Gloria Steinem

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The iconic feminist, the writer, the political activist and the author of her later biography, ‘My Life on the Road’.

As a girl, she traveled across the US between Ohio and Florida for most of her informative years. The trailor upbringing came to an end when her parents divorced, she went to live and care for her depression troubled mother, now attending school regularly from
the first time at the age of eleven.

After college she was awarded a fellowship and spent two years in India. During her travels she opted for a termination of pregnancy in London ten years before they were legal.

From this she became a journalism, a groundbreaking article being ‘A Bunny’s Tale’, where she went undercover as a playboy bunny to get the dirt on Hugh Hefner and the Playboy empire. Co-founding New York Magazine and Ms Magazine, which she later became an editor for several decades later. From the late sixties she rubbed shoulders with greats like Betty Friedan as they marched for the liberation of women.

Now, at the age of eighty-five, she is technically in retirement. However, social activism work is not something you retire from, she is still penning the writings which inspire women Globally.

Her latest biography, ‘My Life on the Road’ contains so many awe-inspiring quotes, we give only a few to lay a foundation for Steinemism and the future:

Dick and Jane limitations that school put on girls.’

From her travels in India:

High caste women were sexually restricted and women at the bottom were sexually exploited.’

‘Most of us, I love graduations. They are individual and communal, an end and a beginning, more permanent than weddings, more inclusive than religions, and possibly the most moving ceremonies on earth.’

‘Needing approval is a female cultural disease, and often a sign of doing the wrong thing.’

‘I was angry about the human talent that was lost just because it was born into a female body, and the mediocrity that was awarded because it was born into a male one.’

‘A journey -whether it’s to the corner grocery or through life-is supposed to have a beginning, middle and end, right? Well the road is not like that at all. It’s the very illogical and the juxtaposed differences of the road-combined with our search for meaning-that make travel so addictive.

‘My Life on the Road’ is available from Amazon

More about Gloria Steinem

 

 

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Swing up, Swing down

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Swing up, Swing down is an extract from the penultimate chapter of the novel written by Alison Little. All events are fiction and not based on real people, events or places.

Jack guides Vera out from her car seat allowing Gemma to bounce along by herself. It was Saturday morning and he thought he’d take the children down to the play park for a few hours, leaving Ala to have a lye in. He has them most of the time when they are out of school, doing most of the pro-active parenting, after all, she worked full-time, he was self-employed and his hours were more flexible.

They were twins but they had not developed at the same rate, Vera had been deprived of space and oxygen in the womb, she had all the air he needed and room too move now, but had never caught up, it had been determined that she would never really develop into a fully functional adult. Her condition had never been fully diagnosed but he was treated in a way similar to those with low functioning autism. For the first few years with Vera had been really tough, in and out of the hospital, major surgery after critical procedures. They had been in the Hospice too, directed that it would be kinder to let Vera die, but they had refused and everything to keep her alive had been done. There had been some progress health-wise, but he would never really be able to speak or respond in ways others could. At one point they had thought that he might be able to learn sign language but his communication skills did not progress to that level. In some ways, they were glad they had given her such a grown-up sounding name, ‘Vera,’ even though things were not promising it gave the impression that he may live well into adulthood.

Gemma skips on ahead, cartwheels on the toe as she dances onto one of the older kids swings. Up and down, higher and higher, reaching for the child’s optimism of the fluff-filled clouds and the future which awaited. Jack takes Vera’ hand and guides her towards the swings which were better for her, high-backed and much safer. He lifts Vera, they after some persuasive talk and jiggling, he slots into the seat, ensuring to wipe the snot from his nose before beginning to gently push him from in front to ensure he doesn’t become agitated. As Roger seems content Jack moves around to gently push him from behind, Gemma disembarks from the swing and quickly manoeuvres herself onto the climbing frame-come hut-like structure directly ahead.

Things were more difficult than a normal domestic set up but Jack loved and treasured being a dad. Caring for a disabled child was never straightforward, additional care for Vera, then mustering enough energy to keep the never-ending quest for excitement from Gemma satisfied. He found himself on most of the school and club runs, he also seemed to do most of the cooking in addition to constant cleaning to try and ensure Ala was happy. She had always been very particular about cleanliness, the grill washed after every time she used it, the fridge seals cleaned daily and even when they had moved into their first tiny flat she had insisted they needed a dishwasher because of the higher temperature the plates were washed at being more hygienic. Jack’s last Birthday present had been a hard wearing navy apron and she had kept on insisting he wore it when he was preparing meals. This appeared to be the result of a new health and safety training directive from her work at Social Services where aprons were to be worn to keep the ‘Food safe from you’, had been projected from a power point presentation. He didn’t mind this too much he had always been more of a doer and Ala had always taken a more strategic role. He loved his family dearly and would do anything to protect them.

Two brothers came in, the elder seemed to be around nine or ten, around the same age as Gemma, and Vera of course. Both were wearing the same version of a Marks and Spencer printed T-Shirt, the older and the younger version combined with red and blue Jackets. Their first move, they jumped onto the swings in the place where Gemma began, one still swaying from her endeavours. Swing up, swing down, Vera lets out a kind of screech recital, the composition being somewhat familiar to those close to him. As Jack comforts her he overhears the younger brother as the elder,

‘Is she a Spack?’
‘Yes, but Shush’

Responds the elder Brother, as they continue to play Jack hides his fury. His head feels like it’s about to explode, how dare they say anything about his family rushes through his mind, spiraling at full speed, the anger intensifying as the helix’ core into the internal workings of the brain.

Gemma descends from the top of the climbing frame in one foul swoop and runs towards the roundabout. She jumps half on the frame then begins to accelerate the centrifugal motion. Round and round, faster and faster she spins into the abyss of the play scape, maxing out the potential speed.

Everyone now engaged, Vera is content again, as the two brothers laugh together the helix’ coring into Jack’s mind instruct his eyes begins to scan around the suburban park. Nothing he can use, nothing at all, wait, what looks to be a broken glass bottle glistening from behind the bin, debris from the teenage revelry of an evening of WKD consumption. Jack edges towards the bottle, looking around, all the children are occupied, he plucks the broken bottle from it’s resting place and slips it into the inside of his jacket. Swing up, swing down the Brother continue, jesting with each other, Jack awaits a distraction. A BMW passes letting off a flash musical horn, one of the local Champagne Charlie’, so commonly embedded in the density of suburban villages. As the boys look in awe of the speeding moving vehicle Jack slips the broken bottle onto the ground then with a few slides of his boot he manoeuvres it directly underneath the swing of the younger brother.

Jack returns to Vera, gleeful and anticipatory, waiting to see how the plan he has engineered pans out. Gemma screams with joy as she revolves on the human-sized spinner, the older boy jumps down and engages the younger:

‘Come on, let’s join in on the round-about.’

The younger one takes the final flight up to the clouds, now darkened and thunderous. In the distance you can hear the traffic from the Motorway, HGV’s transcending across the country, heavily loaded, at full speed cutting through the valley towards the Metropolis. Jack tries to hide his delight as the small boy descends, jumping off the swing and leaping forward onto his hands, pad going directly onto the broken glass structure. Blood lets multiply and rush from the lacerations:

‘Be careful, there’s a broken bottle’

Jack shouts at the boy, deliberately to late to deter the accident he had engineered. As the boy cries out the Older Brother and Gemma rush over, Jack begins to insist that he was just about to warn them, a convincing dialogue which he had being re-telling since his teenage years. The elder takes the bleeding hand and tries to stem the flow of blood with his jacket’.

Eco-Warriorhood?…. Eco-Realist?

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10 Easy ways to reduce your Carbon Footprint

So, now, we’re all supposed to bin our cars, freezers, become vegan, stop drinking softies from plastic bottles and never holiday abroad to save the planet!

But is this realistic?

10 Easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint with having to become the Patron Saint of Eco-Warriorhood.

  1. If you are cooking in a small pot use the smallest ring on the hob. Using a larger gas ring simply mean most of the fuel is wasted and the food doesn’t actually heat any faster. Easy and instant, no effort required.
  2. When you rip a label of a tin can, add that to the recycling in addition to the main item. It doesn’t look like much but it is silly to send to landfill when it can be re-consumed.
  3. If you are getting taking out and there is a choice a plastic bottled drink or a paper cup option, take the paper choice. Even if there isn’t a recycling point and you have to throw it in a standard bin it will decompose in under 4 weeks in landfill. Subway are great for this option, as are many other sandwich bars and food retailers.
  4. So it’s no more burgers because of the methane cows produce, space taking to farm and the food chain process. But you like the odd burger, and your 3 sons love burgers and you really don’t want to give them up? Do it the best way possible, if you have burgers twice a week, reduce to once. Buy, fresh, consume that day instead of freezing. Choose a source which is farmed near you to reduce carbon in transportation. If possible make a trip to a local butchers or independent trader as their will be other environmental benefits of using local business.

Burgers back on the menu!

  1. Introduce a meat free main meal to your weekly eating plans. Try new dishes and foods which you may have previously avoided. Lavish veggie curries, vast seed selections, the charm of rich cheeses and nuts of notability. Make the veggie day the one where you enjoy following new recipes and pull out all culinary the stop.
  2. Have a freezer free day, preferable directly after a big supermarket shop. Try to buy fresh vegetable and make roast potato from scratch. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a bag of sweetcorn or pea’s in your freezer, just be less relent on the ice box and reduce it’s usage.
  3. If you are planning a trip into town with the kids, or an adult meal in a county pub at the weekend, consider walking as part of the activity. Is there a good canal or river route, are there view across the region worth taking in?Consider cycling to work once a month, it may be too far to do daily, but it could be worked into a four-weekly routine? Could you walk or cycle shorter journeys and when you take off parking time does it take much longer?
  4. Plan holidays in the UK on a yearly basis, then only look at flights to exotic destinations on special anniversaries. Camping is a great holiday with environmental credentials, reduction of energy consumption and taking full advantage of the great outdoors.
  5. Give and buy clothes to and from charity shops. Okay, we are not talking underwear or swimwear, if your still unsure about the pre-worn try bags and outer coats first. This is a great, green incentive, no need to recycle the fabric every-thing is re-used directly.
  6. One final Woof, value the dog! What man’ best friend does is provides us with constant opportunities for long energy use free walks, the eager consumption of any table scraps in addition to hours of carbon free entertainment.

Implement Immediately!

Then expand with the area’s that work with your lifestyle. Enjoying the veggie cooking and exploring new plant life? Add a second night. Bike action got you going? Cycle to work once a week instead of monthly.

Small steps making a big difference!

The Longhua Revolutionary

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The Longhua Revolutionary

He lies half dead
Within the ground
Module like in form
Head flat down
Neck arched, descending
Arm held up
An arising
Hand poised tray like
Vaulted, an offering
Progress, moving forward
Knee rising from the ground
Ready to stand up
Enabling control

Ahead, forefront
Central winding platform
Offerings laid
Gestures of remembrance
Bronze plates engraved
Names of the fallen
The communist struggle

Empty wheelchair pushed
Disabled by conflict
Human loss and sacrifice
Those no longer present

Foliage towering high
A lining parameter
Woodland grown through centuries
Heights to magnitude

Ground space taken
The Buddhist Temple land
Red force of communism
Re-claiming sacred land
There own lost to conflict
Taken from the opposition
For the opposer’s

A modern Shanghai
Communist dictatorship relaxed
Religion and Spirituality
Allowed to return
Beliefs and choice
Enabled not suppressed
New Freedoms
Individuality
Self-direction
Expression
Contemporary culture
Forward-looking
Progress..

 

The Longhua Revolutionary is the latest free flow text work from Alison Little. It responds to a photo viewed at the Shanghai Sacred exhibition at the VG&M in Liverpool. The statue is based at the Longhua Temple in Shanghai.

More about the Longhua Temple

More about the Shanghai Sacred exhibition at the VG&M

The Police – Victim Blaming – Shana Grice

Shana

The case of Shana Grice came to light earlier in the week after the IPOC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) inquiry found the PC in charge of the case not guilty of gross misconduct. Shana was brutally murdered by her former partner: Michael Lane, in August 2016. There had been five reports of stalking made to the Police by Shana over a 6 month period, 13 other women had made reports of Lane stalking them previously. Lane was simply cautioned, Shana was fined £90 for wasting Police time. We question, when will victim-blaming by the Police Force in sexually predatory cases be addressed and tackled.

In August of 2016 Lane slipped into Shana’ accommodation after her flatmates and current boyfriend had left for work and slit her throat with deadly consequences. His next move was to use her credit card to withdraw £60 from her account to purchase fuel with the intention of burning the corpse. Previously, having gone to the extremities of fitting a tracker to her car and stealing her keys to enter her bedroom and observe her sleeping. This was not the first time he had been shown to act obsessively, 13 women had reported him for behaving in a similar manner over the last decade.

Despite putting forward a plea of not guilty, Lane was convicted of murder in 2017 and ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years behind bars. The judge, Sir Nicholas Green was very critical of the handling of the case by Sussex Police:

“There was seemingly no appreciation on the part of those investigating that a young woman in a sexual relationship with a man could at one and the same time be vulnerable and at risk of serious harm. The police jumped to conclusions and Shana was stereotyped.”

As a response to the judge’ statement, the Deputy Chief Constable admitted to ‘Failings’ by Sussex Police.

Last week saw the conclusion of the IOPC hearing into the case. Shana had reported Lane to the Police 5 times in 6 months for stalking. A telephone conversation which had been recorded by Shana, clearly stated that she wanted no further contact with Lane.

Phone Call recorded by Shana Grice

The Officer in charge of the case, Trevor Godfrey, retired directly after Shana’ murder. At the trial, he claimed that there had been inconsistencies in Shana’ claims and she had failed to disclose her former relationship with Lane. He made further claims that kiss’ added to text messages indicated they were involved in a consensual relationship. No consideration was given to the fact Shana may have been trying to pacify a proven to be violent Lane.

In a minute and a half phone call with Shana, PC Godfrey explained to Shana that any evidence of stalking which she had provided had been discredited. However, in his defense, it had in fact been his colleague that had decided to fine Shana for wasting Police time. In response to these actions, Shana’ felt unable to approach the authorities again with additional concerns about Lane’ predatory stalking. Earlier in the week, PC Godfrey was found guilty of misconduct, but not of the greater charge of gross misconduct, allowing him full access to his pension. Shana’ parent responded to the outcome:

“We firmly believe Shana would be alive today if Sussex Police had acted to protect Shana on the many occasions she complained about Lane rather than issue her with a fine for wasting police time.”

The Police Federation claimed that PC Godfrey’ actions were ‘Appropriate’.

Is guilty of misconduct by not gross misconduct a sufficient outcome of the trial? Are the comments of the Police Federation justified? A nineteen-year-old girl put on trial unjustly by the Police force months before her eventual killer would stand trial. PC Godfrey, in addition to other Officers clearly negligent and evidence of Police Force which is unwilling to protect the lives of those in which it has been designated to do so. As a society, it is time to push for the Police to raise their standards to that of at least ‘Adequate’ in sexual predator cases. We need systems in place to identify elements of victim-blaming by Police Officers from a much earlier stage. Equal to this, we need the power to fine removed from incompetent Police Officers.

Finally, and to the memory of Shana, we need to see no further cases of victims of sexual predators being failed by the Police Force.

Up there with the Fairies!

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Last night saw the launch of Liverpool’ latest gallery spaces. Lis Edgar has successfully obtained, renovated and revealed this latest edition to the arts and culture scene. The new ABC 1 galleries take home in the former Taylor’s, 24 Newington, the corner of Renshaw street and only a few doors up from the bohemian haunt: the Egg Café.

Calling all Fairies exhibition captures our imagination on the heights of the July sun-drenched bay windows overlooking Renshaw Street.

‘The Power of Three’, a collaborative works between Matt Kilp, Caroline Corby and Naomi Soni brought life to the natural brick wall on which it hung. Incorporation of pouring techniques with found object of a glimmering flat mirror and the delight of peacock feathers. A powerful mix of colours from creams to pinks to blues, coincided with a range of earth tones. The idea of a rock formation is present combined with an impression of the sun. The high gloss finish of the abstract formulates perfectly with the interior of the space.

Lis Edgar’ ‘Dog on a beach’ throws a whippet into the mix of creativity. The composition of the piece draws the eye from the upper left, winding down the body to the lower right, finish off with the tail taking us back to the lower centre. The slenderness of the canine is showed off by the shadow running down his back to indicate a spine. The soberness of the face looking to one side brings true individuality to the creation. A reasonably priced print at £25 and a delight in any setting.

The exhibition also corresponded with the pop-up shop set up by artists from the studio space. Bev Evans work comprises of a range of cards and pendants, delightfully arranged within the space. After working as a graphic designer for thirty years, Bev decided to pursuit her artist dreams and began to produce the ranges we see before us today.

So the new inhabitants of the former Taylor showed us they know how to make things, as the soft sounds played from the vintage cassette player as the private view to us to new heights.

Exhibition continues over Pride Weekend then throughout August by appointment.

More about Calling all Fairies

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Global Citizen

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Global Citizen is an artist proposal for the Festival of Manchester to occur in Platt Fields worked on by Alison Little.

Global Citizen

Highly coloured shredded paper is to take over Platt Fields. Gigantic 2 meter tall spheres are to be created reflecting how Mancunians are Global citizen. Inviting interaction, visitors will be able to touch and pull, tear and detach the array of strips.

Spherical forms to be created again with shredded paper but structural elements which show awareness of external conditions. A playscape where piles can be interacted with; an eco snowball fight like arena.

The full-colour spectrum to be applied throughout the site; from blue to green, to yellow, to orange, finishing off with red. The visual impact of the colour change present, but the potential for colours to be mixed by those exploring the installation.

The intention is for the artist to be present throughout the festival, developing the colour formations throughout the period. The paper shredding process to be done on site before the festival begins.

Global Citizen uses the global shaped sphere to draw attention to immigration which has thrived in the city, a true Metropolis. The intertwining of the shreds represent how communities work together and show strength in time of turmoil, the 2017 terror attack being the most recent. Equally, to promote green credentials through the use of paper. Identifying with issues around climate change and environmental conditioning. Some off the paper will inevitably blow away from the installation, potentially recycled paper and water-based paints to be used to speed up decomposition, 2-6 weeks. Clean up will comprise of removal of all paper and transported to the local recycling plant.

An installation which will excite, reflect the Global status of the city and encourage environmental sustainability.

Working on numerous public art commissions in the North West, the UK and Western Europe. For the Capital of Culture celebrations in Liverpool, she gained two commissions for Super Lambanana to be sited in the colossal Public Arts Trail which was to overtake Liverpool for the celebrations. Her more recent public art commissions are to include work for Kirby Town centre regeneration where she brought the Vikings back to the North West, strong graphical techniques were used for her most recent mural for East Street Arts new location in Garston.

She looks to combine her creative practice, often illustrating her writing or taking a similar issue as the focal point for the works. Rape, mental health, impotence and feminist issues are often explored through the forming of sculptural pieces using shredded paper and the writing of accompanying flash fiction, poetry and short stories. Forms are often displayed using piles of brightly coloured shredded paper throughout various installations. In this, she combines her personal experience of the subject matter, intensive fact-based research examining different philosophies and scientific predictions, the final outcome being predominantly sculpture and conceptual photography with different writing scripture. A challenging method of working creating a vast array of outcomes.

An artist, a writer and a creative explorer.

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More about Festival of Manchester