communication

“We need to talk about Facebook”

Ithaca Freeskool class tonight:

Freeskool class on Tuesday, February 4th 6:00-8:00pm at TC Worker’s Center, 115 E. MLK st.
We Need to Talk About Facebook, do we not? Do you remember that science fiction distopia?… The one where social life is consolidated into an electronic data cloud owned by a powerful, military contracted corporation? For crying out loud, this sounds familiar! This discussion-based workshop gives Facebook a hard look and explores alternative platforms for community and sense of place.

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Do you know how to listen?

I attended a free listening workshop here in Ithaca in 2011 that was really amazing. I went after I’d already been in Ithaca’s Talking Circles on Race and Racism — which are so wonderful, but so dependent on good communication. I really think I could have been a better listener (and a better white ally) if I’d attended the Listening Workshop before the Talking Circles!

The main idea is that usually, people aren’t really, truly listening to each other. They’re kind of waiting so they can speak. For instance, when someone says something about oppression, the other person isn’t necessarily listening with an open heart, ready to hear every painful detail — they’re usually going through a whole list of automatic, unhelpful responses (agreeing or disagreeing, questioning, giving advice, problem solving, thinking of a similar experience, coming up with reasons or explanations, etc. — there’s a list on our refrigerator!). The result is that we don’t actually hear what the other is saying. It takes awareness and practice to move away from these automatic responses, but I’ve got to say that it is well worth the effort. It really changed the way I communicate with people, for the better.

Think about what widespread adoption of this approach to communication could do for our world. Learning to be better listeners can only help our struggles for social and environmental justice. When someone speaks of their experience of racism or classism or heterosexism or sexism or any other oppression, it may stir up memories of things you read, or movies you saw, but that doesn’t mean that those are fit responses; the other is talking about their life, and now is not the time for anecdotes about movies, but for listening. Likewise, it might be painful to hear how we harm animals by not being vegan, but shouldn’t we at least listen to the voices of those we’re harming (via their proxies and spokespeople, those humans who can speak in words we can understand, who seem to have animals’ interests in mind)?

If you’re an activist, my guess is you’d like to be listened to. We have to be the change we want to see, so we need to work on our own listening.

Anyway, I can’t recommend these programs highly enough — and there happens to be a Listening Workshop SATURDAY, April 13th, 9am-12:30pm (they ask folks to please be 5 minutes early).

It will be held at the Ithaca Community Childcare Center (IC3), which is a really cool building at 579 Warren Road Ithaca, NY 14850 between the medical campus and Boces on Warren Road. Please bring snacks/beverages, and register at: www.thelisteningworkshop.com. It is 100% free.

“Who is smarter: a person or an ape?”

dog-and-Thomas-Cheng

“New research shows that we have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence. Primatologist Frans de Waal on memory-champ chimps, tool-using elephants and rats capable of empathy.”

Via Josh

Photo: Thomas Cheng and a dog, from the article

Speaking for myself

I’m no longer calling this blog “Vegan Ithaca,” but rather, “Living a Vegan Life in Ithaca” – and it’s no longer going to attempt to catalog vegan goings-on in Ithaca. That is too big a task for me! I felt like I was representing the views of others, or that folks would think that I was trying to represent others. So now I’m only representing myself and my own views, on this site. For more about this, please click here.

I had a bit of a revelation in 2012 – namely, that I don’t have to speak for anyone else, and I don’t have to work toward anyone else’s goals. That’s a very liberating idea! I can really hold myself back when I’m worried about whether I’m stepping on someone else’s toes. So to that end, I made this change, and started a Tumblr. My hope is that this reframing will help me to feel more free in my advocacy, so I can be a better ally and a more effective activist. We’ll see how it goes.

Please feel free to click the follow button to your right (or the RSS link), so you’ll get updates. I really value feedback, so please do tell me what you think of this change, or of the Tumblr. Thanks for reading!