Category Archives: Feb/March 2005 (2/10/05)

Palestine Now

In the spectacle of image manipulation that surrounds the bitter conflict for justice in Palestine and Israel, suffering will likely continue unabated after the latest ‘watershed’ of the Jan. 9 Palestinian presidential elections. The election, a non-contest from the beginning without the presence of Marwan Barghouti, led to its foregone conclusion: victory for Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), the ‘preferred’ candidate of the neoliberal global network of control and its media machinery, the White House, the Israeli political and economic elites, the Palestinian oligarchy and the Fatah political machine. The cynicism with which ordinary Palestinians’ hopes for change and an end to the nightmare of the Occupation have been manipulated by discourse and hype about “windows of opportunity” is extraordinary. More important for assessing public mood on the street in Gaza was the huge victory by Hamas in the election on Jan. 28 to ten local councils, the first-ever municipal elections in Palestine, garnering two-thirds of the vote. It was a crushing defeat for Fatah. Turn-out topped 80 percent, far greater than in the presidential poll. The message to the entrenched Fatah leadership is loud and clear.

Despite the great ruse of Sharon’s ‘disengagement plan,’ it is common knowledge on the Israeli left that over the short range, Sharon may pay lip service to “the new chance for peace” while he and his cabal of generals will do everything in their power, including a continuation of Israel state violence, to eviscerate the Mazen presidency and ensure its failure or turn him into a Palestinian puppet. The Israeli political-military machine may halt targeted assassinations as a tactical move while keeping its finger on the trigger and ever tightening its grip on Palestinian lands. Above all: pay heed to the actions of Sharon and his ruling clique, not their rhetoric.

Abu Mazen is the Israeli’s puppet in that they hold ALL the strings. He has already deployed bulldozers to tear down Palestinian homes and banned civilians from carrying weapons. The ‘irrationality’ of the ‘spiral of violence’ begins to look more rational when you understand that the generals who run Israel feed on further violence. Chaos is in the ultimate ‘interest’ of the expansionist Israeli state and its ruling elite, though not of ordinary Israelis. In Palestine, Jewish nationalist strategy has been a ‘land and water grab’ for the past 80 years. It is driven by maintaining a permanent state of emergency. The generals remain poised for a single ‘provocation’ in order to unleash a massive attack on Gaza.

The new Palestinian leader may believe that if he can end the violence (= armed resistance), Sharon will face domestic and international pressure to start talking about the issues at the heart of the conflict — borders, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem. But why should Sharon suddenly do an about-face? Pressure from where? “Some people say, only half in jest, that the USA is an Israeli colony. . . . President Bush dances to Ariel Sharon’s tune. Both Houses of Congress are totally subservient to the Israeli right-wing — much more so than the Knesset” [1]. What may emerge is a kind of Vichy-ization of the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the Occupation, analogous in some ways to the German puppet regime in occupied France in WW II.

As Mid-East Realities observed: “With no real Palestinian State any longer possible west of the Jordan, the U.S. and Israel have worked long and hard to get to the point where they could force a quisling Palestinian leadership of their choosing into a kind of convoluted submission while pretending it is an agreed settlement brought about by the ‘Peace Process’. . . . Abu Mazen and the key Palestinian in the background, Nabil Shaath (the long-time PA ‘Foreign Minister’ operative working closely with the Israelis and the CIA), are poised to in effect accept the Sharon Plan for what will be called a ‘Temporary State’ with ‘Provisional Boundaries’ in about 25% of historic Palestine. Everywhere the Palestinian ‘population centers’, i.e. Bantustans and Reservations in reality, will be surrounded by the Israeli army which will continue to control all entry/exit and airspace of what is to be a permanently crippled and controlled ‘Palestinian state’. The plan is then to flood the Palestinian Bantustans with two things to give this new arrangement a chance to work — monies largely from Europe and the World Bank to make daily life a little better . . . and guns supplied by Israel along with the U.S. and U.K. so PA forces will be able to enforce an end to the Palestinian Intifada and in effect become the Israeli police-force in the occupied territories” [2].

What can stateside anti-authoritarians do?

1. For starters, lend critical support to the minimal program for an Israeli military withdrawal as laid out by Gush Shalom: “Without serious steps to end the Occupation no ‘window of opportunity’” [3]. These are short-term demands which no Israeli political-military elite, intent on furthering the long-term national Zionist agenda of Control of all of Palestine, can accede to. They include “Complete cessation of the settlement construction and extension, going on throughout the West Bank, and dismantling of all the ‘unauthorized settlement outposts,’ total cessation of the manhunt against the ‘wanted Palestinians,’ their assassinations and detentions and the nightly invasions of the Palestinian towns and villages; removal of all the roadblocks which deny free movement to the Palestinians and strangle the Palestinian economy; release of the Palestinian political leaders imprisoned in Israel, such as Marwan Barghouti and Husam Hader, members of the Palestinian Legislature.”

2. Begin to consider ways to publicize and support the continuing work of the one opposition candidate with a substantial following in the Palestinian political and public arena, Mustafa Barghouthi, Abbas’s main opponent in the Jan. 9 poll who garnered nearly 20 percent of the vote. Barghouthi is a radical democrat who believes in the power of mass non-violent resistance. As long as Marwan remains behind bars, Mustafa is the best alternative on the democratic left. Familiarize yourselves with his organization, the Palestine National Initiative (Al Mubadara), founded in 2002. A noted physician, he is head of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, and director of HDIP, the Health, Development Information and Policy Institute based in Ramallah, a grassroots formation bringing together over 90 Palestinian NGOs. Al Mubadara’s online journal is The Palestine Monitor [4]. Mustafa has been an outspoken critic of Arafat and the PLO old guard.

We also need to better understand the huge popularity enjoyed by Hamas, coupling militant resistance with social welfare and an entire supplementary kindergarten and school system. Their example, a movement deeply rooted in the people rather than party, is a paradigm worth studying [5]. In some respects they are a concrete embodiment in occupied Palestine of ‘dual power’ in the absence of a ‘state.’

3. Add your weight to the economic boycott of Israel, supporting initiatives such as www.boycottisraeligoods.org/ . In Israel itself, Conscience (Matzpun, www.matzpun.com ) is campaigning for an international boycott of Israeli goods in an effort to put pressure on the Israeli government and Israeli electorate where it hurts, namely in the pocketbook. As Matzpun notes: “We call on the world community to organize and boycott Israeli industrial and agricultural exports and goods, as well as leisure tourism, in the hope that it will have the same positive result that the boycott of South Africa had on apartheid. This boycott should remain in force as long as Israel controls any part of the territories it occupied in 1967. Those who squash the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians must be made to feel the consequences of their own bitter medicine.”

4. Join the struggle against the Israeli military. One way is to support Israeli soldiers who are refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories or ‘breaking the silence.’ The organization Refusing for Israel needs international solidarity, take a look at their principles, work and call for signatures: www.seruv.org.il/english/ An extraordinary organization fighting the militarization of Israeli society, consciousness and education is New Profile, also worth checking out at www.newprofile.org.

5. Join the worldwide fight against the Great Wall of Palestine. The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign is a good place to begin: www.stopthewall.org/ And the Yahoo group Anarchists Against the Wall, join in: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ againstwall/ Along with opposition to the Wall, a new focus is the massive expropriation of Palestinian property in al-Quds (East Jerusalem) now being finessed by the Israeli authorities: “The Sharon government intends to strip thousands of West Bank Palestinians of their property in occupied East Jerusalem, according to the Israeli press quoting newly released government documents. At stake are thousands of donoms of land belonging to Palestinians who live in the West Bank and are now unable to access their land due to Israel’s separation barrier. . . . By all accounts, the Israeli ministry of interior is using land expropriations, identity-card seizure, exorbitant taxes and difficult-to-obtain building, family-reunion and residency permits to slowly force Palestinian residents out of the city…. The total land to be expropriated could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property.” [6]. This opens up a new front for struggle.

6. In attempting to build a strong pro-Palestinian movement in the U.S., consider the positions as laid out by the New England Committee to Defend Palestine. Perhaps the most radical viewpoint on the path forward voiced by an active group in the United States, they envision a unitary one-state solution for Arabs and Jews: “The Two-State Solution is not just. It is no solution to the turmoil in historic Palestine because at its core it does not undo any wrongs. It is unjust because it is premised on the continued acceptance of the Zionist claim to at least three quarters, if not all, of Palestine as being the exclusive land of the Jews. It is fundamentally flawed as it denies Palestinians the Right of Return; it abandons the Palestinians living within Israel; it does not provide Palestinians any semblance of an independent sovereign state and it allows the US to maintain its role as the main imperialist occupier of the entire Middle East.” [7]. Central is their demand for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel now — military, economic, and political. That call stateside can be a primary focus in all anti-authoritarian campaigning for a just solution. It has the support of anarchists in the belly of Leviathan in Israel.

1. Uri Avnery, “King George,” 22 Jan 2005, www.truthout.org/docs_05/012405I.shtml

2. MER, “Abu Mazen poised to accept Sharon Plan,” 27 Jan 2005, www.middleeast.org

3. Accessible at http://gush-shalom.org/pr/pr13-1-2005eng.html

4. For information on the PNI, see www.almubadara.org For links to some of his articles, www.palestinemonitor.org/archives/Article_archives_04.htm

5. See Beverley Milton-Edwards and Alastair Crooke, “Elusive Ingredient;Hamas and the Peace Process,” 25 Aug 2004, MIFTAH, www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=4591&CategoryId=21

6. “Israel plans big Jerusalem land grab,” Al-jazeera, 20 Jan 2005, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/0B317D0C-9689-43F0-B773-E6A833C8F296.htm

7. Lana Habash and Noah Cohen, “Zionism is the Issue: Building a Strong Pro-Palestinian Movement In the US,” 11 Jan 2005, www.onepalestine.org/resources/articles/Zionism_Is_Issue.html

A Recruiter Near YOU

The following US Army recruiting stations are in or near areas that have significant radical communities. Therefore, this is a reasonable initial list of recruiting stations that could be targeted for disruptive actions designed to cripple the US war effort in Iraq. A diversity of tactics is in order, ranging from protests, telephone call campaigns and informational pickets to occupations, wheatpasting, graffiti, etc. Folks may want to design theater performances wherein buzz cut potential recruits show up and ask some mighty hard questions about all those weapons of mass destruction and the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy.” The recruitment arm of the military is essential to the functioning of the whole machine — they shouldn’t get a free ride here in the US while the slaughter continues in Iraq. Get together with your friends, use you’re creativity and don’t get caught!

Arizona

  • Tucson: 2302 E. Speedway Blvd. # 112, Sun, AZ 85719, 520-326-6957
  • Phoenix: 1647-C West Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, AZ 85015, 602-249-2320
  • California

    • Oakland: 2116 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, 510-835-7985
    • San Francisco: 670 Davis St, Golden Gateway Common # 111, San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-433-4512
    • San Diego: 4150 Mission Blvd. #. 159, San Diego, CA 92109, 858-273-3781
    • Los Angeles: 2700 Colorado Blvd # 149, Los Angeles, CA 90041
    • Santa Cruz: 2121 41st Ave # 204, Capitola, CA 95010, 831-464-0461
    • Eureka: 3220 S. Broadway Suite A-13, Eureka, CA 95501, 707-443-3019

    Colorado

    • Denver: 130 Tivoli Student Union, 900 Auraria Pkwy Unit 130, Denver, CO 80204, 720-904-2174
    • Boulder: 3055 Walnut St, Palm Gardens Shpg Ctr, Boulder, CO 80301, 303-442-1751

    Connecticut

    • New Haven: 161 Orange Street, New Haven, CT 06510, 203-624-3312

    Florida

    • Gainesville: 3218 SW 35th Blvd, # D, Butler Plaza, Gainesville, FL 32608, 352-335-5600
    • Pensacola: Southgate Plaza, 528 N. Navy Blvd, Suite C., Pensacola, FL 32507, 850-458-9996
    • Miami: Boulevard Shops, 1401 Biscayne Blvd, # 1490-D, Miami, FL 33132, 305-371-8755

    Georgia

    • Atlanta: 650 Ponce De Leon, # 640-B, Midtown Place Shopping Center, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-685-9994

    Illinois

    • Chicago: 1239 N Clybourn Ave, Suite 226, Chicago, IL 60610, 312-202-0430
    • Champaign/Urbana: Plaza West, 1615 Springfield Ave, Champaign, IL 61821, 217-356-2838

    Indiana

    • Indianapolis: 302 Washington Pointe Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46229, 317-898-3032
    • Bloomington: 327 S Walnut St # 102, Bloomington, IN 47401, 812-333-0240

    Kansas

    • Lawrence: 115 South Clairborne, Olathe, KS 66062, 913-764-2113

    Louisiana

    • New Orleans: 514 City Park Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119, 504-488-6672

    Maryland

    • Baltimore: 1253 W. Pratt Street # D, Mountclair Junction Shopping Ctr, Baltimore, MD 21223, 410-727-2769

    Massachusetts

    • Boston: 141 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111, 617-426-6488
    • Western Mass: Big Y Plaza, 485a Newton Street, South Hadley, MA 01075, 413-533-2501

    Minnesota
    Minneapolis: 9 Sixth Ave South, Hopkins, MN 55343, 952-935-3000

Missouri

  • Kansas City: 3909 S. Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111, 816-561-0613

Nebraska

  • Lincoln: Military & Naval Science Bldg, Rm 205, 14th & Vine Sts, Lincoln, NE 68588, 402-472-4602

New York

  • Manhatten: 688 6th Avenue 2nd Flr, New York, NY 10010, 212-255-8229

North Carolina

  • Durham: U.S. Army Recruiting Station, 3400 Westgate Dr, Westgate Plaza, Durham, NX 27707, 919-490-6671

Ohio

  • Oberlin: 300 Broadway Ave, Lorain, OH 44052, 440-245-6351
  • Toledo: Miracle Mile Shopping Center, 4925 Jackman Rd, Toledo, OH 43613, 419-292-0358
  • Oregon

    • Portland: 1317 NE Broadway St, Portland, OR 97232, 503-284-4005
    • Eugene: Santa Clara Shopping Center, 65-J Division Avenue, Suite D, Eugene, OR 97404, 541-345-3877
    • Pennyslvania

      • Philadelphia: Auerbach Bldg, 125 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-568-1921
      • Pittsburgh: 3712 Forbes Avenue, 2nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 412-683-1057

      Tennessee

      • Knoxville: 168 N Seven Oaks Drive, Windsor Square Shopping Center, Knoxville, TN 37922, 865-690-0473

      Texas

      • Austin: 2025 Guadalupe, Ste 258, Dobie Mall-Ut Campus, Austin, TX 78705, 512-472-7616
      • Houston: River Oaks Plaza Shopping Ctr, 1432 West Gray, Houston, TX 77019, 713-942-0120

      Virginia

      • Richmond: Shops At Willow Lawn, Store 301d, 1602 Willow Lawn Drive, Richmond, VA 23230, 804-285-6690

      Washington

      • Olympia: 400 Cooper Point Rd Ste Cv6, Olympia, WA 98502, 360-943-3732
      • Seattle: 2301 S Jackson St Ste 205, Seattle, WA 98144, 206-324-3437

      Washington, DC

      • Franklin Ct Bldg, Box 18 1099 14th Street Nw ( L St. Entrance), Washington, DC 20005, 202-761-4344

      Wisconsin

      • Madison: 73 University Square, Madison, WI 53715, 608-255-4684
      • Milwaukee: 3133 N Oakland Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211, 414-963-4727

Word of Encouragement from and Expatriate CO

“America, love it or leave it.” That’s what a lot of us resisters and conscientious objectors heard back in the sixties and seventies. I was one of the ones who took the advice literally. The United States seemed like a foreign country to me then, and it still does now.

As an expatriate living in Japan, I rely on the Internet to get my alternative news. I have to admit to an obsessive addiction to searching such sites as Citizen Soldier, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, SNAFU, as well as older ones like Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, War Resisters League, and several others in an attempt to keep up with what’s going on in my old “foreign country.” I find it welcoming, encouraging, and even a bit nostalgic to read that military resistance to the Iraq war is gaining momentum — some soldiers refusing to carry out “suicide” missions; a few soldiers fleeing to Canada to seek refugee status; military families speaking out publicly against the war and setting up websites to spread their message; suits being filed in federal court challenging the Bush administration’s “stop-loss” policy that forces soldiers to remain in uniform for a year or more after their contracts expire.

I often send letters of encouragement to these new conscientious objectors. I want them to know that they’re not alone, that their actions are admirable and right, that they may suffer abuse, indignity, harassment, and perhaps even ostracism and imprisonment, but in the long run their lives will turn out all right.

I can certainly empathize with the loneliness, the weight, and the enormity of what goes into making the decision to resist. In your late teens and early twenties, you’re seldom able to articulate the full depth of your feelings, morals, and values. You’re scared. You feel weak and not up to the task. You’re often full of self doubt. You know the decision will change the course of the rest of your life. It changed mine irrevocably.

Late in 1969 I became a conscientious objector (CO) from within the Air Force after being hoodwinked by a recruiter into believing I’d never have to carry a gun. Country bumpkin that I was at the age of eighteen, I bought that lie hook, line, and sinker. Turned out I had to undergo combat training for the job of guarding B-52 bombers. Not long after Kent State, I got my order to Southeast Asia. By that time, I was involved with a few GI “heads” who were putting out an antiwar paper. I refused my order and was court-martialed. My legal counsel was an antiwar man who’d been drafted after he completed his law degree and decided to join the Air Force so he could work from within the system rather than head off to Canada and waste all that schooling. I was his first big case and he worked hard on it.

My court martial took place on October 8, 1970. I was charged with willful disobedience to a direct lawful order and faced a maximum five years of hard labor in the brig and a dishonorable discharge. I was found not guilty of the original charge, but guilty of the lesser charge of negligent disobedience and sentenced to six months with no punitive discharge. The reason I was found not guilty of the original charge was that I never said a direct “no” to my commanding officer when I was called before him and given the formal order. I just kept repeating “I don’t feel I’m mentally or physically capable of killing another human being.” It was my initiation into the power of language. That one sentence saved four and a half years of my life. They sent me off to a special Air Force prison in Colorado for nonviolent offenders, who were given a chance to rehabilitate, retrain into a different career field, and return to the service with a chance to serve out their obligation and get a good discharge. I didn’t buy into the brainwashing, adamantly refused to follow the program, and eventually got kicked out with an “undesirable” discharge.

That experience was the springboard for a nomadic life that led me through many countries, many jobs and changes, and finally to Japan, where I’ve lived and worked since 1983. I can truthfully say that I haven’t regretted for a moment my decision to resist. My life has been full and rewarding. Although I could not have fathomed the thought at the age of eighteen, I now know that I’m a small but important part of a long history. As long as there have been wars, there have also been voices raised in opposition to wars. It’s a tradition of which I’m proud to be a part.

So what can we tell this new generation of COs? How can we encourage them to keep the faith and not to lose hope? How can we let them know that their actions are worthy and meaningful? One thing is to remind them that history is on their side and that the more they resist, the more others will follow and throw huge monkey wrenches in the government and military’s ability to wage illegal and unjust wars. The more military resistance grows, the weaker the Army becomes in trying to suppress it.

A good example can be taken from my Vietnam War generation. During that war the GI movement and resistance from within the ranks definitely played a big role in bringing the war to an end. According to Heather T. Frazer and John O’Sullivan’s “We Have Just Begun to Not Fight” (Twayne Publishers, 1996), there were fifteen conscientious objectors for every 10,000 inductees into the military in World War II, or 0.15 percent. As the Vietnam War heated up and opposition to it escalated, the number of COs increased rapidly. In 1968, the percentage of COs per number of inductees rose to 8.5 percent. In 1969, it reached 13.5 percent; in 1970, 25.6 percent; in 1971, 42.6 percent. In 1972, with the scaling down of American forces in Vietnam and the winding down of the draft, for the first time in history more men were classified as COs than were inducted: 33,041 to 25,273.

Another example comes from James Lewis’s “Protest and Survive: Underground GI Newspapers During the Vietnam War” (Prager, 2003). Included in that book are tables showing year by year Reported Incidents of GI Dissent, Military Antiwar Activists Arrested, and Average Sentence per GI Activist. The latter table shows that in 1966 the average sentence per GI activist was over forty months at hard labor. By 1969 it had fallen to less than five months at hard labor. This corresponded with a large number of “fragging” cases and a huge jump in reported incidents of dissent. You could say the military was losing control of its own soldiers and having to bow to pressure from within.

With the ongoing occupation of Iraq, the Abu Ghraib prison and other scandals, and the strong possibility that the draft will return soon, thousands of young men and women are faced once again with the issue of following their consciences. If they — civilians and current soldiers alike — resist the war in large numbers, they have the ability to bring the senseless killing to a standstill and make their thousands of predecessors like Henry David Thoreau, Eugene Debs, Mahatma Gandhi, William Stafford, Martin Luther King, Mohammed Ali, Nelson Mandela, and even that lone Chinese student at Tiananmen Square proud. copyright (c) 2005 – Robert W. Norris

Robert W. Norris has lived and taught English in Japan since 1983. He is the author of three novels: “Toraware,” “Looking for the Summer,” and “The Many Roads to Japan.” He is a professor and the dean of students at Fukuoka International University. Check out Norris’s homepage at www2.gol.com/users norris/

Mind Freedom

Momentum continues to grow for MindFreedom International’s 2005 Action Conference April 29 to May 2 entitled, “Activism for Human Rights in Mental Health: How the Law Can Support Grassroots Action for Human Rights in the Mental Health System.” The 2005 Action Conference will bring together key leaders, activists, allies and advocates in the field of human rights for people labeled with psychiatric disabilities. It will take place at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. A protest will be held at the end of the conference at noon on May 2 at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PHRMA).

Pre-registration is required. MindFreedom Support Coalition International is a grassroots human rights non-profit uniting over 100 sponsor groups in 15 countries working for human rights and alternatives in mental health. The organization is a Non Governmental Organization accredited by the United Nations. Sometimes called the “Amnesty International of mental health,” MindFreedom is independent from any government, mental health provider, drug company or religion.

For more info, contact: MindFreedom 454 Willamette, Suite 216 PO Box 11284 Eugene, OR 9744-3484, www.MindFreedom.org

Goodbye 40th Street!

The 40th Street Warehouse

b. February 6, 1996

d. February 1, 2005

The 40th Street Warehouse was started nine years ago, in Oakland, California, with hopes of creating a space to work on art and music and life in a town of cramped options.

The first shows were artsy and small—noise music and twisted visuals—stark, one could say. Over the next few years, the character of the place shifted to a loosely-conceived crust scene and later into a more politically-oriented DIY punk sort of world. With this came an increase in vision and organization, and as the venue became a Venue things kind of exploded. We began to rethink what the space meant to us, and decided that we wouldn’t accommodate as many bigger bands, instead choosing to open up space for smaller or more fringe acts to find a home. Cabarets moved in, as did a wider range of musical sensibilities. Workshops happened and the first East Bay Skillshare found a partial home here.

Last year, well into the beginning of the end, some long-cooking pots began to boil over. For a few years the landlord had been talking of the theoretical day when she would kick us out to renovate the Warehouse and make it into live-work lofts. She had been waiting until the condos she’d built behind the building found tenants, and soon they did. It’s unclear who, but it was around this time that someone began calling the police on our shows. For weeks in a row we had to deal with police presence (this after maybe two calls a year for the past many), culminating in a serious blow to the warehouse that forced us to stop all shows, when the police came one afternoon to have a talk. The space was just in slumber until we regrouped, we thought—but that was before an eviction notice came.

And here we are, evicted, the place about to be knocked to the ground. Nine years, maybe five hundred shows, upwards of 40 roommates and a looming cloud of mostly pleasant memories later. In a just world, places like 40th would not be part of the dirty cycle of gentrification—not participants or sufferers, of which we are both—and homes like this one, here, could last forever. Now what we get to do is learn our lessons and take them with us as we start again.

***

The warehouse was the first place I really made my home and the place that taught me how to find home in any place. It has been a converging web of many different communities here in the bay, and amidst its limitations and its boundaries (cultural, musical, social, class, and on and on) I feel like it’s very clearly not just me who’s grown in big ways through the plurality of the changing faces that this place has borne.

There’s important models to be built from the ruins and memories of places like this and I don’t want to let that slip away. I feel that there’s clear lessons—knowledge built on trial, failure, and time—lessons about the many meanings, facets, and depths of the ubiquitous word “community” and the worth and necessity of semi-sacred gathering halls like this one. Something to take with us as we struggle to construct healing realities within the cultures of degradation we all endure and perpetuate and reside in. For me there’s a lesson in having to take it with me or watch it die.

I hope I’m not just aggrandizing this place through my milky haze of nostalgia (because I’ve got one, for sure). I just mean to recognize the many ways in which this space—a place of growth and of stagnancy, careless gestures and sincere connections at once, and a waystation for many—has given a stronger sense of home to those who’ve known it, like a tiny anchor to secure you just enough that you can handle the fact that you’re still floating away.