Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Calgary Activist Network — back from the dead

[Activist Network] Back in January I started doing a bunch of work to rebuild the Calgary Activist Network website. The network had largely wound down in the mid-2000s, leaving just a single page of links to a few other online resources.

Now the calendar of events is back up and running and I’ve posted over 60 events in the past couple weeks.

The new feature I’m most proud of is the ability to  subscribe to the calendar of events using calendar applications on your computer or phone. With that, you don’t have to remember to visit the website, but can instead just look at your calendar to see what’s coming up.

At this point, it’s just me posting events to the site, but I hope to get other folks adding listings soon. (There’s still a little bit of back-end code I need to put together to get that workable — and understandable by non-geeks.)

Currently, to add an event to the site, people can send an announcement to the Calgary activism announcements email list (which has been running in one form or another since 1999). Please use plain text in those emails, and no attachments (no posters, pictures, Word documents, etc.).

The updated Activist Network site should make it easier for me to get announcements out to the email list, for those who prefer email.

There are a couple of other spots available where announcements are going out. On Facebook, there is the Facebook: Calgary Social Change page. On Twitter it’s Twitter: @CalSC.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Western Interventionism in Activism

There’s a basic question activists should ask before taking an action in support of people outside our own communities: What do the people affected want to do?

What we heard directly from Sudanese activists, at the time Calgary-based Talisman Energy was exploiting that country’s oil, was “get your company out of our country.” So, that’s what we worked to do. What we heard from South African activists during apartheid there was “cut South African business off.” So, we boycotted and promoted sanctions.

If we’re going to do anything “for”, “about”, or — much better — with the people of, Uganda, the direction of our efforts needs to come from the people there who are working for positive social change in their communities. If they decide there are ways that we in “the west” can be useful in making a difference, then great — let’s do that. But if they decide that they need to handle whatever they’re doing without our involvement, it’ll not be our place to interfere or presume to “know better.” They’re not ignorant, primitive, simple-minded, backward, or in any other way less than us (it’s probably the other way around, assuming they haven’t spent their lives being bombarded to the same extent as us with U.S.-dominated western media).

While visiting Europe, in response to the question “What do you think of western civilization?” Gandhi is reported to have said “I think it would be a good idea.” Yep.

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