Trying to keep up

Clearly I'm not one of those people who can keep my blog up-to-the-minute, but I want to mention two more things about my visit to Detroit, even though I'm actually two states beyond at this point.

Before I left town, I had lunch with some staff members of Labor Notes, an incredible and radical organization/magazine that provides a forum for union activists to honestly examine problems within the labor movement (i.e., not just ever-weakening labor laws and employer offensives, but problems like weak unions and union leaders not doing their job). Similar to Bitch, they're a nonprofit organization that publishes a magazine. They also publish pamphlets and books (including one of my favorites, The Troublemakers Handbook: How to fight back where you work and win) and organize a bi-annual Labor Notes conference. I highly encourage everyone to read what happened at their most recent conference in April. There's some f'd-up stuff going on in union organizing these days.

Anyway, they're doing a lot of work with very few resources, so I appreciated all the more their meeting up with me to show me their office and grab some lunch. They're located in Southwestern Detroit, conveniently right next to a strip bar. Apparently the woman on the sign used to be naked, but in an effort to "clean up the community" for the 2006 Superbowl, she was fixed with a bikini.

Below are co-director/editor Chris Kutalik, assistant editor Mischa Gaus, conference organizer Anna Saini, and staff writer Susan Lewis.

labor notes staff

When I first arrived in town, I also had the opportunity to meet some of the Wayne State Women's Studies faculty and staff, thanks to the fabulous Lindsey Snoes. One of the things I was hoping to hear about is whether – and how – the program connects with the surrounding community to support feminist/social justice organizing and work being done, but we spent most of our time talking about the politics of academia, and the fact that their program is coming up for review in the fall. Program director Frances Ranney explained that Women's Studies here is a program, not a department, and if students want to major in it, they have to co-major in something else. 

I'm still hoping to hear more about the ways in which Women's Studies programs/departments connect with (or are disconnected from) local communities...

Anyway, pictured below are Beverly Fish, Jennifer Hatten-Flisher, Dyann Logwood, me, Frances Ranney.

wayne state women's studies faculty




by Debbie Rasmussen
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