Thursday, March 31, 2005

Tonight I attended the first public meeting of the Metro Independent Business Alliance. It's an interesting concept: supporting locally owned independent business as opposed to the huge chain stores. I signed up, even though it meant consorting with evil profit-motivated small business owners. :-0!!!! At least I managed to convince the organizers to halve the membership fee for nonprofits and co-ops. Whoopie!

Today, Terry Schaivo finally passed over after 15 years in a vegetative state. The media circus surrounding this situation has been outrageous. This poor woman's parents have turned what should be a personal, private situation into a dog and pony show to support their political agenda. For the life of me, I will never understand those people who support a set of parents who have stated, for the record, that they have absolutely no obligation or concern about their daughter's personal opinions.

My understanding of parenthood is that it is a duty, not a property right. My beautiful grown-up daughters are not my private property to do with as I see fit. They are individuals with rights and responsibilities like all other citizens. My privilege of directing their personal decisions ended when they became responsible, intelligent adults. I may not agree with their choices, but that isn't their problem; it's mine. Those people who would turn TS's vegetative body over to a set of parents who see nothing wrong with parading their personal family struggles in front of the national media day in and day out, have got to be friggin' morons.

Friday, March 25, 2005


Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
I don't remember why we decided that our daughters could have their "own" cats. Fruitbat was mine and Squeak was Ravenhub's. Somehow it seemed fair to let the girls pick out a cat of their own.

We went to a humane society adoption event and Sox was youngest Ravendaughter's choice. Sox is a cat who decided to get along with everyone and let nothing bother her too much. Ravendaughter moved out of the house, but Sox stayed on.

She has claimed the upstairs as her own. She waits for the first sign of wakefulness from either of us and then proceeds to demand her morning petting. This involves prancing around and then flopping (plop!) upon her side while we pet whatever part of her body she presents to us.

Sox has the voice of a hard-drinking, hard-driving bar-tending woman. Scratchy and drawling, her meows sound like the most cynical pontifications of your standard barfly.

Damn cute, though, isn't she?

You're Les Miserables!

by Victor Hugo

One of the best known people in your community, you have become
something of a phenomenon. People have sung about you, danced in your honor, created all
manner of art in your name. And yet your story is one of failure and despair, with a few
brief exceptions. A hopeless romantic, you'll never stop hoping that more good will come
from your failings than is ever possible. Beware detectives and prison guards bearing

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The news from Red Lake continues. The tribe has closed off the reservation to outsiders, but has allowed the FBI, the state, the Red Cross and the BIA to send representatives in to help them handle the situation. I'm guessing that people living in states without reservations or in countries withour first nation lands, will have a hard time understanding the situation here. In Minnesota, we are very aware that reservation land is not U.S. land. It is common to see car license plates, flags and other paraphrenalia indicating one of the many Indian nations within the boundaries of Minnesota. Relations between U.S. or state agencies and the tribes have never been good. Huge mistakes have been made in the past and trust is hard to come by. I imagine that the way the Red Lake nation handles this tragedy will differ significantly from what we have seen in other places, such as Littleton, Colorado.

One of the best native blogs is worth following and they also have a donation button to a tribal-sanctioned memorial fund. The website is wampum. Or you can donate directly. Here's info cut and pasted from wampum:

Contributions are now being accepted by the Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund to assist the victims and the families of the recent shooting at Red Lake High School in Minnesota.

Donations may be sent to:

Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, Minnesota 56671

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A couple of strange days.

Saturday's protest was larger than I expected with 1,500 attending. It was exciting and thrilling.

And then yesterday, the shocking news of the school shootings on the Red Lake Reservation hits.

The combination of hope followed by tragedy is simply too shocking to contemplate. My heart is breaking.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Today is the day!

Three months of work culminates in today's anti-war rally. My tasks: meet with the Marshalls at 12 noon, handle media relations at 1:00, when the march starts, head over to Wesley church and set up for the closing program, MC the closing program, help clean up, go home and collapse.

We had a mini blizzard yesterday -- most of the snow stayed south of us. In fact, Keister, near the Iowa border, got 21 inches of snow dumped on her! Here in the Cities, the snowline broke just north of Minneapolis. The northern suburbs got nothing, we got about 4 inches. Not too much to dampen pariticipation today, but enough to coat everything with a beautiful white blanket.

I've been having an intense few days on the internet. I've been following the "where are the women bloggers" (click on Pinko Feminist Hellcat to see more) debates and the "where are the women op-ed writers" debate for three days. Then yesterday I cliked on the link of a women who commented at PFH and discovered Mama's Junkyard and links to African women bloggers.

There is an entire fabulous world out there having nothing to do with our squabbles her in the states. Go. Click. Link. Learn more. All is well.

TIme to cut Ravenhub's hair. For the first time in 20 years of political activity, we are co-MC-ing today's event. I think it will be fun!

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Old Man

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
Friday cat blog today is in honor of Squeak the Cat! This guy left us several years ago when he was 13 years old.

He was huge, but tender of spirit. An amazing hunter, yet a timid fellow. He loved everyone and allowed Fruitbat (see previous Friday Cat Blog) to rule the roost.

Here he is ruling over the kitchen. In the background is the bottom of a Take Back the Night poster I designed over 10 years ago plus an ultra-left poster I created based on an anarchist flyer that appeared in a zine covering the Poll Tax riots in England.

Since Fruitbat laid claim to me and disdained all other human contact, Squeak made Ravenhub his favorite human. Or maybe it was the shared Y chromosone in a house full of females.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm putting together signs to use in the big antiwar rally this weekend. There are events in 575 cities around the world. Find one near you at the main website.




Sunday, March 13, 2005

03-26-05 Mayday Books

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
And yet another flyer put together this weekend. Phew! Altogether too much graphic activity for one human. I don't want anyone to get used to the idea that I can create this much print in so little time. Sh! Don't tell a soul!

This event follows a template. I created the Meal+Movie+Mayday masthead a several years ago. We've done quite a few of these programs over the years. The only thing that changes is the information in the middle. I can usually find a movie graphic on the internet to describe whatever DVD gets shown. The meal sometimes changes and the organization receiving donations may change from event to event.

These events are very casual and appeal to a broad range of people. There's a chance to talk about the movie after it's shown. It's also a chance for activists to relax together and share some good food and friendship.


Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.

MD 2003
Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.

Another flyer I did up today that had too much information for too little space. The Twin Cities has a long tradition of holding events honoring the original meaning of Mother's Day. The day was first celebrated by mother's of civil war veterans in the U.S. Since then, like all other people's history, the origins have been lost and the holiday has been taken over by crass commercialism. This is just a small effort to bring back some clarity to the event!

The flyer on the left is what I created for the same event when it was held two years ago. Less copy = more chances to play with the graphics.


Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
In the late '60s, I was convinced the Vietnam War was wrong because I listened to the veterans. It is taken for truth that the vets were treated badly when they came back from Vietnam, but the assumptions about who treated them badly are usually wrong.

The anti-war movement welcomed these women and men and listened to their stories. They helped build the GI coffeehouses and newspapers that spread the word. Many of the vets wanted and needed to talk about their experiences and the vast majority of those against the war from pacifists to radicals, were there to listen and help them speak out.

Already, only two years into this particular war, the veterans are telling their stories and the anti-war movement and the churches are listening and providing them a platform from which to speak.

This is a flyer I did for the latest event. One of the problems with these kind of graphics is that so much information gets crammed in it is difficult to put together anything creative. The thought behind it is that the flyer itself becomes an educational tool. It can be handed out for people to read, it can be posted on bulletin boards and phone poles to relay its message. So the organizers cram in a ton of information. Basically, I turn off the graphic artist in me and turn on the propagandist. I'm never particularly happy with the compromise, but that's my problem to handle.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fruitbat the Cat

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
Friday cat blogging is a creation of Kevin Drum and something I begin today.

This lovely creature is my heartcat, Fruitbat. She lived to a grand old age of 21.5. She would have been eligible to vote in the presidential election if she'd made it to November, but she passed on October 4.

Fruitbat adopted me as a kitten. She was always and shall ever be Ms. AlphaCat. Here's some background on The Lady I wrote up on the day she died:

Fruitbat came to live with me when I shared an old farm house in Northeast Minneapolis that had the Mississippi River in the back yard. My roommates, Ginny and Stephen had two cats: Tom Kitty, a black and gray short-hair who was the butchest cat I've ever known, and Muskiebait, a sleek black mouser. Fruitbat was a tiny little Russian Blue kitten.

In those days, I was working graveyard shift. Every day I'd wake up around 5 p.m., go downstairs and find Fruitbat. She'd curl up on my lap and allow me to pet her constantly while I had my coffee and tried to wake up.

My best friend at the time had a 10-year-old son named Jeff. When Jeff saw this kitten with her huge ears and tiny, pointed nose, he said, "She looks like a Fruitbat!" The name stuck.

When the house we were renting got sold, Ginny and Stephen bought a house and Ravenhub (not yet married) and I moved into an apartment. Muskiebait had disappeared and had been replaced by Squeak. Squeak and Tom Kitty were supposed to stay with Ginny and Stephen while Fruitbat moved to the apartment with us.

However, Tom Kitty decided the new house was his property and No One Else's. He would not let Squeak near the new house: he literally chased Squeak away whenever he came near the yard. So Squeak ended up coming to live with me and my crew. Even though he was twice the size of Fruitbat, he learned to fear her awesomeness. Her rule was never challenged!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More fun

This site has been down for a couple of days. Hope it stays up for a while. Longmire has done a fine job of recreating romance novel covers here.

If I had any time at all, I'd contribute some covers of my own. Truth be told, I enjoy a schlocky romance novel every now and then. But I have to admit that the cover art is often over-the-top and begging for this kind of parody!

Meanwhile, I've been spending a couple of days hanging out in woman-only space and remembering the incredible strength that I gained many years ago when I participated in "Take Back the Night" planning. Woman power is damned incredible!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Just for fun:

The Moggy Horde's Silly Sleeping Post Olympics is a gallery of cats in strange sleeping positions. The sainted and very-much missed Fruitbat was a master at the "Breathing through my ears nose-dive" sleeping position! Thanks to presurfer for the link.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I used my primitive html editing skills to add a blogroll to my sidebar. Frankly, the words you'll find at the length are far more interesting than any "previous posts" I might have engaged in, so I put the blogroll above my past activities. Considering the recent uproar about there being "no women bloggers"(tm) -- (phrase must be repeated every three months!), I was a bit hesitant to add anything but blogs written by women. Until there is a better balance, that would seem the sensible thing to do. The reality is, there are a few male-run blogs that I check out daily. Check them out!

I had a fabulous weekend. Saturday morning we went to the annual WAMM meeting. I did my shift at the bookstore from 3 to 6 p.m. and from 6 to 8 I had a joint birthday/bookstore fundraising party for me! The party was just about perfect: attended by many of my close personal friends who brought used books and bucks to help keep the bookstore open. There were people from different aspects of my life and it was an interesting mix.

Yesterday was for reading and catching up on chores. I finally gave up on the Iran book. Just breezed through to catch the main points. Now I'm reading some of Michael Berube's work on cultural studies. It's a topic that has fascinated me. I love to see alternate readings of popular culture. Goes back to my fan days and understanding how certain cultural icons can touch somebody on a personal level more powerfully than a populist politician's version of the same issue.

In the work I'm reading now, Public Access: Literary Theory and American Cultural Politics, Berube deals with some of the "Politically Correct" discussions that have been floating around the past couple of decades. I still haven't found that uber essay I've been looking for that describes the absurd image a leftist gets when conservatives accuse us of being "politically correct". Absurd because we were the ones who were laughing at the concept long before the conservatives ever glommed onto the concept.

Just got a call from one of the local activist groups. They are organizing a "Mother's Day" event for Peace. I've worked on several of these over the last few years. I have several flyers and other materials that explain the true history of Mother's Day: that it was a call for peace from mother to mother. I've agreed to do a flyer for their event.

There are a couple of WAMM traditions that I really enjoy. There is always a human billboard: a volunteer who walks around with paper bills on a sandwich board. Attendees can pick an outstanding bill (rent, subscriptions, phone bill, etc.) to pay off as a contribution to ongoing expenses of the organization. The annual report: a summary of activities the organization has participated in over the past year is sung by a local musician. That's always a joy. There is a book exchange where people can bring in their used books and exchange them with other readers. And, as always with WAMM, there is never a meeting without an action -- which can be as simple as creating a banner, writing a letter to your congressperson or holding a march. A few great traditions that I'm glad are continuing for this long-time local organization.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The newest full-page version

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
This is the latest version of the full-page flyer. It still contains the main points: the "troops out now!" declaration is the strongest image, with the date coming in second. I've had to adjust the layout significantly in order to include the names of speakers who have agreed to be on the program as well as a long list of endorsing organizations.

This piece is based on artwork from the national organization (as is the half-page flyer in the post below), but the layout and slogans are locally created. We are still making a decision on where to locate the program. An unfortunate scheduling conflict arose that made our first choice impossible. Fortunately, the flyers that mentioned that location were never printed or distributed.

One rather irritating aspect was coming up with text that would adequately place the event in Loring Park. The gathering will occur at the intersection of two main streets and a smaller cross street. A map would have been good, but would have been hard to place. Finding the proper wording became a tedious exercise, but worth the effort.

This post is really why I started this blog and hope to continue. The few hours that I spend every week on flyers for one event or another is a small example of the tremendous amount of activity that a community of like-minded activists engage in as they struggle to change the world.

Creating compelling and informative flyers for political events is no longer relegated to the hands of people trained in specialized skills with access to expensive equipment. The process is easier, yet it requires a basic level of skill plus a commitment to a particular code of ethics.

I don't just throw this language together. The actual slogans used and the logistics are all decided in public meetings of individuals and organizations who differ in many ways but are willing and able to come together on joint projects.

Since some of the member organizations are 501(c)3 organizations, no mention is made of the Bush administration or the current political party in power. I'm sure some member organizations would love to vent about their hatred for George Bush, but that anti-Bush zeal is put aside in order to work together with people who share a common goal.

Listing endorsers requires honesty and a commitment to communication between organizations with different goals and different levels of accountability. There isn't a list of groups that we can automatically place on the flyer. Each event requires contact with organizations and their representatives. The language has to be transparent and agreeable to a diverse constituency.

I'm not trying to glorify the work that I do. I am trying to illustrate a small part of the massive work involved in activism. Each flyer I create has to be printed and distributed. Dozens of people have taken this particular tool to all kinds of political activities across the region. The flyers are distributed in churches, schools, universities, coffee shops, phone poles, etc. Local media outlets are informed and spread the news. E-mail lists and web sites copy the electronic version of the flyer and pass the information along.

All of this requires individuals willing to give up a small portion of their spare time to work for something bigger than themselves. With all the pretty distractions that are available to each of us in today's world, I remain, as always, amazed and in awe of the people who choose to set aside a bit of their time to participate in activities like this.

Power to the people. Yeah. Uh-huh.

Here we go again....

Originally uploaded by Ravenmn.
This is the latest version of the March 19 flyer. The first flyer was created over a month ago and was basically a "hold the date" piece. It let people know that a nationally coordinated event would occur in March and it would include a mass event in downtown Minneapolis.

Since then, we were able to get graphics from the national office. That's where I got the images and the "Troops Out Now" art. The rest of the leaflet reflects local concerns of place, timing, and the political slogans, etc. The half-page versions are used for handing out at political events and activities. Hundreds of these have been passed out in the last few weeks.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The fun and the not-at-all fun.

It's been a busy couple of days. I updated the March 19 flyers with all the "final" information on Tuesday. Things began to fall about on Wednesday. Nothing earth-shattering. There was a scheduling conflict with the venue we had reserved. So we're going to have to find another location. This is common when dealing with political events. I've probably created a thousand flyers over the years for events that never were. This is where being Minister of Ephemera (see below) comes in handy. I'll just crank up the production process again once the details are arranged.

The Fun

Meanwhile, for your pleasure, visit this fun Error Page. You'll want to have the sound on and wait until the final door slam. Very cute. Found via Presurfer. I've been visiting Presurfer for a few years now and I always find something to amuse me and pass along to my e-mail buddies.

The Not at all Fun

On the opposite scale of reality, I have been disturbed for days over something I read recently. I read a post over at A Tiny Revolution about Jerry Falwell. First, I've gotta say that Jonathan's blog is both informative and often hilarious. However, this particular post was in response to an excerpt from Jerry Falwell's 1987 autobiography, Strength for the Journey. I'll post the beginning of it. You can head over to the website to read the entire entry if you have the stomach for it. But do not go there if, like me, you cannot tolerate cruelty to animals. Here's the start:

There were times that Dad’s pranks bordered on cruelty. One of his oil-company workers, a one-legged man he nicknamed "Crip" Smith, complained about everything. Dad and Crip’s co-workers got tired of the old man’s bellyaching and decided to take revenge.

The full quote is available at the link above, but do not go and read it if you have the slightest concern for animals.

Jonathan and his many commenters make clear that this is no "prank" and that it goes far over the line of cruelty straight through to sadism and beyond to what Jonathan calls "batshit crazy". Hereinafter, I shall refer to said activity as the "BCE" for Batshit Crazy Event. Trust me. It's awful.

The damn thing is, I don't have anyone I can talk to about how disturbed I am by this BCE. I don't want anyone else to be running around with this horrifying image in her head. Yet I need to vent my rage. So I'll use the code "BCE" and you can just imagine the horrible event. Trust me. Whatever you are imagining, this is worse.

Granted, this quote is entirely out of context and, no, I'm not going to go read the book to understand it better. Falwell has never really been on my radar screen. I'm guessing I wouldn't like much of what he says and he wouldn't like me. But something about this BCE strikes me as typical of the bullying rhetoric that seems so common these days.

First, the lies.

"There were times that Dad’s pranks bordered on cruelty."

On any scale of decency, the BCE does not constitute either a "prank" or something "like" cruelty. It is cruelty. Period. Why not just say it? Why pretty it up with illusions? This is so reminiscent of the "boys will be boys" bullshit that gets spouted after a gang rape. Like that idiot lawyer who said forcing the Abu Graib prisoners into human pyramids was just like what cheerleaders do at football games. Falwell can feel perfectly comfortable shouting "sinner" at two women who love each other and choose to form a lifelong partnership. But he cannot bring himself to admit that Dad does anything other than participate in "a prank".

Second, the hypocrisy.

While these media pundits spend hours complaining about liberals, leftists and radicals taking over the world and destroying it for the good decent people, they never consider that their own talk consists of the "complaining" they claim to hate. It's always the other guy who's a whiner. Do you think for one minute that "Dad" and his oil-company workers weren't whining about Smith? If there was enough hostility to lead to the BCE, then you know there had to be several days if not weeks of "bellyaching" to stoke the fire of such hatred.

Third, the gang mentality.

Dad and Crip’s co-workers got tired of the old man’s bellyaching and decided to take revenge.

It's not enough to engage in a BCE against someone you dislike. You need to have a posse. Not only must you win against these people; you also must have an audience.

Fucking assholes.

The completely unrelated.

The other day I thought up an idea for an icon that could work for blog I like to read. I googled some images I vaguely remembered, threw them together in photoshop and e-mailed the file to the blogger. Her response: "You rock my world!" How cool is that? She's going to pass the idea on to a web-savvy friend and may actually use the icon in the future. It is one of the joys of having a skill that others can appreciate. Even if the icon never gets used, it shows that I thought about her, that her ideas sparked ideas in my own head and that created an action and a product we both could enjoy. This is why I became a skilled tradeswoman rather than a journalist. Stringing together words was never enough for me. Putting words and images together in a creative and informative way is far more fulfilling for me.