Info

The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss England

Posts from the Direct Action Category

IMG_5128The trans pride flag at George & Orange.

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Remembrance. Cobourg Queer Collective describes this day as a day where “we remember and honour our transgender siblings who have lost their lives due to transphobia: from hate crimes, from illness, from murder, from suicide, from substance abuse. And we acknowledge that transgender people of colour and two-spirited Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by this due to racism and xenophobia.”.

I started my day by checking in with (and being checked in with myself) by a few transgender and gender variant queers in my life. This is something that happened throughout the day, and it was the most powerful thing I experienced throughout the day (which is saying something, because there were tons of powerful moments). These check ins weren’t heavy or energy draining, quite the contrary, actually. They were gentle and energizing:
“Hey, how are you doing today?”
“I’m feeling good, stoked for some events today”
“Awesome, I’ll see you there!”

These simple questions are transformative. They go to highlight one of the many messages tied to this day- we are not alone. The work we have done and are doing, both personally and in the context of our communities, is noticed by the people around us and this day is a time to be conscious with the space we create and the energy we put out into the world. We are all capable of caring and being cared for.

At 4, I went to George & Orange, a wine bar and restaurant in Cobourg and held a chair while my friend, Ariel, stood on it to put up the trans pride flag in front of the restaurant. Her friend, Jenna, is the owner of the restaurant and has been a long-time supporter of transgender rights, even flying the trans pride flag for the entire month surrounding Pride this year.

IMG_8268Jenna and staff at George & Orange.

“Trans Day of Remembrance is about celebrating the lives of people who have lost their lives to violence against trans people in the past year and years past, as well as raising awareness about discrimination against trans people in general,” Ariel shared, “”Jenna is a good friend of mine, I also used to be an employee here. She’s always been an outspoken supporter of the transgender and LGBT community in general- and also of me as an individual.”

It was powerful to see that flag flying out front of this local, small-town, woman-owned business. It was also powerful to feel the loving energy that filled the place as the staff, Ariel, and myself chatted about what this day meant for us. The restaurant also planned to support the efforts of Cobourg Queer Collective, who would make their way to the restaurant after the rally they were holding later that evening.

At 6:30, Cobourg Queer Collective, lead by Ashley Bowman and Kim McArthur-Jackson, met outside of MPP David Piccini’s office on Division Street in Cobourg. Although this wasn’t the original location intended for the event, Cobourg Queer Collective stated, “This year, we will also recognize that the forward momentum that we had hoped was happening, seems to be reversing in many areas. In our own province, our governing party (the Ontario PC Party) felt it appropriate to acknowledge our trans siblings plight by putting forth a motion to further marginalize them, by not acknowledging their gender identities and removing mention of them from school curriculums. While the leader of the party had stated that this will not move forward, it should NEVER have come up to begin with.”

46508459_1945928008775805_4744591144292188160_nPhoto by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of rally participants with MPP, David Piccini.


There were around 50 people in attendance, including PC MPP David Piccini himself, who attempted to answer the many questions people had for him while also listening to the speakers.

“It’s pretty amazing to see quite a few people here. This cause is very close to our hearts as allies and we’re so happy to be here. I’m hopeful that our MPP will recognize that Northumberland County will be unwilling to accept the level of prejudice that the PC government is considering putting in place,” says Heather J.

While some people’s motivation for attending the event was largely political and about using their privilege to make systemic change, for other people, especially trans and queer people, this event was about just being there with a shared intention.

“I’m here to show solidarity for trans people who have lost their lives,” says Natalie K., “I just felt it was important to show up, maybe take some pictures, and be a part of such an important event in our community.”

46499318_2492231567484224_6765956174316568576_nPhoto by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of event coordinators, Ashley and Kim.

Event co-organizer, Ashley, says she’s “hoping to achieve more awareness of trans issues at both a local level and a provincial level” at the third annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event for Northumberland County.

Overall, the day was powerful, though it also left me with a few questions. Why only one local business acknowledging this day? Why only a single event in Cobourg? Why nothing at all in Port Hope or the rest of the county? These events take an incredible amount of work to coordinate and it’s easier to hope that someone else will take on that labour. With such high rates of violence against transgender people, next year, lets do even better.

46508674_339706093275213_6089201377236484096_nPhoto by Jay Boyd-Stofleth of the rally.

Big thanks to Jenna, Ariel, and George & Orange and Cobourg Queer Collective for the work they put into commemorating this day!

Advertisements

tbtncrowd
Photo by Walton St. Photography.

Mission: Take Back the Night is a community based event to protest the fear that women and trans people have walking the streets at night safely. Take Back the Night is also a grassroots event that honours the experiences of survivors of sexual violence, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and survivors of state violence such as police brutality, racism, ableism, sexism, and other forms of institutionalized violence. The goal of the event is to offer Northumberland County residents an opportunity to stand together in solidarity against institutionalized violence and oppression as a community. The event is free to attend.

When: Thursday, October 19 at 7PM
Where: Memorial Park, Port Hope (the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Wendat peoples)

People of all genders are welcome at this event, which centres the women and femmes who disproportionately experience gender-based and sexual violence. Men, we invite you to walk in solidarity with us.

Peer support will be available if you find yourself in need.

There is an after-dark walk component to our event, so you may wish to bring along a flashlight or be sure to have your cellphone charged to use the flashlight app. Choose your footwear accordingly.

Our itinerary:
Meet at 7PM at Port Hope’s Memorial Park to gather, get direction, and hear a few songs and stories.

Then we walk together, on a short, accessible route through Port Hope’s downtown, through a quieter, more dimly lit stretch along Lent’s Lane and back to the park via Dorset and Queen Streets.

We’ll close out with a few more performances back in the park, and then all are welcome to join us for a low-key debrief with snacks and music at Green Wood Coalition’s space on Ontario Street.

thewalk
Photo by Walton St. Photography.

Theme: “We are Not Unfounded

Earlier this year, the The Globe and Mail released an investigative report into police rates of designating sexual assault reports “unfounded,” meaning officers don’t believe a sexual assault took place. Across Canada, the rate is nearly 20%. In Port Hope, between 2010 and 2015, 45% of reports of sexual assault were labelled unfounded.
Because we believe survivors, Port Hope’s 2017 Take Back the Night event will have the theme “We are not unfounded.” Join us on Thursday, Oct 19 at 7PM.


Press Releases:
Press Release in Northumberland News here.
Press Release in Port Hope Now here.

Official Photos From Event: 
Official photo album by Walton St. Photography here.

Articles About the Event:
“A Cobourg woman speaks out on workplace sexual harassment that left her terrified” here.
“Port Hope’s Take Back the Night walk resonates in an era of #MeToo” here.

Contributing Artists:
Read Jenni Burke’s blog post about Take Back the Night here.
Read Cassie Jeans’ poem “For my Sacred Sisters who are Healing from Shame” here.
Listen to/watch Winona Wilde play her song “Chick Singer” here.

Sponsors:

Racine Financial
Long and McQuade
Emulate Global Printing and Finishing
Green Wood Coalition
Walton St. Photography
Port Hope Public Library
Royal Ribbons

22519284_123151048367169_6894603066436190662_n

Display to promote the event at Port Hope Public Library. Photo by Gareth Vieira.

Performers:

eileayisha.jpgEilé and Ayisha Hannigan

jane.jpg
Jane Storie

natalie
Natalie Galloway

 

brooke.jpg
Brooke Sterzenegger

kim
Kim Doolittle

devients
Deviants and The Odd Man Out

hailiah
Hailiah

TBTN Planning Committee:
tbtncommittee

“We’re a diverse collective, and together we share a common interest in making Port Hope a safer and more supportive community for all of us.”

Gareth Vieira
Jenni Burke
Ashley Bouman
Avril Ging Ewing
Lyss England
Jeff Caine
Meghan Sheffield
Ariel Reilly
Marcela Calderon Donefer

The intention of this project is to promote healing and storytelling through community and performance. There will be an open call to anyone who wishes to get involved in the process of creating a piece of performance art regarding the topic of disordered eating and performance.

There will be efforts made to encourage a wide range of people to participate in the workshopping and performing process. This includes diversity in age, gender, race, sexual orientation, ability level, and type of disability. While, ideally, most of the collective would be comprised of people living with disordered eating behaviours, it may also be interesting to hear from people supporting loved ones living with disordered eating behaviours or people who work closely with performers living with disordered eating behaviours. There is no cost to participants associated with this program.

There will be a five week series of workshops where this group of people will discuss things such as:

How does disordered eating affect performers? How does disordered eating affect performance itself?

What is performance?

What is disordered eating?

How does performance affect people physically and emotionally?

The difference between intentional and unintentional performances regarding disordered eating

Is there a place for people with disordered eating behaviours in spaces that promote performance?

How can we support one another regarding disordered eating behaviours?

while also taking care of ourselves?

How can being creative contribute to healing?

How does body image affect performance?

The lived experiences of performers with disordered eating behaviours?

Any people involved in the workshopping process will be invited to work on the actual writing of the performance based on the notes from the workshopping process. The format of performance will be discussed amongst collective (monologues? One act play? Music? Dance? Movement? Visual art? Combination?) There will be 4 rehearsals and two performances at the end of the workshopping process. Tickets will be sold for $20 each, with compensated and discounted tickets available to anyone who would like to attend, but cannot afford the ticket price. There will also be a “pay what you can” donation jar available at all performances and throughout the workshopping and rehearsal process.

Other topics will likely come up, and anyone involved in the collective will encouraged to bring up topics that are relevant to the project. Notes will be taken at each workshop. Workshops will be co-facilitated by Lyss England and Jillien Hone. Workshops will be done according to To the Root’s community discussion format.

 

CallOutPoster

Datesposter

processpic

collabart.JPGThe above is a collaborative piece of art that was produced during the process of The Performance and Disordered Eating Project. The artists involved are Lyss, Jill, Lindsey, MJ, Clayton, and Marcela.

performanceposterjpg.jpg

The Performance and Disability Project, presented in partnership with To the Root Community Discussions and Green Wood Coalition in Port Hope Downtown, is a collectively formed piece of performance art on the topic of disability and performance. With the intention of promoting healing and storytelling through community and performance, there was an open call to anyone in the Northumberland community who wanted to participate in such a project. Once the collective, which is comprised of about ten people, was formed, we began to meet at Green Wood Coalition’s space on John Street, in Port Hope, where we took part in a series of five community discussions centered around the topic. What underlies these discussions is a collective intention to care for ourselves and one another, and to remain committed to anti-oppressive practice- and creativity. Rather than positioning the facilitator (Lyss England of To the Root) as an authoritative expert, members of the collective are considered an expert on their own lived experience. Outlines and notes from all five community discussions can be found at performanceanddisabilityproject.tumblr.com.

While engaging in this five week long workshopping process, folks in the collective kept in mind the creative end product (which was presented as a very open concept- simply that of “performance”), and begin to work on a creative ways to present their story and experiences regarding disability. Although most of this collective has no previous performance experience, we have worked towards feeling comfortable sharing our stories through various means of performance such as poetry reading, monologues, a short silent scene, and performance art. After the five workshops, we moved into Ontario Street Theatre  to spend three weeks running through our show.

It has been a process that has allowed folks in the collective to explore ourselves creatively, gain support from one other, and to stand in our own power to share our stories and experiences on our own terms. Therapeutic processes can sometimes seem daunting to participants because the end product (feeling safe, comfortable, and supported) seems so far out of reach. Contrastingly, theatrical and performance processes are often so focused on the end product that the process (including emotional and physical components) becomes secondary to the end product. This format fuses therapeutic process with creative end product. The best of both worlds. Our show is raw, honest, and paradigm shifting. Most importantly, it creates a space for the stories of people who are too often pushed aside in our community.

Shows are July 24 at 7pm and July 26 at 2pm at Ontario Street Theatre in Port Hope, Ontario. $20 per ticket (contact Lyss at totherootdiscussions@gmail.com if this price makes the show inaccessible to you). Contact Lyss England (totherootdiscussions@gmail.com) or Sean Carthew to reserve tickets, or show up at the door. Proceeds go to Green Wood Coalition and future To the Root projects. Physically accessible, sober space with immediate peer support available on site. Big thanks to Northumberland Sunrise Rotary for funding!

 

tumblr_npciyvkDVd1uxuoaxo1_1280

 

From www.greenwoodcoalition.com

We’re pleased to partner with To the Root facilitator and theatre activist, Lyss England, in presenting the Disability & Performance Project over 8 weeks, beginning June 2. This series of Tuesday evening workshops, presented at our space, 17 John St., Port Hope and the Ontario Street Theatre, and will consist of five three-hour long workshop evenings on topics related to performance and disability, three three-hour long evenings of rehearsal, and two performances. There is no cost for this great series, so if you’d like to be involved, contact Lyss at totherootdiscussions@gmail.com.

tumblr_nq2ea3f0Xv1uxuoaxo1_540

Click here to view notes from the entire collaborative performance.

 

tumblr_npr3xsdakT1uxuoaxo1_540

tumblr_inline_nrunzjL5h81sznr1i_540

tumblr_ns7sgpg6yS1uxuoaxo1_540.jpg