Friday, February 28, 2014

Self Care, Etc.

So something that I have been focusing on this past year is Self Care.  I have probably done the Self Care Assessment and Plan about 5 or 6 times since last summer and it has radically helped me change habits, focus on goals, and take better care of myself.  Most of the times I did the Assessment and Plan I was sharing the experience and results with one or more friends.  It has been awesome to bring self care into my friend communities as I have mainly been using it at work for my volunteers or students I present to.  Some things I have done more of because of the plan (which is based on the assessment) is exercise, reading, being in nature, doing affirmations, going to therapy and doing things which I am not the expert of.  One thing I still very much need to work on is cooking and eating better.  But as my therapist said when I talked to her about my self care goal of eating better was that we change, one thing at a time, so basically (not in these words): chill out for now.

One of the most productive evenings I spent with four friends having a "self care girl night" at my place was  when one of the girls, Ashley Madeline, bought boxes at Michaels for all of us and we decorated them with paint, collage, block letters, and other fun crafty things.  These were our "self care boxes" and we did a group brainstorm of self care methods and then wrote our favorites on colorful cardstock, much of which was supplied by Helen Grace, and cut them up and put them in the box.  We also placed symbolic items such as stones which symbolized self-care, and little keys and clocks symbolizing taking time and opening up.  The process was equally as fun as the final product, as it got all of us talking and planning and consciousness-raising.  I keep my box at work and since self care night have since created and added affirmations to the box as well.  All I did was copy/paste the ones I liked from a goddess website and download cute, free fonts before printing on color paper.  The final printable affirmations are here: Career, Daily Life, Emotions and Moving On, Health, Love, Self Esteem.

Our Self-Care Brainstorm

Junko's Self-Care Tips
The finished Affirmations.
My Self-Care Tips
Ashley Madeline's Self-Care Box

Inside view of Ashley Madison's Box

Inside view of Sonia's Box
Helen Grace's Box
Front view of Ashley Madison's Box
Junko's Box
Inside of My Box

Front view of my box

Top view of My and Sonia's Boxes

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2013

This year I chose to make two separate videos again, one of which focuses on what makes the workers happy and one of which is just photos from the events of the year.  There is also video footage somewhere out there of the theatre that my ESL partner Junko and I wrote and performed on the corner with the workers at the Fernando Pedraza Memorial and Community Celebration on May 4, 2013.  When I get my hands on it I will also post as I am very proud of the fact that we were able to teach everyone at the event and on the corner who Fernando Pedraza was and why he mattered through theatre.

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2012

For the year 2012 I combined the photos from the past year and the footage of the guys.  This year the theme was what they were thankful for.  The video is interesting because some of the workers are clearly interested in getting more work than they were currently getting so it was difficult to be thankful when they were suffering.  Some of the guys told us they were so happy and that everything was great. This is what they say almost all the time unless we (me or my ESL partner Junko) prod further.

The Perks of being a Wallflower

I haven't written a blog in a long time but I just logged in and realized I started writing something and never finished it, so instead of trying to pick up where I left off I thought I would just publish as is.

I haven't been compelled to write about a film since I saw the Science of Sleep, probably because I identify too much with the characters sometimes and it can be jarring.  I remember while reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower that the angst was relatable, and I thought Sam seemed familiar, but the fact that she was in high school and was so beautiful made her seem like someone that maybe I knew, but not me.  But in the film, Emma Watson's portrayal of Sam made her more real to me in that she wasn't the intimidatingly beautiful long legged blonde model from magazines that Charlie couldn't help but adore, but a short-haired elegantly pretty girl.

The film, and the book for that matter, manage to treat a number of issues at once without seeming like a Glee-tastic attempt at displaying diversity.  Sexual assault, "coming out", alcoholism, suicide, domestic violence, bullying, depression and mental illness are all part of the very experience of Perks.  And besides the easy-to-list issues and identities being portrayed, there is a very visceral, at least for me, experience of being fourteen and seeking acceptance in that party world of music, alcohol, drugs and sex.

One moment that stuck with me in the film was when Charlie was making out with Sam and he kind of freezes for a second because the experience triggered a memory of being sexually assualted by his Aunt Helen.  This was such a validating moment in that even the most wonderful and positive people and moments can trigger traumas in life, and if it happened to Charlie, and its happened to me, then we are not alone.  The simple catharsis of seeing someone suffer in ways I have suffered was semi-triggering but mostly healing.  The way in which the film dealt with the heavy topics and issues was refreshing for some reason.  I guess it was done tastefully.  I know at least one man who watched the film with his partner and came out as a survivor after.  I suspect that seeing other films which dealt with sexual assault in exploitative ways did not serve as the catalyst that Perks did.  Perks felt safe, because  Patrick, Sam, and Charlie created a safe, supportive space.  A space I only wish that I had at that age but try to create in the work I do with teens.

Day Labor Thanksgiving Video 2011

I made this video in 2011 to show at the "Misa Jornalera," an annual event held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Rancho Cucamonga.  The event is a mass which honors the Rancho Cucamonga Day Laborers followed by a Thanksgiving dinner.  The event is organized by the church as well as the Fernando Pedraza Community Coalition, a coalition of students, activists, community members and day laborers.  For 2011 I chose to make two separate videos: one which highlighted the work from the corner this year through photos and video and one which featured the workers speaking about what they are thankful for as well as what they enojoyed about the corner this year.  It is great that the church invites the guys to attend, but they are usually too shy to interact or speak publicly, so these videos have proven to be a great way to give a face and a voice to their struggle and their humanity.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The videos from the Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala

The Revolutionary Filmmaking Project, Guatemala was an intense 5 week/6 day project I created in order to teach youth about revolutionary cinema, feminism, and violence prevention with the end goal that they create their own videos based on the ideas they learned.  In addition to creating this project I created a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter in order to purchase 10 Flip video cameras which the students would keep at the end of the project in order to motivate them to keep learning, creating, and provoking.

I blogged about each day of the project in Spanish on a separate blog with photos and videos on this account if you are interested in checking it out.  That blog was more for students in the project and those interested to see what we were learning, discussing and creating on a weekly basis.

Here is what we did in brief:

Day 1: Introduction to Gender, Film Theory, Violence and each other
Day 2: Feminism, Sex, the Body, Body Image, Sexuality, Sexual Health, Sexual Pleasure, Sex, Gender Identity and LGBTQ Ally Training
Day 3: Revolutionary Film Theory, Brainstorming, Group Formation, Introduction to the Cameras,  Storyboarding.
Day 4: Domestic Violence, Filming, Editing
Day 5: Oppressions, Event Planning, Filming, Photos
Day 6:  Filming, Editing and Interviews

In order to get a better idea of what the project was all about check out the following videos:

I made this video for the Kickstarter website in order to fundraise for the cameras.

This video is comprised of footage taken on Day 3 by a student named Michelle.

This video is a glimpse of what we did on Day 4.

This video is a glimpse of what we did on Day 5.

I made this video to show at the Premiere so the students could explain the Project in their own words and discuss how they were affected by it.  An extended version in Spanish can be found here.

The following video, ¿Cómo eliges vivir? (How do you Choose to Live?) was made by students from the University of San Carlos (USAC) and the Normal Central American Institute (INCA), a high school in Guatemala City.  The filmmakers names are Flaviana Morales (USAC), Maria Esther Mendoza (INCA), Nereida Vanegas Reyes (INCA), Mauro Montejo (USAC), Karla Vanessa Coronado (USAC), and Vilma Chiroy Cua (USAC) with the mentorship of Olga Lorenzana and Emmi Samayoa of USAC.  The unsubtitled version can be found here.

The students that created this video had a variety of ideas.  Mauro wanted to discuss domestic violence, Flaviana wanted to talk about child abuse, and Karla wanted to talk about homophobia.  After the students storyboarded on Day 3, they were very excited to film on Day 4 so even though it wasn't in the schedule I wanted to let them film a scene just to get an idea of what goes into making an entire short video.  After much deliberation among the group they had decided to make a video about a family which would address all the themes they wanted to address.  The problem was that they would be filming at the University and their video took place in a living room and a bedroom.  The other problem was that Mauro, the only man in the group, originally refused to be in the video so Karla dressed up as a man.  The students ended up filming their two scenes on Day 4 and scrapping them.  Then on Day 5 they changed their approach in order to account for the University setting and Mauro decided to be in the video.  After Mauro, the director, and I went over the footage that weekend we decided that the last part with the vignettes of PSA-type calls to end the violence  was great but that since the entire group was in the last part and only Mauro and Vilma were in the beginning part, that they would need to film all over again.  Additionally the footage was a little shaky.  Thus, Mauro and I found a way to keep the last part by incorporating all the characters in the end in a small scene in the beginning and connecting everyone.  In this way everyone's ideas were still represented.  Mauro also added the beginning and ending words which provided a frame for the video of provoking action, something encouraged by Revolutionary Film Theory.  

The students chose to show how one can be oppressed meanwhile oppressing or dicriminating someone else in order to hold ourselves accountable.  As Mafer said in the interview video, we are not only trying to stop society from being oppressive and violent - we are also part of society and need to change ourselves as well.

The following video, Mi Mejor Amiga es Una Mujer y Mi Enemiga También (My Best Friend is a Woman and My Enemy) is the second video made by students of the project.  It has yet to be translated into English.  This video was made by Michelle Rojas (USAC), María Fernanda Bracamonte (USAC), Carolina Chacón (INCA), and Guiby Sical (INCA).  

The four young women involved in this video also had varying ideas.  Guiby wanted to talk about gender roles, Mafer wanted to talk about sisterhood, and Michelle wanted to talk about gender role reversal in order to expose gendering.  The ideas were all fantastic and the young women said that they were incorporating everything, but when I got to take a look at the video (which was admittedly difficult as they were not as open to meeting and discussing their progress) the video was all over the place and longer than 15 minutes.  The theme of sisterhood was the only story that was complete so I cut out the other pieces that did not fit and was able to trim it down to under 9 minutes, still 4 minutes longer than the preferred time frame.  However, the video is a great way to show a problem that is rampant in Guatemala and that many men don't realize is happening.  The women said that the idea behind this video was to expose the lack of sisterhood and solidarity among women in Guatemala and that the goal was to provoke introspection and change in women to make us realize that we should see eachother as allies instead of enemies.

So there you have it.  All the videos from this project that I created based on years of experience, work, classes, and research.  I am happy with the results since for me the real results are the videos, the continued communication from the participants as they go forward in their work in feminism, video, and violence prevention, and the knowledge that they have the wisdom and resources to keep going. 

I know that if I had tried this project in my neighborhood it would have been ten times easier since I would have had a car, people would have working cell phones, internet, no fear of being outside at night and all the other conveniences that make communication and travel easier in the United States.  But I chose to do this in Guatemala and considering all the obstacles (especially the flake-out of a bilingual mentor) I am filled with pride in the students and in myself.  As I told the students the entire time, this project is only the beginning and during the project and afterward they should rely on eachother and keep up the community they built.  From what I can tell so far, its working!  For me, for them to have inconspicuous cameras that wont put them in danger was important, but not as important as leaving them with a feminist community.  That is priceless.

Interview with Sandinista Youth

Fu, a member of the Sandinista Youth in Esteli, Nicaragua answers questions about Sandinismo.  

The Sandinista Youth (we worked with at least thirty) were full of life, energy, ideas, passion, activism, and just bursting with excitement to hang out with my brother and I when we were translating at a hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua for a "medical mission" with the organization IMAHelps.  I was also bursting with questions and when I finally began asking them, Fu was overjoyed that I asked about women and the LGBTQ community in Sandinismo.  Here he answers the questions: What is Sandinismo for you? What is woman's role in Sandinismo? What is the role of the LGBTQ community within Sandinismo?

His answers in brief since I still need to translate this video are:

1. Sandinismo for me is whatever Sandinismo is for our grandparents
2. Women are key to Sandinismo or we never would have won the revolution.  However, they do not get their due credit and we still need more woman leaders.
3. LGBTQ people deserve human rights but there is still a lack of social consciousness of this.