From CAMS ~ The Coalition Against Militarism In Our Schools

“As the government’s permanent resource wars continue to destroy the nations credibility and peoples lives, all across America people are starting to react with anti-war messages and themes. Graffiti art and public space reclamation for common sense messages are examples of this rebuttal of government propaganda.”

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE COALITION AGAINST MILITARISM IN THE SCHOOLS:

“To inform and educate the public, especially students, parents and school personnel about the growing militarization of our schools, and to create and present positive nonviolent alternatives which promote the value of human life, justice and equity for all persons.
We envision accomplishing this in the following ways:

By bringing together a network of organizations and individuals to oppose the growing intrusion of the military commonly present in the lives of young people throughout Southern California, and to present organizing strategies, campaigns and actions.

By sharing information, legislation, advocacy efforts, and resources in order to raise awareness and mobilize against the aggressive and deceptive tactics of the military, which especially target African American and Latino males and females.

By bringing awareness about these issues through a speakers bureau, workshops and presentations, along with written articles, media contacts, school board actions, brochures, educational curriculum (e.g. Addicted to War), online resources and multimedia.

By providing resources for youth activists and encouraging youth leadership roles and mentoring in the movement to demilitarize our schools.  By facilitating the sharing of alternatives and exposing the myths and realities to militarism and war.

By collaboratively working to ensure equal access in all public school areas and spaces regarding the presence of counter recruitment literature, presentations and nonmilitary options.

By working to eliminate the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corp in our High Schools and the California Cadets in our Middle Schools, along with the school community.

By sponsoring and co-sponsoring events and activities with students, families, educators, and community/labor organizations to include conferences, teach-ins, forums and workshops.

By reinforcing and promoting through training’s and workshops the values of critical thinking, dialogue, conflict resolution and nonviolence.”

New ish of DREAM out now…


Dream Magazine #6 – 112 pages with CD

Featuring: Bridget St. John, George Kinney of The Golden
Dawn, Phil Elverum, Nick Castro, Joan La Barbara, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Lichens,
My Cat Is An Alien, Baby Dee, Eric Matthews, Nick Bensen, Brad Rose, Six Organs
of Admittance, Windy & Carl, Steve Roden, Bob Moss, Jonathan Richman in
Belgrade in comix form by Aleksandar Zograf, Keenan Lawler, Vibracathedral
Orchestra, Alasdair Roberts, Alela Menig, Saint Joan, Current 93, Nicolette,
Adrian Crowley, Whysp, “On the Beach” by Karl Jones, “The Hitchhiker”
by George Parsons.

Hundreds of record reviews, and more.

CD includes exclusive material by: Steven Roden, Vibracathedral
Orchestra, Bridget St. John (doing Devendra Banhart’s “The Body Breaks”),
Nick Castro & the Young Elders, Donovan’s Brain, Saint Joan, Windy &
Carl, The North Sea, Alela Menig, Black Forest/Black Sea, Absalom, and a rare
track by Michael Gira.

DIY ARCHAEOLOGY: "We call Mojave a 'discovery park'"—pictographs, fire rings, white blossom jerky, etc

In the Desert, Ancient Signs

May 26, 2006 New York Times

By STEPHEN REGENOLD

ON the northern border of a vast desert preserve, halfway up a dusty hillside and overlooking a great forest of Joshua trees, David Nichols knelt to brush off a flat gray stone.

“Yep, this is one right here,” he said, motioning toward a sheet of exposed bedrock. A group of small, closely spaced stones, like tiny turrets in the sand, formed a vague ring at his feet. “These supposedly kept the rodents out.”

Mr. Nichols, one of two full-time research archaeologists employed at Mojave National Preserve, was showing off a recent discovery. On a nondescript hill, a quarter-mile off a four-wheel-drive dirt track, the remnants of a prehistoric way of life lay scattered in the sand.

Throughout Mojave National Preserve, a 1.6 million-acre park about 140 miles northeast of Los Angeles, the subtle traces of a bygone civilization are all around. Pictographs painted on cave walls, dart tips in the sand, shelters, fire rings and pottery shards are common in the area, where generations of prehistoric people lived and died. Indeed, Mojave National Preserve is an amateur archaeologist’s dream, with undocumented sites open year-round for visitors to explore in the empty, undeveloped park.

The Drying Pallet Site, as Mr. Nichols has come to call his new hillside finding, features 21 limestone slabs encircled with rocks that were carefully placed hundreds of years ago. The indigenous people, Mr. Nichols told his small tour group, used the sunny protected rock platforms to prepare Joshua tree blossoms.

“It was dried like beef jerky,” he said of the white blossoms, which each spring still daub the land below in one of the world’s largest and densest forests of Joshua trees. “Food in the desert was dried for preservation; it was the only way.”

Mr. Nichols, a 39-year-old Los Angeles native, has discovered more than 50 significant sites since coming to work for the park in 2001. The Drying Pallet Site was identified just four months ago. Dozens of others, he said, most likely pepper the preserve’s hills and canyons.

In recent years, noteworthy findings, including pictograph-packed caves, have been discovered by visiting hikers and amateur archaeologists. But while the park staff encourages people to explore the backcountry, collecting artifacts or disturbing historical sites in any way is forbidden. Take only photographs, leave only footprints, as the axiom goes.

Rangers at Mojave National Preserve do not provide directions to most documented archaeological locations, though some staff members and volunteers, including Mr. Nichols, may give clues. “We call Mojave a ‘discovery park,’ ” Mr. Nichols said of the Delaware-size preserve, which has only 30 miles of established hiking trails. “I might suggest features to look for in the hills, but people are on their own to get off trail and see what they can find.”

THE official park map is nearly devoid of references to archaeology, as is the park’s Web site. Signage is scant. Tours are limited to an occasional offering from California State University, Fullerton, which operates its research-oriented Desert Studies Center in the park.

Mr. Nichols’s recent tour was a rare occasion, as he leads fewer than 10 trips a year, primarily to educate fellow park staff members or visiting researchers. His tours are not available to the general public.

Like most activities in Mojave National Preserve, exploring the park for uncharted archaeology is a do-it-yourself adventure. Visitors coming to see petroglyphs and arrowheads need to plan ahead, researching the area’s history and culture to become educated on where to start the hunt. Visitors also need to be prepared for an immersion in the desert wilderness — snakes, scorpions, sun, heat and all.

Mojave National Preserve is the meeting place of three great North American deserts: the Great Basin, the Sonoran and its namesake Mojave. The area is a vast hinterland of dunes and cinder cones, tumbleweed plains, mesas and mountain forests. Turquoise deposits brought journeying Anasazi to the area hundreds of years ago.

Temperatures are extreme all year, with cold nights and blazing days. Elevations range from 800 feet to higher than 7,000 feet. It is exceedingly arid, with some parts of the park seeing only three inches of rain in a year.

Yet life thrives, as it has for thousands of years, among the Joshua trees and juniper. Quail, hummingbirds, mule deer, bighorn sheep, roadrunners, coyotes, badgers, rattlers, sidewinders and giant centipedes share a dry, dusty habitat. Sagebrush, creosote and yucca dot the land. Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks swoop above in the desert thermals.

Human habitation is limited to a few park staff members and a handful of land owners whose private ranches were grandfathered in when the preserve was created in October 1994. Mr. Nichols lives in a small green trailer in the middle of the park, Edward Abbey-style, with a water tank on the roof and no indoor plumbing, though with satellite Internet and HBO.

At the second stop of the day, deep in the park’s interior and not too far from Mr. Nichols’s green trailer, the small tour group walked two miles across the desert. A rocky flat-top ridge was in the distance. Barrel cactuses and yuccas grew sparsely on the red-brown landscape. Rocks and sand stretched to the horizon.

A slight hill dead-ended at a cliff, and Mr. Nichols stopped to look up. The rock wall above, a gray, disintegrating mass, held a mosaic of tiny dancing figures.

“Wow, look at these petroglyphs!” said Mary Ann Guggemos, a 48-year-old park volunteer from Buffalo. Carved in a veneer of rust-brown desert varnish were the depictions of bighorn sheep, masked human figures and male stickpeople with no necks but fingers and small phallic appendages. Concentric circles dotted the stone. Diamonds, ovals, a square, pits, grooves and other abstract images hovered nearby.

The Pinto House Site, as this find has come to be known, was inhabited by ancestral Mojaves or Chemehuevi, according to Mr. Nichols, and they lived and worshiped in the dusty dwelling. Pottery shards mixed with small stones and animal dung in the dirt. A faint ring of rocks encircled a small shrub. Eleven slick metates, worn stone pallets used for grinding piñon seeds, acorns, juniper berries and other grains, sat under the overhanging rock face. And the assemblage of petroglyphs looked down upon it all.

“The sacred and the mundane were mixed in this culture,” Mr. Nichols said, standing beside rock rings and milling stones. He said the etchings above were probably made during a ceremony, perhaps dreams manifested and scratched on a wall. “They didn’t go to a church to worship,” he said.

A hawk hovered in a wind gust above the cliff face. Petroglyph men stared down four modern-day visitors. The Pinto House Site, a bare forgotten diorama, cradled a human presence once again. Dust kicked up, and a second hawk moved into the updraft, paralleling its mate, two desert beings silhouetted and still on a pale blue sky.

City by City, an Antipoverty Group Plants Seeds of Change

June 26, 2006 New York Times

By ERIK ECKHOLM

GARY, Ind. — The teller’s eyes widened as a customer poured thousands of pennies onto the counter, an intentionally obnoxious way to pay a high heating bill. Still looming in line at the utility payment center, on a street of boarded-up buildings in this rusted city, were 10 more people carrying hefty bags of pennies, all wearing the red T-shirts of the national community organizing group Acorn.

It was a pinprick protest, intended to grab the attention of utility executives over what members of this newest Acorn chapter charged was the company’s overly quick shut-off of strapped customers.

That same day in Chicago, scores of Acorn members and volunteers fanned out in lower-income neighborhoods, gathering signatures in favor of a law that would require giant retailers like Wal-Mart to pay employees $10 an hour plus benefits. In dozens of other cities, members lobbied for the rights of Hurricane Katrina victims, protested “predatory lending” and registered low-income voters.

With offices in 106 cities and a membership reported to be 200,000, Acorn has emerged in recent years as the largest neighborhood-based antipoverty group in the country, using old-fashioned methods of door-knocking and noisy protests to push for local and national causes. It plans to open an office in 20 new cities each year for the next five years, an expansion in response to the strong grip conservatives have in Washington and to the travails of the working poor.

“We feel the Acorn program is popular wherever we go,” said Wade Rathke, 57, who founded the group 36 years ago in Arkansas and goes by the title of chief organizer. “It’s like a hot knife in butter.”

Conservative critics say Acorn and similar groups are pushing antimarket, unrealistic answers that will not help the poor in the long run.

But the increased mobilizing efforts, often in alliance with the growing union movement among low-end service workers, have earned the attention of Democratic politicians.

Those scheduled to speak at Acorn’s annual meeting in July include Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York; former Senator John Edwards, who has worked with Acorn on minimum wage initiatives; Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts; and John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

The expansion of Acorn, whose formal name is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is part of a broader surge in populist organizing around the country centered on issues like wages, gentrification, environmental disputes and immigrant rights.

“Over the last 10 years we’ve seen pretty explosive growth in the number and scale of community groups working in poor communities and with people of color,” said Deepak Bhargava, of the Center for Community Change, a Washington-based support center for local organizers. Mr. Bhargava said the activism was “approaching a scale that could have a transforming effect on American politics and society.”

But the number of people involved is still limited, and while many groups share similar “social justice” philosophies, they are often fragmented.

Mr. Rathke said he had no illusions about the strength of “government policies promoting inequality.” But he added: “If there is going to be a change in politics in a progressive direction, we are going to be part of that. That wasn’t true 10 years ago.”

Mr. Rathke spoke at the bustling Acorn headquarters in New Orleans, where the group has sought to involve poor, displaced residents in the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. He had just returned from a week in India, where he met with private groups worried about the possible entry of Wal-Mart and similar chains.

Acorn has a budget this year of $37.5 million, which does not include its spinoff research and housing organizations. Only $3 million of that comes from membership dues. Most of the rest comes from foundations, private donations and “partnerships” in which onetime corporate targets, like the Household Financial Corporation, pay Acorn to run programs, in this case to educate people about mortgages and loan terms.

Local offices pursue local issues of concern, like pressing an agency to clean up a vacant lot or, in the case of the powerful chapter in New York, opening schools and cosponsoring the Working Families political party.

What sets Acorn apart from most community groups, said Peter Dreier, an urban planning expert at Occidental College in Los Angeles, is its ability to combine local projects with coordinated national action on larger issues.

In a current campaign in several cities, for example, Acorn is demanding that the Sherwin-Williams paint company contribute to lead paint abatement.

The utility protest in Gary illustrates how Acorn creates a new chapter. Eric Weathersby, 43, is a church leader in Gary who wanted to get more involved in politics. After brief training in Chicago, Mr. Weathersby started as head organizer for Acorn in Indiana on April 17.

Heating bills soared last winter, and many poor residents resented their utility, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, for what they saw as harsh policies for delinquent payers. Mr. Weathersby used the issue to recruit, going door to door himself, and by early June had 113 members.

Oscar L. Buggs Jr., 69, who lives on a pension from his career as a sanitation worker, was drawn in. He said he had inherited a house with past-due bills, had found himself owing $1,300 that he could not pay and had had his utilities cut off for several months. He used a flashlight to see at night.

“It seems like they do good deeds for people who need help,” Mr. Buggs said of Acorn. “Maybe I can do some good for somebody else.”

In early June, as members began unloading their pennies at the payment center, a company officer quickly appeared. He promised to relay to the company’s president Acorn’s demands for more aid to poor customers and a moratorium on shut-offs, and to try to set up a meeting with him.

In an e-mail response to a query by The New York Times, the company condemned Acorn’s tactics and claims.

“They use threats of protests and other attention-grabbing techniques to bully local utilities and get media coverage,” Tom Cuddy, a spokesman for the utility, said in the e-mail message. “Most of Acorn’s ‘demands’ are already addressed in existing assistance programs.”

The wage campaign in Chicago, where Wal-Mart is opening its first store this fall, had a visceral appeal for many residents and has gained the support in principle of a majority of the City Council.

Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and author of “The New New Left” (Ivan R. Dee, 2005), said this campaign, for a law tailored specifically to giant retailers, showed how out of step Acorn was with the national mood and economic realities. “The only thing such laws ever do is to deprive shoppers in low-income neighborhoods of those stores,” Mr. Malanga said.

Illustrating the philosophical divide, Madeline Talbott, a veteran Acorn organizer in charge of the Chicago office, said of Wal-Mart, “They’re the world’s largest employers, and if they can’t pay a living wage, who can?”

Ms. Talbott added, “If we’re going to have a middle class in the city of Chicago, we have to set some kind of standard in the sectors of the economy that can’t just move to China.”

“My art is about your seeing.”

JAMES TURRELL: New Work – May 20–August 26, 2006 at Griffin Gallery in Los Angeles

GRIFFIN is pleased to announce an exhibition of new works by internationally acclaimed artist James Turrell. The exhibition will constitute the American debut of the artist’s Tall Glass series with three new works, along with End Around, a new work from his Ganzfeld series.  This exhibition of new work highlights the most recent developments in Turrell’s forty-year exploration of light and human perception. It also serves as a bracket to the artist’s previous GRIFFIN exhibition, which featured the light projection works from the 1960s that constituted his earliest experimentations with the medium.  As with that exhibition, the interior space of the gallery will be completely reconstructed to accommodate the new works. 

In his Tall Glass series, Turrell adds a temporal element to his perception-altering oeuvre. Each piece consists of a core of LEDs individually programmed by Turrell to carry out a subtle shift in color over time, similar to the deliberate but beautiful fashion in which the sky changes from late afternoon to night. However, these works’ careful construction insures that the viewer will see only a large floating, subtly changing field of light – a revelatory experience of photons as tangible entities and physical presence.

Also on exhibition will be End Around, one of Turrell’s Ganzfeld works. Upon entering the chamber housing the artwork, viewers instinctively approach what appears to be a faint wall of light in the distance. But upon reaching the light source, one’s entire visual field is consumed by an apparently limitless field of blue light. Turrell engineers the Ganzfeld works to eliminate all visual cues that the human brain uses to process depth. As a result, one is unable to tell whether the ethereal blue field he sees from the platform extends for inches, feet, or into infinity. The loaded act of “moving toward the light” and the subsequent experience of limitlessness reopen the spiritual dialectic that has perpetually surrounded Turrell’s light works.

Although light is used as the raw material, James Turrell believes human perception to be his true medium (in his own words, “My art is about your seeing”). His investigation into this field has extended well beyond the walls of the world’s foremost galleries and museums. Since 1972 Turrell has been transforming Roden Crater, a natural volcano located in northern Arizona, into a monumental artwork. Like Stonehenge and other great structures of civilizations past, Roden Crater is built to reveal and enhance celestial phenomena. Comprised of several “sky spaces” tunneled into the rock, the crater acts as an observatory so advanced in its design that one experiences not simply a sunset, but rather the revolution of the earth through space. Its completion will mark a historic achievement in the arts – not just of the modern age, but in all of recorded history.

James Turrell was born in 1943 in Los Angeles. Since his first solo exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1967 and the Stedelijk in 1976, Turrell has been the subject of over 140 solo exhibitions worldwide. He has received numerous awards in the arts, including The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1984. He currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona.