The Fight Against Fracked Gas: Activism and Changing Minds

Governor Jay Inslee has changed his mind and says he is now opposed to the Liquefied Natural Gas Plant in Tacoma, WA. My first impression regarding his change of mind was cynicism. Activists have been fighting for years to protect not only the potential danger to our community from a leak in the storage facility or a derailed train, but those communities in which toxic fracking operations already poison and deplete the water supply. In fact, here is a podcast I produced in 2016 with some of the activists that first brought the dangers of the Tacoma LNG project specifically to the public’s attention. [This was after our community’s successful battle against the proposed Methanol plant.] But this is a huge fight, and we need all the allies we can get: late to the battlefield or not.

We need to pay attention to the science and keep fighting for sound environmental policies. Climate change is real, man-made, and threatens the safety of our current and future generations. The disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color necessitates that anyone interested in protecting human rights also pay attention to environmental protections.

Use your skills to contribute to this fight: Do your research with credible resources. Question funding sources for studies. Continue to hold elected officials and candidates accountable on these issues. Use the PDC to track campaign contributions. Write letters. Call representatives. Organize rallies. Make posters. Share information via social media. And parents/ educators, teach your kids why activism is so important. Change is possible and imperative.

Terrorium: A Recap

Now that The Grand Cinema’s 253 Film Screening has happened, I can share some of the work I did in 24 hours (with a 8-hour break for sleep in there).

When I met with Derek Schneider, Candace Schneider, and Caleb Fisher for the first time, I had recently finished working on a presentation regarding immigrant and refugee stories in Tacoma, WA. Much of my other published written work has been on social justice and political issues. I have spent years doing uncredited written material for educational and non-profit institutions, as well as confidential reports for vocational rehabilitation cases. Derek brought forward the concern that he typically produced comedies.

After focusing on such serious material for a long time, I made it clear I was ready for a fun project, and so…

I wrote a script that can be summed up as a feminist poop joke meets Japanese monster movies. And then I scrambled to prepare the costumes and props in time for the shoot.

It’s not completely without redeeming qualities. As a migraine sufferer, I hope this project will draw attention to some people’s reliance on chemical air fresheners in the work place. But let’s be honest: in 72 hours, it’s pretty darn hard to create a 253 second film that meets a competition’s required elements (includes dialogue “back to square one,” references fake news, has a white dress, and includes a scene from a well-known movie) AND serves society beyond entertainment value.

 

Hastily made buildings
The day before the shoot, Director Derek Schneider dropped off a load of cardboard boxes per my request that we create a model city to destroy. While painting the grid in my yard, a neighbor’s Husky decided to rampage through the city a little early. (Thanks, Shiner.) Actors helped work on this project in between takes on set up until the very end.
Robot 1
Actor Sarah Dullanty was awesome to work with. I told her the idea for the costume, and she helped piece together her arm bands and staple claws while I worked on the rest of her costume. She also used her costume making skills to create straps for the inside of the box so she could have more mobility. Paul Figueroa created little satellite dishes for the buildings, and was more than happy to make extras to serve as the robot’s ears.
Robot 2
In case it’s not obvious, Actor Sarah Dullanty could not see while in this costume. Props had to be placed into her hands.
Robot vs Turtle 1
Actor Alicia Longman was also great to work with through this whole process. Honestly, the whole crew rocked.
Robot vs Turtle 2
The turtle armature is light, but not sized to actor Alicia Longman as I met her for the first time on the day of the shoot. For the face, I cut a N95 air filter mask in half and painted it like a turtles nostrils. The elastic did not want to stay on her head, so we used painters tape on the sides. We wanted bad props, and I think we succeeded.
Air so fresh_low res
Label design for the air freshener, which is the catalyst for the robot vs. turtle fight. Yes, I know, it’s impossible to genetically mutate into a robot. That’s not how science works.

 

 

I’m looking forward to my slightly more serious next project, this time as writer/ director/ and probably producer. If you’re interested in working on a feminist dark comedy series for the web, hit me up. I’ll need editors, sound, actors, funding. Camera operators would be great, too. More information to come.

 

 

[All photos and text by Suzanne Skaar. All rights reserved. 2019.]

Georgia’s Anti-Abortion Law is an Attack on Women Everywhere

Under Georgia’s new abortion law, I would very likely be in prison.

I miscarried in 2011 after being exposed to tear gas while working abroad for a major local university; my student employee insurance (in our very own progressive Washington State) wouldn’t cover me fully. At first, I was told they didn’t cover “elective abortions”, and then that my D&C for contractions, bleeding, and preventing potentially deadly complications wasn’t an emergency. I was told I should have flown back to Seattle from Athens, Greece (my assigned worksite), to get help in network. I spent years dealing with the fallout of not having my reproductive health care fully protected: paperwork that went nowhere, getting letters from licensed doctors in Greece AND the US that still weren’t considered enough evidence, doing independent reviews of research in a field where men’s bodies are considered the standard and women’s bodies deviations to the accepted model, testifying at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, attending lobbying events at every chance with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. I never got full resolution. I was left with medical bills and the impact on my career with my employer of more than 3 years. I couldn’t imagine having to prove to law enforcement that I failed to carry to term because of law enforcement’s abusive crowd control tactics.

This is a direct quote from Mark Joseph Stern’s May 7, 2019 Slate article:

“Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses. Even women who seek lawful abortions out of state may not escape punishment. If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by 10 years’ imprisonment. An individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy. These individuals, after all, are ‘conspiring’ to end of the life of a ‘person’ with ‘full legal recognition’ under Georgia law.”

One half of the population of one state has now been put in a position where their fertility and ability/ willingness to carry a baby to term determines their status as free individuals. One fucking half of the population. I shouldn’t even have to address anything further, but that impacts children, spouses, elderly parents depending on women (daughters/ daughters-in-law) for caregiving, employers whose workers will now be expected to take time off work to get reproductive care outside the state and/or spend time in court defending themselves for what should be a personal decision.

This can and will be used as a precedent for other states. If you weren’t political before, get political. Call your representatives today and tell them reproductive health care is a human right. Donate to Planned Parenthood, Cedar Rivers Clinic, NARAL Pro-Choice, and abortion funds in your community. Volunteer as a clinic escort. And contact the Governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp (here is his Facebook page), to tell him the abortion ban is a vile and blatant violation of the US Constitution.

Projects

The last few weeks have been jam-packed with projects, and I feel like I’m just now able to catch my breath.

On April 19, I presented my research project, “Immigration and Tacoma: Past and Present,” at Tacoma’s Tripod Series. Thank you to all those who agreed to be interviewed for this project, and to the fabulous Lynn Di Nino for allowing me to be a part of this event. I will share more on this at a later date.

Earlier in that same day, I hosted South End Neighborhood Council’s Neighborhood Moment, in partnership with TV Tacoma, as well as guests from Tacoma Community House and the Tacoma Refugee Choir. Click here for more information.

If you’re in Tacoma on Friday, May 10, you should check out the Grand Cinema’s 253 Short Film Fest Viewing Party! I signed up with a group of total strangers, wrote the script, and constructed props for the project “Terrorium”, which we had 72 hours to complete. Like you, it will be my first time seeing the finished product! Click here for tickets and more details.

Currently, I’m available for writing, presentations, consultations, and more. Send me a message at suzanneskaar@hotmail.com.

Cheers!

Suzanne

News

It’s time once again for the “oh wait, I’ve been working on everyone else’s projects what about my own website I should really do something about that” redesign. Please bear with me as some links may need to be re-set.

Thanks to a fun year of health issues, from bilateral hand arthritis to glaucoma to chronic migraines and finally getting to experience my first biopsy sans sedation (0 stars, do not recommend), I have been a little preoccupied. It hasn’t been all bad; even the “bad” has provided some great comedy material.  I presented for the first time on a panel at Seattle’s GeekGirl Con in 2018 and ran for office. The latter did not go as planned, but it allowed me to address my concerns regarding equity and access in Pierce County. I also left a three-year long career in vocational rehabilitation services, and I’m figuring out next steps.

Fortunately, I have several projects in the work. I am still heavily involved in my community. I have been focused on helping Tacoma’s South End Neighborhood Council undergo some overdue changes in term of outreach, website, social media, and neighborhood engagement. I’m currently working on a historical research project, which will be presented at Tacoma artist Lynn Di Nino’s April 2019 Tripod Series. I’m getting caught up on editing and uploading photos from the past year. And as I have received several requests to help on various political and social justice campaigns, I am once again offering my services as a paid consultant. Other projects will be announced as dates and details are confirmed.

Thank you for your continued support of my work.

 

Cheers!

 

Suzanne

 

Group Film Project: Collaboration Opportunity

Over the month of June, we will be planning and making a short feminist horror film. If you’re into dark comedy, progressive politics, and off-the-beaten path kinds of projects, join in on this collaborative effort!

A loose script has been prepared; this is open to critique/ expansion depending on who wants to be a part of this project. There’s openings for actors, camera operators, editors, makeup artists, and additional support. I especially want to create space for women, people of color, LGBTQIA, and individuals with disabilities to feel comfortable to contribute on screen and behind-the-scenes.

The majority of work will be done on weekends with filming to be done over the last two weekends in June. Although the theme maybe a little bit dark, parents are welcome to bring kids on the set/ to planning meetings.

For more information or to join up, go to No Mine! Studios’ Facebook page and click on “Events”.

Las Vegas Women’s Rally 2018

On Sunday, January 21, I was in Las Vegas to attend the 2018 Women’s Rally with my high school principal, who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. Here are just a few photos of the several thousand who came from across the country to speak out against sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, inequality, hate, and the intersection of all these: Trump.

 

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Thank you to everyone who marched, rallied, or provided child care so others could do so. And thank you to everyone who keeps standing up for social justice, even when there are no cameras around to document it. Your hard work matters, your passion matters, and you matter.

 

To see these and other photos, click here.