Corvallis Social Justice: DIY Community Meetup, Ancient Care Practices, Valuing Indigenous Environmental Knowledges, Writing Workshop in Honor of Audre Lorde

“Punk Picnic,” an all-ages, substance-free Corvallis DIY community meetup, will take place at Cloverland Park this Saturday, Sept. 3. Hosted by Bitter Half Booking, run by local activists and DIY show organizers Caitlin Garets and Indiana Laub, folks are encouraged to pack a lunch and/or bring something to share with their community.  

As in the past, these meetups are designed to help foster and expand an inclusive local scene for historically excluded people to support, relate to, and embrace each other’s creativity, organizing efforts, and need for community.  

“The goal is to help people make in-person connections outside of shows. Shows can be a great way to meet people, but it’s also really easy to only hang out with your friends or to be a wallflower,” said Garets. “I also like that the meetups aren’t about any one person, project, or organization – it’s about sharing ideas and creativity and one thing isn’t more important or valuable than the other. So if anyone has music, zines, art, buttons, patches, or radical projects that they would like to share with a friendly group of punks and weirdos, we encourage them to come out!”  

Women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ folks, and non-college-age people are especially encouraged to hang.  

Just as we do with Bitter Half shows, as hosts we want to center people who are often unsafe in, unwelcome in, or excluded from mainstream music communities,” said Garets. “One thing I have been especially stoked on since starting to host the meetups again is how gay and gender-expansive they are. The DIY scene here has always had a good amount of queer and trans people involved – at least in the past 15 years or so – but we’ve usually been outnumbered. Now it seems like the majority of people who have been coming out fall somewhere under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and it rules.”  

The picnic will take place from 2 – 5 p.m. Organizers ask that attendees be fully vaccinated and boosted; masks are encouraged.  

 Future Possibilities in Ancient Care Practices: Saturday’s benefit show for the Corvallis Really Really Free Market’s (RRFM) free store, hosted at the Thompson Shelter at Avery Park, saw a communal sharing of artistic, material, and emotional support. Free resources – clothing, food, hygiene products, zines, etc. – live punk and experimental music performances, and tabling by local queer and trans artists aligned well with the show’s theme, “Capitalist Hell,” allowing folks in the community to express their experiences of impoverishment, exploitation, and unmet needs, as well as find more ways to cultivate spaces and relations of care outside of them.  

One of those in attendance was Adrian Cerny, a queer, disabled, neurodivergent Corvallis community member and Oregon State University student who looks to ancient, pre-capitalist and pre-colonial human histories for the possibility of future societies built on practices of love, collective care, and mutual aid.   

“I’ve been looking back into my history and my ancient ancestors who were buried in bogs in Europe, who still made it through their lives by standing up for each other and helping each other. If someone was ill, maybe you couldn’t heal them with medicine, but you could still make sure they were a valued member of the community, you could make sure they were rested, you could make sure they were loved, and that when they died, they were buried with love,” said Cerny. “There’s evidence of Neanderthals, of Cro-Magnons practicing burials with care. Before we had written language we inscribed our love for each other in how we cared for others during their life and how we cared for them after they passed. You can see in the bones, you can see in the teeth that people were loved.”  

Events like this, she added, help her and other marginalized folks feel less isolated, and serve as a reminder that before the foundation and expansion of any oppressive system, there was reciprocity and nurturance – and they continue to survive.  

“I know there’s a lot of awful stuff going on, and it seems like it’s been going on forever, but if you look at the entire spectrum of human existence, colonial-capitalism is new; we’ve lived before it, and we can live after it,” said Cerny. “It is temporary. I know it’s terrible, and I know the generational trauma of it is very weighty, but it brings me joy to reconnect with the reality that there was a place for disabled people, there was a place for queer people, and people were able to live in a way where their interactions with the land were beneficial to the land and themselves. They didn’t have a 40-hour work week – based on the idea that you have to ‘earn’ a living, which in and of itself implies that some people don’t deserve to live – they were not depleting all of their resources.”  

For one RRFM organizer, who requested to remain anonymous, shows like this are just one way for people to meet and connect with others in their community in mutually empowering, supportive ways.  

“Find efforts that you can join to extend your learning and create feedback loops outside of capitalism,” they said. “Give away food, paint whatever you want, start a union, understand that objects are temporary but impact is irreplaceable.”  

To help support the continued operation of the free store, consider becoming a monthly donor by subscribing to the RRFM’s Patreon  

Valuing Indigenous Knowledges for a Sustainable World: Lara Jacobs, a Mvskoke (Creek) Ph.D. student in Recreation Ecology at OSU, recently Tweeted about the “dire need” to incorporate Indigenous knowledges, sciences, and value systems into contemporary land management paradigms, noting how much of the climate crisis is predicated on these knowledges having been historically ignored, suppressed, and discounted by Western scientists.  

“What state would our climate be in today if they would have listened [to] our Peoples and let us continue to steward our lands and waters in good relations and reciprocity?” reads the Tweet.  

Jacobs cited research papers she had co-authored with Indigenous peoples “across Turtle Island” earlier this year that expand on this critique, which are listed below:  

  • “Cultivating sovereignty in parks and protected areas: Sowing the seeds of restorative and transformative justice through the #LANDBACK movement” – this article argues that parks and protected areas (PPAs) present an opportunity for public and private institutions to move beyond standard land acknowledgments “into action-oriented frameworks that support decolonization efforts” and “strengthen Indigenous land governance, conservation, and sovereignty.” You can read and download the full PDF of the article here. 
  • “Re-Centering Indigenous Knowledge in climate change discourse” – this short opinion piece highlights Indigenous-led climate justice movements, projects, and mitigation strategies to “help us recenter mainstream climate change dialogues back to Indigenous communities and their ways of knowing (epistemologies) and shift away from the negative narratives that diminish our hope for the future.” Read the full text here. 
  • “Reimagining U.S. Federal Land Management through Decolonization and Indigenous Value Systems” – published in the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, this article emphasizes a need for “Tribal co-management of FLMAs [Federal Land Management Areas], the inclusion of Tribal land management practices across ecosystems, and the restoration of Indigenous land use and management rights.” Read the abstract here. 

Jacobs, who also serves as Chair and Graduate Student Representative of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Club at OSU, discussed with The Advocate additional ways for individuals, groups, and organizations to actively support Indigenous communities beyond acknowledgment in a July CitySpeak alongside panelists Dr. Luhui Whitebear, Rachel Black Elk, and Chanti Manon-Ferguson. You can view the recording of the CitySpeak here  

Channeling Audre Lorde in Writing Workshop for Rogue Intellectuals: Alexis Pauline Gumbs, a self-described “Queer Black Troublemaker and Black Feminist Love Evangelist,” independent scholar, poet, experimental author, and educator, is leading a virtual two-hour writing workshop that will offer a supportive space for attendees to learn and reflect on their relationships with their intellectual labor. Writing exercises will all be based on the poetry, wisdom, and legacy of “Black lesbian feminist socialist poet warrior mother” Audre Lorde.  

“Whether you are a teacher, student, organizer, librarian, artist, or rebel for any cause, back-to-school season is a good time to think and feel critically about your intellectual work and how it lives in community with the guidance of Audre Lorde’s analysis of the labor economics of co-optation,” reads the workshop’s description. 

Much like the webinars and resources of Brilliance Remastered, an online network founded by Gumbs based on the statement in Lorde’s famous essay, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,” that this fact “is only threatening to those who still define the master’s house as their only form of support,” the workshop is designed to help people bring their intellectual and creative work to the issues and communities they’re passionate about, remain connected and accountable to these communities, and to do so in ways that exist autonomously of institutions they might be navigating as students, employees, etc. Ways that render them, as implicated in the title of the workshop, “rogue intellectuals.”  

“I think a rogue intellectual is anyone who is using their work thinking, teaching, learning or creating art to transform the world instead of keeping it the way that it is. But in a time when institutions use the words and images and ideas of revolutions to sell products, it seems like even our most radical ideas can be co-opted,” wrote Gumbs in an email. “The purpose of the workshop is for each of us to look at what it might mean for us to relate to our intellectual work in ways that are accountable to our communities and not neutralized by universities and other colonial institutions.”  

Gumbs believes this work is possible, and that others can base their own intellectual and creative decisions on that possibility, even when operating under the unique constraints or opportunities imposed by a college town like Corvallis.  

“Activists, organizers, students, educators and artists in college towns are perfectly positioned to write and think and make decisions about the nuances of the many ways intellectual work moves, grows, resounds, gets stuck, and more,” wrote Gumbs. “And college towns can sometimes feel like totalizing spaces, determined by the needs of the college, but tapping into the legacy of Audre Lorde could allow us to step back and look at the political implications of our everyday decisions in a different way.”  

The workshop will begin this Thursday, Sept. 1, at 6:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 p.m. PT). To register and learn more, click here  

By Emilie Ratcliff 

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