Operation Blue Skies – a crowd-sourcing competition

Crowd-sourcing Competition Announcement

“Operation Blue Skies”

Awareness of contemporary forms of white supremacy in the Canadian context is beginning to crack the essential imaginary of Settler Canadian identity as “benevolent,” “kind,” and “good.” Anticipating a growing awakening by fellow Settlers to the white supremacy that is foundational to justifying our occupation of Canadian territory, we believe a brilliant solution to stem such an outbreak could cost as little as $25,000. Our aim is to inspire problem-solvers from around the world to generate cost-effective ideas that might prove to be the magic elixir for the ontological security meltdown we are facing as Settler people.

We are launching “Operation Blue Skies” an X-prize type of competition for Settler people to come up with a 2-page sensible justification for the legitimacy of our occupation of this territory that somehow manages to NOT use elements of white supremacist logic. We anticipate that we may be asking for the impossible, so if no entries meet the criteria for success, the prize will be run annually with an increased dollar value. Remember, not only is the $25,000 prize money at stake but your own stable identity and sense of belonging that comes from real-estate ownership is at stake too, so be creative in your word-smithing!

We invite non-aboriginal people to participate, rather than be merely subjected to another plan to address our white supremacy that is imposed from the outside.

It’s a matter of taking on something that could be seen as touchy, or debatable, or contentious. It’s about saying, “Let’s put aside any of that, let’s create slippery rationales for our possession of the land by sourcing those ideas together.”

We don’t have to invest so much time in critical self-reflection and examining assumptions. Crowd-sourcing hasn’t been done in Settler-colonial occupation. Just doing this competition is innovation itself.

I wrote this spoof announcement based on and adapted from an actual article from 2015 published in Global News describing a real competition presuming to “solve” the “First Nations health crisis” in Canada with the same cash motivator. See the article about the original announcement here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1910314/how-crowd-sourcing-may-solve-first-nations-health-crisis/

Re-reading the Global News article recently led to an epiphany: the firm that designed the competition didn’t mean they were crowd sourcing “solutions to the First Nations health crisis in Canada.” If they’d really meant that, the obvious answer from every informed participant would have been simple: start by returning all the stolen land. That’s not a very interesting competition.

But what they really meant by holding this competition was that they were looking for any contrived “solution” that did NOT involve actually giving land back. That realization made the whole competition make more sense to me and led me to try my hand at a more overt and direct version of the same competition, as I’ve printed above. 

As Naomi Klein wrote, righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another is “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance” – in contexts of industry-centered policies being opportunistically imposed on populations after catastrophic disasters strike. Until we begin by returning land we “own” that was stolen from Indigenous people, our proposed solutions to disaster resilience – and to so many other social dilemmas – might just be rabbit trails. 

-Bjorn

Looming Shocks – Part 3: theft of Indigenous land underlies our shock-susceptible racial hierarchies

Referring to increasing “right-wing nationalism, anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and straight-up white supremacy,” Naomi Klein says the following in her recent article:

“The only way to justify such barbaric forms of exclusion is to double down on theories of racial hierarchy that tell a story about how the people being locked out …deserve their fate, whether it’s Trump casting Mexicans as rapists and ‘bad hombres,’ and Syrian refugees as closet terrorists, … or successive Australian prime ministers justifying those sinister island detention camps as a ‘humanitarian’ alternative to death at sea.

This is what global destabilization looks like in societies that have never redressed their foundational crimes — countries that have insisted slavery and indigenous land theft were just glitches in otherwise proud histories …all of it taking place on the violently stolen indigenous land on which North America’s wealth was built. And now the same theories of racial hierarchy that justified those violent thefts in the name of building the industrial age are surging to the surface as the system of wealth and comfort they constructed starts to unravel on multiple fronts simultaneously.

Trump is just one early and vicious manifestation of that unraveling. He is not alone. He won’t be the last.”

Klein alludes to a connection, here, that is noticeably absent from most conversations about current violence, racism and dehumanization: the connection between ongoing military occupations of stolen Indigenous land and the violence and racism that surfaces in various ways in Canada and the United States of America.

Folks often act shocked or surprised by present-day manifestations of violence and racism here in North America, yet our Settler nation-states were founded on white supremacist notions of terra nullius and the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, casting Indigenous people as sub-human in order to justify our own settlement and occupation of the land.

Canada and the USA, as Settler-colonial states, are houses actively haunted by the ghosts of colonial treachery, and are currently occupied by the descendant beneficiaries of that violence. Why then, do we think we are not going to be affected when we refuse to pay attention to that history and refuse to presently return stolen land to the Indigenous people who continue to exist?

I think the answer is this: it is inconvenient and uncomfortable and would require each of us to give up things we think we own.  That’s no fun, so we figure we’re better off feigning confusion or surprise every time the white supremacist foundations of our land ownership rear their heads again and again in the form of racially charged violence.

As long as we, as Settlers, remain committed to ignoring the ongoing military occupation of Indigenous land in Canada and the USA, our attitudes and hearts likely will not undergo the necessary transformation toward respecting the dignity of all people.

Klein describes the work of righting past wrongs and repairing our relationships with one another as “work that is the bedrock of shock resistance.”

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – Part 2: two disasters, the direct and the imposed

As described in a recent Naomi Klein article, disaster are not only disasters because of the immediate havoc and destruction they wreak, but also because of the strategic opportunity they provide for well-prepared people in positions of power to force undemocratic policy changes on a population during the disaster’s ensuing state of shock.

These two dimensions of disaster – the primary or direct disaster and the auxiliary or imposed disaster – may be similar in the disastrousness of their felt effects, but they differ in our ability to anticipate them. The imposed disaster that comes from opportunistic policies shoved through in a time of population-wide shock are now possible to anticipate with fairly high certainty.

Naomi Klein has documented the pattern extensively in her book “The Shock Doctrine,” and the favorite policies of the wealthy and powerful are eye-rollingly predictable and even clichéd: privatizing education and infrastructure, imposing states of emergency to supersede democratic processes, and austerity measures to curtail public spending and cut corporate taxes. So this stuff should be even easier to ‘disaster-plan’ for than storing supplies, practicing emergency drills and scenario-planning for weather events that happen at relatively random intervals and locations.  How could communities be ‘disaster-planning’ more strategically for the imposed/auxiliary disasters that regularly follow in the wake of primary/direct disaster?

To me, it is preparation for the onslaught against community autonomy when faced with a catastrophic disaster that prompts our fore fronting of survivor-driven community recovery.

My next post will discuss the same article’s connection between colonial violence/land theft and the violence of current racial hierarchies.

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – Part 1: two-tiered disaster relief

The June 10th 2017 Naomi Klein article that I introduced in the previous post articulates a noteworthy trend in disaster response. The powerful believe it is in their interest to create a two-tiered system for disaster relief. The wealthy who can afford it become members of private clubs that offer services of helicopter-extracting members from the chaos of disaster, leaving less motivation on the part of those with all the pesos to support broadly accessible publicly funded mechanisms to protect and assist populations in crisis.

In California, private firefighters are dispatched with protective fire retardant to the wildfire-threatened homes of the wealthy. The result is a palpable devaluing of the lives of those who are not wealthy. Naomi Klein says, “a significant cohort of our elites are walling themselves off not just physically but also psychologically, mentally detaching themselves from the collective fate of the rest of humanity.”

Walling themselves off from the masses, however, also means potentially walling themselves out of the type of connected and thriving community necessary for true resilience in disaster. Neighbors and community members respond first through efficient relational networks. There’s no price on that, nor should there be. Living relationally – in a community – is a wholly different paradigm of existence where supporting fellow people can matter more than achieving personal comfort and perceived financial certainty.

My next post will discuss this same article in relation to the existence of two faces of a disaster:  an initial direct disaster as well as an auxiliary imposed disaster that is experienced when the former is used as a shock opportunity to advance an agenda.

-Bjorn

Looming shocks – article introduction

An article published yesterday by “Shock Doctrine” and “This Changes Everything” author Naomi Klein cautions about the various looming opportunistic and predatory policy implementations that are likely to be coming from Mr. Trump and other corporate and political elites as various disasters and system shocks inevitably arise.  I intend to highlight a few important insights made in the article over the course of a series of three blog posts in the coming days, but will begin by linking to the full article. My next blog post will discuss this article’s concern about two-tiered disaster relief.

THE WORST OF DONALD TRUMP’S TOXIC AGENDA IS LYING IN WAIT – A MAJOR U.S. CRISIS WILL UNLEASH IT – by Naomi Klein (published June 10th, 2017 in The Intercept)

BBS-469

Three Word Address

What do you think of this system that has now been adopted in some regions? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38262877 The three word system for precisely identifying every 3m by 3m location in the world seems like it could have some advantages particularly in disaster situations where the infrastructure of any former address system based on road names will like be destroyed, hampering attempts at a quick response. It also seems like the system is still heavily technology-dependent. In the context of broken infrastructure post-disaster it would potentially give an advantage to outsiders over locals in assuming authority for action if the outsiders where the only ones with working GPS devices to locate exact addresses. What might be other implications, positive or negative, for survivors of a catastrophic disaster in a region using this three word address system?

Bjorn

Disaster resilience tied to neighborhoods’ “social infrastructure”

Check out this excellent article in Wired if you get a chance. Here’s a great excerpt from it:

“Throughout the city, the variable that best explained the pattern of mortality during the Chicago heat wave was what people in my discipline call social infrastructure. Places with active commercial corridors, a variety of public spaces, local institutions, decent sidewalks, and community organizations fared well in the disaster. More socially barren places did not. Turns out neighborhood conditions that isolate people from each other on a good day can, on a really bad day, become lethal.

This is important, because climate change virtually guarantees that, in the next century, major cities all over the world will endure longer, more frequent, and more intense heat waves—along with frankenstorms, hurricanes, blizzards, and rising seas. And it’s inevitable that cities will take steps to fortify themselves against this future. The first instinct of urban leaders is often to harden their cities through engineering and infrastructure, much of which is indeed pretty vital. But research keeps reinforcing the lessons of Englewood and Auburn Gresham.”

-David