Search results for 'Guantanamo'

New Guantanamo Film

18 Jul

July 18, 2016

July 26 Cuba holiday premiere at the Coolidge Corner Library

Peter Miller

The Boston-area premiere of the recently-released documentary “All Guantanamo is Ours” (37 minutes), with guest presenter and discussion, will take place at the Coolidge Corner Library, Tuesday evening, July 26, 6:45-8:30.  The event is cosponsored by Brookline PAX and the July 26th Coalition along with the National Network on Cuba and the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

July 26, a major Cuban holiday, commemorates the beginning of the Revolution, the 1953 rebel attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The date was adopted by Fidel Castro as the name of the movement and organization that developed — Movimiento 26 de Julio or M-26-7 — and led to the Revolution’s victory over the corrupt and dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista more than five years later on New Year’s Eve 1959. The date gives its name to the Boston-area Cuba solidarity organization. It was the day after Revolution Day last year that the U.S. and Cuba opened embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since 1961.

Prior to the Revolution, May 20th was celebrated as Cuban Independence Day, marking the date in 1902 when Cuba gained formal independence from the United States, following up American intervention in the Cuban War of Independence against Spain and the Spanish-American War in 1898. Since the Revolution, May 20th has been viewed more critically as a key moment in Cuba’s history as a neocolony of the United States. This classic case study in neocolonialism —Lenin described the Hispanic-Cuban-American war as the first imperialist war in the history of humanity — begins with Cuba’s exclusion from the peace negotiations in 1898, U.S. army and governmental occupation, regulation and oversight of Cuban elections and conditions for official withdrawal, and subsequent policies of control including the establishment and forced acceptance of the naval base at Guantanamo and its detention camp and prison.

The film “All Guantanamo is Ours” by filmmaker and journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina, produced by Resumen Latinoamericano and the International Committee, in Spanish with English subtitles, presents the perspective and sentiment of the Cuban people, particularly those living in the towns around Guantanamo, about the ongoing occupation of the U.S. Naval Base and shows what the occupation looked like before and after the revolution.  More information is available on the International Committee’s resource page and the trailer can be found here.

Brookline has been selected for this showing as it is the first municipality on the East Coast to pass a resolution to End the Embargo/Blockade on Cuba which will be briefly discussed.   Nancy B. Kohn with the International Committee will talk about the recent conference she attended in Guantanamo dedicated to its return to Cuba. In her talk there, she summarized the long distance we still have to go to realize the promise of normalized relations jointly called for by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro over a year and a half ago, on December 17, 2014:

“The illegal blockade of Cuba still exists as strong as ever. Banks dealing in dollar transactions with Cuba continue to be fined; State Department regime change programs continue to be funded; the budget of Radio and TV Marti has expanded as they create new spurious programming against the leadership of the Revolution; U.S. citizens still cannot travel to Cuba without a license; Cuba still cannot export products to the U.S.; Cuban officials and professionals are still routinely denied visas into the U.S.; progressive organizations like IFCO/Pastors for Peace are still being harassed by OFAC [the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control] and the IRS for challenging the restrictions on travel to Cuba; and of course, the most outrageous thing of all is that the torture center here in Guantanamo Province continues and the land it sits on is still occupied by the U.S. military.”

July 26th at the Coolidge Corner Library promises to be an informative occasion.

______________

Peter Miller was a prime petitioner of the resolution adopted by this spring’s Town Meeting calling for an end to the U.S. economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba and writes about Cuba at www.peterbmiller.wordpress.com/cuba-project

This article was published as a guest column in the July 21st edition of the Brookline Tab.

Community Technology in the Time of Covid-19

10 Jun

June 3, 2020

I see that there hasn’t been an update here since last December, to the national US-Cuba Normalization Conference postponed in March, and that the Tech4Seniors section has yet to have more than a brief three-paragraph link. Developments in both these arenas over the last six months, most notably with the pandemic’s dramatic emergence in March, have been substantial and help define some of the recent issues in community technology, first and foremost, video-conferencing, in a briefer word: Zoom.

Even before the Covid-19 outbreak video conferencing was becoming a major app. Back in June of 2017, several of us had an exchange on the Massachusetts nonprofit technology list about Zoom, Join.me, WebEx, Bluejeans, Skype, Shingdig, and Anymeeting and looked forward to a wider discussion about online conferencing and webinar platforms for nonprofits that never quite happened. But even then the need for a combination of advanced systems, good Internet speed, and participant know-how was bringing renewed meaning back to the notion of “the digital divide” and the importance of dealing with all the inequalities that originally gave the expression passion, intensity, and focus. The explosion of webinars, online meetings, and educational programs following school closings has given equal access an urgency it hasn’t had since the Internet burst on the scene in the 1990’s.

As complications in both the very different Cuba Solidarity and Tech4Seniors arenas have given me pause, I pull together these summaries in the hope that this will provide some useful perspective for myself and others interested in community media and technology matters. They go something as follows:

The U.S.-Cuba Solidarity Movement: US-CubaNormalization.org

As evidence of the US-Cuba Solidarity movement’s immersion in Zoom, witness the organizers of the US-CubaNormalization.org’s scheduled in-person conference for March 21-22, postponed close to the last minute, just as the shutdowns and cancellations of in-person gatherings were beginning. In its place, organizers with the National Network on Cuba, the Canadian Network on Cuba, and Cuba Sí, the New York-New Jersey Solidarity Coalition, began holding weekly Sunday night meetings, focused primarily on planning and delivering a series of twice-a-month webinars, everything on Zoom. The weekend went on as scheduled — online — beginning with a version of the opening plenary and its action agenda aimed at the movement’s long-time three goals: to end the Embargo by lifting the travel ban and trade blockade; to return Guantanamo to Cuba; and to respect Cuba’s sovereignty by ending regime change policies and practices. The next day a session was held by one of the six panels that had been planned, on “The Impact of the Blockade on People in the U.S. and What We Can Do About It.”

Cuba’s medical resources and achievements, one of the major losses to people in the U.S., were the focus of the third and fourth webinars in April, as “Saving Lives” emerged as a distinct campaign, and allied organizations began offering their own webinars. U.S. government silence in the face of an armed attack against the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC was broken by the announcement of policies to increase blockade pressures, reimposition of terrorist list status and sanctions on Cuba, and attacks on Cuban medical efforts across the globe that have elsewhere been met with growing reports of accomplishment and support to award them a Nobel Peace Prize for this work.

A world-wide worker May Day webinar on Solidarity Not Sanctions and mid-month session on “Paying Humanity’s Debt: Cuba, Africa and the Caribbean” helped build international ties with the overlapping Sanctions Kill network of countries where the U.S. is increasing hostilities and racist policies, with organizations in each growing arena offering additional (Zoom) webinars of their own.

“Racist” became a descriptive rather than ideological term as the month ended with the police murder of George Floyd, the eruption of demonstrations across the country and internationally, and the federal intensification of repressive responses. The National Network on Cuba drew the contrast in its solidarity statement of June 1: “Compare the streets of the United States with those of Cuba.  In the U.S., streets full of police in riot gear and weapons, in Cuba streets full of medical personnel testing and caring for their neighbors.  Compare the U.S. international presence threatening, sanctioning and waging war with Cuba’s international presence of hundreds of medical workers offering healing to nearly two dozen countries combating Covid-19.” Planning for new online organizing responses began. Following a scheduled June 16 session where “Danny Glover and Cuban Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas talk COVID, Cuba and Saving Lives” and a June 24 follow-up, a special session is in the works, provisionally for July 6, comparing policing in Cuba and the U.S., looking at Cuba’s historic sanctuary for Black freedom fighters, and more.

While all the online activity has given rise to a major transformation of the movement and expanded its outreach and impact immensely, with a gap between the May and June webinars and the Zoom planning meetings cut back to every other week there has been a modest slow-down. It is fair to say that a saturation point is being reached, the accessibility and digestion of all these efforts are being questioned, and a period of re-evaluation is setting in. It was only at the beginning of the sixth webinar that US-CubaNormalization organizers began to collect zip code information and added plans for developing connections between registrants and local solidarity groups to the agenda. Webinar recordings on YouTube have yet to include overview tables of contents with time-links to individual presenters (or even have clear gathering point as the NNOC YouTube channel has not yet been organized) and there is yet to be a searchable database of sessions, speakers, topics, and resources (PowerPoints, links, papers), for their own not to mention related webinars and programs. There is not even a collection place that lists and links this broader collection (though Walter Lippmann’s cubanews, act-ma.org, and the July26 Facebook events page are good sources). The organizers’ forum for US-Cubanormalization.org on googlegroups.com contains a wealth of resources that could be publicly accessible and searchable and open to expansion, yet most of the organizers themselves do not use and are unaware of these features. Along with a refinement of Zoom and other online meeting and webinar features and people’s abilities to use them, we can hopefully anticipate a new level of platform performance and accessibility to reinforce the movement building underway.

Tech4Seniors: Families and Friends of 100 Centre St.

The Danesh Residences at 100 Centre St. is one of three Hebrew Senior Life (HSL) “independent living” facilities that make up the Center Communities of Brookline (CCB). Families and Friends of 100 Centre St. (F&F100) is an electronically organized embodiment of “families and friends,” as the expression generally calls to mind, and has a web site and electronic posting forum and archive and, depending on leadership and issues, in-person meetings with administrators and residents, Residents Council members, when the council is active.

I’ve been involved since 2006, when Aunt Joansie, my mother’s sister, moved there, a block and a half away. When she became editor of the residents-produced journal, I did the desktop publishing, got recruited/invited into F&F100 and became its web master and listserv coordinator, a role I’ve continued with since her passing two years ago, assuming that it would be a useful contribution to the life of the group, one I could continue to do with minimal effort and involvement.

There have been no in-person meetings for over a year, though one was starting to develop around elevator breakdown issues when closures and social distancing responses to the Covid-19 rapidly growing outbreak quickly emerged. Like nursing homes (and low-income/ communities of color and prisons) senior living communities are among the highest risk environments, and HSL instituted near lock-down restrictions and policies throughout its network. The pandemic and living regimen have taken their toll on administrators, staff, residents, and families alike.

The fairly immediate initiation of weekly Zoom meetings has provided important reassurance, information and communication to the families concerned about their resident members. I frequently describe F&F100 as one group of yentes talking about another (the average 60-something age of its members is the median age of residents not so long ago) — and it’s always had a second purpose, not just to help residents meet their own needs, but to help their adult children caretakers help each other with theirs.

The regular attendance of the CCB Associate Executive Director has been the major thread in the ongoing co-operative relationship among admin/staff, residents, and families and friends. The gatherings have given rise to numerous F&F contributions to the staff in appreciation of the work they are doing and allowed people to show the other side of their anxieties. The attendance of HSL President and CEO Lou Woolf at an early meeting is an indication of the interest, regard and appreciation of F&F’s importance.

100 Centre St. has a technology-rich environment. It’s integrated into a network of distributed community technology centers, across the back parking lot from the Brookline Senior Center, where the rear entrance leads right to the computer lab, with other accessible labs at the nearby Florence Ridley School and the Coolidge Corner library. With high school students and F&F assistance, there have been ongoing tech support sessions for residents for years.

We’ve been sharing resident-produced publications for more than a decade that provide an extraordinary richness in conveying resident life. Relatively new resident Ammi Kohn has taken up the editorship of the residents journal and the premiere issues of The Centre Post, made known right in the midst of the Coronavirus onslaught, offer an especially poignant testimony to the life and vitality of the building’s community of residents and staff. Along with previous editor Dodie Catlett’s “5th Floor in the Time of Covid-19” special issues experiment, the two publications build on the long tradition of sharing and mutual support and are a major contribution to the ongoing communications and relations among us all, extraordinary accomplishments at this particular time.

The “normal” calendar of weekly activities has been replaced by 10-15 page schedule of Zoom and other online events and some of this resident journalism. The potential for a resident-and-F&F100 gathering online, to share communal support and help it develop more extensively, is tantalizingly close. The promise of staff, resident and F&F100 support and participation in building new arenas of communication has shape and direction, not only of use during this special period but in the hybrid possibilities we can anticipate with renewed in-person gatherings that surely lie in the future and can benefit from this experience.

Conclusion

As with many movements that have been driven to online meetings, conferences, webinars and the like, the initial period of excitement is giving way to a new critical look at the growing toolbox box of options, features, and best practices. Telecommunications corporations — Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others — are developing and refining platforms to challenge Zoom, though open source development looks to be lagging behind as jitsi.org, while promising, is still in early stages best suited to small numbers; no Open Source platform for webinar-type programs is yet available. Just as we can look to the development of management tools for accessing the growing collection of online programs and media resources, online multi-media platform refinement will continue to develop and online-gatherings will be a regular part of life as we move into the future.

NECoPA2017

1 Nov

“U.S. Cuba Policy from Obama to Trump — It’s Not What It Looks Like at All”

Track: International Transboundary Coordination and Conflict Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45

Previous NECoPA Presentations:

2011: “Community Technology Centers (CTCs) and Citizen Engagement — What they are, why they’re important, resources for learning more

2013:  “Bridging the Digital Divide and Promoting Digital Inclusion: An Update on Public Access Venues and Projects” (panel organizer)

_________________________________________

 

I. The general public perception of the US-Cuba relations from Obama to Trump.

Despite the historic Obama-Castro rapprochement of December 17, 2014 and efforts to normalize relations on both sides, the Trump regime has announced a “reversal” of policy in typical blustery fashion and added a renewed belligerency in moving U.S.-Cuba relations back to a pre-Obama Embargo/Blockade state of affairs.

 

II. It’s not what it looks like at all.

A. Media and Technology: The “dark side” under Obama:

B. The irony of the policies and practices under the regime of Donald Trump: zero budgeting for all USAID Cuba programs.

 

III. Synthesis: Coming back and grasping the complex dimensions of the transition we are currently in:

A. Under Trump:

  • The proposal to eliminate USAID has been withdrawn and Trump has contributed “an added level of chaos” to the budgeting and appropriation process.[3]
  • Although the new regs have not been issued, the June 2017 “Background Briefing on the President’s Cuba Policy” indicates that changes in policies and practices will be minimal.[4]
  • This is not to underestimate the potential damage that continued hostile bullying can cause, forboding developments such as the major Guantanamo renovations reported on in August[5], or the real reversals that come dangerously close such as those involving the embassy staff cut-backs, expulsion of Cuban diplomats, and visa pull-backs admidst the groundless accusations of the recent early October “Sonic Attack Affair”[6].

B. Under Obama:

  • Cuba policy is like much of what Obama began that is intractable, difficult to change, and the result of politically sophisticated policy development.
  • Administrative policies and practices involving the Embargo can make a big difference, and Trump is not opposing the major ones that Obama initiated (see Note 4 below).
  • Cuba policy does not fall on the usual political spectrum: left/right, liberal/conservative, opposing constituencies are all calling for an End to the Embargo.

____________________

[1] pp. 2-3, Brookline Town Meeting Resolution presentation and other news reports and analyses.

[2] Firchow, Pamina. 2013. “A Cuban Spring? The use of the Internet as a tool of democracy promotion by USAID in Cuba.” Information Technology for Development. Vol. 19, Issue 4: 347-357; freely available on academic.edu.

[3] see USAID, Cuba Travel and Trade Update, 10/23/17.

[4] Official diplomatic relations remain unchanged; the wet foot/dry foot policy has ended; the only travel to be curtailed will be one-to-one under the people to people category — even cruises will continue as well as air travel; self-certification, the simplified administrative check-off will continue (despite warnings about travel); increased rum and cigar bring-backs (despite government support) will continue, and trade and business is curtained only in terms of selling to the military, intelligence or security services, and there are exceptions to that.

[5] Carol Rosenberg, “Trump’s Pentagon wants to spend almost $500 million on Guantánamo construction,” Miami Herald, August 21, 2017 and other August 2017 news reports on Guantanamo renovations and construction.

[6] Carl Zimmer, “A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It” along with 48 replies, New York Times, October 5, 2017, and additional October news coverage.

The abstract proposal for this presentation is here.

Brookline PAX 2017 newsletter

17 May

Cuba Solidarity in Brookline

Peter Miller

Final vote to overwhelmingly support the “End the Embargo Resolution” at the May 31, 2016 Town Meeting, courtesy of Brookline Interactive Group. (Click to enlarge.)

Since December 17, 2014, when Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro made simultaneous announcements that the U.S. and Cuba would undertake efforts to normalize relations, Brookline has been a center of supportive educational and political activities and Brookline PAX has played a major role. That work — focused on the three major issues of ending the Embargo, returning Guantanamo to Cuban sovereignty, and respecting that sovereignty by ending “regime change” policies and practices — has had regional and even national impact as well as local influence and is projected to continue into the future.

Opposing the Embargo

The long-standing US embargo on Cuba is the major matter at issue. Universally condemned by the United Nations, 191-0-2 on the last vote last October when even the U.S. abstained from supporting its own policy — “El Bloqueo,” as it’s called in Cuba, is blockade-like in its restrictions on trade, not just with the U.S. but extended to any foreign company trading with Cuba, limiting its ability to do so with the U.S. Travel restrictions are still in place; those with U.S. passports cannot travel to Cuba as tourists. An ever-growing majority of those in the U.S. oppose the Embargo, including those in the south Florida Cuban-American community and large numbers of conservatives and business interests, a state of public opinion that provided a foundation for President Obama’s role in the joint initiative and accelerating under it.

When Brookline Town Meeting passed its resolution calling for an end to the US Embargo last spring, this joint effort between the Boston area July26.org Cuba Solidarity Coalition and Brookline PAX received major assistance from Frank Farlow in shepherding the proposal though the petitioning process, the Board of Selectmen and Advisory sub and main Committees, and, along with the encouragement of other PAX members and activists, at Town Meeting. Although the initial effort to include a condemnation and call for an end to covert USAID “regime change” programs was not approved, the main “Resolution Calling for an End to the United States’ Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo against Cuba and Respect for Cuba’s Sovereignty” passed by an overwhelming 98%.

The idea of local proposals calling for an end to the Embargo originated earlier in the year with campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area, in Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland. Supported by the National Network on Cuba (nnoc.info), the Brookline resolution has helped make this a truly national effort. A similar resolution was recently passed by the Hartford City Council, and the process is underway in Albany. The campaign has been highlighted by the National Congress on Latin America, “Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba at the Grassroots,” and was a featured workshop at the recent National Conference on Cuba, where Newark Mayor Ras Baraka provided one of the keynotes.

Returning Guantanamo to Cuban Control

The U.S. military prison at Guantanamo is a double mark against U.S. policies and practices, the home of illegal confinements and gruesome torture that would not be tolerated on our own shores and a vestige of our colonial imperialism in Cuba on-going since the Spanish-American War. Focusing on the latter with interviews of Cubans living in the surrounding communities, the July 26th Coalition and Brookline PAX along with the National Network on Cuba and the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity cosponsored the Boston-area premiere of “All Guantanamo Is Ours” last July 26. With preprogram publicity in the Tab and on the PAX, July26.org, and Greater Boston Activist ACT-ma.org elists, people packed the meeting/movie room at the Coolidge Corner Library for the short documentary with follow-up discussion led by Nancy Kohn, who had attended the previous year’s International Seminar in Guantanamo on Peace and the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases.

The Boston-area premiere of the documentary “All Guantanamo Is Ours” at the crowded Coolidge Corner Library meeting/movie room with follow-up discussion led by Nancy Kohn, July 26, 2016.

The 37-minute documentary is available through the International Committee and is on youtube both as preview and in its entirety with English subtitles.

July 26 is the Cuban holiday that commemorates the 1953 rebel attack on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba, the start of the revolution. The date was adopted by Fidel Castro as the name of the movement and organization that developed — Movimiento 26 de Julio or M-26-7 — and gives its name to the Boston-area Cuba solidarity coalition. It was the day after Revolution Day in 2015 that the U.S. and Cuba opened embassies in each other’s capitals for the first time since 1961.

Looking to the Future, among upcoming events:

On July 26, Brookline resident Lee Schlenker, currently doing community service in Cuba, will give a presentation on Witness for Peace and its history/program there, the panorama of grassroots solidarity with Cuba work and its plans in the Northeast, 7:00, downtown Boston at Encuentro 5, 9A Hamilton Place, next to the Orpheum Theatre at Park Street Station.

In mid-October, look for a cultural-political program in Brookline and elsewhere in the Boston area with Cuba’s leading novelist Leonardo Padura. More at https://july26.org/october-2017-leonardo-padura-festival/

_____

Peter Miller (peterm@igc.org) edited the Brookline PAX newsletter 1980-83 and is the Brookline PAX representative on the july26.org coalition, manages its web site, and blogs about media and technology development in Cuba and the Solidarity movement there and at peterbmiller.wordpress.com/cuba-project.  The Brookline PAX newsletter version of this article is at www.brooklinepax.org.

Cuba Project

11 Jun
Note: My involvements and writing about Cuba and the Solidarity movement are continued in the posts on the home page here and on July26.org, the web site for the Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition.

* * *

November 3, 2017

“U.S. Cuba Policy from Obama to Trump — It’s Not What It Looks Like at All”

Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA 2017)
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
International Transboundary Coordination and Conflict Track
Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45

* * *

October 21, 2017

Special Greetings and Regrets

This is a slightly edited version of a communication to the co-chairs of the National Network on Cuba (www.nnoc.info) and some other folks, on the occasion of the annual national conference, held this year in Seattle, at the Washington State Labor Council HQ on 16th Avenue S., October 20-22.

  • Subject:  Special greetings and regrets re NNOC conference
  • Date: Oct 19, 2017 11:55 AM

Greg, Nalda, Cheryl, Banbose, Alicia — Having done projects with all of you, and with Miguel, Lee, and Ike whom I am cc’ing this along to, as well as others whom I’ve met at the last two NNOC conferences, I want to say how truly sorry I am not to be joining with you this weekend and send you all my best wishes for an energizing and successful gathering and hopes to see you before next year’s meeting. As anticipated, I am somewhat exhausted from the conclusion of five months of organizing the Boston-area Leonardo Padura festival that has just ended.

I believe the festival site — at july26.org/october-2017-leonardo-padura-festival/ — exemplifies why Padura is so important to US-Cuba relations and the Solidarity movement.  That this festival was sponsored by the July 26th Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition has given us a special visibility both for ourselves and to others.  I hope it is an opportunity we can build upon and look forward to doing so, along with our other important cultural-political work.

Once again, I wish you the best in solidarity, abrazos,

— peter
peterbmiller.wordpress.com
july26.org

* * *

June 19, 2017

“Cuba Solidarity in Brookline” – For the Brookline PAX 2017 Newsletter

* * *

May 31, 2017

Cuba Project Update: July26.org, “Complicity” presentation at BU Conference

Over the first part of the year, development of an updated Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition july26.org web presence took place and became official early this month; much of the Cuba Technology Project now takes place there.

Thursday, June 22, “COMPLICITY: How US Community and NonProfit Technology Has Been Complicit in Some Very Ugly Cuba ‘Regime Change’ Policies and Practices — And What To Do About It,” one of two papers written for the National Cuba Conference workshops in March (see below), to be adapted for “#ScreenTimeBU 2017: Fake News, Real Emotion, and The Mediated Self,” the Graduate Student Conference of the Division of Emerging Media Studies, at Boston University.

* * *

February 14, 2017

Workshops for the NationalCubaConference.org in NYC, March 24-26

More information available here.

* * *

December 8, 2016

Dr. Digipol on Cuba, Technology, and US-Cuba Relations

Subject:  
Cuba, Technology & US-Cuba Relations - Ths, 12/15 @ 4:00 EST

Note: This program is archived on Dr. Digipol’s Facebook page and YouTube.
The Dr. Digipol Show with Alan Rosenblatt:
     Cuba, Technology & Normalizing US-Cuba Relations
Featuring Nalda Vigezzi, Greg Klave, & Cheryl LaBash
from the National Network on Cuba
Thursday, December 15, 4:00-5:00pm (EST)

Nearing the two year anniversary of the historic December 17, 2014 joint normalization announcements by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, we talk with three of the five co-chairs in the National Network on Cuba about the implications of the death of Fidel Castro and the new regime of president-elect Donald Trump for US-Cuba relations.  Nalda, Greg, and Cheryl will also discuss the use of media and technology they co-ordinate for the network of solidarity groups – the www.nnoc.info web site and listserv, its Facebook page and webinars, organizing and advising local film and video festivals. More here.

* * *

July 18, 2016

New Guantanamo Film — July 26 Cuba holiday premiere at the Coolidge Corner Library

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May 31, 2016

Brookline Town Meeting Overwhelmingly Calls for an End to the Blockade Against Cuba

CubaTMMVote

Prime petitioner, Brookline Town Meeting resolution to Support the Call to End the U.S. Embargo against Cuba. The final resolution against the Blockade carried by over 95% of the vote.

Campaign detail includes links to the original citizens petition, combined reports of the Selectmen and Advisory Committee, text and video of the petitioner’s presentation and video of the vote itself.

A shortened version of the “Report on the April 2016 Community Technology Delegation Trip to Cuba” was published in the May 12, 2016 Brookline Tab to complement the Brookline May Town Meeting warrant article campaign.

* * *

May 12, 2016

“Community Technology in Cuba: Report on the April 2016 Delegation Trip” 

* * *

January 2016 — New Year’s Update: Che and Technoloby Development in Cuba

“Che Guevara and ICT4D in Cuba,” an end of the year / December 17th anniversary summary of follow-up research is available here. This draft consists of four or five parts, beginning with its titled introductory section, slightly revised and formatted for a June ICTD conference in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This brief summary of Che Guevara’s little-known contribution to the field provides a frame of reference for looking more closely at some more recent and current examples of ICT4D in Cuba — collaborative projects and studies involving inter-university ICT capacity building and Open Source, and problematic U.S.-based governmental and nonprofit “community development” technology efforts involving USAID and the Alan Gross and ZunZuneo fiascos, and Roots of Hope and the Hackathon for Cuba. This will hopefully contribute to the building of alternative, progressive perspectives, organizations, and projects.

David Nemer (dnemer.com), fresh off his PhD on CTCs in favelas, urban slums in Brazil, is back from his Havana research; Brian Beaton and Susan O’Donnell, presenting by invitation on how indigenous communities are using digital technologies in remote communities in Canada, as per ciresearchers, are at the University of Havana through the end of January; LandauTravel has announced another Open Technology Exchange for March; and the AltruVistas.com /CTNbayArea.org Community Technology delegation and tour is set for April. It’s an exciting time for progressive US-Cuba technology program development.

 

* * *

In conjunction with the June 2015 seminar on “Socialist Renewal and the Crisis of Capitalism” at the University of Havana,* there is a 2-page community technology proposal noted in the conclusion to my presentation there.

July 9, 2015

Community Technology in Cuba Project Report

alt-rootsofhope.org: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

There are a couple of key markers, stopping off points on the Community Technology road between the US and Cuba, and an especially useful one is rootsofhope.org. It’s got prime resources and lessons to teach, about what to do, and what not to do.

What’s not to like? — www.rootsofhope.org is a bilingual “international network of students and young professionals working to inspire young people across the globe to think about Cuba and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means.” As “a nonprofit, nonpartisan movement,” it’s supported with big name endorsers, a funding program, travel support, and a “Tech4Cuba” component, gathering and distributing new and used equipment.

The show-stopper for this self-proclaimed “nonprofit, non-partisan” effort is near the bottom of the page:

Right now, 11 million people in Cuba are systematically denied the ability to exercise their most fundamental rights and actualize their full potential. Living under the Western Hemisphere’s last dictatorship, Cuba’s people are denied their most basic rights of free speech, free association and information freedom.

* * * * *

One might possibly have gotten away with this pre-December 17, 2014, before Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced their historic joint effort to normalize relations. But now, even as a recruitment tool for technically-trained and experienced professionals/workers who know little about politics but want to “do good,” it’s not likely to be taken as nonpartisan, and as nonprofit, it is suspect.

To be sure, the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports on Cuba underline important areas of concern and troubling practices and policies, yet, especially in this country, readers of the 2+ pages on the Republic of Cuba in the State of the World’s Human Rights Amnesty International Report 2014/15 should consider them, especially its concluding section of the US blockade, alongside the 5+ pages on the United States of America, and www.hrw.org/americas/cuba bears contrast with www.hrw.org/united-states in so many ways.

In the US, many of the darker moments of our colonialism and involvement in Latin America seem to be little known or relegated to a suspect province of circumscribed left wing radicalism. That is clearly not the situation with our relations and activity in Cuba where our history of perniciousness is as public and American as The Godfather (II) and its vivid portrayal of the events of New Years Eve 1959 in Havana and as well known as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

So, in conjunction with the June 2015 seminar on “Socialist Renewal and the Crisis of Capitalism” at the University of Havana,* I developed a 2-page community technology proposal that was the conclusion to my presentation there, an effort to develop an alternative rootsofhope-type technology assistance demo or project in collaboration with, even under the guidance of, officially recognized Cuban institutions and nongovernmental organizations. It seemed pretty obvious to me that, no matter what one’s politics, that’s the collegial way to begin in the spirit of rapproachment that we share.

The “hard place” here is the extremely sensitive arena of Cuban technology development, one that combined with an offer of “help” and “support” of gringos from the U.S. can only be viewed with unease and suspicion. The sensitivity in that combination is underlined by recent revelations about the fiasco that was the US government covert Twitter project to undermine the Cuban government and the still-emerging details about Alan Gross, the US citizen imprisoned in Cuba in 2009 for bringing in unauthorized computer equipment, whose release was part of the “prisoner exchange” involving the Cuban 5 last December, the final hurdle to the December 17th Obama-Castro announcement of the normalization of relations.**

Still, I thought, with some outreach and planning and an explanation and presentation along with person-to-person contacts and face-to-face exchanges, it was an effort worth exploring. Getting few good leads from my informal individual inquiries here and there from the beginning of the year, my posts to a dozen community technology and related lists this spring yielded numerous suggestions, pieces of advice, words of endorsement and support (and warnings), requests for updates, and a donated laptop to pass along as encouragement.

I learned a lot from the experience. By-passing three tentative telecentre possibilities, I gave the computer to a member of the University’s Facultad de Lenguas Extranjeras, who has taken it upon herself to help develop project contacts. The possibilities for a US-Cuban co-operative network alliance hold some promise. The US-based Pastors for Peace Caravan, supported by the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos/ICAP, looks like an especially good avenue for further exploration with some dimensions of this project already in place.  I look forward to learning more, hearing suggestions, getting more expressions of interests, and providing an update of these and additional efforts in the near future.***

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* In lieu of a fuller analysis of this 25th edition of the Global Justice Center’s co-sponsored seminar and some of its financial, programmatic, and project FAQ features, here are:  the seminar agenda; my presentation on “The Promise and Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism and Democracy for the 21st Century — CyberMarxism, Community Technology, and Their Implications for Cuba”; and a compilation of all the U.S. delegation presentations.  My US-based fellow delegates included:

  • Everet Green (Mercy College, NY), “Nanny, Garvey, Rodney and the Cuban Revolution”
  • Zay Green, author of Christianity and Black Oppression: Duppy Know Who Fe Frighten, “Is Christianity a Major Factor in Black Oppression”
  • Shakara Tyler (graduate student, Michigan State University), “Building an Agroecological and African Cultural Exchange between the African Descendants in the US and Cuba: The Afro-Ecoexchange”
  • Tiffany Montoya (graduate student, Purdue University), “Organizing the Precariat Class as a Strategy for Systemic Transformation”
  • Cliff DuRand (Center for Global Justice), “Obama’s New Scheme to Reverse the Cuban Revolution” and “Building a Regulatory Regime for Cooperatives”
  • Al Campbell (emeritus, University of Utah), “New State-Civil Society Relations and New States for Socialism in XXI Century” and “The Structure and Practices of US Neoliberalism as Attacks on Labor”

** The “US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest” story that the Associated Press broke in April 2014 becomes more bizarre the more details are revealed, involving front companies and Cayman Island bank accounts, using $1.6 million of USAID money publicly earmarked for an unspecified project in Pakistan and stolen Cuban cell-phone numbers, to create a social media platform, ZunZuneo, as a covert program designed, in the report’s language, “to undermine” the Cuban government. Official US government and major news sources had claimed Alan Gross’s innocence in the face of his arrest for bringing in a laptop to help the small Jewish community in Havana develop communications resources. The $3.2 million settlement Alan Gross received less than a week after his release “avoids the cost, delay and risks of further proceedings, and does not constitute an admission of liability by either party,” the USAID statement said, suggesting there was something more going on than what the New York Times and government sources referred to earlier, Gross’s denial of working for any intelligence agency and White House press secretary Jay Carney’s claim “Mr. Gross is a 64-year-old husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing aid to underserved communities in more than 50 countries.”

 

Résumé-CV

18 Nov

Peter Brodie Miller

36 Atherton Road, Brookline, MA 02446, 617.734.1910 — peterm@igc.org

June 12, 2018 – Digital Service Learning Workshop, NorthEast Regional Computing Program/NERCOMP, Norwood, MA. Presentation notes here.

2010-present – Communications Coordinator, Families and Friends of 100 Centre St., Brookline, MA, web site, e-list and technology support initiatives with Hebrew Senior Life’s independent living facility residents.

2015-present – web site coordinator, July26.org, the Boston-Cuba July 26th Solidarity Coalition since February 2017; Cuba-related organizing / writing / presentations / workshops include:

* February 1 and 2, 2018 – program organizer, A Cultural History of Cuba and the Literacy Campaign of 1961, with Alan West-Durán, Northeastern University, Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies, and Griselda Aguilera Cabrera featured in “Maestra,” at Encuentro 5.

* November 4, 2017 – “U.S. Cuba Policy from Obama to Trump — It’s Not What It Looks Like at All,” Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA 2017), University of Vermont, Burlington, VT, International Transboundary Coordination and Conflict Track.

* October 10-17, 2017 – Organizer, the Boston-area Leonardo Padura festival – at july26.org/october-2017-leonardo-padura-festival/ and in The Brookline Tab at “Brookline kicks off Boston-area festival for Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura.”

* July 26, 2017 – “July 26th Cuba Revolution Day with Lee Schlenker, Witness for Peace” on July26.org and in The Brookline Tab.

* June 22, 2017 – “Complicity: How US Community and NonProfit Technology Has Been Complicit in Some Very Ugly Cuba ‘Regime Change’ Policies and Practices — And What To Do About It” panel presentation for “Fake News, Real Emotion, & The Mediated Self” Graduate Student Conference,Department of Emerging Media Studies, Boston University. Presentation notes/outline.

* March 25, 2017 – Organized and moderated two workshops sessions with background papers for both, on “National Legislative Action to End the Embargo, Opportunities for Local Campaigns to Play a Major Role, and Lessons from Canada” and “Technology and Digital Media Support for Cuba and the Solidarity Movement,” National Cuba Conference, Fordham University, New York City.

* March 17, 2017 – “Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba at the Grassroots,” with Rita Barouch, North America Congress on Latina America, NACLA News and Analysis at https://nacla.org/news/2017/03/17/ending-us-embargo-cuba-grassroots

* December 15, 2016 – Producer, Dr. Digipol on Cuba, Technology, and US-Cuba Relations, on the two year joint normalization announcements anniversary, a talk with three of the five co-chairs in the National Network on Cuba about the implications of the death of Fidel Castro and the new regime of president-elect Donald Trump for US-Cuba relations and the media and technology they use to co-ordinate the U.S. network of solidarity groups.

* July 26, 2016 – Organizer and local newspaper publicity for Boston area premier showing of “All Guantanamo is Ours” documentary.

* May 31, 2016 – Presentation to the Brookline Town Meeting in support of the “Resolution Calling for an End to the United States’ Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Against Cuba and Respect for Cuba’s Sovereignty.”

* May 12, 2016 – “Report on the April 2016 Delegation Trip to Cuba” sponsored by the Community Technology Network of the Bay Area.

* January 25, 2016 – “Che Guevara and the Origins of ICT4D in Cuba,” prepared for June ICT4D conference.

* July 9, 2015 – “alt-rootsofhope.org: Between a Rock and a Hard Place — Community Technology in Cuba Project Report” — on the June trip to Cuba and seminar co-sponsored by the Center for Global Justice.

* June 23, 2015 – “The Promise & Peril of the Third Wave: Socialism & Democracy for the 21st Century — CyberMarxism, Community Technology, and Their Implications for Cuban Development,” paper/presentation for the 25th Seminar between Cuban and Northamerican Philosophers and Social Scientists, University of Havana.

Other post-doctoral Community Media and Technology writing, presentations, and activities

Draft papers on Manuel Castell’s Information Age Trilogy and Ed Schwartz’s NetActivism now Available for Comment: Manuel Castells’ Information Age Trilogy and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory — Marxist and Weberian Transformations and Ed Schwartz and NetActivism, Theory and Practice:  Legacy and Lessons for Localism, Civic Education, and Community Organizing (April 20, 2015)

Tech Networks of Boston — TNB Roundtable: “What nonprofit organizations need to know about community technology centers,” November 7, 2014. Overview here; notes here.

From the Digital Divide to Digital Inclusion and Beyond: An Update on Telecentres and CTCs,” a review of five recent works and basis for organizing panel and presentation on “Bridging the Digital Divide and Promoting Digital Inclusion: An Update on Public Access Venues and Projects” for “Public Administration in an Information Society: Opportunities, Threats, and Intriguing Possibilities,” the Northeast Conference on Public Administration, November 2, 2013.

Updated dissertation chapter on “Centres and Centers: The Centrality of Telecentres and Community Technology Centers (CTCs)” and Epilogue (on this chapter as an example of how to customize an online textbook in Community Informatics) considered by the Information Technology and Policy (ITP) section of the American Political Science Association (APSA) for 2013 Teaching and Learning Innovations Award. As per CMT2012, presentations/workshops on this material developed for Ethos Roundtable (October 2010), the 5th International Conference on Communities and Technologies Conference in Brisbane (June 2011); the Northeast Conference on Public Administration in New York City (October 2011); the Community Informatics Research Network Conference in Prato, Italy (November 2011).

Dissertation, Political Theory as an Avocation: Community Technology and the Prospects for Democracy in America; other updated chapters and material (at CMT & Political Theory) include:

In Open Media Boston:

1983-present; Mission Hill Food Co-op, co-coordinator; “Rebuilding the Co-op Movement Using Modern Communication Tools” session, 2011 Boston Digital Media Conference.

CTC development support, Points of Light Foundation, 2010-11; program developer and oversight committee member, grant writer, Brookline Extended Day Advisory Council, 2007-10;, Board of Directors, 2009-2014, Brookline Interactive Group/Brookline Access Television.

Previous Experience

Founder, Co-Principal Investigator, Director of the CTC VISTA Project, transformed into the Transmission Project) at UMass/Boston in the College of Public and Community Service, 4/00-10/05; Development and Support Specialist, 10/05-07.

Project provided for the recruitment, placement, and ongoing support of more than 400 AmeriCorps*VISTA members in Community Technology Centers and related organizations across the country from its inception through August 2011. The most popular project in the AmeriCorps online recruitment and placement system when it went online in 2001 through 2003, the project housed the Community Technology Review through 2005, won one of Grassroot.org’s first “Techie” awards in April 2007, and was the major field component of the Community Media and Technology program at the UMass College of Public and Community Service

Oversaw/developed other field initiatives including the Commonwealth Broadband Collaborative, a university-community regional partnership designed to provide cable and Internet programming, distribution, training, and support, producing “First Tuesday,” a community media and technology news magazine program, simultaneously cablecast over community cable channels in Eastern Massachusetts and streamed over the web, 2003-04; and the Boston Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Electronic Filing and Technology Access Project, designed to return millions of dollars in federal and state taxes to low-income Boston residents by deploying a new online application system, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Opportunities Program, 2003-05.

Network Director, Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet.org, , best accessed via archive.org, directly at https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://ctcnet.org), 2/94-7/98; Public Policy Project Coordinator, 7/98-12/99.

Responsible for planning, management, outreach, and development of national network of community technology centers (growing from 12 to over 400, and later to over 1200), the country’s oldest and largest association of community organizations with programs designed to provide technology training, access and support to low-income and at-risk populations; program and materials development; central and regional staff coordination; strategic alliances. Public Policy project work focused on rural CTC development and telecom policy, culminating in special issue of the Community Technology Review jointly published by CTCNet, the Association for Community Networking, and the Alliance for Community Media.

Related Community Technology Leadership Activities (1994-2005):

  • Founder and editor, Community Technology Review (1994-2005)
  • Board of Directors:  Alliance for Public Technology; Alliance for Community Media, Northeast Region; Ohio Community Computing Center Network; Technology Education Council of Somerville.
  • Board of Advisors: Computers in Our Future, the Wellness Foundation-supported California Community Computing Center Network project; Distance Learning Policy Laboratory of the Southern Regional Education Board; the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy; OMB Watch’s Nonprofits, Policy, and Technology Project; Association for Community Networking; Freedom House Technology Advisory Committee (Roxbury, MA), the Organizers’ Collaborative.
  • Consultant: CTC and 21st Century Schools Programs in the U.S. Department of Education; National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology, developing the “Linkages Guide” (listed and linked below) and pre-organization for the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network (nten.org), 1998-99; California Foundation for Parks and Recreation, support in developing their national CTC models and network in collaboration with LAP.org, 2002-03; the Jordanian Ministry of Information, supported by US AID’s Achievement of Market-Friendly Initiatives and Results (AMIR) Program, evaluating the country’s CTC Program, “Knowledge Stations Financial Sustainability Assessment,” put together team with Richard Civille, Mona Affifi, Steve Cisler, Michael Gurstein, 2002-03.

Executive Director, Somerville Community Computing Center, 1988-12/93.

Organizational and volunteer coordination for Apple II, Mac and PC community labs; oversight for public access and education/human service programs with city’s Adult Ed Program (ABE, GED, ESL), Council on Aging, Head Start, Even Start, Community Schools, public library, community cable access center and other agencies. Teacher training, technical assistance, program development, grantsmanship.

Publications and Computer Resources and Training (PACRAT) Specialist for Community Organizations, 1986-93

  • Consultant – Oxfam America, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the National Conference of Progressive Printers of America, Massachusetts Community Action Agency Directors’ Association, Mass. Union of Public Housing Tenants, Mass. Women’s Political Caucus, Mass. Association for Counseling and Development, Mass Council of Human Service Providers, Mass. Association of CDCs, Lena Park CDC, the Organizing and Leadership Training Center, TDC Connect.
  • Coordinator, Project Place/United South End Settlements technology education, training, and access program for the homeless, 1991-93.
  • Coordinator, MetroBoston Community Desktop Publishing Center Network, 1987-90 – Established centers at the Roxbury Action Program, Mass Union of Public Housing Tenants (Dorchester), City Life/Vida Urbana (Jamaica Plain), and the Somerville Community Action Agency through grants from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Communities and Development and Apple Computer Community Affairs; program development and grantsmanship; training and on-going support.
  • Co-Editor/Editor, Impact, the joint publication of the Social Impact Group and Public Service Committee of the Boston Computer Society, 1990-93; the final two issues in 1993 with community computing center inserts are in the Community Technology Review archive.
  • Conference Organizer – First through third annual “New England Conference on Computers and Social Change” 1991-1993.

Technical Materials Coordinator, Cambridge Institute for Information Systems, Inc., 1983-85.

Responsible for development and production of training, educational, and public information materials including editing, graphics, design, and layout; coordination and contract management with production and design vendors and suppliers; in-house training for technical and administrative staff; management of Institute’s Macintosh network; assistance for courses in Information Processing Systems and Executive Program in Software and Processor Technology.

Executive Director, Urban Planning Aid, Inc., Boston, 1979-83.                     Administrative and supervisory responsibility for low-income community resource and training center (with staff of 30), the country’s first advocacy planning agency; programs in audio-visual and print media (including production and distribution of “Community Press Features” graphic services), housing, health, crime prevention; joint VISTA, Urban League and UMass/Boston projects; relations with governmental and private funding sources; eastern Massachusetts-wide workshop and conference programs; program development; grantsmanship.

Adjunct Faculty:  Community Media and Technology Program, College of Public and Community Service, UMass/Boston; Goddard College Adult Degree Program, Plainfield, VT; Boston College Evening College (Department of Political Science); University of California at Santa Cruz (political science teaching fellow); Deep Springs College, Deep Springs, CA.

Additional writings and publications include:

“Community Building Journalism: The Community Technology Review as a Model” in Schuler, Douglas (ed.), Liberating Voices! A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), pp. 399-401.

“Oberlin College and the Berkeley School of Political Theory” (2009), based on the expanded narrative for “The Electronic Resource Development Project for the Berkeley School of Political Theory, the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competition, 2007.

“CTCNet, the Community Technology Movement, and the Prospects for Democracy in America,” chapter 8 in Gurstein, Michael (ed.), Community Informatics: Enabling Community Uses of Information and Communications Technology (Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishers/IGI Global, 2000), pp 190-212, also available here.

See also all the editorial introductions to the Community Technology Review and essays/articles on “The Corporation for National Service and the Digital Divide” (fall-winter 02-03), “The Commonwealth Broadband Collaborative and the Premiere of ‘First Tuesday'” (spring 03), “An Introduction to the Journal of Community Informatics (winter 04-05), The ComTechReview and the CTC VISTA Project: Turning Inward and Looking Out Again” (fall ’05).

Originally available directly at www.ctcnet.org now via archive.org, e.g.:

“Bridging the Gap: Community Organizations and Computers” and “Part Two: What Can Be Done — Tips for Volunteers and Consultants,” Impact (Boston Computer Society), January and June, 1989.

“The Partisan Review Comes to Boston” (1978)

“John Dewey — Towards the Political Education of Science,” March 1975; “Dewey’s Philosophy of Science — A Preliminary Plan for The Experimental Resurrection of John Dewey, May 1975.

Education:

•   Ph.D., University of CA at Santa Cruz, Political Theory and Community Technology in the History of Consciousness Program, advanced to candidacy 5/1975, degree awarded 12/2010.

•  B.A., Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, cum laude in Philosophy and Government, 6/1967.

Recent Projects and Archives

1 Oct

April 19, 2021

The New Year:
Changes with the Food Co-op, 100 Centre St., and US-Cuba relations

The new year began with major announcements in all these arenas, making for an especially busy time.

I had been hoping to provide each with its own accounting but tempus fugit, we are already well into the second quarter, and no individual reflection has been fleshed out so much as having some individual bits and pieces to point to, beginning with the notices of December 28 and January 2, the first from United Natural Foods, Inc., announcing a major increase in minimum orders for its buying clubs, then the notice from Groupspaces, home of the Families and Friends of 100 Centre St. website, that they would be shutting down in April, and finally the hoped-for change that Biden’s election and the new administration would usher in for healing and getting back to the historic US-Cuba normalization efforts begun by Presidents Obama and Castro on December 17, 2014.

The stories and some relevant pieces are as follows. (More here.)

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April 2021

The Magic Door — Addendum

0406_Kids+10We’d gone to Summit Park only occasionally through the fall and winter, and when Maeve and I went there to meet up with Roni, Elan, and Aliza at the beginning of April on one of those warm and promising early spring days, we played primarily on the playground side (before eventually going to the other side for a visit to the Climbing Tree), so, of course, it wasn’t too long before I wandered over to check out the Magic Door, just as a matter of course, not really expecting anything new. And when I saw the woman who could only be Jennifer Lockwood, standing in back of the Magic Door, at work on it, sanding, I went over and introduced myself, and we fell into an immediate old friend exchange. (More here.)

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October 23, 2020

The Magic Door on Summit Hill
Chapter 2:  A Big Tree Falls So Close

I finally caught up with the first and founding chapter about the Magic Door on Summit Hill. It’s on Jennifer Bruni’s blog from three years ago. With a Brookline adventure/journey all its own, helped along by travel advisors Chobee Hoy (of course), Barr Jozwicki, Mac Dewart, and Arlene Mattison leading me to Jennifer Lockwood and her artist and artisan site with its small confirming photo. (More here.)

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June 3, 2020

Community Technology in the Time of Covid-19

I see that there hasn’t been an update here since last December, to the national US-Cuba Normalization Conference postponed in March, and that the Tech4Seniors section has yet to have more than a brief three-paragraph link. Developments in both these arenas over the last six months, most notably with the pandemic’s dramatic emergence in March, have been substantial and help define some of the recent issues in community technology, first and foremost, video-conferencing, in a briefer word: Zoom.

Even before the Covid-19 outbreak video conferencing was becoming a major app. Back in June of 2017, several of us had an exchange on the Massachusetts nonprofit technology list about Zoom, Join.me, WebEx, Bluejeans, Skype, Shingdig, and Anymeeting and looked forward to a wider discussion about online conferencing and webinar platforms for nonprofits that never quite happened. But even then the need for a combination of advanced systems, good Internet speed, and participant know-how was bringing renewed meaning back to the notion of “the digital divide” and the importance of dealing with all the inequalities that originally gave the expression passion, intensity, and focus. The explosion of webinars, online meetings, and educational programs following school closings has given equal access an urgency it hasn’t had since the Internet burst on the scene in the 1990’s.

As complications in both the very different Cuba Solidarity and Tech4Seniors arenas have given me pause, I pull together these summaries in the hope that this will provide some useful perspective for myself and others interested in community media and technology matters. They go something as follows:  (more here)

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December 18, 2019

Organizing the second national US-Cuba Normalization Conference this March

cuban_protest-2

Planning for the second national US-Cuba Normalization Conference to be held in New York City, March 21-23, 2020 is now underway. The conference web site is www.us-cubanormalization.org — with a summary overview at July26.org.

The six panels and follow-ups stand in contrast to the 20 workshops, resulting from an open call, organized for the first conference in 2017 — and reflect the conference organizers’ commitment to a focused anti-embargo/blockade action plan called for — to be finalized Sunday. Notably, planning for the conference, with 40+ organizing committee members participating in each of the first two teleconferences, is using the solidarity movement’s first participatory electronic forum/discussion.

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August 12, 2019

The Berkeley School of Political Theory and its Lessons on Technology

As a guest on Marcus Breen’s Boston Media Theory Show, taped July 18, I thought it was going to be about the history of community technology in Boston and then get around to technology in Cuba and in the solidarity movement in the U.S., but it started with some exchanges on the Berkeley School of Political Theory, went on to some basics about Community Technology Centers, and, with time drawing to a close, a bit on Cuba.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted or given public attention to community media or technology matters. The program shows how I look and come across these days.  It’s given me pause to reflect on, among other matters, the Berkeley School and my initial dissertation treatments — and more resonances are springing forth, as a current New York Review of Books “Real Americans” essay leads back to John Schaar’s “The Case for Patriotism” that originally appeared in the [New] American Review, #17 in 1973.

If I took the opportunity to refine my initial treatment, I’d try to include a more succinct definition of the Berkeley School, though you can see how difficult that is from its Wikipedia entry. And I’d offer, too, a more pointed summary of its lessons about technology, those from both Langdon Winner’s The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology and from Ed Schwartz’s NetActivism: How Citizens Use the Internet and his work with LibertyNet and as founder the Institute for the Study of Civic Values. Good models all.

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May 31,2018

Digital Service Learning — The Workshop

When I first saw and responded to the outreach notice for workshop panelists who could offer some guidance in the field of Digital Service Learning, on the Boston digital humanities list way back last August, the opportunity felt like a natural one to follow-up with. More here.

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February 6, 2018

A Cultural History of Cuba and the Literacy Campaign of 1961

A+G-508crTwo Programs:  February 1 & 2

Alan West-DuránA Cultural History of Cubabook launch — reading, discussion, Q&A — Thursday, Feb 1, noon-2:00, Northeastern University, Department of Cultures, Societies, and Global Studies. Alan hosted the Friday program.

Friday, Feb 2, 7:00 at Encuentro 5. Griselda Aguilera Cabrera was a seven-year-old teacher in Cuba’s 1961 Revolutionary Literacy Campaign, one of nine women featured in “Maestra,” the award-winning documentary whose synopsis begins: “250,000 volunteer teachers joined the national literacy campaign. Almost half of them were under 18 and over half of them were women. Together they taught a nation to read and write – and their lives would never be the same.”  Now retired from her career as an educator, Griselda works with the Cuban Psychology Society’s Working Group on Identity and Diversity.  Following a showing of the 32-minute documentary, Griselda spoke about Cuban education then and now and entertained questions on a wide range of topics. Some scenes of the Friday program are available here.

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November 3, 2017

“U.S. Cuba Policy from Obama to Trump — It’s Not What It Looks Like at All”

Northeast Conference on Public Administration (NECoPA 2017)
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
International Transboundary Coordination and Conflict Track
Saturday, November 4, 3:30-4:45

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October 21, 2017

Special Greetings and Regrets

This is a slightly edited version of a communication to the co-chairs of the National Network on Cuba (www.nnoc.info) and some other folks, on the occasion of the annual national conference, held this year in Seattle, at the Washington State Labor Council HQ on 16th Avenue S., October 20-22.

  • Subject:  Special greetings and regrets re NNOC conference
  • Date: Oct 19, 2017 11:55 AM

Greg, Nalda, Cheryl, Banbose, Alicia — Having done projects with all of you, and with Miguel, Lee, and Ike whom I am cc’ing this along to, as well as others whom I’ve met at the last two NNOC conferences, I want to say how truly sorry I am not to be joining with you this weekend and send you all my best wishes for an energizing and successful gathering and hopes to see you before next year’s meeting. As anticipated, I am somewhat exhausted from the conclusion of five months of organizing the Boston-area Leonardo Padura festival that has just ended.

I believe the festival site — at july26.org/october-2017-leonardo-padura-festival/ — exemplifies why Padura is so important to US-Cuba relations and the Solidarity movement.  That this festival was sponsored by the July 26th Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition has given us a special visibility both for ourselves and to others.  I hope it is an opportunity we can build upon and look forward to doing so, along with our other important cultural-political work.

Once again, I wish you the best in solidarity, abrazos,

— peter
peterbmiller.wordpress.com
july26.org

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May 31, 2017

Cuba Project Update: July26.org, “Complicity” presentation at BU Conference

Over the first part of the year, development of an updated Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition july26.org web presence took place and became official early this month; much of the Cuba Technology Project now takes place there.

Thursday, June 22, “COMPLICITY: How US Community and NonProfit Technology Has Been Complicit in Some Very Ugly Cuba ‘Regime Change’ Policies and Practices — And What To Do About It,” one of two papers written for the National Cuba Conference workshops in March (see below), will be delivered at “#ScreenTimeBU 2017: Fake News, Real Emotion, and The Mediated Self,” the Graduate Student Conference of the Division of Emerging Media Studies, at Boston University.  Presentation outline/notes.

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February 14, 2017

Workshops for the NationalCubaConference.org in NYC, March 24-26

  • National Legislative Action to End the Embargo and Opportunities for Local Campaigns to Play a Major Role” — with Andrea Fernandez Aponte, The Latin America Working Group (LAWG.org); Tim Craine, the Greater Hartford Cuba Coalition; Pepe Rossy, Albany-Cuba Solidarity, and Peter Miller, July26.org in Boston. The session is informed by a review of last year’s four successful municipal campaigns, as published by NACLA.org here.
  • “Technology and Digital Media Support for Cuba and the Solidarity Movement,” with Charlie Welch, Boston-Cuba Solidarity July26.org and TecsChange.org; Sam Kellogg, North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA.org); Cheryl LaBash, the National Network on Cuba (NNOC.info); Danny Spitzberg (peakagency.co), NPOTechCoop Cuba project; Peter Miller, July26.org and the Progressive Technology Cuba Project. The session is informed by the short paper “Complicity: How US Community and NonProfit Technology Has Been Complicit in Some Very Ugly Cuba ‘Regime Change’ Policies and Practices — And What To Do About It,” available here.

More information available here.

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January 13, 2017

Oberlin — Directory page for 50th reunion

Memories and life since Oberlin meld together, witness the following notice from a year and a half ago:

Mini-50th Reunion
            Tim and Leslie Hart Craine (both, ’65) and Peter Miller (’67) caught up on October 17, 2015 at the “The Future of U.S.-Cuban Relations” Conference at Central Connecticut State University…

More here.

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December 8, 2016

Dr. Digipol on Cuba, Technology, and US-Cuba Relations

The Dr. Digipol Show with Alan Rosenblatt:
     Cuba, Technology & Normalizing US-Cuba Relations
Featuring Nalda Vigezzi, Greg Klave, & Cheryl LaBash
from the National Network on Cuba
Thursday, December 15, 4:00-5:00pm (EST)

Nearing the two year anniversary of the historic December 17, 2014 joint normalization announcements by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro, we talk with three of the five co-chairs in the National Network on Cuba about the implications of the death of Fidel Castro and the new regime of president-elect Donald Trump for US-Cuba relations.  Nalda, Greg, and Cheryl will also discuss the use of media and technology they co-ordinate for the network of solidarity groups – the www.nnoc.info web site and listserv, its Facebook page and webinars, organizing and advising local film and video festivals. More here.

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July 18, 2016

New Guantanamo Film — July 26 Cuba holiday premiere at the Coolidge Corner Library

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May 12, 2016

Community Technology in Cuba Update:  Report on the April 2016 Delegation

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July 12, 2015

Community Technology in Cuba Project Report

alt-rootsofhope.org: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

There are a couple of key markers, stopping off points on the Community Technology road between the US and Cuba, and an especially useful one is rootsofhope.org. It’s got prime resources and lessons to teach, about what to do, and what not to do.

What’s not to like? — www.rootsofhope.org is a bilingual “international network of students and young professionals working to inspire young people across the globe to think about Cuba and proactively support our young counterparts on the island through innovative means.” As “a nonprofit, nonpartisan movement,” it’s supported with big name endorsers, a funding program, travel support, and a “Tech4Cuba” component, gathering and distributing new and used equipment.

The show-stopper for this self-proclaimed “nonprofit, non-partisan” effort is near the bottom of the page:

“Right now, 11 million people in Cuba are systematically denied the ability to exercise their most fundamental rights and actualize their full potential. Living under the Western Hemisphere’s last dictatorship, Cuba’s people are denied their most basic rights of free speech, free association and information freedom.”

For more, see the full report here.

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April 20, 2015

Draft papers on Manuel Castell’s Information Age Trilogy and Ed Schwartz’s NetActivism Available for Comment

I’ve recently completed two drafts, each still needing more work, but both well enough along that despite their embarrassments, ellipses, and other failings, there’s enough in the attempts to merit making them quasi-public for review, feedback, and suggestions.  Their long titles tell the story of what they’re trying to do and are linked to the drafts:

Manuel Castells’ Information Age Trilogy and the Epic Tradition of Political Theory — Marxist and Weberian Transformations

and

Ed Schwartz and NetActivism, Theory and Practice:  Legacy and Lessons for Localism, Civic Education, and Community Organizing

Should either strike a chord of interest and you take a look, know that your comments will be appreciated.

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October 7, 2014

BIG News:  Ethel Weiss, Larry Lessig, Kathy Bisbee and the Road Ahead

BIG, the Brookline Interactive Group, formerly Brookline Access TV (BATV), is currently blessed with at least two major productions of special note — the first, on Ethel Weiss and Irving’s Toy Store, not only for its presentation of one of Brookline’s true town heroines and institutions, but also for the unique behind-the-scenes story it holds, its well-conceived and exemplary video production values, and the key role that BIG/BATV staff played in its development.

The second video is Larry Lessig’s recent League of Women Voters-sponsored “MayDay: The Fight to Save American Democracy” presentation, Lawrence Lessig, reknown Harvard Law School Faculty member specializing in — Telecommunications — radical activist and founder of the superpac to end superpacs and champion of real campaign finance reform. It’s Larry Lessig, because, as he points out from the packed and overflowing Selectmen’s hearing/meeting room on the sixth floor of Town Hall, that’s where his home is, a mile away. It’s a major town event.

Together these videos — along with a host of other fine productions — play key roles on the Brookline Public Access cable channel, Comcast channel 23, RCN channel 15, the 24/7 ongoing, online multi-media re-presentation of Brookline’s public face. (for more, see BIG News 10-07-14).

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July 2, 2014

“Innovations in Community Media and Technology: 3/29/12 Live from Brookline, MA and Webcast Everywhere” — Guide to the 12-Minute Version

A variety of long-range considerations and circumstances of the moment, including the current search for a new Executive Director for the Brookline Interactive Group, formerly Brookline Access Television, make a review of this live program especially timely… (for more, see Innovations Guide).

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This site houses my recent academic and journalistic work, on community technology centers (CTCs) and telecentres, Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI) eTextbook material, article links for pieces in OpenMediaBoston.org, and other community media and technology resources that have been developed in the last few years along with some older related matters, including archival information for The Community Technology Review, its predecessor and successor.  I’m reachable about any of these things at peterm@igc.org. —pbm