Welcome to Iambrown.org. My name is Autumn Brown. In these pages you will find information on the workshops I teach, the services I can provide, the projects I care about, and the resources I can offer. I hope that there is something useful for you here. Be sure to sign up for my (very low-traffic) newsletter to receive updates about upcoming workshops and events, and opportunities to build and participate in revolutionary work in the worlds of activism, media and art.

July News - The Mind of the Body

 Hello Good People!

Lately I have been sitting with some awe for the intelligence of the body. My grandfather passed away at the beginning June, and I continue to feel moved by the stories of what his body did when it began to die, and how vulnerable it made him, and how important that was for him and for all of his children to experience.
A month later, I came home from Detroit after completing a six month organizing process that culminated in the Allied Media Conference (www.alliedmedia.org). I had been working since January to co-curate the Health is Dignity, Dignity is Resistance track, which was a total of 13 sessions over the course of the conference linking health and healing with social justice, oppression, technology, and education. I had also been organizing during that time to co-create a Healing Practice Space at the conference, a space where over 30 health care practitioners and support volunteers offered healing and care to conference participants throughout the duration of the conference. We had acupuncture, massage therapy, herbalism, nutritional counseling, crisis counseling, bio/medical practitioners on call, and much more! It was an overwhelming success, and, as you can imagine, a lot of work.
I came home on a total high from the transformative work we did, and how completely inspiring the Allied Media Conference is as a whole. I was so happy that I was convinced I was not tired. Two days later I woke up sick to my stomach, and was so ill all day that I could not get out of bed until the evening. My body, in its everlasting intelligence, forced me to sleep all day so that I would actually have some recovery from the previous six months of work, and the last month of travel, grief, and consistent care-taking of others.
As the awareness of this unique intelligence has grown in me, I have applied the lesson to an aspect of the body that I know many female-bodied people struggle with - the drastic changes that take place in the body when a woman becomes a mother, and how this relates to cultural perceptions of beauty. I will speak from personal experience. Before I became pregnant the first time, I was a "thin" person. And when I was a "thin" person, people told me I was beautiful and sexy all the time. Now, in retrospect I can see how unhealthy this dynamic was. Not only because I can relate the forwardness of others' speaking to me about my sexiness to the exotification of women of color in our culture, but also because the constant messaging to me about my beauty set me up to place too much of my value and self-worth in other people's perception of and acknowledging of my beauty. I remember how self-conscious I was as a young woman, how jealous and insecure I was in the early years of my relationship with my partner.
Now, as a breastfeeding mother, I am perceived as being an "overweight" person. In my new body, the only person who tells me I am beautiful and sexy on a regular basis is my husband (as well he should!). This shift was incredibly distressing for me after I had my son. After being noticed for my beauty every day of my entire life, suddenly no one was saying anything at all aside from "You look great for having just had a baby." A year out from having my daughter, it is still the case that the chief inquiry I receive about my body is whether or not I am pregnant again.
My level of maturity in dealing with this question has shifted hugely over time. My response at first was disbelief (How could you think that? My daughter is 2 months old!), then it shifted to fury (Yes, actually, it IS rude to ask me if I am pregnant!). I went through a phase of resignation (I guess its better that I look pregnant than out of shape), but now I am entering into a new phase of understanding.
I have come to realize that my body's intelligence matters a heck of a lot more than how my body is perceived by strangers, acquaintances, friends and family. Sure, I am more luscious now. That's because my body is feeding someone. When my body is no longer feeding someone, it will change again and I will have a new body. I have no idea what that body will look or feel like. It is one of the great joys and mysteries of being alive that we get to live in different bodies as we grow older and the circumstances of how we live changes. 
I do find it sad that our culture does not perceive beauty in a body that is more luscious, UNLESS that body is pregnant. But I can also recognize, and encourage other mothers to recognize, that the fact that my body is not culturally perceived as beautiful has nothing to do with MY body - because my body IS beautiful. In fact, my body is brilliant - it knows how to build life, it knows how to give birth, it knows how to make food, and it knows that in order to do this, it needs to save resources instead of expend them. The fact that my body knows how to do all of these things means that breastfeeding is not taxing on my body. It means that I have the energy to live my life. That is my body being stunning, being gorgeous. That is my body being exactly what it needs to be.
In health and healing work, we often talk about the "mind-body connection." What I am starting to think about more and more is the "mind of the body." I am so grateful that there are aspects of life my body is in charge of, and not my brain. Thank god the body is in charge of birth, death, digestion, and breastfeeding. Can you imagine how much we would mess it up if our brains were in charge?
In this edition of Iambrown:
  • What's Disability Got to Do With It? A Workshop with Sebastian Margaret - July 17th
  • Whittier Cooperative: Healing and Transformation - thru July 23rd
  • Autumn Brown on the Radio: A Reportback from the Allied Media Conference - July 18th
  • Donate to Support The Hurricane Season Curriculum
  • New Book! Debt: The First Five Thousand Years
  • Support New Dairy Cooperative - Milk Not Jails!

What's Disability Got to Do With It? A Workshop with Sebastian Margaret
Sunday, July 17
12:00pm - 5:00pm

Lindquist Apartments
1931 West Broadway Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota

What's disability got to do with it? Disability justice and its significance for social justice movements: a day long workshop with Sebastian Margaret

Sliding fee $25 to $50 for the workshop. 
Snacks will be provided. 
No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Registration is required before attendance. Please contact Susan Raffo at raffo95@gmail.com to register.
Training Description
As disabled people continue to remain isolated and marginalized within many communities and disability justice analysis and activists still absent from the majority of grassroots organizations, it's time to include an anti-ableism frame, history and perspective into a Left agenda.

Within this training we will explore what disability means across lines of race, class, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and citizenship. Grounded in an understanding of the necessity for racial and economic justice, this anti- oppression training seeks to embed disability justice into the politics that frames our movements.

Examining attitudinal, physical and institutional barriers, we will consider who gets in the door of our analysis, movements and organizing, both literally and metaphorically, and who does not. What creates a welcoming climate for disability community activists and what alienates us further.

Ramps, racial profiling, sterilizations, eugenically targeted abortions, sovereignty, sexual/domestic violence, immigration, hate crimes, anti-poor city ordinances, gentrification, restroom policing, and incarceration--whether it be in prisons, nursing homes or psychiatric facilities--are all where ableism and supremacy based oppressions intersect and intertwine.

Exploring a history steeped with the entanglement of ableism in scientific racism, white supremacy, colonialism and the development of capitalism; this training moves towards developing the analysis, tools and capacity to address the complexities of creating accessible, collaborative-based movements.

This training seeks to build a working understanding of how as an inherently multi-issue intersection, disability access and disability justice politics broadens the mission and strengthens the work: increasing our capacity to create accessible, integrated, liberatory social justice movements that embed disability justice in their core.

About Sebastian
Sebastian Margaret is a disability rights community educator, disability justice activist and movement capacity builder. Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, Sebastian currently lives in ‘New’ Mexico and is kept deliciously exhausted parenting a couple of gorgeous kids and pays the bills working as a personal attendant and doing menial work.

He provides trainings on disability justice for movements, service providers, progressive organizations and community organizing efforts; while also working to build capacity, vitality and leadership within disability community. Sebastian seeks to insert disability justice into the progressive left and progressive multi –issue politics into the disability rights community.

Not formally educated and informed by a working /welfare class perspective. Sebastian roots his work in racial, class, gender, sexuality and immigration justice; working to be in solidarity with indigenous and sovereignty struggles. Sebastian is particularly invested in ‘the price o’ bread’ politics; where change is driven by the voices and agendas of folks most affected by the conditions that need to go.

Sebastian has co-facilitated disability justice, challenging white supremacy trainings and economic justice programming at the NGLTF annual conference over the last five years. He has brought anti ablism and disability justice work to Southerners On New Ground, the Audre Lorde Project, FIERCE, Silva Rivera Law project and recently facilitated at statewide conferences including: MN Out campus conference, Michigan Coalition Against Sexual Violence, Civil Liberties Public Policy and the ACE Summit.

Sebastian is a co-founder of the Disability Justice Collective, a disability justice representative in the ROOTs coalition and is currently working on the development and delivery of anti-racism/challenging white supremacy workshops specifically for white disability community members and activists. While in the Twin Cities, Sebastian will also be presenting a workshop on challenging white supremacy in disability communities and movements for members of the disability community. For more information on that, email raffo95@gmail.com.
Whittier Cooperative: Healing and Transformation
A Photographic Work in Progress by Michele Spaise 
Exhibition Run: July 1-23, 2011  

"Constructed of beige bricks and holding 45 apartments, Whittier Co-op sits on the corner of Blaisdell Ave. and 26th St. in South Minneapolis. Our first members moved in in 1980, and many of them still live there today. An artist, photographer, mother, and resident, I have been a part of the Whittier community for more than twenty years, documenting our community through photography and sound. This is a work in progress. Our story continues." --Michele Spaise

Gallery Hours:  
10AM-6PM Monday-Friday; 12-5PM Saturdays | $3 suggested donation 
Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Ave South, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Autumn Brown on the Radio: A Reportback from the Allied Media Conference - July 18th
Listen to Roots, Runners, and Rhizomes at 3pm EST on July 18th!
Featuring Autumn Brown and Lauren Giambrone of the Rock Dove Collective, reporting back on the Allied Media Conference.
I would love to invite you to listen while I do an on-air reportback about the Allied Media Conference on the radio show Roots, Runners, and Rhizomes: Health and Healing from the Underground on Monday July 18th at 3pm EST / 2pm Central. In order to hear the show, go to http://www.wgxc.org/ and live stream the show! I will also post the link to the archive after the show is over.

Support The Hurricane Season Curriculum!

The Hurricane Season Curriculum is the expansion of Climbing PoeTree's groundbreaking multi-media show that draws vital connections between shared struggles and common solutions in a critical moment in human history. Given the enthusiastic response the performance has received in diverse communities across the nation, Alixa and Naima have assembled a dynamic team of innovative educators to develop a multi-media curriculum based off of Hurricane Season to expand the breadth and impact of this work.

The curriculum employs art and culture to help learners analyze systems of oppression and resistance, and uses a popular education model to build new leadership essential for fundamental social change. Comprised of interactive lesson plans that engage rigorous dialog, research, theatre of the oppressed exercises, hip hop poetry, video collages, visual art, and project based learning, theHurricane Season curriculum aims to empower learners with the knowledge, creativity and passion to be effective leaders in movements for social justice.

The curriculum is being piloted for high school age youth through Flip the Table in NYC and college students at Susquehanna University this year!  

Please consider making a donation to support this all-volunteer curriculum development team in advancing this incredible project!! Our goal is to have all of the lessons plans, media and supportive materials completed and ready for general distribution for 2012!


A new book by my dear friend and colleague David Graeber. Here's a note from David about the work:
"This is a work of scholarship, and politically engaged, but it's also an attempt to break out of the usual academic and activist ghettoes, and I wrote it that way because I think that there's a conversation we need to be having, not just nationally but also globally, that we began to have for a few months after the financial crash of 2008, and which has, since, been indefinitely postponed. We seem to hanging in this bizarre state of suspension, where most people understand that everything we thought we knew about money, markets, debts, and the role of government is no longer true and probably never was, yet there is a kind of taboo over discussing any better ways to think about them.

What better moment, it seems to me, than to start reexamining the historical record and to put our situation in a larger - much, much larger - context. So that's what I did. A few examples of what I turned up (much of which, I must admit, surprised even me):

       * that virtual money is nothing new - in fact it is the original form of money

       * that the first word for "freedom" recorded in any human language is a Sumerian word for debt relief

       * that our current core conceptions of freedom and rights trace back to Roman slave law

       * that most rebellions, insurrections, and revolutions in world history have been over issues of debt

       * that rather than markets and states being in some way opposed principles, markets - particularly ones that operated on cash instead of credit - largely emerged as the side-effect of military operations, and through most of history were maintained through government policy

       * that contemporary free market ideology (and in fact many of Adam Smith's specific phrases and examples, such as the pin factory) is derived from Medieval Islam

       * we have every reason to believe that, as we now enter a new phase of virtual money, there will be major structural changes in the very idea of what an economy is and what it's for that determine what global society will be like for at least the next five hundred years."
You can find the book on Amazon, and in major bookstores!

Support the Milk Not Jails Project!
This is a pilot business project designed to address the racism of the New York State prison system by linking rural dairy farmers with milk and ice cream consuming urban dwellers! It's genius, check it out and support (I already made a pledge of $55)! 
MILK NOT JAILS is now raising money on Kickstarter.  Check out the video and make a financial pledge here today!

The Big Idea:
Rural New York is home to 90% of the state’s prisons, which provide jobs in a depressed rural economy.  Meanwhile the majority of people in prison come from New York City’s communities of color and their families are forced to make long trips to visit them. The guards union and their elected officials oppose major reforms to the prison system because they fear it will destroy jobs in their community.  As a result, New York’s prison system is racist, ineffective, and too expensive. This is not going to change unless we can develop a new economic relationship between urban and rural areas.  MILK NOT JAILS looks to the state’s dairy industry – which comprises 80% of New York’s agricultural sales – for a delicious solution to this conundrum.  Join us in saying, “If rural New York’s economic survival depends on us, we’d rather drink their milk than go to their prison.” 

What we are doing:
Over the past year, MILK NOT JAILS has been touring New York State educating people about prison industry economics and asking farmers to join our cooperative.  We host ice cream socials in urban areas to reach out to communities impacted by incarceration, to conduct market research,, and to dialogue about our project.  We have elicited feedback from over 250 dairy farmers and identified a niche market that we can develop.  Over 35 criminal justice organizations endorse MILK NOT JAILS.

Our dairy cooperative has quickly grown from a conversation to a pilot business.  We recently started a milk share program in Brooklyn, where people purchase a milk subscription from one of our partner farms.   We are undertaking a massive outreach campaign to coffee shops, daycares and CSAs to sell milk contracts to these local establishments. We are analyzing over a year’s worth of market research to identify neighborhoods and retailers to sell to. Our farmers have cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream ready to sell once we have our distribution system established!

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