I hope this finds you in love, light and protection in wonderful and scary times. It's a dark and stormy night outside, and I'm typing at my kitchen table while some bread pudding bakes.
Maybe you've heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) - where families pay a monthly fee to a (usually small-scale and pesticide-free) farmer, who then provides them with fresh food for the duration of the growing season? I'm writing because, inspired by Healing Justice track organizer Autumn Brown, I'm interested in using this model to become a Community Supported Organizer to do work at the 2011 Allied Media Conference. And I need your help.
This year, I have the privilege of serving as a coordinator for the Growing Safer Communities Track at the Allied Media Conference, which takes place in Detroit on June 23-26, 2011. This means that I will be working with a team of amazing organizers and advisors, including Esteban Kelly and Jenna Peters-Golden of Philly Stands Up, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Tamara Costa and Morgan Bassichis of CUAV, Mimi Kim of Creative Interventions, Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing of STOP, RJ Maccani of the Challenging Male Supremacy collective and Johonna McCants of Visions to Peace. We're gonna create and facilitate a space at the conference where folks creating ways of dealing with violence and abuse without the state or prisons from all over North America will get together, share strategies, and learn from each other. Growing Safer Communities is going to be badass!
We're all really excited about the new growth that will blossom from this gathering. But it's going to be a lot of work. I know from working on both the Creating Safer Communities and Disability Justice tracks last year that it's probably probably about 10-20 hours of work a week for all of us.
The Allied Media Conference (otherwise known as the best conference in the universe) is a grassroots gathering of folks involved in participatory media to change the world- from building a free wireless network for Detroit to using Twitter to stop immigration raids to queer women and GQ of color skillshares.
The AMC's idea about fundraising is really different than a lot of conferences. Instead of paying, say, one big-name keynote a lot of money, nobody gets paid. Everybody figures out how to build on the strengths that are already within our communities to make sure the whole crew gets there- through pupusa selling, house party throwing or radical women of color spoken word CD making.
I do a lot of organizing work for no money. As a chronically ill person, I can't work a full time job. I work part time, gig based jobs and work from home a lot. I know many, many queer folks of color from low-income lives who are sick or disabled, who work multiple hustles and regularly struggle to make rent and eat. This has always been true for me, and over the past year I've lived on a tighter margin than I have in years. I've been a part of some amazing things, and there have been many months where I've been getting by due to the bulk food in my house's pantry and the fact that I pay super-cheap rent by virtue of living in a little shack in the back of a South Berkeley collective house, but I have $46 in the bank.
I will continue to work for free, but I am also trying to make my living more sustainable, as someone who has to build my life with the understanding that I get sick a minimum of 1-2 times a month. This is something I- like most folks, and especially queer folks of color with chronic illness - have not been able to admit in the past, for fear that being honest about my sickness would make me less able to find work or be valued in my communities. Being a part of amazing disability justice community has made me want to be honest about it now.
For all these reasons, I'm reaching out to my community to ask you to become part of a new kind of CSA, where you donate money to make it possible for me to do this critical work. Read on for details of how this is going to work!
How do you donate and how much can you give?
You give as much as you want. Anything will help me be able to do this crucial work without getting sick(er) or getting in overdraft again. You can donate a small amount monthly ($5-10), or you can make a one-time donation of any size. I would love to pay myself at least a couple hundred bucks a month to do this work, and having it there would reduce my stress load (and subsequent illness/cognitive problems/ scary dizzy spells/fatigue/ mysterio flu that hangs around for weeks- which then makes it so I can't work, which makes the broke/sick cycle worse) immeasurably!
Are you brokeass? Send me five bucks (once, or once a month) and I'll love you forever. Are you a Resource Generation queer? Send me some of your inherited wealth! Are you in between? Send what makes sense for you.
My work as a track coordinator involves:
Everyone who makes a donation will receive monthly updates on the progress the Growing Safer Communities track fam is making in our work on the track. You will also be the recipient of a video blog in early July that will give you a taste of what happened at the Growing Safer Communities Track. I want this initiative to help build the strength of our networks- which includes sharing the knowledge we build at the AMC.
For people who make a donation of $50 or more, I'm still trying to figure out what I wanna give you. Cookies? Copy of The Revolution Starts At Home? Badass tarot card reading? Whatever it is, it's gonna be something!
What is the Allied Media Conference?
The Allied Media Conference, held every summer in Detroit, unites the worlds of media and communications, technology, education and social justice. From this unique intersection, some of the most innovative community organizing models emerge each year. The AMC cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. We come together to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing.
What is the Growing Safer Communities Track?
Putting Transformative Justice at center stage, this dynamic track is chock full of communication strategies, tools and dreams for anyone working to build safety from violence and abuse in their communities without using the police or criminal legal system! Building on last year's successful Creating Safer Communities track, this year we'll take conversations about transformative justice and community-based accountability to the next level. Our communities are using tools like zines, safetylabs, flip cam videos, and neighborhood safety mapping to support a safe, healing, and restorative world. We're tapping into into potlucks, posters, story circles, weekend action camps, elder/ youth inter-generational conversations, Twitter, textmobs, stencils and oh so much more to grow these communities. This track will bring together collectives from across North America and beyond to explore the brilliant ways we're kicking butt and building the systems we need to be safe and free.
Who are you and why should you donate?
You're somebody whose work and self I love and respect and need to exist in the world. You're a QTPOC artist, badass sick or disabled queer, working-class genius or poverty scholar, journalist or writer, teacher or healer, friend, lover, elder, or youth. You're someone who is helping build or cares a lot about building ways of dealing with violence that don't use the state- who knows we need places to come together, share strategies, talk about the places where we're stuck and do the work we need to transform this world to one that doesn't kill us. You're someone who believes in my work, and who believes in supporting disabled and sick people's ability to work - in a way that our society does not. You know my bottomlining Taurus self will do a great job! And you want my sick, queer femme of color, working-class self to do this work without - as I've done in the past - working 18 hour days until my body falls apart.
Thank you for reading and thank you for your presence in the world. I'm glad to be on this journey with you.
some batteries for backup flashlight
small "rocket" camp stove
dried beans, masoor dhal
small cooking pot
dried fruit and almonds
iodine (wound cleaning and radioactive iodine prevention if used topically)
papers- birth certificate, passports
water (one gallon, in plastic)
a couple of those meal replacement powder things
broad spectrum antibiotic
bandaids and ace bandage
baby wipes( for sanitation)
small bottle bleach (water sterilizer)
a couple of n-95 masks (they're 2.50 at the hardware store and have a small respirator in them)
soap (little dr. broners)
rope and duct tape
toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, cloves to chew for toothache
coconut oil for hair and skin
change of clothes- jeans, hoodie, socks, underwear, bra
some tampons and menstrual pads
photos of ancestors nearby
phone numbers and addresses
map of cali
Dear loved ones,
I hope this email finds you doing totally kickass. 2011 is already exponentially better than 2010 for me. I don't usually send out these giant emails, but I'm writing with a whole bunch of really good news. Here it is:
1. I've signed the contract, and my second book of poetry, Love Cake, will be published by TSAR Publications this fall. I'm super excited about bringing these poems I've been working on and performing for the last five years into the world. TSAR emerged from Toronto South Asian Review and is an independent press committed to publishing diasporic South Asian writers.
I'm planning on touring the book for fall 2011- please get in touch if you're interested in bringing me out, and watch this space for more updates. I could also hella use your help promoting this- so, if you can, write a review, interview me, blog about it, get your course or book club or whatnot to read it. If you're a writer, poet or performer and you want to organize an event together, let me know.
2. April 8-10, 2011
Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility
Z Space (formerly Theater Artaud)
San Francisco, CA
Join us in celebrating the
5TH ANNUAL SINS INVALID PERFORMANCE
Sins Invalid celebrates the power of embodiment & sexuality, stripping taboos off sexuality and disability to offer a vision of beauty that includes all bodies and communities.
Featuring the world premier of work by artists:
Aurora Levins Morales
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Leroy F. Moore Jr.
This venue is wheelchair accessible. Please note that the Saturday, April 9th, evening performance will be ASL interpreted by Stage Hands and audio described.
In solidarity with loved ones and community members who are chemically injured and would like to attend the show, please refrain from using perfume, cologne and other scented products. Scent-free seating will be available for all three days.
From April 8-10, I'll be premiering a new suite of performances, Crip Sex Moments, as part of Sins Invalid 2011. I've been developing this performance suite for the past year, in collaboration with Ellery Russian, and am very excited to share them with my community. Crip Sex Moments tells stories about, well, crip sex moments- about the searingly hot, the complicated, the hard and the fucking awesome parts of having sex in our sick and disabled bodies.
It's hard for me to sum up how much Sins Invalid means to me. Sins is the only performance collective in the U.S. lead by queer people of color with disabilities that does performance about sick and disabled folks and sex. This year, we are diving deep into eugenics, queer of color disabled freedom fighters, environmental racism, the health care system, beautiful perverse queer sex as a means of survival, and so much more. Seeing Sins three years ago changed my life, my understanding of what was strong, complicated and beautiful about my chronically ill body and others disabled and sick uncontrollable bodies, and made me cry through the entire show. Sins is a cultural space that's kicked off so much disability justice organizing - from Creating Collective Access at the 2010 Allied Media Conference to the Azolla Story and much more.
This past year, due to some Sins' members serious health concerns, we made a totally brave and kick-ass decision to postpone our 2010 show from its regularly scheduled time of October 2010. This was disability justice in action- instead of sucking it up and pretending everything was fine while breaking our bodies, we actually stopped the show and made it work for us.
This is awesome. However, we want to make sure folks still know the show is happening! What that means is: buy your tickets in advance here if you can- advance tickets help us fund our huge, high quality, beautiful show: If you're broke, please know that no one will ever be turned away from a Sins show for lack of ability to pay. Please bring your fam, spread the word, put out postcards where you work and hang out, and blog and post about the show. You do not want to miss this indescribable, world changing performance.
3. And finally, at long last: The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities, the book I have been working on for the past six years with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, is coming out on South End Press in a couple months! This book has been a beautiful marathon of work- six years of conference calls, and much evolution from when we thought we were just going to do a little zine. (And for the zine, go here: http://incite-national.org/index.php?s=114) With over 250 pages of testimony from individuals and collectives working to transform violence and abuse without using the cops or the courts, it's an amazing resource for and testimony about the world we're building. You can pre-order the book at the link on the book above, and again, please hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to bring us to your university, bookstore or community.
4. Last thing: I'm the track coordinator for the Growing Safer Communities track of the 2011 Allied Media Conference. The AMC is the best conference in the world- a grassroots queer feminist of color lovefest that looks a lot like the new world we're building. This year we have 19 fabulous tracks, including Disability Justice: Creating Wholeness, Media in our Bodies: Dance and Performance, Yalla! Media Strategies to End Israeli Apartheid and Science Fictions: Imagining What's Possible, and so much more. See everything here: http://alliedmedia.org/amc2011/program/amc2011-tracks. You have til March 15 to propose a session; please think about bringing some of your brilliance to Detroit, where there is so much,
5. My mind is on: freedom in Africa and Southwest Asia and all our homelands, no gang injunction in Oakland (go to http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=190415580990465 for the week of actions against the proposed injunction), and what we're building for and with each other.
love to all of you,
as of september 2010, I'm committing to post one new piece a week (disability and travel may remix this intention.) all this work is shared under a Creative Commons license- credit if you share, no commercial use allowed.
This work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.