Features

From Scarcity To Abundance: stories from the streets of Oaxaca > by Joel Catchlove

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There´s something brewing on the streets of Oaxaca. The genteel colonial centre is vividly scrawled with graffiti and much of it is political. Spray paint depicts everything from giant, masked Lucha Libre wrestlers with the caption La lucha sigue (The struggle continues), to repeated references to the Zapatistas, the indigenous-based rebel movement in the neighbouring state of Chiapas. Small, scrawny figures in the trademark Zapatista ski-masks adorn street signs, the masked face of Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos appears in bold black on freshly painted walls, while on another, stencils depict a masked indigenous woman harvesting corn beneath the line "corn is our life". Amid the Zapatistas, another line repeats itself, in stencil or running spraypaint: Oaxaca Libre, 14 de Junio, No se olvida (Free Oaxaca, June 14, Do not forget).
 
While it scarcely registered in the Australian media, and few media outlets anywhere fully grasped the depth of what was happening, for five months in 2006, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca was, as Al Giordano describes "a government-free zone", "not governed from above, but rather self-governed by popular assembly.” What began as a teachers´ strike for better wages and conditions grew into a massive, non-violent, broad-based social movement that drove the corrupt and universally despised governor into hiding, and laid the foundations for a truly participatory democracy. As the people of Oaxaca realised that the corrupt government needed them more than they needed it, they began a shift (to use a phrase of Oaxaca´s Universidad de la Tierra) from the scarcity of dependence to the abundance of community self-reliance.
 
Oaxaca has a heritage of community self-government in its diverse indigenous population. Four out of five municipalities in the state still govern themselves through a process of communal assemblies, known as "practices and customs" or usos y costumbres, a system that doesn´t acknowledge political parties and functions by consensus. Furthermore, as Nancy Davies describes, "statewide, the greater part of public works in four hundred small communities are still carried out by citizen tequios [the traditional indigenous system of unpaid community service] that accomplish a variety of tasks like building roads; repairing churches, bringing in the harvest; and sharing the expenses of weddings, baptisms and deaths." With state and federal levels of Mexican government apparently riddled with corruption and with governments everywhere increasingly wedded to neoliberal economic policies that privilege the health of corporations over the health of communities, the critical importance of community self-reliance is becoming increasingly clear. It is this self-reliance that two Oaxaqueño organisations, Casa Chapulin and the Universidad de la Tierra, seek to cultivate.
 


The Bohemian Masquerade Ball > 26th April > Northcote Uniting Hall

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'i dreamt of a burning beauty, in the cold theiving hours all my people rallying round one another spiraling into their heights, in a beautiful burning evening'
 
the night is something between a liquorice kiss and a friendly molotov cocktail... the bohemian ball will leave you dizzy and nauseous with inspiration and bravado with two stages running throughout the night featuring bands from all over the incestuous boho scene of melbourne, brisvegas and paris, local short films, dance troupes, chai tent, kurdish food, fire acts, poets, robots, crazy elves, samurais.
 
It will be a Brisbane storm, with some of the heaviest reigning bands coming down for the ball the funkjazz aficianados 'Kafka' and the soul, groove good lipped lingustics of 'Mr Laneous' and a mighty show for the heavy weights of Dub the 'Dynamic Thrills'.
 
'Matt Kelly & the Keepers' the rock experimental group getting high rotation on audience emotions.


MINISTRY OF TRUTH pilot episode

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Undergrowth is proud to feature the first full length episode of The Ministry of Truth a cutting edge online television show with a tight blend of edgy satire, video art, and contemporary Australian politics - just the kind of thing Australia needs on it's televisions amongst the anaesthesia of most mainstream media. This episode tackles the concept of Democracy, in all its forms, from the war on terror to anarchist street polls, the rise of nationalism and the debasement of the political arena. Smart. Sexy. Dangerous. Watch it.


The 2050 Project - A Virtual Blueprint

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The 2050 Project is a virtual blueprint for a sustainable Melbourne in the year 2050. This 3D visualization invites you to experience the vision of sustainable city in action. Travel on our sustainable transport and step inside eco-buildings of the future as we explore new possibilities and stretch our imagination of the world that could be.

For more information on sustainability movement and how to get involved: http://www.slf.org.au

Duration: 24 minutes 30 seconds


Earthdream > documentary by Matt Bonner

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Europe 1988: Mutoid Waste founder Robin Mutoid conceives a journey across the Australian desert, which would fuse a 'madder than Max' blend of theater, protest, radical lifestyle and performance. Twelve years later Robin heads to Port Augusta in Australia's far south to see who will join the vision. Those who come are a mixture of activists, musicians, travellers and artists willing to take part in the 20,000km journey and experiment with 'lateral human governance'. Along the way the spontaneous community of creative nomads hold parties and free festivals, perform music workshops for kids in the outback and also experience violence at the hands of the South Australian Police Force during a protest for indigenous rights at the Beverly Uranium Mine.

The Empire of Crime by Alex Steffen

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EVOLVER > Daniel Pinchbeck interview > by Tim Boucher

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Daniel Pinchbeck is one of the leading voices in today’s psychedelic counter-culture, exploring the connections between psychedelics & shamanism and their importance in the modern era. Though he’s published feature articles in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Wired, The Village Voice and is a regular columnist in Arthur magazine, it was his 2003 book, Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism, which seems to have really given him a higher profile among those interested in alternative religion and spirituality.

Evolver illustration by Tim Parish


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The Challenge of World Service by Alice A. Bailey

 

I challenge the thinkers of the world to drop their sectarianism, their nationalism, and their partisanships, and in the spirit of brotherhood to work in their particular nation, regarding it as an integral part of a great federation of nations,--a federation that now exists on the inner side but waits for the activity of the world thinkers to bring it to materialisation on the outer side. I charge them to work in the cause of religion and in the field of that particular religion in which they, by an accident of birth or by choice, are interested, regarding each religion as part of the great world religion. They must look upon the activities of their group, society or organization as demanding their help, just in so far, and only so far, as the principles upon which they are founded and the techniques which they employ serve the general good and develop the realisation of Brotherhood.


Nyéléni - The World Forum for Food Sovereignty > by Joel Catchlove

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April 2007

On the dusty shores of Lake Sélingué, Mali, West Africa, amid mud brick huts and donkey carts, peasants, family farmers, fisherfolk, nomads, pastoralists, indigenous and forest peoples, rural workers, migrants and consumers from across the world laid down a challenge. From their many languages and regions emerged a global call for food sovereignty.


'Free Media v Free Beer' by Andrew Lowenthal

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The free beer Richard Stallman loathes is everywhere. Media companies are currently falling over themselves to produce the new hive for user generated content. The names have rapidly become common place - YouTube, MySpace, Flickr - and their affect has been enormous, dramatically changing the production and distribution of media globally. Free beer pours from the taps of these new hubs of participatory media as they clamor to get you in the door. But free beer, as Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman has always emphasised, is not the same as freedom.

The Free Software Foundation has a stock standard one liner about what free software is and is not: "free as in free speech, not as in free beer". That is free software is not about price, but liberty. Free software is software that may be freely shared and modified, generally on the basis that those modifications also be made available to others. The defining document for free software is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL).

Free software is the philosophical Genesis of a much broader set of practices that seek to empower the user and challenge the limitations of the proprietary model in the realm of software, culture, media, politics, science and more. The model and ethics of free software production can be ported to a range of other realms. I will explore two activist media and software projects that attempt to embody free software principals and challenge the proprietary model.

They are;

EngageMedia.org - an Australian based free software project and video sharing site for social and environmental justice film from Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific.
* Transmission.cc - a new global network of social change online video projects co-founded by EngageMedia.

But first.....

WHAT'S NOT FREE ABOUT FREE MEDIA?


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