Archive for the 'Blog' Category

The Action Camp

This is the second video subMedia.tv has produced about the struggle to stop a natural gas transport project called the Pacific Trails Pipeline or PTP. The Unis’tot’en, a clan of the Wet’suet’en Nation have built a protection camp to bock PTP, in so called British Columbia in Canada. This is the third time the Unis’tot’en have called for a convergence in their territories.

This year’s camp attracted over 150 people who came from as far east as Montreal and as far south as Florida. The camp organizers opted not to tap large environmental ngo’s for material support, and instead reached out to grassroots, community based allies.

Out of the proposed pipeline projects that would cross through Unis’tot’en land, Pacific Trails is the first one slated to begin construction and poses and immediate threat. The PTP project is partnership between Apache Canada, Encana and EOG Resources formerly Enron Oil and Gas. The 463-kilometer PTP pipeline would connect a liquified natural gas port in the pacific ocean to the Spectra Energy Westcoast Pipeline in North East BC, with the aim of transporting gas extracted through fracking, to overseas markets.

The much talked about Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Fort McMurray, an extraction project that is devastating the nature and indigenous communities in the Athabasca region of Northern Alberta. The Enbridge pipeline would be built side by side to the PTP.

These dirty energy schemes not only threaten nature and indigenous communities in the north. They also have global implications. If decisive action is not taken to stop the flows of oil and gas, the effects of global climate change could be catastrophic for people, plants and animals the world over. This is why Indigenous people and their allies traveled from far away to this camp. Our next report will focus on the student strike in Quebec and how it evolved into a social movement. To help make this happen click here to make a donation.
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Oil Choke Point

After thousands of kilometres on airplanes, boats, trains, buses, cars, bikes and boots, I’ve made it back in one piece to where I started in Vancouver. Well sort off. I touched down on Monday night with just a few days to get my shit together and start driving north. I’m joining hundreds of people who will be camping in the traditional lands of the Unis’tot’en clan, an indigenous community that has been actively resisting oil and gas pipelines from going through their territory. This will be my second time coming to this camp, and you can watch my video report about it here.

This year’s camp is going to be bigger, which is a good thing, since the illegitimate government of British Columbia approved an increase in size for the Pacific Trails Pipeline or PTP. Without getting into too much detail, the PTP is the first of a number of pipelines being built that would bring fossil fuels to the pacific ocean and would cross through several lands that were never surrendered to Canada. You can read a good explanation of the different pipeline projects in BC here.

Why should the pipelines be stopped? For starters the oil and gas they would be transporting comes from unconventional sources, meaning dirty and destructive. The gas is being extracted using a controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The oil is coming from Alberta’s tar sands development, an enterprise that has been called the most destructive project in human history. To learn more about these earth destroying practices watch Gasland and H2Oil.

The pipelines would also cross many rivers and streams that are essential to the survival of the already precarious salmon populations of this region. One spill or rupture could be devastating to these sensitive eco-systems. Once it reaches the coast. the oil and gas would be loaded into large tankers in Kitimat, and shipped to asian markets. The waterways these massive ships would have to traverse are extremely dangerous, almost guaranteeing an accident in the scale of the Exxon/Valdez disaster and causing devastating ecological damages. On a global scale, the emissions generated by the burning of these fossil fuels would further exacerbate the already disastrous condition of the planetary climate.

Those of you who are familiar with these issues already know that the governments and corporations, who benefit from these projects will not do the right thing and call them off. You also know that the big enviro-NGO’s are not interested in full shutdowns of these projects, but are more interested in reaching minor compromises with these corporations, and claim false victories to brighten their profiles. You also know that the only way to stop these nature wrecking schemes is through active resistance.

This is what this camp is all about. Today I will arrive to produce a video report, give a workshop on video production and help out in any way that’s needed. If you can help support this report, click on this link or on the chipin widget below. I’ve included my latest report on the situation in Greece above this blog.

Fear and Loathing in Athens

Greetings from Greece, land of privatization, fascist parliamentarians and immigrant round ups. Also the land of some of the most inspiring and brave people I’ve met during the END:CIV tour. I’m currently producing a report from here and I need your support. Please click here to learn how.
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The situation Greece is so complex it’s a bit hard to unpack or figure out what to focus on. I came here to screen my film but also to produce a mini-doc on self organized neighborhood assemblies. Many of these assemblies were organized following the protest occupation of Syntagma square on May of last year. You could say it was Greece’s version of Occupy, before Occupy. The purpose of these assemblies is to not only strengthen political bases in localities, but to take care of practical stuff like food health care and self-defense. Some are older than the Syntagma occupation, like the assembly in the neighbourhood of Petralona. One of the persons I interviewed told me that they foresaw the economic meltdown and decided to organize in the style of their Argentinian counterparts.

Continue reading ‘Fear and Loathing in Athens’

Fuck giving up

Feels like Aotearoa (New Zealand) was years ago and literally thousands of miles away. The European leg of the tour has been a whirlwind tour with 30 screenings in 60 days and 3 more to go.

I’m in Athens right now and I feel a bit like Hunter S. Thompson during a scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ll tell you more about that after I leave Greece. So far the experience here has been incredibly inspiring, and I already feel like I don’t want to leave. I’ll be producing a report on neighborhood assemblies, but more on that next week. I do need some financial support to make this happen, so if you have a few bucks click on the chipin box.

In England, the burning question of a lot people I met was weather the new anti-squatting law is going to take hold immediately, or if squatters are going to have some time to sort out their strategies: fight or flight.

The idea of squatting has really blown my mind. The people occupying these spaces have taken a huge financial burden of their backs (rent) and can dedicate more time to resistance projects and community building. For the first time in my 40 years on this planet I got to stay in a squatted building in Sydney, and since then have visited or slept in about a dozen liberated spaces.

The most standout of these is Grow Heathrow. Folks from the climate camp movement, occupied an abandoned food market turned in the village of Sipson. You see, Heathrow Airport needed to add a third runway, and in order to do so they had to evict and demolish the village.

The folks from Grow Heathrow have rehabilitated the land, from an illegal junkyard to a sustainable community that is off the grid and the grows much of its food. The people in Sipson absolutely love the project. Not only did it help stop the airport expansion, but because it has helped reduce crime and has turned a contaminated eyesore into a vision of how we can transition to a post-carbon world.

Many of the troublemakers who took on this project, went to Copenhagen to the COP15 meetings and were arrested and/or brutalized by the Danish police. For many the COP15 was the last chance for governments and corporations, to make a binding agreement on carbon emissions before climate change tipping points delivered us into an apocalyptic future. As we all know the talks failed to deliver, and you saw the likes of George Monbiot throwing in the towel.

But these activists, the people who have broken the law time and time again to raise the alarm about climate catastrophe, did not call it quits and have instead escalated their actions. Their exploits are beautifully documented in Emily Jame’s Just Do it! film, a must watch. Stay tuned for an interview with Emily on my show.

I also stayed with some activists in Düren, Germany who are occupying a forest top stop the expansion of a massive lignite mine. This August they are continuing the tradition of Climate Camp, with one of their own.

Yep, I’ve been inspired by most of the people I’ve met. But then a dark mountain got in the way of the ray of hope I had been feeling. I was invited to speak and screen END:CIV at an event organized by a group called The Dark Mountain Project (DMP). The DMP was co-founded by Paul Kingsnorth, as “a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself..” But the short of it, is that Kingsnorth does not see any realistic solutions to stopping runaway climate change, and has basically given up and encourages people to write or make art about dealing with this reality.

I have a lot of respect for Kingsnorth for having the courage to admit this publicly. Very few people would admit the despair that comes from the knowledge that we may be totally fucked, or even expose their vulnerabilities online. I feel this despair on a regular basis, but I disagree that the way forward is to retreat. I must admit I did not know about Dark Mountain’s position before I arrived at Wiston Lodge, where the weekend retreat was taking place.

The opening sessions was led by Kingsnorth himself. Several times throughout his talk, he referred to the “Derrick Jensen” crowd in a dismissive and condescending matter. Kingsnorth is obviously a smart guy, but he has to own up with how problematic generalizations are, and that the “Jensen crowd”, meaning people who espouse an anti-civ philosophy and support those who are willing to fight or support those who fight, is much bigger than Derrick Jensen himself. The thought going through my mind was “Fuck, I’ve been set up!” But during the Q and A I respectfully called him out and invited the crowd to consider these ideas during my talk and film showing.

What’s interesting is that the DMP website reads just like Endgame. For instance, “We aim to offer up a challenge to the foundations of our civilization.” and “Draw back the curtain, follow the tireless motion of cogs and wheels back to its source, and you will find the engine driving our civilisation: the myth of progress.”

But as it’s typical of privileged people, when you bring up active resistance, they conflate it with violence. When you bring up the fact that the only thing that’s going to avert climate catastrophe is the destruction of the oil economy, they call you a mass murderer. Let me unpack this a bit.

The organizers opted to do a Q and A with me after showing a few clips of the the END:CIV before the full screening of the film. I know it’s totally backwards but somehow I agreed with it. During the session, I stated that the destruction of the oil economy is indispensable to bringing us to zero carbon emissions, and no amount of letter writing and picketing was going to stop the gears of extraction and combustion, we need to do this by force.

At this moment, an older gentleman began a relentless attack. Paraphrasing… “Do you see how complicit you are in all of this? I mean you use a laptop and you flew here!” and “You are using the language of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik?” This man was talking about the man who murdered 93 people in the name of white supremacy. According to him, Breivik justified his murders in order to stop further ethnic violence in Europe. This statement was followed by an angry tirade about how if the oil stopped flowing, many people will face hunger. I certainly never advocated that I wish people to go hungry or to die. But people like the man attacking me would rather see his way of life extended for a generation or two, than destroy the system that extends him his cushy digs. But what then is the solution to stopping carbon emissions in time to avert tipping points that will bring us into climate Armageddon? Does he see the reality of tar sands, shale and fracking extractive practices slowing fossil fuel production and burning down? Does he see the governments of the first world acting decisively against this looming catastrophe? Well of course he doesn’t, because as it turns out, the man in question is on the “Sustainability Board” of a mining company. Enough said.

During Kingsnorth’s Q and A session he replied to me, that the problem he sees with “the Jensen crowd” is that he finds the ideas to be dangerous. But what is more dangerous I ask: To support of active resistance, or to promote this idea that it’s too late?

In all honesty, I find it somewhat insulting to those who are actively trying to stop this insane system. Should the Wet’suet’en and Gitxsan communities actively opposing tar sands pipelines going through their territories give up? What about indigenous communities in Bolivia halting a super highway project through the Amazonian jungle? Or MEND in Nigeria, who actively attack oil infrastructure to stop Shell and others from destroying their wetlands? Should they give up too?

During an interview for END:CIV, Waziyatawin told me and I paraphrase, that we can’t be patient and wait for this system to collapse that we have to give it a push, hence her expression “Fuck Patience“, I want to add to that and say fuck giving up!

END:CIV European tour now booking screenings for April, May and June.

To book a screening email endciv [AT] submedia.tv

Having attended over 120 screenings in America, Mexico, Canada, Australia and Japan, Franklin López will continue his world tour in the Europe this April his film END:CIV.

END:CIV illustrates the brutality of a civilization addicted to  systematic violence and environmental destruction, and the heroism of those who confront it head-on.

Through rapid-fire video-game graphics, interviews, war footage and satire END:CIV mocks the excesses of the global economic system, and examines the necessity for effective resistance.

As Europe is beginning to experience more frequent environmental crises resulting from climate change and a history of poor environmental management this film will be instrumental in bringing awareness of the need to confront the system which allows this destruction to continue.

After the screening Franklin will answer questions relating to the film and ask those present to consider what action they are prepared to take to save the landbase they rely on to survive.

An award-winning filmmaker, Franklin López hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the founder of subMedia.tv a subversive video website that features anarchist films, mash-ups and his show “It’s the End of the World as we know it and I feel fine

“By far, the most routinely-praised contemporary media activist is Franklin López. His shows and films not only possess a distinctive look and feel, but they also contain a wicked sense of humor …  López’s work engages in constructing a new vision where popular culture serves the interests of the poor and dispossessed, where humor is reignited within activism, and the D.I.Y. ethics of punk and hip-hop allow those with talent and gumption to be the media, once again.” – Chris Robé, Pop Matters

Proposed Dates:

• London April 3,4,6,7
• Heathrow (Booked)
• Cambridge April 8-9
• Oxford April 10-11
• Bristol – (Booked)
• Hereford April 14-15
• NewCastle (Booked)
• Edinburgh April 19-21
• Glasgow April 22-25
• St. Andrews April 25 – 27
• Paris May 2,3,6,7
• Zaandam (Booked)
• Amsterdam May 12-13
• Hamburg May 15-17
• Copenhagen May 18-20
• Berlin May 22-26
• Czech Republic – May 27-30
• Budapest – May 31- June 2
• Athens June 2-15
• Barcelona – June 16-30

Kangaroos against civilization

I’ve been in Australia now for a little bit over a month touring with my film END:CIV, and my brain is full. I’ve learned so much in my short amount of time here, that it goes to show how lived experience can pack in more education than books ever will.

On my second week here, I took part in the 40th celebration of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, the capital of Australia. The short story is that four aboriginal activists set up an beach umbrella in front of the parliament building, to protest the government’s refusal to acknowledge aboriginal sovereignty. Forty years later, and the embassy (which is now a small structure) and the sacred fire are still there. The anniversary celebration was timed to coincide with “Australia Day” or more appropriately “Invasion Day”  or the day Captain Cook arrived in the land down under and unleashed the 200 year plus wave of violence against aboriginal people and the natural environment here. You see, the British didn’t consider the aborigines to be people, they considered them part of the fauna and declared Australia “Terra Nullius” or empty land. You can watch an interview I did with aboriginal activist Robbie Thorpe speaking about the embassy here.

According to some scientists, aboriginal people have been inhabiting the Australian continent for 40,000 years, although new evidence suggests that they may have been here for over 120,000 years. Regardless, aboriginal land management practices were sustainable, but with the arrival of civilization, deforestation, game farming, agriculture, cities and mining have destroyed many ecosystems. Extractive industries are the darlings of the Australian government, or more accurately, they run Australia, so unless a serious culture of resistance is organized here, these mechanisms will continue to gobble up the continent’s natural “resources.”

END:CIV has been extremely well received here. At the screening in Adelaide, long time anti-mining activist, Uncle Kevin Buzzacutt said the film had fired him up and gave him more energy to continue fighting. Uncle Kevin belongs to the Arabunna Nation and has been working to shut down the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, which extracts copper and uranium. Even though the mine is not in Arabunna territory, BHP Billiton, the owner of the operation, extracts over 35 million litres of water a day from Uncle Kevin’s people’s land.

Yep, the Olympic dam mine is in the desert, and I went to visit the area to shoot video for the next dispatch of “Stop the Flows.” Uncle Kevin’s nephew, Peter Watts was kind enough to guide us through the outback and show us the water sources that are being depleted. The Australian bush is gorgeous. Even at 44 degree temperatures (around 112 Fahrenheit) plants and animals abound in this arid landscape. I saw kangaroos, emus, dingos, crows, lizards and magpies. Peter also treated us to several types of “bush tucker” (food) that grows wild in South Australia. As you can imagine water is in short supply, and the desert can’t sustain both a mine and it’s local inhabitants. In other words the mine has to go.

The mine itself is massive. The first two nights we camped in its vicinity, and the glow from it’s floodlights lit up the sky all night long. We bought tickets to the tour of the mine and were told that video and photos were prohibited. But we were able to record the entire spectacle using a hidden mobile phone video camera. As expected, the tour guide told us of BHP’s commitment to the environment and to safety, but when asked if he knew that uranium from their mine was used to fuel the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, he claimed ignorance. The fact is that it’s true. It was also revealed that BHP pays nothing for the water it uses to operate the mine. To make matters worst, the Australian government recently approved the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine and if not stopped it will become the largest open pit mine in the world. Expect a full video report in the next few weeks. I’m still raising funds to help pay for this report, so if you have a few bucks to spare, click here.

While I’ve been traveling, emails have been piling up in my inbox asking me about the ant-black bloc column by Chris Hedges entitled: “The Cancer of Occupy.” People want to know what I think since I’ve been staunch supporter of the tactic, but also because Derrick Jensen is quoted in the article. I will not write a full retort, because aside from being about two weeks too late, there’s been plenty of thoughtful responses that I can get behind, mainly David Graeber’s “Concerning the violent peace-police: an open letter to Chris Hedges.” But I’ll throw a few thoughts in for good measure.

I’ve rarely experienced the collective solidarity that I witnessed in Toronto during the anti-G20 “Get off the Fence” march. The black bloc in that march thwarted a 1 billion dollar security apparatus and smashed up the financial district and shopping districts of a major north American city. Proving that even under the watchful eye of the state, extraordinary actions can be accomplished and shattering the myth that the police are unbeatable.

Furthermore, if you take a look at Egypt’s Ultras, they were instrumental in the street fighting that eventually forced Hosni Mubarak to resign. The Ultras are soccer hooligans who cut their teeth fighting the cops after matches during Mubarak’s reign. How else is someone to gain experience engaging security personnel, blockading roads and disabling infrastructure? People who engage in black bloc tactics get “on the job training” and learn decentralized organization, working within affinity groups, security culture, de-arresting comrades and counter surveillance among other things. Have black bloc tactics brought down civilization? Certainly not. But they have been useful tools for propaganda, morale raising and promoting militancy, as well as the things I mentioned above.

What I do agree with is Jensen’s assertion that our movements should be strategic about how and when tactics are used. Having a long term goal informs how we deploy tactics and helps us prioritize the risks we take. If our actions increase the risk of getting comrades jailed, it better be worth it, otherwise we are simply sacrificing people and community resources to actions that don’t make a dent in the infrastructure of civilization.

Finally, I find it hard to swallow that many people are willing to write off Jensen completely, because they don’t agree with his stance on the black bloc. That is simply intellectual laziness and political purism. Of course we are not going to agree with everything a person says or writes, as I know many people who view my videos don’t agree with all my opinions. But many have chosen this as opportunity to attack and attempt to discredit one of the best and bravest writers we have, and I’m not talking about Hedges. Like I said a few years ago of Naomi Klein, just because she said some things I found problematic in Copenhagen and in Toronto, doesn’t make “No Logo” or “The Shock Doctrine” invalid.

With that said, I’m off to Melbourne tomorrow, then on to Wollongong and concluding the Australian tour in Brisbane. Stay tuned for more angst from the road.

Amateur Riot

Dispatch #2 of Stop the Flows focuses on burgeoning anti-nuke movement in Japan, following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Truth be told I had larger plans for this dispatch. But with time and resources lacking, I could only scratch the surface of not just the anti-nuke movement, but of the anarchist and activist scene in Japan. So what you see here is nearly a glimpse into the world of the folks who will end nuclear power in Japan for good.
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Support Radical Media

Dear subMedia supporters,

It’s been a whirlwind of a year for me. I started touring with END:CIV almost a year ago so far I’ve personally shown it over 100 times. Yep, that’s more than 100 Q and A sessions in four countries and in four languages. I’ve traveled over 40,000 KM by foot, bike, boats, van, buses, jets and trains. Online views of END:CIV are close to 80,000 on multiple platforms and grassroots screenings keep popping up every month. So far I’ve posted 9 translations on the website with a few more in the coming weeks including Turkish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Indonesian. All in all I consider this 5 year project a success.

My newest project has the working title of Stop the Flows. Over the next five years I will document resistance movements that are working towards stopping the flows of hydro carbons, mineral extraction, natural resources and capital, through grassroots and underground organizing. I will publish the dispatches as I complete them with the goal of compiling them into a feature length documentary to be released on 2016.

The first dispatch took me to Central BC where Unis’toten nation are pre-empting the construction of 4 oil and gas pipelines through their traditional territories. You can watch that here. The next dispatch will focus on the growing opposition to an oil pipeline expansion right here where I live in Vancouver. In December I will compile the hours of interviews and footage I gathered while in Japan, for a dispatch spotlighting the growing grassroots anti-nuke movement. In January I hope to travel to Australia to continue touring and gathering material for Stop the Flows and ditto goes for Europe in the spring.

So this is my pitch and appeal for financial support. As you may or may not know, subMedia does no receive money from foundations, corporations or governments. This fact has kept our media truly independent and rogue, videos that don’t mince words or tap dance around the issues. I feel the this type of unfiltered media is crucial in these times, when we are witnessing increased suppression of dissent, but also the birth of a global revolutionary movement.

With that said, consider donating a few bucks to subMedia. The goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the year to push these projects through the winter.

Thanks again for supporting radical media!

frank

Small in Japan

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks in Japan. From the moment of my arrival I knew I was in for a ride. I was supposed to meet Narita. the lead organizer for the tour at Shijuku station. Unbeknown to me, Shijuku station is the biggest train station in Tokyo with an estimated 2 million people going through it every single fuckin day. Alas I did not find him, and had to figure out where the screening was. With no phone, and no a lick of knowledge of the Japanese language, it took me 30 minutes to find an internet cafe (bizarre fuckin place, but that’s another story). Long story long, I make to to Cafe Lavanderia, an anti-capitalist event space to find a packed room still watching END:CIV. The organizers had to add a second screening to accommodate the over 100 people who showed up. Jet lagged, tired, hungry and cranky, I have to gain my composure and take part on a panel discussion with Kanzen Jisatsu Manyuaru best selling author of “The Complete Manual on Suicide” (yeah that’s right) and Ill Commonz. Yeah, that was all within my first 2 hours in Tokyo.

What followed was 14 jammed packed days of screenings and interviews. No, I’m not big in Japan and the media doesn’t want to talk to me, I was conducting interviews for a report I’m preparing on the grassroots anti-nuclear movement here. What’s happening here is not dissimilar to the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon. People here are fed up with the lies, inaction, and misinformation coming from the nuclear industry and their servants in the Government.

Activism here is not seen in a positive light by society in general and during the 80′s and 90′s there was hardly any visible trace of dissent in this country, or so I’m told. Then came the Iraq war, and mass demonstrations broke the spell of Japanese politeness. Those where followed by anti-G8 protests in 2008. So far this year there have been large (10,000′s) anti-nuclear rallies, every month since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. At the centre of this movement is group of merry trouble makers called Amateur Riot. These folks are based in the neighbourhood of Koenji, and consist of 14 tiny shops that sell anything from used furniture and appliances, second hand clothes, to bars and restaurants. These shops have provided safe spaces for activist to organize their actions. But more on that on my video report.

One of my biggest surprises here, has been poverty. Yep, there’s poor people here. And homeless too! There’s also foreign day labourers that are sent to work inside the evacuation zone in Fukushima. Like Canada, Japan guards is reputation as a democratic techno utopia with great zeal. But the economy here is tanking and unemployment growing. Suicides rates are some of the highest in the industrialized world, with over 3,000 in May alone. If you find that your trusted and punctual public transport system is delayed, chances are high that someone jumped in front of a train.

Yep, I’m vomiting all of this onto the page (so to speak) because I still have much to process. But all in all, people here are great. The hospitality I’ve received has been unparalleled and people’s resilience is amazing, even with the spectre of radiation polluting half the island. The fighting spirit I’ve witnessed has renewed my optimism, and hope that my video report further informs North Americans and beyond about the growing movement here.

Tomorrow, I return to Vancouver to join the thousands who will occupy the Vancouver Art Gallery, and by extension the billions who make the 99%.

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PLAN B

My plan to go to Europe has been postponed indefinitely. Seems that that this chunk of Turtle Island that I call home has become North America’s largest exporter of fossil fuels. So I’m going to stick around here for the time being to help document and agitate, around the multiple proposed mega projects, that not only threaten the natural beauty of what settlers call British Columbia, but that would blast more carbon into the atmosphere.

So I’m switching gears and I’ve started a project with a working title of “Stop the Flows“.

I still plan to go to Europe and Australia next year and next week I head to Japan to screen END:CIV in half a dozen cities. The film project “The Resistance” is still on, but it may merge into “Stop the Flows” and look at resistance movements against extraction. We’ll see.

All for now, wish me luck in the land of the rising sun.