The Philippines are struggling to stay afloat after Typhoon Haiyan pummeled the coastline earlier this month. Here on the other side of the planet, the Sulong Theatre Company in Ontario, is campaigning for the survivor communities by building an interactive video project. Catherine Hernandez, head of Sulong, seeks to form a visceral connection between the viewer and the struggles besieging the Philippines with the Operation Lifeboat project. The project first launched last year following another disaster, Typhoon Sendong. It started with a video of Hernandez lying in boat full of filthy water for 24 hours straight to demonstrate solidarity with the storm-drenched communities in her ancestral homeland.
This year, Hernandez is expanding Operation Lifeboat's network of participating activists from the Ontario region and broadcasting a series of video testimonials that riff on a single theme: “Operation Lifeboat Begins with Me.” Each speaker explains the meaning of the plight of the disaster survivors in their own livesparticularly the connection between people in rich nations and the corporate exploitation of natural resources in impoverished regions of the world, along with all the human rights violations, pollution, and violence that fossil fuel extraction imposes on local communities. Operation Lifeboat aims beyond the usual charity appeals that spring up after every environmental calamity by appealing directly to individuals to not only support grassroots aid campaigns in the affected communities, but also learn about and discuss the root causes of these tragedies.
Though change has always been a part of New York, it's taking a menacing face in Chinatown, where gentrification is rife. As immigrant families are expelled through mass evictions and spiking rents, in their wake comes an onslaught of white young professionals. All this leads to the erosion of the social fabric. A new study from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund looks closely at this trend of gentrification on three Chinatowns and found that in all three cities, the Asian share of the population in Chinatown dropped steadily between 2000 and 2010, while the white percentage rose. Meanwhile, family households have faded away as richer singles have snatched up properties. But there has been push-back lately. For instance, the Right to the City movement is rethinking ways of reclaiming urban space for grassroots community groups. And in San Francisco, some policymakers have proposed regulations to curb unfair evictions.
Andrew Leong of University of Massachussetts-Boston's College of Public and Community Service talks about what Chinatown communities can do to cope with aggressive development.
Andrew Leong, Associate Professor, College of Public and Community Service, University of Massachusetts-Boston.
Two weeks ago in Brooklyn, the shocking news broke of a murder-suicide in the early hours of Monday, November 11. Iranian musicians Soroush Farazmand and Arash Farazmand of the band the Yellow Dogs, and singer/songwriter Ali Eskandarian were shot and killed by fellow Iranian musician Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, who then turned the gun on himself. We'll remember the work of these young musicians and honor the impact they had on not only the indie-music scene, but also on the close-knit Iranian community in NYC.