Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for September, 2011

Indigenous Marching in Bolivia

From Avaaz.

Last Sunday, Bolivian police used tear gas and truncheons to crack down on indigenous men, women and children who are marching against an illegal mega-highway that will slice through the protected Amazon rainforest.

72 hours later, the country is in crisis — two key Ministers have resigned, Bolivians are erupting in street protests across the country, and President Evo Morales has been forced to temporarily suspend the highway construction. But powerful multinationals are already divvying up this important nature preserve. Now, only if the world stands with these brave indigenous people can we ensure the highway is rerouted and the forest is protected.

Avaaz just delivered a 115,000 strong Bolivian and Latin American emergency petition to two senior government Ministers — they are worried about massive public pressure and are on the back foot. Now after this brutal violence let’s ramp up the pressure and raise a global alarm to end the crackdown and stop the highway. Click to sign the urgent petition — it will be delivered spectacularly to President Evo Morales when we reach 500,000:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bolivia_stop_the_crackdown/?vl

Thousands of indigenous people have been marching for six weeks from the Amazon to the capital. Finally, at a meeting with Avaaz last week, Bolivia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs pledged to open dialogue with leaders. On Saturday, he went to speak with the marchers, but when he refused their basic demands, they forced him to march with them for one hour to break the police fence. The next day troops stormed the area where the protesters had set up camp and brutally beat and detained hundreds and loaded them onto buses to forcibly remove them.

The proposed 300km highway would cut straight through Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS in Spanish), the crown jewel of the Bolivian Amazon, famous for its huge trees, astonishing wildlife and fresh water. TIPNIS’s incredible natural and cultural significance have earned it the status of a double protected area — as a National Park and an indigenous reservoir. The highway is financed by Brazil and would link Brazil to Pacific ports. But below the surface, it would be a poisonous artery that would destroy these communities and the forest and open up this pristine land to logging, oil and mining explorations, and large scale industrial and agricultural business. A recent study found that 64% of the park could be deforested by 2030 if the road is built.

Bolivian and international law say indigenous leaders must be consulted if the government wishes to take their land, and the indigenous communities want safer alternatives to foster economic growth and regional integration. But the government has ignored their vocal opposition and failed to study a single alternative road route outside TIPNIS. Instead, Morales is pushing for a referendum for the region which ignores the law and is seen by many as an attempt to fabricate illegitimate consent.

Morales — known as Bolivia’s first indigenous President — is renowned globally for standing strong for the environment and indigenous people. Let’s encourage him to stick to those principles now that this simmering conflict has violently reached boiling point, and stand with those on the front line struggling for Amazon protection and respect for indigenous communities — sign this urgent petition to stop the crackdown and the illegal highway:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/bolivia_stop_the_crackdown/?vl

Again and again, the protection of the land we all depend on and the rights of indigenous people are sacrificed by our governments at the altar of development and economic growth. Our leaders often choose mining and deforestation over our own survival — regularly directly profiting foreign corporations. In the future we all want, the environment and the lives of innocent people come before profit. President Evo Morales now has the chance to back his people, save the Amazon, and rethink what real development looks like in Latin America.

With hope,

Luis, Laura, Alice, Ricken, David, Diego, Shibayan, Alex and the rest of the Avaaz team

Strong Sense of Self

Excerpt from Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

You must have a very strong sense of self to transition. (Tiffany, 42)

If I were able to transition when I was in my teens, like youth can today, I would have been socialized as other young girls are. But would I have been forced to buy into stereotypical behavior, attributes, and social norms that most young women are raised with? Would I be a cookie-cutter conformist with a very narrow idea of what a girl is and what kind of woman she should be? Would I have been raised to be a good girl, find a white knight, and raise a family?

It would have been beneficial to my physical appearance to be on estrogen before so many male features became permanent. It’s much harder to transition later in life, and I have had to rid myself of male baggage and socialization. But when that process was done I had a semi-blank slate to create my own idea of what a woman can be, instead of what society thinks she should be. By constructing the woman I am today, I was able to become my own creation, with healthier ideas and qualities I wanted to embody, such as intelligence, humor, individuality, strength, grace and class, as well as my own sense of style and unique place in the world.

I’m proud to be trans; it’s who I am. The outcome of my struggles is what makes me special, not whether I’ve had surgery to create a vagina. Millions of women have a vagina and it doesn’t make them special. What makes a person special is who they are inside, what they do with their lives, and how they make a difference in the world. That’s the kind of woman I am – always aiming to make a difference.

A Woman +

Excerpt from Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

I am more than just a woman.
By Danielle (30)
See accompanying photo.

I used to be very scared of being transgendered. I didn’t want to fit into that community, and I lived my life as a woman. Only those very close to me knew otherwise. When Gwen Araujo was murdered I realized that I could no longer pretend to be what I was not. Gwen’s death could have been mine. I was in her situation so many times – deceiving people that I was a natural woman. I was really just deceiving myself. This was difficult for me to come to terms with, but I realized that I’m not a biological woman and I never will be. There is more than just male and female – gender is fluid. I realized that the world was messed up, not me, so I decided to turn my anger into a passion for change. Now I’m dedicated to providing services which were not available when I was young.

There’s an emotional and spiritual evolutionary process that we all must go through to accept ourselves for who we really are. I am a transgendered woman and that’s how I identify. For many years I refused to accept having been male. Now I recognize that I am of two spirits, and I’m trying to get in touch with the man inside of me. This is part of embracing my transgenderism as a whole. I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. I’m just trying to be who I am, and to love myself.

Danielle

Transfigurations Forward

Excerpt from Forward of Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

Forward by Jamison Green

Most people experience their gender and their sex as the same thing: most people with female bodies feel like women, and most people with male bodies feel like men. However, not everyone experiences their sex and gender as “aligned.” And while it is common for both men and women to want to improve their appearance in conformity with stereotypes that are ascribed to their sex and gender, when people like me cross gender boundaries to change our bodies, it is often difficult for others to understand.

Some small percentage of people in every race, every class, and – as far as we know – every culture since the dawn of recorded history have felt the need to transform themselves in some way in order to live comfortably with their gender. Debates about meanings of the words “sex” and “gender,” about what is “real,” and what can and cannot be really changed have raged all around us, and accusations of “deceitful” and “delusional” have plagued people like me for countless generations; yet we persist. And we continue to fascinate artists and storytellers, theologians and mythologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, ethicists, police, and perverts. While some would still make jokes about us, others are taking a new look. And when people allow themselves to experience us as human beings, they are often transformed themselves. Not that they suddenly want to change their own bodies, but that they come to appreciate the integrity of the human spirit in a new way.

Praise for Transfigurations

Here’s what people are saying about Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

Transfigurations is a bold, gutsy visual feast – not just for the eyes, but for the heart and soul. In her courageous endeavor to explore gender, Jana Marcus takes us along a hypnotic ride that invites us to question everything we think we might know about “man,” “woman” and the typically uncharted water in between. Stunning!

–Greg Archer, San Francisco Examiner and Huffington Post

Jana Marcus’s Transfigurations is revelatory. A series of larger-than-life-size black and white portraits that – perhaps as a function of a wide-open camera lens or the fine quality of printing, but more likely because the eye of the photographer has called forth a deep veracity from the subjects – make available the human essence.

–Mareen Davidson, Art Critic, Santa Cruz Weekly.

This is powerful stuff! Transfigurations is deeply moving. Marcus captures the dignity of people with clarity and honesty, calling forth the hope that many closed minds may be opened and many faint hearts be mended.

–Dennis J. Dunleavy, Ph.D., Department of Communication, Southern Oregon University

Copa Cocoa Banana

Recipe from Luscious Chocolate Smoothies: An irresistible collection of healthy cocoa delights by Gabriel Constans.

Copa Cocoa Banana

1 cup filtered water
2 large bananas, in chunks
1 cup fresh orange slices
1/2 cup pure coconut milk
1 8-ounce carton apricot-mango low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup raspberries
4 drops peppermint extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup tequila

Place all ingredients, except tequila, in a blender and mix on medium for 1 minute; add tequila and mix for 30 seconds more.

Pour into tall glasses, sit down and brace yourself before drinking.

Yields: 5 Cups

per cup: Calories 211; Protein 4 g; Total Fat 6 g; Saturated Fat 5 g; Carbohydrate 32 ; Cholesterol 3 mg

More recipes, cocoa history and humor at Luscious Chocolate Smoothies.

The Velvet Orchid

From Luscious Chocolate Smoothies: An irresistible collection of health cocoa delights by Gabriel Constans.

The Velvet Orchid

2 cups chocolate low-fat soy milk or dairy milk
½ banana, in chunks
1 12-oz package of soft silken tofu
1 cup frozen mango slices
2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high for two minutes.
2. Pour contents into tall glasses and serve.

Yields: 4 cups. Per cup: calories 218; protein 7 g; total fat 8 g; saturated fat 3 g; carbohydrate 34 g; cholesterol 0 mg.

More recipes, chocolate humor and history at: Luscious Chocolate Smoothies

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