"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Sunday, September 30, 2007

airport waiting poem

sitting in a long haulway of vinyl seats, i'm at the corner situation of three states: Ohio, Kentucky, and Home.

treated like a terrorist by racists who look at me and my baggy clothes and think i might have a knife, they ask me to unzip, and, removing my belt, they see my backpack and thank me for my political beliefs. but they spray me anyway - "6 puffs of air, keep yr feet on the footprints!" - and still don't let me keep my bottle of water.

the sun is setting in a plume of smog, as Indiana on my right churns out more. the orange spotlight in my eyes, all i see are the 5 inches below the afterglow. my feet propped up on the window's ledge, a sign that reads "Smoking Permitted in designated areas only" now reads "Smoking e mitted," as my big toes block out letters, my hands trying to block out the sun, while my clothes stink of smoke from the roadside diner - Mr. Herb's.

i see my reflection in the glass - my face blacked out - i'm looking hippy and my hands don't look like my own. i read somewhere that 9 out of 10 people can't recognize their own hands. if they took pictures of them and had to pick em out of a hand line-up, they'd have the wrong murderer.

i'm washed in orange glow, on my way to the Grand Ol' Seat, and the sun is beginning to dip down. i've got a suitcase and my backpack politics, and i'm ready to go.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


i'm off to Washington, D.C. this weekend for the Campus Progress Student Advisory Board organizing retreat.

i've been working on developing training workshops for student activists, as well as brainstorming ideas for youth organizing caucuses throughout the nation. i'm quite excited about the work i'm doing. building a national youth movement! the revolution is imminent! and i'm a part of it! what could be more tantalizing, i ask you!?

so, as i pack my bags and finish various projects, try to figure out how to drive from Baltimore to D.C., and try to eat all the peaches and pears left in my fruit basket, let's listen to The Magnetic Fields together.

mp3: Washington, D.C. [yousendit]
"W a-s-h i-n-g t-o-n, baby, D.C.!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Miami University Students for Staff Organize a Staff Appreciation Day

The Miami University student organization, Students for Staff, has organized a community-wide event in honor of all Miami employees. The free dinner and reception is an effort by the group to unite the community in a show of appreciation for and solidarity with staff.

The group has been waging a 3-year long campaign for a living wage for all Miami staff members. Based on records of staff wages and benefits, data collected from the Miami Human Resources department, and research by local poverty experts and market analysis reports, the group believes that a total of 449 full-time Miami staff are potentially living in poverty, with many more possibly qualifying for government assistance.

Students for Staff has taken multiple approaches to their activism. In addition to researching local economics, national poverty standards, and living wage policies at comparable universities, the group has informed their living wage campaign with an invested care and concern for the members of their local community. The students have made efforts in the past year and half to form genuine relationships with staff members and understand their situations, a perspective they have tried to share with the administration of Miami.

According to Stephanie Lee, one of the student organizers of the campaign, this is what distinguishes the group's approach.
"Administrators and management haven't taken the time to listen to the individual voices of the staff, to understand what each staff member goes through to make their living. A lot of staff won't even talk to a boss or supervisor about it because they're afraid. As students at this university, we have felt it is our responsibility to share these stories and to seek justice for our friends and neighbors at this university who aren't being treated fairly."

At a university with one of the highest Princeton Review rankings for "lack of diversity" and "lack of class interaction," this event marks a significant moment in the efforts toward community-building at Miami. When asked about the event, Stephanie Lee had this to say: "Some might note that this has wholly been a student effort. We came up with this idea, we planned and organized everything ourselves. We want to make a point about student-staff, student-administrator, and staff-administrator relations at Miami. It should be striking to everyone that the students are the ones who initiated a reception for the staff. I think it says a lot about our campaign that we have taken the time to get to know the staff, and that there is a genuine feeling of understanding and empathy. And I think that adds a lot of validity to our argument for better wages. Even though this event is not political in tone, it certainly has political intentions. We're not going to pretend that this isn't about a living wage, because of course it is. If you respect your workers and you respect your community, you'll understand that a living wage is just one way to right the wrongs perpetrated by our administration against our community-members. If you care about your community, and you care about the people in it, one thing should follow the other. If you support the staff, you would support a living wage."

The flyers advertising the event read as follows:
Staff Day 2007 will occur on Wednesday, September 26th, from 5-7 pm at the Fine Arts Pavilion on the Oxford campus of Miami University. All are invited.

For more information, please visit the student group's website, at musfs.org

-stephanie lee, Free Radical Publishing

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


i am really enjoying this green pen the English dept gave me today. it makes annotating all these books more fun. green stripes on my pages. green dots on my hands. if i were colorblind, is this what chicken pox would look like?

i've gotten myself stuck at my desk. there are piles of books all around me, a stack on my left and another on my right, stacks on the floor, and a stack by my head. i bumped into my advisor this afternoon, and we had a chat about my project, and how i'm mapping out the course of my thesis in this ridiculous process that will prove to most i am absolutely mad-hatter mad, and i explained how i am literally, physically immersing myself in my project by surrounding myself with it at all times. i described the book situation i got going on, and he told me a story about a satire he read once about this layman type fellow who was reading up on some writer i've since forgotten the name of, and how he got in a row with some literary hoss, and was tossed most unfortunately into a bookshelf, loaded top to bottom with these hefty volumes of pretentious literature. the shelf collapsed on his head, and he was dead.

i laughed kinda hard at the irony then, but now find myself trapped and waiting for an avalanche.


Monday, September 17, 2007


storing this image for future use in my thesis, particularly for side-to-side comparison with a visual representation of the traditional educational system and its business.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

poetic deference

so, despite last week's setback, i'm going ahead with my project. in fact, i've begun the tedious process of mapping (a la my efforts in the spring of 2006) the flow of arguments therein, in what i think will be quite the impressive finished document, a physically expansive display of the scope of my thesis.

and i've come to the decision that just because the gate-keepers demand i conform to a certain form and formula, doesn't mean i can't enjoy it. or that i can't successfully subvert the institution and its mechanic rituals by satirizing them. i can adopt the form as my weapon, like Monique Wittig's Trojan Horse. a bomb masked in stealth by which to explode the ramparts from within. my subversion and radicalism all the more effective for wearing the disguise supplied by the Academy.

and, i've been reading this beautiful book called On Learning and Social Change (sadly out of print), which i accidentally discovered at Highlander. it's full of some astute observations, including a chapter on the ecology of violence in the university (notes on the tao of education).

i plan to quote from it extensively. so, to put some fantastic poetic imagery in your face, some words from Michael Rossman:

"one mode of teaching is triumphant in the University. minds are to be filled with information. image of a hand closing on a piece of data, fist plunging into watermelon. image of a cock ejaculating. SOCK IT TO ME!" (p.160)

sound of a gun blasting!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

i should have seen this coming...

and of course, just as i got going, i hit a brick wall.

yesterday i found out that i might not get my degree.

"why?" you ask? it's called gate-keeping. it's why i hate the educational system.

Why aren't you going to get your degree!?!
9:35 AM me: oh that's a funny story
we had senior project presentations yesterday
9:36 AM and i was explaining how i had this radical idea to change the format of my project
9:37 AM i'm looking at the educational system as a power system, an extension of the capitalist hierarchy that has historically ignored and excluded communities of difference
9:38 AM well, i'm also looking at schooling rituals, and seeing my project as an extension of this power system and its rituals and habits, i don't want that to be the kind of project i write
9:39 AM also, theory and practice is one of the core considerations in my thesis, i'm arguing for better educational practices that honor the "democratic promise" and theory of education
9:43 AM so, when i was explaining to Bill that i wanted to write my thesis with as little jargon as possible (jargon being the language that conveys power and authority to an arbitrary author. jargon also being the technical language that wedges a distance between communities, the language that marginalizes), opting instead for a dialogic or conversational writing style (a la Myles Horton and Paulo Freire and other practitioners i've been studying), Bill asked me "if i wanted my degree."

8 minutes
9:51 AM me: i didn't really think he was being serious, but then he explained to me that "this is an academic exercise and you're going to have to conform to its expectations if you want to be recognized by the institution"
9:52 AM i was extremely upset

it's just so frustrating because i knew this would happen, i just wasn't prepared to have to fight for the integrity of my project so early in the process!


Monday, September 10, 2007

project progress

i finally articulated my Senior Project focus in 50 words or less! it is, admittedly, a little obvious to me now, and i wonder why it took me so long, but i think the actual project itself will be a little more nuanced, particularly in its execution.

anyway, my thesis topic:
"Student Activism as Critical-Democratic Praxis" (working title)
how student groups and movements create democratic spaces that challenge and rewrite traditional power structures found in the (increasingly market-influenced) world of academia.

important note to self: explore "the academy" itself as a symbol of power, oppression (in its history of ignoring minority voices and communities, i.e. based on race, gender, class, and age/experience)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

that little pop you just heard was the sound of your mind rupturing

in one of my Educational Leadership classes earlier this week:

professor: "did you know they decided to stop teaching cursive as part of the curriculum?"

one music ed. major: "that is so stupid! how are people going to sign their checks?!?"

blank stares, long pause

prof: "yeah... lots of people sign in cursive..."

music ed: "i mean, older people will write in cursive and they won't even know how to read it!!"


later in class (same day):

prof: "so why do the authors say we need theory?"

another music ed major: "it's a necessary evil."

theory = evil...?

my mind: BLOWN.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

social change movements in the South are alive and well!

the library at Highlander

i have returned from Highlander in TN with the happy news that social change in the South is alive and well.

75 years after its inception, and Highlander is still inspiring activists to build communities, to enact the change we hope one day to see, and speak truth to power.

it was a fantastic weekend, filled with workshops on popular education, political guerilla theatre, GLBTQ identities in activism, and lots of singing, joining hands, powerful anecdotes, and handclaps!

anyway, i'm tired now. classes are disappointing. i wish i could be back in the library with the spirit of Myles Horton's activism all around me, as i read this amazing little book i found in the library:
how sweet is this diagram depicting the flow of knowledge and relation-building in a democratic society as opposed to capitalist hierarchies?

oh, i forgot to mention: as of this week, i'm on Campus Progress's Student Advisory Board, working on Organizing! woo-hoo! later this month: a trip to Washington DC to begin my organizing on a national level...