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Miss Rockaway Armada Builds a Flotilla
Sarah Rich, 7 Aug 06

vilma.jpg About nine months ago, I moved to Seattle from San Francisco. They're similar places in many ways, with equivalent political leanings and cultural pockets -- a comfort to me since, to be cliché, I left my heart in San Francisco.

But last week I had a uniquely Seattle experience when I attended the final performance of the Infernal Noise Brigade, a full-on marching band and drum corps born at the Seattle WTO protests in 1999 -- the rhythmchild of several dozen radicals, anarchists and activists. Last week the INB was laid to rest with a final spectacle that overtook the streets, and it was a raucous and joyful funeral to be sure. They may have radical politics, but their music couldn't be farther from anarchy: these guys were good!

Now some members of the INB have joined forces with like-minded artistic interventionists from the Midwest and the East Coast for the epic journey of the Miss Rockaway Armada. And what, you ask, is the Miss Rockaway Armada? A group of 25 performers, artists and change-makers who have formed a collective which is currently congregating in Minneapolis to construct a flotilla of rafts and sail down the Mississippi, stopping along the way to offer workshops, skill-shares and participatory theater about art, environmental issues, and "constructive ways of living."

Our flotilla is built green with precycled materials, rainwater collection, solar ovens, and steam calliopes. If we make it right everything will run on sunshine and french fry grease. We want a floating garden, a bicycle-powered sound system, and wind-powered lights. We want to steal hippie technology from the hippies.

I learned about this radical project through Paul Schmelzer of Eyeteeth, who conducted and published a great interview with these "pirate utopians..."

pontoons.jpg One Armada member that Paul interviewed described the group like this:

What we are is urban, anarcho-environmentalist evangelists. We’re spreading the word of this new different way of life. It’s fair and even and vaguely ungendered—or less gendered than regular society. It’s sustainable to the extent we can be. It’s full of energy and exciting and DIY, and, yeah, we like to do things that seem impossible…It’s not political in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s political in the larger sense, in that we’re trying to create a social landscape here that’s unique.

The Eyeteeth piece depicts their Minneapolis staging ground as an apt workshop and launch pad for a waterborne sustainability brigade, near Xcel Energy's Riverside Plant, a scrapyard full of rusted out machinery, and a superfund site - which, one of the crew members emphasizes, is "superfund with a D not superfun like a party." But, as Paul attests, "their impromptu society of 30 artists and activists...does feel superfun like a party."

If you live along the Mississippi between Minneapolis and New Orleans, it's a party you may want to attend. If you don't, Miss Rockaway's got a blog.

Thanks, Paul!

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Comments

Oh boy! Right in my back yard!
Thanks for the tip!
I'm going to go down to the river and look these characters up before they head down stream.

J
Minneapolis


Posted by: Jeffrey S on 8 Aug 06

Wow, what a fun idea. Lets get together a fleet of self sufficient house boats and travel the coasts of the world! Starting with the Mississippi!


Posted by: Benjamin W on 8 Aug 06

"Showboat's a' comin'!"


Posted by: Tony Fisk on 8 Aug 06

Here is another article - from the NY Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/arts/09arma.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


Posted by: Jon on 8 Aug 06



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