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Wendy Call: A People Who Have Fought Globalization for CENTURIES

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Broadcast 7/13/2011 at 18:00:20 (0 Listens, 0 Downloads, 0 Itunes)
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Wendy Call is a writer, editor, translator, and teacher of creative writing. She has become something of an itinerant Writer in Residence, holding that position in 2011 at Cornell College of Iowa, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park of Vermont, and The Studios of Key West. She has also been Writer in Residence at a dozen other institutions, including the New College of Florida (2010),Seattle University (2009) and Seattle's Richard Hugo House(2006-2008).

Wendy's narrative nonfiction book, No Word for Welcome(University of Nebraska Press, 2011), explores how economic globalization intersects with village life in a region of southern Mexico called the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Grants from the arts commissions of Seattle (2006), King County (2007), and Washington State (2006 and 2009), as well as the Oberlin College Alumni Association, supported the research and writing of the book. Wendy was a 2000-2002 Fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs in the Mexican isthmus--the setting of No Word for Welcome.

She co-edited Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University(Plume/Penguin, 2007) with Mark Kramer. Telling True Stories, an anthology of writing advice from some of the country's best-known writers of nonfiction, is currently used as a core text in university writing courses throughout the United States, as well as in a dozen other countries.

Her nonfiction writing and her translations (from Spanish) of poetry and fiction have appeared in more than fifty magazines and literary journals, and in several anthologies. In many publications her photographs accompany her writing. In 2011, with an Artist Support Residency from Seattle's Jack Straw Studios, Wendy will complete a trilingual audio CD of her English translations of poems by Zapotec-Mexican poet Irma Pineda. She will collaborate with the poet, who will perform the Zapotec and Spanish originals of her poems.

Wendy has worked as a writer and editor since 2000. Before that, she devoted a decade to work for social change organizations in Boston and Seattle. She holds a BA in biology from Oberlin College and a MFA in writing and literature from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. She is a member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop, founded by Sandra Cisneros. One of her current writing projects, a cycle of essays on grief and loss, was supported by grants from the American Antiquarian Society, and the arts and culture commissions of the City of Seattle and King County.

Wendy has recently taught creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, as well as newsrooms in the United States and Mexico, public libraries, community centers, public high schools, and county jails. In 2008 she worked with a team of writers and publishing industry professionals to design and present Artist Trust's Literary EDGE program, an annual professional development program for writers throughout Washington State.

The daughter of a middle-school math teacher and a career Navy officer from rural Michigan, Wendy grew up on and around military bases in Florida, Pennsylvania, southern California, and southern Maryland. She currently lives in Seattle and Miami.

Rough notes: Prep and interview
(rough notes written before or taken before the interview-- Not a transcript, not even close.)

Wendy Call
Book: No Word for Welcome


Ochoa from MIT

shrimp farming

removing a mayor

dealing with government

Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Attended a conference in 1997 as a community organizer-- 1000 people got together for a three day meeting to deal with a megaproject targeting the Tehuantepec Isthmus.
Was working at a Boston org called Grassroots International.

People in the community can trace their history back 5000 years.
They look at the effects of plans on the community hundreds of years into the future.

If you can't afford to pay, your education STOPS

Changed ideas of what it means to be cosmopolitan, to be well educated.

Mexico's news is centralized, mostly produced in Mexico city-- come from mexico city-- costs $1 a paper in a place where people earn $2 a day.

Mexican are written for HS or college grads, not for people with 4 years of education, like many Mexicans.

"ya nos cayo' el chahuixtle"
the corn crop disease has arrived

Corn smut-- disease has befallen our crop--
phrase used when something catastrophically bad happens--

Felipe Ochoa, Mexican, also at MIT for four years, spearheaded the mega-project

500 page document describing the megaproject.

How did these people stop or slow the globalization juggernaut?

They'e been dealing with globalization for centuries.

Those people are violent, don't let people into their communities..
there was a deep respect from other parts of mexico for other people in this region.

Ochoa thought that they were of no consequence.
Would say, "People there are uninformed." Only way locals figured in his plan was how he would market to them.

How can people in the US recalibrate the way they think about education and sophistication?

Mixe 5000 years
Xapotec 750 years there, still considered immigrants
locale: juchitan

nawatl language of the aztecs

Why title, "No Word for Welcome"
many languages so people transliterate from their language to Spanish.
People don't say Bien Venido-- welcome, they say , ya llego-- you've arrived.

also people who were selling the megaprojects were not welcomed.

Mexican version of EPA PROSEPA

Constant pressure from people in the community, people around the world.
Huge conflict between shrimp farm advocates in government (mayor probably elected through electoral fraud) and opponents.

Often that change looks like no change.
The end point of these huge struggles is things remaining the same, at least from the outsiders perspective.
Also, I learned, these struggles never end.

What were the takeaways as how to be a better community organizer.
The struggle never ends, that you have to keep it up.
saying from the Cree people of the US-- slogan for when the last tree has died, when the last fish has been cut-- then will we understand that we can't eat money.
Their economy was not about money, was about something more fundamental than money-- about keeping their community alive-- any indigenous community has to be fundamentally concerned with keeping engaged because there is so much

Staying connected to the land, even if you don't work the land.

Knowing that it's not just about you.

People's natural way of being was to set aside their personal desires and think about their larger community.

What of the idea of "indianness"

International development exchange
Cultural Survival

They work to help protect local indigenous cultures.

American Jewish World Service

Zapatistas had huge impact on the Isthmus people.
Zapatistas had inspired and affected them.


Juchitan has a Xapotec market where you can still buy grilled iguana-- that's where they put the Walmart, which wasn't even part of Ochoa's plan.

It happened because of a series of illegal land transfers.

Lionel Gomez lived across the street from where they opened the Walmart.

Socrates walking through the Athenian market talking about all the things he did not want.
Lionel goes to Walmart for the air conditioning, but doesn't buy anything.

The losses happened when the leaders didn't listen to their constituents. OFten when there's corruption.

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Rob Kall is the host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360, where he discusses how the bottom up mind and bottom up revolution are reaching different areas of the world, of life, of politics, business, society and anywhere else.

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