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Get Your (anti) War On

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Knitting for a Change
If you're looking for a way to become active that doesn't involve marching around with a sign, consider picking up some knitting needles. America's Knit-In is happening this weekend in two North Carolina cities. Inspired by a similar event organized in Charlotte, The Independent's own Lauren Carter decided to invite Triangle knitters for a 12-hour charity vigil. "I thought, why go to Charlotte when I knew there's a big group of knitters in the Triangle," Carter says. "I thought it would be a worthy cause." The connection between knitting and activism might seem strange, but in fact knitting has been gaining popularity among feminists in the past few years.

Revolutionary Knitting Circles and Stitch 'n' Bitch groups have started in cities across the United States and Canada. A local group's Web site describes them as "a bunch of very savvvy & cool grrrls in the Chapel Hill area who stitch together weekly."

Knitting circles are social gatherings where people share skills and develop their talents, while making crafts that contribute to the community. The idea is to use the traditionally feminine craft as a tool to do something both creative and constructive. As the Charlotte group's statement explains, "Knitting is a meditative, productive and unaggressive act. Historically, sewing and knitting circles gave women an opportunity to freely discuss ideas."

The Charlotte knitters will spend the night at a gallery while they make blankets and scarves to donate to local homeless agencies. Here in Durham, knitters of all levels will gather at the Durham Arts Council this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to knit scarves and hats for local homeless shelters. The event isn't a protest but a chance to get together and do something positive for a cause. Local shops will donate yarn for those who don't have their own.

"Discussions of all sorts are welcome," says Carter. "We can talk about feminist issues, we can talk about politics, we can learn from each other." Visit

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stitch-n-bitch_chapel-hill/ or www.stichnbitch.org for more information.
–Fiona Morgan

Acting out War
In retrospect, it seems obvious: How else would a theater community protest a war than by putting on a show? Thus was born "The Lysistrata Project." What initially began as the idea for a solo performance in New York has now grown into a worldwide act of theatrical protest. At this writing, some 346 groups in 29 countries around the world plan on staging readings of the ancient Greek comedy on Monday, March 3.

Aristophanes' Lysistrata Project dates back to 500 B.C. In the script, the women of Greece have grown tired of the endless civil wars their husbands promote and decide to take matters into their own hands. The women stage a sex strike to bring peace back to the country, by withholding their physical favors from the men until a treaty is signed.

Lissa Brennen's Dog and Pony Show theater company and Jay O'Berski's Shakespeare and Originals are producing the local reading, which will be held at Durham's Jordan High School at 8 p.m. that night. Other North Carolina performances are scheduled in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Swannanoa, Winston-Salem and Wilmington.

The local performance is a benefit for "Food Not Bombs," a national organization dedicated to feeding the hungry. "Part of the reason we chose them," notes Brennen, "is because they're fairly nonpartisan. There are groups in other cities that are combining the reading with big rallies and speakers. We didn't want the politics to overwhelm the art; we wanted the idea of the script to stand for itself."

The performance will feature guest celebrities as well as stars from regional theater.

In keeping with their charity's focus, the suggested admission donation is "whatever the audience member spent that day on objects they consume: food, candy, beer," says Brennan. For further information, call 286-0456, or visit www.lysistrataproject.com.
–Byron Woods

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