Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Digital Archive: The Feminist Poster Project

Thanks, internet, for leading me to the The Feminist Poster Project.

I'm really hoping that the blog hasn't been abandoned (since the most recent update is from April, 2012). But, it's still worth checking out because of all the resources that are available on the site. According to the blog, the Feminist Poster project was founded in July, 2010 and was started as a place to archive and share feminist posters, postcards and stickers. These documents are available on the site to download, print, share and distribute. The posters are conveniently grouped by themes, with the largest resources gathered around Contraceptive/Reproductive Freedom, Sexuality/Love/Homophobia, Violence/Harassment/Self-defence and Work/Class/Anti-capitalisim. There are two smaller categories of postcards and stickers, but they are still worth checking out. The documents also come with a brief description that gives a bit of background about the piece, they are labeled with what language(s) they are available in, copyleft?, information about the contributor and the link to the pdf download.

Shared from the Grassroots Feminism website, "The Feminist Poster Project encourages the designing, printing, sharing and distributing feminist posters and putting them up in public places. Sexist advertisement and misogynist media are all around us. If we want to fight this patriarchal propaganda, we have to produce our own images and messages. I would like to see feminist posters on walls, feminist signs over sexist ads, feminist stickers on street signs and feminist postcards in our letterboxes. I would like to see a change in our environments and a change in people's minds. I hope the Feminist Poster Project can help to achieve this.

As an online poster network, the Feminist Poster Project offers a space for showing, exchanging and downloading feminist posters, postcards and stickers. Anyone can use the posters for non-commercial purposes such as actions, DIY media, and home decoration and anyone can contribute their own creations. On the website you can find - apart from inspiring examples of feminist graphic art - several DIY guides and links on how to make your own posters, mix wheat paste, use print techniques and organise actions. The Feminist Poster Project supports the do-it-yourself idea and welcomes your contributions!"

The project offers a space and network to connect with other feminists, get inspired by the submissions and contribute by sharing your own self made posters, stickers and postcards. I find this project really inspiring, based on the idea of confronting and disrupting images of advertising in public spaces as well as the sharing of resources and tools for disruption. This thinking really challenges assumptions about who is 'authorized' to produce knowledge (and in what contexts), and who 'owns' that knowledge once it is public. Hope you are still taking contributions or maybe you exist somewhere else on the internet -thanks, Feminist Poster Project, for the inspiration!

More links about the project:
The Feminist Poster Project: A Powerful Archive of Digital Art
The Feminist Poster Project (Youthline.ca)
Drawings by Nina: The Feminist Poster Project

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gettin' creative with crafternoons

Inspired by so many incredible groups, some of the femmes have been participating in a, usually bimonthly, yet-to-be-named (Rad Vag gets my vote) crafternoon since late fall last year. We work on individual and collective projects like: knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, stencil-making, zine-making, drawing, letter-writing, beading, screen-printing (on paper and fabric) and more! Sometimes someone in the group will facilitate a skillshare for other members and other times we just hang out and work on our projects together.

The crafternoon has, without a doubt, helped me survive the winter and has kept me inspired on days when I really have just wanted to hibernate. Crafternoons, for me, are about:
  • Hanging out with totally rad women and engaging in thoughtful talks about feminism(s), politics, projects and you know, life in general. 
  • Learning new skills, like screen-printing, natural deodorant making and crocheting (with guidance and support as I need it). 
  • Sharing cups of tea or coffee and tasting delicious homemade treats. 
  • Learning about things that I never knew existed, like what a grommet is, and how to use it. 
  • Getting inspired by what others are working helps me with ideas for my own projects. 
  • Being part of a participatory community motivates me to try new things and learn skills that are new to me. 
  • DIY! Collective and individual projects!
  • Participating in creative activities nurtures my mental/emotional health (especially in the winter). 
  • Sharing time, materials, skills and food feels good.
  • Encouraging long and short term accountability for projects. I've started and finished more projects since I've been hanging out at crafternoons. 
While one of the aims of Wall of Femmes is to promote recognition of women we admire and find inspirational, I wanted to recognize those I know a little closer to home. Folks I've met in Montreal are facilitating, organizing and mobilizing around so many events that it encourages me to join in or start up something myself. So, back to crafternoons. For me, they've been a great starting point to collaborate and share ideas and maybe make plans for other projects too.

Maybe you want to start up one of your own?  Need some more inspiration? Find a Stitch 'n Bitch knitting group or start your own. Or, maybe you would prefer to send postcards and letters to those near and far by starting or joining a letter-writing club, like the Fight-boredom Letter writing club in Montreal. You could also get inspired by Fun-a-day projects or check out the workshops held at Ste-Emile Skillshare or drop by on Saturdays for their open studio. All it takes is getting a group of talented (or not so talented) crafters together to share skills and eats, then let the crafty times ensue!

Crafts pictured: 
Red polka-dot bag, sewn by hand made to hold Scrabble tiles.
Natural deodorant, made from scratch.
Crocheted scarf (this skill needs perfecting).
Mini-zines (made especially for friends and lovers).
Screenprinted bag (a first attempt at screen printing!)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Way too much violence

An issue I learned more about on International Women’s Day:

Organizations across the country are calling for a federal action plan to investigate violence against Aboriginal women in Canada. 

In Canada,“Aboriginal women are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-aboriginal women” (see recent article).


Here are some links/resources, take a look:

Amnesty International - No More Stolen Sisters!

The Native Women’s Association of Canada's community resource guide, "What Can I Do to Help the Families of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls?"


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

International Women's Day Events in Montreal!


This year Canada's theme for International Women's day is Working Together: Engaging Men to End Violence Against Women. So if you and your crew are thinking about what to do for International Women’s Day in Montreal, you might be interested in checking out some of the following events. The list is by no means exhaustive so if you know of or would like to highlight additional events, please do so by commenting! 

Les Femmes Se Levent Contre la Violence des Oppresseurs! /Women Rise Up Against Violence!

What: Demonstration/Solidarity Celebration
When: Friday, March 8th, 2013 - starting at 6pm
Where: Place Émilie Gamelin (métro Berri UQAM)
Additional Information: wdofdo@gmail.comWebsite, and Facebook Event

To draw attention to the on-going plague of violence against women and its related aspects, as well as to celebrate the courage and tenacity of women who stand up to confront and challenge it in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and around the world, the 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins will be organizing a demonstration and invites all women, women-identified, and allies – Friday 8th March 2013 6pm – starting from Place Émilie Gamelin (métro Berri UQAM) To be followed by a solidarity celebration at Comité Social Centre-Sud, 1710 Beaudry (Beaudry Metro).


La Courtepointe Appliquée / Applied Quilting by La Fabrique Éthique de Montréal

What: Workshop
When: Friday, March 8, 2013 from 5:00pm until 8:00pm
Where: Le Milieu, 1251 rue Robin
Cost: 30$
Reservation required: info@lafabriqueethiquedemontreal.com
Additional Information: Facebook or Le Milieu

"For International Women's Day, we honor the textile traditions of generations who preceded us. During the workshop, we will use quilting techniques to make a patch and learn how to sew it on a garment! Bring clothes that you want to modify or use the clothes reserved by Le Milieu for you! All tools and materials are provided." (From Radical Montreal





STATUS QUO? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in Canada

What: Film Screening
When: Friday, March 9, 2013 at 7pm
Where: Room H-110, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve W
Cost: Suggested donation $2-10

*Montreal premiere with director Karen Cho & special guests in attendance*


Synopsis: "Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? Status Quo? asks these questions and uncovers provocative - at times shocking - answers about the evolution of women's equality in Canada. Interweaving a wealth of dynamic archival material with startling contemporary stories, the film situates the vibrant Canadian women's movement in its history-making context. In 1967 the landmark Toyal Commission on the Status of Women made recommendations to address the inequalities faced by women. Now, Status Quo? zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues. Status Quo? is crucial viewing for every Canadian, especially those unfamiliar with the vital achievements of the feminist movement." (From Facebook Event)

EDGY 2013: 20TH ANNIVERSARY ART/ SPORTS/GENDER

Undisciplined. Unapologetic. 20 years of feminist arts practices.

What: Festival, Workshops, Artist talks, Performances
When: March 2nd to 10th, 2013
Where: Varies depending on event (check programming for more details)
Cost: Varies depending on event (check programming for more details)
Additional Information: Detailed programmingFacebook

Edgy Women 2013, a festival featuring a plethora of neophyte and experienced artists in a diverse program of cutting edge work which is both experimental and entertaining. Through its performance series, artist talks, and professional workshops, Edgy Women creates a forum for cultural exchange through a thematic context, providing an opportunity for audiences to experience content-driven artwork by women.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Femmes on Fire for Angela Davis

Recently, a cold February night in Montreal was warmed up for a standing room crowd at l'Astral, where living legend Angela Davis made an appearance to speak at the city's inaugural FRO Festival. Wall of Femmes members and other festival goers were set on fire by the power of Ms. Davis' words and presence. 

For those unfamiliar with the work of Angela Davis, she is a lifelong activist involved in social justice struggles related to race, class, and gender. She joined the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party in the late 1960's, through which she fought hard for civil rights and equality. In particular, she was and continues to be a lucid and passionate critic of the prison industrial complex.

She was considered so dangerous to the established order that she was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List over trumped-up charges and brought to trial after spending two months in hiding. She was acquitted of all charges after a massive international campaign to "Free Angela Davis." Currently, she is Professor Emerita in the Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Among many other topics, the message she shared discussed her ambivalence over the presidency of Barack Obama; on one hand embracing the significance of the US having elected a black president (and pointing out that he was re-elected despite the majority of white men having voted for Romney - evidence of a paradigm shift in the balance of power?), and on the other hand, emphasizing that a handful of black individuals reaching previously inconceivable positions of power does not negate a deeply embedded system of structural racism that continues to deny opportunities to millions of people. 

She identified that in some ways, these achievements can make the struggle for equality even more difficult, because many people fail to acknowledge any continued problem in light of the occasional high profile successes of particular individuals. Of course, the insistence by some that we are living in a "Post-Feminist Society" creates as much frustration for feminists as the belief in a "Post-Racial Society" does for anti-racism activists. 

Touching on the parallels between the civil rights movement and the struggles for equality for women and other marginalized groups, Ms. Davis emphasized that a guiding principle for her is Martin Luther King Jr's idea of the indivisibility of justice, that "An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In this spirit, she expressed solidarity with a wide variety of current struggles in North America and around the world, and in particular with those of the world's aboriginal peoples, and of LGBTQ communities. 

This is only a tiny sample of the evening's conversation. Having taken notes furiously in an effort to not forget anything, this Femme took some time afterwards to reflect on the lessons we can learn from Angela Davis' ideas and experiences. To me, one of the most valuable points came when she discussed how she felt about being considered an icon. She explained that people tend to project their collective power onto individuals, but that any important achievements are in fact made by groups of people working together, and that it's important to remember that collective power is always greater than the power of any individual. She stressed that we cannot leave it to individuals to create change for us, that we must make the change ourselves by working together in communities. 

Ms. Davis also reminded us that we must think beyond our own selves and work for future generations as well as our own. She paid tribute to previous generations of activists, many of whom did not live to see the fruits of their labour, but who's work benefits us all and forms the foundation of continuing progress. 

Angela Davis is an inspiration to us at the Wall of Femmes because of her strength and courage, for her clear and powerful voice, and for her spirit of community and collaboration. Let us take her lessons to heart and work together to build for each other and ourselves the world we want to live in.