Creative maladjustment: Challenging confromity with self-education

By Matti Salminen

At the age of 22, I began to take self-education seriously and I ventured far from my psychological center. This venture took the shape of seclusion—of emotional exile. It was at this time that I also began to believe I had a rat in my brain. My life was broken. And slowly the pieces of what I had left were lost in madness.

For 10 years, in addition to believing I had a rat in my brain, I also believed that if I didn’t spend the rest of my life in jail I’d be the most tortured man in history.

Beginning at age 14, I frequently broke the law but caused no real harm to anyone. I was trying to prove my worth by stepping out into the world facing the wrong direction. When I was seventeen, I was arrested and charged with burglary, possession of stolen goods, and driving under the influence.

Knowing what I do now, I see how my recklessness and mischief precipitated the emotional exile, which led to my “madness.” But madness is defined by an oppressive socio-political construct known as the mental health system. Our mental health system is part of a larger network of social institutions, which divest too many capable citizens of freedom and equality.

All societal constructs serve a paradigm, which has aligned itself with the needs of the wealthiest and most powerful.

This society has shown itself to be oppressive towards human difference in all forms. Great suffering and injustice are prevalent due to the narrow perspective of what is a healthy, happy, or productive human being. Many people in our society are poor and homeless because they don’t work. And this goes on because social injustice is big business—there is no other reason.

One population which society is especially misaligned towards is those suffering from mental illness. It might be better to say “suffering from a mental health system which was created out of social control.”

Madness is not organic, even if there are biological markers, which indicate it to be of natural origin. Suffering is not genetic. What is natural is an alternative experience and perception of the world; however, what is unnatural and prohibitive is for those alternate expressions of character to be a source of depravity.

My intention in writing this essay isn’t to denounce our system of psychiatric care or other socio-political institutions. I wish to share something that I understood deep down, even as an adolescent. That is creative maladjustment.

Creative maladjustment is resistance to societal standards. These standards breed hostility, segregation, poverty, homelessness, and overall inequality. We are taught early in school that if we work hard we will get ahead. But we are, as a society, working hard so that the wealthiest and the most powerful may exploit the most vulnerable.

Living in an unjust society means that we—as citizens—must venture off the beaten path. We all must find a way to survive in this world without serving indignity or injustice. To do so is to be creatively maladjusted.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on the subject of creative maladjustment to a crowd at Western Michigan University, on December 18, 1963. In this speech, Dr. King spoke of the sacrifice necessary to move society towards a state, which would allow dignity and freedom for all. Dr. King believed, then, that a new order was emerging—one in which the creatively maladjusted would rise up for equality.

Looking back, I believe I saw something in human potential, which incited me to venture far from the norm. School did not provide the resources I needed to probe the depths of my psyche or my soul. Pursuing a misspent youth and self-education put me on a path towards intellectual freedom.

Many of my heroes growing up were creatively maladjusted people—some were people of color, some suffered through poverty for their art, and others pursued self-education. These heroes showed me that we are not, as individuals, predestined for anything.

Years have gone by now since I began cultivating my mind without indoctrination into any formal institution. Those years have allowed me to free myself and to live an existence that promotes inner peace and human compassion.

No individual can ever truly compensate to lead a sane life while living in an insane world. And thus, creatively misaligning yourself with the world you live in is to exhort personal truth throughout your life, your work, and your spirituality. This is the only natural response to the unnatural disorder of our modern world.

Our society will only right itself when conformity is wholly invalidated.


Dirtbag Kingdom

By Johnny Sunset

There are no kings in the dirtbag kingdom. Here at the bottom of the barrel, as construction workers and cooks and dump truck drivers and parking meter change collectors, we see clearly. Our exchanges are exchanges of skills, not currency. Our promises are made and fulfilled in moments shared between free individuals. Theirs is a bloodless justice. Our justice is spontaneous will.

My neighbor helps me move my bed two houses down and up the stairs. I cook him sausage biscuits. We get whisky drunk and hop the fence to his yard. We dig holes for pylons in ground riddled with bottle glass and bullet casings to build half a shed in the empty lot owned by the city, well past midnight by headlamp light.

Down here on the lower rungs, if we sustain the health of our minds and bodies, the weight of oppression reveals the potential for freedom. By the very definition of who and where we are, we are made to imagine the possibility of a lawless world.

The construction worker shares his drugs with me. We talk conspiracy and chain smoke on the balcony. He shows me the inner machinations of an exacto knife. The intricate simplicity. The spring steel. The blade carriage. The rails of the knife train. In return I unsheathe my saxophone and we examine the tiny cylinders of yes is it really again the spring steel, and the octave key, and the way each orifice farther from the origin of vibration must be larger to shift the frequency within Pythagorean musical ratio. He tells me the gun oil for the rifle would keep the leather pads from sticking. And he gifts me a breechloader shotgun registered to someone we both despise, as a token of friendship.

We are dirtbags, which is to say we are human beings, which is to say we are terrible and beautiful. And if to be terrible is to have the strength of will to reject the system which might coddle us if we subjugated ourselves to it, we must be terrible. And if to be beautiful is to imagine the ideal beyond that subjugation, we must be beautiful.

I call up my friend in Tennessee to discuss the blueprint for a cheaply reproducible backyard stream hydroelectric generator.

They will know the dirtbags by our inventions. By our circumventions of what is believed to be possible. Problems are obstacles. Obstacles are challenges. Challenges are to be overcome. Our anthem is the rusty banjo and the voice that skips into falsetto. Our dialogue is thick with profane slang. Our hands are the hands that build and demolish. Our world is the real world, and here at the bottom we can see the foundation of the whole rickety garbage heap. We can see how a single match, careless or placed with the greatest of care, could bring the whole structure to ash.

I bring my new friend figs stolen from a tree in someone’s backyard, french bread and gouda cheese filched from a restaurant where I work to pay rent. I make her a sandwich on a small cutting board in the saloon of a sailboat. She tells me weeks later in a drunken stupor that she has celiac disease and that goddamn sandwich made her shit every hour for the better part of a week but she ate it anyway.

They will know us by our generosity. Because we dirtbags are generous with our pleasure, and generous with our pain. They will know us by our honor. Our honor will shame them.

Three of us go to the lake after a long shift and drink beer until three in the morning. One brags about hand-to-hand combat skills. I challenge him to a wrestling match, hop off the tree branch, chide him. He has me over his shoulder then down and pinned in twenty seconds but I dance around him every moment, up until the end when I can’t move or breathe. I tap out. He asks if I’m satisfied. I say one more. The third still up in the tree branch high as a kite, laughing like a maniac. As my opponent takes me down again. We rise from the ground together, and shake hands.

Dirtbags do not shrink from confrontation. We accept it and love it as an exchange of ability, as a psychological exercise, as an intimate exchange.

After the wrestling match I’m driven home to find my whole block roped off by the police. Another homicide, the fifth in a year. I am drunk and I talk shit to the police officer who won’t tell me a damn thing or let me through the line. I’ve lived here a long time, I know everyone, what the fuck happened. I can’t tell you that. What the fuck happened, who was it. I can’t tell you anything. Well fuck you I’m going home I live here.

And the next night, after another long shift, across the street from my house at the place where he was shot. Lit and wavering, winking out as the wax gathers, the candles spelling out a name I recognize. Of a seventeen year old boy. Who had no choice but to sell. Who owed someone something, maybe, that was worth, at that moment in time, to the man with the gun, more than his life.

The candles, and the poster paper ramshackle taped to the fence, and the signatures and good byes of those who loved or knew or cared or heard or thought to sketch a figment of love in pen or pencil or chalk or blood or whatever, whatever the fuck was available.

I can almost see the stars

I can almost see the stars… (TRIGGER WARNINGS: rape, war, capital, human extinction)

by Teresa Smith

Peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice. ~MLK

In autumn of 2004, I joined the astronomy club at a small university nestled in the Cascade Mountains. Eager to share our view of the stars, we built a wooden cart for the school’s telescope (a high-powered soviet-designed scrappy-looking thing we lovingly called “The Light Bucket”), and every clear Friday, we wheeled our scope out to the footpath next to the Science Building and enticed passersby to join us: “Want to look at another galaxy?”

Some nights, the football team was practicing in the field next to us, and the sky seemed lost behind the blinding haze of stadium lights. That didn’t stop us.

How can you see through all that light pollution?” confused passersby wanted to know.

See for yourself,” one of us would reply. Such a jolt of surprise overtook the person when they held their eye to the little circle of glass and saw a stunning globular cluster, the rings of Saturn, or whatever delightful glowing mass we’d been gazing at.

How am I seeing this?” they always wanted to know.

Unlike magicians, scientists always explain their tricks: “Our pupils constrict to protect themselves from the light, but telescopes don’t. These tools can see past the optical illusion of light pollution, reminding us that even under a seemingly blank sky, the light of the stars still reaches us.”

Ten years later and a thousand miles away, a rapist is at large in the East Bay radical community.

One of the collectives received an email warning from a comrade in a distant city, and now the rapist has been spotted at local infoshops and hacker spaces. Some of us are in a dilemma: “Do we ban him?”

So far, no formal decision has been made. No one wants to deal with it until we have to. Banning accused rapists is seen as a distraction from the real reasons we are here. And it can be, especially when it devolves into a “rape tribunal” lasting weeks or months in which people are driven away from boredom or by triggers.

While my friends struggle with the dilemma of whether or not to bar him from our space, I am faced with a rather different problem: I am grappling with the desire to kill him.

The sky is filled with rape, you know. The Greeks and the Renaissance astronomers painted the stars with abuse, naming so many of them after victims and their rapists.

As the lone literature student at astronomy club, I always looked forward to hearing the physics students raise their voices, clearing away these ghosts, explaining the simple, yet powerful laws that actually govern the glowing blobs of matter that populate our sky.

When I was seven, my head was torn open in a car accident, and after the experience of having my body repaired at a hospital, I was suddenly home again, with a face full of stitches. The problem was: I couldn’t feel at home anymore. I had fallen into a sort of Trauma Place. A place where time changes. The present dilates, the future is obscured. Catastrophe seems to lurk in every shadow.

Humans have deeply social nervous systems. The vagus nerve runs from the base of our brains to the seat of our gut, and it is stimulated by social interaction. When volcanoes blow, seas rise, or cars smash into us, we are confronted with the anti-social nature of our random universe, and this can freeze up the vagus nerve and other connected nerves and organs, impeding our ability to learn new things, remember the past, feel emotions, digest food, and repair tissue.

Luckily, after the car accident, a parade of my favorite people came to visit me. They gasped when they saw my stitches, and wanted to hear the tale of how I survived. This showed me that I mattered. Even though the universe is a chaotic, uncaring place, people are able to create bubbles of intention and care within that chaos. Bubbles of community. And sure, communities can’t guarantee your safety, but if you are hurt they will help pull your consciousness back from that place of chaos.  Engaged by my community, I began to regain my sense of being at home, and I could approach the future again with curiosity and joy.

My senior year in college, I was raped by someone in a theatre community that I’d joined off campus. Reeling in the post-trauma weirdness, I sought emotional support from the people closest to me.

I called my foster mom, who promptly informed me that “this is why we shouldn’t be so friendly to people.”

Hoping for a female mentor to tell me I was okay, I went to my boss and a professor. Instead, they also informed me that my “friendliness” had brought it on.

I went to my friends and classmates, who asked questions like, “What were you wearing? How much time did you spend with him beforehand?”

I was starting to get defensive now. I began revising my story, trying to tell it in such a way that I wouldn’t be blamed. I tried leaving out labels like “rape” and “sexual assault,” and just described the bare details of being touched without my consent. Still, I was questioned, blamed every time.

The terror that I felt on that first day never dissipated.

I spoke to people in the theatre community about it, and they told me it wasn’t their problem, “Go get a restraining order.” I did so, and discovered that this wouldn’t prevent the rapist from going to the theatre meetings. “Was there alcohol involved?” the judge insisted to ask at the restraining order hearing.

Everywhere I went for support, I was put on the defense for my clothing choices, my personality, my behavior. Even the people who blamed the rapist said things like, “You should have been able to sense he was going to do that.”

I was back in that Trauma Space I knew as a child. But now, catastrophe seemed to lurk inside all other human beings. Anyone could violate me—anyone could bypass the will of my mind and touch my body without my consent—and that I would be blamed for it.

I am no longer a friendly person. Fear has settled into my bones, and I’ve found that I become exhausted if I spend too much time in the presence of others. An entire community had rallied, one by one, in their own ways, to show me that rape was supposed to happen to me.

In her writings on war, Judith Butler explains that English-speakers have invented rhetorical devices like “War Zone” to make it seem okay when a bystander dies in an armed conflict. We tell ourselves, “That’s what you get for living in a War Zone.” This rhetoric lets us normalize the catastrophe that is war.

I believe we also have created a nasty rhetoric of Rape Zones, which is a social space in which (some people) believe there are circumstances that make it okay to touch someone without their consent.

After my rape, I learned where everyone in my community had laid the borders of the Rape Zone, based on the questions they asked me as they attempted to assign blame.  Some people believed being friendly to someone birth-gendered differently than you makes you zoned for rape. Others will tell you drinking alcohol or attending music festivals zones you for rape. I’ve spoken with people who believe that when a woman gets married, she is now zoned for rape by her husband.

It is the subjectivity of it all, the way the borders of a Rape Zone expand and contract depending on who you are talking to, that make it all so terrifying.

I am terrified for certain bright-eyed young women in my community—women who, when I see them, the first thought that pops into my head is “looks like she hasn’t been raped yet.” And I realize I am thinking this because, according to some people, acting friendly and loving in public makes you zoned for rape. I am terrified for these women—sometimes at political and social gatherings, I spot creepers lurking around them. That is when I make my presence known, and flash my hate-filled eyes at the lurker. And then the adrenaline release, and the urge to kill.

Perhaps the desire to escape these socially constructed Rape Zones is why we’ve seen the rise of “sexually sterile zones”—suburbs and artificial communities marketed in such a way that it seems rape could never happen there. But anyone with their eyes open in the burbs will tell you otherwise.

After spending my teen years in the East Seattle sprawl, I’ve come to think of the suburbs as “Rapetopia” because I knew so many kids in their perfect-looking middle-class suburban families who got raped or assaulted by their dads, neighbors, church deacons, grandfathers, bosses. Of the dozen or so people who spoke to me about their experiences of assault, only two of them chose to report it publicly.

It’s the wall of silence that allows Rapetopia to continue—people keep buying into the myth that they can move to a “rape-free zone,” but it is in those spaces, lacking any kind of community cohesion, in which rapists end up having the most power over individuals’ lives.

Before the rape, I used to travel alone, by Greyhound, by train. I hitchhiked in Alaska. I made friends easily, and made a point to talk to strangers, to pull people into loopy philosophical conversations. I read a book a day or more and dated people of multiple genders. I was also very protective about how and when my body was touched.

After the rape, I no longer liked being with people, but being alone was even worse. I moved in with one cis-man after another and pushed them into protective roles. I continued volunteering, but my role in community was very different. My conversations became linear and didactic; I was afraid to display my propensity to wander. I stopped traveling, and didn’t like to leave the house alone. I couldn’t concentrate: reading, watching movies, so many pleasures fell away. I didn’t care how my lovers touched me anymore. My body was the site of my betrayal, it no longer belonged to me.

The human animal is at such a beautiful, but dark point in our evolution. Only 50,000 or so years ago, our ability to use tools blossomed into a region of the brain known as Broca’s area, the seat of language. Mix that with our highly-developed prefrontal cortices (which facilitate planning), and you get a creature with the uncanny ability to hold symbolic tools inside its head, and to use those symbols to direct its actions.  This ability has allowed us to travel to the moon, but it comes with a dark underside:

After I was raped, I thought my rapist was simply insane. But as I’ve slowly come to chart the borders of Rape Zones, another possibility has lodged itself in my mind: he likely did not know he was raping me. He was likely interacting with symbols in his head, rather than checking in with me so I could communicate what I actually wanted.

This is a chilling thought for me personally. Then I thing about how so many of the worst abuses are rooted in a failure to communicate.

I was raped quite badly in my teens,” a sex worker friend recently told me over tea. “First by a stranger, then by the friend I went to for support.”

How have you kept your sanity?” I asked.

The sex work really helps,” my friend said cheerfully. “Personally, I think sex work may be the key to ending sexual violence.”

She explains that in her work, she sets her boundaries upfront: she is paid beforehand and can walk away from a client if she no longer feels comfortable. Intimacy is no longer an ambiguous space for her, but a clearly communicated transaction between an empowered businesswoman and a client.  

As she speaks, I wonder if this is the shadow of the future—a future in which the circumference of the market is everywhere, and ambiguity is not to be found. A future in which children are educated to be business-owners of their own body-commodity.  Perhaps this is the role trauma plays in what Marx calls “primitive accumulation”—the fencing off of the commons, the moment of taking things that were once free and turning them into commodities, creating a society where people must sell their labor to buy things that were once free.

This is capital’s cruel bargain: As sex flees rape, it is metamorphosized into exchange. In a world ruled by capital, where else does it have to go?

Capital is coercion,” I say to the group of young men. I’m visiting a permaculture farm in Oakland, a group of male permies in their early twenties has gathered around me. This place is known for sexual harassment, and I’ve been quick to route the conversation towards economic theory. I begin to perform a reverse magic trick my favorite Marxist once taught me.

Would you rip up this $20 bill?” I say, passing around a Jackson twenty. “Feel the weight of it. It’s not like ordinary paper. It’s been blessed as capital.”

I take the bill back and hold it up, “What is this?”

It’s people!” a young man ventures.

Right!” I say. “This is congealed human labor! With this, I can access a system that compels someone who doesn’t even know me to make my shoes or grow my food.”

We’re all getting excited now. 

Man!” a welder among them is on a roll: “how many people do you think you’re coercing to labor for you? How big is your invisible slave cloud? Ten people? A hundred? All those people out in the burbs who only use money to get things, I’ll bet if you add all the hours up, they’ve got slave clouds of thousands of people. And they don’t even know it because this money stuff stands in for the labor—for the real human connection of wanting to do stuff for each other.”

In the excitement, one of the young men offers me a bottle of homebrew, “I made this myself, I insist!”

I take the gift and I thank him, but my face contorts with fear. A gift.

A common tactic used by rapists is forcefully giving things to their targets.

In the month leading up to him raping me, the guy from my theatre group started forcing favors upon me – fixing my computer without asking, buying me food, giving me gifts I didn’t want.

InThe Gift of Fear, violent crime investigator Gavin de Becker warns women to watch out for gifts and favors—they are a tactic used by rapists to disarm their targets, to make them feel guilty, like they owe something to the rapist. This allows the rapist to swoop past their boundaries, enter their homes and assault them.

This is also the pattern in the logic of colonial invasion: “We’ll come in and give you books, Human Rights – we’ll even give you democracy, the greatest gift ever!” And watch the local people’s shock as tanks roll in, as armed soldiers are shooting their teenagers, drones dropping bombs on their dinner parties.

Is capital really congealed labor? Or is it a symbol of the tension between those who wish to give, and those who take without asking?

I still haven’t been able to forgive my rapist, though I’ve run circles inside myself trying. The emotional pain seems to be stuck in my body. It could have been released with the help of my friends, but they weren’t ready.

Not long after he raped me, my rapist became general manager of the volunteer theatre group. I later learned that several other women were raped by him during his ascent. All of us left after being raped—it is insanity to be in the presence of your abuser, especially when you both know they could do it again anytime they want and no one would care or believe you.

What has been mindboggling is the prevalence of this pattern as I have moved on to organizations and projects. So, so many community spaces are held by a league of abusers and their apologists. As I move through the communities in the Bay, I inevitably meet the victims who were pushed out of those communities.  They are many. I am losing my trust for cis-men in power. Every time I meet a charismatic, forceful man in charge of something, I immediately wonder how many women aren’t in the room because of him.

Why do I want to kill rapists? That much should be obvious by now.

Why do I bother to hope? That is the bigger question.

Anarchy is self-control.  Before I came to think of myself as anarchist, I saw these words carved into the cement near my home in NW Portland.

Anarchy is self-control. These words were a glimmer of hope that stayed with me, and after a partner’s job led me to move with him to the Bay Area, I found myself seeking out Anarchists, joining the Slingshot collective, moving into cooperative housing.

Gradually, I’ve come to realize that Anarchy is not just self-control.

Three years ago, I spent some time at Hellarity House. It was my first experience of a radical open-door squat governed by anarchist consensus process. At my first house meeting, I saw an amazing thing: a traveler was asked to leave—without malice or punishment—because he had touched someone without their consent. Over the next few weeks, this happened several more times. There were never tribunals questioning either party, or moments of forcing the target to “provide evidence” (consent violation, by definition, can only be expressed as the word of one person against another anyway). Watching this process, I saw the women in the house becoming stronger, more outspoken. I felt stronger. Even though the space was filled with rowdiness, arguments, and all sorts of spontaneity and danger, I felt drawn there because I knew that if I asked someone to back off, they’d respect me, and if they didn’t, they’d have to leave. A few years later, I found myself at the Sudo Room hackerspace, and similarly witnessed a consent violator being asked to leave. There was no malice—this wasn’t an punishment thing—it was simply a way to respect the target for speaking up. It meant the community could be a space for victims to heal, rather than harboring their abusers. And in these spaces, it wasn’t just one person or group upholding the safe space—cis males were equally vocal and committed as everyone else to creating consent-based community, and often did the hard work of asking people to leave.

This new wave of anarchists understands that addressing abuse is not some afterthought, but is the core of creating post-capitalist communities. But like any policy, consent-based safe space could easily be overused. As one space-keeper explains, “Safe space shouldn’t be treated as a decision-making process, but as a problem-solving tool.” Safe Space practices are not a cave to climb into, but something to help us see through the haze in those moments when abuse does arise. Some people are afraid of safe space practices, afraid they will be misused by liars. They are justified in that fear, because that risk is always there. But if we fail to create equitable and thriving self-supporting communities, we stand facing a far bigger problem.

The myth-weavers of capital dazzle us with a pseudo-mathematical fantasy world of random chance, a world of competition that is supposed to be “natural,” even though it defies our deeply cooperative evolutionary disposition. We are forced into this system because our food, clothing, shelter, and care is held hostage by it. But many of us choose to enter this system because we are afraid of individuals, and we don’t trust our communities to protect us from abuse. Capital offers easy shelter by sterilizing the whole messy chaos of social reality, and distilling it into a single question: “How to I assist the creation of profit?”

So, collectively, we scrape the tops off of our mountains. We create famines throughout the Global South. We tear out the public rail systems and replace them with roads. We inflict armed occupations within our borders and around the world. We raze forests, and pump poison into our air, into our water, into our minds with advertisements. We inflict unfair trade laws upon entire nations, leading droves of people to cross our borders to take back the value that’s been stolen from them.

Abuse is one of the strongest motivating forces that compels us to invite capital into our lives. Capital feeds upon the forces of fear and produces an artificial randomness.  It holds us in a place of stasis, walking dead, traumatized, trapped in the fantasy of “profit is the only thing that matters.” As we organize ourselves to compete for profit, it is the bullies, rapists, and murderers who rise to the top, directing us as we destroy each other and ourselves–with the destruction of our planet’s life support system as “collateral damage.”

Imagine for a moment that the apocalypse isn’t something in the future, but something that is happening right now.  It is something that has been happening since humans gained the power to justify raping and murdering each other. Look into our past, and you’ll see there never has been a golden age.  

Archaeological sites new and ancient show mass graves—horrors beyond our wildest nightmares—we are just becoming aware of this apocalypse.

From this nightmare we are only just now waking up.


I want to write the word in the sky every day for each person I’ve known who was hurt or raped.


Can the defense of single word, a single concept help bring back light back into the eyes of the traumatized, help us reactivate our parasympathetic nervous systems?


Sing life back into our species with a single word.


Wake up! Here is a splash of cold water in the face:


Pray for consent.

Ask for consent.

Destroy the ideas of a Rape Zone, a War Zone—no one deserves to be touched without their consent. We need to dismantle the last of the cultural myths that are holding the apocalypse in place.

Consent, consent, consent.

Demand consent.

Defend consent.

Uphold consent in your spaces. And as the haze of abuse diminishes, watch as communities emerge from beneath capital, like the stars coming out after the lights are finally shut off.

Siege the Second

By Kyle Merrit Ludowitz *The Syrian Border -*

Bassam Abadi survived the military siege and bombing campaigns of his home city of Aleppo, Syria for three years. Yet after finally escaping and illegally smuggling himself to safety in neighboring Turkey, Bassam began experiencing the severe hardships of living as a refugee in a foreign country without housing, employment, or a familiar language—a desperate situation known by many Syrian refugees as ‘the Second Siege’. Now, after a full year of scraping by in Turkey, the difficulties of being a refugee are driving Bassam to return home, where he will opt to live in the midst of the civil war rather than continue to struggle to make a new life for himself in an unfamiliar land.

Unlike the military siege occurring within Syria, the Second Siege is not an assault of artillery and airstrikes, but of culture and economics. The past four years of civil war have devastated the value of Syria’s currency, at a time when the Turkish economy has seen a steady rise in its national industries. This rapidly expanding gap in currency values adds an almost insurmountable level of difficulty for Syrian refugees trying to adapt to a new life outside their own country. A Syrian family’s weekly budget for food and public transportation before the civil war can easily be spent in a day or two when living in Turkey, due to the widening exchange rate between the two nations. This weakened purchasing power forces families to choose between rent or food, between medicines or clothing, or between school supplies for the children or bus fare for a father to look for employment or to travel to work.

Syrian refugees living in Turkey also face the barriers of navigating a country with a wholly unfamiliar language and culture. Once outside the Arabic-speaking border communities, Syrian refugees generally find themselves unable to communicate with local Turks. This language barrier can make critical tasks such as finding employment, asking for directions, or seeking medical assistance acutely difficult, encouraging Syrian refugees to clump together with other Arabic speakers in overcrowded, economically depressed neighborhoods. These desperate living conditions and lack of assimilation in turn exacerbate existing Turkish animosity toward Arabs, dating back to historical resentments over Arab complicity in the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This anti-Arab hostility has only intensified as the Syrian civil war grinds on and more and more Arab refugees are permanently settling in Turkey.

“[The Syrian refugees] come to Turkey illegally and take our jobs for a lower wage,” Garip Batur, a Turkish bus driver from the city of Gaziantep expresses as we sit in the lounge of a transit depot. “Unemployment is already a large problem here in Turkey, and Syrian people are taking jobs away from Turkish citizens. Arabs don’t bother to learn Turkish, and they open shops with only Arabic writing. Housing prices and rents have doubled or tripled in the area because there are so many Syrian people arriving, and even then, families sleep on the ground in our parks because there are too many of them. Turkish culture is being replaced by a more conservative Arabic culture. How can young Turkish people manage to make a life with these problems? Arabs are changing everything here and I don’t feel safe in my own city anymore.”

Under such devastating economic challenges and with so much animosity from the Turkish populace, many Syrians surpass their own personal limits and can no longer bear to live as displaced refugees in an unfamiliar and unwelcoming society. The return to Syria—the return to life in a war zone—is one of the only remaining options open to them. Riding with Bassam in a bus full of refugees returning to Syria, the mingled emotions of desperation, frustration and uncertainty hang heavy in the hot summer air. A somber silence falls over everyone as passengers anxiously text on their phones to friends and family in Syria awaiting their return. The dejected expressions of those peering out the bus windows grow more distraught as the barbed wire fences defining the border come into view.

“What am I going to do now?” Bassam exclaims, unable to suppress his desperation any longer. “How can I go back to Syria and try to live in war? But I have no other option. I can’t afford to be a refugee. Everything is so expensive here [in Turkey] and all my savings were used in the first month. I can’t afford to live as a refugee in this country anymore. I have to go back now and live with the bombs.” Another long silence takes hold as the border fence grows closer. Staring out of the window, he shakes his head in defeat, muttering almost under his breath. “This isn’t fair. This isn’t right. What am I going to do?” Finally the bus comes to a halt, and the doors draw open. Disembarking, Bassam and his fellow refugees begin walking through the barred, metal gates that will usher them across the border and back to their home country—back to a life amidst what may well be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

It is unclear what will happen to Bassam and the others like him who have given up on building a new life and are returning home to Syria. Some will likely be killed by the bombings, while others may starve to death. Those who make it through the war will be witnesses to the horrors of combat, the destruction of their country, and the mass slaughter of their neighbors and countrymen. There was a moment of hope for these civilians—a chance to start a new, safer life in Turkey—but that moment is gone for them now. For countless Syrians who once fled to Turkey hoping for a better future, the burdens of the Second Siege have simply proven too great to bear.

— Humanitarian Photojournalist & War Photographer


The Public Square


By Jen

While traveling in Latin America I discovered an incredible tool for community building. A place where people of all ages come to hang out, share ideas, play chess and soccer, drink beer, boom music, tell jokes, run and flirt and dance and sing and sit quietly and let time pass. Where no one has to buy anything, there’s no bouncer, no opening time or closing time, and no dress code. Where nothing is provided for other than space. And in this space, life happens.

To me, this was a phenomenon. Growing up in a country where loitering, in many places, is illegal, I struggled as a teenager to find places where I was allowed to hang out with friends and not spend money that I didn’t have. There was the beach, but even this brought its own sense of bikini-clad body attention and physical prowess competitions of volleyball and body surfing. The park closed at dark and, at some point, started charging a fee to enter. Because of this, I spent the majority of my time in private spaces, with people who were like me; people of a similar class, race, and age. As such, rather than my views of the world expanding, the company that I kept continued to reinforce my viewpoints. It is easy to be dismissive and say “well, that’s just how things are.” A truly liberation education, however, seeks to be inclusive. Rather than narrowing lenses through which to see the world, and narrowing experiences through which to understand it, a liberating education (and by education I am referring to the education we all receive daily through our millions of interactions with the world

around us) is one which expands our experiences and offers new possibilities with which to understand the world. It’s not something that comes easy, but one which must be sought after, created, and actualized. One in which we seek people that are different from us, where we step out of our habits and patterns, consider other ways of being and doing, and expand our definition of “we.”

To be effective in this world, to be vibrant and alive, is to allow the world in and to interact with it. This, however, requires interactions that challenge us, that offer new ideas, that help us to see our common humanity, that offer different views of our own convictions and interpretations. If we look throughout history, we will see that every innovation, every movement or action that is oriented towards justice and towards true community, involved bringing people together, across lines of disconnect and difference. I do not mean to imply that we should never take individual stands, but rather that in the positions to which we hold true, we must consistently be willing to adjust and revise our ideas and ideals based on a constant stream of incoming information. Otherwise we become fossils, relics of previous thoughts, prepared to be memorialized in museums of history.

The realm of public space in this country is diminishing rapidly and with it is a potential collaboration hub for brewing ideas on how to be Subjects upon the world, rather than Objects that the world works upon. This slow encroachment of control over public spaces seems almost inconsequential; we all have places to be, whether it is in playgrounds or theaters, grocery stores or our own backyards. But where are the places where we can just be, without paying a fee, engaging in a preplanned activity, or getting kicked out at closing time? I was exhilarated when I first discovered the allure of the public square but it wasn’t until the Occupy movement began that I discovered its power.

If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed” –Paulo Freire

Whatever you’ve heard in the news or media about Occupy Wall Street might be true. It attracted the fringes of society. There was violence and apathy. There was disorganization. People were dirty and unkempt. There were drugs and disagreements, infighting and a lack of clear direction.

There was also, however, mainstream moms, teachers, lawyers, theater directors, students, tourists, shopkeepers, tech geeks, artists, and custodians. They were interacting, having conversations, learning about one another, and breaking bread. There was healing and medicine, therapeutics circles, meditation sits, yoga classes, chess games, lively debates, theater games, art stations, and public radio broadcasts. There were people trying out new (and old) systems of organizations, and as the crowds grew, those systems were fine-tuned until, I witnessed, crowds of over a thousand were making unanimous decisions with talking space available for everyone. Unanimous decisions. With space for everyone, if they chose to speak, to be heard. And for those that preferred not to speak in front of a crowd, there were small committee meetings and spokes-councils where spokespersons were chosen to represent those present at the small group meetings to the larger group. Networks were organized and maps were written, where people could find indoor places to sleep and bathe. And as much as there were drugs and disagreements, infighting and a lack of clear direction, there was an overwhelming majority of sober, lively and inspired interactions, people who might never have met coming to find common ground on their disparate interests and endeavors. Most strikingly, the more people talked and interacted, ate together and prayed together, argued and listened to each other, made music and art, sang songs, and just spent time together, they closer they came to developing common understandings, clear goals, and effective action strategies.

In this day and age where we are all looking for the next quick fix, when we want our desires satiated and our national issues simplified into quick and witty internet memes, it’s no wonder that the act of being, without intentionally doing, might seem wasteful and useless. But it is precisely this act that is truly revolutionary.

The strategy of divide and conquer is an age-old effective tool that continues to work upon us today across every sector of our lives. From the separation of ages in public schools to the history of racialized housing in this country, from demonizing people based on their religious or political affiliations to gender discrimination and objectification, the media attempts to bombards us with divide and conquer rhetoric until we are either left defending oppressive actions, or feeling too disconnected from our fellow human beings to act. It is in this vein that rape victims are questioned about their instigation of the crimes rendered against them and black youths are suspects because of the clothes that they wear. It is this tool that was used to attempt to disassemble and destroy the workers rights movement, the civil rights movement, and every social movement in modern history.

Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is a commitment to others.” –Paolo Freire

The Public Square is a weapon and a tool to fight the divide-and-conquer strategy and create sustainable, equitable community. It’s simple. The more we know each other, the less we fear each other. The less we fear each other, the more we interact with each other. The more we interact, the more we understand each other. The more we understand each other, listen to each other, make music together, and watch our children play together, the more we begin to care for each other. And in caring for each other, we see that each of our struggles and triumphs are connected. So that when the kid down the street gets harassed, that’s our kid, and when an elderly couple loses their electricity, we see them as our parents, our grandparents. Truly revolutionary action must be built on this foundation, a foundation where we see that we are all in this together. Because we are all in this together.

This, my dear fellow loving, striving, struggling, understanding friends is the key. In order to care for each other we must get to know each other. There must be a space for this. Where all people are welcome, regardless of their income or social status. Where all people feel welcome, regardless of their age, race, ability, or gender. A truly public square.

Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.” -Paolo Freire

This is my question and my inspiration. How do we create these spaces, in our day-to-day lives as well as on a larger scale? How can we reach beyond our habits and routines to include more of the world into our lives, our minds, and our hearts?

Money Sucks, Poverty's Worse: Join the fight for a $15 an hour Minimum Wage

By Helena Bla-Latchkey

Minimum wage struggle is something that most people can agree on. It is a populist class struggle. Not only do many workers have minimum wage jobs — most of us know somebody who does. We know that they don’t get paid less because they are somehow lesser. The inequity and tragedy of poverty is structural. Raising the minimum wage is something straightforward to ask for, and feasible to accomplish.

Many organizations and unions throughout the US are working with minimum wage workers to make a $15 an hour minimum wage a reality. Fast Food Forward has organized strikes throughout the country, demanding $15 per hour for fast food workers. Fight For 15 has helped organize throughout Chicago. Protest groups across the country gathered at Wal-Marts with the same straightforward slogan. 15 Now has been highly active in Seattle. All of these organizations are backed by unions, and focus on the unionization of workers, as well as the minimum wage struggle.

Predictably, fast food giants have responded to strikes by saying these are impossible demands that would only result in mass layoffs, despite the fact that these companies are highly profitable. The Employment Policies Institute, a restaurant industry lobbying front, stated that if minimum wages were to increase so much, they would simply recommend employees be replaced with Apple technology. McD’s has already installed thousands of iServers in Europe. If this system were implemented in the US, it’s estimated that McD’s could layoff at least 14,000 people immediately. Although this is a small fraction of McD’s workers, it is a disturbing direction to take and I shudder to imagine how it might progress. McD’s has often been the trend-setter of its industry, and it seems likely that if iServers are shown to be a viable alternative to hiring employees then Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and the rest may also jump on the iWagon.

The city of Seatac, a small suburb south of Seattle centered around the SeaTac International Airport with 27,000 residents, recently won a union-backed campaign known as Proposition 1, for a $15 an hour minimum wage. In November 2013, it passed by a margin of just 77 votes, directly benefiting about 1,600 workers. The measure also forces companies to give workers paid sick days, retain workers for at least 90 days after any change in ownership and promote part-time workers to full-time before hiring new workers. Washington already had the highest state minimum wage in the country, at $9.32 per hour; however, until this measure passed, one in six Seatac residents lived below the poverty line.

Local unions were integral in organizing Proposition 1, which only affects businesses which employ 30 or more non-managerial employees. An interesting exemption is that companies which hire union workers can continue to pay the previous minimum of $9.32. This gives big business a tough choice — hire union or give everybody a raise. SeaTac International found its own exemption which was settled in court. The airport is technically a division of the Port of Seattle. Judge Andrea Darvas ruled that its employees are therefore not considered Seatac workers, despite working in Seatac.

Hopefully, this may not be the case for long. Seattle has a strong campaign of its own to increase minimum wage to $15 per hour, which is not only backed by city council person Kshama Sawant, the first Socialist elected in Seattle for nearly 100 years — but also the mayor, Ed Murray. The excitement surrounding these campaigns however surely has little to do with the elected officials that endorse them. It is my impression that the momentum has largely been driven by profound need that is obvious and important to many. I talked to organizer Jess Spear who explained that 15 Now was formed initially by facilitating neighborhood groups. This allowed diverse people from unions, community groups and leftist organizations, as well as individuals, to come together and campaign. Jess pointed out that such a victory in a major metropolitan center would inspire demoralized working class people everywhere and that this could be the beginning of something much larger. She urged anybody able to come to Seattle on April 26th to attend the conference they are holding.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. For salaried workers, the minimum salary is $455 per week. Five southern states have no minimum wage laws and thus pay the federal amount. Several states including Arkansas, Minnesota and Wyoming have subminimum wage laws— stipulations allowing for exemptions to the federal minimum. Persons with disabilities, young people or employees of small local businesses may be paid as low as $4.25 an hour. Tipped employees can make as little as $2.13 an hour. Prisoner-workers are not eligible for minimum wage, and make as little as $0.23 an hour.

66% of minimum wage workers in the US are employed by large corporations. In a sample of some of the largest employers in the country (including Wal-Mart, Target, IBM, HP and General Electric), 92% were profitable this year and considered recovered from economic recession. Most minimum wage jobs are in service, food, leisure and hospitality — some of the fastest growing industries in our increasingly urban culture. In growing and profitable industries, the workers are seeing little of the fruits of their labor.

Historically, the federal government has generally stayed away from minimum wage. The US has had a minimum wage since 1938; however, it has only increased 22 times since then. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, the minimum wage held the most purchasing power in 1968, equivalent to approximately $10.55 currently. After that, it slowly declined during the 70s, then sharply during the 80s, before more or less plateauing to its present buying power.

Living wage is a difficult thing to calculate, since it relies on making assumptions based on needs and lifestyle, as well as highly variable factors such as location. That said, if we take into account not only inflation, but also increases in work output and average consumption, a wage equivalent to 1968 today would be in the range of $22 – $25 per hour. This does not take into increases in rent, no doubt the largest expense for most working class people.

States and cities are largely responsible for determining wages, and they vary wildly throughout the country. In California, minimum wage is currently $8.00 — set to increase to $9.00 on July 1 and $10.00 in 2016. This pittance is one of the higher state minimum wages in the US. If a person making the California minimum was paying 30% of the their income towards rent for a two bedroom apartment at fair market rate, they would have to work 130 hours a week. There are 168 hours in a week. Even if this labor were split between two people, this would necessitate both working eleven hour days, six days a week.

In 2012, minimum wage workers comprised 59% of our labor force. Most recipients of minimum wage are women. Over 66% of people receiving the sub-minimum wage of $2.13 per hour are women. However, two-thirds of mothers work to support their families, and about a third of mothers are sole breadwinners. The majority of these women are over the age of 20, and 40% are over 30, contrary to the common argument that minimum wage workers are all kids fresh out of high school. Proportional to women working, far more black and hispanic women receive minimum wage than other women. Poverty in general effects black and hispanic people dramatically more than other people.

Determining social class in the US is a controversial endeavor amongst sociologists. Statistics vary greatly between models, but the poor comprise around 12 – 40% of the US population, and the working class comprises 30-45%. All models seem to agree that the majority of people are below the middle class line. 22% of children live below the poverty line — $23,550 for a family of four. 45% of children live in low-income families. How many of these children will turn to military enlistment as their ticket out of poverty? How many will become slaves within the prison-industrial complex?

Certainly, fighting for an increase in minimum wages is important, but will never be enough to insure human dignity and end poverty. However, it is a step towards a dramatically better life for many people who, as it is, are understandably weary and in dire need of change. We need to help empower one another to take human rights into our own hands, by sharing information and aiding one another’s struggles, whether or not we are perfectly aligned on every ideological point. We need to take the shame and alienation out of poverty, viewing ourselves and one another not as victims in isolation — but participants in a struggle for a life we share together.

About Slingshot

Slingshot is an independent radical newspaper published in Berkeley since 1988.

The first meeting for this issue a lot of new people showed up to check us out. It was an impressive turnout – in fact it was the first time in about 20 years where there were more new people than experienced Slingshot people. A two to one ration. There was some old fashioned outreach before the meeting using fliers and social media informing people that this project is a “Do-ocracy”. This idea (borrowed from our neighbors at the Sudo Room) seeks to inspire participation in a community resource by encouraging people to show up when decisions are made. Unfortunately the numbers did not persist and a bare bones work crew continued to carry the project to completion. On one hand this is a bummer for we simply need more people to engage with the work load. On the other hand any effort that people contributes greatly help s to create this reality. All projects thrive by the people putting life into.

Most of our paper publishes struggles that isn’t actually primary to the survival of one newspaper. Which is why we often utilize the space on this page to catalog the heartache and growing pains experienced to get us here. This issue we returned to doing the “All Nite Meeting” the same weekend as layout. A few blurry eyed collective members were left after picking articles for 6 hours. Then before going away from work for a few hours we had to look at the question of what font to present this issue in. Ya see last issue we made a move and bought a new computer thinking that by upgrading technology it would alleviate unnecessary anguish. Turns out this new computer didn’t have our standard Ariel Narrow font. We were pretty split on this minor issue with newer collective members really wanting to change to Garamond. It was conceded to them. It is such a small fringe who obsesses about how a letter strikes the eye – about the same kind of lunatic fringe that cares about politics….. well that is until disaster befalls the normies…

We would love for you to get back to us — send an email telling which way to present our words…oh wait come Saturday morning and we attempt to work on articles our new computer can’t access the internet. We spend money on a new computer or router to make the work load less daunting and it turns out we have to stare failure and confusion in the face – um I mean a glowing screen. Slingshot is pigeon holed as being anti technology its more subtle than that. Most new technologies are best as supplements to time tested ways of getting the word out and creating change. And time is the real element. The time invested to crate change is slow and often without rewards. In this case take your time reading these issues.

Slingshot is always looking for new writers, artists, editors, photographers, translators, distributors, etc. to make this paper. If you send something written, please be open to editing.

Editorial decisions are made by the Slingshot Collective but not all the articles reflect the opinions of all collectives members. We welcome debate and constructive criticism.

Thanks to the people who made this: Aaron, Andrew, Darin, Eggplant, Finn, Glenn, Hayley, Heather, Kelly, Lydia, Jesse, Josh, Joey, J-tron, Soren, Stephski, Xander, Zoe and all the authors and artists.

Slingshot New Volunteer Meeting

Volunteers interested in getting involved with Slingshot can come to the new volunteer meeting on August 17, 2014 at 4 pm at the Long Haul in Berkeley (see below.)

Article Deadline & Next Issue Date

Submit your articles for issue 117 on September 13 2014 at 3 p.m.

Volume 1, Number 116, Circulation 20,000

Printed April 11, 2014

Slingshot Newspaper

A publication of Long Haul

Office: 3124 Shattuck Avenue

Mailing: PO Box 3051, Berkeley, CA 94703

Phone (510) 540-0751 • • fucking twitter @slingshotnews

Circulation Information

Subscriptions to Slingshot are free to prisoners, low income and anyone in the USA with a Slingshot Organizer, or $1 per issue or back issue. International $3 per issue. Outside the Bay Area we’ll mail you a free stack of copies if you give them out for free. Each envelope is one lb. (8 copies) — let us know how many envelopes you want. In the Bay Area, pick up copies at Long Haul or Bound Together Books in SF.

Slingshot Free stuff

We’ll send you a random assortment of back issues of Slingshot for the cost of postage: Send $3 for 2 lbs. Free if you’re an infoshop or library. Also, our full-color coffee table book about People’s Park is free or by sliding scale donation: send $1 – $25 for a copy. We also have surplus copies of the 2014 Organizer available free in bulk for distro to people who wouldn’t otherwise purchase one such as prisoners, youth and the oppressed. Email or call us: / Box 3051 Berkeley, 94703.


the 2015 Organizer wants YOU

Slingshot collective will make the 2015 organizer this summer. Drop by or contact us to help. We are a tiny collective so we’re relying on the Slingshot miracle to make the organizer. That’s when a variety of folks we’ve never met before show up during the two weekends we make the organizer to sit in the Slingshot loft making art, listening to music, eating food and making decisions at meetings. The Organizer layout party creates a temporary community sort of like an occupation except with pens and glue rather than tents and bongo drums. Sound like fun? Join us.

In May and June, we’ll edit, correct and improve the list of historical dates. Send us ideas for stuff to add that happened since last year. The deadline for finishing is June 27. If you want to design a section of the calendar, let us know or send us random art by June 28. The deadline to finish calendar pages or give us suggestions for 2015 is July 25. We need all new radical contact listings and cover art submissions by July 25. If you have ideas for the short features we publish in the back, let us know by July 25. We try to print different features every year. If you’re in the Bay Area July 26/27 or August 2/3, we’ll put it all together by hand those weekends so plan your visit. . .

Summer Tour: Let's Visit Some Radical Spaces

Compiled by Jesse D. Palmer

Here are some new radical spaces you can visit that are not listed in the 2014 Organizer, plus some updates. These spaces are opened and kept going by folks everywhere to provide physical expressions of the world we seek — organized around cooperation, pleasure and freedom rather than greed, standardization and control. We’re going to update the entire radical contact list this summer when we publish the 2015 Organizer, so let us know if there is a space near you that isn’t on our radar. By the way, the on-line version of the radical contact list has been broken due to a computer problem and therefore has not been updated since last summer but we are hoping to fix it: Happy travels this summer!

The Grease Diner – Oakland, CA

An art gallery and zine shop that has an open DIY silk screening studio. 6604 San Pablo Ave. Oakland, CA 94608. 510 379-0190

Guide to Kulchur – Cleveland, OH

A book and zine shop that hosts events, meetings and Cleveland Books to Prisoners. 1386 W. 65th St, Cleveland, OH 44102

Sovversiva Open Space – Montpelier, VT

A community space with a zine library, books, free coffee/tea, a computer, and art supplies that hosts events. They share space with a collective bike shop called Freeride. Open Mondays and other times. 89 Barre St. Montpelier, VT 05602

Shameless Grounds – St. Louis, MO

A sex positive coffee shop with a sex-oriented library shop that hosts radical sex-oriented events. 1901 Withnell Ave Saint Louis, MO 63118 314-449-1240.

EarthDance farms – Ferguson, MO

An organic farm/school that encourages art, music, resource sharing, and community building around food production and sustainability. They have an artist in residence program, library, classes and volunteer opportunities. 233 S. Dade Ave. Ferguson, MO 63135 314-521-1006

IntegreTea – Vallejo, CA

A tea shop that hosts a zine library and art space. 717 Marin Street, Vallejo, CA 94590

Time’s Up! – New York, NY

A bicycle direct action/advocacy non-profit that has a space where you can fix your own bike. 99 South 6th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211 212-802-8222.

A Place for Sustainable Living – Oakland, CA

A green center that promotes sustainable living, social justice and art with a garden, bike shop, art barn and exhibits about graywater, compost and renewable energy. They host workshops and peformances. 1121 64th Street Oakland, CA 94608

Peace Resource Center – Seaside, CA
They have a lending library, computers and host movies and events.  1364 Fremont, Seaside, CA 93955 831-899-7322

Ollin Calli– Tijuana, Mexico

A worker-advocacy group that leads tours of maquiladoras and has workshops. Pasaje Gómez Local 2025 Tijuana B.C. 22000 664-1902586

Horn of Plenty Community Centre – Reservoir, Australia

They have a library, bike workshop, community garden and host events, music and art. Open Friday & Saturday. 659 Plenty Road Reservoir, VIC 3073 Australia

Bombs and Candies Infolibrary – Philippines

An infoshop with a library. Blk 24 Lot 51 Phase 1 Ciudad Adelina Brgy. Conchu, Trece Martirez City Cavite, Philippines 4109, phone: +639 096028849

Changes to the 2014 Slingshot Organizer

The Clear Creek Coop has moved to 3722 Pinehurst Dr. Richmond IN 47374.

The physical address for the Earth First! Journal (1307 Central Terrace) is no longer valid. Their mailing address (PO Box 964 Lake Worth, FL 33460) is still valid. The phone is now 561-320-3840, not the one published in the organizer.

The Roosevelt 2.0 in Tampa, FL is no longer at that address. They are trying to open a new location in Myakka City, FL.

Iron Rail in New Orleans has closed.

Centro Social CCC in San Juan Puerto Rico has closed

Mondragon books in Winnipeg, Manitoba has closed.

The Bloom Collective in Grand Rapids, MI is no longer around.

The Holdout in Oakland is now called Qilombo and the website is now

The Bike City Recylcery in Fayetteville, AR may no longer be there. We got mail returned from them and other contact info doesn’t work.

From Earth Day to May Day: Towards an Ecological General Strike

Direct actions are planned in the Bay Area between Earth Day on April 22 and May 1st to raise awareness about the intersections of labor, immigration, and environmental issues. Actions may include sit-ins, tree sits, guerrilla gardening, pickets, marches, blockades and strikes. The goal is to challenge the jobs vs. environment myth, to unite workers and environmentalists against the bosses, and rapidly transition unsustainable industries through direct action. The actions will build foundations for directly democratic workers assemblies and environmental unionist caucuses within existing unions that can organize actions to halt the destruction of the planet.

	Workers, the community, and the planet are exploited by the state and capitalist forces that rule over our lives. With capitalism escalating its "extreme energy" rampage of offshore oil drilling, tar sands mining, mountaintop removal, and fracking, a mass movement to oppose these forms of energy is growing and radicalizing. Recently, there has been an increased number of oil spills, pipeline ruptures, oil train derailments, refinery fires, and chemical spills. These disasters have not only harmed the environment but they have also injured and/or killed the very workers whom the capitalists depend on to extract these resources.

The same capitalist economic system destroying the Earth is destroying the lives of the workers with eroding health and safety standards, downsizing and outsourcing the workforce, establishing a “blame the worker” safety culture, and creating dangerous labor conditions all around. These conditions that endanger the workers are also directly harming the communities around them with cancers and asthma from air pollution. Yet boss propaganda seeks to convince us that environmentalists are a threats to jobs. It’s time for workers and environmentalists to take direct action for health and safety and a halt to the destruction of our world.

A globalized ecological insurrection is inevitable and in fact has already begun — from First Nations people leading a militant opposition to new oil pipelines to workers and environmentalists in Japan standing up against nuclear power and pollution. It’s time for an ecological general strike where workers and environmentalists take over and blockade unsustainable industries and dismantle what can’t be rapidly transitioned. Join the action April 22 – May 1:

Hungry for Justice: Prisoner Hunger Strike at the Tacoma Immigrant Detention Center


By Alec

1,200 inmates at the Northwest Detention Center outside of Tacoma, WA went on hunger strike March 7, 2014. The Northwest Detention Center is a corporate-owned prison for people facing deportation. The strikers demanded better food, wages higher than one dollar a day, better treatment and medical care, an end to exorbitant prices in the commissary and fundamental fairness and justice. The strikers are also protesting the 2 million people deported so far under the Obama administration with 1300 people being deported every day. Despite his outreach to the Latino community and promises to the contrary, Obama has deported more immigrants than any president in US history.

The inmates at the Northwest Detention center are fed boiled potatoes and beans for every meal, every day. The prison staff treat them as less than human with constant harassment, and intimidation. Detainees are referred to by numbers, not their names. Prisoners have limited or no access to medical care. One incarcerated man who suffered from a severe nosebleed was made to wait twenty-four hours to see a doctor and almost died choking on his own blood.

Rather than respond to the strikers’ demands, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the GEO group have retaliated against the hunger strike. The day after the strike began, the guards’ uniforms changed to riot gear and they began recording the names and numbers of prisoners who were striking. The guards told the strikers that nobody outside cared that they were striking and that they would be denied asylum and deported because of their actions. The guards have also been arbitrarily transferring prisoners to other sections of the prison. The confusion that results from this displacement is a form of psychological torture. Strikers are being isolated from their families and comrades and threatened with force-feeding.

The hunger strike is believed to have been inspired by a February 24 demonstration outside the prison in which protesters blocked vans from leaving the facility. The prisoners inside the vans told other prisoners that people on the outside were putting their bodies on the line to help them. The prisoners wanted to respond to this solidarity action with their own act of resistance. There have been hunger strikes before at this facility that failed because of lack of support from the outside. This time, activists inside and outside the prison have coordinated their efforts, brewing a perfect storm for the GEO group and ICE. The Northwest Detention Center hunger strike is only the latest protest action against deportation in a string of actions that have been taking place for years, growing in number and volume as well as boldness. People are paying attention.

The United States is in the midst of the largest prison build-up in history. There are more black and Latino people in prison now than there were slaves in the South before the Civil War. America has the most prisons of any nation in the world. Many of these prisons are for-profit, meaning they are run by corporations that receive taxpayer money for every person that they lock up. Around 1.6 million people are in state and federal prisons (as of the U.S. census in 2010), and every able-bodied one of them is required to work. Prison laborers are paid between 23 cents and $1.15 an hour for manufacturing clothing, solar panels, weapons, etc. Although it is illegal for Federal Prison Industries (also called “Unicor”) to sell prisoner-made goods to consumers, the government purchases these goods, replacing private sector companies. The result is the elimination of manufacturing jobs, decreased wages, and subsequent damage to the economy. NASA has contracted prisoners at San Quentin to make satellite parts for pennies an hour – a job once reserved for unionized engineers. Soon, the products of prison labor will be floating between us and the stars.

In 2007, a piece of legislation called the “bed mandate” was put into place, requiring ICE to fill 34,000 detention center beds in the US with immigrant prisoners at all times in order to receive federal funds. There is no way to negotiate around this number — 34,000 prison beds are filled by immigrants and the DHS and ICE and get paid.

ICE is focused on locking up undocumented immigrants and they do not care which ones as long as they meet their quota. While some undocumented immigrants are arrested and forced into deportation for breaking the law, many of those detained at the Northwest Detention Center are babysitters, farmers, landscapers, foragers of mushrooms, and shellfish harvesters at Washington’s oyster and clam farms. ICE patrols neighborhoods, forests where immigrants forage, and Department of Fish and Wildlife offices where permits for fishing and foraging are obtained. They work in conjunction with the police, setting up roadblocks that appear to be DUI checkpoints, but are used by ICE to check immigration documentation.

The Secure Communities Act, a piece of legislation encouraging ICE cooperation with local law enforcement, is a factor supporting the astronomical trend of deportation. The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) surveyed the Latino communities in five counties in different states across the US with large Latino populations. Their research showed that since the passage of the Secure Communities Act, 62% of Latinos report that officers stop them without good reason or cause. There is also an increased feeling of isolation and a decreased feeling of safety in the Latino community. The study found that 38% of Latinos are afraid to leave their homes.

Corporations such as the GEO group, which runs the Northwest Detention Center, and the Corrections Corporation of America, receive $165 per night per immigrant that is detained. ICE in cooperation with local law enforcement detains 1,300 immigrants per day. The money that is going into the pockets of these prison corporations is coming out of the taxpayers’ wallets. The Latino community is being targeted more than any other community in this regard, but as ICE becomes more desperate for deportations we may see European, Asian, African and Caribbean immigrants being detained and deported in large numbers.

Over 200 demonstrators rallied outside of the Northwest Detention Center on March 11, 2014. They yelled, sang and banged pots and pans to express their solidarity with the strikers inside, who were denying themselves food to bring immigrant detainees more attention and better treatment. A national day of action took place April 5.

The historic act of resistance at NWDC and other hunger strikes by prisoners against their captors at Guantanamo Bay, Pelican Bay in California, and in Palestine, demonstrates that people will not give up their dignity even in the darkest corners of the world. Prisoners have the strength to use non-violence to highlight the brutality of the system. Rebellions like these are becoming more common as are actions expressed in solidarity with them outside the walls. As the prison build-up continues, we see greater resistance to the conditions of incarceration.

The strikers in the Northwest Detention Center have expressed that they are not striking as individuals but as one group together. They understand that their actions may not save them from deportation or their inhumane treatment. They are refusing to eat because they do not want anyone else to have to go through what they are going through.

You can donate for prisoners’ telephone and commissary accounts, transportation funds for prisoners’ families, litigation fees and organizing expenses at