Category Archives: Access to information

We the People deserve, depend on and demand truth

The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people~ Tom Clancy

Yesterday, as we Americans celebrated the Fourth of July 2018 we honored this nation’s tradition of giving a nod to the Forefathers, joining the community festivities and relaxing on our shared national observance of the truths “made evident” in the Declaration of Independence.  And yet, in these troubled times, many Americans eschew the festivities and stress out instead on the swamp-draining reality in which we are drowning….

As a fierce proponent for open government my thoughts inevitably turn to the fact that it was on July 4, 1966 that President Lyndon Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act  https://foift.org/resources/freedom-information-act/– a factoid notably absent from public discourse, much less presidential proclamations…..

In truth, reflections on the passage of FOIA are fraught with pain for many.  We had such hope.  Skimming through the scores of FOI-related blog posts I’ve written In recent times (145 in total according to the omniscient system….)  I am appalled at the profound impact that changing times are having on the tone and focus of those posts.

Earlier posts honed in on information-seeking skills – “information literacy”, “critical thinking,” “information power” and related topics.  The onus was consistently on the seeker of truth, a truth that was presumed/assumed to be true……

Over time, particularly over the past year, emphasis of the posts is on the source of information – the eroding of truth, manipulation of the facts, “fake news” “alternative facts” and malevolent efforts to debunk the truth.

In relatively recent times Information has become a commodity to be manipulated, twisted, ultimately weaponized.  Essential data are missing because data are not collected – real facts are twisted to shape opinion – data are weaponized to influence discourse and decisions.  Clever forces, eager to seize the opportunities of information technology, have seized the power of information.  The result is a citizenry that is drowning in the misinformation/disinformation swamp.

As with all liars weaponizers of information depend on their victims to be hapless believers of alternative facts and innuendo.  They feed on weakness, fear, lack of confidence, devoid of critical thinking skills.

More than any time since our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence  We the People must exercise – flaunt – our independence by embracing our power.  Our mighty challenge is to hone the skills and exercise our power to  seek the truth.

Our challenge today is difficult and critical.   In this era of well-crafted lies we must strengthen in ourselves and in others the confidence that critical thinking demands.  The forefathers expected no less.   History demands that we rise to the occasion, that we reach out, affirm our values, hone the skills and the internal strength to resist – and eventually repel – distortion of truth and manipulation of a complicit citizenry

The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.    J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
See also this and other previous posts:  https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/putting-a-face-on-truth-seeking/

National Library Week 2018 – Musings

Librarians are the true superheroes–they can help us find our best selves & carve out the future we want, instead of  what’s thrown at us. – Laurie Halse, author

This week (April 8-14) is celebrated nationwide as National Library Week 2018.  During the week, I have fervently devoted a good deal of time reading and pondering the expanding and necessary role of libraries in this, the “Information Age.”

By week’s end, I have once again concluded that what we should be celebrating is National Librarians Week.  Clearly it is people, not buildings, that shape the library experience today.  And never has the role of library workers been more essential for individual seekers of truth, for their communities, and to the fate of an informed and thinking democracy.

As week’s end, I’m at a loss for words to express the urgency I feel about the challenge facing librarians – and for decision-makers who determine the fate of libraries and librarians in a political environment neither recognizes nor values truth-seeking as a priority.

And so, as I grapple with confusion and concern, I look for hope in the words and thoughts of others.   I have sought for and embraced articulate defenders, those who understand and write about the range of ways in which librarians create community, inform decision-making, and preserve American values – with gusto.

Overwhelmed by concerns about critical and independent thinking in this democracy I turn to more articulate spokespersons to share their vision and hope for libraries and librarians. Try to take time this weekend to peruse, if briefly one of more of these thoughtful essays:

And, if we have the snowfall that’s predicted, you might want to take a quick look at some past blog posts on libraries and the critical thinking skills that inform and fulfill the hope that inspires this democracy.  https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/

Democracy depends on an informed population. And where can people get all the information they need? —At the Library.” – Elliot Shelkrot,

Putting a face on truth-seeking

I personally think honestly disclosing rather than hiding one’s subjective values makes for more honest and trustworthy journalism. But no journalism – from the most stylistically ‘objective’ to the most brazenly opinionated – has any real value unless it is grounded in facts, evidence, and verifiable data, Glenn Greenwald

In recent months I have spent far too much time viewing and listening to the saga unraveling in this, the Trumpian era.  One thing that has been of particular interest to me is the way in which we as viewers/listeners have come to “put a face” on those who dare to share their knowledge and, even more, their opinions.  In many cases, respected print journalists have emerged from behind the by-line to face the camera and/or microphone.

Whether it’s Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow, Phil Rucker or Joy Reid, we now understand the news, in part, through the personality of the presenter.  Though this fact marks a change abhorrent to some who value journalistic objectivity above all, it is a fact of journalistic life.  To be honest, I appreciate putting a face on the skilled – and opinionated – journalists whose information and opinion I can assess  for myself.

My ultimate goal is to learn the truth.   This de-mystification of the process prompts me to ponder how these journalists locate, evaluate, and shape the information they share.  As I view or listen I match the presentation with the process;  I envision the roles of those who manage or at a minimum influence the information chain.  As the investigative journalist reports on her findings, my mind is asking how do you know that?  What resources did you use?  Who determined those resources?  Who organized it?  Who archived that information?  Who asked the questions?  How were the statistics collected?  What’s missing?  How do you know what you know?  I tend to put a face on each of the players on whom the journalist depends.

Mine is a subjective analysis of the information chain itself.  And still it’s time to put a face on what is an invisible, complex, implicit but undeniable – and ultimately very human – process.

Those who would mess with the information chain know the links all too well.  They are at the ready to hinder the flow, shape the issues, determine the players, and otherwise weaponize information.  Similarly, those who would squelch the truth are adept at determining that data are not collected, much less published, that voices are ignored, that stories are overlooked or skewed, that money talks – and is heard.  https://thinkprogress.org/trump-officials-erase-climate-data-2a4e4fe81f96/

Which is why the time has come to “put a face” on the process of information collection, interpretation, organization, preservation, distribution – all those “backroom” sorts of things that ensure that essential information moves through the information chain efficiently and effectively.  This will require more collaboration among the professionals who are the links in the chain; it will also require greater attribution.  Above all, this demands educating information consumers about the characteristics and function of the links in the information chain.

We the people, the decisions-makers in this democracy, depend on solid, verifiable information – truths – so that we are individually and collectively equipped to make good decisions in our own lives and in the life of the democracy.

Important as journalists are, their work depends on a powerful and dependable information chain that is forged by an unsung team of professionals, each responsible for a link, all responsible for the whole.  The work depends on intellectual and financial commitment.

It’s time for the professions to speak out, to demand respect – and financial support.  And it’s time for concerned citizens to understand the critical links in the information chain.  We need to put a face on the critical role and skilled work of those who gather, organize, preserve and otherwise make information accessible to journalists and other information presenters whose research, voices and visages convey that information to the public.

Fact checking after the fact is putting a band aid on misinformation.

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https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/advocates-sue-federal-agencies-to-obtain-lgbtq-policy-documents/ar-BBJWOAU

https://unredacted.com/2018/03/07/foia-a-colossus-under-assault/

 

 

Places to go, things to do in March

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.” Attributed to Plato, (428 BC – 348 BC).

At times it seems that the designation of special months is at best redundant, sometimes trying to cram a millennium of history into a 30-day span.  And yet, it’s good to focus, and so we highlight a couple of monumental issues that claim March as their month to shine.

  • Women’s History is of relatively recent origin. First identified in 1982 as Women’s History Week the recognition gathered momentum and time until 1995 when the topic of women’s history flowered as an entire month.  The Law Library of Congress has actually collected the laws, proclamations and resolutions related to the saga of Women’s History Month.  The National Archives offers an informative – and fun – starting point to understanding the history:  https://womenshistorymonth.gov    Check out the Women’s History Month website sponsored by the National Women’s History Project here:  http://www.nwhp.org/about-2/our-history/   Other sites are sponsored by the National Park Service, the Smithsonian and the National Endowment for the Humanities, all of which offer myriad programs and resources that serve as starting points for local groups that need a spark to light a fire under their Women’s History Month plans.

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The calendar of Women’s History Month activities is prodigious – just a couple of highlights give a flavor:

  • The East Side Freedom Library and the Minnesota Historical Society are working together on a special program set for Saturday, March 24, 1:00 PM at ESFL. Objectivity: ’68 to today: Women’s activism: Dolores Huerta.  The program includes a play written by the MNHS Teen Action Group and the examination of historical objects from the MNHS collection.  Focus is on Dolores Huerta, an unsung figure in the fight for equality.  Also featured is an examination of  the intersections between the women’s movement and race, communities in Minnesota and the national context, labor rights and civil rights.
  • Also at ESFL, “Let’s Talk about Hmong Women: Leadership Thursday, March 15, 6:30 pm.  This is the first in a four-part series of conversations led by members of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together.  Future conversations are set for June 1 (Patriarchy), September 13 (Motherhood), and November 8 (spirituality)
  • At the U of M Walter Library, March 30 – “Make or Break: Women in Technology Rich Spaces” 9:30 AM-11:00AM.  Women from across the U of M campus discuss the topic.  Speakers include Charlene Ellingson, Samantha Thi Porter, Robin Schwartzman and Simone Vuong.  Registration required.

Also at the University of Minnesota:

Lots happening at the State Capitol in days to come, including these events:

Aging with Dignity and Respect: It’s a social justice issue.    Tuesday, March 20, 1:00 PM, East Side Neighborhood Services, 1700 Second Street NE, Mpls.  Free and Open.  Sponsored by Vital Aging Network.  Register 651 917 4652.

World Storytelling Day (www.globalastorytellingday.org)  is an annual celebration of the theme “If I can hear our story, it’s harder for me to hate you.”  The theme explored this year by local advocates is “Wise Fools: Wisdom on the folly of war.”  Storytelling Day 2018 will be celebrated locally on Tuesday, March 20 at the Landmark Center in downtown St Paul (www.landmarkcenter.org) Six storytellers will share stories reflecting the theme.  The event is free and open.  Learn more about the event and prime mover Larry Johnson here: (https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_post/community/golden-valley-resident-draws-international-attention-to-the-art-of/article_282a7376-1c9f-11e8-83cc-1f20f00f22c1.html

“Working—The Musical” reflects “the hopes dreams and heartbreak of the American working class expressed in the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda, James Taylor and others.  The show runs March 16-18 at The O’Shaughnessy on the campus of St. Catherine University. https://oshag.stkate.edu/events/category/series/working-the-musical/

Opening March 14 at the American Craft Council  – Ani Kasten, artist, ceramist and sculptor.  Details here: https://craftcouncil.org/event/ani-kasten-ceramists-journey

The National Book Critics Circle has announced finalists for 2017 awards: http://bookcritics.org/blog/archive/national-book-critics-circle-announces-finalists-for-2017-awards

Plans are well underway for the 37th annual Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival (https://filmfreeway.com/mspiff)  Focus this year will be on Chinese cinema with films from China to be presented throughout the Festival.

Upcoming on Talk of the Stacks sponsored by Friends of the Hennepin County Library:  Alex Sager on Tuesday, April 24 and Tracy Smith on May 16. https://www.supporthclib.org/sites/default/files/2018%20Talk%20of%20the%20Stacks%20Press%20Release.pdf

“To Be Honest” is the theme of a series of programs sponsored  by The Loft, March through May. (https://www.loft.org/events__programs/thematic_series/to_be_honest/)

Poet Billy Collins hosts a unique resource designed to create a love of poetry with young people.  Poetry 180 offers a poem a day for high school students – the 180 refers to the fact that the project is for school days only. https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/

Some fun links:

Sunshine Week March 11-17, 2018

See also: Women’s history month reads:  https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1186-elaine-f-weiss-what-to-read-this-women-s-history-month?rto=x_gr_e_nl_general&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=march062018&utm_content=bookend2womenshistory&ref_=pe_3097180_272564230
 

SUNSHINE WEEK MARCH 11-17, 2018

Sunshine Week March 11-17, 2018

As we emerge from the snowbanks and the Winter of Our Extreme Discontent, it is encouraging to know that Sunshine Week is at hand.   (http://sunshineweek.org)  This year we honor and applaud with unparalleled appreciation the role of a free press as the bulwark of this democracy.

Each year the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCCOGI)  takes a lead in Minnesota’s recognition of Sunshine Week.    One important aspect of MNCOGI’s celebration of Sunshine Week is selection of the recipient of the John R. Finnegan Freedom of Information Award.

MNCOGI has announced that the John R. Finnegan Award 2018 will honor Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres.  Serres is recognized for his investigative series Left to Suffer, an in-depth study and report on the painful stories of elder abuse victims and their families.   Serres’ publication in the Star Tribune reflects the journalist’s exhaustive review of audit reports, state records and other public information resources.  The series has led to readers’ awareness of the crisis and to bold action on the part of advocacy groups and the Governor.

The Coalition has also announced that attorney Paul Hannah will be honored with the Finnegan Freedom of Information Career Achievement Award.

Both awards will be presented at the annual Freedom of Information Day recognition set for Friday, March 16, 1:00 p.m. at Minneapolis Central Library Pohlad Auditorium.

What I’m thinking about more and more these days is simply the importance of transparency, and Jefferson’s saying that he’d rather have a free press without a government than a government without a free press .~ Esther Dyson

 

 

 

 

Bamboozled no more…..

If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.  The bamboozle has captured us.  It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.  Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.  ~ Carl Sagan

One way to come to grips with the challenge We the People face at this juncture is to frame the information crisis in an alternate context.  This repot by First Draft News is a useful tool to reorder the mental format for thinking.  One year into the Era of Our Discontent, we struggle mightily to recognize the complexity of information disorder, to recognize that the very premise is “disorder.”  We fail to recognize – or perhaps admit – that the complexity of information disorder online” starts from the premise of “disorder”.  Consider this:  https://firstdraftnews.org/coe_infodisorder/

The struggle to unravel the intent and complexities of our information state is a shared challenge:

We the People face today’s challenge with both heads and hearts.  Take just a minute to heed the words and appreciate the attitudes of these wise gentleman as they speak with both:  https://vimeo.com/253191   To read their position paper on Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression click here: https://jmp.princeton.edu/statement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hazelton Day of Action: 30 years after Court decision re. student press rights

Back in the pre-digital day “the press” referred to ink on paper – and students cut their journalistic teeth by meeting strict deadlines imposed by the student newspaper.

Because I was one of those fledgling “journalists” I understand deadlines and eleventh hour news tips. As a result, when I learned a few minutes ago that tomorrow, January 31, is Hazelwood Day of Action I knew the drill!

According to the Student Press Law Center (http://www.splc.org), an Inside the Beltway youth group, January 2018 marks thirty years since the Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier decision. This I just learned was a landmark Supreme Court decision that determined that “public school curricular student newspapers that have not been established as forums for student expression are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection than independent student expression or newspapers established (by policy or practice) as forums for student expression.” (Read all about it here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelwood_School_District_v._Kuhlmeier

The Student Press Law Center plans to share information and ideas on Facebook Live all day.  At the top of every hour SPLC will broadcast ten minute discussions by people who were involved in the Hazelwood decision as well as other experts on the history and the Supreme Court case.  There will also be a 30-minute #CureHazelwood Twitter blast.  Details to be posted on the SPLC site.

The SPL site also lists a number of resources available from organizations concerned about students’ rights.  These include the following statements about free expression:

From the Journalism Education Association:

Statements about free expression:

http://jea.org/home/about-jea/statements/

http://jeasprc.org

From the National Council of Teachers of English:

Hazelwood and students’ right to write. http://www2.ncte.org/blog/2015/05/hazelwood-students-right-write/

An earlier post on this blog also explores the issue of student journalists’ rights: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/new-and-pending-laws-protect-rights-of-students-who-write/

My freshman year at Harrison High School, I saw a journalism class where students were putting out a weekly newspaper. It touched a responsive chord in me.  Irv Kupcinet, American journalist

 

 

 

 

We the People face the challenge to aim high

Tolerance is another word for indifference. W. Somerset Maugham

The spirit of tolerance, though true and essential, is a vague concept. I have always grumbled – sometimes raged – at the word and concept of “tolerance.”  In most situations and on most issues I care too much to passively tolerate.

The challenge we face today demands more energy, more passion.  Today’s challenge is to embrace, to work shoulder to shoulder, to share the values, the burden and the benefits of the society and the culture envisioned by our founders.  It’s the principle we as Americans have always celebrated with pride.  We honor the fact that no individual, even the president, is the center of the universe.  The core value of the democracy we share rests on the stated principle that it’s not “me” but “us”.

The Constitution goes so far as to spell out just how we go about achieving the goal of creating and living in a democracy.  As a matter of fact, the Constitution is fairly explicit about the presumption –- and commitment — that We the People are responsible for making the democratic system function.

The good news buried in today’s political debacle is that the challenge to the democracy evokes the best from the nation’s residents and, in many cases, from the institutions that We the People have created over time.  As we practice the fine art of crafting an enduring democracy we are increasingly aware of the means at hand – the law, the press, open elections, a just judicial system, free speech, history, education, technology (managed with care.)

At the same time, we have come to understand the sophisticated and systemic ways in which any of these can be “weaponized.”  Experience is teaching us the subtle in which malevolent manipulation of the tools can undermine democracy processes and principles.   Over time we have grown to realize the extent to which accepted democratic institutions and structures can be shaped to create a society and a culture that we cannot and will not tolerate.  We know in our souls and feel in our hearts that we must join forces to resist with the fierce persistence and unflinching integrity democracy demands.

Once we get outside of our own shadow we begin to comprehend, if dimly, that the whole of our democratic society really is greater than the sum of the parts.  We can no longer be indifferent….

Our Founders always wondered about how long it would last. The price of liberty is everlasting vigilance. You’ve got to be on your guard every minute or you will lose it.  Michael Novak

 

 

Places to go, things to do in the new year!

I find television very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.  Groucho Marx

The Water Bar & Public Studio celebrates the reopening of their great gathering place Friday, January 26, with a Winter Social and Exhibition Party.  Theme of the evening, marking the Water Bar’s first exhibition, is River Relationships: Portraits of a River and Its People.   It’s 6:00-9:00 PM at the Water Bar, 2518 Central Avenue NE.  Details here:  https://www.water-bar.org/events/2018/1/26/winter-social.

The Super Bowl inspires different strokes for different folks.  Take a Knee Nation tackles themes of “sports, social justice, labor and race” at the Take a Knee Nation conference set for February 3-4.  Learn more about the origins of the event here:  https://www.thenation.com/article/colin-kaepernick-was-mocked-and-threatened-for-taking-a-knee-hes-also-winning/  The East Side Freedom Library offers a preliminary kickoff to the conference with a free and open discussion on Wednesday, January 24 – details here:  https://www.thenation.com/article/colin-kaepernick-was-mocked-and-threatened-for-taking-a-knee-hes-also-winning/

Also opening this weekend at the ESFL is Nidoto Nai Yoni, John Matsunaga’s exhibit of photographs from the remains of WWII: Forgetting and Remembering the Wartime Incarceration of Japanese Americans.  The project, supported by the Minnesota Japanese American Citizens League and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Minnesota, portrays the experiences of immigrants confined in camps in Thailand, Kenya, Laos and other sites.  The exhibit opens Friday, January 26, 6:30 PM.  On Saturday, February 17, 1:00 PM there will be a discussion of the roles of artists as observers and resisters. http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/representing-and-resisting-historical-injustices-through-art/

MN Writes MN Reads is a digital age program offered by Minnesota libraries.  It’s for writers interested in easy-to-use, free resources for publishing and sharing e-books, and for readers interested in reading e-books by local writers.  Learn more at https://www.mnwritesmnreads.org/ or at your local public library.

Mizna is meeting the challenge of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-immigrant sentiments by taking the renowned Arab Film Festival on tour.  Mizna will tour independent Arab cinema to six Minnesota college campuses and their neighbors.  Campuses include Macalester, Hamline, St. Catherine’s, Concordia (TC’s), Metro State and St Benedict’/St. John’s.   The tour begins this week and continue through April.  Details here: http://mizna.org/articles/events/183.shtml

You might also want to check out yet another timely event at the ESFL here: http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/mooz-lum-black-history-month-film-screening-discussion/

Poken Sword offers a unique and “luminous evening dedicated to the love of language” on the regular fourth Friday evening of the month, i.e.7:00 PM on January 26 at 2001: A Space, 2001 5th Street NE in Minneapolis.   Local emerging and established writers will read on works related to this month’s theme, “torment.”  The evening will begin with bluegrass ensemble Pants on a Chair and their songs of heartache and murder: https://www.pokensword.com

The Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum takes a look at an earlier time when the press was cast as the “enemy of the people.”  Independent scholar Beth Johanneck will speak about a time in the 1930’s when the Minneapolis underworld was ruled by not-so-Minnesota-Nice gangs that failed to appreciate journalists’ efforts to clean up the city.  The MISF meeting, open to all, is at 9:30, speaker at 10:00, at the Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis.  http://www.mnindependentscholars.org/node/60

 The Minnesota Genealogical Society, and several of its affiliates, have moved from their South St. Paul site to Mendota Heights.  New address: 1385 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, MN.  As more MGS library and other resources come online MGS can offer ready access to the unique resources of a host of organizations — here’s a good starting point:  https://mngs.org/cpage.php?pt=25

In case you missed the headlines, be sure to check out the new documentary, premiered at Sundance, celebrating the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “RBG” will restore your faith in the rule of law and the wisdom of this stellar jurist.  Check it out here: http://ew.com/movies/2018/01/22/sundance-ruth-bader-ginsburg-rbg-documentary-premiere/.  More about the filmmakers here:https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/22/rbg_new_documentary_celebrates_life_of and a fun SNL spoof on RBG’s not retiring here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDXxsRB4s7Y&et=&bu=&cn=&src=&pt=

 Whistling Shade, the literary journal and small press, has issued a fun call for submissions for their Spring/Summer issue.  They’re looking for poetry, stories, essays, whatever the format on the topic “Food and Drink”.  Sounds like a creative way to spend a few snowbound evenings – and to justify some good eats.  http://www.whistlingshade.com/submissions.html

Fun read for a winter’s eve:  Unique libraries share information about their “oldest holdings.https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/oldest-library-books-small-specific-libraries-manuscripts

Should you prefer maps you might want to explore the Civil War Maps series recently digitized and available online from the National Archives. https://unwritten-record.blogs.archives.gov/2017/10/17/rg-109-confederate-maps-series-now-digitized-and-available-online/

Winter in Minneapolis brings out the best in Northeasters – The next Winter Market at the NE Farmers Market is Sunday, February 18, 10 AM-2 PM. Chowgirls Killer Catering will be there with tacos: scrambled eggs, carnitas or mole seitan, white rice and black beans with cilantro and lime spices. DJ theme of the February Market is funk/soul/disco/blues! http://www.facebook.com/NortheastFarmersMarket.

Does The Post (the movie) leave you craving more movies about journalism?  Ever aware of readers’ needs the (real) Washington Post has published a list of the ten best movies about journalism – complete with reviews by noted journalists. Seems like another winter project for an enterprising library or other seeker of truth organization.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/12/14/the-10-best-journalism-movies/?utm_term=.92733ffdd1f0

The Blue Ox Review (I love the name!) is a new blog, curated by Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota – who explains the title of her blog as “a nod to independence.”  Lisa, a veteran reviewer, is somehow  finding time – and “itch – to share her reviewing skills on her own blog:  https://www.continuum.umn.edu/kerlan/

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library and Friends of the Duluth Public Library are now accepting nominations for the Thirtieth Annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards.  The awards ceremony is set for May 24 –Deadline for entries is soon – February 1!  Find all of the details about NEMBA here:  https://lib.d.umn.du/about/nemba.

Conversation with Books is a tradition at St. Catherine University.  Professors and avid reader graduates will discuss the selected books on Saturday, February 2, 1:00 pm at Coeur de Catherine center on campus.  Details, including the list of books to be discussed, are online at https://www.stkate.edu/news-and-events/events/conversation-with-books-2018

First Fridays sponsored by the U of M Archives and Special Collections continues in the new year.  First Fridays are free and open to the public; light refreshments served at 11 with presentations beginning at Noon.  All are in the Elmer L. Andersen Library. For a full schedule of winter/spring 2018 offerings click here: https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/first-fridays-february-2018/

CraftBOWL is another timely winter event sponsored by the American Swedish Institute.  Focus of CraftBOWL is “The Handmade” – a broad look at what “handmade” means in traditional and contemporary, local and global terms.  It features the work by three internationally acclaimed craft artists from Sweden: Jogge Sundqvist (wood), Ingegard Raman (ceramics) and Bertil Vallien (glass). https://www.asimn.org/about-us/press-room/craftbowl-exhibition-launches-american-swedish-institutes-2018-year-handmade

Club Book announces the line-up for the Winter/Spring 2018 season. Writers on this winter/spring roster include Omar El Akkad, Peter Geye, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, Ariel Lawhon, Anita Shreve, Patricia Hampl, Emily Fridlund, and Samantha Irby.  Fortunately for the homebound and many others Club Book extends the reach of the writers by podcasting the discussions soon after the presentations.  The series is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  Events are free and open to the public.  Details about writers and their books, dates, locations and more about Club Book here: http://clubbook.org

The Friends of the St Paul Public Library is the monthly sponsor of Books & Bars, a long-running series of book discussions moderated by Jeff Kamin every Tuesday of the month.  The February 6 book discussion is on Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homecoming.  It’s at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 5:00 for happy hour social, discussion at 6:15.  No registration required.  Enjoy Jeff Kamin’s description of the Why of Books & Bars here: https://thefriends.org/2017/06/28/jeff-kamin-on-books-bars-reading-and-why-libraries-are-better-than-netflix/

So much to do, so little time.

 

 

Truth ain’t goin’ away – So what do we do now?

A year ago this weekend we were inaugurating the 45th President of the US.  We were marching with pride in the Women’s March and girding our loins for what was to come.  A year ago I posted these comparatively hopeful comments. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/  Somehow I thought we would recognize and eschew the attack on truth and facts and informed citizenship that was to follow.

As the weeks and months passed, reality happened and hope faded with each proclamation, every disruption of information integrity, every political appointment, every charge that the press is the “enemy of the people,” every assault to truth that emanated from the Oval Office and environs.  The more I observed the more I admitted what a well-oiled army of deconstructionists had invaded the nation.  They came with a diabolical action plan brilliantly designed to attack the very essence of an informed democracy.  As a lifetime protagonist for a free press, an informed public and the fundamental principle of truth, I was and am cut to the proverbial quick.

In truth, hope faltered.  Though I kept writing blog posts, they were sappy – most never posted. Posted blogs were generally limited to calendars of events, posts that passed on information produced by organizations and individuals whose words and acts were braver and more articulate than my own.  Mine was silent resistance here to the insidious and methodical attack on truth.   I started to characterize this blog as Moping Around with Mary……

The anniversary of the inauguration prodded me back to Poking.  It’s clear that industry is not going to honestly address, much less solve, the onslaught of alternative facts, propaganda, foreign interference or any other strategy that cuts into corporate profits.  Consider the latest brain burst from Mark Zuckerberg: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1611a52828318ba7

Clearly, it cannot remain to the gurus of corporate America to lead the crusade for truth.

And so I’m back to thinking and writing,  sharing on this blog, more about how it remains to us as thoughtful individuals, as institutions and as a society to “speak truth to power.”  It takes work and guts.  And yet, as the great philosopher Elvis Presley who advised us that “truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”  Though I’ll continue calendar highlights that might fall through the cracks, I’ll go back to more thought posts about basic principles of truth, the right and responsibility to know, freedom of the press and the insidious peril to this democracy.

Words matter.  Truth matters.  Ideas and opinions matter.  Inspired by the weekend Women’s March I’m determined to stop moping and return to poking around and speaking out.  My hope is to “go high” with renewed energy and commitment to truth and to the ways in which the press, education, libraries, civic discourse and individual engagement and action can keep hope alive.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~~Desmond Tutu