New Book! Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities

Victoria Law and China Martens have created a book-version of their long-running zine, “Don’t Leave your Friends Behind“, coming out in September 2012, and now available for pre-order from PM Press!

How do we create new, non-hierarchical structures of support and mutual aid and include all ages in the struggle for social justice? There are many books on parenting, but few on how to be a good community member and a good ally to parents, caregivers, and children
as we collectively build a strong all-ages culture of resistance. Many well-intentioned childless activists don’t interact with young people on a regular basis and don’t know how.
Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind is a collection of concrete tips, suggestions, and narratives on ways that non-parents can support parents, children, and caregivers in their communities, social movements, and collective processes. It brings in voices often missing in many social justice movements, including those from children involved in an occupation for a school library; trans and genderqueer parents; parents of children with developmental disabilities; doulas supporting incarcerated mothers; and childcare collectives across the country. Respecting, valuing, and sharing caregiving work builds a healthier community for all. Let’s build an all-ages, inclusive revolution that leaves no one behind!

The anthology features a chapter co-written by two For the Birds Members, Cynthia Schemmer and Kathleen McIntyre, entitled: “Parental Care Giving and Loss: Ideas for Care Givers and Their Allies.” Pick up a copy and save the date for the NYC launch to be held at Bluestockings Books on Saturday, October 6th.

About the Editors:
Victoria Law is a writer, mother, and photographer. She is also the co-founder of Books Through Bars—NYC and publisher of the zine Tenacious: Art and Writings from Women in Prison. Her first book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press, 2009), won the 2009 PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society Award).
China Martens is a proud single mother of a grown daughter and a founding member of Kidz City, a radical childcare collective in Baltimore. Her first book is The Future Generation: A Zine-Book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends, and Others (Atomic Book Company, 2007).

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference, May 9-10

 

This Thursday one of our members will be speaking at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference in Albany.  This year’s theme, “Weaving A World Without Violence,” signifies all of the tremendous work so many of the various organizations and presenters are doing to address violence in their communities.  Topics will include bystanders’ work to prevent violence, mobilizing men and youth to prevent sexual assault, and the use of art therapy in healing.

Leah Todd and Sarah Hanks, a member of For the Birds, will present a panel about the work of the Support New York Collective entitled “Community Accountability and Transformative Justice: An Alternative Approach to Responding to Intimate Partner Violence”.

Find out more about NYSCASA, how to become a member, find a crisis center, or take action by visiting their website.

 

Sending Love to Queer Prisoners

As feminists we are all too aware of the baggage of Valentine’s Day.

Seriously.

But here is one way we can try to turn patriarchal sour lemons into lemonade.
Black and Pink has called for multi city Valentine’s Day card parties for queer prisoners. Express some love for our community by letting those currently incarcerated know they are in our hearts.  Join in by attending a party or hosting your own.

You can also show support by purchasing your Valentine a card made by an imprisoned queer/trans artist .

Announcing: A Benefit Show for “The Worst” grief zine! Saturday Sept. 3

FTB would like to announce the next event in the Birds of Summer Series: A benefit show to celebrate “The Worst”–a compilation zine exploring contributors’ experiences with grief and loss from radical, D.I.Y., and alternative viewpoints.  The show will help to raise money to cover printing costs for the zine, which has sold nearly 1500 copies since its inception in 2008.  There will be music, readings, snacks, awesome raffle items, and even a puppet show!  Provided that by Saturday, September 3rd, everyone is safe, dry, and mobile again after the hurricane, we’d love to welcome everyone to come out and have a good time supporting a zine which seeks to build community around the universal (and often difficult) experience of loss.

Details below:

“Who’d ya lose & How ya Dealin’?”:
A benefit show for The Worst: Compilation Zine on Grief and Loss

Saturday September 3, 2011
Death by Audio // 49 S. 2nd St. between Kent & Wythe
L to Bedford or B62 to Driggs/S. 2nd
ALL AGES // NO BYOB
$6-10 Sliding Scale
Doors @ 8pm

FEATURING:
Bands:

Bridge and Tunnel
Worriers
Slingshot Dakota

Readings by:

Cynthia Schemmer
Tommy Pico
Maria Arettines
Sarah Hanks
Kathleen McIntyre
and more!

Tabling by:
For the Birds Collective
Birdsong Collective

Puppetry by:
Geppetta Whimsy-Core Puppet Theater

Spotlight on Sistas on the Rise!!

Sistas on the Rise is an amazing south Bronx-based collective working to empower and support young mothers and women of color.  They urgently need donations!! Sistas on the Rise is unique in that they create space for youth to do hands-on organizing for themselves, enacting their goal of empowerment through their everyday process.  This is exactly the kind of sustainable feminist groundwork that we love to see happening, and they’ve been doing it since 2003!!!  Upcoming events include the Teen Talk Back Uptown Youth Series and a concert with Rebel Diaz.  Here is some of their herstory from their website:

Established in 2003, Sistas on the Rise is a collective of young mothers, women and girls working with each other to create alternatives that will allow us to sustain economically instead of revolving in the cycle of poverty.  We want to make sure that we own our lives, cultivate healthy futures and realize our dreams.

We utilize popular education, community organizing, spiritual grounding, cultural values and traditions to provide a youth-led program that cultivates a safe space for healing, nurturing, self-growth, social and economic justice. Sistas on the Rise offers an afterschool young mothers leadership development  with free childcare; mother/daughter mentoring, wholistic sex and sexuality workshops: tutoring; college tours; arts and activism classes; organizing, parenting and life skills classes etc.

You can Donate here, or take a look at their Wish List to see if you can help out in other ways.

The Worst Issue 2: How do Feminists Grieve?


The second issue of The Worst, a compilation zine on grief and loss, is finished!  In it, 16 contributors have shared their art, writing, and insight into their experiences dealing with the death of friends, parents, grandparents, partners, children, and fellow organizers.  The authors articulate their thoughts on how grief impacts our sense of our own identity in the world and on our ability to take care of ourselves and each other by creating sustainable activist projects that acknowledge grief.  The zine contains a template you can use to create your own living will and appointment of attorney for healthcare decisions, a resource list, and a hand-printed fabric patch with a quote from Audre Lorde.   You can order a copy of the first or second issue here or pick one up at our distro at the next FTB event.

Why discuss grief processing on a feminist blog? For me, working towards an authentic, community-based model of grief processing is an inherently feminist act.  On a basic level, radical feminism seeks empowerment for those who are subjugated or harmed by the patriarchal capitalist mainstream.  As we are socialized into this system, we are often taught to suppress or contain our emotions and feelings lest we be labeled “hysterical,” “bitchy,” “weak,” or “too much.”  And yet, racism, sexism, homophobia, able-ism and other structural inequalities in our society justifiably invoke outrage in anyone who dares to expose or work against injustice.  We are told, as usual, that we cannot trust our own voices, feelings, and experiences of the everyday losses that those holding power in our society depend upon to maintain control.

Often, our reactions to the deaths of important people in our lives are forced into specific templates or time frames that don’t always reflect our true needs.  We may experience few instances of genuine support amidst the hospitals, Hallmark cards, and “Stages of Grief” we are supposedly moving through.  This repression and denial of grief inhibits authentic communications from occurring around the universal experience of loss and alienates us from one another during times when we may need other people the most.  To claim our grief—to claim that our relationships with each other matter–within this climate of isolation and denial is feminism in action.  Any method by which we can reclaim our authentic selves results in empowerment and creates a space for more of us at the collective table (yes, even we who grieve, we who struggle with illness and chronic pain, who have survived sexual assault, addiction, intimate partner violence, the list goes on. . . )

In her book, Aftershock: Confronting Trauma in a Violent World, the wise eco-anarcha-feminist Pattrice Jones explains that feelings must be spoken in order for healing to occur.  Noting that language is an inherently social activity by which we communicate meaning to others, she concludes: “one general principle of good emotional health is to talk about your experiences and feelings” (38).   The Worst seeks to provide a space for us to practice making meaning out of chaos by trying to find words for what we have lived.  The process of writing or speaking our truths is itself a healing process, and enacts our feminist refusal to collude with the denial of our emotions.

The dual purpose of the zine is to help us become more comfortable with providing support for those who are grieving, something we are rarely taught.  Words are not only spoken and written but also heard and read.  Jones continues: “one way to help create a healthy . . . community is to listen with empathy when other people talk about their experiences and feelings” (38).   Becoming an active witness to other’s loss narratives is an essential part of community healing.  This entails welcoming conversations about loss that are usually deemed taboo: transforming our “worst” experiences into something from which we can and will recover together.

GIRLS WRITE NOW (AND FOREVER)

Tonight Girls Write Now had their housewarming party at their new home! Writers and those interested in youth mentoring should definitely check out this rad nonprofit organization that combines all-girl youth mentoring and a creative writing program to NYC at-risk or underserved high school girls. Girls Write Now pairs girls ages 13 – 20 who attend high school in any of the five boroughs with writing professionals to develop their individual voices on paper. Mentors also help girls to explore careers in writing and make safe and healthy choices for the future.

I recently talked to the Girls Write Now staff at their booth at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks back; to see women so fervid in encouraging young girls to write was just totally excellent and hopeful for the future of women in writing.  I looked through their annual anthology that showcases the year’s best writing, and the women told me that nothing was more rewarding than seeing the girls’ reactions to their own published works. I can only imagine!

Girls Write Now is always looking for mentors and volunteers! You can check them out on their website http://www.girlswritenow.org or stop in at their new headquarters located at West 37th Street (just east of 8th Ave), Suite 1800.

Call for papers/zine submissions!

It’s that time of year again, folks! This fall is already in full gear judging by the amount of cool projects looking for submissions. Please check out all the different publications below, including subject matter such as addiction and recovery, sexual health, community responses to partner abuse, and body politics. Continue reading