Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trump Country

An insightful, personal story of growing up poor and white in the Rust Belt...

A documentary about a pastor who offers help to outsiders in his community searching for jobs...

Humans of New York has been conducting interviews further afield than the Big Apple...

“I grew up in the suburbs. I used to think that I could write a prescription for a poor man: ‘Get a job, save your money, pull yourself up by the bootstraps.’ I don’t believe that anymore. I was ignorant to the experiences of poor people. I’d invite anyone to come and meet the people who live in this neighborhood. Right now we are surrounded by working poor people. These are the people who sell your tools at Sears, and fix your roofs, and take care of your parents, and mow your lawns, and serve your meals. They’re not getting a living wage. There’s no money left to save. There’s nothing left if they get sick. Nothing left if their car breaks down. And God forbid they make a mistake, because there’s nothing left to pay fines or fees. When you’re down here, the system will continue to kick dirt in your face. You can’t pull yourself up when there’s nothing to grab onto. We aren’t paying our brothers and sisters enough to live. We want them to serve us, but we aren’t serving them.”

A photography book by Matt Eich that he envisions as a love song...

The New York Times facilitated conversations between voters on each side for their podcast The Run-Up

Van Jones journeyed into peoples' homes to talk politics across the divide... 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Star Wars Is Coming...

And a spot-on review of space capes. About time.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Seat At The Table

How do we fully occupy our own seat at the table? How can we help ensure all people in this country are invited to the table and made welcome as guests of honor? How do we sit down together to create visions of a better future that we can begin collaboratively actualizing now?

Traditional tools for exercising agency...

Align ourselves with organizations doing excellent work. Become volunteers, donors, employees, and leaders.
Use our voices in letters, emails, calls, protests, petitions, and locally within our communities.
  • I am writing to Wyoming elected officials because why not?
  • Evan and I are exploring the possibility of putting our wilderness medicine skills to use at Standing Rock.
Act locally in alliance with vulnerable populations, forging connections across difference, and engaging in civil civic discourse.
  • My friend, Nate, became the faculty mentor for the anti-bullying club at Lander Valley High School. 
  • Another friend, Anna, talked about the importance of breaking bread with strangers and immigrant contributions to our culture in her cooking class for third graders.
  • Yet another friend, Julia Stuble, ran for state political office and got 43% of the vote despite being young, relatively unknown before the election, liberal and a woman in Wyoming. 
Lead by example and look to those who have gone before us for guidance.
  • I am seeking out mentors among those who have dedicated their lives (by necessity or out of principle) to values I share.
  • At our best, we enrich the world in ways that are authentic and unique to us. I am searching for personally sustainable ways to contribute that align with my strengths and passions.
New approaches to resistance and advocacy...

Create platforms that positively reshape our notions of citizenship and our country's collective self.
  • I would like to figure out how to fund and design a website called "We The People" that facilitates a creative and curious exploration of identity in America. It would encourage people to reach out to each other and conduct interviews in their communities that expose the sacred strength of our vulnerabilities. The website would serve as a forum for sharing portraits (in words, photos and videos) of our individual genius as well as our common humanity.
Utilize our imaginations, share innovative ideas, work together to put those ideas into action, and see what gains traction.
  • Paradigm shifts offer opportunity in that unprecedented situations push us to explore and develop unprecedented responses. Right now, there is a hefty mass of people waiting to throw their full weight behind any strategy that yields positive results.
Bottom Line?

The prognosis is dire. It is not enough to believe we are exceptional. We must show ourselves to be exceptional.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Beauty In Vivid Color

Photographer Amaal Said is dedicated to creating portraits of women of color.

Her work reminds me of this image by Sascha Isreal from the book In the Company of Women...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Terms Of Engagement

noun  mi·sog·y·ny \mə-ˈsä-jə-nē\  dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women
noun dem·a·gogue \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\  a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational judgement
noun  nep·o·tism \ˈne-pə-ˌti-zəm\  the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs
  • when blood takes precedence over ethics and skirts the law.
noun  klep·toc·ra·cy \klep-ˈtä-krə-sē\  a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves
  • self-interest and abuse of power has been a consistent theme and accountability is impossible without transparency.
noun  big·ot \ˈbi-gət\  a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people or ideas; a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group)
adjective  post·truth  \ˈpōst-ˈtrüth\  Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief
  • unprincipled dissemination of fake news, the validation of false realities, and a paucity of skills to effectively navigate the sea of available information.
noun  ter·ror·ism \ˈter-ər-ˌi-zəm\  the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims
noun  fas·cism \ˈfa-ˌshi-zəm\  a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government
  • if we don't learn from history we are bound to repeat it.
noun  au·to·crat \ˈȯ-tə-ˌkrat\  a ruler who has absolute power
  • rules for survival according to a Russian journalist include: 1) believe the autocrat 2) do not be taken in by smalls signs of normalcy 3) do not trust in institutions to save you 4) be outraged 5) do not compromise 6) remember the future.  

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Riding The Rumble Strip

1) I planned how to move abroad before the inauguration. I strategized what to pack, how to sell our house, and where to go. I investigated the criteria for emigrating to New Zealand. I thought of all the people in the United States who don't have the means or ability to leave. I looked up the qualifications for political asylum in Sweden. I think a black man in America could qualify. I reached out to friends living outside of the US for advice. 

2) I was petrified, quiet, and full of sorrow. I took a sick day off from work and was grateful that I could. I walked in the sunlit beauty of the day and talked to loved ones. Someone practiced flying a small plane overhead. I took solace in poetry and music. I did not listen to or watch the news. I wept. I felt sick with fear and grief.

3) I resolved to fight for my values. To be the storm rather than dread the storm. Hope gained traction as I practiced imagining this sea change as a gift-- a catalyst for positive change, for the rise of humanist leaders, for strengthening our bonds of connection across differences so that we can rise up with one clear, strong voice saying "yes" when appropriate and "no" when necessary.  

4) I puzzled over how to maintain boundaries to protect my joy, my health, and my sanity while staying engaged and informed as a citizen. I do not want to see his face. I do not want to hear his voice. And yet, I need to stay tuned in if I want to be well positioned to take action to protect and promote what I care about in this world.

5) I took heart in the thought that this moment in history is an invitation to be curious and creative in celebration and defense of our principles. I am reminded of a teacher who urged me to understand before seeking to be understood. I am reminded of another teacher who urged me to love fiercely.

6) Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. Our context is experiencing a seismic shift, but the task at hand remains the same: show up, engage, and do the best we can to respond to the present moment in ways that honor our core beliefs. We must walk the walk (and embrace that our approach may need to be radically different from the past in order to be effective). 

7) Can we draw nearer and touch hands, shoulders? I will need your companionship to navigate whatever lies ahead. There is power in mass and momentum. Please cover for me on my hopeless days and days of rest and I will do the same for you so that these lapses of attention do not translate into collective apathy or normalization of the horrific. Our scandalized morals must fuel a sustained and responsive rejection of injustice, bigotry, ignorance, and fear. They must be more than a flash in the pan. 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

And The Day After That

The Fist

There are days
when the sun goes down
like a fist,
though of course

if you see anything
in the heavens
in this way
you had better get

your eyes checked
or, better, still,
your diminished spirit.
The heavens

have no fist,
or wouldn't they have been
shaking it
for a thousand years now,

and even
longer than that,
at the dull, brutish
ways of mankind—

heaven's own
Instead: such patience!
Such willingness

to let us continue!
To hear,
little by little,
the voices—

only, so far, in
pockets of the world—
the possibilities

of peace?
Keep looking.
Behold, how the fist opens
with invitation.

- Mary Oliver

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Next Day


is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I'm not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I'm going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.
I don't want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
It's mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me
in its yellow shawl, and the air is sweet
as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
there are apples, grapes, walnuts,
and the rocks are warm from the sun.
But I'm going to stand here,
growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb. I can't cross over.
Then you really will be gone.
- Barbara Crooker