Flashy scandals frequently rock the City of Richmond’s government sector. From bad investments, to bad investments, to a lack of financial accounting or accountability, the administration routinely fails to make good choices about how the money it collects from all of us is spent.

And there is a percentage of citizens who routinely spend their time, energy, and money pushing back against the choices being jammed down the throats of us ordinary folks. Locals seem to lose out when local government decides how to spend money. This seems to be a consistent theme.

For the record, I will mention a few of these recent follies – the Redskins Training Camp, the Shockoe Baseball proposal,  the Stone Brewery deal, and the UCI Bike Races. All four of these involved large amounts of money, big financial promises, flashy promotion, and stepping all over the wants and the needs of local citizens, their businesses, and their projects and passions.

This is all frustrating, complicated, disheartening, at times even maddening. But what is missed, too much, is that this is quite frankly leading us to an incredibly scary situation. A situation where kids are getting shot on  a semi-regular basis and there is no reason to think things will get better.

Mayor Jones will have you believe that these long term investments of his will pay off and help the City. I want you to understand that we do not have time to wait for these schemes to possibly pay off. As of the 2010 census, 40% of the youth in Richmond lived in poverty. This is a scary high number. Combined with our failing, falling apart, and floundering public school systems we are setting ourselves up for a generation with too few skills, too little education, and not nearly enough hope.

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Usually I am pretty decent at both writing and giving presents. This year, not so much with either. I’ve been too busy doing and adjusting to the actions to really express those feelings. I’ve moved to my grandparent’s land in Beaverdam, VA. I’ve really increased my efforts towards running my historic window renovation business, Karnage Creations LLC. I’ve started renting my house in Richmond to another collective, Quercus. I’ve stood by my partner during a nasty, expensive, and stressful custody battle. I’ve taken the time to go to the dentist which I hadn’t done in almost 10 years. I had tubal reversal surgery and couldn’t lift more than 5 pounds for a month during which I moved from my old big house to a new tiny house.  There is way more than that, and I still don’t feel like getting into it all! A lot of good changes, updates, self care, etc. have happened. It has been busy and involved a lot of hard work. But they have been stressful and expensive even when positive. So this year I do not have the money, and haven’t even had the time, to do anything in the way of presents. Instead I have an announcement and these words to share.

For years and years I have watched other people’s children. From younger cousins, to clients, neighbors, and friends who had me watch their kids fulltime, nights, weekends, whenever. I have seen yall raising your children. And I have become jealous of your pregnancy announcements, adorable pictures, and snuggly little people.

I had my tubes tied a long time ago, hoping to adopt and not wanting hormonal birth control or other options. But as hormones got a hold of me, and the realities around unmarried broke people adopting became clear, I decided I wanted to have kids of my own.

Honestly, I think the main thing that made me want to get my tubes untied was watching so many amazing parents I am lucky to know. From the badass single mothers to the couples figuring it out, I am lucky to have been close enough to watch yall have and raise your children. You inspire me, all of you, and have made me want to have a kid or six of my own. I really can not stress enough how much I love an admire the mothers I know. I would seriously list yall, except for fear of leaving one out. Feminists, punks, artists, musicians, dancers, anarchists, travellers, teachers, bakers, herbalists, writers; you have all shown me amazing ways to parent, and how awesome non mainstream kids can be. If I had known all of you in my early 20’s I would not have gotten my tubes tied. Or I still woulda cause I’m a stubborn jerk. But you impress and inspire and encourage me to know  I can do this too.

Of course, for 1,000 different reasons having a baby is a scary thing. One of the major things I worry about is what kind of world my kid will grow up in. Whether it be climate issues, endless war, fascism, racism, sexism, icky capitalism, cell phone zombies etc., I am very much certain that the world is a bit of a shithole.

I’ve done for years and will continue to do ‘activism’. I think a major reason to work on these changes is for our children. I probably won’t reap the benefits of my actions, but I hope the next generation will. It is why I think being nice, helping strangers, having dialogue with those with whom we disagree, not littering, not wasting resources, buying used, showing animals kindness, etc. are vital things we have to incorporate into our daily habits. Beyond that we can organize movements, protests, write and deliver speeches, make art, or however we express a more explicit activism.
I know there are plenty in the punk and activist scenes who think having kids is for sellouts. Cultures need to work harder on making parents welcome, providing childcare and more. Having a kid knowing how shitty this world can be is brave as hell, and I think, is an expression of hope. We need more hope.

2 of my friends recently gave birth. One for her first time, and one for her second. I am super inspired by their bravery, toughness, and how dang cute lil Mira and Silas are!!! I appreciate so much the women who have talked to me about the pregnancies and children.

I reckon I better announce it, for the record. I am pregnant, and expecting some kind of lil squish on or around August 23, 2016.
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Karnage Creations LLC

Now on yelp:  Karnage Creations

For your window restoration, sash cord repair, glass replacemeny, reglazing, general contractor, carpentry, landscaping, and historic renovation needs.

 

 

Spring is coming haiku pt. 1

Half of my haiku from the winter/Spring.

Next Haiku battle in RVA will be on April 15th at 8pm at Balliceaux, so get to writing yours and come throw down after the Raise Up! Fight for $15 rally which is at 5pm in Monroe Park!!

When I like redneck
But they not like me back. So
Mad I spit my dip!!!

Might take zumba class
At the Y. Just because I
Like to say ZUMBA!

Raven Mack you are
My friend because you are one
Disgruntled redneck

embodiement of
Evil, winter sticks around
Pants oppressin me

Warm up the coffee
dads new dog from milwaukee
book on the couch me

Do you drive a big
Truck? Climate change in my pants
Rising tide pussy

Rain comes down today
Why do anything – ok
Going to the gym

Sometimes i feel like
Sobbing my honey bees left
And i am alone

No one will ever
Match the greatness of the dip
dick and diesel tour

Another year gone
Without seeing monster jam
My soul remains crushed

Bored broke basically
Freezing what are yall doing
This stupid evening?

Whats love got to do
With it? Fucking everything
Dont you get it yet

Heart hurting for good
Reasons. Hoping for the best
We can do it babe

Public Parks are one of the only great services provided by the government, and have value for many. Public parks provide and preserve green space and nature. In urban areas, like Richmond, these green spaces are critical for our sanity and health. Parks provide space for recreation – pick up games of football or frisbee, hula hooping, or tag. Parks provide space for meeting – picnics, friendships, organizations, and chance encounters with strangers. Public Parks provide a place where free speech can be exercised – folks can preach or protest or table without getting kicked out. Parks protect the rights and ability of poor people and people without property to have space to meet, greet, eat, play, and speak.

Rich people do not have the same need for the commons that poorer folks do. If you can afford property you can ensure you ability to access all of the things that a public commons can provide. Hell, you can have your meetings at the Jefferson Hotel, and join sports leagues or gyms. With the suburbanization of America, the concept of the public commons was neglected. Private shopping centers replaced public meeting places. And the consequences are things like the concept of loitering (existing without purchasing) and trespassing charges. You have no right to free speech at a private mall. You have no right to wear, say, or do what you want. And you are ultimately only allowed access if you are spending money or look like you have the potential to.

While the suburbs developed largely with the lack of public commons / public parks, most urban areas have managed to hang onto public parks. Something else is happening here. The public parks in Richmond seem to be slowly slipping out of public hands. The parks are not getting destroyed, but they are having entrance fees for events, new rules, new security, and other restrictive aspects applied to them. This neoliberal trend of privatizing the public needs to be confronted and stopped.

You might not have noticed what is happening with the parks in Richmond, so here are some examples for you.

Brown’s Island, and the Friday Night Cheers concert series used to be free. Now, Brown’s Island is “overseen” by Venture Richmond. Venture Richmond receives hundred of thousands of dollars annually from the City of Richmond. Members of City Council, Dominion Power, Massey Coal, all the major banks, lawyers and more sit on the Board of Venture Richmond. They very clearly represent the interests of those with money and power in Richmond. Under Venture Richmond, the Friday Night Cheers concert series now costs money, making Brown’s Island inaccessible to the public during those events. The finances of these things don’t make much sense, for the public that is. In many cases, Venture Richmond seems to be skirting the law. They take public money regularly, they avoid paying taxes on the property they manage, and yet they are profiting from events they hold. Tredegar Green is one aspect of Venture Richmond’s strange and likely corrupt relationship with public parks.

Monroe Park is now leased the the private group the Monroe Park Conservancy at the rate of  $1 a year for a 30 year lease. The plans presented by the Conservancy are a very transparent attempt to gentrify the park and remove the visibly homeless. Monroe Park has been the site of free food programs such as the weekly Food Not Bombs for over 21 years, and a site of public protest for even longer. The entire process of privatization by the Conservancy (who’s board consists of multiple Venture Richmond members and mostly rich and powerful folks) has been very UNtransparent. When the renovation plans for Monroe Park came under fire, the conservancy removed the plans from the internet. The Wingnut Anarchist Collective had saved a copy and was able to make the plans accessible again. Even now, the status of the Conservancy’s fundraising (they need to come up with 3 million), timeline for development, etc. are not publicly available. City Council members are even unsure as to the status of this project. For now, Monroe Park remains the same, but at any point this could change. Which would lead to a major social and political struggle.

Now Kanawha Plaza is on the chopping block. Renovation plans for Kanawha Plaza come with the post script, that once renovated Venture Richmond might be given control of the park. The WHY aspect of this change of management is ignored in the Times Dispatch article. The motivation or need for such a change is ignored.

Also largely ignored in Richmond is the history of inappropriate and largely corrupt action by Venture Richmond. From their spending on the political lobbying Loving RVA campaign to support the Mayor’s terrible Shockoe Baseball Stadium plan to the admission by Henry Marsh that Richmond Renaissance, the precursor to Venture Richmond was a “shadow government”, Venture Richmond has its own agenda, and does not seem to give a shit about what the people of Richmond want.

The best solution to neglected public parks is not privatization. It is for the local government to stop the neglect! Maintenance, provision of public restrooms, adequate lighting, and more would all allow public parks to thrive while still remaining public. The success of the James River Park System shows that Richmond can totally do successful public parks. We have problems in some existing parks. We should choose the logical solutions, not If people and organizations like Venture Richmond or the Monroe Park Conservancy are simply genuinely concerned with improving public parks, then surely they would be willing to do so without taking control or profiting off of them.

If Venture Richmond and the Monroe Park Conservancy and others are not interested in supporting thriving public parks without taking control of them, well then we, the public, need to  be highly suspicious of their motives. It is difficult enough for the public’s desires to be truly represented by local government. Throw in corporate control, and I wonder about how well tolerated say, No Atlantic Coast Pipeline protests might be. I know from the wording in the Monroe Park Renovation plans that visibly poor people are being explicitly targeted. It is past time to stop the privatizing of our public parks. Let’s stop spending money on Venture Richmond and start spending it on our schools and parks and other amenities that everyone regardless of income needs access to.

Come on Richmond, let’s do this.

I often have the same conversation with folks about anarchism. People want to know what an anarchist world would look like. I tell them, that if someone has a plan for that future, an answer to that question, run in the opposite direction.

Anyone who says they know what will work is probably a liar. And of course any move towards an anarchist society needs to avoid recreating hierarchies. Anyone with a set idea in their head, is likely to work towards that idea, creating power around it and themselves. We need to avoid ego and avoid placing ideas on unwilling persons and communities to move forward. We have to respect autonomy of communities and individuals.

Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is ridiculous. I argue that our current society does exactly that. We are so wrapped up in the system of capitalism and ‘democracy’ that most don’t even see how these systems will never give us what we want. If what we want is freedom, justice, liberty, sustainability, etc.  We have a ton of historical examples that can be drawn from to move forward – from worker co-ops, to income sharing communities, to publishing collectives, to radical unions and more.  I think the trick here, is to not be sold on any one tactic off the bat.

Identifying with an idea is a dangerous start. When we create our identities we often become defensive about them. Working towards a better world, we are going to make mistakes. The key, in my opinion, is to not fear mistakes. The system we currently have does not work.

Let me say that again, the system we currently have does not work.

What are we so scared of? If we try something new, and it doesn’t work, then we have learned something important.

Fear generally, and fear of failure specifically, holds us back from attaining better things.

But if we start off identifying with an idea, building power around an idea, we will be less willing to admit when the idea does not work out. Instead, we could try ideas for set periods of time, or until the results were obvious. The possibilities are fairly endless.

We need ideas, and we need communities willing to try various ideas. And we probably need to create a method of documenting successes and failures of different ideas, so no one is forced to reinvent the wheel. Touring speakers, zines, books, documentaries, online articles and more could be our methods of dispersing ideas and lessons learned from their implementation.

This should also all be done in the context of recognizing that different things will work for different people in different places. Realities of environment and natural resources will impact what different communities will be able to do that will work for them. The more locally specific we make our ideas for communities, the better they will work out in the long run.

What would an Anarchist Society look like? What do you think?

A society which values autonomy, mutual aid, sustainability, non violence, liberty, AND  experimentation sounds like a good start to me.

Part 5/7 – Citizens Opposed to Monroe Park Conservancy Lease – 2014 March 18 – Land Use – Richmond City Council – Richmond, VA from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

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