Dec 19/09 DE-BRIEF-ing @Yaohan Centre Richmond

December 22, 2009

The event is over but there are lots of loose ends (like bookeeping) to attend to plus we really need to get together and discuss our big event — what it felt like for each of us and how to have some closure after such a big focus of our mutual energies.  The other women offer to come to MY neighbourhood to ease my endless biking/bussing and Canada Line-ing burden — and I am thrilled to share “my ‘hood” !

Haruko, Lianne, Mo, Chris and I meet at DAISO (Japanese 2 Dollar 2 Floor Store) in Aberdeen Mall.  Five shopping days before Christmas makes it a great place to stop and shop and talk.

Next stop is Yaohan Centre that hosts best Food Court: rice or noodles with 2 entrees is $5.50 no tax nor tip.

Settling back to another excellent meal with ROSE, we go over individual and group creative processes and memories of how the ceremony felt moment by moment on the day. Lianne has brought her laptop so we view Mikki Herbold’s excellent photos.

We have an intense discussion about the nature of the many and varied community art practices (artist lead, community-based, top-down, grassroots) and where we fit in with our project. We discuss our responsibilities to the women of the downtown eastside (mostly of whom came through Beauty Night Group) who contributed to the content of the scarves for our project.  We wonder what we should do in the future.

We agree that supporting Beauty Night is a good idea. We agree that Chris and Mo might offer to visit a regularly scheduled Beauty Night — as opposed to asking the women to come to us again — and thank them for their participation. Chris and Mo thought they might also screen their women and martial arts film that was shown in ROSE filmathon.

We also agree to participate in the February 14th 2010 March. We shall bring the remaining scarves and pin them to a hand held clothesline and Mo shall bring tobacco (as she did for Dec 6th event) to leave at each spot where a woman was murdered.  This means we shall surely have another meeting in the future with another wonderful meal. This means we like working together so much that we want to do it again.

It just ain’t over until the fat lady sings.

respectfully submitted,

Lady Justice xoxoxoxo


Dec 6th ROSE Community Event

December 9, 2009


It is a cold, blustery but sunny day as the public gathers in preparation for the ceremony orchestrated by ROSE (Remember Our Sisters Everywhere). I am keeper of the hearts…the 120 felt, stuffed red heart pins that I invite witnesses and participants to the ceremony, to pin on their sleeve. I wear my heart on my left sleeve. More people gather, there is one lone heckler who verbally calls us down in anger, cursing us as he rides around the Marker of Change memorial site. But he is outnumbered and soon exhausts his rant and leaves.

The Solidarity Choir members come and gather inside the circle of rose granite benches, each bench represents one of the 14 women murdered by Marc LePine in 1989. In the centre of each bench is a shallow area chiseled out to catch rain, a symbolic pool of tears.

Dr. Hedy Fry is our Mistress of Ceremonies. She is such an elegant speaker, urging us to speak out against the abolishment of the Gun Control Legislation that Prime Minister Harper is attempting to banish. He is the cold heart in the midst of our sea of hearts gathered here today on this 20th. anniversary of the Montreal massacre.

There are dispensers of hot apple cider, hot chocolate and coffee with sweet buns for people attending.

We Rose members are pleasantly surprised to see lots of media present here as memorial ceremonies take place across Canada on this  anniversary date.

Lady Justice accompanied with her troupe of Vices and Virtues and led by Saxaphonist Coate Cook. What a wonderful sight as they dressed in black carry the long black veil of Lady Justice in a wheel chair progress from the train station to the perimeter of the Marker of Change. Lady Justice is led blindbolded into the centre of the cirlcle that is rimmed with participants wearing red scarves as the inner circle and white scraves forming the outer circle. A lovely performance by Lady Justice as she performs a salt cleansing ritual.

The choir weaves songs of Bread and Roses, We Shall Not be Moved and other tunes between moments of silence, Aboriginal blessings and performances to culminate in an invitation to add the red and white scarves, each printed with a message, onto a clothes line strung between 2 trees nearby. These remain til evening. The scarves flutter like Tibetan prayer flags in the wind or katas, the offering scarves so often seen at Buddhist ceremonies. The sun is still shining as the team of participants are invited to the Foundation Cafe for a closing lunch and chat.

It is deeply satisfying to see the culmination of brain storming, collaboration and our sweat equity in the amount of public participation, variety between speeches, remembering, advocacy and community input. We have not forgotten – here in this city whose notoriety includes Robert Picton, and the growing list of women missing or murdered on the downtown east side or the over 50 women murdered and missing on the highway of tears, the over 500 aboriginal women murdered or missing or the 137 women murdered/missing in BC counted by the Sisters in Spirit group.

Remembered by Haruko Okano
December 6, 2009

Thanks from Diligence/Sloth, too. What I found so powerful about the day was the way a spiritual event snuck in around the edges of an otherwise chaotic weekend day — and the way that little bit of artful space and focused energy rippled along into the week — I’m still feeling like I’m walking in the circle with a rose in my teeth. I’m grateful to have shared this with you all, and am feeling increasingly bonded together in our Virtue/Vice parallel life.
Thanks, beloved Lady J, for drawing us into the fold and keeping us gently pleated together — for letting us be your loving gaggle of goddesses. I was glad for Coat Cooke and Rose Man’s part in the experience, too:  it was important to widen the gender story inclusively in our remembrance of sisters everywhere. A warm welcome to the goddesses of new portfolios — lovely to meet you.
Christine Dewar
PHOTOS: Mikki Herbold

Sat Dec 5th Meeting on Site

December 8, 2009

Testing Testing Testing

A B C D E F G Can you hear me? Can you see me? We test the portable PA system

set some video shot angles, map out the circles and the processions.

I test the wheelchair on site after bringing it by public transportation from Richmond.  Pretty smooth ride once I actually got ON the Canada Line.

We make lists over breakfast at the WHIP.  Getting pretty excited. Only one more sleep.

Wed Dec 2nd @ W2 The Second Sweat Shop

December 8, 2009

Funny how our way of solving a problem is to get together and make a sweatshop.

A sweatshop where we work really hard for hours on end until we get blisters on our hands.  I am noticing this as a theme. For this project but I think I do this frequently and as a way of working/operating/seeing the world.

I am always finding myself schlepping many heavy bags by bike and bus and on foot for miles on end where I am then rewarded by many hours of hard labour. This is how I solve problems, how I make stuff, how I operate. And this seems to be how all of us in this project work, too.

respectfully submitted by Lady J

Mon Nov 30th Scarf Decorating Workshop with Women of DTES

December 4, 2009

I was unfortunately unable to attend this workshop.

However, after speaking with Chris, Haruko and Lianne (and reading emails from Bernadine),  I can tell  the session was INTENSE !!!  Lots of discussion.  Lots of sharing. Frankly, lots of therapy.

Less than half the scarves were actually decorated but comments, slogans, & feelings were collected on a group sharing board that participants agreed could be printed on the commemorative scarves.  But even though we did not “finish our quota” — with these kind of community aktions — one must measure in a very different way.

In fact, even “normal” criticism (especially art criticism) must be put aside when reflecting on what happens when working with communit(ies).

From the beginning of our project, Haruko cautioned that we did not have enough time to work with the various DTES women’s groups to effectively collaborate with them in the making of the scarves. She was (of course) completely right!!!  Ideally, dialogue/therapy/safe-place-to-speak building would/should have happened over a 6-8 month period of time. If we had more time, ROSE and women’s groups could have evolved a process that provided opportunities for  visual/performance art initiatives to come from the DTES Women’s Groups instead of being lead by ROSE in visual/performance “aktions”. In other words, if there were more time, ROSE could have become more facilitators than  initiators.

But this being said, the slogans/drawings/phrases and directions from the women at the workshop were deeply moving. One of my favourites was:  “We need a place to tell our stories”. We are not doing a big thing or even all of what we dreamed to be doing. But we are doing a small thing. And even sharing this one true thought from one woman is a good thing.

The stories, images, thoughts, poems, etc. shall be joined by more women’s  stories/images collected from other communities;  mothers looking for their lost daughters, mothers collecting and burying  their daughters’ bodies. We shall bring these forward to our next workshop on Wednesday at W2 Gallery.

respectfully submitted,

Lady Justice

**** from Haruko Okano by e-mail

The November 30 workshop was for me more about listening, hearing and deepening my understanding for women who have run this gauntlet. I lived in the Main Hotel at the bottom of Main Street near Alexander Street for a year in the 80’s and I can attest to the worsening conditions. As a society, in the business of our technologically advancement, our humanity, our caring actions seem to leave us like sand in an hourglass.

The strength of the women who survive this gauntlet that is played out in the downtown eastside, are the strong role models for us who have the priviledge of living elsewhere, who have the priviledge of options. It is a constant reminder that as a stress counsellor once said “It only takes 3 major changes in a short period of time to take an individual over the stress safety line” I’ve experienced this and I have been the shoulder for another who went over the top.

There for the grace of the goddess … go I.


Sat Nov 28th/09 Production Meeting RHIZOME

December 2, 2009

I arrived in the pouring pouring rain after a combo of b-i-k-i-n-g, 2 busses, skytrain & another bus. I am carrying the last 21 white scarves that I finished sewing fairly late last night (carefully wrapped in 3 layers of plastic wrap to protect them from the rain).  I am wishing there could be more than 24 hours in a day. More than 7 days in a week.

I am drenched and tired and, frankly, SO ready and willing to kvetch and complain.  But once I join the crew at Rhizome Cafe (a feminist, community-building cafe kind of community centre) and I swallow a good strong coffee,  I begin to listen to everyone else’s reports on their week:

Haruko was sewing and decorating  red felt hearts until 5:30 am.

Lianne got up at 3:00 am to catch up on emails and organizational details.

Chris stayed at her computer after work until 10:00 pm finishing poster and press release.

I feel I am lazy in comparison. There is so much to do. We are galloping towards the finish line while holding our saddles under our arms and chasing our horses.  Still, lots of laughter, good coffee, passionate support, creative problem-solving.

Gathering momentum.  1000 + 1  details. Big and little challenges to solve together.

We are all tired. Just not enough time (or money) so we must buckle down and get super resourceful.

(in photo taken by restaurant staff : Lianne, Chris, Haruko, Moira, Lady J, Bernadine Fox and Avy)

respectfully submitted, Lady Justice

Saturday Nov 21st SEWING BEE @ Caring Place, Richmond, BC; RWC & ROSE (9:30 am – 2:00 pm)

November 29, 2009

Could it rain any harder? I sweet talk a neighbour to drive me(and my sewing machine, tea, milk, cups) to Richmond Caring Place for our sewing bee. I open up and set up my machine and realize I have just enough time to run over to Kin’s Market to buy some mandarin oranges. Richmond Women’s Centre thru De Whalen is our gracious host for this event. Unfortunately, De is down with the nasty flu and cannot attend. Not sure if it is seasonal or N1H1. In fact, half a dozen Richmond women who wanted to participate in the sewingbee are down and out with the flu. ‘Tis the season.

But 6 hearty and healthy women DO show for the occasion!!!

I am extremely glad Mary Scott came — she is a quilter and a very experienced sewer.  Plagued by tempermental machines, Mary solved our technical problems around tension, needles, pressure feet and feed dogs.

After a half hour of technical snafus, we were off and running and turned ourselves into an efficient sweat shop. The sewing caused story telling, reminiscing, gestalt memory jolts and some social-political talk. I shall always value my conversation and sharing with Pamela of Public Dreams. And I shall remember Mary saying, “Look how much work gets done when just a few determined women get together”.

respectfully submitted,
Lady Justice

Fri Nov 20th/09 Walking/Talking/Shopping/Meeting with Lianne & Me 3:15 pm @ W2 Gallery

November 29, 2009

It is a sunny break in a non-stop marathon of rain and wind storms pummelling Vancouver.

I am dressed in my bright wet gear for biking so in the sun I am steaming like a Chinese Pork Bun. My gum boots are squeeking on the pavement. Lianne is multi-tasking 3 appointments by cellphone, in person and upcoming while she and I help check each of our To Do Lists for the December 6th Commemorative ROSE performance work as we quick march to Dressew on Hastings.

Haruko has left us detailed info on red polycotton fabric for the scarves and ribbed polyester black lace for my gorgeous mourning veil. The Dressew galz are on the money. They quickly check, measure, zip and sell us everything we need.

We remember thread and go back for red thread. 


Lianne is juggling 4 or 5 DTES aktions as I hoof it up to skytrain to Waterfront to get Canada Line to Richmond to walk to City Hall to get my bike and then ride home. It is raining. Again. Quelle surprise.

respectfully submitted,
Lady Justice

3rd Meeting: on site at memorial in Thornton Park Nov 11th/09

November 29, 2009

Rememberance Day. We are remembering: all the wars, and the undeclared wars.

After a lengthy discussion of Vancouver’s and Toronto’s shared municipal challenges with cockroaches and bedbugsas well as a review of our N1H1 challenges at work we tour the site. Walking and demonstrating aktions on site is enormously helpful !!!

We quickly see what ideas can work and what ideas cannot. We hammer out a first draft of the whole day and make technical lists and assign tasks. It is always moving to spend time at the memorial of the massacred women and it feels like their spirits are helping us solve problems and challenges as we go along.

After an hour or so, it is so cold that we have to retreat to a cafe for hot drinks.
Lianne, Haruko and Chris take notes and make lists.
I have only one urgent thing on mine:  to organize a sewing bee in Richmond with RWC (Richmond Women’s Centre) and invite other women from the community to sew up those red and white scarves so we can be ready to workshop with women of the DTES.

I am just loving these meetings. I usually hate meetings as most are boring and slow and ponderous. But these gals keep it cooking
and I am really having fun while working with them !!!
I realize I need the help of the 7Virtues/Vices for this project. I also need a saxophone player.
Decide to ask Coat Cooke as he has donesome wonderful “death” art work with me previously. And he is a consumate jazz improvisationalist.

Haruko introduces the idea of a black lace veil.     WOW !!! This really works for me. It is reminiscent of Suzanne Lacy’s and Leslie Labowics’s December 1977 performance work “In Morning and in Rage”, Los Angeles, USA. I cannot wait to go home and do some working-the-cloth dance improvs to determine a good size for my handling this metaphoric piece of black clock both dry and wet (if raining).

respectfully submitted,

Lady Justice

2nd Meeting: across from Patricia Hotel during LIVE! Biennale Oct 30th/09

November 29, 2009

Nailing down the look, the props and the aktions for the performance.
Chris, Haruko and I sharing historic and personal details about the subject of women murdered by men.
Expanding the players in the event. Wrestling with a budget. Getting a handle on how much hand-labour we need from women’s groups.

(photo: Shawna Dempsey)

I want to include Lady J’s salt rituals as part of the art aktion; intuitive at this point but know I can articulate it later over coming week.  Chris and Haruko are both really good at constructing game plans.

It is dark and pouring rain. Absolutely cats and dogs by the time our meeting is over but we are very
excited and we each have our list of things-to-do.

respectfully submitted,

Lady Justice