Tagged: culture

How to Set Up a Shared Pantry in Your Apartment Building

I live well below the poverty line, so I live in a cheap, slummy apartment building where everybody else is poor, too. For the most part, I like this setup. I grew up in poverty, and I’m not comfortable around moneyed people. (It’s a topic for another day but people with money are really weird about, well, money. You can’t even talk about it around them.) But being poor definitely has its drawbacks. My neighbours and I are always running out of food and meds.

37789525_2096288720405281_8613985824742047744_o.jpgOne of the many things I like about poor people’s cultures, though, is that we tend to be really good at sharing resources. It makes sense: when you’re short on money, you need to have strong relationships to get by. Of course I’m going to give you what you need if I have it–I’m definitely going to need something you have in the very near future. Besides, when we’re all in the same boat, none of us is likely to believe that the reason I can eat today, and you can’t, is that I deserve it more than you, but next week when you can eat, and I can’t, it’s because you worked harder than me. Most of us are well aware that we’re going to stay poor, no matter how hard we work.

The benefits of setting up a shared pantry are that it makes sure nobody goes without at least one of their basic needs, it builds community in the place where you live, and it politicizes your poverty. There is strength in numbers, and this strength can help you if you have to fight your slumlord, or advocate for community resources to your city council, or need a dog-sitter while you’re in the hospital. It also relieves some of the shame that poor people are socialized to feel about the poverty that’s been imposed on us by capitalism.  Continue reading

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Creeping Managerial Culture in Academe Spells Trouble for Critical Researchers

I just finished submitting my CV for a research job at a university. Neither the job nor the school is particularly prestigious, but they’re both respectable. We’re not talking University of Phoenix here.

The school in question has adopted, some time over the last year or so, a new application system. Instead of emailing HR your application, you upload it to one of those annoying forms that makes you fill out all your information at least twice. But this one has a bonus feature! It’ll tell you how many “inappropriate” words are on your CV.

I thought I was doing my part by refraining from opening every cover letter with “Dear capitalist motherfuckers,” but apparently no. Here is the list of words–all from titles of papers and presentations I’ve written, research I’ve conducted and positions I’ve held–deemed “inappropriate” for a job application.

Inappropriate

I have no idea what happens to filtered applications once they enter the system. One hopes it’s just a friendly warning and not an indication that the application will never even see the light of day.

But it’s a clear statement about what the creeping managerial culture in academe–the one that reinvents workers as data and discipline as preventative–means for critical researchers. Even if “inappropriate” applications aren’t immediately tossed out (for now), the construction of “appropriate” and “inappropriate” language here serves to mark a very particular set of researchers as risks.

Trucks and Mud

(This post details a souped-up truck competition from a couple of years ago at the “Maynooth Days” fair, which takes place annually over the Labour Day long weekend in Maynooth, ON.)

The mud bog was great: women and men raced their dune buggies and monster trucks through a lot of mud. And Mum ran through, too! (Yes, blind, with her glasses off, flailing her arms in the air and squealing the whole way. The other entrants were all 20-something men, and they beat her by a good minute, but a nice older fellow ran beside her, so they tied for last. I cheered from dry land.)

mud1

 

The mud bog is serious business, and folks are out to win and to entertain. One of the more interesting entrants was this truck: flying a “Redneck” Confederate battle flag, and painted with the Tonka logo. It was indeed fast, the fellow driving it looked like he was having a good time, and it was a favourite with the crowd, most of whom definitely qualified as rednecks. But it left me wondering about the strange mashup of cultural icons from the American south (and the flag’s resurgence as statement of racism thinly veiled as conservatism), television, and childhood that make up this slice of self-representation in the Canadian north.

mud2

 

Problematic imagery aside, the weekend wasn’t without its traces of labour celebration. The logging and agricultural events were obviously tied to the participants’ jobs, but the mud bog, too, is a celebration of working life in the north. If you want to get through the bush to get to the logging camp, you need a vehicle that will get you through the muck. It was neat to see some extreme adaptations of technology to the climate and terrain. If your adaptation fails, you get stuck…

mud3

 

And have to be pulled out by the giant skidder, a much larger version of the tractor for pulling logs that the loggers had raced the day before. From what was swinging and flopping around under this truck as they pulled it out, it looked like it had either hit a rock or just gotten so swamped in muck that the drive shaft snapped.

Adapt right, and you get freaky technological beasts, like “The Sasquatch”: a 4 wheel drive tractor, once, now with an engine pulled from an old truck, and the body of a 30s Ford coupe thrown on top.  Another, less troubling, mashup from the “Redneck” team.

mud4

 

So that, I suppose, is what you do when you’re way up north and there’s no labour march for labour day. That, and look at the 1st place winning load of logs in the parade, of course.

mud5

 

Best logs ever.

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This is a reproduction of a post from September 5th 2011 on my blog at https://landing.athabascau.ca/profile/sarahma108