Monthly Archives: April 2013

Earth Day, money, and power

When a Peace Valley volunteer broadcast a call for a counter-protest at Victoria’s Earth Day festival, I had to find out why. Here’s my report.

Creatively United for the PlanetVictoria photographer Frances Litman had a vision: A weekend-long Earth Day festival. Not a protest, not a rally, she tells me – a “celebration” with happy people, environmental groups, vendors, and musicians coming together for the planet.

Litman set up a non-profit group, and in 2012 she and her crew hosted the first annual Creatively United for the Planet (CUP) festival in Oak Bay, a suburb of Victoria BC. The fest was a success, with only a small glitch – some events were scheduled for the same day and time as Victoria’s Earth Walk, then in its 31st year. But that was worked out; the schedules were re-jigged to minimize overlap and reduce wear and tear on eco-groups trying to divide their volunteer time between two venues.

In 2012, Earth Walk was suffering for lack of volunteers and running on a shoestring budget. Every year, on the Saturday before Earth Day, Earth Walk drew almost a thousand people (five thousand in its heyday) to celebrate with environmental groups, vendors and musicians. Like CUP, organizers wanted a festival, not a protest. And so it was for three decades.

This year, the Earth Walk volunteers have packed it in. They folded up their tent, and Earth Walk will join the better-organized and -funded CUP. No rally at the BC Legislature is planned. This time, the walk starts from Centennial Square at noon Saturday April 20 and ends at St. Ann’s Academy, where the CUP festival takes place.

CUP gets part of its funding from big-name sponsors like the Bank of Montreal and BC Hydro. The power company’s sponsorship sparked the second glitch.

The Peace Valley Environment Association has waged a long-running campaign against BC Hydro and its controller, the government of BC. So far, they’re winning – pickets and petitions have prevented the massive Site C Dam power project from breaking ground in the Peace region of northeast BC.

Earlier this year, CUP told PVEA it was not welcome at the festival. Litman says this was a misunderstanding. When a PVEA volunteer criticized the BC Hydro $2500 sponsorship, saying CUP “sold out,” Litman says she replied, “If you feel that way, then maybe you shouldn’t come.”

Andrea Morrison, coordinator of PVEA, disputes that account. She says BC Hydro was calling the shots. “They looked at the list [of CUP participating groups] and saw PVEA and said, ‘We would give you the money, if they’re not allowed to participate.'”

Litman says other groups advised her to “take the money and run.”

“We needed the money but I was torn about the source. We said to Hydro ‘Look, we don’t support what you’re doing [at Site C and elsewhere], we’re not happy.'” On the other hand, Litman likes the PowerSmart program, which she says “at least makes people think about the environment and sustainability.”

Either way, Morrison and Litman agree the issue is resolved, at the cost of a few ruffled feathers. PVEA will have a table, as it did last year. Litman emphasizes again that there will be “no rallies” and “no protests” at CUP. “This is a friendly event. We don’t want angry people. We’re celebrating. It’s through positivity that we’re making change.”

The CUP organizer says she was caught off guard by criticism over the way the issue was handled, and she has some choice words for other environmentalists. “What’s this – attacking people without going to the source?” she complained. “I thought the environmental movement was my community.”

“This festival is my vision,” Litman says. “If other people don’t like it, well, I’m sorry. You’re not doing the work.”

“We need people to show up and not be pointing fingers,” Litman says. “People don’t want to see in-fighting.”

That kerfuffle is settled, but more questions have been raised about lack of diversity. Specifically, a lack of indigenous people. There are no Turtle Island natives or even any mention of First Nations on the schedule.

Litman says she is arranging for a blessing from a local Elder. But some indigenous activists may not be satisfied with what they consider “token” representation in the midst of a burgeoning indigenous arts and culture scene on Vancouver Island.

Oddly, CUP is listed as an event on the Idle No More official events website. Litman can’t say how the event came to be there, but says she will ask one of the board members.

“While we support them [Idle No More] this festival is not the right time or place,” Litman says. She wants me to get the message out that “we welcome everyone in peace and this is not a protest.”

Mainstream environmental groups have plenty of baggage when it comes to disrespecting indigenous people and perpetuating neo-colonial attitudes. Earth Walk, for example, put little effort into partnering with indigenous people before 2012. Greenpeace has earned the enmity of indigenous groups it “sold out” with the Great Bear Rainforest compromise. There are dozens more examples.

Litman says if we want a vibrant environmental movement, we need to roll up our sleeves and make it happen. I agree. If we want a grassroots, independently-funded, fully inclusive movement, we will have to build it, together with our allies. It’s time to break our allegiance to the dominant corporate culture that’s brought the planet to the brink of catastrophe. It’s time to give back to the earth and support indigenous-led campaigns for environmental justice.

Creatively United for the Planet runs April 19-21 at St. Ann’s Academy. Festival admission is free. Ticketed events include speakers, films, and a fashion show. I’m told the festival organizers will be welcomed by Songhees elder Joan Morris and traditional songs and dances by the Esquimalt Dancers. The counter-protest is not expected to go forward.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Zoe Blunt

1 Comment

Filed under Environment, Politics, Zoe Blunt

How to oppress white dudes

The feminist guide to taking over the world and enslaving the males (UPDATED)

When women speak out on sexism and male violence, we deal with the consequences. Men retaliate by stalking, harassing, and threatening us for the crime of being feminist (or just female) in public. The most common accusation from “men’s-rights” reactionaries is that feminists have all the power in the world. We’re the real haters, and we’re stealing away men’s rights and freedoms and everything they enjoy.

Confession time: IT’S TRUE.

We know men are inferior, suitable only for slave labour, cannon fodder, and forced breeding. Our worldwide feminist domination plan has five secret weapons to keep them in their place and slap them down when they get uppity.

Secret Weapon #1. Name the behaviour. Whether it’s misogyny, homophobia, racism, or ableism, calling it out will cause the target male’s brain to explode.

For a privileged dude, a woman who publicly disagrees with him or calls him out is committing a human rights violation equivalent to being castrated and curb-stomped by a platoon of hairy-legged lesbians. The mildest insults fester for months. (We know this because they never shut up about it.) This tactic works with total strangers on Twitter just as well as close relatives and significant others. Such is the power of feminist words!

Secret Weapon #2: Use the web to block those cocks. If they email you, activate the spam filter. If they post rude notes on your page, delete and block them. If they overrun your favourite sites, kill-file them. If they threaten you, report them. The beta-males will howl that such brutal censorship is the worst jackbooted fascism since Hitler. They are right, of course. But this way we don’t scuff the shine on our new jackboots.

Phone calls? Block ’em. Street harassment and stalking? Get your posse together. “Men’s-rights activists” (MRAs) are cowards and they won’t approach a group of women who are ready for them. The worst they’re likely to do is shout from a safe distance and flee. Later they will cry on Facebook about being “gang-stalked.” Enjoy the delicious irony and the sweet taste of their rage-tears.

Secret Weapon #3: Disengage. Withholding your support and approval is vicious and deliberate sabotage of the male ego. I have this straight from a former stalker, a non-profit director who believed I “owed” him my volunteer time after he hounded me out of his group and out of his life. When I informed his board of directors, the dude had a breakdown and resigned soon after. (Hey, I warned him.)

When angry dudes can’t engage with you, the impotent rage builds up until they melt down in a messy pile of burning hate, while you go clubbing with your gal pals or jet off to Europe for the Secret Worldwide Matriarchal Domination Society’s annual orgy.

Secret Weapon #4: Mock them. (This is the best part.)

Secret Weapon #5:
Provoke them. For feminists, it’s simple to provoke sexist jerks. Just existing will usually do it. But if openly walking around being awesome doesn’t cause them to self-destruct and the above tactics don’t apply, try these:

– dressing sexy
– not dressing sexy
– being feminine
– being unfeminine
– being a slut
– being celibate
– being progressive
– being conservative
– having personal boundaries
– getting on TV or radio
– blogging
– commenting online

Finally, ladies, remember: Organize. In your communities, with your neighbours, in your friendship networks. Don’t let them silence you. Don’t let them shame you. Push back. Operation Global Feminist Domination will topple the feeble patriarchal system that props up these impotent males!

UPDATE: We have a winner!

In case you thought I might be exaggerating about dudes who lose their shit when women speak out, let me present Libertarian dude Greg Hill, a “Young Entrepreneur” in Victoria, BC.

Hill is not opposed to free speech! HOWEVER, the affidavit he filed in BC Supreme Court says this very post you’re reading right now is a hate crime against him as a white dude. I’m not even making this up.

Behold Hill’s affidavit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. (Click to view full-size.)

Greg Hill affidavit in Supreme Court of British Columbia
(Tracie Park is my legal name.)

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Earlier encounters with the angry dudes of Victoria, Canada

Hate Mail from Haters

The Judge Should Arrest Me for Calling this Dingbat a Racist

Turfing Out the Racists


With thanks to A.D Song and Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous for their inspirational essay How to Be A “Reverse-Racist”.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014-2016 Zoe Blunt

12 Comments

Filed under Feminism, Greg Hill, Hate Mail, Misogyny, Politics, Wingnuts, Zoe Blunt

Turfing out the Racists

Originally published in the People’s Voice January 2013

VICTORIA BC – Anti-racist organizers report they have won several skirmishes with a "conspiracy cult" linked to US patriot and militia organizations. Anti-Racist Action says members of a group called We Are Change Victoria (WAC) began sparring with social justice activists and the People's Assembly (Occupy Victoria) over a year ago.

WAC is part of a North American network loosely connected to US radio host Alex Jones, the Libertarian Party, the militia movement and patriot groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group promotes conspiracy theories about 9/11, chemtrails, gun control, human rights law, climate-change denial, and Holocaust denial.

In Victoria, WAC members joined the Occupy movement soon after it began, but they split over angry disagreements about the camp's stance on social justice and indigenous rights. Later, WAC members disrupted meetings, denounced the movement, and launched an online harassment campaign targeting women and trans activists, and anyone they considered an organizer.

A year later, in October 2012, WAC “activist” Josh Steffler announced that Doug Christie, Canada's best-known white supremacist, would address their rally on the BC Legislature lawn. Anti-Racist Action called for a counter-protest and blew the whistle on the event. Ultimately, Christie didn't show and some of the other speakers stayed away as well. Fewer than a dozen people attended the rally.

It was not a proud day for WAC. As volunteers set up the sound system for the speakers, three angry "free speech advocates" crossed the Legislature lawn to confront the counter-protestors picketing on the sidewalk 150 meters away. The shouting match that ensued drew the attention of nearby police officers. The WACkos demanded the arrest of the counter-protestors, but instead the cops sent the wingnuts scurrying back to the stage with their tails between their legs. The counter-protestors spent the rest of the afternoon handing flyers to passers-by and explaining why they were protesting WAC's racism and sexism.

A month later, ARA confronted WAC at its hangout, a downtown diner where the group held well-advertised but poorly-attended weekly meetings. ARA called for a meetup at the same diner and dozens responded. They filled every table and the wingnuts were turfed out before they could get in the door.

Since then, WAC no longer advertises its events or meeting locations. Its only response to the controversy is a Youtube video. Speaking for the group, Steffler, a failed Esquimalt city council candidate, blames the conflict on "Bolsheviks" who are the "real racists."

More recently, members of WAC were harassing a Victoria environmental activist in an effort to suppress photos of the October confrontation and take down her websites. Now one WACko is embroiled in an ugly Supreme Court battle that he is bound to lose.

Anti-Racist Action has four points of unity:

1. We go where they go. Whenever fascists are organizing or active in public, we're there. We don't believe in ignoring them or staying away from them. Never let the Nazis have the street!

2. We don't rely on the cops or courts to do our work for us. This doesn't mean we never go to court, but the cops uphold white supremacy and the status quo. They attack us and everyone who resists oppression. We must rely on ourselves to protect ourselves and stop the fascists.

3. Non-sectarian defence of other anti-fascists. In ARA, we have a lot of different groups and individuals. We don't agree about everything and we have a right to differ openly. But in this movement an attack on one is an attack on us all. We stand behind each other.

4. We support abortion rights and reproductive freedom. ARA intends to do the hard work necessary to build a broad, strong movement against racism, sexism, anti-immigrant, anti-indigenous sovereignty, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people. We want a classless, free society. We intend to win!

Anti-Racist Action Victoria's Facebook page.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Zoe Blunt

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Hate Mail, Josh Steffler, Legal Battles, Misogyny, Politics, Racism, Ryan Elson, transphobia, We Are Change Victoria, Wingnuts, Zoe Blunt