Archive for February, 2015

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 – An Endangered Species?

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.

An Anarchist Society – What Would It Look Like?

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.

Citizens Opposed to Monroe Park Conservancy Lease – 2014 March 18

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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