• Magazine

    No one answer

    Marilyn Waring’s decades-long career has been as varied as it has been influential. She was the youngest woman elected to the New Zealand Parliament, is a long-time activist for lesbian and gay rights, and has tended her own goat farm for many years. Waring recently spoke with Briarpatch about the state of women’s rights in the Global South and how women in the North can support southern resistance to economic inequality.

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    Letter from the editor

    As this issue goes to press, three thousand rallies are taking place in communities around the world calling for action in Copenhagen on climate change. In February, anti-poverty and indigenous rights activists will take to the streets of Vancouver to protest the Olympics.

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    What the right does right

    Progressives in Canada today have no shortage of ideas. What we lack is movement — any movement. There is no women’s movement, no labour movement, no peace movement. The antiglobalization movement fell apart in the wake of 9/11. Copenhagen notwithstanding, even the environmental movement has become more an exercise in individual consumer choice than a demand for systemic change.

  • Magazine

    Selling the Olympics in the schools

    In the name of education, British Columbia has spent at least half a million dollars teaching wee ones the awesomeness of the Olympics. In response, Olympics opponents are trying to counteract what they call “pro-Olympic propaganda” by introducing classroom workshops of their own.

  • Magazine

    When we were feminists

    The day after the reunion, the subject line of Kelly’s email reads: “Did you hear?” On August 4, 2009, the same night as four university girlfriends and I had gathered for a 20-year reunion, a man walked into a gym in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania, and opened fire. The coincidence is surreal. My undergraduate girlfriends and I had planned the reunion as a memorial of sorts to mark the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

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    Mass protests and the future of convergence activism

    Ever since tens of thousands of people converged on the streets of Seattle and successfully shut down the World Trade Organization in November 1999, convergences have been the tactic of choice for confronting global capitalism.

  • Magazine

    From invisibility to stability

    The first step toward addressing an issue is to make it visible. An alcoholic will fail to get sober until he or she admits to having a problem. Slapping around one’s wife was not a punishable offence until it became socially and legally recognized as domestic violence. Visibility is gained through definition, and with visibility comes the power to create social change. Transgender and gender nonconforming people are just beginning to shed the cloak of invisibility that has shrouded their participation in social and political life.

  • Magazine

    Collective power

    I have been covering demonstrations, protests and sit-ins as a photojournalist for many years. Documentation of protest was part of my work as the coordinator of the East Timor Alert Network between 1986 and 1992. One of the salient features of the modern state is the disconnect between the centralized bureaucracy of government and its largely fragmented citizenry, who have very little influence on decision-making between elections.

  • Magazine

    Water fight in the Thompson Okanagan

    “A lot of people have got their hearts broke, trying to make a living off this land without any water” Wolverine tells me. We are walking down the hill from his house towards a small field planted with flowering squash. His dog, Bingo, trails behind.

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    Food politics and the tyranny of rights

    It’s the end of October in Montreal. About 20 of us have stepped away from what could be the year’s last sunny autumn evening for an opportunity to hear from one of Canada’s most important elder activists and thinkers. Brewster Kneen is in town to talk about his new book, The Tyranny of Rights (Ram’s Horn, 2009).

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    Canada’s rebellious era

    Canada’s 1960s is a magnificent achievement that distills the essence of the political and social upheavals that defined the 1960s in Canada. Palmer sets out to demonstrate that the 1960s transformed Canada in fundamental ways, and does so very convincingly.

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    Organizing in tough times

    Being a bike courier was the first job Mark Hayward had that he not only liked, but loved. But times are tough: if he were offered a better job tomorrow, he’d be gone. “For the first time ever, work was so slow, couriers were complaining they didn’t have enough money for food,” says Hayward.

  • Magazine

    Six big ways to work for a smaller world

    Thank goodness for freegans, who have excelled at showing us how much food we waste every day. Freegans do for wasted food what the 100 Mile Diet has done for eating locally grown food. People who practice freeganism are also showing us how we can pinch pennies and save money in this recession.

  • Magazine

    Learning from success

    Being an activist has a way of teaching you how to lose gracefully. Or, at least, how to lose. In my activist career I’ve worked in many different campaigns on a diverse array of issues, but virtually every single campaign I’ve been involved in has been a losing battle, with the particular problems we were fighting against becoming measurably worse despite our efforts. There has been one exception: the movement to build local, ecologically sound food systems.

  • Magazine

    Eat, play, live

    The origins of Food Not Bombs are somewhat mysterious: some report that a bake sale to benefit the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament led activists to call for spending on food, rather than bombs; other stories mention a mock soup line being used as street theatre when demonstrators asked the First National Bank of Boston to stop investing in a nuclear power station.

  • Magazine

    Union organizing 2.0

    The shift in people’s media habits away from top-down broadcast media like television towards more interactive network media opens up interesting possibilities for grassroots democracy and political organizing. Labour unions are increasingly taking notice, and beginning to adapt the technologies to their own uses.

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    Adventures in coordinated bargaining

    There are no prepared documents. There’s no agenda. Your job, along with the other hundred front-line members of the Ontario University Workers Coordinating Committee (OUWCC), is to set priorities for the sector for the next three years, to tackle obstacles to that work, and to look for concrete ways to build the group’s capacity.

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    “It’s tremendous fun to fight back”

    Derrick Jensen joined a Regina, Saskatchewan, audience via videoconference for a wide-ranging conversation. As usual, he challenged the audience to focus on protecting life rather than lifestyle, and urged them to recognize the breadth of the changes necessary to protect life on earth.

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    Fighting fire with fire

    The rise of neo-Nazism in Alberta and the Anti-Racist activists organizing against them.

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    Not in my name, not on my dime

    In Canada’s current war in Afghanistan, however, most Canadians’ participation in the war is limited to the tax dollars they pay towards it. This makes it much more difficult for conscientious objectors to remain true to their convictions. A small but growing movement is seeking to change that.