calendars and geographies 1

the little zapatista book

The little Zapatista book I’m writing annotates key Zapatista concepts along with the aim of provoking readers to think and take action. The expression ‘calendars and geographies,’ is an example of the sort of thing I’m writing about:  what does Zapatismo mean by our own calendars and geographies?

Here is an example taken from the opening remarks at Zapatista international gathering, in May 2015  ‘Critical Thought in the Face of the Capaitalist Hydra’ held in San Cristobal, Mexico.


posters of the event Critical Thinking in the Face of the Capitalist Hydra

We Zapatistas have a different calendar and geography for how to have elections in rebel territory, in resistance.

In other words, the people command their government.

The people organize in assemblies, where they begin to express their opinions and from there proposals emerge and these proposals are studied for their advantages and disadvantages, to analyse which one is best. And before making a decision, the proposals are taken back to the people and the assembly for approval so that a decision can be made in accordance with the majority of the communities.

This is Zapatista life in the communities. It is already a true culture.

Does that seem very slow to you? That is why we say that it is according to our calendar.

Do you think this is because we are Indigenous peoples? This is why we say that it is according to our geography.

the research process


we are a product of 500 years of struggle

So back to this book. One thing I did last year, and I need to re-visit this year, was to make a list of all the Zapatista concepts I could think of, and consider essential to grasping the ideas Zapatismo offers, this new world, where many worlds walk.

When I made time to work on the book, I chose one term, and then wrote as much as I could by setting myself the task of 30-minute timed writing exercises. I treated it like answering an essay question on an exam:  what do I know about …. ? Then I would do more research if questions or knowledge gaps had emerged while writing. I added this to the document, and then I left it.

It’s 2017, without even reviewing these documents, I am fairly certain that all of them are rough draft quality, but I’ve begun. And I’m beginning again, and I’m sorting and prioritising the list of concepts. Calanders and geographies is one of these essential ones, and I’m working on it again. I don’t yet have a bright witty vignette on calendars and geographies to share, but in brief, the expression is about controlling the construction and narrative of your life, or your community’s, in a way where you are the subject of the story.


whose history did you learn at school?

  • calendar — the flow and organisation of time in a way that highlights and celebrates you and your communities’ milestone events

On a micro/me level this is going begin with our birthdays, the traditions and important events that our family and community observe. On a broader level, this will be the traditions and important events that uphold the dominant culture.

Yesterday, 26 January, was Australia Day, now with a name like that, do you think the day commemorates an invasion or the arrival of new-comers?

ce348zfuyaaoqgsBy and large, people with stories to tell, events to commemorate, celebrate or collectively grieve that are different from the dominant narrative struggle to gain and hold space for their stories.

The idea of calendars and geographies by its nature embodies expectations that our stories are different, that we have experienced different worlds because of where we come from and who we are. Time and space is needed to share these.

  • geography — wherever you are in the world and how Mother Earth’s life force shapes your landscape, world.

What is your relationship like with the natural world? And how does the natural world influenced your life, or your family’s or community’s?


trees, the Earth’s lungs

Wise words from a friend the other day:

Planting trees is an easy, good thing to do, they are the Earth’s lungs, and we can never have too many trees.

This led me to think, where do I usually see trees in daily life? Today that’s mostly in the park; someone else might answer, the forest, on the side of the road, or in the cracks of the sidewalk. Or not all.

What feelings do trees, or different landscapes, evoke in you?

The roll the land, green cultivate fields of England  –similar to where I had grown up in nearly New England– brought back memories from an earlier age that hadn’t been stimulated in the same ways by the Chiapas jungle and highland forests, or the bamboo forests in Japan when I lived in those places.


… and they cut down the trees and put up a parking lot

so, …

So it’s January 2017, about one week after the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States. There was also this tremendous outpouring of discontent and solidarity by women and men around the world the next day.

So, this post is essentially about our calendars and geographies, and ….


our troubled times, that I believe will only get worse, so please inform yourself and organise with others. The Zapatistas published a book out of the exchanges at the seminar. ‘Critical Thinking in the Face of the Capaitalist Hydra’ is available directly from AK Press and the money goes back to Zapatista communities.

But if you don’t have time for a book, watch ‘Obey’, the film. It’s less than 1 hour. What do you think about the film? Share it with someone else, and talk about it.

Learn something new, why not start with this article from the Radio Zapatista Collective, that I just translated this week. It’s reporting on a session (conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow) from another international gathering, the Zapatistas and ConSciences for Humanity held at the end of 2016, beginning of year 2017.

Zapatismo, conscious science and the purpose of the rainbow

El zapatismo, la ciencia consciente y la función del arco iris


what’s the purpose of the rainbow?

And the last suggestion will take all the time you’ve got, and it’s about keeping on being you and doing what you.

Until we begin to disobey and resist strategically and collectively, Don Trump & Co. will dominate the narrative. So let us get it together, like the Zapatistas. Like the women and men at the march on Saturday 21 January 2017 … and go beyond that important, but largely ‘feel good’ event to build something broader, more strategic, sustainable and deep.

patchwork calendars and geographies

The calendars and geographies of my life are a patchwork. The winds have blown me here and there, and the sea and tides taken me places I couldn’t have imagined. Everywhere I go I met people doing really extraordinary things, or ordinary, thoughtful, life-affirming things. You know who you are, and if you wonder whether you are or not, you probably are.


my patchwork of calendars and geographies include …

So let’s get it together, collectively, organise and keep the greater good in mind, AND LOVE. Keep lots of love in mind, in heart and to hand.

4 thoughts on “c and g 1

    • as you said: indeed! yay for the familia cósmica. we’d be screwed without it
      me — word

      or something like that. definitely NOT lies, maybe different experiences, certainly not alternative facts. as i remember it. big love grrrrrlie, see you in MX 2017 xo

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