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Help Me Get to VONA!

hey folks,

so today is the first day of my Indiegogo campaign, which I’m launching to help me get to VONA this June!

Click Here to Donate!!! 

About Me

I’m a queer, disabled, mestiza travel writer, photographer and editor from Brooklyn by way of Ecuador who has been transient for about 11 years. I fund my adventures by crafting non-commercial indie travel media at the crux of race, place and adventure, but for the past 3 years, all my cash saved from dead-end jobs has gone to paying for my extensive medical care.

About VONA

VONA/Voices is the nation’s only multi-genre workshop for writers of color, and I’m lucky to have been accepted to join in this June! I come from a single-parent, working-class, immigrant household in New York, and opportunities like this are rare, Even if I had finished high school and gone to college, I still wouldn’t have gotten a writing coach of color who focuses on travel! Spaces like these are really important for people like me in this white, straight, male-dominated industry.

The Gist

Since 2011, I’ve been struggling with chronic pain in the right side of my body, emanating from tears in my shoulder. Without access to health insurance in the States, I’ve been traveling back and forth to Ecuador (where my family is from) for treatment, and underwent surgery last Fall. Though it was unsuccessful, I still owe over $1,000 for it, and continue to pay out of pocket for medical expenses. Since the pain has expanded toward my right hand, writing for more than 30 minutes a day (as well as basic functions) has become impossible, meaning I can’t work for a living. I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t pay for my healthcare and can’t get better without it. Lame!

But I’m not asking for help with my medical costs. A flight from Ecuador to California runs about $700 (with luck) and though the fine folks at VONA have fronted half of my tuition in financial aid, I still owe them $300. I’m asking for at least $900 to help with these costs – but anything at all would be mad mad mad appreciated!

In exchange, I’m offering my zines, photos and writing services as perks!

The Deal

Guess what: being super critical of the tourism industry and writing weird travelogue-type creative non-fiction does not have me rolling in dough. I’m ultra-niche – queer, mestiza, broke, disabled, female; I travel the world alone and give no fucks. I’m pretty shameless about the way I live my life, but recognize when it’s time to ask for some help!

What’s important to remember is that voices like mine are squelched every single day, that there aren’t many folks doing what I’m doing. Things can and should be different. This is where you come in!

Other Ways You Can Help

Let’s be real – I’ve seen a lot of campaigns like this that I couldn’t afford to support due to lack of funds, but there are other ways you can help. Share, like and comment on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and Tumblr, purchase a zine on Etsy, follow, like, comment and reblog my stuff on WordPress, or shoot me an e-mail at heyitsbani at gmail dot com. Shout out and connect!

Click Here to Donate!!!

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Year of the Bum II

here’s the second part of my top 20 photos of 2013 thing. if you’re new here, all of them were taken in ecuador where i lived from august 2012-september 2013. these are my favorites because they’re attached to good memories and saturated in natural, heavy hues. they don’t represent a balanced look at my year,  the majority of which was spent in front of a laptop surrounded by a million people in a grungy apartment. since i was undocumented most of my time there (working on getting my papers through my mom’s citizenship) i couldn’t leave the country. staying put was tough for me – a year may not seem like a lot to most folks – but ecuador is an awesome country to be stuck in. though i was hungry and had zero cents most of the time, i eventually started getting published, got my papers and had mad adventures. so fuck yeah.

Year of the Bum

on january first, 2013, i woke up on a couch in quito, ecuador. i was a newbie writer, newly illegal, completely broke and with nowhere to live. i won’t pretend to have had any epiphanies. like life, it was fucked up and awesome all at once, and not a ton has changed, except for me. probably.

i chased stories: through valleys, up volcanoes, across lakes, down jungle rivers, on beautiful beaches, into the pacific. spent the rest stoned in hammocks, swinging on ziplines, sleeping on floors, drunk in bars, dancing at shows, camping alone, touring hospital emergency rooms, talking to strangers, doing nothing, and writing everything down.

it all seems like someone else’s life right now: working full-time hours on a saturday night back in my hometown, watching a snowstorm freeze new york city outside the glass doors. i’m going through all my photos from this past year, and thought i’d compile the best of them into one of those top ten lists i’m always complaining about. it’s a two-parter.

are you a creative-type bum like me? share in the comments the best and worst times you had in 2013!

The Greatest Thing We Possess As Humans!

I just contributed to the Afrolatinos: The Untaught Story indiegogo campaign; here’s why you should too.

Alicia Anabel Santos

We have two days to make history! One of the greatest things that we possess as humans is the ability to create sustainable change in various ways! We are all capable of making difference. We are all here to do something significant. This is why we are here… to learn from one another, to share our traditions, to preserve our history and pass down all of what is learned to the generations that follow.

“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” – Audre Lorde

During my visit to Haiti pre-earthquake, we were faced with an incredible amount of poverty and chaos. Then the earthquake of 2010 happened completely devastating the nation and killing over…

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heart to wild heart: james wood

I’m so busy with stuff that I haven’t been able to post, but the lovely Jen Carpenter over at Our Wild Hearts always has something awesome and interesting to steal, so here’s a reblog of an interview she did with James Wood. See ya soon!