Empowered Women’s Health Workshop Saturday

An Empowered Women's Health Workshop will Provide Alternatives to the Corporate Health Care System

On Saturday March 7, the Bloom Collective will be hosting an Empowered Women’s Health Workshop, to be held at the Tanglefoot Building, located at 314 Straight SW, Door M. The workshop will provide information for women interested in avoiding the mainstream system of health care which has been corrupted by corporate capitalism. The focus will be on empowering women in the challenge to live outside of the mainstream, as well as providing education for self-care practices.

Schedule of events:

  • 9:30 A Woman-sense approach to Pregnancy & Birth a presentation by Yolanda Visser, local lay midwife with more than 20 years in practice.
  • 11:45 How Media and Marketing Package Women for Profit, a panel discussion with Julia Mason, asst. professor of Women and Gender Studies, GVSU and Mindy Holohan, Kent County Friends of Coalition for a Commercial Free Childhood
  • 1:45 – 2:45 De-sanitizing Our Menstrual Health with Rachael Hamilton, GVSU a presentation/discussion which will include a DIY pad making activity.
  • 3 – 4:30 Sharing Empowered Alternatives, a group sharing experience which includes instruction on meditation for stress relief by Kathy Reider of Intuitive Services.

The workshop is free. As one facilitator said, “The workshop is intentionally free because access to health information, or healthcare for that matter, should not be based on one’s ability to pay.”

A vegan potluck lunch will be included. The Bloom Collective will provide main dishes, attendees are asked to bring a side dish to pass.

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Film, Discussion Looks at Zapatista Uprising in Mexico

A Film and Discussion at The DAAC in Downtown Grand Rapids Looked at the Zapatista Uprising

Tuesday night, The Bloom Collective held a showing of Zapatista at the DAAC in downtown Grand Rapids. Zapatista is a 1999 documentary film about the first 4 years of the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, from 1994 to 1998. The film features interviews with Subcomandante Marcos, Noam Chomsky, and many others. It has been much heralded over the past decade for its accurate and moving portrayal of the post-NAFTA struggle in Mexico and the work of the Zapatistas during that time.

Update

Following the film was a discussion led by a college graduate who studied in Mexico through the Mexico Solidarity Network (MSN). To begin, a brief update on the last ten years in Mexico was given: The Zapatistas decided they did not need the government’s permission to be autonomous and began their own municipalities throughout Mexico. Since the filming of the movie, efforts have shifted to focus on schools and health clinics. In 2005 the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) released the Sixth Declaration of the Lancandon Jungle to initiate a new step in their struggle, to united with “workers, farmers, students, teachers, and employees… the workers of the city and the countryside.” During the 2006 presidential election, the Zapatistas ran “The Other Campaign, ” in which they dismissed the candidates from the two major parties (Party of the Democratic Revolution [PRD] and the National Action Party [PAN]) and began their own tour of the nation, talking to people and listening to their needs.

Women and the Zapatistas

Groups such as MSN have become an opportunity for those living in Zapatista communities to sell their artisanry directly to the consumer, thus avoiding the “middle man” and ensuring a fair price. This has been particularly empowering to women, who are then able to work out of the home and avoid being harassed or degraded in public.

Government Harassment and Targeting

The film mentioned that the Zapatistas do not hold bank accounts – this has changed in recent years, and these bank accounts have become a way for the government to target the Zapatistas. When Zapatistas Fair Trade Coffee co-ops were formed, government owned coffee co-ops would spring up nearby, selling the coffee at a cheaper price and thus undercutting the Zapatista’s coffee sales. Government agents have been known to appear at the Zapatista communities, supposedly searching for marijuana plants – a completely unfounded claim, as the Zapatistas do not allow drugs or alcohol in their municipalities.

Discussion

Following the update, questions were asked by various filmgoers. Although a good turnout of about thirty people attended the film showing, only a small handful stayed for the discussion. One person asked if any humanitarian laws applied/were enforced in Mexico. Although United Nations measures have passed over the years, they are not effective as there is no system in place to enforce these (and the United States is a powerful member of the UN). Human rights observers have gone to Mexico and documented the situation, which has resulted in enough pressure to shut down government bases.

Discussion turned to NAFTA’s effect on corn production. As of 2008, there are no tariffs on corn coming in to Mexico, making corn from the U.S. and other countries cheaper to buy in Mexico than Mexican corn (which is a huge industry in the country). Because farmers can no longer sell their corn at the price of production, many have moved to cities to find the legendary NAFTA jobs, that don’t really exist.

The narco industry was brought up next, termed “insane” by the discussion facilitator – “narcos run the state now,” as drug lords have infiltrated PAN. U.S. aid has been given to fund the Mexican army, which helps bring drugs to the U.S. Narcos also buy their weapons from the U.S., due to lax gun laws in Arizona and Texas (the facilitator noted that border patrol does not care what goes in to Mexico.) The contradiction of “fighting the drug war by looking for pot plants in Zapataista communities” while this narco situation continues was noted.

The film gave the historical context, and the discussion was useful to gain an understanding of current events in Chiapas, Oaxaca and other regions of Mexico.

Renowned Childbirth Educator Suzanne Arms Speaking in Grand Rapids

Birth activist Suzanne Arms–who has written extensively on how we have children in the UNited States–will be speaking Friday in Grand Rapids.

Friday Oct. 24, 7 – 9 p.m., at Holistic Care Approach, 3368 Beltline Ct. NE., Grand Rapids. $10 suggested donation. Sponsored by The Bloom Collective.

Birth, as the body intended, empowers women and starts infants on the adventure of life as balanced, healthy human beings. During the ’70s and ’80s, a sea of women activists worked to reclaim birth, which in the US usually takes place in the hospital setting. The medical industrial complex viewed this movement as a challenge to their power, practices and profits. Today, the few babies born without medical intervention in the hospital setting are those impatient brats born in the parking lot.

Electronic monitoring, induced labors, epidurals and cesarean section are now the norm. As one intervention leads to the need for another, profits rise –and maternal and infant outcomes plummet. According to the New York Times (Oct. 15, 2008), the US infant mortality rate “remains well above that of most other industrialized countries and is one of many indicators suggesting that Americans pay more but get less from their health care system… In 1960, the United States ranked 12th lowest in the world, but by 2004, the latest year for which comparisons were issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that ranking had dropped to 29th.”

A birth activist since the ’70s, Suzanne Arms has written books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and adoption; created films and photographs; and presented hundreds of talks at conferences worldwide. Her book, Immaculate Deception, was a 1975 New York Times Best Book of the Year. Arms advocates holistic, sustainable health policies and practices and conscious parenting that is based on ancient and cross-cultural wisdom. Her 1977 documentary, Five Women, Five Births, remains a staple among natural childbirth educators. Arms weaves modern science: cellular biology, neurobiology, psycho-immunology and attachment theory with ecology, feminism and spirituality. Arms writes:

“My purpose is to help shift the paradigm that drives the loneliness, anxiety, addiction, greed, and aggression so prominent in post-modern societies to one that promotes joy, wellbeing and peace. I work at the beginning of life, where the patterns are set. We must transform how we bring human beings into the world and care for each childbearing woman and mother-baby pair from conception to the first birthday, when they are one biological system and the baby’s developing brain and nervous system are laying down patterns for a lifetime.”

“For too long, our approach to childbearing and caring for mothers and babies has been fear-based, its hallmarks isolation, intervention in natural processes, hyper-stimulation and maternal deprivation. Women’s experiences and their feelings about themselves, their babies and motherhood, translate directly into thoughts and biochemistry that lay down patterns in their baby’s developing nervous system and brain. These patterns shape not only how we see ourselves as children, but the relationships we form as adults and how we care for others and our world. The mother-baby relationship is crucial. Thus, how we treat the women who bring children into this world – with honor and tenderness or neglect and abuse – profoundly influences the direction of our society. Love and fear, and peace and violence, begin in the womb.”

Arms is a founding and active member of the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children. At the pioneering Holistic Childbirth Institute in San Francisco, in 1977, Suzanne created and taught the first course on the evolution of childbirth practices and how we got the practices we have today. A year later she co-founded The Birth Place, the country’s first resource center for pregnancy, birth and new parenting and one of the first independent birthing centers in the U.S. Suzanne was a founding and active board member of Planetree, the international organization working to transform hospitals and clinics into true healing centers. Suzanne lives near Durango in SW Colorado.

GRIID Class Offered again at The Bloom Collective

The Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is once again offering a class on the history of US foreign policy since World War II.

GRIID Class Offered again at The Bloom Collective

Once again, the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID) is offering a class on US foreign policy since World War II:

Making Sense of US Foreign Policy: A 6-week workshop

Do you want to make sense of what the US is doing globally? What motivates US policy in the occupation of Iraq, why does the US unconditionally support Israel, why is the US trying to overthrow the democratically elected government in Venezuela?

These questions and many more will be explored in a 6-week workshop with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). We will use Bill Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, plus additional handouts, documentaries and online resources.

The workshop is designed to discuss US foreign policy since WWII, politically, economically and militarily. We will discuss issues such as US intervention, torture, sanctions, use of proxy forces, war crimes, trade policies, the US relationship to the United Nations and other international agencies like the IMF and World Bank. Included will be an investigation of how US media factors into what we know about US foreign policy.

Part of the 6-week workshop will also include discussion about how our understanding of US policy determines what kind of actions we take to resist those policies. We will discuss the difference between tactics and strategies and look at the importance of social movements for bringing about structural change.

* The class will meet Mondays from 7- 9pm beginning Sept. 15 at 1134 Wealthy SE, in the Bloom Collective space.

* The cost of the workshop is $25, which includes the cost of the book.

* Workshop is limited to 10 people, with a minimum of 4 participants.

For more information contact Jeff Smith jsmith@mediamouse.org or 459-8423.

Really, Really Free Market Transforms Vacant Lot

Grand Rapids’ first “Really, Really Free Market” was an astonishing success with over one-hundred people transforming a vacant lot into a community gathering space where everything–from food to shoes–was free.

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On Sunday, well over one-hundred people stopped by Grand Rapids’ first “Really, Really Free Market.” The ‘Free Market–basically a garage sale or swap meet where everything is free–had a festival-like air with people playing music, sharing items they don’t need, and even sharing skills (for example, bike repair and guitar lessons). The event was an astounding success, as it attracted a broad array of people and turned an otherwise vacant parking lot at the corner of Wealthy and Fuller into a vibrant center of community. While not always an indicator of success, the event did make the cover of The Grand Rapids Press.

The ‘Free Market was facilitated by The Bloom Collective, although really, the Bloom Collective did not do much other than pick a date and do some fairly minimal amounts of advertising. The idea spread pretty quickly by word of mouth and happened very organically. Nobody planned for music, nobody directed people at the event, and there were no organizers calling the shots – everything worked well without hierarchy. To disperse the work in the future, flyers could be posted online so that people could distribute them more widely, as the more diverse folks that come out, the better the event is for the community.

Some possible venues to plan another market online include Facebook and G-Rad.org:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=8396231273

http://g-rad.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11202&p=45314

Additionally, people can contact The Bloom Collective for information – or even better — set a date and time for the next ‘Free Market, create a flyer, and start promoting it.

Radical Acitivsm and Organizing

On Sunday, The Bloom Collective will be hosting a workshop about collective organizing. With so many folks–even on the left–assuming that we need hierarchy to accomplish things, the workshop should be a valuable learning experience for all who attend.

On Sunday, The Bloom Collective will be hosting a workshop about collective organizing. With so many folks–even on the left–assuming that we need hierarchy to accomplish things, the workshop should be a valuable learning experience for all who attend:

Activists unite! New York City activist, Mallory Knodel, presents Radical Activism & Organizing: An interactive workshop on non-hierarchical, collective organizing, Sunday Aug. 3 at The Bloom Collective, 1134 Wealthy St. SE. 1 p.m. Vegan Potluck, 2 p.m. Workshop. Cost: $5 – 10 sliding scale.

You’re invited to re-imagine the way radical organizing can build your community and ignite the movement for lasting, non-hierarchical, social change. Learn skills including facilitation, consensus decision-making, fundraising, conflict resolution and more. Collective organizing offers a sustainable, empowering, and holistically supportive solution to achieving community and organizational goals. Come connect with powerful womyn activists!

Presenter: Mallory Knodel

Mallory is an organizer on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. She is a former member of the Bluestockings Bookstore Collective and currently organizes the ALL7 Film Documentary Group and other media projects. Throughout her travels in Europe, she appeared on Indymedia Toulouse SmashMedia Radio, organized in London squatted social centers rampART and Bowl Court, and is working on a documentary about journalist Henri Alleg in Paris.

For information, visit http://ohmallory.wordpress.com/radact/grand-rapids/

For more information, contact The Bloom Collective at bloom [ AT ] mediamouse.org.

Meeting Resistance Screening – April 30

Meeting Resistance Screening – April 30

On April 30, Mediamouse.org and The Bloom Collective are co-sponsoring a screeing of the film Meeting Resistance. The film examines the Iraqi resistance and the reasons why some Iraqis have chosen to resist the United States’ occupation. The screening will take place at 7:00pm at the Division Avenue Arts Cooperative (the DAAC). A $2 donation to the DAAC is encouraged but not required.

A trailer for the film:

Following the film, there will be a brief presentation by ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) on antiwar organizing in Grand Rapids and West Michigan.

April Events at The Bloom Collective

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The Bloom Collective an infoshop and lending library here in Grand Rapids that Mediamouse.org is involved in, is hosting a number of events over the next several weeks. We encourage everyone to attend them and/or pass along the information to their friends. The Bloom Collective–with its hundreds of books and DVDs–is the perfect real world companion to the work that Mediamouse.org is trying to do:

“April Events at the Bloom Collective

Unless noted, events are happening at the Bloom Collective. We’re located at 1134 Wealthy St SE.

04/09 – ROOT FORCE: PRESENTATION – 7PM @ THE BLOOM COLLECTIVE

Are you ready to talk about “the system” and ready to do something about it? Are you looking for a way to fight the onslaught of corporate globalization beyond summit hopping and buying fair trade?

Come see a presentation about Root Force’s strategy to take down the system by targeting the infrastructure of global trade. Hear about the connection between globalization, international solidarity, indigenous sovereignity, ecodefense and migration. Learn about resistance in North and Latin America and ways to get involved!

Admission is free, donations for Root Force are welcome.

04/17 – RNC PRESENTATION – 7PM @ THE BLOOM COLLECTIVE

Local anti-war group ACTIVATE will give a presentation on the upcoming Republican National Convention protests taking place this summer. Come learn about the history of mass mobilizations in N. America, plans and strategies for this summer, and how you can get involved!

04/23 – STITCH N BITCH – 7PM @ THE BLOOM COLLECTIVE

Bring your yarn, needles, scissors, clothes that need mending, or old projects that need finishing, and enjoy working with other folks for a “do-it-yourself” evening.

04/30 – FILM: MEETING RESISTANCE – 7PM @ THE DAAC (115 S. DIVISION AVE)

What would you do if America was invaded? Meeting Resistance raises the veil of anonymity surrounding the Iraqi insurgency by meeting face to face with individuals who are passionately engaged in the struggle, and documenting for the very first time, the sentiments experienced and actions taken by a nation’s citizens when their homeland is occupied. Voices that have previously not been heard, male and female, speak candidly about their motivations, hopes and goals, revealing a missing perspective from the Iraq War.

Following the film there will be a brief presentation by the local antiwar group, ACTIVATE (Grand Rapids SDS) about antiwar organizing in Grand Rapids.

$2 donation encouraged but not required.

Sponsored by The Bloom Collective and Mediamouse.org

Making Sense of US Foreign Policy: A 6-week Workshop

griid logo

Do you want to make sense of what the US is doing globally? What motivates US policy in the occupation of Iraq, why does the US unconditionally support Israel, why is the US trying to overthrow the democratically elected government in Venezuela?

These questions and many more will be explored in a 6-week workshop with the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy (GRIID). We will use Bill Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, plus additional handouts, documentaries and online resources.

The workshop is designed to discuss US foreign policy since WWII, politically, economically and militarily. We will discuss issues such as US intervention, torture, sanctions, use of proxy forces, war crimes, trade policies, the US relationship to the United Nations and other international agencies like the IMF and World Bank. Included will be an investigation of how US media factors into what we know about US foreign policy.

Part of the 6-week workshop will also include discussion about how our understanding of US policy determines what kind of actions we take to resist those policies. We will discuss the difference between tactics and strategies and look at the importance of social movements for bringing about structural change.

* The class will meet Mondays from 7-9pm beginning April 7 at 1134

Wealthy SE, in the Bloom Collective space.

* The cost of the workshop is $25, which includes the cost of the book.

* Workshop is limited to 10 people, with a minimum of 4 participants.

For more information or to sign-up, contact Jeff Smith jsmith@mediamouse.org or 616-459-8423.

Bloom Collective Now Open

photo of the bloom collective

The Bloom Collective, an infoshop and lending library of which Media Mouse is a part, is now open. The library had a successful opening potluck Tuesday night and will be open from 12:00pm to 8:00pm, Monday through Saturday. The Collective will continue to advertise the space heavily, but any assistance folks can give in promoting the space would be greatly appreciated. Additionally, to keep updated on events and other happenings at the space, sign-up for our listserv.

The Bloom Collective is located at 1134 Wealthy St SE in Grand Rapids (next to the Wealthy Street Theatre). The entire catalog is searchable via the web as well.