5th Annual ‘Forward Food Summit’

The Saturday before I left for Madison and XGM 2018, I spent the day (April 28th), learning from inspiring organizations and people, working on issues of and in; Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver and Longmont.

As the program explained “Both food and gentrification bring our focus to issues of justice/equity and demonstrate the historical experiences of many communities with institutionalized systems of oppression“.

The day was billed as an unconference. Besides thematic panel sessions, guest (welcoming, closing and keynote) talks and performances, the event included parallel/simultaneous; community mapping, walking/biking tours, and other, kid friendly, activities throughout the day.

Interestingly, last weekend, I ran into a neighbor who works in the environmental/food-justice space locally, who also attended the event. One of the first things we discussed was each other’s impression of/reaction to the Summit. The main point she argued, was the “lameness” of the experts/panelist on a stage, format. That in today’s day and age or political climate, people want a more bottom up, dialogic, interactive format.  Certainly, given the billing as an “unconference”, not what the organizers intended. Though, I wondered, given neither of us attended/participated in the mapping, walks etc., if that was the “unconference” component?

The crowd was mixed, but skewed young(er). Perhaps the result of it’s location (a neighborhood school) or connection(s) to Regis University? Appearances were made by at least two City Council candidates and I believe I saw, a Mayoral candidate, (Kavyan).

The event opened, with a suggestion from one of the organizers, “Step Up / Step Back“. The idea being, those who don’t normally speak up, should and those who do, should not.  Rev. Tyler of Shorter A.M.E., then provided an excellent kickstart to the day. With an exhortation to “put your privilege at the door.

The keynote was given by Dr. Damien Thompson who laid out his vision for the “Right to the City“. I had actually met him previously, when he facilitated a joint, SEED Institute and The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, three-night event on gentrification in Denver. In 2017.

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My attendance, made it into a photo on The Alliance Center Events | site dated 5/2018

Dr. Thompson’s keynote, explained gentrification as simply one form of displacement. A chain, going back at least as far, as indigenous, dispossession. Another violence. Importantly it is, an economic process. The solution, is therefore economic development/mobilization, with democratic control, at neighborhood level.

It was especially exciting to learn more about Denver Community Action Network and the policy platform they are developing. I first heard of them through social media via developer Kyle Zeppelin.

Big themes of the Denver CAN policy platform

The group, in the face of “class warfare“, proposes a wide-ranging platform. For housing CLTs, among other solutions. Presently, three homes/units, eventually, up to 150 in Globeville-Swansea and beyond. More local and rent, control. Currently outlawed, at the state level. Along with other co-operative housing and land models.

One intriguing proposal; equity or strategic zoning, addressing saturation of business types. The intended target being, to keep focus on developing housing, and reduce (in some neighborhoods at least) food and beverage or hospitality developments. Or, in the case of north Denver, industrial warehouse grows. Is the idea too reminiscent of single-use / Euclidean, NIMBY approaches to zoning, for  urbanist YIMBY types?

Other members of the group, made the case for more systemic accountability in local politics. Ultimately, for why we need a “new progressive party“, a working families, Party.

Whether in the lessons offered by Mickki Langston or the words of Ara Cruz, an “Xicano/Indigenous (Nahua/Genizaro Tiwa) spoken word artist“, indigenous experiences were foregrounded throughout.

One panel featured three women from the Colorado Springs, region. The moderator began by noting that Redfin had recently ranked Colorado Springs # 2 “Worst Access to Fresh Food (Food Deserts)“. Yet the city, had just been ranked number two “Best Place to Live” in America, according to the 2018 rankings released by U.S. News & World Report. Luckily, the city is in the midst of the PlanCOS process.

One common challenge, is participation. The organization of community action. As Councilwoman Avila urged, although some in the community may take her presence as a sign to rest, they shouldn’t. As, the only way the big ship of government changes, is as a result of the pressure of citizens from the outside.

First, on Twitter

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re: informal Kabul

 

Contemporary reflections on conflict in Kabul focus on the violence of insurgent attacks, but we must understand the informal settlements on the city’s hillsides as an equally significant outcome of conflict as the spaces of direct impact. Their continued exclusion from infrastructure provision, and from the municipality’s formal planning initiatives, has meant that informal settlements continue to be underserved and remain unrecognized as essential components of the urban fabric.

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Stages of informal development within the city creep up the hillsides of the region, while IED attacks (represented as dots) take place largely within the formal parts of the city, along major transportation infrastructure, 2017, Zannah Mae Matson

Zannah Matson writes about the ‘Legacies of Conflict and [Re] Constructing Urban Futures‘, as exemplified in Kabul.

best known for his book In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003)

Moten is impatient with detractors who accuse him of difficulty and lack of clarity. Many writers once thought to be impenetrable are now considered canonical, he points out. “The critics I loved and who were influential to me were all weird: Empson, Burke, Benjamin, Adorno—they all had a sound, and it wasn’t like a PMLA, academic-journal sound.” The other critics who influenced him, he continues, were poets: Charles Olson, Amiri Baraka, Nathaniel Mackey, and especially Susan Howe—who, he says, has a different understanding of how the sentence works. “Miles [Davis] said: You gotta have a sound. I knew I wanted to sound like something. That was more important to me than anything.” One could argue that Moten’s sound resonates with the “golden era” of hip-hop of the late eighties and early nineties, when it was still audibly a wild collage of jazz, R&B, late disco and funk: “Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have,” the late Phife Dawg raps on A Tribe Called Quest’s celebrated 1991 album The Low End Theory.

Photograph by Robert Adam Mayer

Harvard Magazine published Jesse McCarthy’s essay on the subversive black-studies scholarship of Fred Moten.

Guantánamo and “the Sea”

The tarps remained down for a few days, and the detainees started making art about the sea. Some wrote poems about it. And everyone who could draw drew the sea. I could see different meanings in each drawing, color and shape. I could see the detainees put their dreams, feelings, hopes and lives in them. I could see some of these drawings were mixtures of hope and pain. That the sea means freedom no one can control or own, freedom for everyone.

Each of us found a way to escape to the sea.

Those who could see the sea spent most of their time watching, listening and looking at that big blue color, which cools our souls. The sea was a little rough, because of the windy weather. Huge waves that rose high and hit the land. Looking at a sea like that was scary, but it was what we got, and it felt good. Afghans started calling out to one another and expressing their feelings about what they saw, and turned to us with many questions about that beast.

A painting by Mohammed Ansi, a former Guantánamo detainee.

Mansoor Adayfi was released in 2016 and is at work on a book about this detention. Above excerpt is adapted from the catalog for “Ode to the Sea: Art From Guantánamo Bay.”

re: landscape punk

I find myself in difficult position. I consider myself to be an anti-fascist, and yet I read many, many books concerning the British landscape – I have written a fiction collection partly about that fascination myself – and I’m aware of how these feelings I hold towards landscape dovetail with those I disagree with, and at times despise. I care deeply about wildlife and conservation – to the point where I have been accused of holding a kind of animal anti-immigration policy, because I dislike the invasive species green parakeets, signal crayfish and grey squirrels. I am increasingly being affected by the ideas of radical ecology, of the notion of hyperobjects, the bleak but often truthful output of the Dark Mountain Project, but I felt very uncomfortable to see a writer I read with great interest associated with the Dark Mountain project sink into a kind of left-wing, pro-Brexit eco-nationalism. Troubling concepts like ‘Anglarchism’ leave me cold. The whole point of the Crass-inspired anarchism I grew up with as a punk was that there were no borders and no nations. You could deeply care the environments we inhabit without having to claim ownership of them.

Over at The Quietus,  Gary Budden calls for a reweirding of the countryside & a new landscape punk.

Two from Literary Hub

Don’t believe I have heard of this platform/publisher before. Then in last week to ten days, have come across it twice. In both my Facebook and Twitter feeds/networks.

First an old piece, from 2016, by

Walking had returned to me a greater set of possibilities. And why walk, if not to create a new set of possibilities? Following serendipity, I added new routes to the mental maps I had made from constant walking in that city from childhood to young adulthood, traced variations on the old pathways. Serendipity, a mentor once told me, is a secular way of speaking of grace; it’s unearned favor. Seen theologically, then, walking is an act of faith…Walking while black restricts the experience of walking, renders inaccessible the classic Romantic experience of walking alone. It forces me to be in constant relationship with others, unable to join the New York flaneurs I had read about and hoped to join…Walking as a black man has made me feel simultaneously more removed from the city, in my awareness that I am perceived as suspect, and more closely connected to it, in the full attentiveness demanded by my vigilance. It has made me walk more purposefully in the city, becoming part of its flow, rather than observing, standing apart.

Later Olivia Campbell on Climate Change and the Fairy Tale Forest.

As we consider the potential loss of plant, animal, and human life at the hands of climate change, we must also ponder what we stand to lose in culture—in stories yet to be told. Lost or devastated landscapes stand to radically alter the trajectory of our tales.

Or as @elisehunchuck shortened “What tales will go untold as we lose islands, coasts change, species go extinct, and forests wither?