07/15/15Activism and action: Mouth vs Mic podcast, Episode #35

The Mouth vs Mic podcast out of Vancouver BC brings together artists, poets, activists, emcees, singers and anyone else who utilizes words and voice to build community or increase social responsibility. I was honored to be on their latest episode talking about One Hundred For Haiti, straightedge and veganism, Between Earth & Sky and the upcoming TRIAL European tour, and so much more.

• DOWNLOAD DIRECTLY HERE!
• Stream/DL the show on iTunes right now -> http://tinyurl.com/mouth-vs-micGB
• Also available on Stitcher Radio and the podcast website -> www.mouthvsmic.com

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12/30/14New interview posted at Idioteq.com

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Thanks to the fine folks at Idioteq.com, you now have yet another way to spend your time on the internet. Conducted over the course of a year, from multiple different countries, this interview was fully comprehensive. I thought it went really well, but lets be honest: if anyone reads the entire thing other than my mom I will be stunned.

THE INTERVIEW IS HERE

http://www.idioteq.com/greg-bennick-pushing-ourselves-to-offer-something-more/

10/26/14From a refugee camp to the streets of Seattle: Owen Karimanzira

Tonight I am in awe, about the ways that life unfolds and how seemingly divergent paths someday can intersect again.

OWEN and GREG in Seattle

In 2008, while with The Legacy Project in a broken refugee camp in South Africa, I met a 29-year-old man from Zimbabwe named Owen Karimanzira. Owen was one of many refugees we interviewed on camera over two days, all of whom had sought refuge in the camp from xenophobic violence taking place throughout the country. These were people who had survived violence in their own countries only to then be attacked in South Africa as well.

It is essential to understand the scope of the story that you download and read the following PDF before reading on. It is a letter that I wrote home that day from South Africa to all of my closest friends.

A letter home from Youngsfield Refugee camp, Cape Town, South Africa

To say that Owen was a tremendous inspiration would be an understatement. In the camp, there is a strange and unfortunate defense mechanism that develops in one’s mental process. You begin to tell yourself that these are refugees and you classify them as such in your mind, and thus make them “other”, essentially different than yourself. I think the defense works like this: if we fully allow ourselves to see refugees as people like us, exactly like or even better than ourselves based on their character, then the frustration and sadness about their condition would be too overwhelming, the sense of hopelessness too extreme. But in this camp, the stories from individuals never stopped. All defenses failed. We made our way from person to person, and we heard stories from people, people with names and faces and lives and loves (we will be posting all of those interviews within the next few months on thelegacyproject.com).

And then we met Owen, referenced in the letter. He was an intellect, a scientist, a peer…and not at all the person you would expect to find sitting on a wet cot, in the mud, under a leaky roof, in deplorable conditions, in a field in South Africa. All defenses fell away and what was left was the possibility, both for me and for those students and collaborators who had come on the trip, of real connection. We spoke to Owen about his life and dreams, what he had faced, what he dreamed of. And then after an incredible conversation, we left the camp, as observers are able to do. And Owen and I lost touch more or less, trading maybe one letter or email over the course of six years.

This last week out of nowhere, Owen wrote to me. He had made it out of the camp after the violence subsided, and had worked incredibly hard to continue to pursue his dream of being an AIDS scientist. He was going to be in Seattle for an AIDS conference and asked if I might meet him. I brought my camera and set it up in his hotel room to record our reunion after six and a half years.

This video is that conversation. I hope the excitement we each felt resonates clearly over these 25 minutes. And like I said, this is the first interview of many. The Legacy Project team has dozens to edit and post still. We waited too long for the resources to make the website we wanted to house these videos, but now is the hour. Updates on all the videos soon both here and on thelegacyproject.com

08/14/14Israeli Activists Speak Out Against Israel

endsiegebannerThe year was 1982. I was walking across the playground of my elementary school in 4th grade. Another student named David and I had been in a special current events class and were discussing Israel and trying to understand the situation there. I remember asking him if he thought that the situation would end anytime soon, and we couldn’t figure out how it possibly could. Insert a thirty-year gap and here we are in 2014 with a new generation of activists having taken up the cause for actively opposing Israel’s ongoing military an economic force in Gaza and the West Bank. Still with no end in sight, the situation deserves as much attention as we can give it. I figured there were two options available to me: go there and talk to people directly, or find activists who could talk via the internet. These two were perfect and they saved me a plane ticket for the moment. This is an interview with two Israeli activists in Tel-Aviv who oppose Israel’s oppression in Gaza and the West Bank and who like other activists have been branded by opponents as traitors for their politics.

The interview with the Israeli activists is 43 minutes long.
LISTEN HERE (43 minutes, 12 seconds)

***Download the file to listen later:
DOWNLOAD. (38.3MB; 128kbps)

FIND OUT MORE:
• An excellent three part video series called “Palestine For Beginners” created by my friend Ed Mast about Israel / Palestine:
– Part One is HERE on the roots of the conflict.
– Part Two is HERE on the occupation, human rights, and US tax dollars.
– Part Three is HERE on issues, obstacles, and the future.

• The website for the BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) mentioned in the interview is HERE.

• Reporting from various perspectives on Israel / Palestinian issues is on the media organization +972’s website HERE.

• The video about the village of Khuza’a north of the Gaza Strip, ruined almost completely, which is mentioned in the interview is HERE.

08/04/14Greg interviewed on Life Mastery Radio

I didn’t know what to think when Life Mastery Radio said they wanted to do an interview. Was I worthy of being called a “life master”? Would I fit their demographic: an interview that started out with centering and deep meditation breathing might not be in line with me?

But as is true of most preconceived notions, they often fall quickly once reality sets in…and I never expected to cover topics in this interview like activism, punk rock and the intersection of it with passion, spoken word touring, creating the world in the image we want to see, and how media and power have made us mentally lazy and disempowered us. This was a great hour and I am thankful I got to be a part of it.

LISTEN HERE on the show’s home page.
DOWNLOAD it from the RSS feed.
• iTunes is here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/life-mastery-radio-todd-alan/id423583728

07/20/14The Bunny Alliance on their current tour…

Part two of Words As Weapons’ support of The Bunny Alliance as they continue their work to stop major airlines from shipping primates for animal research. They are on tour now – check out their dates and support their work! Get involved!

FIGHT OR FLIGHT TOUR!
FightOrFlightTour.org

June 27th – 29th: Portland, OR
June 30th: Eugene, OR
July 1st – 8th: Southern Oregon
July 9th: Berkeley, CA
July 10th – 14th: Los Angeles, CA
July 15th: Phoenix, AZ
July 16th: Dallas, TX
July 17th: San Antonio, TX
July 18th: Alice, TX
July 19th – 20th: Houston, TX
July 22nd – 24th: South Florida
July 26th – 28th: Atlanta, GA
July 29th – July 30th: Cincinnati, OH
July 31st – August 2nd: St. Louis, MO
August 4th: South Dakota
August 5th – 6th: Denver, CO
August 7th – 9th: Salt Lake City, UT
August 11th: Missoula, MT
August 12th: Moscow, ID
August 20th: Vancouver, BC
August 22nd: Seattle, WA

The interview is 15 minutes long. LISTEN HERE (15 minutes, 23 seconds)

***Download the file to listen later: DOWNLOAD.

FIND OUT MORE:
• The website for The Bunny Alliance
• Follow them on instagram: @thebunnyalliance

06/25/14Kevin Zelko: on the intersection of soccer and activism

I’ve known Kevin Zelko for almost twenty years and in that time he is one of the few people who again and again surprises me with his activism. He is an innovator in the truest sense of the word, a community organizer, and for the people he supports, a changer of worlds. Kevin

I sat down this week with Kevin to talk about his love for soccer, the formation of the Gorilla FC support club and how they are involved in the community, his innovative work as an early adopter of Twitter, and his recent crowd funding campaign to support kids which garnered national media interest.

Kevin keeps us thinking about how to use resources available to us in new ways to bring about results.

Kevin is up for a teaching award that could lead to even more national press. To vote for him (voting ends 6/29/2014) listen to our interview and then see the link below.

The interview is less than a half an hour long, and worth every minute. LISTEN HERE (27 minutes, 57 seconds)

***Download the file to listen later: DOWNLOAD.

FIND OUT MORE:
• The website for Gorilla FC
• Follow Kevin on Twitter
• Vote for Kevin for Teacher of the Year (voting ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 6/29/14 – UPDATE: KEVIN WON THE VOTING PROCESS!) HERE

04/29/14Paula Schikkerling on midwifery in Uganda – Part 1

I met Paula Schikkerling years ago in Canada and have been following her path through women’s health care in British Columbia with great interest. She is one of those people who has a goal, a focus on behalf of others, and is willing to put on hold everything else in her own life to get to where she needs to be. Her dedication is immense. paula schikkerling She is about to head to Uganda to begin a six week placement there, and I had a chance to ask her some preliminary questions before her trip about what she does and why. An in-depth interview will take place upon her return so we can hear more about how women’s health care is being maintained, or struggling, in that part of the world.

1. So…where you are going and why you want to go?
I’m heading to Mbale – a city of about 100000 people – in Eastern Uganda. After completing 3 of our 4 years of training at UBC Midwifery, we are given the opportunity to do a global placement. There are currently 3 active sites in Uganda where students are placed. Myself, two other students and an instructor will be working in Mbale Regional Referral Hospital for 6 weeks, providing prenatal care, attending to women in labour, delivering and resuscitating babies and assisting in surgeries. The purpose of the program is two-fold: to engage in knowledge and cultural exchange with Ugandan care providers and to gain exposure to global health issues via first-hand experience with the multiple systemic barriers faced by women and families living in under-resourced areas.

2. Tell our readers about your background a bit?
I grew up in South Africa, where inequity and prejudice dominated every aspect of society. I was deeply disturbed by the poverty and abuse of human rights that I witnessed – and through liberal schooling and a strong sense of justice, I developed a passion for social equality. When I was 16, I immigrated to Canada, where I quickly become involved with social justice politics. When I learned about midwifery at age 20, I knew that it was the perfect confluence of my personal philosophy, politics, spirituality and skill set. Since then, I have worked with women and newborns, kids with special needs and families facing multiple systemic barriers…and 15 years and a ton of schooling later, am now finally a year away from being qualified as a midwife.

3. What is the most pressing problem – or one of them – facing women in so called emerging countries in terms of birthing care?
Women in poor countries face so many barriers: poverty, lack of personal power within their relationships and in society as a whole, and the prevalence of preventable diseases. Lack of skilled health workers, poor infrastructure and corruption within most systems make many of these challenges very difficult to overcome. Malaria is endemic in many regions of Uganda, HIV is on the rise and even basics such as clean drinking water are only available in certain areas. When it comes to childbearing in Uganda, only 30% of women have access to contraception and only 57% have a skilled attendant at birth. 16 women die every day in Uganda while giving birth! This is shocking and completely preventable. In Canada and the United States, by contrast, less than 20 women per 100,000 die in childbirth.

Part two of her interview will be online in two months after she gets back to Canada.

03/04/14New interview: Taras Kaduk on current politics in Ukraine

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Ukrainian Taras Kaduk on the political situation in Ukraine between Russia and Ukraine; the history of Crimea; the reasons behind the conflict; and perspectives on history and how it relates to the present.

LISTEN HERE (43 min)

***Download the file to listen later:
The interview with Taras is zipped HERE.

As always, if you have questions or comments for Taras about the interview, be sure to send them in using the contact page.

01/16/14UPDATED interview: Amal Graafstra, Adventure Technologist

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Adventure technologist Amal Graafstra of DangerousThings.com on bio hacking, man/machine interfaces, evolution vs engineering, machine learning, human RFID implantation, and the future of personal computing when we literally become the machines. And that’s just part one!
LISTEN HERE (1 hour, 26 min)

In part two, Amal tells us about an incredible discovery he made about radioactivity being in a somewhat common consumer product. We talk too about Fukashima and the effect of radiation from that disaster.
LISTEN HERE (36 min)

***Download the file to listen later:
Part 1 is zipped HERE.
Part 2 is zipped HERE.***

Recent news article on Amal’s biohacking work appears in the Irish press.

Amal Graafstra official blog where he discusses all aspects of new technology and the human interface it needs to be complete.

Amal Graafstra TEDx speech on bio hacking and the future of technology.

Dangerous Things website where you can buy your own RFID or nXT implant kit.

As always, if you have questions or comments for Amal about the interview, be sure to send them in using the contact page.

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