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Re: <nettime> A Movement Without Demands?
Greg on Fri, 6 Jan 2012 14:51:55 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> A Movement Without Demands?

This is my first contribution on nettime, I believe. I have enjoyed the discussions recently especially your thoughtful analyses, Brian, and have a story to share and a question. My apologies for any lack of cogency. I am writing this well after my bed time.

To begin, I teach in rural Idaho. The University of Idaho in Moscow caters primarily to students in the state, many of whom come, literally, off the farm. They represent a wide socio-economic range but most, I feel, come from what I guess we would call 'lower middle class'. the art and design department is small program in a smaller school, so we spend many hours advising and socializing with our students. It is both the greatest pleasure and the bane of working here. 

Two years ago, I began to have a slew of students who visited my office to explain the difficulties in their lives and to ask for solutions. Some were the typical excuses but many were heartbreaking stories of family struggles. Recently, more students have come to visit me and tell me what is happening in their lives, in their families. I had a student this past semester who missed significant class time because of foreclosure of her family home and another who took on a second job to pay for medical bills (ironically the extra work exacerbated her condition). these discussions were eye-opening for me and I was not ignorant of these types of difficulties. Just the number and the impact was made very real. regardless, we often don't see rural areas reflected in media even locally.

I teach a New Media Theory class and one day,as the conversation shifted, I found myself discussing changes in labor since the 1990s and the precariat. My students know I am left-leaning but this is a very red state so I braced for backlash. what I got instead was a very engaged class that wanted to talk about the Occupy movement. The conversation eventually spilled out into the hall after class and continued for another 50 minutes with a healthy number of students trying to figure out how OWS could be more relevant to their context.

As usual, I didn't have answers for them and I instead found great pleasure in this moment just listening to them. Brian, I think the Marcusian moment is here. We can lead, I suppose, but our roles might be better as intellectual, emotional, and political support. 

Tangentially, I am very interested in parallel systems. I think credit unions, for instance, can be parallel. Community sponsored agriculture is parallel. Brian, it seems like the underlying message is, more than education, what we are really ripe for now is the development of small scale but interconnected parallel projects. alternative systems in every facet of our lives. Can I join your discussion from a distance? Or at least 'eavesdrop'?

Gregory Turner-Rahman

Associate Professor
Art + Design
College of Art and Architecture
University of Idaho

On Jan 5, 2012, at 4:03 PM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

> This text is at once challenging and generous: it seeks the core of unfulfilled possibility in every limitation it critiques. Thanks for that.

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