Lot’s to write about and I’m not going to get through it all. So here we go.
I’ve been incommunicado mostly because I’ve been run down by an internship I had through the summer at Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a rank-and-file union reform movement that’s been keeping the fight strong for over 30 years. The experience has been inspiring, educational and exhausting (because alongside working for TDU I still worked my weekend job, totaling close to 60 hours of work a week–but you know, I can’t complain).
Working for TDU and alongside some real labor movement veterans reinvigorated my commitment to the labor movement. It also raised serious questions about labor reform that as an [aspiring] labor activist I need to ask. What are the best strategy for radicalizing the labor movement? Working in existing business unions? Creating organization outside the dominant unions? Or other approaches? For better or worse, my experience with TDU raised more questions than it answered.
Over the summer tons of friends from out of town came to Motown and crashed with my roommates and I. Early in the summer my good compa Joshua Kahn Russell crashed along with folks from Substance, a nonprofit “merging arts, music and activism.” They were coming through town en route along the Freedom From Oil tour with Propagandhi and Strike Anywhere. Some friends I work with in Detroit and I helped canvas the crowd for FFO at afterward went bowling with some folks from the bands–it was like a punk rock fantasy fulfilled. These bands were so formative for me growing up as a budding activist, showing me that I’m not alone in my concern for social justice and my skepticism about American mythology. I imagine for the folks in these bands meeting fanatics like me can be just as intimidating as it is for me to meet them. The members of these bands changed my life (along with thousands of others) before they ever meet us. They were all incredibly nice people and very humble and gracious for my appreciation. We wound up drinking jager and Red Stripe and talking about music, politics and everything else. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life.
Not long after some friends from Toronto, the brilliant Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan Macintosh, swung into town for the Allied Media Conference (but I suspect they really came to the D to try our delicious food). I love these folks. Anita runs the clever pop culture feminist vlog Feminist Frequency (vlogging sounds so intimidating so I gotta give her props for that alone, blogging’s hard enough for me). Jonathan is the guy behind the Buffy vs. Edward vid, a witty and inspired feminist critique of the Twilight series that got something like over 400,000 hits in it’s first week. You can check out his article on WIMN’s Voices explaining the vid and a report about it from the LA Times Entertainment blog.
Not long after another friend, this time from the East Coast and a fellow Michiganian (or is it Michigander?) dropped by. Andy Cornell and I met last summer when I was in NYC for the Fourth of July. He’s been doing fascinating research on the contemporary history of Anarchism in the U.S. and was kind enough to swing by during his time in the state. Andy along with Dan Berger wrote an article that was helped me get out of a couple of ruts early in my organizing, back during my time with SDS. The article is called 10 Questions for Movement Building and can be found over at the Monthly Review webzine.
Organizing has been slow over the summer months. One significant thing that occured was the changing of our local group’s name from the “Student Environmental Action Coalition” to “As Soon As Possible!” We decided that the name ASAP was more exciting and original and helped encourage ourselves and folks looking at us to have a more multi-issue perspective. It also conveys the profound urgency of the moment to stop the climate crisis, build a youth activist movement and take hold the great potential of our political moment.
My summer just recently wound up. Classes at Wayne State started Thursday and thus began the last year of my undergrad (fingers crossed tightly). Now that the moment’s here I’m thinking more seriously about grad school. I never thought seriously about grad school before, but can’t think of any reason to not go, unless something serious changes in the world or my life. I’m considering going into the Communications program at Wayne State. Communications comes across to me as kinda “politics in practice,” studying how ideas spread, etc. I have time to think about it.
Like I said, I can’t get through everything I want to write about. I’ll update more tomorrow.
I’d like to say one more thing and just point this out. Yesterday when I loaded Google News I saw the following headline (image taken from the news site).
Absurd enough. A co-worker pointed out to me that with any other president having the president address your kids would’ve been considered an honor, but now it’s all of the sudden a controversy. Then I saw this below the headline:
So the same people that find this kind racist of news compelling are also interested in people who claim to have found the Chupacabra.
Anyway, that’s my life! (Neil Hamburger’s catch phrase–a terribly offensive comedian but admittedly a guilty pleasure of mine) More to come, especially on the Van Jones resignation, healthcare and other things more important than my punk rock fantasies being fulfilled.