Cardboard Castles and Other Amenities...

I am really interested in using different forms of cultural action to help build better communities. Communities are a vital social model, allowing us to tackle problems beyond the ability of individuals with the focus of a defined (usually relatively small) group of people. How do the arts and cultural work in general help communities grow more sustainable futures? If you have a cool website or project or your own ideas on these subjects please let me know.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Maybe Marriage isn't the Answer?

There’s a really interesting article at the Bilerico Project by Yasmin Nair about why we should abandon the marriage equality fight. I’m not sure quite where I feel about fighting for marriage equality, although I know it doesn’t feel like a fight for my rights. I like how Nancy Polikoff points out that although Prop. 8 was an attack on all lgbt people it doesn’t mean that marriage should be the national focus of the gay movement. Here are the nuggets from Nair’s piece (The comment section is actually impressively interesting):

The recent ruling will re-energize gay marriage advocates, but I suggest that we use it as an opportunity to drastically alter our course: Dump marriage now.

Today, the biggest rationale for gay marriage is that it would provide health care and benefits for spouses. Over the years, we have seen the gay movement withdraw its support for universal health care - which is what we fought for in the years of the AIDS crisis.

Over the last many decades, gays and lesbians were beginning to forge interesting and productive social networks outside marriage. Remember when domestic partnerships were actually seen as sexy and desirable and a really good alternative for those who didn't want to marry?

As we quibble about marriage, it's easy to forget that a rise in poverty and the lack of health care means that large segments of society are already denied their rights to decent education, housing, and a sense of security about their well-being.

As for the famous line about the 1000+ benefits that can only come through marriage - what about those who are excluded from those benefits simply because they're not married? And here's the basic question: Why should marriage guarantee any benefits that aren't available to those who don't want to marry? Why build up the power of the state to coerce people into marital relationships they don't want just so that they can get the basics like healthcare (sic)?


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Labor Queer and Youth Online, Thoughts on my Mind

There are two major avenues of thought that are going on in my life currently.

The first is an investigation of queer notions of family and how we fight for them. By this I mean a definition of family that moves beyond the two adults, monogamous, kid oriented definition. I was really excited to hear that the SEIU just embraced a more queer friendly understanding of family and has committed to fighting for it. (PS. the article is from BEYOND (STRAIGHT AND GAY) MARRIAGE written Nancy Polikoff, a really excellent blog about these issues [I haven't read the book yet, but really want to])

Laws and policies that narrowly define “family” as limited to two legally-married adults of the opposite sex raising their biological children are often used against immigrants, people of color and the working poor who are more likely to live in family structures that differ from this model.

Narrow definitions of family exclude many relationships that our members call family, including relationships with individuals for whom we have primary care-taking responsibility and relationships with individuals with whom we share economic and emotional interdependence.

Government and employer-provided benefits should support individuals with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support minor children and dependent adults in all family forms, and should protect interdependent adult relationships.

The second thought going around my mind is an interrogation of the norms for youth-adult contact within the youth services non-profit world. This is especially tricky in the context of social network site like Facebook and Myspace. I've been fallowing danah boyd for awhile now because of her really insightful work around youth use of social networking. Today she posted an article about when, why, and how teachers should interact with their youth online.

All too often, there is an assumption that when teachers interact with students out of the classroom, they have bad intentions. This breaks my heart because, for all of the fear, most of the teachers that I've met in my line of work have really meant well by their students and their engagement with their students has helped their students tremendously. I've heard so many stories of teachers intervening and helping kids who really need it. Stupid things like giving them lunch money or being there to listen to their woes or helping a first generation kid learn about college.

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