News Reflections

Sanctuary Low-down #2

Greetings blog reader,

The following rant will give you the low-down on what happened in the Sanctuary world this week.

Firstly, let me tell you about the lunchtime routine at the Sanctuary.

Basically, there’s a roster where everyone takes turns making lunch during the week. The lunches are usually uber healthy and are cooked from organic/non-mainstream brand ingredients bought from fresh food co-ops and markets. While everyone eats, there’s usually a baited discussion about a sanctuary event or issue. It’s a great way to bring everybody together like a close-knit family.

After lunch one day, I was talking to Nicole and Sina in the kitchen about where to shop for food in Troy, and I mentioned that most RPI students shop at Walmart, and I was pretty much smited by even mentioning the word! I always knew that Walmart, just like any massive corporation, stomped on the ‘little guy’ (i.e. created unfair competition for small businesses), but I never knew the extent of Walmart’s devilishness (criminally low wages, zilch benefits, child labour/discimination violations etc). Big corporations in Australia couldn’t get away with any of that because our employee rights laws are much stricter.

On Tuesday over lunch, I met more of the Sancturians – Chris, Nicole, the English Intern Joe, Josh the painter, Jamie and Jill. Chris told us about a conference he went to in NYC the friday beforehand about ‘CiviCRM’, which essentially is a contact, fundraising and eCRM system that allows you to record and manage information about your various constituents including volunteers, activists, donors, employees, clients, vendors, etc – so you can track and execute donations, transactions, conversations, events or any type of correspondence with each constituent and store it all in one, easily accessible and manageable source.

Not only did Chris get into the conference for free, but he was fed free gourmet food the entire day. To this, Steve made the remark, ‘I guess that’s proof that there really is such a thing as a free lunch’

__(insert canned laughter here)___

After lunch that day, Branda, Jill and Nicole discussed the idea of producing videos for the Honest Weight Food Co-op, in exchange for member discounts. The Honest Weight Food Co-op is a non-for-profit member-owned-and-operated consumer cooperative that is committed to providing the community with affordable, natural foods and products for healthy living. To get member discounts, people have to work a minimum 3 hours per week at the store, so the Sanctuary was wondering if video production labour could be exchanged for these discounts as well. The following day, they went to a meeting with the Co-op, who were very interested.

On Wednesday, I watched the Free Jazz Splatto video, to get more of an idea about the jazz series I’m promoting as part of my internship.

I also watched two of the Sanctury’s past films – ‘Art Does Not Equal Terrorism’ and ‘IndyMedia in a Time of War’ – to get more of an idea about the projects the Sanctuary has been in involved in over the years.

‘Art Does Not Equal Terrorism’ is a documentary about what happened when an Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal was invited to Troy about a year ago to display his exhibition ‘Virtual Jihadi’ – a virtual computer game where players are Iraqi’s shooting Americans (i.e. a role reversal). The RPI community mis-characterized his artwork as terrorist propaganda and he was then banned from RPI. The exhibition was given asylum by The Sanctuary , which then caused the city to break out in protest, and the government responded by shutting The Sanctuary down.

‘IndyMedia in a Time of War’ is about censorship in the American media with regards to the War on Iraq, and the importance of IndyMedia to get the truth out there. It was made in 2003 when a lot of the censorship concepts were relatively revelationary.

Wednesday afternoon, we had a ‘painting party’, where Chris, Nicole, Josh, James and I painted the gallery white, in preparation for the art display that was opening on the 26th. We then sat around, covered in paint and ate gourmet pizza for dinner.

Thursday was the first ‘Kiss My Edit’ Lab. The name originated when James said “kiss my ass” to Branda on Tuesday, and Nicole goes “more like, kiss my edit”, then Branda goes “oo that’s what we’ll call it. The ‘Kiss my edit’ lab.”

That morning I learnt how to log and capture, and then digitize a project file on Final Cut Pro (which probably sounds a lot more complex then it really is!)

On Friday, Andrew, Nicole, Branda and Steve had a meeting about which movies to show on the IndyMedia film night on November 2, themed ‘Indy Media: where do we go from here?’.

I practised logging more project files, until the Mac crashed on me because I’m technologically cursed.

Not long after this, Sarah and the tree-lopping crew rocked up, and started lopping away, to put up the mushroom logs in the front garden of the Sanctuary. I put a hard-hat on and helped them collect fallen branches. Afterwards, the team had a BBQ of vegie burgers and corndogs.

On the weekend, I experienced my first American Pie-style party with an initiation ceremony and all that shiz. (Keep this on the down-low though, because apparently initiation activities are ‘illegal’ now at RPI, so these people could get in a lot of trouble). Basically there were girls in the basement chanting the pink panther theme while boys were dragged down a staircase naked/defaced in marker pen, and then taped onto a chair where they were given the Spanish Inquisition (embarassing truth or dare questions).

I constantly feel like the Sanctuary and RPI are such social contrasts. Being with Sanctuarians and then RPI students is like adapting to two parallel universes.

That is all.

Yours truly,