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We Need a Little Distance

Despite rumors that it has dissolved, the Ironweed Collective, a “community of resistance” located in the South End of Albany, is merely undergoing a reorganization. The group, whose goals include creating an “egalitarian lifestyle in all aspects of our daily life” and “organiz[ing] around issues of inequality and exploitation prevalent in our society,” has been a familiar presence at many of the area’s more creative protests for past several years.

Housed at 98 Grand St., Ironweed also has a library of political material, hosts open mics and sewing circles (known as stitch-and-bitch sessions), and has
electricity-free days on Friday.

However, for the residents of 98 Grand, having their house also be open to the public, particularly the 30-50 other collective members, got to be a bit much, said Rhiannon, who has lived in the house since the spring. “It wasn’t really working for the residents.”

Recent discussions about forming a trust to buy the property have been tabled until a reorganization of the collective’s activities and basic structure can be agreed upon. “We have to decide whether there is sufficient energy to continue with the collective in the first place, and then decide whether we want it at 98 or someplace else,” wrote Liz Wagner to the Ironweed Listserv last week.

Suggestions probably will include seeking another space for communal activities such as the library, said Rhiannon, who sees the discussion as a positive one. The group, which relied mostly on the work of a core of about 10 people, was “stuck,” she said, and this amounts to a “revolution in the collective” with a lot room for exciting new growth.

Anyone interested in being a part of the new Ironweed, and especially current and former members, is invited to keep an eye out for a series of meetings in September where the collective will decide how to move forward. There will also be a meeting this Sunday (Sept. 5) at noon at 5 New Scotland Ave. to specifically consider that space for a new bookstore and lending library.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Go Read the Law Again

JoAnn Smith, president of Family Planning Advocates, steadfastly refuses to call the so-called “Partial Birth Abortion Ban” passed last year anything but a straight-up abortion ban. “It had a huge scope, it talked about abortions without ever really talking about trimesters or gestational age, it was written so it could have affected any abortion after the first trimester,” she says. And it ignored a woman’s health in its decision making.

The law has not been enforced while it faces court challenges—and it just lost one in New York. Last Thursday (Aug. 26), a federal judge in New York City ruled that “the act places an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion,” specifically the burden of not taking her health into account.

The case was the second of three to be decided. A San Francisco federal court also found against the law earlier this year, and a Nebraska decision is expected soon. The family-planning advocates bringing these cases expect them be appealed, but, as Smith said, “I believe the law is established. You can’t ignore women’s health. It’s not legal. . . . This law that the president signed [is] so flawed that it could not remain as law.”

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Loose Ends

The Wellington Hotel was granted a reprieve last week, as Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings announced that much of the historic landmark would be stabilized instead of destroyed, as had previously been planned [“Bringing Down the House,” Newsfront, Aug. 26]. A Syracuse-based demolition company will remove decaying portions of the building and preserve the remainder, but Jennings did not rule out further demolition if necessary. . . . Federal auditors have started looking into the records of the Albany Police Department’s seized asset forfeiture fund. The APD has been criticized for lax record keeping for the fund and spending it on things such as expensive artwork and retirement dinners [“Tough Questions Continue,” Newsfront, April 1]. . . . Last Tuesday (Aug. 24), Magistrate David Homer released Yassin Muhiddin Aref and Mohammed Mosharref Hossain [“Caught in a Trap,” FYI, Aug. 12] on bail, citing a mistake made in translating a notebook found in a terrorist camp in Iraq, which the prosecution originally said identified Hossain as a “commander.” Turns out the word, in Kurdish, means “brother.” . . . The investigation into absentee ballot voter fraud from last spring’s Albany County elections [“Redistricted, Reprimaried, Retried,” Newsfront, April 15] appears stalled, at least to those, including county legislators Lucille McKnight and Wanda Willingham, and Ward DeWitt, who ran for county legislature in the special election, who rallied outside the state Court of Appeals on Friday demanding that DA Paul Clyne move forward or let the state come in. Clyne called them “infantile.” photo cap: Home base, for now: Ironweed’s 98 Grand St.

Skater Kids: the Next Generation

Members of the Shelter skate team gave a demonstration at the Whitehall Road Jewish Community Center’s open house on Sunday (Aug. 29). The 13,000-square-foot Shelter indoor skate park opened recently off Everett Road in Albany, and its president, Scott Johnson, said its goal is to provide a safe environment for kids to hang out. Johnson said they teamed up with the JCC because “they have some similar types of programs, programs for kids and teens, a real positive outlook.” Though their publicity for the demonstration led with the question “Should skateboarding be an Olympic sport?,” Johnson said there’s actually debate on the point among the Shelter’s members and staff. “Some people really think it should be because of the effort, the athleticism,” he said. “Some people think it shouldn’t be because it’s a matter of individual expression.” Photo by: John Whipple

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