Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Catching Up

The project I’ve been working on since 2003 is to engage emerging and established thought leaders in discussions that might lead to sustained, structured analysis of the public health model of civic participation. What I called Communicating Social Transformation in my academic thesis.

Having begun my own blog in 2005, I was able to expand on the comments and conversations I had with people during the previous two years, at various blogs and news sites, on such topics as using research as an organizing tool. The organization of the Skookum sidebar reflects that effort. My subsequent work with the Center for World Indigenous Studies, as well as the Public Good Project, demonstrate what that means.

More recently, I wrote a narrative for a CWIS cinematic documentary proposal to Sundance Institute, but we were not successful in securing any funds. The history of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Movement and specific aspects of that struggle remain viable topics for both cinema and broadcast television, but we aren’t quite there yet. Indigenous-produced media is still restricted to film festivals with occasional exposure on public television, rarely getting into what sovereignty and self-determination are all about.

That will change, and when that wall falls, all hell will break loose. In the meantime, corresponding with people who are key to making that opportunity happen is a regular part of my correspondence. Since many of these people are not indigenous, building their awareness, which in turn serves to motivate commitment, is a step in the process that can’t be bypassed.

My guess is that we will eventually see something akin to the 1960s culture shock over race, environment, gender, and religion. Only this time, the culture shock will bring all of this together in support of the human right to choose a way of life consistent with indigenous or hippie values that reject state and market control. It’s a big step, and it will be chaotic — particularly given the economic panic and religious hysteria that accompany environmental catastrophe — but being intellectually prepared might help.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Battle Continues

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle, a new book by David and Rebecca Solnit, includes excerpts from an interview with Public Good Project's former research director Paul de Armond. We haven't seen the book yet, but thought readers might appreciate knowing. David Solnit was an organizer for Direct Action Network during the November 1999 Battle in Seattle; his sister Rebecca is an author, a contributing editor to Harper's magazine, and a friend of Zapatismo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Models of Governance

Recent developments in the sovereignty of stateless nations in Europe point to a new organizational model for modern states stuck in colonial relationships with indigenous and ethnic minorities. Facing the alternatives of systems disruption that plague states like India, or the criminal enterprise trajectory modeled by Russia and the US, authentic democracy that respects the sovereignty of aboriginal nations offers a relatively benign choice. As indigenous nations in the Americas gain momentum in the development and consolidation of their human rights under international law, the economies and environments they inhabit will likely undergo substantial change from earlier European-imposed models of governance. Indeed, that is already underway.