Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Radical Storytelling: Howard Zinn Book Fair photos and video

Here are some photos and video from Sunday's (2nd annual) Howard Zinn Book Fair, held at the Mission campus of City College of San Francisco.

At the fair I shared a table with authors Kate Raphael and Barbara Rhine; and participated in a panel titled Radical Storytelling: Writing Activism into Fiction with Diana Block, Kate Raphael, and Starhawk.

Setting up our table

Anticipating the crowds: Barbara Rhine (Tell No Lies), Kate Raphael (Murder Under the Bridge), and me (Consequence)

Before the panel began

Kate introducing Radical Storytelling: Writing Activism Into Fiction (see/hear Kate's intro on YouTube).

Here's what I had to say about Consequence in my allotted ten minutes, including a reading from Chapter 31:

Kate reads from Murder Under the Bridge

Not an empty seat in the house

Starhawk spoke generously about Murder Under the Bridge and Consequence (she had not yet read Diana's Clandestine Occupations), then read from her forthcoming novel City of Refuge, a sequel to The Fifth Sacred Thing 

Great conversations, all day long...

Thanks especially to James, and to Andy and Patrick of The Green Arcade bookstore, for organizing a terrific book fair. I'm looking forward to #3!

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Howard Zinn Book Fair returns to San Francisco on Sunday Nov 15th
Launch party photos
Pre-apocalyptic fiction: staving off catastrophe

Thanks to Matthew Felix Sun for his always-excellent and reliable photojournalism...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Howard Zinn Book Fair returns to San Francisco on Sunday Nov 15th

I wouldn't miss this year's Howard Zinn Book Fair, even setting aside Radical Storytelling: Writing Activism Into Fiction -- the HZBF panel in which I will participate with three other Bay Area authors; and even if it weren't for the table I've reserved to offer Consequence to attendees alongside a co-panelist and yet another fellow-author. Let me explain why, then I'll plug Radical Storytelling...

The Keynote Conversation at 12:30 pm between Dr. Claybourne Carson and Alicia Garza couldn't be more important or immediate. The Stanford University history professor, who has directed the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute and the MLK Papers Project for thirty years, will discuss Black Lives Matter: Past Present and Future with the co-founder of the #blacklivesmatter movement. Don't miss it.

The program is too rich to detail in its entirety here, so I'll settle for listing five of the panels I wish I could attend (I may get to see one of the only-three listed below that don't overlap with my own 11-12 panel ... but only if my fellow-authors will spell me at our table). Here's my list:
  • Stolen Land: Primitive Accumulation and the Dispossession of Native Americans, 11-12 (Ragina Johnson)
  • Changing Natures in the Capitalcene, 11-12 (Andrej Gurbacic, Eddie Yuen, Michelle Glowa)
  • Capitalism Papers, 1:45-2:45 pm (Jerry Mander)
  • Reinventing Left Publications With Jacobin, 3-4 pm (Bhaskar Sunkara)
  • The Legacy of ACT-UP, 4:15-5:15 (Laura Thomas, Mike Shriver, Lito Sandoval, Rebecca Hensler, Eric C. Ciasullo)
Three of the five include panelists I know and respect from activism past, present, and future: from the anti-apartheid movement of the mid-1980s, AIDS activism in the eighties and nineties, anti-torture work of the aughts, and climate activism today. While I've admired Jerry Mander for decades, since reading his epic Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, I've never seen him speak. And I'd be fascinated to hear what Bhaskar Sunkara has to say about building a new generation of engaging, invigorating publications for a twenty-first century left.

Radical Storytelling: Writing Activism Into Fiction

The panel in which I'm participating kicks off at 11am in the Carlo Tresca Room (a.k.a. room 315), and features discussion and reading with debut novelists and longtime activists Diana Block (Clandestine Occupations: An Imaginary History), Steve Masover (Consequence) and Kate Raphael (Murder Under The Bridge); and author/activist Starhawk, whose novel City of Refuge is forthcoming. You can check out my description of Kate's and Diana's books in a blog I posted last month, Activist Fiction: it's about engagement, not The Issue. Here's the capsule description for Radical Storytelling: Writing Activism Into Fiction:
Behind the marathon meetings, the hours of diligent preparation, and the methodical work involved in making social change,  heartbreaking, hair raising, life affirming stories lie hidden. Too often these stories remain invisible or are co-opted by the corporate media in sensationalistic ways to serve the status quo.  How do we as activists transform our lived experiences into page-turning, imaginative fiction that can move both activist readers and people who have never participated in a social movement? How do we move beyond the sound bytes and rhetoric that sometimes limit activism to portray characters and situations that have psychological and political depth, and tell radical stories that are compelling to a broad variety of readers?
If you plan to come, please RSVP for Radical Storytelling... on Facebook. I hope you'll be there! And please do come by our table before or afterward to say hello, meet Kate Raphael and Barbara Rhine (Tell No Lies), and pass on the best of what you've seen and heard at the panel discussions we had to miss!

Here's the logistical lowdown for the Howard Zinn Book Fair:
Date: Sunday 15 November, 2015
Time: 10 am to 6 pm
Place: San Francisco City College's Mission Campus, 1125 Valencia St. @ 22nd (map; 24th St. BART)
See you Sunday...

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Activist Fiction: it's about engagement, not The Issue
Sticking your neck out
Robert Redford, the Weather Underground, and why we read books

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Northern California mobilizes for climate action as Paris talks near

People across Northern California are determined to voice their demand that the U.S. government do the right thing at the COP21 talks beginning in Paris later this month. "COP21" is the 21st annual meeting of the "Conference of Parties" under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Since early summer I've been working with a diverse coalition of labor, social justice, environmental, and faith groups under an umbrella we call the Northern California Climate Mobilization. We're organizing a march and rally in Oakland, California on Saturday November 21st, and we're expecting a tremendous crowd. Details on the web site if you're local to the Bay Area; RSVP on NCCM's Facebook event page.

What do we want? Here are the highlights from the mobilization's Points of Unity:
Challenging climate catastrophe
the Northern California Climate Mobilization demands

A global agreement to implement
dramatic and rapid reduction in
global warming pollution

Keep fossil fuels in the ground!
100% clean, safe, renewable energy!

End all fracking, tar sands mining and pipelines, offshore drilling, arctic drilling.
Stop expansion of the extractive economy. Wind, solar, geothermal power now.
No coal exports or crude-by-rail bomb trains in Northern California.

A dramatic and rapid reduction in global warming pollution is necessary to create:
  • A world united to repair the ravages of climate change
  • A world with an economy that works for people and the planet
  • A demilitarized world with peace and social justice for everyone; where Black Lives Matter; with justice and respect for immigrants and migrants; where good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities belong to all
350.org is calling for a Global Climate March on the weekend directly preceding the start of COP21, Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. -- and people across the world are mobilizing. (Because we judged it would be harder to turn out a crowd on Thanksgiving weekend, NCCM decided to hold our mobilization the weekend before, on November 21st).

At this stage of global dialog, not to mention current global awareness of climate change induced or inflected crises -- from California's drought to Syria's war and its associated, harrowing migrant crisis -- it's hardly necessary to recap the fact that humans have induced a set of existential threats to our entire biosphere.

But it's probably worth pointing out some of the circumstances and threats that make climate change and climate justice local issues for the Bay Area (cribbing liberally here from a set of talking points that NCCM is developing):

  • The Bay Area, with the rest of California, is enmeshed in a four year drought. Our air has been smoky all summer from wildfires burning through our treasured wilderness, farms lie fallow for lack of water, residents are radically conserving at home (this last is not a bad thing, but its necessity is noteworthy).
  • El NiƱo conditions may relieve the drought by the end of the coming winter, but warming water and storms have already begun to wreak havoc on our offshore ecosystems: dead whales and emaciated seal pups are washing up on our beaches in unprecedented numbers. Untold damage is being done to our fisheries. On October 15th, a "1,000 year rainfall event" dumped torrents of rain on Southern California in an hour, causing a mudslide over Highway 5 (the principal north/south route along the entire west coast of the U.S.) that closed the interstate for 45 miles of its critical length.
  • Transport of volatile crude oil on "bomb trains" to refineries in Richmond California, and a local developer's attempt to railroad the City of Oakland into allowing transport of dirty coal from Utah through Oakland's port, endangers every family who lives in neighborhoods bordering rail routes.
  • We in the Bay Area have families in the Philippines, Pakistan, Africa, Syria, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Alaska, and other places where extreme weather events are taking lives and displacing people today. Climate change and climate justice are global issues, and everyone is impacted, everywhere.

And so the Bay Area is turning out on November 21st, as COP21 approaches. What's mobilizing where you live?

Related posts on One Finger Typing:
Pope Francis' environmental encyclical in four core themes
Oil trains, coal trains: extractive economics vs. people and place
The fossil fuel industry and the free sump that is our atmosphere: Zing!