NOTE: A reading from this project will happen May 19th at 7 pm, the Cooperative Gallery's Third Thursday Art Discussion.
While we live in a world that produces material goods at an overwhelming rate, one thing that has not changed throughout history is the complexity of human relationship to the material world. In our increasingly consumerist culture we still assign value beyond the immediate function of objects, an act that plays a crucial role in constituting memory and identity. The moment we decide to keep a used train ticket or a postcard instead of throwing it away, or an old favorite chipped plate reimagined as a coin dish, we invest it with sentimental value that replaces its expired functionality. As such, preserved and repurposed objects become vessels for projections of childhood fantasies or the nostalgic longing of adults.
The Afterlife of Discarded Objects is a digital collective storytelling project that depends on public participation through sharing memories about playing with, collecting, preserving, or making art from what we might broadly label as trash, waste, or unwanted items. Using the Share Your Story button on the website, we invite you to contribute your own narratives as we seek to understand the ways diverse experiences contribute to the mosaic of our individual and collective histories. Together these stories will highlight the power of imagination to (re)create history and serve as testimony to the potential of material objects to shape our cultural landscape.
What we are looking for: nonfiction narratives, memoir, short stories, and poems. Your contribution can be as short or as long as you like - a brief recollection of a childhood moment or a lengthier piece of writing -- anything you wish to share. We especially welcome contributions that explore the topic from an environmental perspective, gender relations, race or class.
All submissions will be featured on an interactive map that links each story and storyteller to the particular place where the narrative is situated, inviting the on-looker to zoom out and observe social, political, and economic linkages between cultures. For example, some of the contributions already featured on the map include diverse memories from working-class Californian childhood in the 80s, to descriptions of the Soviet-time Ukrainian childhood games with medical waste, to memories of playing with potentially explosive garbage items in Kuwait after the 90s invasion. These narratives demonstrate the potential of the project to transcribe a web of oral histories that represent diverse experiences at the intersection of class, race, locations, and political regimes.
We invite your own contribution to this ongoing project. Thank you for taking part in this collective storytelling endeavor.
Andrei Guruianu and Natalia Andrievskikh
I financially support and post pieces on independent media, because I believe mainstream media is part of how militarism remains entrenched in our society. So when I learned from a recent presentation by Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action National, that The Washington Post published January 18, 2016 an article by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan entitled, “How the world is proving Martin Luther King right about nonviolence”, I was pleasantly surprised.
Photo by Bob Johnston
PAST is collaborating with the Broome County Arts Council on an outdoor sculpture/architectural walking tour in downtown Binghamton. The walking tour will be conducted on First Fridays from May through October.
A Tour Guide Training is being offered by the two organizations on April 12th at 2 PM at the Binghamton University Museum in the Fine Arts Building. On April 30th, the Tour Guides will meet at 10AM at the Seven Seals of Silence at Chenango & Henry Streets to walk through the actual Tour route.
PAST invites anyone interested in becoming a tour guide for this exciting new project to call the PAST office between 10AM and 2PM, Monday-Friday at 237-0887 or call Marcia Ward at 725-3535, anytime. We will be glad to provide more information and answer questions. Please let us know by Friday April 8th of your interest in participating in the Tour Guide training.
BCAC ANNOUNCES $232,815 IN GRANTS FOR 2016
On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, the Broome County Arts Council (BCAC), located at 81 State Street, Suite 501, Binghamton awarded $232,815 in United Cultural Fund (UCF) grants this year to 22 local arts organizations, community non-profits, and individual artists. BCAC announced the funding at a10:30am news conference today. For 2016, UCF grants will help support the operations of 7 major arts organizations, as well as 15 community non-profit and individual artist projects. Funded projects range from choral music to dance, classes to concerts, photography to printmaking, theatre productions to poetry and film festivals.
THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED 4/17/16
Jen O'Brien, the planner for the Our Space renovation at Rec Park, stated emphatically that "only one tree will be taken down for Our Space." She reassures concerned citizens that great care is being taken not to disrupt the trees with construction. The paved areas have been dug down 9 inches. The tree that is the center of the Tree House feature has twelve support anchors around it. According to O'Brien one of the twelve holes dug with an auger ran into a root and was stopped and moved. She also stated that there will be 150 trees planted in Rec Park.
Reassurances aside, residents near the Park are concerned that the activity areas have been moved 50 feet closer to inhabited areas. "The project is massive and will bring a lot of activity right to our backyards," said one resident on Schubert St. This person wanted a fence that would give some privacy but the deed to Rec Park specifies that no fences be placed in the park, in spite of the fact that the North end of the Park is fenced in already with a Page fence.
Running through the discontent is the City's lack of transparency. The plans are still not available online in any detail. A partial photo is available at www.ourspacepark.org but there is no information on the City site. Plans have changed since the Fall community meeting and transparency is lacking. This has been a persistent criticism of the David administration.
This is reminiscent of the last Rec Park renovation under the Bucci Administration (Rich David, Deputy Mayor then). Then the plan was to create a massive parking lot that rarely has more than a few cars in it, paved paths, and basketball courts. The construction did cut some of the roots of the trees, and 10-12 trees subsequently died.
Rec Park is one of the most popular parks in the city, the "Jewel in the Crown" according to Mayor David. That popularity is largely due to the oak forest on the Northwest corner of the park which provides some beauty and connection to nature. Yet, the trees are stressed due to their age--most are about 75 years old. Although there have been some planting of new trees in the last few years, each tree is valuable and should not be jeopardized by construction.
Our Space is an ambitious 3/4 of a million dollar project that will put many features in the area north of the bandstand, including a tree house, a maze, seating, and play equipment on a paved section on the lawn. William Barber, Parks and Rec Director characterized it as "Disney" quality in the park. Construction is well underway and recent estimates suggest it will be done by Memorial Day.
With spring upon us it seems like the right time to announce the release of a new book project that I have been working on for about the past three years now, though at times it has felt even longer! Below is a description of the book.
The book, Dead Reckoning: Transatlantic Passages on Europe and America (SUNY Press), is a co-written effort with my good friend and former colleague, Anthony Di Renzo (Ithaca College). The book is officially scheduled for release in May, though it is already available for Kindle on Amazon and the paperback is available for pre-order.
What began as an email exchange between Anthony and me turned into a dialogic exchange consisting of prose poems and lyrical essays, and eventually became a book that I am extremely proud of and excited to share with you.
From the press:
A poet and essayist attempt to find their bearings in a civilization lost at sea.
Dead reckoning is the nautical term for calculating a ship’s position using the distance and direction traveled rather than instruments or astronomical observation. For those still recovering from the atrocities of the twentieth century, however, the term has an even grimmer meaning: toting up the butcher’s bill of war and genocide.
As its title suggests, Dead Reckoning is an attempt to find our bearings in a civilization lost at sea. Conducted in the shadow of the centennial of the First World War, this dialogue between Romanian American poet Andrei Guruianu and Italian American essayist Anthony Di Renzo asks whether Western culture will successfully navigate the difficult waters of the new millennium or shipwreck itself on the mistakes of the past two centuries. Using historical and contemporary examples, they explore such topics as the limitations of memory, the transience of existence, the futility of history, and the difficulties of making art and meaning in the twenty-first century.
“Dead Reckoning pilots readers through the purgatory of immigration, a painful sea voyage that with enough courage and hard work can lead through the narrow channel facing paradise: spiritual and material success. Charting the currents between the Old and New Worlds, Andrei Guruianu and Anthony Di Renzo write with the ferocious genius of Pope and Swift and the compassionate heart of Saint Nicholas, patron of sailors and guardian of ports.” — Emanuel di Pasquale, author of The Ocean’s Will
“In the space of the passage from immigrant to citizen in a new home, things fall apart to an apparent nothingness. Guruianu and Di Renzo ask us to consider a brave creativity as an answer for the space where systems fall apart, so that it can be a place where things grow in a reverence for the need to live, to love, to have community, and to be truly free.” — Afaa M. Weaver, author of City of Eternal Spring
“A lovely, seductive, original book.” — Thomas G. Pavel, author of The Lives of the Novel: A History
For those of you who teach, if you're doing anything related to essay and creative writing, poetry and hybrid genres, I think this book could serve as a wonderful supplementary text. The poems and the essays all contain cultural and literary references that just just enough for readers to become interested but leave sufficient room for further thinking and exploration. If interested in a desk copy, they are available to instructors for $10 via the SUNY Press website: http://www.sunypress.edu/l-50-exam-desk-copies.aspx
First, the victory:
This past Monday, Governor Cuomo called to halt the construction of the Algonquin Incremental Markets (AIM) Pipeline. This is a tremendous victory, and is the first time (I believe) a Governor has demanded a halt to construction of an interstate pipeline. We hope that this paves the way for to halt the Constitution Pipeline by denying the 401 Water Quality Permit.
Second, the loss:
The Hollerans have been tapping the maple syrup on their land for some time, and had their trees taken by Constitution tree cutting crews, with heavily armed US Federal Marshals. This is an insane use of eminent domain to trample landowners rights. The tree cutting has happened before NY has granted all of the permits for the pipeline, including a 401 Water Quality Permit, which, if denied, could end the project. Please see Ecowatch's great coverage, and Gerri's really heartbreaking footage.
Pick up the phone today and call Governor Cuomo and ask him to deny the 401 Water Quality Permit, 518-474-8390.
I hope you will consider joining us on Wednesday evening here at the Citizen Action office, 477 State Street for a meeting to chat about different efforts happening locally and across the state
- Fracking infrastructure- what's happening across the region and how to stop it
- Reforming the Energy Vision- what it means (in 5 minutes or fewer, and how we can influence it in the best way)
- New York Renews- an exciting new coalition aimed to target climate change and just transition
WHAT: Environmental Strategy Session
WHERE: Citizen Action of NY, 477 State Street, Binghamton, NY, 13901
Facebook event to invite friends to and share: https://www.facebook.com/events/1188036981208177/
WHEN: 6:30-8:30, Wednesday, March 9
One more thing: Our friends in Ithaca are doing awesome work highlighting infrastructure struggles, through Ecodefense Radio. Consider signing up for their newsletter!!