Apr 29: Informal Gathering of the Heart

In the receding wake of Occupy Windsor, and in conjunction with Artcite’s Mayworks 2012 exhibit , Occupiers Katie Khaos, Doug MacLellan, and Paul Chislett are embarking on a project to create a commemorative book of the Occupy Windsor experience: Informal Gathering of Heart.

Robbee and Neil at Occupy Windsor, Nov. 2011(Photo: Paul Chislett)

The book will be an original creation meant to convey the heart and soul of an occupation that sought to reclaim public space in which to produce a non-hierarchical cooperative process as a counter weight to the suffocating patriarchal, militaristic and non-democratic political and economic system there is said to be no alternative to.

The book will be unveiled May 4th at 7:30 PM at Artcite, 109 University Ave. W.


MayWorks 2012 and the politics of community engaged art: Alana Bartol, Collette Broeders, and Rita Haase

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

L to R: Rita Hasse, Collette Broeders, Alana Bartol. Click image to see Mayworks 2012 info at Artcite. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

If there was a theme Friday it was around the current deadly serious political and economic structure which marginalizes people, seeks to protect the interests of a minority ruling class, and stifles the creativity of so many, especially young people, as they face mounting debt from tuition fees and bleak job prospects: particularly in Windsor/Detroit.

In the effort to remain hopeful and spirited the guests examined what we mean by community? How can we re-balance political and economic power? How can we keep hopeful, positive and spirited in the struggle for equality, justice and building community? In the studio to help explore these questions were Alana Bartol, artist and Cultural Animator at the Arts Council of Windsor & Region, Collette Broeders, a mixed media artist and Mayworks organizer based in Oldcastle, and Rita Haase, who teaches eco-feminism as well as science and environmental education here at the University of Windsor, and she is the founder of the Campus Community Gardening Project.

Click image for all the info you'll need for Mayworks 2012

In this clip Alana Bartol gives an overview of community engaged art and her work as a cultural animator with Arts Council of Windsor and Region as well as a description of the Artists in the Community/Workplace program:

Collette Broeders describes here making a living as an artist and the struggle to create and also her projects for Mayworks 2012 which includes an examination of  the lives of blue collar workers and the “remnants of workers’ journeys”:

Rita Haase explains her passion for campus community gardening and how it has helped students and property owners in the university area to come to better understand each other:

Community engaged art is capable of exposing the hypocrisy of power and in this clip Bartol gives an example on the local level:

The guests commented on their hopes for Windsor’s future:

The following are Mayworks exhibits featuring Friday’s guests on the program:

4 May – Reception for “OCCUPY THIS!”, the MayWorks Windsor 2012 exhibit, featuring the “Occupy Windsor Documentation
Project“ and the installation: “The Break Room“ – 7:30–10:30 pm at Artcite Inc., 109 University Ave. W.

5 May – “Hands To the Earth: A Diggin’ Event“- Join local gardeners and artists for an afternoon of gardening, creative projects and
healthy food. 12 noon–4 pm at the Campus Community Garden Project, 380 California. Rain date: Sunday, May 6, 12 noon–4 pm.

13 May – Inspect X exhibition reception for Collette Broeders’ “INDUSTRIAL PASSAGES: A Worker Dwells Here“.
1–3 pm at 5575 Roscon Industrial Drive, Oldcastle, (519) 737-2667.

Featured CD:

Click image for more on this band and their "junkyard folktronica" sound

Sample Track:



April 13: Tyler Morgenstern: Reimagine CBC & Tewodros Asfaw on media theory and perception

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor including upcoming AGM and Logo Contest

Listen to entire program here:

As the Harper regime ratchets up its attack on working people and civil society in general with cuts to the CBC, slashing jobs and services in the federal government, engaging in a criminal conspiracy with the F-35 fighter jets, and more – and ON TOP of all that happened while it was a minority government, we are faced with what can only be described as an existential crisis in this country.  The official opposition is powerless to stop anything this government does, and increasingly we are moving to what is often termed extra-parliamentary forms of action in order to do two things: build awareness and solidarity in the working class, and to plan what forms of civil disobedience may be required to counter the totalitarian nature of this government and the faulty electoral system that allowed it to come to power in the first place. How we communicate with each other is of course crucial and although social media is playing a huge role in communicating to organize, we are left with a huge gap in how we analyze what is going on and communicate that analysis across the country from a working class perspective.

The corporate media has of course long ago perched itself as chief propagandist for the ruling elites, but the CBC is still the only media outlet independent of the big telecom and cable companies that own so much of the media. It’s painfully evident that much of the CBC is run by the same type of for profit managers found in any corporation, and I suppose the downhill slide became unstoppable when commercials started to air on The National and that same program gets bumped for Don Cherry and hockey games. So in the furor building over the huge cuts to the CBC budget, the calls have grown louder to Save the CBC! Yet we have to be honest and admit that much of the CBC is probably not worth saving. News programs such as Dispatches on CBC Radio and Connect on TV are cut but the Lang and O’Leary Exchange will continue. Kevin O’Leary appears in multiple CBC programs and so his minority opinion on economic and political issues is outsized because of his exposure.

So, the question here on Friday’s program was what is there to save of the CBC, and are we thinking “outside the box” in terms of alternative models for a publicly funded, independent  media that we can rely on to represent our interests, rather than the interests of the ruling elites? We need a media that is not simply the propaganda arm of government or corporations.

In the studio was Marxist observer and University of Windsor student, Tewodros Asfaw who will guide us through some media and communication theory, and on the phone from BC, was Vancouverite Tyler Morgenstern, an activist, writer,  musician and a spokesperson for Reimagine CBC, a project of OpenMedia.ca and Leadnow seeking to renew the CBC as an enabler of “…collaboration, civic engagement, conversation, innovation and new forms of storytelling.”

Click image to get involved with Reimagine CBC

Tewodros Asfaw started off the discussion with an overview of media theory and practice in broad terms:

Morgenstern eloquently sums up why the CBC is so crucial and he points out that their are many CBCs:

Click image for more on CBC funding

In this clip Morgenstern describes how the Reimagine CBC project came about and how it functions: 

Morgenstern agrees that  greater collaboration with community media outlets is crucial and coupled with greater access to the vast archives of the CBC by independent community media producers could create an authentic peoples’ media:

Featured CD:

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Troubled Mind:

April 6: Art Sterritt and the Northern Gateway Pipeline; Elena Herrada and the “Consent” Agreement in Detroit

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

The last program fell on Good Friday heading into the Easter holiday weekend – a weekend full of a message of peace and transformation; yet, with the Ontario and federal budgets this country and province are being transformed into ruthless dog eat dog places that place people and the environment dead list in a list of priorities meant to satisfy the global investor class.

 In the budget was $7-8 million earmarked for Revenue Canada to go after charities that receive funding from abroad. It is commonly understood that this move is a way to silence critics of the Tar Sands and the planned Northern Gateway Pipeline to the BC coast.

With me on the phone from his home in British Columbia was Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative and an opponent of the Northern Gateway Pipeline. The First Nations that comprise the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative “occupy the Northern and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii areas of B.C., from the Alaskan border in the north to Vancouver Island in the south. This region is the unceded Traditional Territory of more than one dozen First Nations.”

Click map image for more on the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative

If you’re looking where the fight is against the Harper regime look to Art Sterritt and the Coastal First Nations who are opposing the Northern Gateway Pipeline. In this audio clip Sterritt outlines the scope of the pipeline, the studies the communities he represents have carried out and the bullying tactics of the Harper regime. He also points out that any agency, government or otherwise, charged with protecting the environment are affected by funding cuts in the last federal budget. the environment is at stake; any semblance of democracy itself is at stake:

Proposed route of Northern Gateway Pipeline

In this segment, Sterritt explains that it is not pipelines that are the problem, it’s the crude oil, or in this case, the bitumen from the Tar Sands. The BC economy is self-sufficient and thirty thousand jobs rely on a healthy environment:

The illogic of the pipeline, coupled with a lack of a national energy policy leaves Canadians victims  to the whims of unaccountable global energy conglomerates:

The fight against the pipeline is one we should all be willing to take on. The Harper regime’s move to silence dissent is reason enough to take action. In this clip Sterritt also explains that past disasters must be avoided because the social costs as well as the economic costs are too great:

Click image for more on this band

For the oceans:


In the second half hour I spoke with Elena Herrada, a Detroit community activist and school board trustee about the “consent” agreement giving the State governor, and in reality, corporations control of the city:

According to Herrada, the decision to implement the consent agreement is illegal and racialized as it is cities with majority Black populations and Black leadership that are “under an emergency manager of one form or another”:

In this clip, Herrada explains the effects of the consent agreement with some context around the realities of the tax base which depended on a residency requirement for city workers – that they actually live in Detroit – a requirement lifted ten years ago setting the stage for the state/corporate takeover of the city. She aptly describes how the inner city has been further eviscerated and become the playground of those living in the suburbs while inner city residents struggle to survive without  representation or the power of taxation:

Click image for Rachel Maddow segment on Emergency Manager Law at the 6:13 minute mark.

Click on image to learn why Detroit may be down but NOT out. (Thanks to Rich Feldman for this)

Featured CD:

Cry Cry Cry:

March 30: Joan Kuyek and community organizing; Rockin’ Robbee live in the studio

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

On the program over the last year or so I’ve focused on ways we can reorganize our lives to break free of the dominant view that corporations and business in general should be free to act in pursuit of profit and power with as little “interference” as possible from government. These forces have been successful because they  ensure that politicians from the municipal level on up serve their interests, and there is no better example of this in action than the recent provincial and federal budgets. The alternatives we have explored are worker cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and various guests such as Ron Scott with the Boggs Center to Nurture Community  who have critiqued the dominant political and economic culture.

 Continuing with the theme that there are alternatives, Joan Kuyek was on the line from Ottawa. Joan is a long time community organizer and social justice activist. She published a book last year – one of many – and this one is an updated version of her 1990 Fighting for Hope: Organizing to Realize Our Dreams. Her latest is Community Organizing: A Holistic Approach and in it she describes her journey so far: “Working for community, for the healing and protection of the earth and for justice has organized my life in Canada for over forty years. Life as a community organizer has shaped my values and analysis of the world around me. This book is a product of that work and of the work of other organizers from all over the world.” (Click on link  for YouTube video of Kuyek and her book)

Click image for more on the book Community Organizing: A Holistic Approach

I’ve wanted to have Joan on for some time since the publication of her latest book last year, as she lived and worked for many years in my hometown of Sudbury where she and other activists struggled for change in ways that I think were ahead of their time, in the north anyway, and those struggles have a lot, I believe, to teach us here in Windsor.

Click image for Resources for Community Organizing

I asked Kuyek to define the term community organizer and mentioned that US president had described himself as one during his 2008 campaign:

Kuyek mentions in the above clip Saul Alinsky:

Click image for more on the important community and labour organizer Saul Alinsky

 I asked Kuyek about why this book now:

A key concept Kuyek briefly explores in the book, yet is central to her work is the three forms of power relationships:

In this clip Kuyek describes the influence of First Nations people, her views on our culture and the environment and who she has learned from:

More on Weir Reid

Click image for ordering info for the book

Rockin' Robbee in the studio

If Not For You: