Stand With Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction

This weekend, musicians, artists, and community members from South Bend and beyond will be coming together to support the gathering at Standing Rock and its efforts to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction takes place this Sunday, January 29th at LangLab in South Bend. The event will feature a variety of entertainment, with twelve bands, twelve acoustic artists, three DJs, and multiple comedian MCs.

“It’s going to be music packed, all day long,” said Dena Woods.

She, along with fellow organizers Jenni Miller and Eli Kahn, have been awed by the support offered to them by the local community. The performances, beginning promptly at 2pm, have all been donated. The acoustic stage will be surrounded by auction blocks with work offered by local and regional artists, as well as goods from local businesses. Throughout the community, everything from water for volunteers to supplies for promotion have been contributed.

“It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be,” said Miller. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s a testament to the kind of place South Bend is.”

Miller is a local artist herself, operating out of a studio space at LangLab. The venue, which also operates as a small business incubator and a studio home for artists, is the appropriate fit for such a community oriented event. LangLab gives artists a reduced rate space to work and developing businesses a low-rent option to get started and grow before heading out into the broader region. Purple Porch Co-op, a community owned cafe, grocery store, and farmers market, got its start inside LangLab.

“It’s a supportive place,” Miller said. “It’s home.”

She appeared entirely unhindered by the immense effort and the lack of sleep that has been the price of planning the event in such a short period of time. She pointed to her experience managing bands, organizing past events, and serving on the board of directors for Habitat For Humanity as valuable when planning the benefit event.

Woods and Kahn also have their share of experience in planning events in the area. Those familiar with the local music scene would have a hard time missing any of their names throughout the years. They were quick to point to their volunteers, the community donors, and, most importantly, the Standing Rock gathering itself, as the focus.

Planning for Stand With Standing Rock began after Kahn found himself emotionally affected by imagery from the Standing Rock Gathering, with native tribes and their allies in peaceful protest being assaulted with fire hoses, gas, and rubber bullets.

“Some of these images we’re seeing,” Miller said. “It’s hard for me to think about without crying.”

We discussed the current climate in our culture and the need for every citizen to find a way to step into the fray and help better the world. Miller pointed to the daunting task of each individual figuring out what they can do to make change, but knowing she had to do something.

“I’m an artist, I’m poor, how can I help?” she said. “We’re just trying to do this the way we know how. The way we know how is to spread love through art and music.”

“We all felt moved enough and angry enough,” Woods said. “It’s about doing something for what’s right and fighting against what’s wrong. I may be one person, but I have this within me and I’m going to give it to fight for what’s right. Obviously, a lot of causes that are extremely important that need to be fought for right now.”

It’s their hope to raise a significant amount of money at the event to donate to the Standing Rock gathering for supplies and to also raise awareness. They are also hoping to inspire others to take similar action for other causes.

“If you want to do something, do it,” Miller said. “Revolution doesn’t have to be violent.”

“You don’t need permission from anybody,” said Woods. “If you are upset about something, empower yourself and do something about it.”

The event, according to Miller, is about showing that South Bend stands with Standing Rock.

“We have to be there for each other no matter how far away we are,” she said.

Stand With Standing Rock takes this place this Sunday, January 29th from 2pm until 8pm at LangLab in South Bend on High Street. Information on the event can be found at the Stand with Standing Rock Benefit Concert & Silent Auction Facebook event page. Those hoping to volunteer for the event can contact the organizers via the Facebook page. Information on the Standing Rock gathering itself can be found at standwithstandingrock.net.

We Need The Flobots Now

there is a war going on for your mind

Image by Flobots

In 2007, revolution was in the air. The destruction of the Great Recession was mounting and eight years of leadership under President George W. Bush had exhausted the United States overseas and at home. Inspiring hope and bringing out a new generation of voters and activists was the candidacy of eventual President Barack Obama.

At 25 years old, I found myself caught up in those energies. I had recently moved back to my hometown in Michigan, making my first “adult” stamp in the world by purchasing a house, by getting my hands into my community, in hopes to be a part of the positive change.

We were fighting for new leadership. We were battling the destructive flames of the economic crisis, of too much war, of too little care for those in need. We were battling other activists who grew from mistrustful positions, where anger and fear held a deeper root than compassion.

The Flobots released Fight With Tools in that time, bringing a message in music befitting the moment. The message was of action, compassion, and hope. Their mixture of hip-hop, rock, and the beauty of the viola was coupled with their message of motion and activism. They met their words with action of their own, creating activist networks and community organizations in their home state and across the nation. Their music was motivation. It was the soundtrack of the revolution, a call not to arms, but to ideas. It was music that made me feel I could take on the world.

And here we are again, though, in many ways, the script seems turned around. In 2007, there seemed a light beyond the darkness, signs of hope on the horizon. This time around, we seem to be heading into the blackened woods, with consequences more grave than before and an ending unsure. But we do not despair. We act.

shake off that rubble, break free from your standstill

More than ever, it becomes important for each of us to step up and act. Though it has always been a constant in my playlist, I’ve been playing Fight With Tools as much as that original period, the power of music motivating me when I despair, when my energy lags or when my direction is unsure.

stand up, we shall not be moved

And, fittingly, the Flobots are working on a new set of music. The crowd-funded double album NOENEMIES was in the works long before the election, but the release (up in the air, but likely in the early days of the Trump administration) could not be more timely.

The power of art and music is undeniable, through sharing the stories of those different than us and uniting us in a shared chorus. We need art like Fight With Tools. We need the Flobots, now more than ever.

the way that it is is not how it’s gonna be

Where To Begin Again

Trump Is Not Normal

Where to begin.

I have been in a self-imposed Internet silence since Tuesday, November 8th. It seemed silly, in the light of the election of Donald J. Trump as the next President Of The United States, to continue on with the usual retweets, the casual Facebook postings, even the political and activist commentary. I very much needed to stop and consider…is any of this helping? How am I helping? In what way do we move forward?

While many are rejoicing in his election win, I am among those both shocked, saddened, sickened, and enraged. I expected better of my country. I hoped for an electorate that would stand up and call out against the horrific manner in which this man ran his campaign. I hoped for information to win out over emotion, for love and hope to win out over fear. We were given the chance to vote against misogyny, fear mongering, and race baiting, but instead, 56 million voted for it, if not directly, then through indifference or ignorance.

He won. While the idea of a recount seems attractive, most agree that no change will come of it. While part of me would cheer the motto “#NotMyPresident”, such sentiment, as we witnessed after the first election of George W. Bush, may look cool on a t-shirt, but it accomplishes nothing.

Our complaint cannot be against the reality of the win. We must rally to understand the why. We must speak up and act.

I find it troublesome to hear the negativity thrust upon those protesting in the days following the election. The point of the protest is not that it will change the outcome, but to show the world, the rest of the country, and, most importantly, ourselves that this is not OK. We do not accept this as the new normal. We do not support the values of Donald J. Trump.

So, what next?

First, we do not despair. The United States did not get more racist, sexist, nationalistic, or xenophobic on November 8th. What’s always been there is just more in the open now. Donald Trump is not an outsider. He is another rich, white man who uses fear to gain power. We’ve been fighting them for years and we will continue do so.

Already, in the weeks since the election, I have seen wonderful examples of concerned citizens finding a way to help those who will face even more struggles in the next four years.

Cartoonist Alec Longstreth urged his supporters on Patreon to cancel their financial pledges to him, income he and his family don’t count on for a living, and instead direct it to the “people and organizations right now that are being threatened by the incoming changes to our government who need that money more than I do.

The band YACHT announced they would be donating all profits from shirt and tote sales from their webstore to assist the protestors at Standing Rock.

I’ve witnessed white males offer their bodies as protection for those encountering hateful attacks after the election.

Subscriptions for legitimate news sources have spiked. Donations to the organizations that will help fight against the policies of Trump seem to be doing the same, including the amusing donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Vice President Mike Pence.

Our dollars have an effect and one of the most important things we can do, if we are able, is to direct those dollars to the places that will need them. Even a regular donation of a couple of dollars goes a long way over time. The organizations in need are many. I’ll post some options at the end of this post.

If you can afford a vacation, plan your next one in one of the major cities pledging to remain a “sanctuary city” for immigrants. Your tourism dollars can be an act of defiance.

As a straight, white dude, my most important job is to shut up and listen. To those of similar status, if you want to help, that must be your first step.

Listen. Expose yourself to voices that make you uncomfortable.

Inform yourself. There were plenty of journalists who did their work admirably during the election. For nearly every complaint of “why aren’t they reporting on this”, I found multiple pieces of journalism on the subject.

Question what you are told. Do not depend on Facebook, social media, or anyone else to filter out misleading news. Check your sources, expand your pool of information and, if need be, learn a little about spotting fake news.

Let your government know you are watching, you are invested, and that you will act. Action goes beyond Tweeting your beliefs or signing on to petitions. If you really want to make an impact, send your opinion to your Congressman in a handwritten letter. I guarantee they will read it.

It’s time to do some work, people. It is OK to be sad, upset, and angry and to express those feelings. But remember, that’s just the first step. This is on us.

I do not support the values of Donald J. Trump.

 

These are just a few of the organizations that will need our help in the coming years:

STAY WOKE, America

So here we are. I want to embrace my Asian American friends, my Brothers and Sisters, my LGBT friends, my Latinos and Latinas. My White Americans who understand the system and the parts they play in it. My First Nations.

Here we are. So let’s nurse our shock, yes?

Those of us who are in our late 30s to 60s – especially the poor farm kids, the reservation kids, the hood kids of all colors – know this is nothing new. We lived through Nixon, The Ronald, Bush 1 & 2, The War on Drugs, Crack Cocaine, Sunset towns, Oliver North, Three Strikes, Vietnam, The Gulf War, 9/11. The list goes on; it’s sobering. The system was always broken, but now there are no more brown, red, yellow and black bodies to exploit…now there are poor white bodies on the chopping block and they voted on promises that we older souls know will never be kept.

This is not new. The fear is not new. The anger is not new.

But this time around, we have something that is new: communication and evolving awareness. We are seeing a death rattle. Said death rattle is of the ignorance, violence, fear to keep us divided, and it’s cornered. Despite what you think about the winning political party, you have to admit that they see their fists are not as strong as it was and their terror is no longer hidden.

We must not let this divide dictate our ire. We must support each other, make our voices heard even if we don’t share the same color skin, sexual orientation or economic status. We must march on. We must ‘STAY WOKE’ with our senate, our congress, our judicial branch and our executive branch. We must heal ourselves before we heal whatever parties we are apart of and remember that we are Americans first. Other countries know we are Americans when we travel. Our bravado, our tenacity, our laughter and jokes speak for us. We must show the world that the country Obama went gray for is still here. We are evolving from our blood drenched past and we must bloom anew. It’s cheesy and poetic, but hey – you read this far, right?

Lastly, I want to give a warm hug to the Trump supporters. I know why you put him in office. For centuries, the wealthy elites made you a meat shield between them and us with the promise of glory, wealth and belonging. You will get your heaven on Earth, they tell you. I will tell you this; they are lying. I lived through Regeanomics; I saw what trickle down economics did to Wisconsin. The only people who survived his onslaught were those in the government sector, those who had strong unions. Those who had the cash to weather the storm.

Trump is the new Regean; you will not have your pensions. You will not get your tax cuts and you will not get your jobs. Your neck is still under the guillotine because there is no one left to exploit. I know you are scared. The craftsmen have been replaced by the techno wizard. The factory is automated and the office is slowly being replaced by the web. But remember, we are in this together…don’t let the divide isolate you, because it will.

As sure as time, we are moving on.

Please move on with us.