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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tuesday Questions

Post your questions (one for each of the assigned readings) for Felice before noon on Tuesday. Remember to include some context with your question to connect it directly to the language and points from the articles.

13 comments:

  1. -In the academic paper, which I thought was really well done in research and in writing, and in thought of practicing community development, one comment was made that I think is very intriguing. On page 7, it states, " " Community" tends to refer more to a "target group" of individuals (usually those economically marginalized) rather than to a geographic locality." I think this minor statement is important to think about in regards to our own project and our own neighborhood and communities. How do we define the community we are working with? I think some things that we and the locals around us tend to do is claim that we are a neighborhood or community, but I mean who are we really targeting at this point? Only people who are pushed to the side in regards to their financial standing? Because some people in the neighborhood and area that we have focused on are very stable financially, but we assume otherwise because of the "target group" we lump them in to. But then some of those people who are not marginalized care a lot and want to be active community members, and then some who are do not want to participate. So I think we need to discuss this and create some clarification, and at least just have it on our minds as we move forward.

    - I thought that this article was actually really insulting initially, and kind of ironic because it made me feel and think that the writer was going against the idea of feminism. She made a lot of comments that were really off putting and actually made me feel like she was playing into the stereotype of traditional gender roles more than supporting her friends who were doing their own thing. One claim that she made was, " femivorism is grounded in the very principle of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place." So a few questions. First of all, what the fuck is femivorism. Next question, why are you making a spin off of the word "feminism", when feminism is truly defined (or supposed to be, if that can even be a claim) as equality and mutual respect between men and woman, not one is better than the other. So why, in this modern day and age that is so progressive, do you need to label women who are just choosing to live what seems like a really comfortable and independent life with their families, not just themselves in the woods canning veggies, with such an aggressive word and take it out of context that makes it seem like women need to feel personally fulfilled by doing hands on hard work and almost proving themselves. She even connects this back with the reason that woman felt the need to be out in the workforce. She made it seem selfish, when I feel like it is just wanting to create a strong home environment for all people. Not all men, or all women, or all children but for families and the people who exist within those relationships. I am probably just not understanding her side of the argument right, I will admit that. I just really did not like the tone of her writing, and I felt like she was judging and analyzing things in a really odd way and I don't like labels so this article was really difficult for me to gel with.

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  2. 1) In an ABCD model of society, it is assumed that everyone would broaden and build off of each other's strengths to better their community. However, how could this model counter an individual who would exploit or 'cheat' the system? What if one would receive the benefits of the community yet not reciprocate it back?
    An additional question would be how to define the 'leader' of the ABCD. While ABCD is an emergent property of individuals making the community and vice versa, there needs to be an individual who is almost the ambassador or voice of the population. How that would be defined and if there is any training to become a strong voice leaves to be questioned.

    2) This question is essentially echoing off of what Teddy wrote but the word femivore feels off. I am assuming the etymology of the word is a combination of feminist (the idea of an egalitarian relation between men and women) and locavore (individual who want to eat locally produced food). Without the context of those words however, a femivore sounds like an individual who wants to devour women (which is not pleasant).
    Going off of that note, I do not see clearly the authors point that shying away from consumerism and living a life that would be considered 'rural-esque' is a feminist way to be. They referenced that the life of a femivore is similar to that of the Amish (canning, teaching ,etc.) but in reality, the Amish have a strict patriarchal society. The femivore's idea of freedom is what the Amish consider to be 'women's work'. I would like to see some clarification on the correlation of those concepts. (Silly side note: While the Amish don't own cars, they will go in cars that are driven by other people. It is a legitimate business from where I live to be an Amish taxi driver.)

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  3. Orenstein – I really enjoyed this article – I’ve read some of the author’s other work about modern feminist issues in American culture (it’s really her bread and butter), and find her writing to be thoughtful and fun to read. I love her and these other women’s approach to “homemaking.” The idea that it’s hard work, that it’s about building a sense of place for a family and a community, makes me think that this new “radical” variety must be what was intended way back when the word was first conceived – I think Orenstein and Hayes did a good job of capturing the sort of romantic and intangible differences between the way we understand these two different readings of the same word. My question for Felice has to do with where and when the “homemaker” became who she is typically understood to be today – When did “homemaker” become synonymous with “housewife” and what larger conclusions can we draw about American people and politics based on the nostalgic trend described in the article?

    ABCD – At the end of the paper, the authors write: “it is important to remember that ABCD is not done to communities by ABCD experts.” The theory and methodology described here are fascinating and complex, but how accessible are resources like this to the people in a position to make changes with their own communities? What role can and should (mostly white, mostly well-off) academics play in communities like the one we live in and love and are learning about in this class? I am invested in work like this and the conversations it fosters, but constantly worry that we are overstepping our bounds.

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  4. Ornstein-
    I have to agree that something feels a little off in this article. But I have absolutely no problems with bolstering the idea of self-sustainability, especially for women who are so often raised with the idea that they are strictly dependents. And movements for growing/eating/supporting local sources are always good (although "femivorism" does sound aggressive and gross). So I'm not sure where the unease comes from, but the idea that women should be "allowed" to be homemakers without the label of "weak-willed subservient non-feminist" is also important. Homemaking is not about cleaning the whole house with a feather-duster in heels while your husband is at work. Homemaking is hard work which provides a basis and safety net, nutritionally and otherwise, for a family's entire life, whether that homemaker is woman or not. And I think that might be part of why I'm not totally clicking with this article; it seems unintentionally one-sided. For Felice, what percentage of radical homemakers that you know are not female, if any? How do you feel about homemaking as a traditionally feminine role? Is homemaking, even radical, difficult homemaking, still contributing to sexism and harmful gender stereotypes in this way?

    ABCD-
    This article brings to mind some issues I've been worrying about myself in terms of our class. In seeking to bring together the community more effectively with our projects, there is a terrible tendency to think of the target group as homogeneous. But not all of the people in the community we are concerned with are the same, they all have independent and significant feelings. Not everyone agrees with the same things, or wants the same things, both in general and from us. So how much were individual feelings in the target community taken into account when creating our project ideas? Not only with ABCD or our class specifically, but what is the best way to offer help and friendship without seeming like you're "reaching down" to someone? For Felice, how do you go about taking on the emotional investment aspect of ABCD? How do you let people know that you are someone who genuinely cares and thinks of those you help as equally significant - someone who just wants to help make their needs and desires more available?

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  5. This is more of a response to Orenstein’s article and less of a question. In reading Orenstein’s impassioned celebration of “femivorism,” I kept bumping against the author’s elitist assumptions about other women’s lives, as when she asks “who these days can’t wax poetic about compost?” or describes “the quick dinner of whole-wheat quesadillas and frozen organic peas” she makes for her daughter. Other assumptions she doesn't examine are the assumption that all/most women can choose to stay at home and raise chickens (not true) and that most women can afford to pay for math tutoring sessions (also not true). These are the kinds of white upper-class feminists’ claims that Audre Lorde challenged decades ago. Frankly, I am surprised that the New York Times published this piece.

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  6. ABCD--
    In making a case for appreciative inquiry, the authors argue that memory and imagination are the tools for this kind of inquiry into the assets held by a community. The authors see imagination as helping shape “a shared vision.” The emphasis on imagination also brings up the question about the role of art in appreciative inquiry: can art facilitate appreciative inquiry? How could art prompt imaginative thinking into transforming a community’s awareness of itself and its positive features?

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  7. Orenstein
    I had a hard time accepting this article as a serious piece of feminist writing. Rather, it read like something the Onion might publish, making fun of misguided feminists. From the start, the author seems to be unaware of her privileged position in American society. That Berkeley is hailed as "the Vatican of locavorism" and that Orenstein feels comfortable with this designation (or does she come up with it) signals her remove from the majority of American women who worry about making ends meet, not so much about composting their organic peas. To make things worse, the author refers to her friends as "gals," "chicks with chicks." This is disrespectful towards all women, not just those who prefer not to be called "girls." My question, then, is this" What does it signal about the state of contemporary U.S. feminism that the New York Times would publish this kind of writing?

    In reading the article about ABCD, I was struck by the similarities between feminism and ABCD. For example, both rely on personal stories and visions in order to empower individuals and communities. Both lack "the hallmarks of objective empiricism." However, it is precisely the awareness of unequal power relations based on (perceived) gender differences that the authors see as one of the shortcomings of ABCD. They write: "Of particular concern are the opportunities for women and the opportunities for lower caste or class groups." Especially given Orenstein's essay, I would imagine that many feminists would join the work of ABCD. Where then does this unawareness of gender inequality stem from? How can feminism and ABCD work together?

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  8. Orenstein:
    What seems to be orbiting around this article is the idea that radical homemaking is solely for women oppressed by the patriarchy. Is it simply not allowed to have a man fill this same role? Maybe it is just where I was raised or what era I grew up in but I am completely comfortable with the idea that there are men who chose to, instead of taking the role of the primary care giver, give their spouse or partner the reins to do this themselves. As I the case of the femnivores, these men are often educated but stilted by their roles as care giver. It is no longer the 50s, the 60s, or even the 90s. Men in heavily populated suburban areas are growing increasingly more comfortable with the notion that their spouse might have have more to offer in some respects. So if this tide is changing is it possible that the tide of the homemaker could also find the men caged and looking to raise a few chickens for relief.

    ABCD:
    I will preface my statement with the fact that I do come from the outskirts of a large thriving city where this type of community is not often left unattended by some well meaning group looking to improve the Louisville metro area. So that being said I have been to enough communities that just remain. Often times, for those who are not comfortable with the community as it stands, folks will spend a life time trying to get out. What is often seen as the golden ticket out is talent or skill. If the will to leave does not drive them out then the desire to better hone their craft in a better community will. I will cite Lebron James for example when he received extreme criticism for leaving Akron, Ohio to better explore his talents states away with the Miami Heat. So I pose this question, how does this ABCD system work when the assets or talents that are needed to pick of its feet are being plucked out by every blessed individual to get a ticket out of town?

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  9. Orenstein:
    The impression I got from this piece was that author looked down on those not willing or incapable of doing the kind of things she and her friends did. She says that, “caretaking is undervalued in a society that measures success by a paycheck.” Her statement makes it sound like those who are not raising chickens or eating organic foods are doing it because they care more about money and ignoring the fact that people choose to be full time workers instead of homemakers out of necessity. Most dual income households need both incomes and cannot have one person be a homemaker. Another thing, this article does not apply to single parents who must work full time (if not also have a part time second job). Do you really think that this article and lifestyle would work for most of the families in the area we are working?

    ABCD:
    As the paper said, the focus of communities has been negative for generations. It is always, “What don’t you have? What do you need?” instead of figuring out what good things there are. This makes a community look down on itself. With this in mind, is it feasible for community members themselves to start thinking with an ABCD mentality and change their community from the inside out? Or is this another situation where outsiders need to come in and try to change things (which can feel rather invasive)?

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  10. The ideas behind femivorism are attractive, but the practice hardly seems possible to those outside the comfort of the upper middle class. It seems that a family needs a comfortable income in order to allow a potential wage earner to dedicate time to small scale farming and soap making. My question, then, is how can the practices of radical homemaking and femivorism be developed in areas that survive on lower incomes which arguably need the benefits more?

    The essay on ABCD discussing the role of external agencies in facilitating community development. The writer believes the changes made in the community should be internally driven, yet external organizations are helpful in beginning the process. Has the change recently seen in North Lexington truly been internal? What role has outside organizations played in the process?

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  11. Orenstein:
    This article while interesting seemed to only focus on one group of women, the upper middle class radical homemakers. This lack of focus on pretty much all other groups of women while focusing on the epicenter of organic produce and liberalism “berkely,” it seemed both mocking to those who grew the produce while ignoring the fact that many women and many families can’t be “radical homemakers,” or “femivore’s.” I guess my only question because the artictle only seemed completely un credible and silly, is how can families and women of lower income take steps to be more self sufficient as a family or individual without the money to do so?

    ABCD:
    A big part of building up communities in community development is outlining the individual strength, gifts, talents of the individuals and the community has to offer. This enacts more positive change as a whole especially when there is an outside or internal development group. Working in the community of North Lime how much of the work that we see been seen as internal? And what do we see as the strengths of the individuals of the community? And as a class do we really know the north lime community?

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  12. 1)The article “The Femivore’s Dilemma” seemed to suggest that the life of the stay at home “soccer mom” does not provide a sense of satisfaction and purpose for women and is not feminist, do you agree? I personally see that a woman who chooses to raise her children, buy her food at the grocery store, and not be in the work force, can still be a feminist and still have a full sense of independence and purpose. I did not like how this article related a very serious social movement of feminism to at home chicken raising. What are your thoughts on this? How do you define feminism in a social context and in your own life?
    2) In the second reading the paper stated that the ABCD model “has attracted a small but dedicated following, particularly among those who are disenchanted with the needs-based approach to community development that is so entrenched in government and non-government service delivery.” Can you define this needs based approach, how it was/is ineffective in our own community and government?

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  13. Orenstein:

    When reading this piece I kept feeling like the author was subconsciously hinting at the belief that people who do not approach life in the same way are all narrow-minded (to say it harshly) and frankly, wrong. I respect her claims, but not to compromise her being respectful of other lifestyles. The other, major groups of opinions are missing from this authors “argument.” I wonder how you can make a claim when representing such a specific lifestyle? My question would be: how do you apply this idea to other people who do not value what you are claiming to value in this (mainly because it seems that you have the time and money to do these things)?

    ABCD:

    The ideas of imagination and trying not to focus on what a community lacks stood out to me when reading this very well done paper. I wonder how well a “shared-vision” works for our class specifically. Although the group of north limestone seems to all share the same backgrounds, there are many different viewpoints and visions for what individuals living in that neighborhood would want from our class. Although I love the idea of imagination for helping the parts of north limestone that are “lacking,” I cannot help but wonder “how exactly do you obtain a shared vision with such a diverse group of people while remaining positive?”

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