Author: Zorde, Izida
Date published: January 1, 2010
In the third of her trilogy on critical pedagogy, bell hooks reflects on how one of the roles of critical education is to ask people to consider the necessity of protecting and participating in democracy. Democracy cannot be assumed, she argues, it must constantly be manifested and enacted. This act of manifestation is part of a participatory process that positions the responsibility, benefits and rights of civic society at its very core, with each individual responsible to the collective good of the whole.
A number of contributors to this issue write from Vancouver, where many people are organizing in response to massive handing cuts to the arts and significant cuts to other not-for profit sectors. Avoiding the fact that the cuts across the board were a result of Olympic overspending. The BC government put an interesting spin on the cuts to arts arguing that it was either these or larger cuts to women's, children's and homeless groups. This effectively set up a scenario where funding to artists would mean taking food and shelter away from women, children and homeless people. At the same time, security and policing initiatives intended to "solve homelessness and improve publicorder" by clearing people Out of the Downtown Eastside, effectively eliminated the civil liberties of long temi residents to create a more hospitable environment for corporate sponsors and tourists. Speaking to the repercussions of the Olympics on communities in British Columbia in Five Ring Circus, No One is Illegal calls for solidarity - arguing that the games provide a license to investors and developers to displace people and grab land. In a related piece, housing activist and jotirnalist Am Johal presents an index that outlines the disparities between budgeting for Olympic building projects and security and spending on homelessness, community service and arts.
Ideologically-based budgeting decisions are just one of the topics covered in this issue's interview with Hawaii-based art collective The Pinky Show - a group personified by kitten news anchors Pinky and Bunny. Reflecting on the problem of consciousness raising in Gently, but firmly, poking your brain with a stick. Pinky and Bunny cover an extensive range of subjects, from the ongoing effects of colonialism, civii rights abuses and statesponsored violence to the structure of cultural institutions and representation in popular media. In conversation with Winnipeg artist and curator Milena Placentile, the Pinky Show reflect on their work as part of a broader educational project intended to bring submerged and marginalized truths to a global authence.
The question of truths is also taken up in Randy Lee Cuder's article. Truth and Consequences, which considers Foucault's conception of parrhesia as it relates to a recent exhibition and forum on the possibilities for talking about race and challenging the conditions associated with racism in constructive and generous ways. Reflecting on speaking out, or truth telling, as a fundamental component of democracy. Cutler writes that speaking out requires that we continually exercise our franchise by enacting our right to freedom of speech alongside our responsibility for a collective good. This responsibility is reflected in a related article by Francisco-Fernando Granados, Reflections of an Ungrateful Refugee, a narrative of the author's own experience of attempting to represent refugee experience outside mainstream scripts of idealized Canadian Multiculturalism.
Considering the possibility of an unexpected future, one of the projects that Granados reflects on proposes to offer tourists the rare chance of having a socially conscious cruise around Vancouver (albeit in a boat shaped like his own head of hair), featuring audio guides about local refugee issues as seen from the perspective of refugees. This type of experiencing of the city would allow visitors and locals to "explore the beauty of Vancouver, not through its colonialist past or neoliberal omnipresent," but from the perspective of often unheard residents. This collectively constructed, evolving and mulitvocal narrative would go a long way toward protecting a democracy based in participation.
Izida Zorde, Editor