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Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar 2015
The Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar is a joint fundraising and educational project between outside organizers in Montreal and Toronto and three political prisoners being held in maximum-security prisons in New York State: David Gilbert, Robert Seth Hayes and Herman Bell. We are committed to doing work grounded in an anti-imperialist and anti-racist perspective. We work in solidarity with anti-colonial struggles, political prisoners and the rights of undocumented citizens and migrants. We are queer and trans liberationist. We raise awareness of political prisoners and prisoners of war (PP/POWs) in North America and abroad, many of whom are now in their third decade of imprisonment. People on the streets should understand the history of today’s social justice movements and how that history is linked to solidarity for PPs/POWs. In addition to building that historical awareness, we emphasize the ongoing involvement and continued commitment of PPs/POWs in these same movements.
This year’s theme is “Land, Nature, Earth Liberation”: some of this year’s contributors highlight specific eco-justice struggles, while others discuss the importance of building earth liberation movements that don’t reproduce other forms of oppression. Some reflect on their imprisonment for defending the land. As the Certain Days collective members explain, “We find the struggles highlighted in these pages to be inspirational, and find beauty in them, as we do in nature itself. We hope you will too.” The proceeds from Certain Days 2015 will be divided among these groups: The New York State Task Force on Political Prisoners, Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association, and 4strugglemag.
2015 Statement from the Certain Days Collective
The original vision for this year's theme was a nature calendar. Featuring art and photographs of nature scenes on each page, it would be beautiful to look at. Many a copy of Certain Days hangs on the wall of a prison cell. And a nature calendar makes perfect sense in that context: people need the natural world to survive, in a very material sense - to breath, to eat - but also in an emotional sense. Nature grounds us. One of the most destructive things that prison does it to rob people of that connection to the land. As Mandy Hiscock expresses in her contribution (see the December page), that connection can be the hardest to keep alive across the prison walls -- harder than the connection to family, friends, or liberation movements. Often images are the only form of contact with non-human life that prisoners have contact with.
We've broadened that theme original vision to also include struggles to defend the natural world. Land and eco-defence struggles are at the heart of everything we fight for, because if we fail to sustain the planet, all other struggles will be for naught. In a very concrete way, the systems of oppression that keep us down are the same forces that are destroying the earth we walk on and the air we breathe. The environmental impact of war, destruction of indigenous land, and environmental racism are but a few examples of this. Prisons are intimately bound up with this logic as well. A worldview that sees all life -- human and non-human alike -- as commodities to be bought, sold, controlled and discarded underpins prison control units, the death penalty and indefinite immigration detention. The same worldview underpins mountaintop removal, clearcut logging and 'solutions' like carbon trading. To say nothing of the environmental impacts of the prison industrial complex itself. C learly, the fight to defend the planet that sustains us all is the fight to liberate ourselves.
On the home front, Certain Days is facing sustainability issues of a different kind. Our 'outside' collective members are entering a stage of life where producing and distributing the calendar is increasingly difficult to balance with other responsibilities. We've made a few changes to the way we work, in order to be able to keep the project going. Kersplebedeb Publishing has kindly agreed to handle all individual orders (that is, orders of less than ten calendars) made online. As well, one of the recipients of this year's proceeds will be 4strugglemag, an online and print zine edited by anti-imperialist political prisoner Jaan Laaman. As one member of the 4strugglemag collective is also a members of ours, this is a strategy to make the two publications mutually supportive: time freed up from fundraising to mail out the 800 free prisoner-subscriptions of 4strugglemag can be spent working on producing Certain Days.
Returning to the theme, the images of nature we originally envisaged, are interspersed with images and texts about movements to protect them. Some of this year's contributors highlight specific eco-justice struggles, while others discuss the importance of building earth liberation movements that don't reproduce other forms of oppression. Some reflect on their imprisonment for defending the land.
We find the struggles highlighted in these pages to be inspirational, and find beauty in them, as we do in nature itself. We hope you will too.
Free the land!
The Certain Days Collective: Amy Schwartz, Helen Hudson, karen emily and Sara Falconer
Some Artwork from this year’s calendar
artist: Jesse Purcell
artist: Marilyn Jarrett
artist: Fanny Aishaa
artist: Arthur J. Miller
artist: Ali Cat. Leeds
artist: Bec Young
artist: Abed Abed El Hameed
artist: Roger Peet
artist: Doug Minkler