Read about current radical movements inUses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (AK Press, 2010). Click to pick up the book!
Come August Kevin Van Meter (with Team Colors Collective & Friends) will have a chapter titled “A Curious Case: Long Island Radicals Confront the Green Scare” in the forthcoming AK Press collection Life During Wartime.
Upcoming Team Colors projects, articles, and interventions will be announced as they develop.(as of 20 July 2013)
w/ Jenny Esquivel (has worked with Sacramento Prisoner Support since 2006. She has gone on tour multiple times speaking about Eric McDavid’s case, entrapment, and political prisoners. She is a co-author of the book Government Repression, Prisoner Support) & Evan Tucker (who has done support work for political prisoners and is a co-author of the book Government Repression, Prisoner Support).
w/ editor Lara Messersmith-Glavin, Jenny Esquivel, and others.
About the book:
Counterinsurgency (COIN) has existed as the state’s implicit strategy for a generation, and increasingly this strategy is becoming explicit. In this chilling collection of sociological and political essays, fifteen writers examine the application of domestic counterinsurgency tactics within the United States, and seek to equip the left with a more nuanced understanding of state repression – and how to fight back.
Order the book here and copies will be available at the events!
About the Event:
COIN functions as the underlying logic that intersects with a number of key political realities currently: community policing / police brutality and the prison industrial complex, Global War on Terror, border militarization, the NSA / Snowden scandal and government spying, and repression of social movements. This talk will explore the domestic application of counterinsurgency strategy and community policing methods, which are predominantly directed at poor communities of color in the US.
Kristian Williams will provide an overview of policing and the domestic application of COIN. COIN has its origins in police / FBI operations against social movements in the 1960s and 70s as well as various post-Vietnam conflicts. Drawing on various pieces in the collection and his prior work (in Our Enemies in Blue), Williams will describe how a military logic has been used by police forces and other state apparati over the past three decades. By extension of Williams’s talk, Kevin Van Meter will explore the currently campaign of repression directed at radical environmentalists, animal rights activists, and others, referred to as the “Green Scare”. Drawing on a particular case from 2001-2004, Van Meter will describe this cycle of government repression and the efforts of activists to combat it.
Kristian Williams is a member of the Committee Against Political Repression, in Portland, Oregon. He is also the author of Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America (Soft Skull, 2004; South End, 2007), American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination (South End, 2006), and Hurt: Notes on Torture in a Modern Democracy (Microcosm, 2012). In 2009 he received a grant from the Institute for Anarchist Studies to support his research on Oscar Wilde’s anarchism.
Kevin Van Meter is a member of the Team Colors Collective and has just relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to complete his doctorate in Geography. Van Meter, with Team Colors, co-edited the collection Uses of a Whirlwind (AK Press, 2010) and co-authored Winds from below (Team Colors / Eberhardt Press, 2010). Van Meters’ collaborative and single-authored work has appeared in various radical publications.
New Review: Craig Hughes of the Team Colors Collective has recently reviewed David Wagner’s 2012 title Confronting Homelessness. The review has been published by Z Magazine and is available here. (Click link and then scroll down past the first review)
On 11 May 2013 Kevin Van Meter of Team Colors was quite pleased to participate in the 4th Annual Law and Disorder conference at Portland State University. Van Meter presented on his forthcoming chapter “A Curious Moment” and was joined by Amelia of the Committee Against Political Repression as a respondent. A special thanks to Amelia (for participating and directing the discussion toward lessons for current political prisoner support), Adam C. (and the rest of the conference organizers), and the Geography Department at the University of Minnesota (for travel support).
“A Curious Moment” is part of the forthcoming AK Press collection Life During Wartime. Additional Life During Wartime events with Team Colors participation will be announced shortly.
Stevie “Peace” Larson of Team Colors was interviewed by the Land of Gazillion Adoptees blog about his work titled “Beyond Good Intentions and Best Interests Interpreting the Uneven Geographies of Transnational Adoption.” You can listen to the interview here and the poster accompanying this work-in-progress is here.
Come spring Kevin Van Meter (with Team Colors Collective & Friends) will have a chapter titled “A Curious Case: Long Island Radicals Confront the Green Scare” in the forthcoming AK Press collection Life During Wartime. The collection is edited by friends of the collective Kristian Williams author of Our Enemies in Blue, Lara Messersmith-Glavin of the Institute of Anarchist Studies, and Will Munger. More information here and we will post again when the title is available.
The collection also includes a contribution titled “Geography, Counterinsurgency, and the “G-bomb”: the Case of México Indígena” by friends of the collective Geoffrey Boyce and Conor Cash.
From April 1998 until the Summer of 2000 (our long, hot autumn) a few members of Team Colors were involved in a collective in suburban Long Island called Modern Times. Note that Stevie had the good sense to grow up in Minnesota and hence he missed out on some of the terrible fashion trends displayed herein. “Modern Times: Building a community in America’s First Suburb” is a short documentary of those years:
This last summer, while perusing the tables at the Women of Color Zine Symposium held at Portland State University, we came across a copy of an interesting pamphlet. Back in 2008 we conducted an extensive interview with Anarchist Black Panther and former political prisoner Ashanti Alston for the “In the Middle of A Whirlwind” project. This interview ended up in Uses of a Whirlwind in an edited and shorter form. The pamphlet in question, pictured to the left, is a print version of the original interview and includes a series of photos that complements Ashantis’ words.
We couldn’t be more excited that activists out of Portland thought highly of the interview and put this together. For those interested in getting a copy contact SlushPilePress at xerylemountain [at] gmail [dot] com; and $3 plus $1 for shipping will get you one of these.
Team Colors collective member Kevin Van Meter will be participating in the launch party for the new issue of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, the in-house journal of the Institute for Anarchist Studies. Van Meter will be presenting on his “To Care is to Struggle” article, featured in the issue, and will be joined by the journals editors and other contributors. More on the event here.
Minneapolis Event: To Care is to Struggle – 17 February @ Minnehaha Free Space
How do radical movements respond to personal crises, trauma, care as well as issues that flow through our everyday lives? Beyond seeing politics as a simply a set of issues and positions, how do we begin to construct new relationships, activities and projects that address issues such as mental health, care, trauma and grief, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence?
This discussion seeks to address some of these questions in two ways: in the specific sense of developing harm intervention systems, creating communities of care, addressing sexual assault and organizing around issues of mental health; and in the general sense of creating movements that don’t see such projects as appendages but rather as a core element in reconstructing our lives, creating movements that self-reproduce themselves, and to forge projects that challenge the social reproduction of capital and the state-apparatus by constructing new forms of life and new social relations.
About the Event:
The event will consist of a short talk followed by a facilitated discussion based on a recent article by Team Colors Collective member Kevin Van Meter called “To Care is to Struggle” published in Perspectives on Anarchist Theory. Copies of Perspectives will be available at the event and can be obtained from AK Press here: http://www.akpress.org/perspectivesonanarchisttheorymagazine.html
Occupied Zuccotti, Social Struggle, and Planned Shrinkage is a recently released Team Colors Collective pamphlet and includes two articles: Panic! I See Poor People: Some Thoughts on Gentrification Efforts in Zuccotti Park and “The Civilian Version of Firebombing:” Planned Shrinkage and its Consequences in New York City – An interview with Deborah Wallace.
“The first piece is an essay written in November 2011 at the height of the Occupy struggle. The piece points to the frightening reality of social (dis)services and the decimated and punitive “safety net” programs in New York City, in context of service withdrawal discourse during the occupation of Zuccotti Park.
The second piece is an interview with Deborah Wallace, which Craig Hughes conducted in December 2011. Deborah Wallace and Rodrick Wallace have painstakingly researched and published on the development and impacts of planned shrinkage in New York City. The interview draws out the historic process and meaning of planned shrinkage.”
Email panic [at] warmachines [dot] info to obtain a copy & we are requesting a small donation to cover printing and shipping costs.
Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, the journal of the Institute of Anarchist Studies, has recently published an issue on “care” which includes a contribution by Team Colors Collective member Kevin Van Meter. An excerpt of the article — “To Care is to Struggle” — is below and you can obtain copies of this issue from AK Press here and the PDF of the whole issue is on the IAS website here.
(from the introduction) “Often lost in the slogans, chants, and feverish excitement of a street action, or the ideological and sematic battles waged by radicals, is the richness of human relations. It is the ‘in between’ of these relations – expressed, in part, as care – that reproduces both the social order and revolutionary movements. For our purposes here, we are interested in the acts and activity that care is associated with, as in care-work, which is imposed by capital, and care-giving, hence as an activity of the commons.
This question of care can never be answered in the abstract, but only in the context of our lives, our stories, and the challenges that such lives and stories bring to bear. Different minds and bodies react differently to crisis, trauma, and the common shocks of life; they are acted upon, imposed upon and produced differently as they fit into different relations of power – as gendered, racialized, sexualized, et. al. bodies; particular minds and bodies have different productive desires, resist differently, and produce new worlds together differently. Here the intent is to interpret care-work and care-giving broadly. Then focus on creating movements that address these experiences and realities generally and the need for creating practical and political initiatives that struggle against current conditions and limitations and toward new, liberatory paradigms of care.”
Team Colors collective member Kevin Van Meter and, friend of the collective, Benjamin Holtzman are pleased to announce the third installment of their Building Healthy Movements series “Furthering Transformative Justice, Building Healthy Communities: An interview with Philly Stands Up” has recently been published by Organizing Upgrade. Read the interview here.
Team Colors is pleased to announce that our chapter “Messy Hearts Made of Thunder: Occupy, Struggle, and Radical Community Organizing” has just been released as part of the We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy from Occupation to Liberation collection on AK Press. Kevin Van Meter of Team Colors was able to participate in book launch events in Minneapolis along with Margaret Killjoy, and those in attendance were quite enthusiastic. In addition to Team Colors, friends of the collective George Caffentzis, Andy Cornell, Chris Dixon, Kristian Williams, and many fine other contributors appear in the collection.
German anarchist publisher Edition Assemblage has just published a collection titled Occupy Anarchy! and it includes a translation of the Team Colors article “Lions After Slumber”. The collective appears alongside Judith Butler, Mike Davis, David Graeber, and Gayatri Spivak. We are quite honored that Edition Assemblage asked us to participate.
For all those that read German the collection is available here; English version is available here.
Team Colors Collective members Stevie Peace and Kevin Van Meter are quite excited to announce that their new article “Black Flags and Radical Relief Efforts in New Orleans: An Interview with scott crow” has just been published by Left Eye on Books. Read it here.
Team Colors collective member Kevin Van Meter and, friend of the collective, Benjamin Holtzman are pleased to announce their new article “Minding Your Scope, Building Healthy Movements: An Interview with the Rosehip Medic Collective” has recently been published by Organizing Upgrade. This is part two in a series on health, care and radical movements. Read the interview here. (Note: article is no longer appears on the Organizing Upgrade. Thanks to the Medic Wiki for making this available.)
The following piece by Team Colors appears in the just released AK Press pamphlet Occupy the System! (@narchy and occupy, no. 1). Download, print and distribute. Available here.
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable NUMBER!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall’n on you:
YE ARE MANY—THEY ARE FEW.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Masque of Anarchy: A Poem”
More than once those who have the least defenses against the violence of the powerful have dared to defy that power, dared to confront that violence, with their own. And, more than once, those with the most meager resources to resist oppression have won something important, as the result of that confrontation. And in every instance, it has never been who is the leader but rather who are the people. It has never been what is the organization but what is the crisis.
—June Jordan, Some of Us Did NOT Die
It is Shelley’s anguish, written in the aftermath of the massacre of demonstrators calling for reforms at Peterloo in 1819. It is Jordan’s amazement, reflecting on the spontaneous riots in Miami upon Arthur McDuffie’s death at the hands of police officers in 1980 (as with 1968, Rodney King, Oscar Grant…). Then, as now, the commoners are rising after slumber against the chains that bond them. Occupy Movement is “incoherent,” goes the oft-repeated critique. A multitude of screams against seemly endless injustices, channeled into specific sites of intensity that overwhelm as much as inspire: this is incoherence at its most brilliant, struggle at its most creative and open. It is the nascent struggle—the lion stretching its form in a full-bodied yawn, testing its power, scanning the horizon.
In the wake of a still-emerging struggle, we in the Team Colors Collective want to offer some context, questions, and critical points that we hope will be useful. But we do so out of the recognition that this struggle is still very young; that it continues to draw in more voices and conversations, of which ours is but one small addition; and that those on the ground are feeling both exhilaration and exhaustion. So we offer these words in the spirit of careful reflection, of constant listening, of humility, of gentleness. Chris Carlsson, in our book Uses of a Whirlwind, calls it “radical patience”: a strong sense of history, a slow-burning resistance that takes many forms, an orientation to the long haul as much as the here-and-now of awakening.
After Slumber: Crisis and Resistance
Much has been made of how 2011 has offered up a “perfect storm” of conditions for revolt: the untenable impositions of austerity and debt, the obvious fallacy of change through electoral politics, crises along multiple dimensions. But the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, the “indignant” struggles in Europe, the student uprisings in Chile, and the now-exploding occupations of major cities cannot be explained through “perfect conditions,” nor solely understood as spontaneous struggle. They have emerged out of everyday resistances and frustrations, organized in a myriad of forms. We can return to this dynamic, if only because the occupations are sparking interest and conversations in new and startling places, of which self-identified radicals constitute only a small part.
Here in the US, we would do well to draw in histories of struggle that inform what we see today: the direct actions of AIDS activism and queer organizing in the 1980s, the movements of the urban homeless, the unions that refused co-optation, the inspiring work of environmental justice and ecological defense organizing. Connecting with contemporary struggles amplifies the occupied movement: the prisoners’ hunger strikes in California, wins resulting from domestic worker organizing, struggles in the universities. Its useful to remember that none of these struggles emerged fully-formed; they were messy from the outset and continued to engage with the messiness, shifting and re-making themselves in the wake of failures and difficulties. The messiness at the occupation sites, of the Occupy movement in its multitudinous forms, is thus no cause for alarm; what matters more is how it is engaged, through “radical patience,” and reaching out through concentric circles of activity and to other nodes of struggle.
The Many, the Few: Towards a Critical Conversation
“We are the 99%” finds its reflection in “Ye are many.” While “the few,” the 1%, is a good starting point for articulating the stark inequities of power and wealth throughout the world, the risk is in making it the endpoint as well. “The people” making up this 99% (and in its opposing 1%) are not easy to describe, but exploring these complexities is central to the movements’ ongoing conversation. A few thoughts.
The 99% and the 1% are not just opposed but related within a social system. The configurations of state and capital are not only crucial to maintaining inequity, but also defusing resistance. The 99% in practice is difficult to comprehend, as it is used in different ways. It is at once an illustration of Marx’s notion of a class in itself—a sack of potatoes sitting dormant for statisticians pecking. In others, it is used to mean the class for itself, the class in struggle—are 99% objectively, but you are against 99% when you abuse us, when you assault us.
The 99% includes not only the police that have beaten and repressed those at the occupation sitesand elsewhere, but also service providers that arbitrarily deny access to the most basic of needs and assistance, parents who punish gender non-conforming children, psychiatrists who abuse patients, and prison wardens and judges who maintain the smooth functioning of the criminal justice system, amongst many other functionaries.
There are nuances among the 99% such as unwaged work, which reproduces community and social relations (most of which is done by women); or social wages such as healthcare benefits (not available to many undocumented workers and precarious laborers) and the use of public commons (which are rare in the suburbs, where the majority of the US population now lives); or in the “wages of whiteness” and other benefits along lines of race, gender, sexuality, and ability. These differences are brought to bear at the occupations—where the sick, the imprisoned, the precariously employed, the survivors of trauma, the undocumented, the elderly, and children may not be as “active.”
Emergence: Sowing Radical Currents into Storms
Until recently, our collective was dialoguing with others around the questions of impasse, of a distinctive “stuckness” that seemed to pervade movements in the Unites States since the end of the alter-globalization cycle of confrontational protests a decade ago. Perhaps the “stuckness” is lifting; in fact, people might be more ready than we think, raring at the bit to generate powerful storms of activity that re-make the terrain of organizing.
What does seem certain is that something has to give. There are strong positions that could close-off organizing potential: relentless insistence on nonviolence, to the point of refusing self-defense; a settling into pre-figurative world-making in the space of the occupation, at the expense of necessary pushes towards confrontation; a bend towards symbolic reclamation rather than more disruptive direct action that pushes “occupation” into new territory. There appears to be greater emphasis on media attention and memes, and less on the relationships we have, the new ones we’re building, how we are changing through. There seems to be a stronger focus on the general assemblies (whose practices of radical democracy are still messy) and less on practices of listening, sharing of personal stories, harm reduction, and activities that center support and care.
A genuine opening-up of this struggle is already pushing back against these tendencies. Caucuses of women of color and queer folks are changing the conversations on the ground; through their own resistances, the organizing is shifting. We encourage greater energy to these forms of opening-up. We’ve discussed in our pamphlet Winds from Below the many tools at our disposal, such as inquiry, encounter, and dialog; in the space of the occupations, these can take the form of local organizing in nearby neighborhoods, churches, community centers, and street corners; community dialogs and interventions; or meetings with organizers in other historic and ongoing struggles. These activities can find a more solid grounding beyond financial instruments or electoral politicking: they can return to the stories of our everyday lives, the commonalities that resonate amongst each other—perhaps these can form the brunt of the general assemblies, both within and outside of the spaces of occupation. Such organizing recognizes people where they are, rather than where we would like them to be; it creates and reproduces autonomous self-activity that sustains us, but also pushes towards its own limits; it draws from the resources and activity of nonprofits, academic institutions, and longstanding community organizations, while consciously and radically extending beyond the confines that come with them.
Like lions after slumber, we are emerging, in ways that shout the possibility of new subjectivities and new worlds. The struggle did not begin with Occupy Wall Street; nor will it end there; and throughout its radically patient arc, it will continue to course through our everyday lives and resistances, our practices of care and support, our reaches towards the limits places upon us. We in Team Colors are excited to be part of the conversations and circulations; may they blossom in unvanquishable number.
Team Colors is a geographically-dispersed militant research collective. Together, they are the editors of the collection Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporay Radical Social Currents in the United States (AK Press, 2010).
Team Colors members Craig Hughes and Kevin Van Meter have an extensive review of Will Potters Green is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege and it has recently been published by Left Eye on Books. Read the review here.
Team Colors is pleased to announce that multiple reviews of both Uses of a Whirlwind and Wind(s) from below have been published recently. These are listed below and if you are interested in reviewing either of our titles get in touch with the collective.
NEW — Whirlwinds & Winds from below: “Reaping the Whirlwind: Recomposing Working Class Power in the U.S.” by Robert Ovetz (Working U.S.A. Vol. 14, Issue 2. June 2011)
NEW — Whirlwinds: “Writing Resistance: Team Colors Collective’s Uses of a Whirlwind and A.K. Thompson’s Black Block, White Riot” by Geoff Bylinkin (Perspectives. Vol. 13, No. 1. Fall 2011).
Whirlwinds: “Book Review” by Jack Aponte (Make/Shift Magazine. Issue #9, Spring/Summer 2011)
While you are watching: Uses of a Whirlwind and Radical Research to Come
In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally. For it is brought home to you, at least while you are watching, that it is only because miners sweat their guts out that superior persons can remain superior. You and I and the editor of the Times Lit. Supp., […] and Comrade X, author of Marxism for Infants – all of us really owe the comparative decency of our lives to the poor drudges underground, blacked to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust, driving their shovels forward with arms and belly muscles of steel.
- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
In the first three months of 1936, George Orwell was dispatched to the grey industrial towns of Northern England by the Left Book Club, a similar initiative to the subscription services currently offered by many radical publishers. His task was to document the conditions of the working class, the content of their lives and contours of their struggles. Wigan Pier had ceased to exist in fading memories and many people he encountered in the region seemed unable to remember precisely where it stood. What they were clear about was their position within the capitalist system and their relation to ‘intellectuals’ and socialism, Orwell’s movement of the time; this comes across in the richness of the portrayal.
Orwell’s quote points us to the need to undertake exploratory and descriptive accounts of life under capitalism and the state currently, as well as question how one documents the content of our lives and contours of our struggles, broadly defined. Far too many recent accounts are little more then abstract academic white-papers, or irrelevant ideological duels, or worse, activist trysts that only see like-minded activity as valid and worthwhile.
Hence Team Colors, along with our contributors and comrades, began an inquiry with the purpose of mapping a number of radical currents that we hoped would assist organizers to move through contemporary movement stagnation. We sought to form a collection that would provide a set of arguments and positions rather than simply taking a pulse; something focused, readable, and challenging, but that would avoid being ideologically partisan or another ‘introduction’ to radical politics. We wanted something that would be used by radical social movements in a time of crisis.
Kate Khatib, our editor, and the rest of AK Press supported us in presenting this project in the form of Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. Our concern both initially and since the launch of the book last year was to provide a document that would be useful; our political purpose was to provide an opportunity to begin the arduous task of starting the motor of radical community organizing. At this one-year anniversary of the book’s release, it seems worthwhile to discuss the importance of movement research, some of its limitations, and a few of the reviews the book has received.
Team Colors and many of our comrades wondered, and continue to wonder, what the contours of struggle are at the present moment. It was in this spirit that we began to inquire into the current composition of struggles in the United States. Of course, we only touched on a few organized initiatives. The collective didn’t dispatch writers in the same sense that the Left Book Club dispatched Orwell, though such a notion seems to be both distant from and immanently possible for our politics today. Instead we asked organizers, artists, activists, theorists, and historians to write from their own position and experience. The results were a partial mapping of current organizational initiatives in the anarchist and anti-authoritarian sphere.
Whirlwinds captured movement developments in the United States at a particular juncture – the late summer and early fall of 2009, and prior – hence a number of important current struggles did not find their way into the collection. Since this period, we have witnessed the emergence of student occupation movements and an ongoing fight around ethnic studies education in Tucson, Arizona; union resurgence in Wisconsin; the IWW organizing in the food service industry, expanding from a coffee chain to a fast food chain; strong anti-police marches on the West Coast and a historic prison strike in Georgia, which has just this week erupted in California; and important community organizing by Vietnamese fisherfolk and other Gulf Coast residents in the wake of both human-caused and natural disasters – just to point to a few. It is important to see these neither as terrific mobilizations or crushing losses – as some have characterized them – but rather points in a larger trajectory of struggle where intervention by radical forces would mean different outcomes.
An admitted limitation of our project is that we only asked organizers in established initiatives to speak, while the voices that are emerging and just beginning to resonate with one another – here pointing toward organizing to come – were not included. One must ask, while struggles may resonate with one another, what happens to their unarticulated precursors? Or more importantly with a project such as this: do those who read the text see themselves reflected in it? Whirlwinds provides the opportunity for other self-identified radicals and organizers to see themselves within projects described.
Taking the spirit of The Road to Wigan Pier, a popular title during its time, points us to other resonances – those that take place in everyday life, in the conditions and fabrics that construct it and give it meaning. What would such interventions look like currently? What mechanisms and initiatives can we create to bring this work into being? How can we document these new winds from below so that they circulate beyond our current valleys and strongholds?
We should have doubts about our own intellectual quality and superiority as revolutionaries, when it seems that so often we are only chasing our own shadows. Orwell speaks to a momentary opportunity to see a reflection in someone else that we didn’t know was there before – what Team Colors refers to as becoming-other – and this is the seed of a relationship, the precondition for solidarity and mutual aid, and of course a revolutionary movement.
When anarchists and other anti-authoritarians see themselves as part of a larger continuum of working-class intellectualism we avoid the pitfalls of superiority that Orwell is talking about. Emma Goldman, Carlo Tresca and the IWW, Marty Glaberman, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Black and Grey Panthers, Jane, ACT UP (the list could be expanded tenfold) – all are part of this history. We raise this history as a bulwark against the anti-intellectualism that seems to be pervasive in our current movements, as well as the idea that Whirlwinds is too difficult or too academic.
We take Karl Marx seriously when he said: “I presuppose, of course, a reader who is willing to learn something new and therefore to think for [themself]”. The complexities of life and struggle aren’t easy and cannot fit into simple slogans and explanations. Part of the critique against academic work is certainly valid – the professionalization and enclosure of knowledge, reinforcement of class distinctions, and use of specialist language – but who are these readers that radicals are looking to defend against difficult material? Is it some imaginary Other, the unconvinced and unenlightened? Or is it simply themselves? Regardless of the reason given, we believe this critique has more to do with the fear of organizing outside of our own circles then any actual trouble people may have with difficult reading. Here, and in future endeavors, our goal is to create work and moments where the readership can see themselves reflected in it.
Anti-intellectual discourses within radical movements limit the intellectual development of its adherents as well as prevent those from outside the self-identified radical subculture from participating in what could be an opportunity for self-education and personal development. Recently, during a talk for Oppose and Propose!, author Andy Cornell related an interview he had with a former participate in Movement for a New Society (MNS), the subject of his book. This former member relayed how the organization was created by white, middle-class activists who were rebelling against the dominant culture and how this subcultural content defined the organization’s work. But since people of color, working class and poor people, indigenous and immigrant people, and others all have a different relationship with – and hence rebellion against – the dominant culture, the work of MNS and its own organizational culture was immensely alienating to these populations. We would argue this problem – and the off-putting nature of subcultural rebellion – is not only prevalent in current radical movements, but that it is far more damaging than difficult reading material.
This reflection by a former member of MNS raises another point that repeatedly arose in the Whirlwinds project, namely the quality and honesty in giving an account of one’s own activities. While the account above is self-critical and speaks to the limitations of particular approaches, current radicals seem to be infected by the discourses that dominate the left, trade union movement and non-profit industry. These approaches often provide a press-release version of their own organizing: they never discuss limitations and impasses, rarely admit defeat, or talk about how their organizing work functions within particular geographic, class, and other boundaries. A number of individuals and organizations we spoke to stated that from beginning to end they have never made a misstep or strategic error. Anyone that has been involved in actual organizing knows this has to be far from the truth. We are certainly not calling for a generalized “shit talking” of others’ work, or our own, but rather the need to challenge how we research and present current organizing. For instance, a survey created for and distributed by a local infoshop can illuminate who utilizes the space, who doesn’t, and why they don’t, which allows the project to connect with various communities and networks in our neighborhoods. This research gives the infoshop organizers and the community it serves the opportunity for an honest portrayal, as well as the development of strategies to address impasses, limitations, and successes of the project. A survey is just one simple way of moving toward more useful assessments of how our work functions.
This is one strategy for initiatives to produce knowledge while expanding the base and density of relationships. Additional strategies include hosting ongoing community dialogs, community inventories and map making, interventionist and participatory art projects, local history events, regular cross-cultural potlucks, issue-specific speak-outs, oral history projects, and co-research endeavors, among various others.
* * *
Team Colors takes the position that “struggle is never inevitable nor automatic”. Struggle requires an honest assessment of the current relations of power and of the composition of the working class; it requires research and feedback loops on the strengths and weakness of movement strategies; it requires radical community organizing that is grounded in our own everyday lives as they are rather than as we wish them to be; and it will require relationships that are built beyond the boundaries of our current movements. The future of the revolution can be found, partially, in movement research that will include projects such as Whirlwinds and those in the spirit of Wigan Pier.
We offer Uses of a Whirlwind as a document to be used by and useful for those in radical movements. Its limitations and omissions are simply opportunities for future research. Some years ago Harry Cleaver, autonomist Marxist and author, stated to us that “working people are too busy making history to document history”. It is our task as revolutionaries to do both.
Stevie Peace & Kevin Van Meter for the Team Colors Collective
“In the midst of a moment defined by international crises, community devastation, increasing injustice, and ruptures in the fabric of everyday life, winds of resistance continue to emerge and to circulate.”
As we wrote these words in the fall of 2009, there were a number of clouds on the horizon and the winds began to speak to us. Currently there are storms raging and new storms gathering. Team Colors created Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States not just to inquire into currents in the United States, but with the sincere hope that an array of social forces would utilize the lessons contained therein toward launching their own initiatives. In June of 2010 Team Colors and AK Press launched the collection at – and some might say into – the US Social Forum in Detroit, and since this time both the text itself and collective members have been circulating the country.
At this important juncture, and to celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the collection’s release, we want to offer the collection as one of many tools to inform current struggles.
Toward this end, and in addition to Whirlwinds, Team Colors published the companion volume Wind(s) from Below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible. Both books have found their way into radical bookshops, study groups, class rooms, and community spaces as well as the arms of radicals across the United States, and both books are now available in the UK and Europe for radicals looking to understand current movements here.
Team Colors is quite pleased to announce that both Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States andWinds from below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible are available for sale and wholesale distribution to colleagues and comrades in the UK and across Europe!
Many thanks to AKUK for distributing Uses of a Whirlwind and to Drew at Natterjack Press for all his work with Winds from below. Individual copies as well as press and wholesale information is below.
The Rock Dove Collective is a radical community health exchange in New York City working to address the need for accessible and anti-oppressive health care in our communities. We are excited to share this interview (done by Ben Holtzman with Kevin Van Meter) as a contribution to the ongoing dialogues about healing justice.
James C. Scott is among the foremost experts on the struggles of subaltern people in Southeast Asia and throughout the world. He is the Sterling Professor of Political Science and Professor of Anthropology as well as the Director of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University. Scott’s books have included The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia(1977); Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance(1987); Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts(1992); Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Better the Human Condition Have Failed(1999); and The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (2009). In this interview, Scott discusses his own political development, elaborates on some of the major contributions of his work, and offers significant insights into understanding the intricacies of recent worldwide struggles. This interview was conducted in New Haven, Connecticut by Benjamin Holtzman and Craig Hughes in July 2010.
Team Colors is pleased to announce that the non-profit anarchist book publishing and distribution collective Natterjack Press, based in the UK, is publishing an edition ofWind(s) from below: Radical Community Organizingfor UK and European audiences.
Team Colors is pleased to announce the publication of Conor Cash’s long awaited article “Decomposition and Suburban Space” in the most recent issue of Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action (Vol. 4, No. 1, 2010)
This essay provides a case-study of the development and decomposition of a number of organizing initiatives taking place in Long Island, New York during the late 1990s and early 2000s, and is particularly concerned with the relationship of these initiatives to suburban spatial organization and the institutional left and non-profit sector. Discussing the activities that these organizations cohered around as prefigurative of a new cooperative political ethics through their emphasis on direct participation, democratic decision-making processes, and a rejection of the commodity form, the essay eventually describes the subsumption of these emancipatory political mandates by the institutional logic of the non-profit sector and the decompositional effects of suburban space.
Team Colors is pleased to announce that our pocket book “Wind(s) from below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible” is now available via AK Distribution and Microcosm Publishing. Get your copy today and more info here!
Listen to Team Colors, John Peck (Family Farm Defenders), Priscilla Gonzalez (Domestic Workers United), Marc Rodrigues (Student/Farmworker Alliance), and Brian Marks discuss “Uses of a Whirlwind” on the Portland, OR based KBOO Radio.
The Team Colors Collective is currently hosting and participating in workshops at the US Social Forum in Detroit. Immediately following we will be out on book tour this summer and coming to a radical bookstore or infoshop near you!
Toward the Last Jubilee!: Midnight Notes at Thirty Years
Edited by Craig Hughes of Team Colors. Published by Autonomedia & Perry Editions
In November 2009, Midnight Notes Collective marked thirty years of work with MN30, a day-long conference held at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan that was attended by more than seventy comrades. This pamphlet, which includes essays by writers involved in or inspired by the work of Midnight Notes, developed from that gathering.
The short pieces in this pamphlet are characteristic of the crises – of capitalism, of the working class, of movements – that MN30 occurred in. The authors don’t mince words—not in their celebration and admiration of Midnight Notes, nor in their presentation of the very real difficulties of the period; not in their critiques of where the project has been and gone, and certainly not in their raising of the real pressing political issues we all need to grapple with.
Located at the Spirit of Hope Church, 1519 Martin Luther King Dr., Detroit, MI 48208, at the corner of MLK and Trumbull.
A Collaborative Book Party
The New World from Below—the anarchists and antiauthoritarians at the Social Forum collective of collectives—is pleased to invite all U.S. Social Forum participants to a collaborative celebration of recent radical publishing with some of the most innovative presses around today. On Friday, June 25, following a full day of engaging workshops and before heading off to dance the night away at the Leftist Lounge, join us to mark the release of recent radical books that seek to enrich and enliven our radical minds!
Beer and wine will be served; books will be available for sale; and a short presentation from current radical authors will take place at 8:00 p.m., including the below authors and collectives.
AK Press has just announced via their fantastic and informative blog “Revolution by the Book” — Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States is off to the printers and is now available for preorder. Read the full announcement here.
The Team Colors Collective is pleased to announce that our first book—Uses of a Whirlwind—is now available for Preorder!
Published by noted radical publisher AK Press and edited by the Team Colors Collective, Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States explores current community organizing and struggle in the U.S. by bringing a diverse set of voices in encounter with one another. Uses of a Whirlwind will be released in June 2010.
You can visit the collection’s website to view advance praise for Uses of a Whirlwind, detailed chapter summaries, and the full text of Team Colors’ introduction to the book.
Carry Uses of a Whirlwind on your shelves and tables (see below for details).
Interview the collective and the collection’s contributors for your magazine, zine, blog, or radio show.
Distribute our amazing Posters and Postcards designed by Justseeds.
Contact your local radical bookstore, infoshop, and bookseller and ask them to carry Uses of a Whirlwind; click for a copy of the One-Sheet.
Include Uses of a Whirlwind in your college course or study group; contact AK Press Wholesale for bulk copies.
Donate to Team Colors to assist us in promoting the collection and ensuring that Uses of a Whirlwind reaches the audience it deserves.
Keep in touch by signing up on our low-traffic email list (right hand column), or join us on Facebook and Myspace.
Get in touch to participate.
For Stores, Distribution & Bulk Copies:
Available for bookshops, infoshops, and tabling projects through AK Press Wholesale (42% discount with credit account, 45% discount with prepay); contact email@example.com to place an order.
Available to the trade via Consortium Book Sales & Distribution/Perseus, as well as from Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and most other wholesalers. In Canada, the books are available through PGC (Publishers Group Canada).
Here is a copy of the Uses of a Whirlwind One-Sheet for ordering the title.
Red and Black Cafe – 400 SE 12 Ave @ Oak St. Portland – www.redandblackcafe.com
Throughout the month of May print and design work from Eberhardt Press will be displayed at the Red and Black Café, a worker-owned vegan café in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Posters, propaganda, books, zines and other printed materials—which enliven and educate—will be exhibited. Additionally, copies of Eberhardt Press titles will be available for sale. To view the exhibit, donate and purchase titles please visit during the Café’s open hours—9am to 11pm, 7days a week.
Friday May 28, 2010, 7pm at the Red & Black Café.
Featuring Free Beer from Ninkasi for all attendees!
$5 – 20 suggestion donation, no one turned away for lack of funds.
Join friends and colleagues at the Red and Black Cafe on Friday May 28th, 2010 for a benefit and exhibition featuring the publishing and printing of Portland’s own Eberhardt Press. Celebrating its fifth year as a radical publisher and provider of low-cost quality printing to do-it-yourself and radical projects, Eberhardt Press has printed countless posters, postcards, zines, books and album covers. Opening party will include a short presentation on Eberhardt Press, an excerpted reading from the press’s new publication on “Tramp Printers” and testimonials on its place in the future of radical publishing and politics.
The show will be exhibited throughout the month of May with numerous prints and projects of the press will be on display during the Red and Black Cafe’s open hours, and many of the work available at affordable prices – including a special edition poster and the “Tramp Printers” pamphlet. All funds raised during the event will go to the next phase of Eberhardt Press – a new printing press and additional titles!
Contribute & Contact:
To make a contribution toward this fundraising effort or to find about more about Eberhardt Press visit: www.eberhardtpress.org.
This exhibit and event has been organized by a group of friends and supporters of the Press, such as Team Colors, and can be contacted at kevin (at) warmachines (dot) info.
About Eberhardt Press
Eberhardt Press, established in 2004, is dedicated to bringing anarchist and anti-authoritarian voices to print. We publish original titles as well as classic revolutionary texts that are out of print and in danger of fading from memory. By operating a small-scale offset printing and bindery facility, we can produce publications at a fraction of the cost of paying a commercial printer. Therefore we are able to offer our hand-crafted books and pamphlets less expensively to the public.
Eberhardt Press subsidizes its publishing operations by providing offset printing and bindery services to the local community. Since its founding, Eberhardt Press has printed more than a quarter million zines, books, notebooks, postcards, posters, and other projects for independent publishers, artists and activist groups in Portland and throughout the country.
The Team Colors Collective is pleased to announce that our most recent article – titled “Abandoning the chorus: checking ourselves a decade since Seattle” – is appearing in the first issue of a new journal from the Groundswell Collective. The first issue of the Groundswell Journal is called “Crisis Folklore” and includes contributions from Team Colors friends Gavin Grindon and City Life / Vida Urbana in addition to our own.
A note from the Groundswell Collective and a link to obtain the journal follows.
This first edition focuses on crisis folklore, and includes contributions by Groundswell, Gavin Grindon (the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination), Susan Sakash (RadKidCare), John Hulsey and collaborators (City Life/Vida Urbana), Karl Fitzgerald (Real Estate 4 Ransom), Team Colors Collective, and Chris Kennedy (basekamp/The Institute for Applied Aesthetics).
Copies are available in select book stores (see below) and are coming soon to the rest of the country and the UK! If you’re interested in helping to distribute copies, please contact us.
You can also buy copies from the bookstores below.
- Red Emma’s (Baltimore, MD)
- Bluestockings (NYC, NY)
- Lucy Parsons Center (Boston, MA)
We are writing to you today to invite you to attend two upcoming Team Colors events – one at Bluestockings in New York City on March 18th and another at the Red & Black Café in Portland, Oregon on the 25th – the details of which follow.
Additionally, the collective is pleased to announce the final list of contributors to our forthcoming AK Press collection Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, & Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States that will be released at the US Social Forum in June 2010.
Look forward to seeing many of you in New York, Portland or on our book tour this summer!
On Thursday, MARCH 18th at 7PM please join Team Colors as they reflect on organizing in the context of current capitalist and movement crises, and discuss the uses of militant research and inquiry into radical movements in the U.S. They will explore the intention, method and content of their new pamphlet “Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible” and their forthcoming AK Press collection “Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States.”
Team Colors is a national militant research collective. Their approach has developed from involvement in community organizing projects, resistance activities and radical research efforts for more than a decade. Their forthcoming pamphlet “Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible” will be available for sale at the event.
Coming to New York for the Left Forum or based in the New York area? Have something to contribute to this discussion or share about your radical community organizing project? Contact Team Colors to participate in a short go around following the presentation and before open discussion.
An evening with Autonomedia, Minor Compositions and the Team Colors Collective.
Join us for an evening with two autonomist authors and organizers from Portland and London in exploring contemporary politics, the continued imposition of work, current struggles in the University and elsewhere, militant and co-research, and in celebrating the release of their recent books. In the U.S. and across the planet struggles against enclosures, the dismantling of the University, for public and community space, against “the endless imposition of work”, and against a form of life that is increasingly precarious – are currently taking place. By “reading” these and neighboring struggles we seek to create a world in which many worlds fit. A discussion on these issues and other topics will follow short talks.
“This is Forever” is a discussion series based in Bluestockings Books (NYC) and currently expanding to other cities around the United States.
Stevphen Shukaitis | Autonomedia / Minor Compositions. Shukaitis is the author of the recently book Imaginal Machines: Autonomy and Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Life (Minor Compositions, 2009), an editor at Autonomedia and lecturer at the University of Essex. He is the editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labor.
Kevin Van Meter | Team Colors Collective. As member of the militant research collective, Van Meter has been involved in editing the collectives forthcoming collection Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (AK Press, 2010), co-authoring Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible (Pamphlet, 2010), and has participated in radical community organizing initiatives for more then a decade.
Copies of Imaginal Machines and Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible will be available at the event.
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Uses of a Whirlwind:
Movement, Movements, & Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States
Edited by the Team Colors Collective; Published by AK Press
June 2010 | $19.95 | 978-1-84935-016-7
will you join us in the middle of a whirlwind?
This was asked of organizers, activists, artists, & theorists to begin to understand the current composition & strength of radical movements in the United States. Using the metaphor of a whirlwind to describe the myriad of struggles taking place currently & those blowing across the planet this past decade, Team Colors conducted an inquiry and examination of movements in the United States – resulting in a set of case studies, movement strategies, theoretical analyses, & interviews. These winds seek a return to radical community organizing – toward making a revolution possible.
Contributors include Malav Kanuga | Bluestockings Books & Activism Center, Direct Action to Stop the War, Roadblock Earth First!, Starbucks Workers Union – IWW, Marina Karides | United States Social Forum, Student / Farmworker Alliance, City Life/ Vida Urbana | Picture the Homeless | Take Back the Land | United Workers, Harmony Goldberg | Domestic Workers United & Right to the City Alliance, Basav Sen, John Peck| Family Farm Defenders, Brian Tokar, Benjamin Shepard, Julie Perini, Dorothy Kidd, Daniel Tucker | AREA Chicago, Maribel Casas-Cortes & Sebastian Cobarrubias, Brian Marks, Michael Hardt & El Kilombo Intergalactico, George Caffentzis, Silvia Federici, Peter Linebaugh, & Chris Carlsson. Interviews with Robin D.G. Kelley, Ashanti Omowali Alston, & Grace Lee Boggs. Artwork: Kristine Virsis | Justseeds Artists Cooperative. Foreword: Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Press. Preface: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz & Andrej Grubacic.
Team Colors is pleased to announce that our pre-release postcards for Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (AK Press, June 2010) are available for distribution and, shortly, from your local radical bookstore.
Original artwork by Kristine Virsis of Justseeds and printed by Eberhardt Press in Portland, OR; these postcards will be distributed to infoshops and radical bookstores across the U.S.
Our promotional postcards, posters and other materials will be available in April and feature the new and amazingWhirlwinds artwork by Kristine Virsis.
If you are interested and able to distribute postcards in your community – to infoshops, bookstores, community centers, or via tables at events – email us at info (at) whirlwinds (dot) info.
Andrej Grubacic and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz join the Team Colors Collection Uses of a Whirlwind
Team Colors is pleased to announce that noted activist-scholars Andrej Grubacic and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz will be joining the collection Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. The volume will be released by AK Press in June 2010 in conjunction with the US Social Forum in Detroit.
Grubacic and Dunbar-Ortiz are writing the book’s extensive Preface, which will situate the collection within current radical literature and the last thirty years of political organizing.
About the Preface Authors:
Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist dissident and historian who has written prolifically on anarchism and the history of the Balkans. Following the collapse of Yugoslavia, Grubacic was based in Belgrade, before leaving his position as assistant lecturer of History at the University of Belgrade (due to tensions relating to his political activism) and relocating to the Fernand Braudel Center at SUNY Binghamton in New York, United States where he taught in the Sociology department. His most recent book Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History with Staughton Lynd has met with great acclaim (PM Press, 2008).
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma where her paternal grandfather had been an organizer for the IWW. She is a writer, historian, teacher, and long-time leftist organizer, beginning in the 1960s. Recently retired as a professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at California State University, East Bay, she lives in San Francisco. She is the author of numerous books and articles on indigenous peoples, including Indians of the Americas: Human Rights and Self-Determination and Roots of Resistance: History of Land Tenure in New Mexico, as well as a historical memoir trilogy: Red Dirt: Growing Up Okie; Outlaw Woman; and Blood on the Border. www.reddirtsite.com
We look forward to having Grubacic’s and Dunbar-Ortiz’s words in the pages of Uses of a Whirlwind.
Craig Hughes, Stevie Peace, Kevin Van Meter, and Benjamin Holtzman
Team Colors is pleased to announce that AK Press will be publishing the collective’s first book, Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. The volume will be released June 2010 to coincide with the US Social Forum in Detroit.
“Will you join us in the middle of a whirlwind?” This is the question Team Colors has asked organizers, activists, artists, and theorists as we have sought to understand the current composition and strength of radical movements in the United States. In utilizing the metaphor of a whirlwind to describe the myriad of struggles that are taking place currently and those that have been blowing across the planet over the past decade, Team Colors has conducted an inquiry and examination of movements in the United States, which has resulted in the collection Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States (Whirlwinds). Whirlwinds provides case studies, movement strategies, theoretical analysis and interviews on radical community organizing—toward making social change possible!
Team Colors, AK Press and many of the Whirlwinds contributors will be present at the US Social Forum in Detroit. Team Colors will also be visiting a number of cities across the US in the summer of 2010 to speak about the collection and current radical community organizing. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to bring the collective to your area.
Survey: Making the Collection Useful
In seeking to construct a collection that is useful to and utilized in radical community organizing efforts, Team Colors has a short survey of questions to help shape Whirlwinds. Please fill out the questionnaire below, return it to email@example.com, and share the survey with others involved in radical community organizing and community-building work.
Organizational Affiliation (if any):
City, State / Region:
1. What organizations or projects do you participate in? How would you characterize the work that you do?
2. What sources of information do you use to find out about current radical movements? What books, magazines, blogs, and other media do you access to understand power relationships in society and how to overcome them?
3. What is missing from current accounts of radical organizing and politics that you would like to see in a collection such as Whirlwinds?
4. What struggles and movements do you see as important to focus on in Whirlwinds?
5. What role should a collection such as Whirlwinds play in your organizing efforts? What would be useful for your own organizing, and what is needed to strengthen radical community organizing efforts in the United States?
Uses of a Whirlwind will provide detailed analysis, thoughtful criticism, and substantive writing on current organizations and campaigns in the US.
Team Colors and AK Press are committed to extensively outreaching the collection. The reason for this is simple: we do not want Whirlwinds to reach only those who identify as anarchists, radicals or activists. Our audience includes those involved in anti-capitalist and anarchist projects, but Whirlwinds is also targeted toward anyone interested in building and sustaining the power necessary to transcend current forms of oppression and exploitation.
Team Colors is asking our friends, colleagues, and supporters to donate toward printing posters and postcards, mailing costs, and other efforts to promote the collection, as we work with AK Press’s own substantive and widespread outreach campaigns. As a small volunteer collective, Team Colors needs your support to help find Whirlwinds the audience it deserves!
Visit www.warmachines.info/contacts.html to contribute and sign up on the mailing list!
Craig Hughes, Stevie Peace, Kevin Van Meter, and Benjamin Holtzman
Yesterday and five days before that. Yesterday marked two years since Jodi’s death. Five long days before that, the 21st of July, was two years since she passed into the unknown, leaving this world we all inhabit. I write this to you in missing Jodi Tilton since these past two years have become endless and immeasurable, as suffering this loss is “one very long moment”.
I know you all miss her as well and in your own and important ways, as Jodi brought out something different in each of us. And I want to recognize how we have all suffered in our own and important ways in and around this immeasurable loss, and in our own lives.
Oscar Wilde, in his prison letter De Profundis, writes on the nature of suffering as he sat in Reading Goal and I find the words hauntingly similar to grief and mourning and in missing Jodi Tilton. I thought I would share those words with you all.
“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralyzing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: this immobile quality, that makes each dreadful day in the very minutest detail like its brother, seems to communicate itself to those external forces the very essence of whose existence is ceaseless change. Of seed-time or harvest, of the reapers bending over the corn, or the grape gatherers threading through the vines, of the grass in the orchard made white with broken blossoms or strewn with fallen fruit: of these we know nothing and can know nothing. (…) For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow.”
I often question myself in this “season of sorrow” how or why I have continued in this life, as I feel that I have lost myself as well; maybe it too passed into the unknown on 21 July 2007. And the answer can be found in those moments and flows between all of us and with those memories of her we have collected together.
But I can not help but remark on the irony of this “season of sorrow”, as she would have been immensely frustrated with all of this, and all of us. As her ability to forgive, to live her life, to create and produce, and to show affections and build relationships – her life, “a life” – is something that we carry within ourselves. Their have been too many terrible lines in notebooks, too many tears and nightmares, too much “suffering” these past two years.
If I cannot hold her in my arms, or hear her bellowing voice, or share a meal with her, or “meet clandestinely on the hill behind the ball fields in Prospect Park” – then the only way to have Jodi become part of our “forever”, to carry her into this world and the new one we are creating, is to create “a life”, a new life. Simply, very simply: I’m going to try, and I hope you will join me and try in your own and important ways.
In missing Jodi Tilton these past two years, and missing you all as well,
The zine Beth, Craig and I edited collecting writings about our friend, comrade, partner and constant companion Jodi Tilton titled “Jodi Tilton, One of the Womyn the World Requires: Collected Writings and Memories” has just been finished by Eberhardt Press here in Portland and I’ll be binding them this weekend. This zine has been produced to mark the second anniversary of Jodi’s passing into the unknown and to mourn the immeasurable loss this has caused in our lives.
We have produced 100 hand-numbered copies which we will be sending to the Tilton family, zine libraries, radical archives, Jodi’s hometown and college library — and of course you all. I have saved a few copies of the “Cooking with Old Ma’ Tilton” cookbook and these will accompany the zine to the public archives. Additionally, we have placed a copy of the zine online as a PDF.
At 80 pages, containing a number of tributes from friends in addition to the biography of Jodi written for The Big She-Bang 2008, “One of the Womyn” is meant as a keepsake for Jodi’s friends and family as well as an example of radical, engaged and collective mourning.
Feel free to drop Craig, Beth and I a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for copies and to forward this message to other friends.
Kevin Van Meter
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Update 3 December 2009:
“Jodi Tilton: One of the Womyn the World Requires” has been sent to a number of zine libraries and radical archives to be included in their collections.
Look for the title and “Cooking with Old Ma’ Tilton” at the Denver Zine Library (Denver, CO), Civic Media Center (Gainsville, FL), Papercut Zine Library (Cambridge, MA), ABC no Rio Zine Library (LES, NY), Barnard College Library Zine Collection (New York, NY), El Kilombo Intergalactico (Durham, NC), Independent Publishing Resource Center (Portland, OR), Zine Archives & Publishing Project (Seattle, WA), Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture – Zine Collection at Duke University (Durham, NC).
Team Colors is a collective engaged in 'militant research' to provide 'strategic analysis for intervention into everyday life'.