For the youth of Goma, the capital of North Kivu in Eastern DR Congo, dance has become a form of resistance against violence and a tool for peace-building in a mineral-rich region devastated by decades of conflicts.
The wheel of unceasing war has come full circle in Iraq with the United States Air Force bombing Islamic State targets in Tikrit, twelve blood-soaked years since first doing so during the 2003 invasion.
Meanwhile, a report, entitled ‘Body Count’ has been published estimating that the casualties of conflict in Iraq during this time comes to ‘over a million people’.
The populations of the USA, UK and other western actors in the war are for the most part insulated from this horrific reality. The authors of the report argue that more widespread public understanding is the essential pre-requisite to policy change. For those willing to be informed, watch this Democracy Now report >>
(note this clip features some distressing footage rolling while the voices speak)
Squatting is now illegal in the UK, as is ‘skipping’ (salvaging waste food to feed oneself or others) But the Free Milk collective spent several months using both practices to set-up and host an autonomous community space. Their intention: to feed and support homeless people and to bring awareness to the absurd fact that the number of empty houses in the UK (over half a million) significantly exceeds the number of homeless people… Read the report here >>
[Dispatch posted by the Bureau for Agent G in the field]
South Central LA, known mostly for gangsta hip-hop and riots, is not perhaps the place you would expect a gardening revolution. However, fed-up with the absence of good produce and observing how ubiquitous fast-food drive-bys create poor community health, Ron Finlay started growing food on the ragged strip of pavement outside his house. Then he started encouraging others to do the same.
A movement has emerged and here he outlines his vision for a world where cities are fertile and all citizens have direct access to free fresh food.
It took several years for the issue of global climate change to translate from fringe environmentalist concern into collective mainstream consciousness. But the shift from knowledge to effective response has so far been tentative and often abortive, despite a steady diet of worrying data and horrifying projections from climate scientists. This sobering map shows the projected impact of tipping-point effects on cities around the globe (read more here)
The scale of the problem, the well co-ordinated obstruction by vested interests (the pseudo-scientific climate-change denial movement seems to be funded in various ways by the right-wing business lobby) – and the overwhelming difficulty of responding collectively to a global issue all throw up question marks as to whether humanity can rise to the challenge.
Another wave of movement is needed – and may be emerging. This article suggests some in influential positions are putting their energies into the climate change response. Read more >> .
Martin Luther famously once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would fall to pieces, I would still plant an apple tree.”
Since 1979 Jadav Payeng has been planting trees to make sure that his world would not fall to pieces – on Majuli, a constantly-eroding island in the Brahmaputra river in Assam, India. To date he has single-handedly planted, and nurtured, a forest larger than New York’s Central Park – a forest that now hosts elephants, rhinos, vultures and even tigers. Forest Man tells his story >>
[Dispatch posted by the Bureau for Agent Stephen in the field.]
Islamic State is harvesting the world’s attention, but meanwhile, Kurdish freedom fighters are using the disintegration of Syria to carve out an autonomous state they call “Rojava” (sunset). Their vision is of creating a completely new kind of society based on radical democracy, diversity, tolerance and gender equality – shaped by the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker called Murray Bookchin. The formerly socialist PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan discovered Bookchin’s writings whilst in solitary confinement in a Turkish prison on a tiny island and found a new template.
This clip from Submedia TV shows how men and women have been fighting the head-chopping ISIS to create a libertarian commune along the border between Syria, Iraq and Turkey.See also this more in-depth documentary from anonymous journalists who had to dodge Turkish army patrols to enter the autonomous zone area to meet Kovan Direj, a Kurdish activist, and read Adam Curtis’s post and analysis of the situation.
“We were never as free as we were under the Occupation”
For the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, human beings are simply a coincidence of Nature and it is our task to find meaning in our presence in Life. The “existentialist” part of that meaning is our search for Freedom.
This BBC documentary is an invitation to spend 50 minutes with ‘one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.’
Recent years have seen the visionary South American plant medicine ayahuasca acquire a growing reputation as a powerful catalyst for healing and transformation.
American shaman Hamilton Souther apprenticed with traditional ayahuasca healers in Peru and has spent many years working in the Amazon with the visionary plant. Back in the States, he discovered that cannabis could be used in a similar way for shamanic healing – and then took the work to a whole other level, using internet streaming technology to conduct global journeying and healing ceremonies with large numbers of people.
This interview by Zoe Helene with Souther explores his meeting with the spirit of the cannabis plant and his way of working with plant medicines using mesas,icaros (medicine songs) and other ‘shamanic technology’
Tired of reportages depicting favela kids in poverty-stricken misery, Iris Della Roca decided to ask the children how they wanted to be photographed. The results are inspiring, poignant and complex. See the images >>
Walking for change; marching to make a difference…
In the small but politically important American state of New Hampshire, hundreds gathered on a wintry day, many at the end of a 150mile long, 11-day march across the state in freezing temperatures. This movement, led by the reformer and law academic Lawrence Lessig, sees itself as one of the front lines in the battle against the continuing corporatization of our world. At the rally in front of the State House in Concord, NH, 15 year old Ella McGrail delivers this rousing and impressive speech for the reclamation of democracy.
[Dispatch posted by the Bureau for Agent Aa in the field]
Making documentary films in China is not an easy path. Film is subject to tight state censorship and little that is in any way critical of the status quo gets made, never mind disseminated. Recently however, environmental docs seem to be making it through the censors’ filtering system, perhaps because the authorities are starting to recognise China’s worsening pollution problems and attempting, at times, to address the issue.
In Oakland, California, container homes are banned as urban blight. But what if they were made into art? Sarah Beckstrom created this house last year attempting to demonstrate how a search for alternative styles of urban living can mix utility, efficiency and art. See the whole project >>
[Dispatch posted by the Bureau for Agent A in the field] .
“School, work, family – once in this cycle, you are a prisoner of your own position. You should be pragmatic and strong, or become an outcast or a lunatic. How to remain yourself in the midst of this?” is the central question raised by the Russian photographer Danila Tkachenko’s work.
Tkachenko traveled through Russia and Ukraine in search of hermits living in self-imposed exile, far away from any city or village. The photo series Escape was the result. See the full series here >>>
The intriguingly-titledInstitute for Precarious Consciousnessoffers a succinct resumé of the evolution of Capitalism’s ‘dominant affects’ and the corresponding changing responses by resistance movements. The Institute’s proposed tactical 1-2-3 for responding to the current affect of all-pervading anxiety seems helpful… Read more >>
[Dispatch posted by the Bureau for Agent Penfold in the field.]
Clubbing and dance music have always ridden the edges between catalysing liberation and commercialising escapism, existing in a kind of subcultural tug-of-war between soul and money. 2014 was a bad year for quality clubs, with a number of legendary venues across Europe closing and others being squeezed by gentrification and property speculation.
Postcard: image & text based missive sent to friends by travelers. Babylon: (1) capital of Babylonia in 2nd century B.C, often considered the first city. (2) Rastafarian term for capitalist civilisation. Liberation:the process of seeking and embodying freedom for, and by, all peoples
Postcards from Babylon
- an audio-visual remix
This live multimedia performance by Christian de Sousa and Alex Forster is an immersive dream journey through the dark synthetic landscapes of the modern world and the lucid rhythms of nature. Featuring projected images, live music and spoken word, this new interpretation of PfB promises a unique piece of 21st-century storytelling. Click here for more info.