Its been 10 days since I returned from Vancouver. I have been on the road since then, so I've had little time to reflect on my time there, until now. I was invited by a sister I met at the Web of Change conference back in 2007, Teresa Marshall. I arrived on Thursday, March 5, with my fellow multimedia makers/agitators/inspirational brothers. Reed Rickert (Oakland, CA), film maker, and Martin Backhauss (Germany), photographer, both of whom accompanied me on my journey. We arrived completely sleep deprived because we stayed up the night before, planning our line up (music and videos) for the upcoming events in Vancity. We hit a wireless cafe that serves some dope organic, local food, and let the hours pass. That evening, I was scheduled to present at the Web of Change Kick of Event - Designing for Democracy. We walked out the cafe and our car had been TOWED! With all our expensive video equipment. So I was definitely feeling frustrated and down.
But...we arrived to the venue right in time, and I spoke to about 100 folks about the power of art, technology, and people-centered media. You can read the blog about my presentation by clicking here. Kori Brus, of Web of Change, blogged about my presentation. He writes, "Success and power always carries the risk of alienating and marginalizing other individuals or groups, and ultimately it’s the responsibility of each us of us to be aware of the role played by privilege and to take action in the community, and our own lives, to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity for happiness." Another fellow blogger, Susan Main, wrote her own reflections, read here.
The following day I conducted a workshop to a group of mostly women at BCGEU, which is one of the most diverse unions in British Columbia. BCGEU represent approximately 65,000 men and women in more than 550 bargaining units. I lead a workshop about designing political posters and presented to an executive committee interested in using art as a tool for organizing. I felt really good about being able to draw the connections between cultural work and labor organizing. That evening, we headed over to TechForms Festival to do some VJing. Reed Rickert, a filmmaker who I've collaborated with on various short pieces, filmed me while I was drawing. He mixed up the feed with some other video clips and footage from our October 08 trip to Mexico City.
The VJing (Video Jocking) we did was a super fresh collaboration! Be on the lookout, as we will post the video soon. The following day, Saturday, we headed over to the Eastside of Vancouver to W2 Community Media Arts Launch Pad. The reason it's called Launch Pad is because the future space for this org is being built across the pad, so we were at the temporary space, AKA Launch Pad. W2 will bring together hybrid art forms, community art practices, individual human development and community cultural development in a single environment. It will be home to a diverse grouping of Vancouver arts and community service organizations offering developmental programs in writing, radio and television production, painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, video and cross-media.
These photographs by Martin Backhauss capture the environment in which the event took place. The area faces many issues, such as poverty, drug use, homelessness - and is currently undergoing a wave of gentrification. Organizations such as W2 are fighting back and working to implement people-centered solutions. That day I was also interviewed for a bilingual show on COOP Radio 102.7 FM.
The following day was International Women's Day! We launched the mini exhibit and I gave an artist talk to a group of over 200 folks! I was honored to be so well received by the Vancouver community. The room was packed with standing room only. The truth is that I get nervous at these moments, but I was able to think of my grandmother and the strong women in my life, invoke their energy, and speak about my experiences growing up as the daughter of immigrants, I spoke about how so many of my peers were dropping out of school when I was growing up, and how I saw many of them go to jail. I talked about the intersections between Food Justice and Racial Justice. I talked about how my grandmother, a black woman, was separated from her kids. I also talked about the years of organizing it took to get our cultural center off the ground in Oakland, CA - the EastSide Arts Alliance . And of course, I shared a bit of my entrepeneurial side and talked about the challenges of running a business.
The following day, I conducted a workshop to the Hospital Workers Union, right before I headed to the airport to return home.
I had an amazing time building with brothers and sisters in Canada. I'm returning this year for sure, likely around October/November. A big special thank you to Teresa Marshall & Craig, Julia Watson, Jason Mogus, Jodie Tonita, Joel Solomon, Kori Brus, Irwin Oostindie, Anna Hilliar, Honey Mae, Kate Milberry, Juli Rees, and everyone I forgot. HUGS!!!
To see more photos by Martin Backhauss of the trip, check out the following links:
Photos from event on W2 - click here