disappear. And he’s waiting for eager ears to tell the wisdom and wonders of his homeland or somebody else’s, each strand of his silver hair begging him to pass them down. In an era of instant news, texts, and tweets, storytelling has become a dying art. I wish, if only it was so easy, that I could condense the things I’ve seen into such meager media. And yet the richness of my memories refuses to be watered down like that, the images burned into the back of my mind find ways to reignite such embers. I’ve heard too many, been a part
of too many misadventures, fantastical and unremarkable alike. There are enough worth romanticizing that anything less seems too quiet. Too tame. Such are the stories I wish I could tell simply by the spark in my eye. If only you could feel the way I feel, wandering from place to place at ease and at the mercy of the tides. The ebb and flow of time has dropped me off in corners often overlooked and these words, carved into my fingertips, barely scratch at the surface of the color underneath—after all, it was once far more colorful. My days were doused in a palette so brilliant that there are times the midday summer sun barely shines a dull gray, and I catch myself somewhere between tears and smiles so big my cheeks hurt. The stories I can’t explain, can’t give proper respect and glory to, are the reason we try at all. Because something needs to be told just to get it out in the open, to get it off my chest, even if it’s exaggerated and twisted beyond recognition. They are the pages torn out of notebooks, diaries, and newspapers
covered in handwritten accounts of things gone terribly right and perfectly wrong; ideas that once seemed brilliant, scars remembered with bitter scorn and unadultered nostalgia. I am no more than the memories themselves, the peaks and valleys of my life that act as a heartbeat, and I am even less without the people that defined them: friends, family, and the weird heroes my days are littered with. They are what define me, what make me tick, and what allow me to sleep at night, albeit restlessly. They’ve taught me that there are a thousand ways to do anything, and none is wrong, just different. Often I’ve characterized my life as little more than a loosely related string of stories that have produced a mildly coherent existence. And I’m quite alright with that. Because in the end, in ten, twenty, fifty years, what will you be left with without your tales? Their leftovers are the only proof they happened, the scrapes and bruises and dusty trinkets. My own grandmother, a Romanian transplant to Venezuela, keeps her house stacked with four generations of
“I ’ l l tell you s om e st o r ies. Bu t I won’t t ell yo u all of them ,” s he s ays w i t h a wr y g r in, “ I have t o k eep a few for mys elf.”
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cracked smiles and a library in three languages. She relives her memories at her weekly canasta game with friends she made some seven decades ago. It’s the conversations they remember and share that make those few hours memorable every week, and with the players ranging from 79 to 90, there’s plenty of past to go Around. And perhaps this is what life is truly supposed to be, epochs defined by singular fleeting moments of such complete sublime absurdity that everything else falls into place accordingly, though with a certain measure of passionate disorder. The memorable occurrences of our notso-daily lives and all that happens on the edge of normalcy too often seems to slip through the cracks. I save these tidbits and scraps, halfassed reminders and unfinished thoughts I’ve heard along the way, and try to make sense of them. Because if not, nobody else will ever hear them, and that pains me the most. And so I steal all the ones I can find, for the sake of keeping them for another generation’s education and inspiration. Could be mischief worthy of a grin, a drama of love in the Great War, the police’s involvement in this and that; the first, the last, the only. Stories will never run out as long as we keep looking for them and, with luck, become a part of one. Perhaps you’ll find at your dinner table, as I did, a woman of 93-yearsold who casually mentions, but not without an honest smile, the five years she lived in British India. How she was the first woman in Tel Aviv to drive a car—and how she left it in neutral and sadly watched it tumble down a mountain. And her four husbands, the first and third of which were the same, the fourth of which was her childhood love in Lithuania.
She sorts through a handful of languages without missing a beat and still commands the attention of the whole table. The little details littered about her existence only highlight the nine or so decades she can reference like a rolodex. She’s lived the life writers try to fictionalize and still can’t compete with. “I’ll tell you some stories. But I won’t tell you all of them,” she says with a wry grin, “I have to keep a few for myself.” If it’s anything I hope for when I am old, it’s to look back over my life—mistakes, regrets, and all— and be able to say I filled in every waking moment with something worth remembering, even if I can no longer tell it quite right. I’ll give out inheritances of my fondest and most outlandish anecdotes for the youngest ones to pass off as their own, with the stipulation that they tell better ones to their own children. All of the leftovers will be donated to the public like a coloring book manual—proof of some once upon a time punk ass kid. I will sign it with a pen from that dirty motel. I will present the rules I lived by and I will hope they will never be taken literally or seriously. I will wish none of my exploits on anybody, but I will hope they find something similar. I will smile, one of those smiles I’d smile as a postscript to any good adventure. I will take kindling to the spark of mischief still flickering in my eye, and I will start a bonfire that can be seen for miles. I will curl up with a wide-eyed child, imagination muddy with the footprints of dinosaurs and Davy Crockett, and I will whisper the story I saved for long last. And I will hope to hear in return the true meaning of a half-decade of existence. So tell me a story. I’m sure you’ve got one lying around.
Choosing Prague text an d p h o to s by C i c i C o qu i l l e tte
People I’ve met in Prague constantly ask me why I chose the Czech Republic for my study abroad destination. In their minds, the weather’s pretty bad, the food’s nothing special, and America is the center of the world: why would I go halfway across the world to study politics and history? At first, I would try to explain my desire to gain another perspective; Central European history tends to get overlooked but has enormously affected the trajectory of Europe and the world at large. Having a better understanding of that cultural legacy, as well as Central Europe’s influence on the ever-expanding European Union, could only help me form a more mature and coherent view of the world. Typically, once my long-winded explanations had died down, I would receive a polite nod and a smile.
Day 1 To help us start navigating Prague on our own, we had a massive scavenger hunt through the city. Perhaps my best moment (other than navigational and linguistic prowess, naturally) was at the Hlavní Pošta, or main post office. It had taken a while for us to find it, but we’d finally gotten there and were stoked at the prospect of getting ten bonus points for collecting a Czech stamp. However, we walked into the building and saw a sign saying that the post office was on the first floor. In Europe, as at Wash. U., that typically means the one above the ground floor. We walked in, and sure enough, whatever was there looked like a cross between a bank and the DMV. Sullen-looking tellers sat behind tall, glassed-in booths and an elaborate numbering system directed visitors to the proper window. With no stairs in sight, we decided to ask the tellers where the post office was, just to be sure. The following occurred: Me: Prosím vás, mluvíte anglicky? (Excuse me, do you speak English?) Teller: Ne, nemluvím. (No, I don’t.) Me: Tak. Kde je pošta? (Okay. Where’s the post office?) Teller: …Tady. Je pošta. (…Here. This is the post office.) Me: Oh. Nevertheless, I managed to understand that simple exchange and, with some miming, we got our stamp!
Day 18 After several weeks, my conversational Czech is finally starting to improve. Two days ago I was able to go to the corner store down the street from our apartment, run by this adorable Vietnamese woman, and pick up some fresh Spanish oranges while remarking how fresh they were and explaining politely that nepotřeboval jsem tašku (I didn’t need a bag). Other encounters have been less successful: at the tram stop, an old woman missing several teeth approached me with her dog. I caught the very beginning of the conversation—as I smiled at the dog, the woman announced that the dog had made novou kamaradku (a new friend). The rest of the conversation was UTTERLY lost on me, but the woman seemed happy to have someone to talk to. If nothing else, I’m a patient listener.
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Day 28 After weeks of cold weather here in Prague, we Americans abroad were curious whether our beloved weather-predicting groundhog had jurisdiction in Europe. With some difficulty we managed to explain the shadow-seeing mythos (not without a few laughs on the part of the Czechs). They explained that they don’t have groundhogs here, but you can tell how long winter will last based upon how many layers an onion has. The idea is that the more layers it has, the more it’s trying to keep itself warm (adorable!). Our professor also noted that squirrels know how long winter will last, as evidenced by their nut collecting. However, Professor Hříbek “is not humbled by this ability of squirrels, as we can send men into space rather than predict the length of winter.”
Day 35 The best part of the evening by far was introducing our Czech friends to the American ritual that is the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, as we were in the Czech Republic, we couldn’t see the commercials (international copyright laws are sad) and the commentary was all in Czech, but the ample supply of beer and the confusion on our poor friends’ faces as we tried to explain, for the eighth time, how a touchdown doesn’t really involve touching anyone made it all worth it.
Cultural transmission, indeed.
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ph o to by John Drol l i nger
Growth means change and change involves risk , stepping from the known to the unknown . - George Shinn
Observations of a Revolution t ext by Alle g ra Sk u rk a p hotos by Ia n Go l di n , Kel sey Kau f man a nd Alle g ra S ku rk a
CAIRO Friday, January 28, 2011 5:30 p.m.
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Tear gas feels a lot like I expected. It has the suffocating yet stinging smell of pungent onion and feels like rubbing your eyes after cutting chili peppers bare-handed. A revolution is real enough when it is on the news. It is catapulted to a whole new level when a friend teaches you the technique for mitigating tear gas’s effects. Internet and cell phone service was completely cut out in Egypt as of this morning, in an attempt to strangle the protests that have been going on since Tuesday. State television just announced a 6 pm—8 am curfew for Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. Egypt is a police state and has been since 1981. Thirty years. Thirty years and Egyptians are saying “Kefaya!” to state terrorism. The air is electric. The newscasters of Al-Jazeera keep saying that Egypt is not the same country it was yesterday. I say the true spirit of Egypt is
being reborn. Thinking back three days ago, to Police Day when this all started, I remember a mix of excitement and apathy. Protests were planned and a moderate turnout was expected. “It’s highly unlikely that anything will happen. People will go back to work on Wednesday and life will continue like it has the past thirty years,” said my Egyptian friend Salma. Even the most politically active had doubts. Egyptians had been known for their political apathy in the face of an authoritarian regime masquerading as a democracy. When police forcibly prevent citizens from reaching polling stations, who can blame them for giving up hope for change? Especially when the regime is being propped up by the world’s superpowers. But not anymore. This is Egypt’s time.
Saturday, January 29, 2011 2:00 p.m.
Mubarak’s cabinet has officially stepped down, but this satisfies no one. 95 confirmed dead, over 1,000 wounded. Already 50,000 people in Tahrir Square. Fifth day of demonstrations. Curfew has been extended from 4 pm—8 am. I feel like everything for me now is a waiting game, and I have nothing to do but watch events unfold on Al-Jazeera. Egypt is the center of the world right now. It used to be heralded as the most stable nation in the region.
Now dictators throughout the Middle East and around the world are quaking behind their palace doors, as they should. The power has always been with the people, and they are cashing in. It is hard to imagine normal every day activities happening during all of this. Is there a little girl’s birthday party going on right now, or is she with her family in Tahrir?
Gunshots outside, towards the Nile. State security forces, aka police, have deserted the streets. Once darkness fell, the looting began. Desperation, opportunity, it is cause and effect. People are banding together to protect their neighborhoods. Looking off our balcony, there are four men protecting our building. One has a rifle. Two have hand guns. One has a whip and a battle-ax. Others in our neighborhood
have dogs, knives, and swords. As odd and somewhat unnerving as this scene is, it is also inspiring. The men guarding our front door will not sleep tonight, as they did not the night before. Comradery and compatriotism are coloring the actions of all Egyptians. Citizens of the world, take note. This is how you build a nation.
Sunday, January 30, 2011 3:00 p.m. Two fighter jets fly low overhead, so loud that they shake the entire apartment from the inside. I have never seen fighter jets fly this low before. I was on the balcony when they made the first round. They roared overhead from behind like you experience in apocalyptic nightmares. I screamed and ran inside, but the trembling did not stop. People started crying, I started crying. Out of terror, frustration, lack of sleep. We thought they were going to bomb Tahrir Square, as rational or irrational that reaction was. They were circling downtown like vultures. I wish they would stop. If the jets terrify me this much, how do the people downtown feel? How do they sit, sleep, eat, pray, think, in such a place? How much courage does one have to have to withstand this treatment for six days?
“Citizens of the world, take note. This is how you build a NATION. ”
Monday, January 31, 2011 9:00 a.m. Our program sat us down yesterday for “the talk.” Evacuating to Athens on a chartered plane as soon as safe transport to the airport is secured. My mind cannot wrap around this. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want my departure to be seen as the abandonment of the Egyptian people in their struggle. But at the end of the day, this revolution is their fight and not mine. To think they need my action, America’s action, would be patronizing. Egyptians are forcing the regime to flee through their own determination. All I can offer is my whole-hearted support, and a promise to share their story with the world. (I am with you.) This is not goodbye, Cairo, it is see you later.
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-ch an ted i n Tah r i r Squ a re a f te r M u b a ra k s te p p e d d own , tran sl ates as “Lo n g Li ve Eg y p t! ” a n d “Vi va Eg y p t! ”
AMMAN, JORDAN “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.” --Omar Suleiman, Vice-President to Hosni Mubarak Even though I am not Egyptian I feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off my chest and I can breathe again. The events of the last 18 days replay in my mind, from Salma’s skepticism on the eve of Police Day to my evacuation from Egypt to the escalating violence in the last week of the protests. All the lives lost. All the tears and struggles of the Egyptian people.
Friday, February 11, 2011 6:20 p.m. My eyes water. What a party they are having in Tahrir Square! The feat they have just accomplished is mind-blowing. The dominos have started, sleepy citizens in other countries are waking up to take back their rights. Even though I know full well that this is not the end of the Egyptians’ journey, even though they themselves are celebrating Mubarak’s resignation as a first step, I cannot help but be optimistic about the future. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead
TURNERfor the CENTER Arts
te x t by So p h i Ve l tro p a r two rk by C h i p Be e r s, Pa u l C re b b s, Dave Wa l te r a n d M i c h a e l We i d l e
uc ked between th e r esi d en ti a l roads o f M a pl ewo o d i s Su t to n Bouleva r d, o n i t a n u n ex pected
h odgepodge o f bu si n esses. M aya Ca fé sh ares
Co m m unity Ro ots
s tr eet
Sh o p
fa rth er and
m at tr ess
store fac e the Fo l k M u si c Sch o o l o f St. Louis . One bu i l d i n g sta n d s o u t, i ts wall entirely wi n d owed fro m cei l i n g to floor. The gl a ss i n v i tes i n str ea m i n g su nlight pa s s ers by. 224
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g a zes
cu r i o u s
Peering in through the open door of Turner Center for the Arts, wandering pedestrians will glimpse an airy studio. A moment of music may hum in their ears. They may look past the display space to the paint-spattered worktables beyond, catching the eye of an artist looking up from a piece. They could trail their eyes across the mess of materials, chaotic and exciting. You, stray passerby, may smile and move on, colors still in your eyes, or you may pause longer, and step through the door. Colors clatter everywhere, fastened on walls or easels. The seated artists move subtly; a brush swishes and a paint marker dabs. Sometimes this is the only movement. The meditative silence of focus is discernable despite the radio’s beats. The pace of sound varies and conversations crescendo and fall, soloing against a background of music from mellow acoustic guitar to raucous White Stripes. The plastic surfaces of worktables stretch like canvases, splattered with paint and splotches of glitter. Plastic food containers for markers or colored pencils contain ROY G. BIV and more. In the back are cubbies, a honeycomb of finished works and growing collections, surrounded by shelves housing shells, tiles, beads, crayons, rollers, and clay. The mess of supplies to mold or mix or shape or cut or glue begs to be smothered in imagination. There is a computer looking lost among this creative nebula. It is the only thing evoking the idea of order and structure. A bike leans against the pottery wheel. There is an unchoreographed shifting
of people between tables, moving from the gallery in front to the storage shelves then around and back again. A grey-bearded man, maybe sixty, journeys with his walker to a stuffed armchair outside for a smoke. In back, one man with beaded bracelets wields a hairdryer to speed the drying of a painting as another sporting thick Ray Bans passes by towards the coffee machine. The beginnings of this studio emerged from Bridges, a full-service social work agency for people with disabilities, founded by Barry Larson. In May 2006, his wife, Kelly, and their son, Nate, rented out a portion of a personal storage unit across the street, giving them the space needed to start a sub-organization that would offer art as a means of empowerment. Their idea was to expand the options for creative outlets available to Bridges clients. The process of making visual art is safe yet challenging, exciting yet calming. Art, the family believed, would be the perfect venue for developing skills in decision-making and risk-taking. Originally, there were ten students from Bridges and hours were limited to Monday and Wednesday from noon to three, plus Tuesday evenings. Aside
from an intern, Nate and his mom were the only people running the studio. Since then, the Turner Center has grown in artists, staff and programming. Structured classes were ditched for open studio format, where creative license is boundless and skills could be fine-tuned. Now there are open studio hours every day of the week, as well as some nights. Over the summer there are week-long camps for youth centered around different themes, such as nature or world culture. One artist has started a Writer’s Guild for other artists to come together and share their words. Turner Center artists who have amassed a noteworthy collection of pieces can put on an exhibition to sell and display their work. These solo shows happen in the front half of the studio space, and have the feel of a festive party with family and friends chatting, children running in circles, and a table piled with food. October’s show featured Ricky’s science fiction-inspired artwork. The paintings at his show, “What Worlds May Come,” swirl with shadowy moons, warped caves, supernovas, galaxies and trees. A dark eye with a question mark in the middle stares straight out the front window.
Nate Larson, who now runs TCA, hopes to someday open a movement studio nearby with yoga, dance, and meditation sessions. He believes artistic expression is the perfect venue for building decision-making skills. Ed, Ashley, and Rachel, the other staff members, are titled “facilitators” rather than “instructors.” The creative license and responsibility fall entirely to whoever is making the art. Dave, a gentle hippie, has blossomed as an artist during his time at the Turner Center. He smiles widely, wrinkles creasing around his eyes, and seems happier receiving a “thank you” than a compliment. He is here almost every day, and no one can enter the studio without a greeting from him. Dave suffered a brain injury a few years ago, and over his three years here his style has developed from doodles and outlines into intricate geometric patterns of trippy lines. His bold triangles and dots fill the entire available space. His psychedelic sharpie colors seem like they should clash, but instead they compose a harmonically wild cacophony. The scroll he works on sporadically unfurls to the left; at the beginning are the very first pencil lines he made at Turner. It is essentially a timeline through the gradual creative development process, journeying from the rough graphite sketches to the convoluted rainbows that have come to define Dave as a visual artist. Ed rummages through the cubbies to pull out past masterpieces of people working at the studio now. “Look at this,” he says, “Cullen doesn’t usually use color but these are stunning.” He is holding a yellow, green and purple watercolor of the Chrysler Building. “Before this one he did the Washington Monument. He uses pencil and can work for hours at a time, very slowly, and he only draws tiny dots and dashes, never straight lines. It’s just absolutely amazing what he can do. Oh and have I shown you any of Danny’s sketchbooks?” Ed is a collage artist whose work has been shown in Carmel, CA, and Princeton, NJ, but he humbly saves all his bragging for the Turner artists.
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One blue-skied afternoon, Grace ventures over from Bridges for the first time. Ed has been told she is shy. It is true that her voice is quiet and she glances about the room with blinking eyes, yet she laughs rosily, and strong smile lines appear easily on her cheeks. She launches into a tale about playing charades at her brother’s wedding in New York the previous year as she sits beading a pink crystal bracelet. Grace is dubbed “Flower Child” by another artist for the tropical shirt she is wearing and for her 60’s childhood. She shows off her river dancing skills to the room. “She was really clogging!” Ed says after hours. Ashley, quiet and always wearing a pastel headscarf, says working at the Turner Center has changed the way she looks at art and people. “My friends who moved on to high galleries come in here and say ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ but I can tell they don’t actually appreciate it; they obviously don’t see the art for what it is.” She says that here art accepts the imperfections of life and isn’t fake or superficial. “This is going to sound really weird,” she says while sorting green magazine clippings into manila folders, “but it’s kind of like Oprah. She had this one episode featuring a woman who hoarded cats. And this woman had, like, seventy cats in her house and could not let them go. And Oprah says to her ‘I can understand where you’re coming from; it would be really hard for me to give away my designer dresses.’ Fine art can be like that because there’s such a disconnect; it’s so removed that nothing’s real.” Nate agrees, saying art is made real by time and struggle, and without these ingredients you have a truthless result. “You have to be honest with yourself that you can’t do it immediately. You have to have the humility to admit that the process is difficult and you need to mess up before you get it right.” A huge part of Turner’s mission is giving people the chance to practice making independent decisions. In some cases, people with disabilities get told what to do every hour of the day–which clothes to wear, what food to eat, who to hang out with. “If you are constantly being told what is good or bad, you become paralyzed
in your ability to make decisions. You stop believing in your desires, which means losing your sense of self,” Nate says. Turner teaches that art is a series of small decisions. There is less pressure on each decision made; the important part is that it is made at all. “The goal is for a person to truly believe in his or her decisions. When someone says ‘I know what I want to do,’ that’s beautiful.” Mike, a regular at TCA, has been working with thin Sharpies on canvas. As Nate and I finish our conversation, he asks if he is done with his piece. The canvas is layered with shades and shapes – the traced footprint of a woman at Bridges, a Dr. Seuss-like flower, and quotes like: “I just keep going and going.” He has been designing the edges as a final touch. “Sometimes when I’m not sure if I’m finished,” Nate tells him, “I look at it from farther away.” Mike agrees and they set up an easel. He stands at a distance for a few moments, head tilted, inspecting. “Yeah,” he says, “I think it’s done.”
“Th e go al i s fo r a person to truly believe in his o r h e r d e ci si o ns. W hen someone says ‘I know wh at I want to do,’ that’s beautiful.”
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what now? Want to learn more about the Turner Center for the Arts, their mission, and how you can get involved? Visit their website at www.turnercenterforthearts.org or call them at (314) 781-4440.
Social Justice Center
Turner Center for the Arts
The Social Justice Center is a student-run organization that promotes awareness and understanding of social justice and diversity issues by providing education, facilitations, and resources. Interested in helping out? Visit the Social Justice Center’s website at www.sjc.wustl.edu or visit them in person in the lower level of Umrath Hall on the South Forty.
Interested in going to Antarctica or other exotic locations all around the world? Lindblad Expeditions has teamed up with National Geographic to help you travel to these premier destinations. Visit their website at www.expeditions.com to learn more about their programs.
Ban c o Pa l m a s Constantino Schillebeeckx (Photo CS, L.L.C.) is a freelance photographer based out of St. Louis. His work can be viewed at www.photocs.net.
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Still curious about the Banco Palmas bank and how the community of Conjunto Palmeira successfully implemented the principle of “Solidarity Socio-Economy?” To learn more, visit their website at www.bancopalmas.org.br.
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