Opening reception for “Ancestral Art” Indigenous Voices, An Artists’ Benefit for Haitian Peasant Groups.


Originally posted in the

On Friday, March 8, 2013, West Michigan Center for Peacebuilding will host the opening reception for “Ancestral Art” Indigenous Voices, An Artist Benefit for Haitian Peasant Groups.

The month long showing held at the Ice Cream Gallery and Toys (117 S. Division, Grand Rapids, MI) brings the public into contact with artists Jose Noe Castro, Picardo, Ted Jauw, Joel Howell, and Ian Swanson

In collaboration with Holland Friends of Art, and the Caribbean Coalition for the Arts & Culture West Michigan, a series of artist events will be occurring throughout the entire month. Roundtables and discussions will help the community actively engage with elements of the Haitian culture, particularly with a focus on the Vodoun spiritual perspective. Documentaries, as well as vinyl record parties, will investigate in-depth the Haitian people and their spiritual experience. Insight into the culture will be explored in the building of community altars, as well as presentations of the Creole table.  Immersion in traditions of Haitian singing, drumming, and dance will welcome newcomers and demonstrate the cultivation of strong communal bonds

“Within each individual moment all events are spoken within dedication to the Lwa, Erzulie Dantor; who in Vodoun cosmology represents both the spiritual protection of women, children, single mothers & lesbians, and is associated with the Black Creole Pig of Haiti and the Haitian Revolution. Most Haitian women serve Erzulie Dantor, and many men serve Dantor as well, especially those enlightened men who honor, love and respect women.” – Ian Swanson, Executive Director of West Michigan Center for Peacebuilding

The opening reception begins on March 8th, 2013 at 6pm, and is located at Ice Cream Gallery and Toys, 117 S. Division, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The show will include live music performances byBlack Cat BoneInvisible Mansion & Cangue League Orchestra, with Josh Villaire on the 1s & 2s.

On Friday, March 8, 2013, West Michigan Center for Peacebuilding will host the opening reception for “Ancestral Art” Indigenous Voices, An Artist Benefit for Haitian Peasant Groups.

The month long showing held at the Ice Cream Gallery and Toys (117 S. Division, Grand Rapids, MI) brings the public into contact with artists Jose Noe Castro, Picardo, Ted Jauw, Joel Howell, and Ian Swanson

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Tatsuya Nakatani at Mexicains Sans Frontieres


I recently had the priveledge of witnessing Tatsuya Nakatani at Mexicains Sans Frontieres. His avant garde percussion performance was impressive to say the least…


His performance utilised 3 massive gongs, a smaller (18inch?) gong, some prayer bowls, a few misc. objects and a kick/snare/tom combo all assembled in a cirlce formation. Nakatani also used his hand-made bows to vibrate the edges of the gongs to create a sort of hell-bent theremin effect that was impressively powerful.

At times Nakatani was nearly serene in his patient coaxing of the gongs, seducing them to reveal their inner voices. Alternately,  he raged in  a manic, elemental fit as he wrangled unruly drums and assorted objects in primordial battle, imposing his willpower of his disobedient array of instruments



The low rumble of the gongs permeated our bodies, and left such an impression that several people asked about where he placed his mic/effects pedals… there were none, the performance was entirely acoustic!  The sound waves were nearly palpable as they emanated in every direction. His orientation of instruments in relation to the loft space of MSF was spot on.



I got the impression that he wasn’t too keen on being video’d for this performance, but I did manage to capture a series of photos to share here.



Afterwards, Mr Nakatani patiently answered our questions about his gongs, his techniques, the unusual custom bows that he makes for using on his gongs, and where his tour was taking him next.

I managed to score 3 cd’s from him. One was a solo performance of one track (57minutes of perfect improvization!), while another was a collaboration with a japanese flutist. This second disc I found to have a very haunting, ethereal quality about the entire recording. The 3rd I have not had the chance to spin yet… but plan on taking with me on the mp3 player on my next trip to the gym.


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Remnants of Route 66; the Collage Art of Jewly Warren

originally published in the Rapidian

Jewly Warren is a Grand Rapids artist who has spent the last few years exploring collage techniques. She describes herself as a self-taught artist, whose main passions are painting and photography. Active in the arts community in the Detroit metropolitan area for over a decade, she brings her talents as an artist and experiences as a promoter and producer of the arts to Grand Rapids, where she has experienced a renewed interest in helping build and support a creative arts community.

Since moving to Grand Rapids in 2009, Jewly has focused heavily on collage. She views it as a more sustainable form of art, recycling and repurposing found materials into a new and exciting medium, and reducing the waste stream of by-products that frequently accompanies the artistic process. The element of surprise involved in manipulating and reconfiguring existing images into new contexts is another source of fascination for her as an artist.


Jewly’s new series of collage work, Remnants of Route 66, combines her interest sustainability, with her quirky eye for creating bizarre juxtapositions of American pop culture iconography and characters who suddenly find themselves in unexpected circumstances. Marilyn Monroe and a deadly, lime green serpent rendezvous under a full moon. A google-eyed bull dog oversees the operation of his barbeque chicken stand. A Volkswagen micro-bus transports a rock-a-billy band across a strange alien landscape.

Remnants of Route 66, which has been described as absurdist, slapstick surrealism, is Jewly’s vision of the unusual and interesting stops along the iconic American highway. Those spots represent some of the great things about our history as a nation, in a time of great growth, increased productivity, and seemingly endless expansion. The sky was the limit. But there was also a price that was to be paid for all of this unprecedented, uncontrolled excess. As Jewly puts it, “If our grandparents had known what some of the effects of all this would end up costing future generations, how it hurts their grandchildren, would they have done things a little differently?”

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99 Acts of Revolution in 2012: #9 Write an Article

As part of my campaign to commit myself to 99 acts of revolution (big & small) in 2012, I find myself using the power of the written word to plant the seeds of change in fertile minds by writing an article about the protests against Rush Limbaugh on WOOD Radio in Grand Rapids MI.

Originally published in the Rapidian, this article is the follow up to 99 Acts of Revolution in 2012; #8 Write a Letter, in which I send a request for comment to Tim Feagan, WOOD Radio’s station manager:

Grand Rapids, MI – In response to inflammatory comments made by Rush Limbaugh about Sandra Fluke on his radio show last week last week, protestors nationwide are pressuring radio stations and advertisers to drop Limbaugh’s show. A supporting protest is scheduled for March 7th in Grand Rapids, MI.

The incident occurred last week on Limbaugh’s conservative talk radio program. Limbaugh called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage of birth control. He made several other sexually degrading remarks that have offended many people who have publicly spoken out against. As of Monday March 5th, a total of 7 advertisers have withdrawn support, and two radio stations have dropped the show from syndication despite the public apologies that Limbaugh has made.

The National Organization for Women – Grand Rapids has organized a protest against WOOD Radio to highlight the issues surrounding the incident, and to gather support to pull Limbaugh’s show from the airwaves in Grand Rapids, MI. Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy is also involved in organizing and promoting the event, scheduled to take place at noon Wednesday March 7th at WOOD Radio’s offices downtown at77 Monroe St Grand Rapids MI.

According to the article on, People interested in supporting the protest  are asked to bring letters asking for the removal of Limbaugh from WOOD Radio’s weekly lineup. Protestors will deliver letters to the station manager of the radio station, which features 15 hours every week of Limbaugh’s show. People are also working on collecting information on local advertisers on WOOD Radio in order to target them in the campaign.

In response to a request for comments on the situation, WOOD Radio station manager Tim Feaganreplied via email with the prepared statement that multiple people have reported receiving:

WOOD Radio remains committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary without condoning or agreeing with the opinions, comments, or attempts at humor expressed by on-air talent.   Rush Limbaugh has apologized for his use of the words outlined in your email.

The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue.  We respect the right of Mr. Limbaugh, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.

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99 Acts of Revolution in 2012: #8 Write a letter

As part of my new year’s resolution to commit to 99 acts of revolution (big & small), I bring you action # 8 Write a Letter.  As you may know by now, Rush Limbaugh created quite the stir this past week merely by being his normal fascist self.

He called a woman “slut” and “prostitute” and made some other douchebag remarks that were basically incredibly disrespectful towards woman…all because she spoke out in favor of the rights of women to have autonomy over their own bodies… its not really a surprise to anyone that the mouthpiece of the Republican Hate Machine would spew this kind of crap out his foodhole… since that’s pretty much what Rush and the GOP are all about.

Despite Mr Limbaugh’s half-assed apology (in response to losing several sponsors), NOW (Grand Rapids) and Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy are holding a protest at the Clear Channel/WOOD Radio office at 77 Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids on Wednesday March 7th 2012. The goal of this protest is to force WOOD to take  Rush Limbaugh off of the air in Grand Rapids.

GRIID’s site invites the public to also write an email or letter to WOOD Radio station manager Tim Feagan at his email address:

Business Line: 616-459-1919
STUDIO: 616-774-2424
TOLL FREE: 1-866-290-BUZZ (2899)
NEWSROOM: 616-458-9663

Read more:

Below is my email to Mr Feagan. I am using this opportunity to generate an article for the Rapidian about the protest. I am waiting for his reply. If he does reply, I will include it in my story, which will be included in the Opinion category of the Rapidian.

Hello Mr Feagan

I am writing to request a statement from you in regards to the efforts to get Rush Limbaugh off of the air in Grand Rapids. 
I am writing an article about this for the, a hyper-local citizen journalism endeavor of the Community Media Foundation. If you are unfamiliar with the Rapidian (monthly views of approx 10,000), they are considered by cities across the globe as  a model of community sourced, citizen journalism. San Francisco CA and several other major cities recently have considered projects based on the example set by the Rapidian. I will be publishing my story Monday night, and would like to provide you with the opportunity to respond with your side of the story to maintain balance in my article. Would you please take a moment of your valuable time to respond to my questions below?
#1 Would you please tell me your station’s position on the recent statements made by Mr Limbaugh in regards to Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke? 
#2 Do you have any comments or position on the statements by Mr. Limbaugh using terms like “slut” or “prostitute” to reference a  young lady? Some people would make the argument that Ms Fluke sets a positive role model for other women by diligently working to obtain a degree, and also by taking an active role in our democratic process. 
#3 Do you believe that Mr Limbaugh’s language is appropriate to describe a fellow American citizen engaged in their free speech rights? Does your station regularly provide this type of commentary about people working to achieve change through the democratic process or exercise their free speech rights? Could you provide examples of instances in the past where such has been the case? 
#4 is this a partisan based attack, or is it objective in nature? It would be especially helpful if you could provide examples of instances of this type of language applied  to people of similar conservative views as Mr Limbaugh to illustrate this point.
#5 Will you be removing Mr Limbaugh’s show from your programming? Could you explain why?
Thank you for your time and efforts. I sincerely appreciate it. Also, please feel free to add anything else in regards to this issue that you feel is important to contribute to the discussion.
Scott Warren – Citizen Journalist
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99 Acts of Revolution in 2012: #7 Hearing another voice of dissent

As part of my resolution to commit myself to 99 Acts of Revolution (big & small) in 2012, I attended the recent appearance of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam at Fountain St Church in Grand Rapids MI on  March 1st, 2012. I never knew much about N.O.I. except what the news shows us… which is far from reality.

When MLive/Grand Rapids Press announced the upcoming date the usual wave of  rednecks and conservative douche bags bombarded the comments section with all of the predictable racist vitriol and hypocritical stupidity that they could possibly cram into their ad hominem attacks and badly reiterated Fox News talking points.

After the last decade of conservatives in the government and media waging war on people of color, people from different religions, people from poor countries, and everyone else not perfectly “white and right” in the eyes of the Conservative American God, many people are starting to tune out all of the propaganda and see for themselves what is really happening out there in the real world. This is a large part of why I chose to attend the event. I figured that if the government, the conservatives, religious hypocrites, and racists don’t like it…then it can’t be all that bad.

After several local community activists and student leaders addressed the audience of over 1,000 people, Minister Farrakhan spoke for over an hour on duty, responsibility, and self-sufficiency.

When Farrakhan spoke of duty, he told us how all the creatures in nature follow what is right, what is natural for them to do. The all have an instinctual need to protect and provide for themselves and their own kind first and foremost. All creatures have a duty to provide for themselves, to respect what is in their nature, and to use that to live the best that they can. Man is no different. He has a duty to provide for himself and his family, not to rely on others for this. He has a duty to look out for his family and community to make sure that nobody is left behind or needing to be taken care of.

Responsibility to conduct our lives in a proper manner, to respect ourselves and our families, to live a clean life in a physical and spiritual sense is also a fundamental value we must recognize as well. Farrakhan talked about how we have responsibilities to our communities to set each other up for success, to build strong bonds, and to help each other help themselves so as not to be reliant on others unnecessarily.

Farrakhan then turned to the values of self-sufficiency, and how it is important that we break the chains in our minds. self-sufficiency means that when our young people come out of colleges and universities, that the education they received will provide them opportunities to provide for themselves. They should come out of the schools “looking to create jobs” rather than to “find jobs”. Farrakhan told the audience “The education system in America is training you to be subservient”. He told us how the universities are training us to be obedient and uncritical in our thinking, to be prepared to work in jobs that the corporations have provided us, but not educating us to be able to be strong and provide for ourselves.

Farrakhan then tied all of it together by illustrating how the colonialism and slavery that founded the United States, and impacted countries all over the globe, have consequences that are still reverberating in our culture today. He  spoke of how slavery on the plantations ( and post-slavery sharecropping) has so deeply affected the African American community, that even today, farming is detested or avoided by the African American community. “How many of you students here tonight are studying agriculture?” Farrakhan asked. Not one person in an audience of over 1,000 people raised their hand. “When I was a young boy, cancer was strictly a caucasian disease. Now, today it is one of the leading causes of death in the African American community”.

And he is right. In every neighborhood that is predominately populated by minorities and/or poor people, in every city across the US, you will find very limited food choices. Fast food, liquor stores, gas stations…. but no grocery stores, no farmer’s markets, no real access to real food. Just chemicals ingredients, fat, and low quality sugars. The results of colonialism, racism, and corporatism in our society has helped set up minorities in this country to fail to provide the basic needs of healthy living for themselves. The education system is not doing much to elevate the fortunate people that graduate from college to achieve a significantly better living condition. Instead they are trained to remain in the same endless cycles of dependency that they have always known.

And it isn’t just the minority communities, and the poor in general that are caught u in this.  As the wealth gap expands, and as the educational achievement gap widens, more and more Americans are getting pulled into the downward spiral. We are ALL becoming part of this system of being programmed in schools to be subservient workers. We are all being shown the tv and movie programming to make us think that we can be a part of the upper class elite if only we just work a little bit harder. The conservatives and religious right endlessly spew the lie that it is this minority over here, or that “liberal” special interest over there that is threatening your only shot at the American Dream. The media continues to spread the propaganda that America needs less government to interfere with our lives, but what they really mean is that corporate America needs less government to interfere with their manipulating the system and trampling on the rights of the citizens in the name of more and more profits.

Minister Farrakhan tied together all of his points about duty, responsibility, and self-sufficiency and counter-illustrated them by discussing some of the many ways that our popular culture, corporations,  and government are working to circumvent our potential to achieve what is right for each individual. Our duties and responsibilities to ourselves and our communities are being circumvented in the name of profits for others, at our expense. Because we depend upon those who profit from our inability to be self-sufficient, we will suffer until we break this chain of dependency.

“The light in Western civilization is going out because time and the wickedness of the leaders has created a situation that they do not have the wisdom to solve.” Farrakhan said. “Do you love this country? If you love it, you have to do your part to save it from its fall.”

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99 Acts of Revolution in 2012: #6 Occupy the Airwaves

As part of my New Year’s Resolution to commit myself to committing 99 acts of revolution (big & small) in 2012, I bring you to my latest act of rebellion #6: Occupy the Airwaves

In Grand Rapids, MI we have a local not-for-profit radio station called Public Reality Radio 95.3 FM & 1680 AM. On PRR they have a ton of politics focused talk shows. Local issues, labor rights, social justice and current events are the main focus, though they do have some shows that get into atheism, secular ethics, environment, science and other edgy topics. They’ve really caught fire lately with the birth of the Occupy movement, the battle for labor rights in Wisconsin and Michigan, and events surrounding the Arab Spring of 2011.

As a member of Occupy Grand Rapids & Move To Amend; Grand Rapids I have been actively using the opportunities to get my voice on the air that PRR extends to the community.

On several occasions I’ve called in on shows to discuss what Occupy GR  was doing, providing details about upcoming protests,  promoting events, and making sure that our message reached the people. I have been called on several times to get involved in the discussions on air as well, to let people know what Move To Amend was doing in Grand Rapids.

West Michigan Labor Speaks and PaleoRadio are the two currently running shows that I have participated in the most, but before the recent schedule change (January 2012) I made several calls to other shows to contribute relevant information.

Here is a link to Catalyst Radio’s interview with PaleoRadio‘s Jeremiah Bannister & JD Sullivan

To keep myself from forgetting my main talking points, or from getting sidetracked within the discussions, I always try to take the time to create a brief outline of talking points. This is especially helpful if you are uncomfortable talking on air, or tend to overload your listeners with more than they can process (like me)

  • a short list of main points ( 3 is a good number)
  • a couple factoids about each point
  • a relevant quote
  • event details (time, place, website)
  • contact info for the group I am representing

Less than one page is all you need, you don’t want to bore the audience. Also, try to work the talking points in organically, since the last thing you want to do is sound like a pre-recorded message. Keep it short and simple to prevent yourself from getting into a situation where you run out of steam (always leave them wanting more!) or airtime.  Accept the fact that you won’t get to discuss everything that you want to, after all, its not your show. Finally, make sure to thank your hosts for their time and for giving you the opportunity to share your message. A little gratitude goes a long ways.

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