Sunday, December 30, 2007

Personal Stories Behind Products

My blog readers may remember my December 26, 2007 post, ShopDropping. I provided a link to PeopleProducts123. The site links to improved packaging pdf files. Well, I decided to move from talking and thinking into ACTION and started making black and white copies of their product labels. My plan is to take them, along with coloring instruments, to a New Year's party that I am going to tomorrow.

I was struggling with some of the labels because I find that many of the liberal people I know where I live are still rather, I am forgetting the word, basically limited in their understanding of other cultures and races (besides the dominant white culture here.) I have a hard time talking about international issues here and find that I am usually the one to bring up controversial topics like race, Native American sovereignty, and immigration. How will these labels make people in this town open their eyes when even the liberal ones are myopic????

Two labels that I have posted below hit a huge nerve with me. I lived on the Texas border. I knew children just like this boy and Yesenia.

This anonymous boy is most likely between the ages of 10 and 13. He rises before dawn and works cutting onions, work that is illegal for children below the age of 16. He and his family are also at risk of truancy charges, since he is a school age minor and is not enrolled in school in any of the Texas towns where he works with his family, helping them to fulfill quotas for harvesting vegetables like onions, which bring in a profit of a penny a pound. However, he and his peers constitute a growing part of the workforce in a state that supplies 60% of onion seed and 25% of onions consumed in the USA.

Yesenia, 12, and her brother, 13, begin work before dawn, cutting onions in Eagle Pass, Texas. They left school several years ago to work with their families, moving with the harvests, living transitionally to earn what amounts to a penny a pound for the buckets of onions they haul in at nightfall, when their work day ends. They are among the estimated 400,000 to 500,000 children, many of them citizens, like Yesenia and her brother, working in the agricultural and food industries before the legal age of 16.

My mind is whirling again. How can I make sure that the stories that I have heard like these are passed on? I am thinking about talking to a local organic store that we have that tries to buy as much locally as possible. When this isn't possible, the owner does buy from further away but does what she can to ensure that the products are not only organic but produced in just conditions. Plus, she gives a 20% discount to people on food stamps. She is trying to make a difference locally and globally.

I wonder if I could help her in any way. Perhaps I could help with researching products. I would even be willing to gather stories of the people behind products. I have managed to ensure that most in my life consume fair trade coffee because of my time in Guatemala, what else can I do???

Hmmm.... a newsletter on where products come from, a 5-minute blurb on the women's public affairs show that four of us are planning on our community radio station?

Some additional personalized labels a la PeopleProducts123 representing the people I have met during my journey and the products they have produced???

Many of those that read this blog live or have lived in other countries. What are the stories you have heard? I challenge you to make labels with these stories or, if that seems overwhelming to you, send me your stories. I will make labels out of them. I will post the pdfs of my labels, distribute them in this conservative area where I live, and send them on to PeopleProducts123.

The Story of Stuff

I found this GREAT video via Lucky White Girl.

Watch it. All you have to do is click on the button below.
I have also provided a You Tube teaser even though I recommend that you take 20 minutes and watch the whole video. Annie Leonard explains the cycle of stuff in such easy terms. It will get you thinking and will hopefully influence those New Year's resolutions...

Friday, December 28, 2007

I know that I scare people with my passion...

My father always wonders about it,
and is proud when it manisfests itself in a form he can understand.

My lovers love me for it,
but keeping up with the me behind "the idea,"
can be hard for most.

It is my passion that made the job that I have now a possibility straight out of grad school.
It's a job that those of you feminist bloggers would appreciate.
So why am I having such a hard time being motivated these days????
Why do I feel that the difference that I am making is so limited?

Somedays I want to do simple things like listen to older single women in group housing and on medication talk about their hamsters and other days I want to push. Push for decent healthcare, push for an end to war, push for equal rights for all.

Part of this time off and underworking the past few weeks has involved me thinking. How can I make the most impact? I have a job where I can make at least some difference in my community and in my free time, the world. How is it that I want to concentrate my efforts for at least this upcoming year???

I am feeling overwhelmed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I read an article in the New York Times the other day, Anarchists in the Aisles? Stores Provide a Stage, about shopdropping. Shopdropping is the opposite of shoplifting. Instead of taking things from stores, people leave things. While the New York Times article emphasizes the artistic and "anarchist" qualities of shopdropping, the following video by Kelly Loundenberg gives a less superficial motivation for the activity. One of the main points of the shopdropping that PeopleProducts123 is involved in is to remind consumers of all of those that were involved in bringing them the product and to bring the human back to the buying of products in general.

PeopleProducts123 has downloadable product labels. Or create your own!!!

The Anti-Advertising Agency is another site worth checking out. I especially liked their downloadable "You don't need it" stencil.

Kelly Loundenberg has done some other videos of creative responses to consumerism. Click on her name to see them.

Happy Creative Responses to the New Year!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stream of Conciousness Blogging

This sick time has proven to be a wonderful break for me. I love it when I am forced to stay home and be. Besides finally posting the above holiday inspired postcards, I've been busy reading, reflecting , writing, dreaming up ideas, and blog wandering.

For my birthday, my father gave me a gift certificate which I spent on a book, Annette Messager: Word for Word. I have been drawn to Annette Messager's work for years. It's tactile yet cerebral and as she herself says:

I have never started off from the basis of a color or a form, but always from a word. The word has been a trigger. I am a word thief.

Yes, I am also inspired by words; even though pure color, form, and textures are turn-ons for me as well. I also love her materials, notebooks, fabric and techniques that include sewing and embroidery-- women's "craft"/art forms. She makes so much sense to me. If she could only come up with some magic formula for a non photo-op peace treaty between Palestine and Israel, a new all inclusive government in Lebanon, and a way to rid the world of the male desire to conquer and exploit I would be even more ecstatic.
When I added my new gift to Library Thing, I discovered that an artist in the Netherlands named Elisa with the most amazing bookshelf, home, and artwork also loved Annette Messager. I encourage you to visit her blog and her flicker photos. Yum. I just love the books all piled up in their semi-orderly sections in front of that luscious red wall.

And then, through dear ada, I discovered the work of Vania Barbosa. I have been loving felting for awhile but really got mentally hooked two weeks ago when a colleague needle felted at our two-day meeting over the mountains. The neckpiece, though large, is especially attractive to me. If anyone has any felting expertise and advice I'd love to hear it because I just ordered every single felting book my local library has. Yahoo!

I also discovered the following poem by Naomi Shihab Nye on Mortar and Pestle's blog (I said that this was a stream of consciousness post). Both writers are also pushing boundaries and encouraging us to think, live, and speak.
If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will benearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.
If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.
I find that human creativity and endurance gives me hope that we human beings can get over our need for power, control, and a hand job to share and live simply and mindfully without destructive conflict. If we all just stepped back and breathed would most of the conflict we live with, create, and steadfastly uphold really matter?
I will pray with every breathe, muscle, and action for a world without war and injustice. I will do this as long as I am alive and able.
This is my holiday wish.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Funny Quote, Sickness, and Hope

In French class our textbook taught us how to order wine and what you should say to a shoe salesman. My friend’s Spanish class learned about drug trafficking and immigration. In Arabic we learned about explosions and failed democracies.
-Azzi Iman

Yes I am still sick. I told my folks that I wasn't going to be able to travel to see them next week. What a relief. Now I can just be sick and enjoy my blog wanderings without stressing out about traveling next week with a bad sore throat. The above quote was written during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon. It made me laugh because as I speak French and Spanish and am slowing working on Arabic, I can attest that it is so true.

May you experience the holiday celebrations that are right for you whether it be Eid El-Adha, Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, something else, or nothing at all. And most of all, let us believe in Peace, Love, and Hope.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Santa's Ghetto

I've been sick all week with a cold. I stayed home at the first sign of it and it is unfortunately getting worse, not better. Plus since it is a viral infection and not bacterial, I am stuck drinking this awful tea with goldenseal, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, and honey.

On the bright side, I am relatively healthy besides and can take a week off from work which I needed. I web wandered today and found Santa's Ghetto with more powerful graffiti art on "the wall" that seperates Jerusalem and Bethlehem. I had mentioned some of the work in a previous post, attributing them all to Banksy. I was mistaken. They are by a multitude of artists who appear to be from East London. After looking at the photos below, browse around the site and be inspired!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I have been thinking about hope recently. It started with a song by one of my favorite bands, Ozomatli, that I have been replaying obsessively. The song is called "Love and Hope." Here are some of the lyrics that I found on yahoo!music:

Just raise your head up and stand up
No fear in your eyes
Because Love and Hope never die!

So just raise your head up and stand
No reason to cry
'Cause your heart and soul will survive.

I am not yet quite sure why I am so drawn to this song but can say that it is in part because I feel that so many of us have little hope. That is why we do things like give money to Toys for Tots so children can at least have presents over the holidays. We know in our hearts that this happiness is materialistic and temporary. What really needs to happen is that children need parents and gaurdians who are emotionally available, are working for a living wage and can therefore afford to provide their children housing, health care, and nutritious food. This is why I give paltry donations to projects in countries that are being ravaged by trade policies and "the wars on terror." Trying to fix the real problem seems overwhelming.
An article in Counterpunch, "It's not about sex", about teen pregnancy touches on this same theme of the lack of hope. The author argues that despite the turnaround and the appearance of more and more comprehensive sexuality education programs in the United States, teen pregnancy rates will not decrease significantly until we look at the desperation that often causes young people to have unsafe sex in the first place. Teens, like many adults, lack hope that they have a future.
In a society where opportunities are scarce and life is getting harder, getting pregnant puts a positive spin on a vote of no-confidence.
What we need is hope at all levels. Parents need hope that they can provide for their children, teens need hope that they have a future, and individuals need the hope that allows them to make positive and sustainable changes in this world and earth.
I know that this is why I haven't been writing about politics for awhile on this blog. In fact, I have barely been writing. I've just been making and posting postcards. For some reason, making them gives me hope and energy that I can share with others.

So, stand up
Look fear in the eyes
and say

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I am getting a bit bored with the text on my postcards. Sometimes the text is handwritten, sometimes the letters are stickered, others stenciled. I'd like to have more variety in my handwritten quotes and messages.

I am linking to Mahima's handwritten words that she made for collaging, and Linzie Hunter's e-mail spam inspired handlettering.

I am falling asleep right now but I may experiment with lettering of my own tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Banksy is Back!!!

Banksy has graffiti art in the West Bank again this holiday season to protest the wall seperating Bethlehem from Jerusalem.

A soldier being frisked by a young girl. Ha, Ha!

The highly controversial wall, constructed by Israel under the claim that it provides security for its people, has been condemned by activists and declared illegal by the United Nations.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

My 40th

Tuesday is my 40th birthday. One of my dear kindred spirit friends hosted a party for me last night. Many other kindred spirit friends came despite the holiday busyness. Plus some of my kindred spirits' kindred spirits were there to celebrate with me. It was wonderful. Besides English, Hungarian, Kakchikel, Spanish, and French could be heard in my friend's home in this predominately anglo, used to be indigenous Native American, town that we live in.
I spent some time worrying that my friends weren't having fun. I got this trait from my father; but when I stepped back and experienced, I realized how blessed I was. Everyone in the room was so special to me and to the world. All of my friends care and aren't sitting back and watching. MY FRIENDS (can you sense the pride?)

write letters to the editor every month about Palestine,

work in the world of Fair Trade,

fight for women's reproductive and human rights,

live on the REZ,

spread QUEER SOUNDS through the airwaves,

build community gardens,

travel, dance, cry, weave,

wear traje despite,


mAkE aRt.

No matter what they do, they all are contributing in their own way to the downfall of this






system that we live in and I love every one of them for it.
It has taken me a very long time to find community where I live, but I finally think I have. Saturday was proof. I have a community, both at work and after. Plus, I have found someone who is just plain wonderful and so completely compatible. She, of course, was there too.
If I can find this sense of peace and stability, then this world can too. It will take some work, but I am willing to do my part.

Are you?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mom Mom

My father has been sending out photos of ancestors for a few months now. It has been a little hard for me to appreciate them because I don't know anything about them. This time, however, my father sent childhood photos of a relative that I actually knew and love deeply, my grandmother. She's the middle one in both. I miss her. She was strong and encouraged my love of the arts and languages. She would always buy my cousin and me the same thing for holidays but my cousin always received it in a pastel color while mine was always a




She knew and accepted early on that I am not a pastel girl. I am pure INTENSITY!!!
I think I will make a copy of the above photo and frame it. I like Mom Mom's bob in it.

Once again, I miss you Mom Mom! Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and carry you in my heart.

May the women who engendered me know and be proud. Hopefully, I am continuing at least superficially to a sustainable future for all.

May women no longer have to conform and sacrifice their dreams as they often had to do in the past.

I love you, Mom Mom. Thank you for being there for me and helping me grow.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Even B. joined in.
But sorry, B., I was having issues with the golfer and I decided that I like him much better like this.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

December is Here

December is here and so is the snow as you can see from this garden photo. As usual, I am coping. Hoping to get out and crosscountry ski and snowshoe. I need to be active.

This month's 2007 Peace Calendar image is beautiful, I have to say. It is a mandala collage by Susan Davitti Darling. I love the reds in it.

And in terms of my own holiday decorating, this is what I came up with.