Building Stronger Communities: Transformative Justice and Radical Mental Health

March 26, 2011
Come to this amazing event by AORTA and the Icarus Project who are both on tour from the Bay Area.  Break the Silence will be there to support, learn, and participate!  Also, I’d like to echo the note on accessibility below, please try to come fragrance-free!  There’s a lot that those of us who identify as able bodied do without realizing that make spaces and events inaccessible for community members with chemical sensitivities and other conditions.  Thanks.
Hope to see you there!
Building Stronger Communities: Transformative Justice and Radical Mental Health
Tuesday April 5, 2011, 6-9pm
Cascade People’s Center (309 Pontius Ave N Seattle, WA 98109)
Sliding Scale: $5-20, no one turned away for lack of funds
Light Refreshments will be provided

What is Radical Mental Health, and what does it have to offer to Transformative Justice? This workshop will examine the fundamentals of Radical Mental Health and Transformative Justice and look at how they interact and overlap. We will talk about how we can strengthen our commitment to and work for social justice by deepening our understandings of these intersections. We will share frameworks, strategies, and resources for: self care, recognizing trauma, accessing resources, navigating a crisis situation, and building community support systems.

The Facilitators for this event are Kiran Nigam from AORTA and Jacks Ashley McNamara from the Icarus Project.

*AORTA is a collective of trainers
devoted to strengthening movements for social justice and a solidarity economy. We work as consultants and facilitators to expand the capacity of cooperative, collective, and community based projects through education, training and planning.  We base our trainings on an intersectional approach to liberation because we believe that true change requires uprooting all systems of oppression.

*The Icarus Project envisions a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences of ‘mental illness’ rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We are a network of people living with and/or affected by experiences that are commonly diagnosed and labeled as psychiatric conditions. We believe these experiences are mad gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.”–

This event is sponsored by:
The Capacity Project The Capacity Project works at the intersection of personal and social transformation to build the capacity and sustainability of individuals, collectives, and organizations doing social movement work. We do this by offering individual and group-based politicized healing work, political education/consciousness raising workshops, and Transformative Justice education/organizing.
For Crying Out Loud a group dedicated to preventing, addressing, and talking about sexual assault and aggressor accountability in an anti-authoritarian setting.
Break the SilenceBreak the Silence is a Seattle University group who believes that through creativity, education, and collective action we can fight against sexualized violence. By exploring the ways that personal experiences are linked to larger forms of oppression, we can transform our communities to embrace consent and be sex positive.
Tadaima – Tadaima is a radical Japanese American Community that redefines our connection to each other and our homelands, wherever they may be.

This space is wheel-chair accessible. We are hoping to make this event fragrance-free by asking folks to not wear perfumes, colognes or other scented products (including essential oils) and smoke far away from the entrance to the space. For more information on being fragrance-free, visit:

Directions from I-5 North or South: Exit 167 (Mercer St) off I-5, left onto Fairview Ave N, left at second light onto Harrison St, two blocks, right onto Pontius Ave N. We are adjacent to Cascade Park and the P-Patch, across the street from Immanuel Lutheran Church. Very close to King County Metro bus lines 8, 17, 25, 66, 70, SoundTransit 510, 511 and 545, and the South Lake Union Streetcar..

Questions? Concerns? Contact: or


Repost: Trigger Warnings

March 10, 2011

Happy Thursday all! On our blog and in our literature we always try to  include a trigger warning if we feel it’s necessary. I came across this great post on why trigger warnings are important and how to phrase them.

I would like to talk with ya’ll about trigger warnings.

First off, what is a trigger warning, anyway?

A trigger warning usually consists of bold, capitalized, or linked text describing in a broad way what text follows it. It can be in the form of a cut, or simply the title of the text in question, warning readers what kind of triggers can be found there.

What are triggers, though?

Triggers are things that cause a strong, heavy emotional response in a person. These usually occur after something traumatic has happened to them.

Triggering material has the potential to remind a person of a traumatic event.

So it hurts their feelings, so what?

No. It didn’t hurt their feelings. Some of the things that may happen whilst a person is triggered include anxiety, tears, flashbacks, body memories, anger, insomia, and the various symptoms that go with each condition. Reminding a person of a traumatic event in their life has potential to cause this.

Being triggered can be debilitating.

Ok, so what kinds of things can trigger people?

This can be a little difficult, because there are certain triggers that are obvious and certain ones that are not.

Triggering material includes, but is not limited to:

-Sexual assault. Anything that describes it in a more detailed manner than the words ‘sexual assault’ do, should probably be put under a trigger warning.

Abuse. This includes verbal, mental, physical, and sexual. Triggers for abuse can be described in a warning in a variety of helpful ways. “Triggers for child sexual abuse,” “Trigger warning, domestic violence,” or “Trigger warning: police physical and verbal abuse,” are several acceptable trigger warnings.

Self-harm. Those who have self-injured in the past need not view material related to it if it will upset them, or incite a relapse of behavior they have chosen not to continue.

Eating disorders: Those how have experienced disordered eating in the past count too. This includes anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, and binge-eating disorder. You can include the particular disorder, if necessary, in the trigger warning.

Suicide. Descriptions of suicide can be very triggering to those who have lost loved ones to suicide, or to those who have attempted before.

Trans and homophobic violence. Trans and queer people can be triggered as well by descriptions and images of homo/transphobic violence, descriptions of body dysphoria, and general intolerance towards them. It’s something they’ve encountered often, sometimes their whole lives, so consider it please.

Addiction and alcoholism can be triggers for abuse survivors, and former addicts as well.

Images can be triggering as well; take note of this. Images that denote violence (i.e. blood, gore, people who have obviously been abused), images of self-harm, thinspo, etc. can be very destructive.

Okay, I want to avoid this, but how do I do it?

Trigger warnings can help you post the content you desire, and still give people the option of seeing it or not, based on what it is.

You can put triggering material behind a cut, with a text warning above stating what is under it. (This is very good for triggering images)

You can put a trigger warning in the title of your piece, giving others the option of scrolling past it if they desire. Make sure it precedes the actual title, or is at least in caps or something bold and visible.

You can add a trigger warning at the top of a block of text. Again, make it big and bold so others can’t miss it.

Another great thing you can do is add trigger warnings to posts you didn’t create, but you feel should probably have one.

It can be difficult to forsee every trigger out there, or be sure how to describe triggering content in a safe, not-too-detailed way. If you aren’t sure about it, add a trigger warning.

Repost: How Can Hip Hop Save the World? Lessons from a Seattle Youth Service Scandal

March 9, 2011

Original Post at Julie C’s Blog of Dope

On March 3rd, I was invited to speak at an intimate panel at Seattle University called “How Can Hip Hop Save the World?” The gathering, brought together by SU’s Mary Pauline Diaz, featured Mako Fitts, Ready C from my crew Alpha P, and myself, as well as about 10 student participants. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was inspired by the topic, ensuing conversation, and current events to write this article up.

Before addressing how Hip Hop can save the world, you first have to determine whether it can, and what “Hip Hop” means to begin with. Now although we could debate cultural memory, nommo, and collective experience all day, the truth is that the only thing that brings most of us together under the umbrella of “Hip Hop” is that we, as artists, engage in the artistic practices deemed by Afrika Bambaataa to be the elements of Hip Hop: bboy/girling, emceeing, graffiti, Djing, beat-making, etc. Of course cultural production in Hip Hop is not just limited to that, it also includes secondary extensions of this. For example, independent media/websites/shows such as Seaspot, Flava News, Coolout Network, Untappedmuzik, All Power to the Positive, Seattle Hip Hop Street Fights, Street Sounds, Boombox FM, She Ready Radio, and Zulu Radio are included here as well as bloggers like those at Raindrophustla, Chul Gugich from 206up, Hugh from, and Miss Casey Carter, writers like Marian Liu and Jonathan Cunningham, even online forum mafiosos like the habitue of 206Proof are Hip Hop cultural producers. Promoters/venues/functions are also hugely important to Hip Hop cultural production (think Dope Emporium, UmojaFest, Obese Productions, an institution like Stop Biting at Lofi (shouts to Introcut), or Ladies First, formally at Hidmo, etc.) Extending even farther out, we can include fashion (think Mint Factory Clothing or CrisisNW Gear), photography (like Ruf Top Productions, and Jennifer Mary), and a plethora of others. Through this lens, Hip Hop CREATES communities around these artistic practices and acts of cultural production. The question then shifts from “Can Hip Hop save the world?” to “Can communities save the world?” and of course, the answer here is yes. But what role does Hip Hop have in this?

As an artist, and like a lot of artists and cultural producers out here in the Northwest Hip Hop scene, I believe in community accountability to the youth. We do not just understand and create art about issues of gentrification, poverty/job creation, educational reform, healthcare, and youth violence prevention, we organize and mobilize for positive changes within our spheres of influence around these issues, for their benefit. I’ve worked with organizations who turn crack houses into community centers and throw Hip Hop Leadership Conferences (Seattle Hip Hop Youth Council & Umojafest P.E.A.C.E. Center), organizations who connect artists with schools, play cafeterias and gymnasiums, and organize city-wide Youth Summits (206 Zulu), collectives who throw multi-day free all-ages Hip Hop festivals with youth showcases (Dope Emporium), business owners who turn their restaurants into activists hubs and performance spaces, who launch community empowerment projects (Hidmo), and I’ve been blessed to connect with other collectives, organizations, and crews in cities across the country who share the same priorities and mission in this work. (Shouts to DeBug in San Jose, W.I.T in Kentucky, J.U.I.C.E and GorillaMic in Los Angeles, IMAN & Coalition to Protect Public Housing in Chicago, B Girl Be in Minneapolis, W.E.A.P in Oakland, and all trues in the PPEHRC, UZN, HHC networks). There’s power in this groundswell.

Through my travels, connecting with “Hip Hop” communities across the country, I’ve also learned that the national policies and initiatives enacted locally on a state, county, & city level have created common struggles & challenges for us. Broadening our perspective on these issues to include the struggles of communities outside our scene allows us to see how these issues manifest in different cities, and facilitates better understanding on how we can enact change in Seattle.

Read the rest here: