“Welcome to the Liberators!” It is painted on a brick wall as Antonia and her daughter walk into a Dutch village that Antonia grew up in in the movie Anotonia’s Line, directed by Marleen Gorris. While the message is clearly meant for Allied troops who are clearing out the Nazi hordes, it might just as well be meant for the liberators of human equality, dignity, and hope; that is Antonia and her female descendants as suggested by noted film critic Roger Ebert .
Indeed, Antonia and her line are the liberators of more than just women in this sometimes idyllic rural village that is cast with characters that could seemingly be carnies traveling with a European Circus sideshow. From the woman who howls at the moon to the retarded couple to the perpetually pregnant woman who marries a self defrocked priest, this village is in need of liberation from the backward morality of the pre-World War II European peasantry. Antonia is not a crusader of the modern feminist variety. She is not a male bashing, vociferously militant pseudo-lesbian. Nor are her descendants Instead, they are a more dignified, rational, and frankly, more convincing sort of reformers, who simply refuse to be cast as anything other than what they are.
Watching a great film can give a person insights into the existence they lead. That may be the key to why human beings are willing to spend as much time as we do sitting in darkened theatres or immobilized on couches during sunny days watching things that may or may not have happened on a big screen or a tiny box. The truth is, film (and television for that matter) is a means of gaining meaningful experience (and sometimes not so meaningful experience) that we might not otherwise have the means or ability to find.
Film is, in fact, a sort of life in that it is capable of giving us the means to think or experience things in a different way; so when a director creates a film that is about film itself, they are actually showing us a bit of life about life.
Three films that take this profound approach are Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001), Robert Altman’s The Player (1992),and Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night (La Nuit Americain) (1973). In these three films, these three directors not only demonstrate that all film is self referential, but endeavor to also show that life itself can often be a viewed as a self referential experience. In doing so, they take the experience of watching the film from an externalized experience into the realm of an internalized experience by forcing the audience to participate emotionally, intellectually, and perhaps even on a more subtle plane that is easier felt than described.
Our society faces some problems! One of the biggest is the amount of waste we produce. Our landscape is overflowing with “waste”. What is waste ? Websters defines waste as (1) using, consuming, or expending thoughtlessly or (2) causing to lose energy, strength or vigor.
I’d like to offer one more definition– waste is an unused resource.
The waste which fills our dumpsters and our lives is actually quite valuable. I know a man who collected peoples “trash” from alleyways in Los Angeles for five years, storing it in a building which was slated for destruction. When LA finally decided to tear down the building he sold all of his “waste” for over a million dollars! Another friend rescued two hydraulic tools from a dumpster and sold them for nearly $72,000 dollars!
On a much smaller scale, I personally have pulled blown amps and old computers from dumpsters and sold them for $100 or more.
The point is, there is enough “waste” in the dumpsters of America to feed, clothe, house, and educate everyone. Why does it happen?
After W.W.II, our wartime factories converted to civilian production, suddenly there was more than we could use. A new society was born. “The throwaway society.” The throwaway society provided maximum employment and plenty of goods and services. Americans had more available through gainful employment and massive production. The key was keeping people spending by creating incentives to buy “new, bigger, better” products instead of keeping trusted ones. We introduced the concept of planned obsolescence.
Some of the drawbacks of “the throwaway society” ? Consumer debt is at an all time high and instead of working less, we’re working more. A family with one income used to be able to own a home, raise children, and enjoy some time at home. Now, it is all we can do to have two incomes pay for a rental home, raise one child, and keep food on the table. Another drawback is obvious, the environment. Look around, anywhere…..
Here’s the key, think about the value of what you’re throwing away….is it trash or is it an unused resource….you wouldn’t throw away cash, would you?
Michael Pilarski is taking action to save the worlds forests.Inspired by Richard St. Brubaker, who promoted tree planting internationally; Pilarski helped found Friends of the Trees Society (FOTS) in 1978.
FOTS mission is to double the worlds forests, inspire, enable, educate, and assist people to live in harmony with forests and trees, and publish positive visions of a sustainable world with strategies to get there.
Rather than just sound the alarm about threats to the environment, FOTS emphasizes immediate action..
“We are a part of the pro-active wing, we have solutions,” Pilarski said.
FOTS operates at local, regional, national, and international levels. They have distributed over 170,000 seedlings, thousands of seed packets, and sponsored events which have brought information to thousands of people. Currently they have over 10,000 people on their mailing list. FOTS and Pilarski have played a huge part in forming the Bellingham Permaculture Club which combines practices of urban and rural sustainability and meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
The overall system of agriculture and living which has a minimum negative effect on the planet. FOTS has also created The Travelers Repair Network (TERN) which links travelers with individuals and organizations in other countries around the world who are involved in sustainability.
Is Pilarski satisfied with FOTS progress so far?
“Heavens no, the world is heading hell bent for disaster, but the good news is – more people are aware we’re heading there.”
Pilarski offers some everyday steps people can follow to help save the planet: plant trees , look for ways to reduce consumption of the earth’s resources, and support the restoration of nature.
” At Friends of the Trees, we believe in multiple functions for single elements, in other words, one person can do more than one thing at a time.”
“Friends of the Trees is not a radical group,” Pilarski said , “We’re not into extreme action, we’re into promoting non-violence and less consumption.”
In addition to founding FOTS , Pilarski has edited Restoration Forestry: an International Guide to Sustainable Forestry Practices and compiled The Third World Resource Guide with Michael G. Smith. Currently FOTS is sponsoring workshops on gathering local herbs and edible wild plants without damaging the environment on the eastern and western slopes of the North Cascades as well as the Puget Sound lowlands.
On August 16 and 17, FOTS, The Herbalist (Seattle) and Wonderland Tea and Spices (Bellingham) sponsored The Northwest Herbal Fair at the River Farm near Bellingham. This event’s focus was showing people how to use local herbs in their lives. For more information on Friends of the Trees, Permaculture, or current events in sustainability contact Friends of the Trees Society at (360)738-4972.
Tourism and Reality in Southeast Asia by Vago Damitio
While watching the food channel the other day, I came across a disturbing thing. Initially, what caught my attention was a bald man in a southern China marketplace looking at the various foods being offered on a street vendor’s barbecue cart. I wasn’t disturbed by this, it was what made me pause from my neurotic channel surfing.
Several years ago, I had been in southern China and had eaten from many similar carts. The hardest part of eating from the carts was deciphering what the individual items were. My traveling companion at the time was shocked to realize that these were all meats from familiar animals, they just weren’t the parts that we were used to seeing cooked.
The man on television was pointing out the same thing. On the cart were chicken heads and feet, dog tails, cow eyes, and other Chinese delicacies. I wasn’t shocked by the foods, I was shocked by the manner in which the fat, bald, white, narrator was presenting cultures that I had both enjoyed and admired. The show was called something like “The Disgusting Foods of Southeast Asia” and while I’m sure that there was pork somewhere on the cart, the most obvious pig was the host of the show.
Society is a complex organism that reflects the diverse use of power by the individuals and groups within it. Sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle, power is coveted, used, exploited, and always present in all groups of human beings. This is a constant. What is not constant, however, is the place where the power lies. Power in the societies of the United States and Europe generally sits within the grasp of men. The same can be said of paternal societies such as China and Japan. This is not the case throughout the entire world. Southeast Asia has within its myriad societies, a myriad number of power structures and conceptions of power. Some of the most complex structures that envelop these power structures, are those that involve women and power in Southeast Asia.
There is no doubt that women have power in all societies, the question is how much? In the societies of Europe and the America’s, women have a history of being oppressed and disempowered. In order to have influence, women have had to work invisibly behind the scenes, or more recently, demand their rights and privileges. In many of the societies of Southeast Asia, this is not the case. In Why Women Rule the Roost: Rethinking Javanese Ideologies of Gender and Self Control, Suzanne Brennar explains one aspect why this is so:
Women’s control over their own desires serve to compensate for men’s lack of control (as the alternative representation has it), and by so doing preserve the assets that should properly be used to ensure the family’s security. It is the wife’s responsibility to do her utmost to ensure that her husband’s desires do not drain the family resources, while also doing everything in her means to increase these resources…(Brenner 1995:35)
No matter who a person is or where they may be growing up, there is no doubt about the fact that they will, at some point in their lives, deal with some sort of rite of passage. If a person is Caucasian, middle income, and living in an American town with a population of between 100 and 50,000 people, chances are probably pretty good that they will deal with one of the following before they reach the age of twenty two years old; throwing up from too much alcohol, running away from home, losing their virginity in a vehicle, sneaking out for the first time without permission, and/or using a fake identification to go to an age limited venue.
These, in this author’s opinion, are just a few of the ‘standard’ coming of age rituals that take place at some point in the lives of most ‘white kids’ in the United States. While these rites of passage may be a much more universal phenomenon within a broader demographic than that listed above, the author has provided neither the time nor the effort to substantiate any of this with background source material other than his own experience and that which has been related to him through his peers, popular media, and personal observation. Such is not the case however, with the ideas which the author will be presenting in the forthcoming paragraphs.
In looking at the material world around us, it is easy to suppose that everyone sees the same things, the same way, the whole world over.
This is not the case.
Most of us, living in what we call ‘western’ and ‘modern’ societies tend to look at the world as a very material place. We may have beliefs that transcend the material world, but in our day to day activities, we tend to look at what we can see and touch. As an example, if someone in the society we live in becomes sick they will probably go to the hospital, call a paramedic, or consult a biomedical trained physician. The reason’s for this are rooted in our general belief systems about what it means to live, age, and die.
I realize some of these reader rants will be a little dated, that is because my deadline creates nearly two weeks of delay between writing and press time. It is beyond my control.
Additionally, I reserve the right to edit mail to its minimum size while still preserving the spirit in which it is sent, in order to maximize space. Keep em coming!
B’ham Man, How did the boys who lit Whatcom Creek become heroes????? Mayor Mark Asmundson tried to put a positive spin on the boys’ contribution. He was motivated, I am sure, by consideration for the boys’ families. The media motivated by the thrill of a good spin, jumped on the bandwagon giving these children the ludicrous oxymoron tag of “Accidntal Heroes”. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Heroes are people who make a conscious choice to put themselves at risk for the good of someone else. To apply this term to boys playing with a lighter, demeans the word “hero”. It could have been an even bigger disaster, but that does not make the boys heroes, accidental or otherwise. I don’t agree as the mayor said to justify his position, that it was inevitable that it would be ignited. We will never know what else could have happened. Life is funny that way. A friend of mine was given a card once after getting out of a particularly bad relationship. It read “ If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” On behalf of parents everywhere trying to teach their children not to play with matches and lighters, please don’t make heroes of the boys who did. They will serve us all better as a horrible warning. Also I can’t believe people are so upset there is a pipe line in our community. Yes, be upset that it was not maintained, inspected and evaluated properly. You don’t have explosions in Everson, Anacortes, and Whatcom Creek all in the same 2 year period if any of the people working for Olympic or charged in its regulatory oversight did their job well. By all means be pissed at them. We are gas dependent. Like it or not, when we have a place to go we most often put gas in our cars to get there. It would be lovely if we didn’t but we do. Olympic needs to be held responsible and pay for everything that can possibly be done to restore the environment and compensate the families destroyed by their negligence. The farther away we remove the pipeline, the more expensive our gas will be. Would the same people so indignant that there is a pipeline in their community be happier if it doubles the price of gas to bring it in in some safe way? —J.L. Goolsby
You’re absolutely right. Why do we allow the media to direct our emotions and feelings? I think Mayor Asmundson was practicing the Bing Crosby Method of Accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between. The boys were not heroes, but how does a community cope with such a unnecessary loss? Personally, I’d prefer to see righteous outrage than sheeplike acquisence and apathy. We are gas dependent. The reason that pipeline is there is because we use gas, jet fuel, and oil products. It would be nice, if people used this as an incentive to decrease dependence on fossil fuels. My personal opinion is that the price of petroleum products should be tripled or quadrupled to reflect the environmental and personal damage which our dependence has caused. Thanks for the rants. –Bham Man
Let me know what you hate, what you see in our society that has you worried, and what’s on your mind. Until next time remember….WHAT ISN’T WORTH SAYING OR DOING ISN’T WORTH THINKING ABOUT.