Friday, December 07, 2007

see for yourself

youtube video: save public housing

Mark your calendar now:

MONDAY December 10th International Human Rights Day
City Hall
Press Conference 9AM

Housing Conservation District Review Committee will be meeting on Monday, December 10th, regarding issuing permits for the demolition of Public Housing.

If you can't be here in person, send a message, host a solidarity event, do something, say something. Get updated information on the Coalition to Stop the Demolitions here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm glad she was born

from the writer's almanac today:
It's the birthday of the novelist Rita Mae Brown, born in Hanover, Pennsylvania (1944), who wrote Rubyfruit Jungle (1973), one of the first lesbian coming-of-age novels ever published in America. It was rejected by all the major publishers, so she went with a tiny press called Daughters, Inc., with no real advertising budget, but the book got passed around and became a word-of-mouth best seller, selling more than a million copies.

I was 15 the first time I read Rubyfruit Jungle, and I re-read it so many times, and so appreciatively, that I could probably act out the whole thing for you. anytime. just say the word. The same goes for a few other books... Franny & Zooey, for one. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. anytime.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

the 2008 Mama Calendar is here and ready to go!

Get them while they're hot, at the New Orleans Bookfair (specifically, at the MamaPhiles table in Ray's Boom Boom Room) this Saturday or through the mail...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Orleans Bookfair Saturday

Check out the Bookfair, Saturday, November 10, from 10 til 6, for the debut of the 2008 Mama Calendar, as well as assorted books, zines, music, readings, kid's stuff, and this workshop:

Building Community Support for Radical Parents and Children

The majority of visible activists and radicals do not have caretaking duties within their collective enterprises and thus might ignore their minority parent participant's concerns. When hetero couples have kids, the dads usually continue their activist work. Mothers aren't given any recognition for doing childrearing and/or the childcare that allows fathers to continue their political work. The movement tends to write off mothers who aren't at meetings or actions, failing to recognize that mothers need the support of their communities and activist groups if they are to continue contributing their experiences, insight and expertise without becoming overburdened.

Not everyone has the same issues but any ones oppression should matter to all. Working class parents, single mothers, women of color, parents of special needs children have different degrees of struggle. Rad dads who are primary or equal caretakers can feel alienated by sexist assumptions. But everyone, of all varying abilities, stages, and ages, deserves respect.

The subculture mimics, to a degree, the greater society's unreasonable expectations of parents (mothers especially) and children. Let's learn how to work together in new ways. By valuing the involvement/work of parents and caretakers, we form a more vibrant culture of resistance; and we teach the young the vision we want to see of a more equitable future by including them in our activities now.

This will be a discussion between both parents and non-parents, on concrete ways childfree allies can support parents and children in their community. Good for everyone!

Co-presented by:

China Martens is the author of "The Future Generation: A Zine-Book For Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends & Others" (an anthology of the last 15 years of her zine!) published by Atomic Books Company , a single mother of a 19-year-old daughter, and the co-ordinater of Kidz Corner @ the Radical Mid-Atlantic Bookfair in Baltimore.

Coleen Murphy grew up tagging along to various activist gatherings with her mother. She is an unschooled kid turned unschooling parent who publishes the Mama Calendar and a zine called Once Upon a Photobooth, and helped to coordinate a space for kids at last year's New Orleans Bookfair.

Exact time and location TBA...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

road trip

I want to drive cross country with david byrne. well. if he'll do the driving.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Fall is really a kind of Spring in New Orleans. On my block, anyway, it seems like everything is blooming. We're seemingly through the flu, too, with just these lingering ear infections.

What I really came here to say today, though, is that everyone should read Jonathon Kozol.

Monday, October 01, 2007

and if I were in school...

today I'd be walking out.

as it is, I'm home with two sick kids, and walking out on them would do nothing for nobody. fresh air would be a nice change, though.
I read banned books

this week and every week.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

more stories from last Thursday

I'm really proud of my friend Meg and her daughter, Jie; read all about their day in Jena.

Monday, September 24, 2007

mama calendar 2008 on the way - call for submissions

people, mothers, fathers, partners, kids, friends & allies,
the mama calendar is making a comeback.
send me your best stuff, by October 20, to
the mama calendar
coleen murphy
PO box 741655
new orleans, LA
calendars will be available on November 10, 2007, in person at the New Orleans Bookfair and via email & the US mail for $12 a piece,
payable by check, cash, money order or paypal.
advance orders are what make the calendar project possible.
ask about wholesale pricing for orders of ten or more.
here is what the cover of the 2006 edition looked like:

the mama calendar is a community building-consciousness raising resource by,
of, about and for progressive, feminist, activist mothers and their families,
friends & allies everywhere. it is a celebration and a call to action, a thing
of beauty to last the year.
edited by coleen murphy, the calendar features photos of mamas, babies,
children, dads, and friends, as well as a guide to mama-made zines, alternative
parenting resources, recipes, recipes for revolution, great dates in radical
mama herstory, and the work of numerous artist/activist/mamas. recent editions have featured ayun halliday, victoria law, laurel dykstra, sonja smith, trula breckenridge and heather cushman-dowdee, among others.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


two looks

chris rose

jordan flaherty

me, I'm all mixed up, fascinated, entertained, repelled, watching.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

if you don't know, it's time you heard

Jena Ignites a Movement
By Jordan Flaherty
September 21, 2007

Six courageous families in the small Louisiana town of Jena sent out a call for justice that has now been amplified around the world. Yesterday's mass protests in Jena were unlike anything I have seen in my life, a beautiful and enormous outpouring of energy and outrage that may have the potential to ignite a movement.

The basic facts of the case are by now widely known. In this 85% white town, where the high school yard was segregated by race, a Black student asked to sit under a tree that had been reserved for white students only. The next day, three nooses hung from the tree. The white students who hung the nooses received only a mnor punishment, and more importantly, no one in the white power structure of LaSalle Parish, where Jena is located, seemed to take the nooses seriously as racial incident. There were no lectures to the students on the meaning of the nooses, or the legacy of racism, slavery and Jim Crow in the rural south. Instead, the Parish's district attorney told protesting Black students that he could take away their lives, "with a stroke of my pen." He then proceeded to attempt to do just that, charging six students with attempted murder after a schoolyard fight later that year.

In the nine months since their children were charged with attempted murder, the family members of the Jena Six organized meetings, hosted rallies, sent out press releases and letters and made phone calls – whatever they could think of. They were determined to not let this stand. For months, they stood nearly alone, accompanied by solidarity visits from activists from nearby towns and cities in Louisiana and Texas. Many of their friends and neighbors were afraid to speak out, and some reported having their jobs threatened. One white couple who spoke out said they felt pressured to leave town. But, in the face of what seemed like overwhelming obstacles, and with no organizing experience or friends in high places, the people of Jena continued to struggle. After months of silence from the media and from mainstream civil rights organizations, the first media stories began appearing, which were widely forwarded by mail, and amplified by homemade videos. After Mychal Bell's conviction at the end of June, and stories on Democracy Now and in the Final Call newspaper, support started growing exponentially, with hundreds of letters bringing tens of thousands of dollars in donations. By September, it became a movement that even the corporate media could not ignore.

At 5:00am, the buses were already arriving. A full bus from Chicago emptied out, some people brushing their teeth as they stepped into the slightly cold pre-dawn air. They seemed exhausted, but also charged and energized. Next came buses from Baton Rouge, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. By 7:00am, reports were coming in that hundreds of buses were lined up outside of town, some having been briefly prevented by State police from entering. Meanwhile, hundreds of people, from cars and buses and motorcycles, were pouring into Jena, while many thousands more were gathering in the streets outside the Jena courthouse. As simultaneous rallies began in the two locations, thousands of more people streamed into the city. By 9:00am, there were, by some estimates, up to 50,000 people in this town of 2,500. Almost every business in town was shut down, many roads were closed by police checkpoints, and a sea of protest filled the city for miles.

This demonstration was not initiated by any one national organization, and there was little coordination between some of the major organizations involved. The initial call came from the families themselves, and most people had heard about the demonstration through local Black radio stations, especially on syndicated shows like the Michael Baisden and Steve Harvey shows, as well as through blogs and youtube (one activist-made youtube video, recommended by Baisden, has already been seen well over a million times) as well as on social networking sites like myspace. As Howard Witt has pointed out in the Chicago Tribune, "Jackson, Sharpton and other big-name civil rights figures, far from leading this movement, have had to scramble to catch up. So, too, has the national media, which has only recently noticed a story that has been agitating many black Americans for months."

This decentralization was beautiful, although sometimes chaotic. As thousands gathered at the rally at the ball field, which was sponsored by the NAACP, thousands more demonstrators marched from the courthouse to the Jena High School, and tens of thousands continued to arrive and fill the streets around downtown Jena. Because this movement was without central leadership, there were many agendas, and also some confusion, as people were unsure when the march began, or if there was a march, and also unsure about parallel events, such as an afternoon hiphop concert at the ball field, which was mostly attended by people from the local community. People seemed unconcerned about the lack of clarity, however, and marched on their own schedule, which led to a more democratic feel to the day, unlike the more controlled, and sometimes disempowering, marches that some mainstream groups have organized in the past.

The t-shirts on display reflected the lack of central control – every community had made their own t-shirt, literally hundreds of variations on the theme of Free The Jena Six, many personalized to reflect their school or community. Hours of speakers delivered messages of solidarity and calls to action, from Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to performers such as Mos Def and Sunni Patterson, while the enormous crowds marched and chanted, and also simply basked in a truly historic outpouring of activism. Participants varied from children and teens at their first demonstration to civil rights movement veterans. Many people who had never before been to a demonstration ended up organizing a delegation or booking a bus for this journey.

While the vast majority of the white community of Jena chose to stay either indoors or out of town, hundreds of Black Jena residents proudly displayed their "Free The Jena Six" shirts, and continued to gather in the ball field hours after most out of town visitors had left. White activists from across the US also largely stayed away from this historic event – perhaps 1 to 3 percent of the crowd was white, in what amounts to a disturbing silence from the white left and liberals. This silence indicates that the US Left is divided by race in many of the same ways this country is.

Yesterday's march, however, was not about division. It was a generational moment – the kind of watershed event that could signal a turning point in our movements. But what does the gigantic crowd in Jena mean? For some supporters, it felt like a fulfillment of those months that the families stood alone – a moment where the world stood with them, and the power structure backed down. In the last week Mychal Bell's convictions have been overturned, and most of the other students saw their charges lessened. Yesterday was also a moment for grassroots independent media, who built this story, and kept it alive until the 24 hour news channels could no longer ignore it. It was a moment for historically black colleges and universities to shine - Student activists organized bus convoys – five or more buses arrived from many southern schools - which were quickly filled by a broad range of students.

Yesterday was a moment for the unaffiliated left, for people everywhere concerned about a criminal justice system that has locked up two million and keeps growing. It was a moment for those concerned about school systems in the US, and especially the policing of our schools, what activists have called the School to Prison Pipeline. It was a moment for those that feel that the US has still not dealt with our history of slavery and Jim Crow, and our present realities of white supremacy. Perhaps that is where the power in yesterday's demonstration lies; if this undirected and uncontrolled outrage can be directed towards real societal change, if outrages like Jena can finally bring about the conversation on race in this country that we were promised after Katrina, if this united movement to support these six kids can show that we can unite for justice and win, then Jena will truly have been a victory.

As writer Andre Banks asked yesterday, "What would happen if every person who wore a t-shirt today or handed out a flyer or wrote a blog post woke up tomorrow and looked for the Mychal Bell in their own backyard? He, or she, won't be hard to find. What if our outrage, today directed at the small Louisiana town of Jena, extended to parallel injustices in Detroit or Cincinnati or Sacramento or Miami? What if we viewed this mobilization not as the end of a successful, innovative campaign, but as the moment that catalyzes us into broader and deeper action in every place where we are?" If this happens, we can say that it all began with six families in Jena, Louisiana, who refused to stay silent.

Jordan Flaherty is an editor of Left Turn Magazine , a journal of grassroots resistance. His May 9, 2007 article from Jena was one of the first to bring the case to a national audience. His previous articles from Jena are online at To contact Jordan, email: On myspace:


New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and Network of Teacher Activist Groups (TAG) have developed: Revealing Racist Roots: The 3 R's for Teaching About the Jena 6, a curriculum guide for teachers to address what's happening in Jena. Download the resource guide in PDF Version or Word Version for free at: OR

Donate to support the legal defense fund:
Jena 6 Defense Committee
PO BOX 2798
Jena, LA 71342

Sign the petitions at:

For more information or to offer concrete support, email:

Coverage from The Final Call newspaper:

Andre Banks' Blog:

The Jena Six and the School To Prison Pipeline:

If you are in nyc and want to get involved Jena Six Support, email:
In New Orleans, email: .

Support Organizations:

Please support independent media! Subscribe to Left Turn Magazine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You're A People's History of the United States!

by Howard Zinn

After years of listening to other peoples' lies, you decided you've
had enough. Now you're out to tell it like it is, with all the gory details and nothing
left out. Instead of respecting leaders, you want to know what the common people have to
offer. But this revolution still has a long way to go, and you're not against making a
little profit while you wait. Honesty is your best policy.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

right on! also, it's my birthday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

preparing to launch
Originally uploaded by khollean
one of the high points of our long weekend at the live & learn unschooling conference was the egg drop. this egg, wrapped in cotton balls, straws and bubble wrap and outfitted with a parachute, is about to get launched. and survive.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

happy women's equality day

from the writer's almanac:

It was one this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was declared in effect. After the Congress passed the amendment, it had to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures. The state that tipped the balance was Tennessee, and the man who cast the deciding vote was the 24-year-old representative Harry Burn, the youngest man in the state legislature that year. Before the vote, he happened to read his mail, and one of the letters he received was from his mother. It said, "I have been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet. ... Don't forget to be a good boy and ... vote for suffrage."

as a child in the 1970s, it amazed me to learn that it had been such a short time, that the history of this country is, in general, so short, so young.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

we're here, we're queer...

we're going to the movies this weekend! not me, I'll be in flying to new york and then taking the train out to massachusetts, but if you're in new orleans, it's time to check out the annual queer film fest.

WHAT: Reel Identities LGBT New Orleans Film Festival
WHERE: Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts
Center at Tulane University's School of Architecture
WHEN: July 20-22
CONTACT: Danny Curtis,

The Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans is excited to
announce REEL IDENTITIES, its fourth Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Film Festival.

After a festival that exceeded expectations in 2005, Reel Identities
went on hiatus in 2006 due to Hurricane Katrina, and instead held
individual screenings and curated the film portion of the DecaFest gay
arts festival in August. Now Reel Identities is back with three days
of programming July 20-22 in the space used by Zeitgeist
Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center at Tulane University's School of

Opening night features include "A Four-Letter Word," a romantic comedy
by director Casper Andreas in which main character Luke ultimately
realizes that being true to one's self may be the best way to deal
with the many complications of a four-letter word called love.

Also on opening night will be "Itty Bitty Titty Committee," a new
comedy by Jamie Babbit, who directed "But I'm a Cheerleader." In "Itty
Bitty," Anna, who lives at home and works in a plastic surgeon's
office, falls in with a haphazard group of dyke activists in a classic
girl-becomes-woman tale. Daniela Sea (the L Word), Jenny Shimizu and
Guinivere Turner star.

On the lineup and of lesbian interest: "The Gymnast" features love
blooming during practice for a circus aerial routine. For some
lesbian herstory, check out the double feature "BD Women" and Barbara
Hammer's "The Female Closet." For a New York modern comedy of manners,
we have "Puccini for Beginners," by Maria Maggenti. And a gender double feature of "Black and White," a portrait of an intersex person, and "Boy I Am," a portrait of transitioning FTMs balanced with feminist analysis of the phenomenon.

For the guys: On Saturday, we have a high-school gay boy comedy, "Fat Girls," by Ash Christian, and a fabulous documentary by Gene Graham, "The Godfather
of Disco" (fabulous soundtrack). Finishing up the festival Sunday
night is the double feature of the short film "Arie," about a professional dancer and his unrequited love for a choreographer, and a feature "The Bubble," by the director of "Yossi & Jagger" and "Walk on Water." It's the story of a gay Israeli who falls in love with a Palestinian.

Reel Identities is supported in part by a grant from the Louisiana
Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of
Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana
State Arts Council, administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


we've been back in town for over a week, dealing with the dreaded unpacking process in the (wonderful) new house, and now in the grips of the dreaded summer cold. in another week's time, we'll be up north, headed for summer camp. I'm looking forward to it, but it's complicated now, my feelings about leaving town, about being able to say "good luck!" to the rest of the city and take off for a month.

much of the time that I'm physically here, though, escapism dominates my lifestyle. for example, I'm kind of living for friday night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

did you know?

chris rose can really write.

meanwhile, I'm out in the seattle area, taking a break and finally, after a week of being away from home, feeling rested and well and ready for new things.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

sick days are made of this

since we were all feeling somewhat crappy yesterday, liam helped me with this goofy exercise in self-absorption. it's pretty fun to make your little cartoon self bounce on a pogo stick or pull the sword from the stone...

this one is actually close to realistic - although all meez people are extra skinny.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

jazz fest: opening day

april2007 006
Originally uploaded by khollean.
and the kid's area was so shiny and new. bright, bright, bright.
may day

from the writer's almanac:
Today is May Day, a day on which you should wash your face with morning dew to keep yourself looking young and beautiful. You should also gather wildflowers and green branches, make some floral garlands, and set up a Maypole to dance around.

sure! sometime a few weeks ago, I was thinking about how maybe for may day the kids and I would make may baskets for our neighbors and creep around the neighborhood at dawn, setting out treats... well, maybe next year.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

well, are you?

have you seen this - the "are you the movement" video from the league of young voters/league of pissed off voters?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

dog day afternoon

"The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive."
~Thich Nhat Hanh

that would feel pretty miraculous, eh? I catch it sometimes, sometimes, but it's fleeting. I'm working on it.

my old dog Althea died yesterday afternoon. I knew her for thirteen years and two weeks, starting when she was an extremely energetic 10 month old labrador pup, always jumping up on everyone, and serving as a big ball of chaos in the house where we were living, snatching food from the unsuspecting, leaping onto laps in spite of her 70+ pound size, clearing the coffee table of drinks in seconds with her frenzied tail-wagging and, if she got the chance, diving headfirst into the garbage can or litter box. I'm remembering how we used to have to throw a ball far, as far as we could, to distract her long enough for us to get out of the yard and shut the gate again without her bounding down the street after us. she was a wild thing, and a royal pain in my ass, but very, very loving.

she began actively ailing this winter, and when her decline turned dramatic this week, we knew it was time to let her go.

it's a first for me - to make a life or death decision for someone else. it feels very strange. I know it was the right thing to do, but knowing that doesn't take the strangeness away.

and I feel like my young dog is looking at me each time I come into the house now, like aren't you forgetting something? when is my cranky old auntie coming home? but, you know, I could be projecting.

I also think that one reason that I have dogs, that I want to always have a dog in my life, is because they live in the present, and they pull me, at least for some of each day, into the present with them. my puppy reminds me to go outside and get some fresh air, to drink water, to hug somebody. this mixed up, sappy curmudgeon needs that.

anyway, I think we're going to have something like a wake for Althea. a celebration of her life, and of dogs in general. a Dog Day Afternoon.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

whispering in my ear this morning

"[I]f I had to make a general rule for living and working with children, it might be this: be wary of saying or doing anything to a child that you would not do to another adult, whose good opinion and affection you valued."
John Holt

Friday, March 02, 2007

les enfants

mardigras07 051
Originally uploaded by khollean.

mardi gras 2007 in review, part two: les enfants du nod rolling through the bywater


mardigras07 031
Originally uploaded by khollean.

mardi gras 2007 in review, part one: NOMTOC in Algiers

Thursday, January 25, 2007

the most abject treachery

"So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery."
Virginia Woolf

it's her birthday, today.

and the sun is out, if only for a few hours. I've swept and vacuumed and wiped things down and opened the one window that opens in this house. I love it grey and cold, but it does get stuffy in here.

Friday, January 19, 2007

rebel yell

Liam, just now:
coleen, don't trust PBS kids! don't read to your child fifteen minutes a day. read to your child whenever you want, for however long you want, whatever you want to do! don't trust that thing!

what's good

december06 050
Originally uploaded by khollean.

remember that lou reed song? from a wim wenders soundtrack, early 90s...
anyway. this, my new mug, a winter solstice gift from Nash, is one thing that's good.

Friday, January 05, 2007

sad stunned sick

Helen Hill was shot and killed in her home yesterday morning.
details from a news story

I only barely knew her, was excited and happy to be getting to know her and her family. Helen touched a lot of lives; I am just one of the shocked and crushed here.