Rebecca Solnit, writing about why people insist on asking her, not about the life she leads and the important work she does, but about the life she doesn’t lead (mothering children). She describes a tension I have felt between being a mother, and the other work to be done in this world:
“People lock onto motherhood as a key to feminine identity in part from the belief that children are the best way to fulfill your capacity to love . . . But there are so many things to love besides one’s own offspring, so many things that need love, so much other work love has to do in the world. While many people question the motives of the childless, who are taken to be selfish for refusing the sacrifices that come with parenthood, they often neglect to note that those who love their children intensely may have less love left for the rest of the world. . . . ‘Most of the things I value most, and from which I trust any improvements in the human condition will come, are violently incompatible with the actual and imaginative work of childcare.’”
And she captures beautifully how our culture exalts happiness over a meaningful life:
“The very definition of what it means to be human is narrow, and altruism, idealism, and public life (except in the forms of fame, status, or material success) have little place on the shopping list. The idea that a life should seek meaning seldom emerges; not only are the standard activities assumed to be inherently meaningful, they are treated as the only meaningful options.”
Why does “You can’t trust her” stick so easily to some people? Could it be that the US has a vast and deep history of painting women as untrustworthy.
Sheryl Sandberg gave a lovely graduation speech about life, death, and resilience. Losing her husband helped her find deeper gratitude.
I agree with Trump: “The hedge fund guys didn’t build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky … They make a fortune. They pay no tax. It’s ridiculous, ok?”
Check out a new report on homeless encampments by recent Sightline intern Samir Junejo, Suzanne Skinner and Sara Rankin. The report is a culmination of research conducted by the authors as part of Seattle University School of Law’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project. No Rest for the Weary: Why Cities Should Embrace Homeless Encampments examines encampment sweeps, finding that “disruptions of encampments are ineffective, traumatizing to residents, and potentially unconstitutional.” The authors make policy recommendations on how cities can “embrace encampments without failing to pursue more permanent solutions to homelessness.”
How to deal with invasive lionfish that have greatly harmed non-native habitats since aquarium owners began releasing them into waters where they have no natural predators? For years the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others have suggested that the obvious solution is to make humans more interested in eating the fish, whose mane of venomous spines make it cute to look at but difficult to work with. Now Whole Foods is doing its part to control the lionfish population by bringing the “buttery” meat of the lionfish to a table near you, sans the pointy bits.
I thoroughly enjoyed Matt Taibbi on how Trump is killing the Republican party.
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Plus, worrisome news from the thin green line: scientists say that a proposed LNG development in British Columbia threatens the Paris climate accords.
Don’t miss Women of Color Speak Out, a collective of Seattle climate justice activists (including one former Sightliner), discuss climate change and systems of oppression at the Duwamish Longhouse, next Friday, June 10. More info here.
I spent much of Monday this week at the Northwest Folklife Festival, where I attended two sessions on Woody Guthrie’s songs for the Bonneville Power Administration. It may not be well known among Northwest residents, but folk singer Woody Guthrie, who sang about injustices during the Depression, later served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, and put the words, “This machine kills Fascists,” on his guitar at the time. Well, in 1941, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was looking for a singer who could extol the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and the benefits of public works and public power. Woody got the job, and composed 26 songs in 30 days.
The promotional film that BPA planned, including excerpts from Woody’s songs, was shelved during World War II, resurrected and produced in 1949. In the meantime, most of the songs had been recorded on acetate discs, and they had either been lost or made difficult to recover due to poor quality. Bill Murlin, a former BPA employee, one of the guest singers at Folklife, made an appeal to his co-workers to find the original songs, recovered some of them, and produced a CD. The first Guthrie session at Folklife included the film. Although it may seem dated now, I could identify with the Pacific Northwest chauvinism, and the need for public works and public power. It can be viewed here.
Then Greg Vandy, emcee at the two Folklife events, and a host at KEXP, decided to turn the story into a book, titled 26 Songs in 30 Days. This is a story that should be shared, IMHO.