Issue No. 13 Week of January 31, 2022
It’s 2022 (biggest and best wishes to all of you for the new year!) and I’ve been thinking a lot about change and how to make it over the last few weeks—and not just because that is what we do at Making Waves! As we head into the third year of the pandemic, I had some pretty high expectations about how this pandemic was an opportunity for change, especially in the areas of climate justice and gender equality. Ultimately, I want a world that is safe and full of opportunity and joy for everyone. Do you remember in the spring of 2020 how everyone was talking about building back better? How the pandemic was revealing inequalities and intersectionalities that had been kept hidden by the status quo and that now was the time to address these issues and create a society that was more equal, that better served more people? I remember that, and I remember really hoping that real change would start happening.
I still think the pandemic is a massive opportunity for change, especially because covid is going to be with us for years to come and going back to normal isn’t an option. I am delighted that so many people also see the opportunity to do things better—although I am also disappointed to see how resistant some people and systems are to change, that they are holding on tighter because those systems work for them. Rihanna is someone who sees opportunity for change and has a successful history of pushing against the status quo. Her latest move is a big one: through her Clara Lionel Foundation she committed $15 million with Jack Dorsey’s #StartSmall to 18 organizations that are working on climate justice across the U.S. and Caribbean. Rihanna, one of the richest women in the world, young and Black, has invested $15 million in climate justice. The grassroots organisations that were selected “are focused on and led by women, youth, Black, Indigenous, people of color and LGBTQIA+ communities… This powerful group of climate justice leaders and organizers from seven Caribbean countries and nearly all 50 states -- relentless doers and innovators -- are responding effectively and urgently to climate change.”
Rihanna is speaking up loudly about the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on women, on women living in island communities, on marginalized people.
Rihanna is amplifying the work and voices of women who are actually speaking up for change and making change happen.
Rihanna is showing the world what is important, how to address the biggest crisis of our time, and will inspire more people to work towards climate justice.
Rihanna understands the urgency. The residual carbon budget of 400 000 billion tonnes of CO2 is set to run out before the next decade. At 50 tonnes per person, that means our share of the budget as Canadians will run out in 3.6 years, because individually we produce a lot of CO2—14.2 tonnes per person (Finland is 9.7 tonnes and the UK is 8.5 tonnes CO2 per capita). Why? Because we Canadians are big consumers: we eat a lot of meat, drive fossil fuel cars, live in large houses, and fly (have you heard of flygskam? It’s flight shame in Swedish).
What can we do? Besides reducing our consumption, our primary role as individuals in addressing the climate crisis is to demand immediate action from governments and organizations that includes clear goals and targets for the next six years. Why six years? Because the world’s carbon budget for holding warming at 1.5 degrees will run out in 2028—less than 6 years. Remember how awful last year was with heat and smoke, floods and storms? That’s at 1.2 degrees of warming.
By Sarah Lazarovic
Sarah Lazarovic of Minimum Viable Planet captures exactly what I have been thinking but haven’t been able to articulate. “You don’t have to retrain as a deep sea geothermal tech to be of service. You can bring climate to the fore at your hair salon, grocery store, insurance office, denture clinic, fun fur boutique, contact improv dance studio, spelunking institute, retirement community board, Mandarin preschool.“ What Sarah is talking about is that if everyone advocated for climate everywhere, change will be inevitable. Check out her newsletter for specific actions (she suggests using the UN’s SDGs—which hasn’t always worked for me, but has worked for Rory Ramos) including a critical point that we have read about in The Reality Bubble, discussed with Chochi Knott, and both Sarah and Andrea talked about at our latest bookclub: inequality and injustice are partially the result of disconnection, and so we have to do the work reconnect to people and to nature. This work involves combining curiosity and empathy to deeply and profoundly think about the impact of our actions on a specific person or area of land. By re-establishing these vital connections, we will ultimately want to do better for people and places.
Sarah writes, “For example, instead of sending wastewater effluent into a local stream and saying, “hey, well it’s only 50 ppm and it’s within the law,” if we reconsider it as, “I’m giving this polluted water to my sister to drink,” it really changes your frame of reference.”
This thinking can be applied to the pandemic: Instead of going to a party with loads of people who are unmasked while eating and drinking and saying, “hey, well this gathering follows local health mandates,” if we reconsider it as, “covid is so infectious I/this party could spread covid to my 7 year old cousin who is undergoing chemotherapy, and/or to my doctor friend who is responsible for her treatment,” it really changes your frame of reference.
This thinking can also be applied to gender equality: Instead of just going about your business and saying, “hey, well I’ve done the work and that’s why I deserve to be here,” if we reconsider it as, “who else is in the room? Is my sister-in-law who immigrated from Trinidad getting this same opportunity?” it really changes your frame of reference.
Go forth and make connections and waves!
Let us know of free events that will help us get informed. Thanks to Sam, Sarah, and Chris S. for links to these events. (One of the best things that has come out of the pandemic—free online events from all over the world!)
Protect Yourself Online: Informed Opinions has a toolkit to protect women against online abuse. Available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Thursday, February 3rd, 2 pm MT: Youth for Climate Justice
Friday, February 11th 2022, 6-9 pm MST: Movie Screening and Live Panel Discussion on Empathy, Substance Abuse and Harm Reduction
Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is a movie screened online followed by a panel discussion on harm reduction and the impact of substance abuse.
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’s film is an intimate portrait of survival, love, and the collective work of healing in the Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta, a Blackfoot community facing the impacts of substance abuse and a drug-poisoning epidemic. Register for free on Eventbrite
Friday, February 11th 2022, 10:30 am MST: The Role of Social Media in Making Women's Voices Heard
Mona Hemieda, 23, is an Egyptian women rights activist. She is a leader with The Arab Women's Legal Network which aims to increase the influence of young women on decision-making in Mena region. Social media played an integral role during the Arab Spring revolutions and sparked the strong feminist in Egypt and the Middle East. In this male dominated society where women are not a priority, women’s voices have emerged expressing their anger and rebellion against sexual assaults on the street and in the workplace, domestic violence inside the home, and unfair laws. RSVP: https://bit.ly/3nT7dUc
MW Book club: The Impact of Fashion, Jan 16th 2022
What happens when the panelists and moderator hate the book that was selected for the Making Waves book club? This was the dilemma we faced as we prepared for the first bookclub of 2022, held on January 16th. The biggest issue we had with the book is that it didn’t live up to its billing. Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change and Consumerism by Aja Barber could have been better titled as A Black Plus Sized Woman’s Experience with the Fashion Industry (there would have been a lot less semi-colons). It barely addressed the climate crisis, did not give any insight into the world of garment workers and how they themselves are organizing for change, and the activism section was weak (hashtags and not great letter writing). With no data and very few sources, it lacked rigour. What it did have was a very conversational style, and if these issues are new to you, it’s a good place to start. Since we at MW value getting informed we invited Dr. Sarah Rich-Zendel to give us insight into systemic forces that have resulted in the exploitation of Brown and Black women as garment workers. Sarah also gave us specific suggestions for meaningful change, like joining a union or existing organization and using that collective voice to push for unions and regulations for garment workers. She also shone a light on garment workers who are speaking up for change, and from the comments in the evaluations, we all wanted to hear more about these women. In the second hour we learned from Andrea Lenczner and Sonya Weisberg of Canadian designer label SMYTHE, what founding and running a small and mindful fashion label is like. It was so clearly evident that the impact of every single aspect of their business is thought about, and the decisions weigh on them. They know the people who produce their designs. They save the fabric remnants and make other products. They work to produce clothing that will be loved and worn over a lifetime. They have a program to buy back their clothes so they can be loved and worn again. And all this is done with an anti-consumer mindset. Fascinating! A massive thank you to Avery and Meredith for delving deep (the book had almost no data or sources and we had to do our own research), to Sarah, Andrea, and Sonya for their generosity and for taking the time to help us develop an informed opinion. And of course a big thank you to everyone who participated in the event and joined the conversation! It was gratifying to see 100% across the board in our post event evaluations. Merci!
Andrea Lenzcner & Christie Smythe
Dr. Sarah Rich-Zendel
Want to know more about the impact of the fashion industry?
Remake is all about accountability and works to address climate and gender justice in the fashion industry (check out their report card!)
Business of Fashion founded by Canadian Imran Amed, BoF gives insight and analysis of the fashion industry
http://awajfoundation.org/staff/nazma-akter/ Nazma is a Bangladeshi trade unionist
Pins & Needles 30 minute documentary on garment workers in India
Join us for our next bookclub
Save the Date: on Sunday March 13th we will be discussing Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
Want to be a moderator or panelist? Let me know!
Waves WE Are Making
Zoe wrote to the Minister of Education, the Premier, her school trustee and MLA in St. Alberta about her frustration at keeping schools open under unsafe conditions: no improvement in ventilation, no testing, no tracing, no enforcement of wearing respirators instead of masks, and no obligation to test for covid or disclose positive covid tests. She also decided to learn from home because she felt unsafe. That is agency! She is bothered how the government keeps talking about how keeping schools open is good for the mental health of young people, but having schools open without ensuring a safe learning environment for staff and students is also harmful to student mental health.
Jade started a Resource Board at Central for students who experience sexual assault, harassment, or need assistance and support.
Hayley is continuing to push for a meeting with CBE Trustees and/or Superintendent, and the CSWAG organisation she is involved with at Western Canada has managed to create a course for the next academic year on Gender Studies, and will also have a course on consent, which unfortunately is not yet mandatory.
Hayley and Jade organized a co-ordinated walk out late last year demanding action on rape culture in high schools:
Safe Learning Environment for all students
Accountable and Responsive Administration
Holistic Consent Education (I’d like to see if from K-12)
Avery is involved in a world-wide Labour Rights strike on May 1st. This fits with what Sarah talked about at the bookclub—about joining organisations that can support each other and demand change collectively.
Hanita has been invited to join the Mayor’s Advisory Roundtable on Social Justice, which is a new organisation which will meet two times a year.
Medeana has been speaking up tirelessly on public education issues, and most recently advocating for covid vaccines to be offered “where kids are everyday”, in schools! Alberta has the lowest vaccination rate of kids 5-11 at just 42.3%.
Stacey has been supporting students at Wise Wood who are adding their voices asking for an end to rape culture in schools
Amy and Audrey (the best therapy dog) are part of the group taking action at HWW to address student concerns around rape culture and consent.
Let us know about the waves you are making—those waves will inspire others to speak up!
#LetHerSpeak & Show Her Emotions
Imagine not being able to talk about your sexual assault in public. Until 2020, sexual assault survivors in Tasmania did not have to imagine it—they were living it. Sexual assault survivors were prevented from speaking about their experiences because of the Evidence Act. Media, however, could talk about the assault, but not name the survivor, even with consent. Grace Tame, who at the age of 15 was repeatedly assaulted by her 59 year old math teacher, could not speak up, and was known only as Jane Doe. Journalist and sexual assault survivor Nina Funnell started the #LetHerSpeak campaign and applied for the court order on Grace’s behalf. An exemption was made for Grace, and the laws were finally changed for all sexual assault survivors in 2020. You read that right—2020. You might be wondering if the Evidence Act also prevents the alleged perpetrator from speaking about the assault, and no it does not! The man who assaulted Grace spoke freely to the media, and brazenly posted about his crimes on social media. When Grace accepted the Australian of the Year award, she recalled her assaulter saying, “Don’t make a sound.” Responding to that command in her speech Grace said, “Well, hear me now! Using my voice, amongst a growing chorus of voices, I will not be silenced!”
Last week, there was a celebration for the finalists of Australian of the Year award, and Grace made headlines at a photo op with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison when she purposefully refused to smile. “Grace Tame demonstrated in a single photo shoot an understanding of power that goes deeper than even a sitting prime minister’s” wrote Van Badham. Scott Morrison has consistently shown how little respect he has for women, from his comments to sexual assault survivors to his mishandling of the rape allegations brought by Brittany Higgansthat rocked the Australian Parliament, and even made a patronizing comment to Grace when she received her award. He is also the kind of man that had to ask his wife to help him explain the seriousness of sexual assault and can only think of it in the context of being a father of girls. Really? A man can only care about gender inequality, or sexual assault, or gender based violence if they become a father of girls? What about just caring about your fellow humans? That a man can only have a conscience or empathy for a woman if he has created one is ludicrous.
Grace, whose voice was silenced for over a decade, is now speaking up in many ways, using her voice, using her body language, and I’m here for it. Why do women have to make people feel comfortable? Why do women have to give respect to people who are upholding systems that are causing and perpetuating inequalities? Being polite hasn’t made change happen. Making people feel comfortable hasn’t made change happen. Look at the waves Grace made by not adhering to social norms, by not smiling, by making people uncomfortable. Greta has dispensed with politeness and comfort to advance progress on the climate crisis and Grace is using it to advance progress on gender equality. Young women are changing the world with their straightforward no-nonsense clarity of what needs to be done. (Thanks Chris!)
Grace Tame in Canberra
Roe v Wade: a last anniversary?
In May of 2016, Cecile Richards took the main stage of the Woman Deliver Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark to a massive standing ovation that carried with it an energy that I have never felt before: There was awe, admiration, huge respect and a touch of fear. Cecile was the president of Planned Parenthood and was instrumental in reframing abortion rights as part of the larger sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR). And that touch of fear, the alertness we could see from the security detail? It was a reminder that not everyone thinks that a woman should have autonomy over her own body, that not everyone believes that the right to safe, accessible abortions are human rights.
Cecile recently wrote a piece for the New York Times, “The One Regret From My Time Leading Planned Parenthood” on the 49th anniversary of Roe, because that decision which granted women autonomy over their own bodies is very likely to be overturned, despite the fact that “[t]he Roe decision not only made abortion in the United States extremely safe, it led to higher earnings, increased education levels and greater participation in the work force for generations of women, particularly Black women.” It is also likely to be overturned despite the fact that “[a]ccording to Gallup, 80 percent of the country believes abortion should be legal under any or certain circumstances.” Does this surprise you? Then you will be even more surprised that according to a poll taken just last year in partnership with Planned Parenthood and Emily’s list, “71 percent of women and 64 percent of men felt Republicans were “out of step with their own views” on abortion. That may be because women from all walks of life have abortions — no matter their religion, socioeconomic status or political affiliation.” (emphasis added).
So what is Cecile’s one regret? “I wasn’t cynical enough to fully comprehend the extent of the Republican Party’s willingness to trade away people’s lives for political power. I had faith that if we provided excellent health care and showed how access to reproductive rights had helped women, as well as our economy, and if we kept most of the country on our side, this, too, would pass. I was wrong. As a movement, I know we couldn’t have worked any harder, but maybe we could have been tougher.” It is heartbreaking that a minority (less than 20%) is exerting its power over the majority, is so anti-women that they are taking away basic rights, which will negatively impact women’s health, the country’s economy, and the US’s overall health. We have to remain vigilant in Canada and make sure women retain access to legal and safe abortions across the country (even though it is legal here, access is very uneven).
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood 2006-2018
Femicide: How bad is it?
Canada: One woman or girl is killed every other day.
US (2020): at least four Black women and girls were murdered per day
UK: One woman killed every three days by a man
I had to read the sentence about four Black women being murdered per day in the US several times.
Why is there not more outrage? What is being done to stop the killing of women and girls? How much do we value the lives of women and girls?
Poverty is Sexist
Last week Jack Munroe’s column in The Guardian stopped me in my tracks. Jack Munroe is an anti-poverty activist, trans non-binary person, who writes ferociously about inequality and hunger relief. She (“I just want to be a small, masculine woman”) rose to fame by writing a blog A Girl Called Jack which featured recipes she created as a single parent living in poverty with a food budget of less than £10 per week. In her most recent column she noted that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the UK rose 5.4% in December, the highest it has been in 30 years. This caught my attention since in Canada the CPI rose 4.8%, also the highest it has been in 30 years. The CPI is a measure of inflation, which basically means that when inflation is higher, stuff gets more expensive. Jack looked at the 700 pre-specified goods on the CPI and noticed that it included a leg of lamb and champagne, as well as a television and bedroom furniture. Jack challenged what items are being monitored for the index and said she would start her own index as people who are living in poverty are not buying lamb or champagne. Jack writes:
In 2012, 10 stock cubes from Sainsbury’s Basics range were 10p. (CAD$0.17)
In 2022, those same stock cubes are 39p, but only available in chicken or beef. (CAD$0.67)
The cheapest vegetable stock cubes are, inexplicably, £1 for 10. (CAD$1.71)
Last year the Smart Price pasta in my local Asda was 29p for 500g. (CAD$0.50)
Today, it is unavailable, so the cheapest bag is 70p; a 141% price rise for the same product in more colourful packaging. (CAD$1.20)
A few years ago, there were more than 400 products in the Smart Price range; today there are 87, and counting down.
I looked up prices online, and at Superstore Knorr bouillon cubes are the most economical brand. Chicken and beef stockcubes are $2.69 for 6 (£1.57), and vegetable stock cubes are $4.49 for 6 (£2.62).
At Co-Op, Knorr is the only brand available and it comes in beef, chicken and pork bouillon cubes, no vegetable, at $4.49 for 6 cubes (£2.62).
The least expensive pasta at Superstore is the No-Name brand and is $1.29 for 500g (75p)
At Co-op, Selection pasta was on sale for $1.23 (72p) for 900g, regularly $2.47 (£1.44)
I wonder what Jack would think of food prices in Calgary.
Jack Munroe, Hunger Relief Activist
Jack included a quote from the managing director of Iceland (a British supermarket chain that sells a lot of frozen food): “Richard Walker, stated on ITV on Friday that his stores were losing customers “to food banks, and to hunger”. Not to other competitors, not to better offers, but to starvation, and charity.”
Rising prices impacts those with the least. And those with the least are too often women:
Check out Jack’s blog for economical recipes, all priced by portion. It’s brilliant.
Like Totally Whatever
Last week Chris sent me a tiktok video of a young woman performing a poem that has been making the rounds in tiktok world. Curious, I started googling and found Melissa Lozada-Oliva, the creator of the poem Like Totally Whatever, taking the mic and showing her work. The poem was written in response to Taylor Mali who was making fun of the way women speak. Chris said she couldn’t get past the first two sentences of Taylor’s performance. I made it through but was baffled as to why it was funny and found the performance and audience reaction so uncomfortable. Watch Melissa in full command of her skills and talents and you will see why she won the National Poetry Slam Championship for Like Totally Whatever. It is worth your time and is exhilarating! As Chris said, it will give you the best chills. I recommend this as a dose of feminine inspiration whenever it is needed—daily, weekly, monthly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me4_QwmaNoQ