Community Activism

Books without Borders

Are the giant chain booksellers killing the independent bookstore? An intimate look at a collectively run Anarchist bookstore shows us that we must preserve these specialty stores or we run the risk of losing valuable alternative points of view.

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Women lead a farming revolution in Iowa

As wives inherit husbands’ farmland, they stress conservation over maximizing profit.


By Mark Clayton Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Posted by Elizabeth Fiend

Mount Vernon, Iowa

Women own nearly half of Iowa’s farmland. But they find they have a common problem: The men they hire to farm their land often don’t treat it with the tender care they expect – and often won’t listen when they complain about it.

Women from three counties near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, discovered the shared view in a series of meetings on “Women Caring for the Land.” Dozens have turned out to learn more about farmland conservation – and to share tales of dealing with their tenant farmers.

Margaret Doermann’s Iowa farm has some of the richest soil in the state, which is why she insists it be farmed the way her husband did, using strong conservation practices to preserve it. So it was a shock to discover the tenant farmer she’d hired after her husband’s passing was treating her land like, well – a rental property.

“I was awakened in the middle of the night by a tractor tilling the hillside,” Mrs. Doermann says. Her husband “had always tilled it in a contour [across the hillside] to limit erosion. But when I went out the next morning, that hill had been tilled up and down so the soil would wash right off.”

Doermann’s rude awakening didn’t end there. The water in the stream near the field looked like “brown gravy” – full of soil runoff from the hillside. She and her daughter wound up in a lawyer’s office arguing with the farmer over how to till the hillside. A new lease now specifies the soil preparation she wants.

“Well, you know what?” Doermann said to three women at a small gathering of farm-land owning women last month. “The very next spring, he did it again.”

Doermann’s experience is hardly unique, experts say. Of Iowa’s 30.7 million farm acres, 47 percent are owned by women. But a growing share – 20 percent – is now owned by single women, many of them older, with a far different take on farming than their male counterparts. About three-quarters of the land owned by single women is rented out to mostly male tenant farmers.



Sk8 B-Lo I-95 [6 minutes]
Is skateboarding a crime? It shouldn’t be, but many local governments want to make it one. Was it a blessing or a curse for Philadelphians that the marble ledges, steps and layout of LOVE PARK was the perfect environment for skating ? Was the remotely located FDR Park skate park the solution?

We trace the history of the skateboard ban in internationally renown Love Park and the rise of FDR Skate Park, a park built by & for the skaters.

Shot on location in Love Park and FDR Skate Park – featuring interviews with skaters and action footage.

This video premiered at the X-GAMES Tube Fest.

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“Unconventional Coverage:

The Message and the Means”


DVD, or STREAM, two 27-minute segments

Click to purchase DVD
Click to stream video

This hour long commentary, was filmed during the protests that erupted when the Republicans first nominated George Bush for president at their national convention in Philadelphia in 2000.

The  award winning video is a blueprint for the modern protest movement. It outlines how and why protests happen. Plus it offers detailed information on the sorry state of health care in America, our problems with gun violence, our eroding rights to dissent and the many varied reasons people feel compelled to protest. Tips on how to organize a protest, jail solidarity and the importance of independent media are included alongside insightful and witty commentary. Says “The Chicago Tribune:” [Speaking of video host Elizabeth Fiend] “Her documentary on the demonstrations protesting the Republican Convention in Philadelphia was pretty much the only coverage I can remember that actually told you what the protestors were protesting.”
Winner Best Documentary, Festival of Independents, Philadelphia Film Festival


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What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture:

Survival for small farmers is a daily struggle as they compete with industrial, factory-farm style agriculture. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an innovative strategy that brings together local farmers with local customers.

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WINDOW FARMS: Grow food in your own window!
source: WindowFarms  posted by VaLerie K


“The material I’m working with is people — creating moments for them to be thoughtful,” says Britta Riley, whose window farms have been displayed in more than a dozen buildings in New York City. Riley and her collaborator, Rebecca Bray, are conceptual artists whose goal is to engage the public in developing simple solutions to vexing environmental problems. By artfully demonstrating how lettuce and tomatoes can be grown in even the most cramped urban spaces, they hope to inspire people to think about where their food comes from — and then take part in producing it. (1)

(2)  “The Windowfarms project broaches both immediate urban agriculture goals as well as a far-sighted shift in attitudes toward the green revolution. We are both starting a windowfarming craze in cities worldwide and hoping to accelerate the pace of sustainable design by having ordinary citizens think of themselves as innovators.”


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Freedom of the Word and Computer Security

A hands-on workshop for Philadelphia community activists—This means you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011 – 9:30am – 2pm


Are you a Philly community activist? Do you realize that a lot of your online organizing (even information on your phone) is accessible to people, corporations, or government officials who might be interested in your activities?

We want to educate community activists about ways to stay safer.

Do you work on fracking? Prison issues? #OccupyPhilly? AIDS? Alternative media?

This is for you.

This free, groundbreaking workshop is organized by a new collaboration of social justice hackers and longtime Philly community activists.

We will teach:
1. What is at risk–your civil rights, your political work, and even your freedom.
2. Threat models–ways to think about your safety online and that of your fellow activists.
3. Concrete strategies for staying safer, and keeping fellow activists safer, online.
4. Do you know what US companies like Cisco Systems are doing to repress activists in other countries?


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The 20th anniversary of the first documented AIDS case in the United States seemed like the ideal time to look at the history and successes of ACT UP Philadelphia, the largest ACT UP group in the country with over 100 active members. ACT UP Philadelphia is a unique and special group that stands almost alone in its use of empowerment-based grassroots organizing, aggressive non-violent direct action tactics, and its analysis of the AIDS epidemic as a political crisis that can be solved. Meet some of the members of ACT UP Philadelphia and see them in action.

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Last Minute Gift Giving:paperSM.jpg
Donate to LOCAL Charities

by VaLerie K

More and more people are giving (or asking for) the gift of a donation to charity for Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas these days, rejecting the materialist mandate to buy more stuff.  Besides choosing national or international charities, consider picking something local.  Here’s some reasons why:

1. Seeing results first hand – rather than getting a newsletter from afar, the recipients of your gift can physically go and see the charity their gift is supporting, and feel a greater connection to why the gift is important.

2. Education – people can learn directly, such as getting a gift donation to a wildlife preserve, and then taking the kids to go see the animals and learn from the nature center.

3. Less junk mail, more trees – small, local organizations are less likely deluge you (or friends in whose names you donate) with mailings requesting more money, and if they do, you can call and talk to someone who will make it stop.  When I donated to a local animal rescue effort, I talked directly with the person in charge of donations, and we set it up so I could give everyone in my family an ‘adoption certificate’ in their names, but the donations would all be grouped under my address, so no one but me would get mailings in the future.


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1st in the series that provided unprecedented on-the-ground coverage of the protests – as they happened – at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000.
Today’s Topic: Gun violence in America

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