Liebe Grüße aus Hamburg,
I did this last year and, though I realize that almost no one is interested in reading through this, it’s more for my reference and those that went to NCOR but went to different workshops.
Saturday, February 4th
1:20 – 2:50: Parenting as Radical Social Change, in other words: “Prefigurative Parenting”.
This workshop seemed like it would be valuable because in the future I expect I will become both a mother and a teacher. I’m always evaluating parenting styles and worrying over what is, to me, an inappropriate binary: having children vs. adoption. The workshop was torturously crowded and when the leader had us participate in an interactive activity of “go to one side if you agree/disagree” I dipped out. The segment of the discussion I had any part in rethought the common misinterpretation that raising children to be good people is “enough”, rather than raising children to bring about transformation of society. Further, judging other parents is ineffectual, not useful, and largely a systemic problem. I left right after the argument of whether or not letting your child “cry it out” is a misguided or appropriate method of handling their frustration.
3:00-4:30: Permaculture, Anarchy and (anti)-Civilization.
Again, a stifling, crowded workshop where the unbudging windows had to be unscrewed, the projector had only the ceiling space available, and laps were, for some, the only seats. The term permaculture comes from permanent agriculture and mostly focuses on the ethical, practical use of land and sustainability. Honestly, after I left this workshop I still couldn’t tell you what permaculture means, but I am finding that the men who coined the term in the 70s are also unable to define exactly what is expressed by the term. The three main tenets of permaculture include earth care, people care, and fair shares. In order to achieve the first two goals, gift giving is an abandoned idea replaced by mutual support. The workshop was fascinating, but largely tangential, so I didn’t take notes beyond fragments. I did, however, take down several figures:
1. 40 million die each year from hunger, which is analogous to 300 jumbo jets crashing every day for a year with no survivors, half of those being children.
2. 90% of nuclear waste (in the US?) is found in Native American soil
3. Every year an area the size of Ohio undergoes desertification (which is 300 million hectares.
4. Although Iceburg lettuce comes from Scotland/England, it is now grown in Arizona because of the cheap labor. In order to grow this lettuce, the soil is saturated with minerals and salt and the water table rises.
We also discussed population growth, downcycling vs. upcycling, nature as a clock, etcetera.
4:40-6:10: “In their Own Words: Iraqi Perspectives on the Occupation” with independent journalist and filmmaker Brian Conley. This American journalist traveled to Jordan for a month, and from there to Baghdad for three weeks to start a film project that intends to give insight into Iraqi p.o.v.s on the occupation, many of which were surprising. None of the several dozen Iraqis he interviewed have a clear connection to the insurgency, but several played ancillary roles to the resistance. He was also unable to reach anyone in Sadr City. One man mentioned the huge incursion of drugs since the invasion (which we know is true of Afghanistan, but there is little information beyond this claim about Iraq). For more information about Conley’s project, visit aliveinbaghdad.org. “Shaku Maku” (a colloquial term in Iraqi used nowhere else meaning “What’s up?”). This workshop was the same time as “Outlaws of America: The History, Politics, and Lessons of the Weather Underground” which I regret missing.
After our workshops, we tried to go to Soul Veg for dinner, but ended up going to Chinatown. Collectively, Andrew and I walked more than 7 miles throughout Saturday, mostly in rain, but amidst what would normally be a miserable experience, we there was pleasure and calmness and we now have a favorite leisure activity. Later on in the evening, we both quickly fell deep asleep, but the rest of our group was less fortunate and got little-to-no sleep because of the “Don’t step on my autonomy!” attitude of the rest of the people in the basement who were parading, chanting, yelling, singing, and pushing over tables relentlessly.
Sunday, February 5th
10:00 – 11:30: Against Apocalyptic Anarchism.
Mark Lance, a sort of… mesmeric professor from Georgetown, led this workshop that turned into a discussion of the vogue of radicalism (the v-neck is “imperialist wear” now). It started with a 20-minute diatribe about the ineffectiveness of focusing on a revolution because even if they “succeed”, they don’t work. There is no implementation of policy, but the oppression is not fundamentally about those with guns verses those without, it is in our inclinations, the way we entertain ourselves, the food we buy, the way we have sex… The state is not something that can be “smashed”, it’s about reconstructing the details of life. There was also much discussion on escapism (like forming an Anarchist utopia) verses actual change. I stopped taking notes at this point because I was wrapped up in following discussion.
11:40 – 1:10: What Does Positive Masculinity Look Like?
This was the most provocative and affecting workshop I attended but I took no notes. I could have a conversation with you about it; last night, Dante came up with a very eloquent critique of why this workshop was intrinsically weak.
3:00 – 4:30 What’s Next for the Palestine Solidarity Movement?
The issue is the occupation, not Hamas. Information is widely available and I didn’t feel like taking notes and I don’t feel like evoking and writing out what probably no one will bother to read. If you are interested in this, let me know.
4:40 – 6:10: Female Involvement and Gendered Propaganda in Pan-Arab Militant Groups.
Damn, homeboy did his research. This focused on women’s involvement in Palestine, Iraq, and Al Qaeda. Michael Loadenthal has been studying the Middle East and Women and Gender studies, so this project has been ongoing for four years now and the volume of notes and information was simply overwhelming. The story begins with the 2000 al-Aqsa Intifada in Palestine and quickly ends with Al Qaeda. Once again, information overload, which my recitation would do great injustice to.
Aside from NCOR, I am largely pleased with what’s happening in my life right now. I have two more virtual roommates who are part of my every night. Harlem made a gray friend in the neighborhood. She’s akin to a flying squirrel, climbing trees and leaping from branch to branch, only coming inside if I offer her rainbow sherbert.