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Anne Dalke's blog

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"Meetings with a Murderer"

What interests me most, in this opinionate blog, is the final line: "My mother had not been able to figure out how to keep up a correspondence with a man imprisoned for life. Thirty years later, neither could I." See
Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Meetings with a Murderer. January 29, 2014.

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two things I promised one I didn't!

The first (for Kelsey) is a link to the talk I heard @ Haverford yesterday: a presentation by the anthropologist Tom Boellstorff on "Disability, Online Culture, and Collaboration." It was Tom who gave me the great line (so apt for our work here) that "embodiment is always emplacement," who discussed the "pluralization of worlding" in on-line spaces, offering a needed separation--especially for those who are disabled--from bodily limitations. He described the digital world as importantly "discrete" from the off-line world, but as also "indexical"--pointing towards it ("a bullet hole is an index of a bullet; smoke is an index of a fire; tree rings index how much rain has happened each year; indexicals take us beyond words, and beyond the human...."). The functions of the on-line world challenge all sorts of deep cultural assumptions about what's "immaterial," what "matters." This was all great stuff, and I'm happy to share more with anyone who's interested....

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Jobs at Environment America

We've received a letter from Lina Blount, BMC '13, who is now working as the Field Associate with PennEnvironment on their anti-fracking campaign. She found her job through the Environment America Fellowship Program, which is recruiting now for next year's Fellow class--and asks that we share the posting w/ y'all.

Lina also extends an invitation for anyone interested in the Fellowship, curious about what Environment America is and is not, and what role it plays within the broader environmental and social justice movements to get in touch with her--she'd love to be helpful as students consider their steps after the Mawr.

To learn more and apply visit

What Environment America fellows do

As an Environment America fellow, you’ll get a two-year crash course in the nuts and bolts of environmental activism, organizing, advocacy and the kinds of institution-building that can sustain long-term battles.

You’ll work for one of our 29 state affiliates or our national group, and run one of our campaigns. You’ll work alongside a staff person with 5 to 20 years of experience and participate in classroom trainings a few times a year to complement what you learn in the field.

As a fellow, you won’t just learn how to make an impact; you’ll make one. Here are a few examples:

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Circle Stories

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Lesson Plan for RCF: 1/31/14

I. Anne:
[rest of us welcome late-comers, get chairs, etc.]

Home work was to read Chapter 1 of
Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle.
Read two opening paragraphs aloud together, and then discuss:
What is going on here? What do you see? (ex: “Mom,” not “my mother”)
focus in on p.o.v.—>
can we re-tell this from the mother’s p.o.v.?
what would this story look like then?
what would be brought to the foreground/what pushed to the background?

II. Sasha:
Your writing assignment for today was to do the same
thing Walls did in the opening pages of her memoir--

to write three pages describing your own mother:
what does she look like on the outside?
What does she feel like on the inside?
We asked you to be as concrete and specific as Walls is, in her first chapter…
to think about who is doing the talking: whose voice is speaking?
Or: who are you, looking @ her? What are your surroundings?
And who is she, looking back @ you and talking to you?
What are her surroundings?

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brokering a conversation....

We have since the beginning of our 360-planning been thinking about how we might broker a conversation among-and-between community partners who focus on social justice issues, and those who focus on responding to and minimizing environmental degradation. Dorceta Taylor's visit in early March will direct us to these questions.

In Jody's class today, you began to talk about how we might do this: do we want to bring in people from off-campus land conservation organizations, and similar group of folks from social justice groups (what might motivate them to attend such a session?). Or should the discussion be campus-based? (how might we draw a diverse participation from the affinity groups, and the environmental activists?) "What's that thing that draws different people in?"

Please continue the discussion here....let's try thinking out loud together about how we might do this....

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Heads up! re the 2014 Tri-College Environmental Studies Student Conference

Feb. 8 @ Haverford. See details on the attached poster....

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Barb Toews on “designing justice, designing spaces”

Barb is talking right now about restorative justice on the rise....

some notes made while listening:

The program began by describing the “extraordinary contribution,” of the “amazing” Barb Toews, to work that attends to the relation between environmental design and behavior. Barb kicked off the program by talking about “changing the metaphor” from criminal justice as a “boxing match,” to imagining “restorative justice as a mountain lodge, a room in which you need to face the harm you had caused, and become accountable to victims…” so that in workshops she might ask, “are you sitting in the boxing ring right now? Then go to the ‘do no harm’ room…”

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Introducing whimsy....

I’ve had a Serendip account for nine years. A few years ago, when the “avatar” option emerged on the site, I selected this picture of myself, which suited me quite well for a long while: I liked my smiling, welcoming face, the face that went with my user name (which is my real name). I liked being out, claiming, as myself, what I said on-line.

In the fall of 2013, however, I was co-teaching a cluster of courses called Women in Walled Communities (in which Jo, Jody and Sophia participated), and some of the time we met in a women’s prison in Philadelphia. As a get-acquainted activity, we asked the “inside” women to pick an image to represent themselves, then printed off the avatars of all the BMC (or “outside”) women—and we had to go around and try to figure out who we were. But nobody wanted to talk to me, because it was so obvious who I was. They were much more interested in figuring out who had chosen to represent herself with a cactus flower, or a bike, or an owl, or a beach…and why…

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