Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Zinnia, Sunflower, & Tiger lily floral photography from my garden

by Cassie Kinney







Organizations that help Palestinian people



The everyday struggle of Palestinians is not part of the mainstream vernacular. Much of the conflict is not seen or heard in Western mainstream television. This could be because it’s part of the problem considering the West has been funding the war against Palestinians by arming Israel. In fact, Palestine has historically been occupied by outside military forces. Israel has invaded and militarily occupied the West Bank in Gaza for the last 50 years. Throughout this time, political activists have been imprisoned, civilians murdered, and culture has been removed. As the ongoing struggle of Palestinians continues to unfold, some humanitarian efforts have been made to fight for a better world. This article dives into the organizations that have been helping Palestinians for decades, and how everyone globally can offer support to combat violence against Palestinian people. 

Moreover, one organization is the Islamic Relief organization that has been working for the past two decades, since 1994. The Islamic Relief organization provides humanitarian relief, and being a voice for those affected by violence of the military and apartheid. Islamic Relief has women and children’s programs, as well as orphan programs, food aid, emergency response, information on religious holidays and campaign for donations for winter clothes and mattresses for refugees. It is a reminder that people are sleeping in makeshift shelters, with no amenities, dealing with psychological trauma. Islamic Relief works in nearly 30 countries with an extensive network to combat the devastation of those faced with this struggle. For instance, the organization has internships, career opportunities, podcasts, blogs, and publications to unite in the fight for justice.  

Secondly, Al-Haq (translated to “The Law”) works similarly within their organization. Al-Haq was established in 1979 by Palestinian lawyers that worked in the West Bank city of Ramallah. It focuses its efforts on documenting and researching human rights violations to advocate for laws and policies that help Palestinian people. In 2009, Al-Haq opened a center for Applied International Law as the first of its kind. The goal for the center is to compile research, educate and train activists and students to use their knowledge for practical application. The center has workshops, seminars, training courses, and conferences to meet their goals. Additionally, since 2011, Al-Haq has provided an archive on their website of individual’s stories of their rights being violated. 

Likewise, Adalah (translated to “Justice”)—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is an organization of lawyers and activists advocating for laws and policies on behalf of Palestinian citizens. The center was established in 1996 by Hassan Jabareen and Rina Rosenberg working in Haifa, north of Israel. For 20 years, Adalah has campaigned for justice and reparations to Palestinian civilians who have been impacted by apartheid and the military. Particularly, the center defends clients, taking on human rights court cases. Adalah, much like Al-Haq, addresses discriminatory laws and educates students and activists to combat the violation of human rights. 

These organizations seek to educate, and through growing social media, these organizations provide the voices of those affected. Because of the dedication of these organizations, people’s stories are read, heard, or seen globally, thus people are beginning to recognize this as a global issue. More than ever does citizens recognize that Israel is continuing to expand settlements and the US still holds an interest in the Middle East for oil. Collectively, people will be in solidarity with the Palestinian people, demand compliance with all nations, and put an end to all war and global domination. Likewise, people will put pressure on governments to protect Palestinians, and ensure for their freedom and equality.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

From June 19th to July 4th Independence Day

June 19th is an emotional day for many, because it is a reminder how much African Americans have sacrificed to get where they are today, and the injustices they are still facing today. June 19th known as "Juneteenth" symbolized the day that slavery was abolished. In Congress, it was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and on January 31, 1865 by the House. That was only 152 years ago, so it begs the question if slavery ever ended when lynchings still occurred and white-black segregation existed until the 1960s. Additionally, enslavement is still in question considering there are more black men in prison now than there were enslaved in 1850. And if you don't think slavery and prison are connected--consider that the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime!

Furthermore, the prison population is disproportionately made up of innocent people who are imprisoned on suspicion alone. Many people are wrongfully convicted of crimes but wait years for their trial. Half of people are in prison for drug possession, but selling drugs shouldn't be a crime. Government-approved drugs get to be sold when they profit but street drugs are criminalized because the government doesn't get a cut--same with weapons. Many people are in prison for possession of a weapon (and some people die at the hands of cops even with a license to carry aka Philando Castile.) Having a gun or other weapon in your possession will either get you killed or get you locked up if you're black or brown, but if you're a white cop or white soldier, then you can kill, beat, rape, torture, and get away with it everyday.

June 19th is a signal of how July 4th Independence Day is only for the independence of white America. July 4th Independence Day refers to a select few Americans declaring their own nation from the British. The majority of Americans were obviously omitted from the The Declaration of Independence as having any rights like Indigenous Americans, African Americans, and women. Interestingly, four days after the Declaration of Independence was read on a balcony in Boston, the "Boston Committee of Correspondence ordered the townsmen to show up on the Common for a military draft. The rich, it turned out, could avoid the draft by paying for substitutes; the poor had to serve" (Zinn, p. 75.) The New Deal programs came after factory workers were on strike everyday for years and hundreds of strikes occurred during the Great Depression, and although the New Deal programs didn't apply to African Americans or women (despite African Americans and women working no matter who says they didn't work), people became pacified by the New Deal program and the military work. For instance, the New Deal reduced unemployment from 13 to 9 million; and World War II created millions of new jobs for better wages and benefits. It was a tactic, of course, which was to illicit patriotism and make it harder for people to mobilize against corporations as they had been doing.

The Declaration of Independence is like the Bible in the way that people pick and choose what they like and forget about the bad stuff that's in it. God and guns has always ran this country even though we have been told that church and state is separate. This has never been true, and the only thing that has been separate is the fact that churches don't pay taxes. Schools and education, the military, rehab, the pledge of Allegiance, money-- all have elements of religion. And guns is fetishized and romanticized in ways that people want to connect weapons to heroism, patriotism, and masculinity. But going back to the history of the U.S. Constitution and guns: Philando Castile was not protected under the 2nd Amendment although he had a license for a gun and told the officer he was in possession of a gun. From this perspective and many other stories of Black gun-owners, the 2nd Amendment only applies to protect the White gun owner, the white police officer, the white soldier.

There is a quote from the Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 by a Harlem bookseller Lewis H. Michaux: "The white man that landed here, he came with two great weapons. One is the Bible and the other was the gun. If it didn't humble you with the Bible, it'd crumble you with the gun." That isn't to say that believing in a god or a bible or any religion and religious text is wrong, nor is it a statement about guns or a weapon being wrong. But historically, religion and weapons have been used by Presidents who have always justified war by creating a language of 'us vs. them'-- discriminating, killing, or assimilating groups of people that didn't look, act, or think like them. Even Christopher Columbus justified the genocide of Indigenous people because of his religion and weapons, but Americans still celebrate this man because they don't know history.

That is our history that we still live with and that history has been carried on. Knowing the history of America helps to put the present state of our politics and culture into perspective. Knowing our history can help us change to create a world of peace and justice moving forward.

Monday, July 3, 2017

War = Capitalism + Nationalism x Racism (United States' Empire)

More from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn:

American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume, which is why expansion to other countries and trade for the surplus of American goods would help the American Empire profit. One argument made by a journal wrote that an increase in wages at home would solve the problem of surplus by creating more purchasing power in the country. Conquest/war with the goal of expansion was to appear like an act of generosity--helping a rebellious group overthrow foreign rule--as in Cuba where by 1898, Cuban rebels had been fighting Spanish conquerors to win independence.
War brought more employment and higher wages, but also higher prices. Foner says "Not only was there a startling increase in the cost of living, but, in the absence of an income tax, the poor found through increased levies on sugar, molasses, tobacco, and other taxes..." (p. 308)
"Americans began taking over railroad, mine, and sugar properties when the war ended. In a few yeras, $30 million of American capital was invested. United Fruit moved into the Cuban sugar industry. It bought 1,900,000 acres of land for about 20 cents an acre. The American Tobacco Company arrived. By the end of the occupation, in 1901, Foner estimates that at least 80% of the export of Cuba's minerals were in American hands, mostly Bethlehem Steel." (p. 310.)

Theodore Roosevelt said that lynching was a good thing and war was ideal for the conditions of human society to present manliness and heroism. Winston Churchill didn't want a black Republic of Cuba (against Spain) like Haiti, whose revolution against France in 1803 had led to the first nation run by blacks in the 'New World.' After the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico was taken over by U.S. military forces. The Hawaiian Islands had already been penetrated by American missionaries and pineapple plantation owners. For a payment of $20 million in December 1898, the U.S. took over Guam, and the Philippines as well. McKinley said he prayed to God to find answers in occupying the Philippines, and said that he was told that we could not give them back to Span, nor turn them over to France or Germany, that these countries were unfit for self-government and they would have anarchy, we needed to educate Filipinos by 'Christianizing' them.

Emma Goldman commented that "the cause of the Spanish-American war was the price of sugar...that the lives, blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the interests of the American capitalists." Mark Twain said about the Philippine war: "We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them; destroyed their fields; burned their villages, and turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors; furnished heartbreak by exile to some dozens of disagreeable patriots; subjugated the remaining ten millions by Benevolent Assimilation, which is the pious new name of the musket; we have acquired property in the 300 concubines and other slaves of our business partner, the Sultan of Sulu, and hoisted our protecting flag over that swag...we are a World Power."

Strikes, child labor, lynchings, The National Guard, The Espionage Act

Paraphrased from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

At one of the mills--Polish women--shut down their looms and walked out of the mill as their wages became further reduced. Soon ten thousand workers were on strike. Because mass protests occurred in one city and the strikers grew to 50,000 workers that rioted for weeks in the streets. Martial law was then declared with 22 companies of militia and two troops of cavalry occupying the city. Mills were not working amidst of many strikers being sentenced to a year in prison and a young Syrian striker, John Ramy, was bayoneted to death.

Local authorities had passed laws to stop them from speaking; the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) defied these laws because thousands upon thousands of workers left factories to protest the dangerous conditions of their work. For example there was "dangerously broken stairways...windows few and so dirty...The wooden floors that were swept once a year...Hardly any other light but the gas jets burning by day and by night...the filthy, malodorous lavatory in the dark hall. No fresh drinking water...mice and roaches...suffered from the cold...suffered from the heat...youngsters together with the men and women toiled from seventy and eighty hours a week" and including the toxins produced within the factories such as lead.

Among the strikes, protests and picketing, children were going hungry and officials were threatening to take children away. So with the help of socialist groups in surrounding regions, children were taken in temporarily. A group of 40 children assembled on February 24 to go to Philadelphia where they were met with police that filled the railroad station. The police used their clubs to beat the mothers and then were dragged into a military truck with their children. One woman that was beaten while she was pregnant ended up giving birth to a dead child. Not only did the strike confront these issues of dangerous work, low wages, but also that laws such as segregating whites from blacks in meetings was addressed as well as teachers being automatically fired when they became pregnant.

Out of this, unions were formed, workers got their jobs back, some were paid higher wages, some workers' hours were reduced from 17 hour to 9 hour work days. In this time, women's suffrage movement, and the ideas of feminism, socialism and anarchism became popularized. In 1912, women that were doctors, lawyers, architects, actresses and sculptors, waitresses, domestics all marched lining the streets. Emma Goldman spoke that women should refuse to bear children if they don't want them, women should refuse to be a servant to God or anyone, and that no one owns her body except her. Helen Keller questioned: "what good can votes do when ten elevenths of the land of Great Britain belongs to 200,000 and only one eleventh to the rest of the 40,000,000? Have your men with their millions of votes freed themselves from this injustice?" And Keller joked that she would write a book titled "Industrial Blindness and Social Deafness" to her critics that told her because of her deafness and blindness that she is liable to error.

Mother Jones focused on organizing for an end to child labor where 284,000 children between 10-15 worked in mines, mills, and factories. She wrote that in 1903 in Kensington, Pennsylvania, 75,000 textile workers were on strike for better wages and shorter days. 10,000 of those strikers were little children. Jones described that some children had no hands or had a thumb missing, some with their fingers off at the knuckle, and so Jones was moved to take some of the children including their parents to march with banners that read: "We want time to play," and "We want to go to school!" Theodore Roosevelt refused to see them and many organizers were arrested for cases of free speech, pacifist speaking, defense work, and strike organizing.
While these strikes went on in the North, blacks in the South were facing much more injustice. There were lynchings every week, murderous riots against blacks. No President in history cared about the lynchings of black people, which prompted The National Afro-American Council formed in 1903. Another group formed known as the National Association of Colored Women. W.E.B. Du Bois was a voice during this time as the first person of African decent to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard. Du Bois in 1915 of Atlantic Monthly wrote about imperialism of Africa and the roots of war that stemmed from the conquest of gold and diamonds in South Africa, the cocoa of Angola and Nigeria, the rubber and ivory of the Congo, the palm oil of the West Coast.
 Du Bois was also the only black officer, first editor of the NAACP periodical The Crisis. This came after a race riot in Springfield, Illinois. Life got worse for many people who joined organizations, unions, or any groups that seemed to be affiliated with socialism or communism. These groups were seen as a threat to the government and corporations that manipulated the government. In fact, many riots and strikes ended with the National Guard beating or killing strikers who only wanted better pay and better working conditions.

In one instance in 1914, the murder of one coal miner who was fighting against low-pay, bad conditions, feudal domination of their lives in towns controlled by the mining companies themselves ended in the Ludlow Massacre. 11,000 miners in Colorado were on a coal strike and the National Guard used a machine gun to attack the miner's tents. Even after attempted communication between the miners and the guardsmen, the National Guard continued to fire at the tents which killed 13 people and sent women and children to run for the hills. After that, 5,000 people demonstrated in front of the capital in Denver asking for the guardsmen to be tried for murder, but this frustrated the government and 56 men, women, and children were killed.

Additionally, the Espionage Act of 1917 was used to imprison American who spoke or wrote against the war. One person named Eugene Debs spent 10 years in prison, and about 900 people went to prison under the Espionage Act during this time. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman had already spent 14 years in prison for opposing the draft for the war. Even some people were brutally mutilated for being outspoken.

There were many labor strikes in all different types of factories from shirt workers, electrical workers, broom workers, trash collectors grave diggers. Even within the rubber plant companies alone there were strikes at Firestone, Goodyear, and General Motors. The rubber plant strikers used a sit-down tactic that kept them safe and sheltered from the outside. There were 48 sit-down strikers in 1936, and 447 in 1937. With the rubber plant factories, and the biggest strikes called in the National Guard to break up the strike. Actually, 30 members of a National guard company who participated in the Fisher Body sit-down strike had not been paid. Years later, the Supreme Court even declared sit-downs illegal.

This is a reminder that this is still happening in 2017. Rioters are continually beaten and shot at by the military and police that work for the government. One example of this is the Black Lives Matter protests that always face heightened security and police brutality--not to mention the reason BLM exists because of the Black lives that consistently murdered everyday because of the White police and military. Another example is of the brutal attacks from the National Guard against the Standing Rock protesters. Many of the protesters were in sub zero temperatures all while the police/military forces blasted them with cold water and beat and shot them. One person's arm was mutilated by an officer. But what came out of that was the Pipeline started running (even after it started leaking immediately which was one of the main reasons of the protest), and instead of justice being served: people ended up going to jail and have to pay a fine for being a protester. People are still fighting for basic rights like water in Flint, Michigan. People are still fighting for better wages because of inflation of consumer goods. People are still fighting for human rights across the world because of war, poverty, rape, imperialism and neocolonization.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Philando Castile & people saying that his murder was faked

There is footage of a police officer shooting Philando Castile, and there is footage of them arresting his fiance Diamond Reynolds with her baby girl. There is also footage of the little girl telling her mom "Please don't cuss and scream because I don't want you to get shooted." And conspiracy theorists are saying "this is faked like the Sandy hook shooting and Boston bombing."
This is the inconsiderate nature of an entire nation wrapped into one tragedy that is being presented in the news media. For one, if you're Black, then justice and fair laws don't apply to you. If you're a victim of color, then you're treated like you're the criminal. Two, if you're a White terrorist, then you're not even given a slap on the wrist. 
Three, we already know that the police and the entire prison system is inhumane, but the indictment of the white police officer was a decision made by the public on a jury panel. And now that there is footage after footage of Philando's murder publicly displaying on the news and the internet, people have the delusional thinking that it has all been faked. It is a complete silencing and erasure of what it is like to be black in America. It is an erasure of slavery in America, and every way slavery has been intertwined thereafter in America. It's white peoples way of saying that black people shouldn't exist or either don't exist in their white world.
This is one of the many examples historically of the murders of black folks by white authority figures. But again, people want to erase that erase to forget that history. And once again, Emmett Till's historical marker was vandalized and defaced. The marker is to paint the story of Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy, who was brutally tortured by white men. The vandalism is once again a symbol that not only is history trying to be erased--but also that history of genocide is something to be mocked. 




Sunday, June 25, 2017

Watching the summer go by Cassie K


Bees pollinating flowers,
Whilst foraging birds spread seed.
From drinking nectar for hours,
Across a field to become a weed.
Before the summer rain showers,
Nourishing life so they can feed.
We are at the mercy of their powers,
Whether it's nature's deed.
We think we control those who cower,
But they are those who are freed.






Love to fear (poem) by Cassie K

I hear the music and it takes me back
To a cold, secluded, dark place
Watching distant lights flicker against the night.
To that cliff where the wind went through me
I was ready for it to take my breath
And disappear into the ether.
When the bliss washed over me
And the waves tempted my eyes
I felt the moment of letting go.
I was ready to turn into fog,
Or turn into the darkness,
To become the things I loved to fear.




Summer sunset photography by Cassie K

06/24/2017 sunset



06/25/2017 sunset

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Significance of ‘Place’ as Identity to Social Change in Appalachia by Cassie K



11/28/2016

The Significance of ‘Place’ as Identity to Social Change in Appalachia

In Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia, Fisher and Smith’s perspective of the concept of ‘place’ is that which we call home, specifically, the mountain landscape of Appalachia is symbolic of this home. Appalachians have an emotional relationship attached to the memories of the mountains that evokes a sense of protection of the place. Appalachian’s ties to the mountains then becomes a place-based political mobilization in the form of social justice organization to defend the home. Because of the inequalities and historical exploitation faced by Appalachians, political mobilization is especially significant. This paper dives into the concept of ‘place’ and its usefulness to understanding how it helps to understand the political significance of place, ‘scaling up’, and looking towards the future of grassroots organizing in Appalachia to resist forms of oppression and domination, including the ‘hegemony of growth’ (Fisher & Smith, 2012.)
Moreover, understanding the “place” helps to understand its political significance and potential. As we say the personal is political, the same applies to the concept of place, where the place is personal, thus the place is political. The concept of place is internalized to be a source of identity (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) This means people are concerned about social issues that are personal to them in their ‘place’ (home.) The implications of ‘place’ and place-based organizations means that it is limited to that area, and aims to help those in that one region, which is at risk of being exclusionary to others (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) One region’s social issues may not be the same as other regions, then solutions should not be the same. Additionally, we need the historical context and narratives of place to understand the region, how the social issues developed over time, and the social issues can be linked to the historical exploitation of the land and people.
Much of the examples in Transforming Places see the political significance and potential of place-based organizations. In Appalachian Elegy, bell hooks says “the passion for freedom and the wildness I had experienced as a child with anarchy, with the belief in the power of the individual to be self-determining” (p. 67-68.) This is an example of how our interconnectedness with the wild of the Appalachian Mountains fuels our own political significance and potential. Again, she is quoted “Living my early childhood in the isolated hills of Kentucky, I made a place for myself in nature there— roaming the hills” (p. 110-111.) This exemplifies the narratives in Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia. For example, the RAIL Solution, made up people with a collective attachment to the shared place, worked to end the corporate giant that was the privatization of I-81. “The political potential of this fundamental tension between public claims to and private appropriations of place raises tough, unanswered questions for organized labor in the United States” (p. 276.) The potential and political significance of a place-based organization then turns oppression and domination into ‘political solidarity’ (Fisher & Smith, 2012, p. 281.)
The organizations discussed in Transforming Places, had common goals to preserve their home, identity, environment, and community from environmental degradation and resist the imperialist capitalist patriarchal system. Another example of political significance and potential was the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA.) The efforts of OREPA was to call attention to the Uranium Processing Facility at Y12 in Oak Ridge (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) OREPA took the position that nuclear weapons production is bad for the environment, and because bombs made in America are intended to kill countries of black and brown people, the root of the issue is imperialist white supremacy. This further initiated the Stop the Bombs campaign. Despite an unfinished goal of halting the production of nuclear weapons, OREPA has placed pressure on state and federal regulators to prevent environmental destruction, and the organization grew, encompassing diverse groups of people to address violence as a production—including many religious groups.  
Additionally, the Listening Project exemplified the political significance and potential by including part of their history into storytelling. Similarly, the mention of self-awareness and embracing the Appalachian identity of the Women’s Wellness Group in Chapter four, was a way of addressing local issues that are central to understanding our specific history. This ties into the arts project mentioned in chapter six, because of the ways they are linking their stories to the Appalachian heritage, and connecting how the economic, political, and environmental climate of our region has shaped our values and addresses our specific needs. Likewise, chapter five addressed issues that are specific to the Appalachian region through media projects like AMI (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) The narratives of the people of the region help facilitate change and intervention, like a video made by the interns at AMI on domestic violence in the region, is still used for prevention efforts by regional health organizations. Appalachian Women’s Alliance allied more than two hundred women to facilitate change, where the Appalachian Women’s Caravan voiced their message about violence against women through the mountains in 1999 (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) These efforts made by diverse groups of unified women were to dismantle stereotypes and vocally call attention to a silent issue among all women. The political significance of this is that Appalachia has crisis centers, shelters, therapy centers, and other organizations to help others. When one person tells their story and when we begin to hear the narratives of others, the struggle bonds us to work to end the hate, discrimination, violence, and inequality. The stories we hear facilitate empathy, in turn the work of the women has fostered organizations in Appalachia to alleviate fear and suffering of abuse survivors.
‘Place’ matters in understanding the history of exploitation to suggest strategies and prospects to the specific social issues of that region. Although there are spatial and racial differences of specific places, globalization and neoliberalism generate similarities of many different regions (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) As mentioned, there should not be one solution across different regions for specific social issues but place-based strategies and solutions also address the issues and needed solutions across the globe. Place-based organizations reach outside the region—like Occupy Wall Street, Standing Up for Standing Rock, and Black Lives Matter (not mentioned in the book)—linking people nationally and globally due to the global access to the Internet. Subsequently, place-based strategies and prospects for the future should be shared globally. Organizations and grassroots movements may be place-based in the sense of addressing different struggles, but the goal of the global population should be similar.
For instance, the goal across the globe should be social and environmental justice. When there is an attachment to the place called home, it must be viewed in a way of preserving its integrity rather than deconstructing it for the sole purpose of job creation. For example, coal mining jobs are symbolic to Appalachians in their region; thus, it feels threatening when outsiders suggest creating green jobs to replace them (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) However, the goal of the transition work globally and at the local level should aim to create a working world that functions to preserve the environment and make a safe and healthy world for the life within the environment. There is a romanticism attached to the memories of the past (Fisher & Smith, 2012), but this is not an invitation to recreate the past in ways that continue to exploit land, oppress poor people and people of color. Instead we need to focus on the potential future of Appalachia as a place with a self-sustainable food system, locally-based economy, environmentally-conscious companies, and a place of social justice, liberation, revolution, and equity.
Some stories of additional organizations have been discussed from the book, but one single story featured in Transforming Places was meaningful to my own understanding and attachment to the ‘place.’ From my perspective, the organization that stood out the most was the Community Farm Alliance (CFA.) Chapter 14 discussed a Kentucky-based issue, where the CFA aimed to ease the transition farmers from tobacco growing towards a local food growing system and distribution in a low-income region among small-scale farmers (known as Locally Integrated Food Economy.) There was a coherent alternative proposed by the CFA when they opposed biotechnology spending and cuts towards tobacco farmers. This is unique to “Appalachianess” because tobacco was Kentucky’s ‘number one cash crop’ and Kentucky ‘had one of the highest numbers of family farms in the country in 1997’, and ‘a unique kind of agrarianism’ in Kentucky (p. 210). This is also a reflection on my family’s experience growing tobacco for many years. In the late ‘90s, it was clear that there was a shift in the consumerism market of tobacco, and it was also clear that small-scale farmers would likely quit growing altogether. When my family quit growing tobacco, they grew large scale gardens for the family instead. I admired that, and something in me is still attached to that relationship with the land they grew tobacco on, and I have a relationship with growing food because it feels ‘part of me.’
Furthermore, globalization and neoliberalism produce in specific regions eroding communities and local solidarity; thus, Appalachian citizens are reinventing themselves to resist the globalization and neoliberal tendencies. The example of the place-based organization of the CFA exemplified the ways in which Appalachian citizens are reinventing themselves and resisting the globalization and neoliberalism. For example, the tobacco farmers reinvented themselves as food producers. The farmers then advocated for a local food distribution system in urban markets and African American neighborhoods that suffered from grocery gaps (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) The CFA “organizers had spent fifteen years developing leadership skills and county-based chapters among its farmer-members across rural Kentucky” (p. 274.) Many groups experienced the same long-term efforts, such as OREPA which is still active today based on their website orepa.org. Long term organizations must scale up their members and outreach for their voices to be heard and to facilitate change. From here, ‘scaling up’ is discussed as an important political step for organizations.
Place-based organizations that focus on one issue makes it easier to focus on one solution; and from the examples in the book—it is hard for groups to focus on the many global problems and their solutions. At the same time, long term organizations are successful when they address other issues later (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) But, this is where scaling up is beneficial to expand on the local issues by recognizing wider social forces that effect people on a global scale. Scaling up can reach more people and influence greater change outside of the place-based organization. Scaling up was discussed throughout the book on how this often meant a need for more staff/membership, resources, and building more relationships and links with other coalitions, organizations, and community groups. Although scaling up in terms of outreach meant that reaching a larger audience will help build and bond a community. What was helpful about CFA is that the organization encouraged tobacco settlement funds to go towards these small-scale farmers that would be the most vulnerable (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) In this case, the idea of scaling up was to bridge the divide, have a dialogue between foodie groups, policy makers, businesses, and churches.
As mentioned, ‘scaling up’ is an important step in the process of economically diversifying and democratizing the region and communities (especially in coal-impacted communities.) Often there is an acknowledgement of capitalism, but little awareness of alternatives to the white supremacist patriarchal capitalism. From this acknowledgement, however, the first step is to begin resistance and facilitate change through the theoretical framework of an anti-racist, anti-capitalist feminism. Secondly, there is a need to bridge the divide and find common ground, solidarity, and empowerment in struggles, goals, and across love and acceptance. Third, there is a need to “take up space”—as some feminists refer to as organizing public space within face-to-face meetings to discuss regional issues and their solutions. Empathy is formed in conversations and narratives of others that have different struggles, and thus people outside of their social circle becomes moved to speak and act on behalf of the justice of others (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) Another step to democratize and diversify the region is by acknowledging the problem, and put a name to it (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) For instance, migrant workers in Cincinnati claimed their problem to be discrimination, which helped them facilitate the process of change (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) The next step is to create an alternative to the currently opposed system.
Similarly, the CFA created their own values-based alternative plan (Fisher & Smith, 2012.) Secondly, the CFA utilized diversity and democratized their group by incorporating the knowledge of citizens and farmer’s knowledge in their policy tools (like coal, timber, etc.) This insight evokes the same inclusiveness to all policy matters (not just farming.) And the CFA was inclusive for people of color, which is important because persons of color are often hurt the most by spending cuts. It is clear in all policies developed, we need the knowledgeable voices of people that is going to be affected by certain policies. As previously mentioned, this is a participatory democratic strategy.
Additionally, because there is a shift from growing tobacco considering the plethora of knowledge on smoking tobacco—this also gives us insight that we need to have alternatives to other shifting markets. But even when there is reason to shift the market, this shift does not hurt the CEO, managers, and shareholders as much as the workers that lose a whole paycheck with no alternative. For instance, coal is a declining industry—especially considering there are cheaper alternatives, but the environmental movements are calling for solar and wind as power/energy alternatives. This is where we could use the CFA’s model to shift the industry of coal mining jobs towards energy efficient/sustainable technology jobs (for the same people, families, and communities) and timber logging towards bamboo/hemp harvesting to replace wood products for those that relied on timber jobs.
Consequently, groups that want minimal government intervention and regulation, do not want individuals to have their own agency. These same groups give corporations agency to abuse their power to exploit the environment and people. So, the role of the government should be one that gives agency to the individual, while restricting and regulating corporations to prevent those environmental and social injustices. This is where grassroots groups play a role in addressing the injustices to demand certain needs by working with the government. One would think that government always has people’s interest in mind; but if everyone in government is part of the status quo (white wealthy men), then this group doesn’t understand groups outside of their selves. When everyone has a voice that is taken into consideration and valued equally, then that is an actual participatory democracy.
Grassroots movements—although small and led by marginalized people—create large conversations that shift the consciousness.  It is important to have both government and grassroots solutions. Governments inadvertently rely on these movements to educate them—even when these advocates are not necessarily experts or professionals. Because advocates have little power comparatively, it takes large groups with access to a platform to have their voices and narratives heard. The government can be part and in par with citizen groups and grassroots movements. In fact, much legislation was influenced from these movements. In this world, government holds so much power, that it sometimes creates the struggle, oppression, and friction that it claims to reduce and prevent. We are a product of the government power and control, but we need both and one another despite that. To properly assess the government’s role, one must ask: Who is the government working for? Are they going to continue to uphold the status quo and perpetuate domination, or dismantle it? Fisher and Smith calls the global domination: The Empire, which distorts our knowledge of the world, people, science, and academia, while preventing us from discovering interconnectedness with others in addition to preventing us from uprising together. In other words, the Empire keeps us divided, separate and unequal.
Collectively, grassroots groups can unify in their struggle and strategies for a solution. Although much of this paper has somewhat romanticized place-based organizations, Fisher and Smith suggest that “people need principled reasons, more than place-based reasons, to form such alliances” (p. 56.) The authors also suggest facilitating change around values-based principles rather than focusing on the identity of the place. The white supremacist capitalist patriarchy forms a matrix of domination across race, class, and gender. Thus, spatial, racial, and relational differences may prompt place-based organizations to focus on their regions unique struggles, this is undercutting the larger system at play that affects every aspect of people’s lives. In other words, mass incarceration, unemployment, poverty, hunger, war, violence, drug addiction, environmental degradation all stem from this system of global domination. Once we put a name to the problems of domination at play, we can name the alternative solution to dismantle domination.



References
hooks, bell. Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place (Kentucky Voices) (Kindle Locations 67-68). The University Press of Kentucky. Kindle Edition. 
Fisher, Stephen L. and Smith, Barbara Ellen. (2012). Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia. University of Illinois Press.
The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. (2016). orepa.org.