Category Archives: Social Justice

Summertime – A Good Time to “waste time” thinking!

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

John Lubbock, The Use of Life

True enough – it is by no means a waste of time to slow down, to listen and watch – in fact this sort of clearing of the mind accomplishes two goals: it takes the mental spotlight off the blast from the Beltway, and, more important, it creates ideal conditions for serious thinking – about “life, the universe and everything.”

Some powerful prompts may help to  jumpstart the dormant thinking process, try some or all of these:

  • There are just a few days remaining to visit the current exhibit at the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts. “Woven Together: Traditions of the Indigenous Culture of Peru” is curated by Melanie Eberts, founder of ArtAndes. ( http://artandes.com)  Wilber Quispe is the master weaver who shares the challenge to preserve the ancient craft.  (http://www.presspubs.com/white_bear/image_4f11082c-56b8-11e7-879d-6b6e70ae7ba8.html)  Read more about the unique partnership of Melanie and Wilber here: http://www.startribune.com/duets-wilbur-and-melanie-woven-together-across-continents/268625052/
  • The theme of fiber art continues with a show featuring fiber artist Tressa Sularz, http://www.mnartists.org/tressasularzwill) To learn more about Tressa, her life and creative work, view her Voices of Northeast conversation here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vq_pGW6Jm4.  Both exhibits are free and open to the public.  Learn more about the White Bear Center for the Arts here: http://whitebeararts.org
  • “Shout Out: Community Intervention, Independent Publishing and Alternative Distribution” is the theme of the Book Art Biennial, July 20-23, 2017. Centerpiece of the Book Art Biennial is presentation of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts Prize, “a unique award that showcases and honors the best artists’ books in the world.”  (Much more about this major national gathering on the MCBA website: http://www.mnbookarts.org/biennial/
  • Moving Image is Walker Art Center’s established series of exemplary films https://walkerart.org/about/moving-image/ “In solidarity with Minnesota immigrants and refugees” Mizna (http://Mizna.org) is collaborating with Walker to sponsor a series of films representative of the seven countries named in the original presidential travel ban.  Reshaping our World: Cinema without borders will be screened Wednesday evenings, 7:30 p.m. on July 5, 12, 19 and 26 and August 2.  Tickets are $10 (with reduced rates for Mizna community members).  The series begins with screening of A Stray, the story of a struggling young Somali-American living in Minneapolis.  The “stray” is, in fact, a dog with whom the young man, Adan, forms a friendship.  A Stray is preceded that evening by a screening of Rumee, a documentary created by Somali community residents who share refugee stories “from a strength-based perspective.” State Representative Ilhan Omar and actor Ifrah Mansour will discuss the films. The special viewing is just one feature of Somali Week 2017. (https://somaliweek.org) Details here: http://mizna.org/articles/events/175.shtml
  • It’s 4th of July weekend – think “up to the lake!” On Friday evening, June 30, Tim Jollymore will share the pleasure.  He’ll be reading from his new book, Lake Stories & Other Tales at Eat My Words, 1228 2nd Street Northeast.  https://www.facebook.com/events/299092377204602/.  (You may even have an opportunity to the bookshop complete their move to new digs just up the road…)
  • Discovering hidden attributes of your of-an-age abode? Learn about Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home at one of the learning opportunities sponsored by Special Collections staff at Minneapolis Central Library. The popular training sessions are scheduled for July 1, 10:30-11:30 at Special Collections, 4th floor, Minneapolis Central Library and August 5, 10:30-11:30 at Roosevelt Library.  Register online at https://hclib.bibliocommons.com/events or call 612 543 5669.

To truly expand your thinking horizons take advantage of the seasonally and politically  timely opportunity for deep thinking about the Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964.  It was the Civil Rights Act that outlawed all segregation on the basis of raceThe Law was intentionally – and decidedly – specific that this was to include any hotel, motel, restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, gas station, movie theater, concert hall, theater, sports arena, stadium of other place of “exhibition or entertainment.”  (You get the idea.) When he signed the bill Johnson was anachronistic but firm when he affirmed: We believe all men are entitled to the blessings of liberty.”

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them~~ Albert Einstein

Rekindling the vision of the 19th Amendment: A centennial challenge

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

That’s it – that’s the full text of the 19th Amendment, words crafted with care by suffragettes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  The proposed Amendment was first introduced in 1878, ultimately passed decades later.

Yesterday, Sunday June 4, 2017, marked the 98th anniversary of Congressional passage of the 19th Amendment.  The House of Representatives voted 304-90 and the Senate voted 56-25 in favor of the Amendment — which was then sent to the states for ratification.  Most times the reminder would have inspired a flicker of awareness; in light of the times, the occasion ignited a call to action!

The times demand that we embrace the centenary of this monumental moment in the nation’s history.  Women and their male supporters earned the right to vote in the face of bullying, misogyny, alternative facts (i.e. lies), money and mockery.  They resisted, collaborated, and kept a steady eye on the mission.  They understood that this democracy depends on the will of an informed electorate.  They spoke truth to power – and they succeeded.

On June 4, 2019 the nation will commemorate the centenary of Congressional passage of the joint resolution that led to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, aka the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment, to the Constitution.   Recognition of the centenary of the 19th Amendment has the potential to expand our knowledge and appreciation of our roots and hone our collaborative strategies. If we seize the possibilities, awareness of the 19th Amendment can fuel a movement based on bipartisanship and acceptance of the fact that thoughtful policy has the power to trump pernicious prevarication and the over-rated glories of wealth.

June 4, 1919 was a pivotal step in the very long struggle.  A robust centennial campaign has the potential to magnify the import of the Amendment we take for granted a century later.  It seems to me that the best way to honor our forebears is to learn about their struggle, their strategies, their commitment to honor policy over politics.  It may seem early to celebrate – it’s certainly not too early to plan.

Though most long-range planning projects focus on a budget, the coin of the realm in this instance is the truth of history.  The work begins with serious research, the raw material of which is already on library shelves or in the digital stratosphere.  Recognition of the day is a moment in time; the real story lies in digging into the true facts and forces that shapedthe suffragette movement.  The mission, hopes, tribulations and ultimate success of a powerful crusade are recorded in carefully-chosen  words and photos that capture the era and rekindle the spirit that imbued the suffragettes.

This early mention of the forthcoming commemoration is simply a starting point – with special reference to the struggle for equality as it played out in Minnesota.   Future posts will focus on the immense archival records, literature, photos, memorabilia and other resources that make the movement for women’s right to vote  come alive. My hope is that the efforts of those who fought for women’s rights will inspire us to get up and do what needs to be done to assure that the vision and labors of the suffragettes inform and inspire us to value and protect an engaged and informed electorate that makes democracy work.

The principle of self-government cannot be violated with impunity. The individual’s right to it is sacred – regardless of class, caste, race, color, sex or any other accident or incident of birth ~~ Susan B. Anthony

 

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive – A quarter century of sharing

No man can rationally live, worship, or love his neighbor on an empty stomach. ― Woodrow Wilson

 When the National Association of Letter Carriers launched their first national food drive in 1993, most Americans felt confident that hunger was a temporary challenge,   A quarter century later Americans – children, elderly, mothers and their infants, jobless workers – go to bed hungry night after night.   Children cannot learn, sick people cannot heal, workers cannot be productive – because they are malnourished.

And the future is grim at best.

The good news is that the nation’s letter carriers remain committed to continue – even expand – their national food drive.  The 25th annual Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is set for Saturday, May 13, 2017. (https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive)

Last year the food drive collected a record 80 million pounds of nonperishable food.  This brought the total donations to date to more than 1.5 billion pounds.

The efforts of the letter carriers are shored up by hundreds of individuals and organizations that join in the drive.  This year’s partners include the U.S Postal Service, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Valpak, United Way Worldwide, the AFL-CIO, the AARP Foundation and Valassis.  Also joining letter carriers are their family members, friends, neighbors and other postal workers.

Details about this year’s drive have been – or soon will be – in every resident’s mailbox.  Sponsors are quick to remind donors that all contributions are tax deductible.  The Stamp Out Hunger Toolkit offers a wealth of ideas for promotion, collaboration, the logistics of the day  https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive/food-drive-toolkit

Stay in touch with the Stamp Out Hunger Drive on Facebook (Facebook.com/StampOutHunger);  on Twitter follow @StampOut Hunger.  Be sure to check out the great StampOutHunger graphics here:  (https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive/body/food-drive-17-RGB-flat-final.jpg)

Most important, plan ahead, think about the Stamp Out Hunger drive when you make your grocery shopping list.  Add some nutritious, delicious, non-perishable groceries that will help a local food shelf meet the needs of neighbors who need the helping hand that you are able to extend – with a little help from your generous letter carrier!

The rich swell up with pride, the poor from hunger.  Sholom Aleichem 

March for Science – Minnesotans march to protest federal cuts

When I first posted mention of the March for Science a couple of months ago both the date and the concept seemed remote.  In recent weeks we have all learned more than we want to know about the  horrendous cuts to federal funding for science – everything from EPA to NIH to NOAA and more (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/climate/trump-budget-science-research.html?_r=0)

As a community and as a nation we experience the imperative to resist in a public way, to speak out, to stand up – and to march – essentially to remind ourselves and our nation that science matters. On Saturday, April 22, Earth Day 2017, thousands of Americans will gather in Washington, DC for a march not unlike the Women’s March in January – only warmer.

As with the Women’s March there will be satellite marches throughout the nation.  In Minnesota, a coalition of individuals from all walks of life will gather to march to the State Capitol.  Promoters of the Minnesota March say that these teachers, researchers, librarians, students, nonprofits, labor unions and faith groups share a common mission to (in the words of my high school teacher) “combat ignorance.”

The March will start at Cathedral Hill Park at 11:AM ( https://goo.gl/maps/dRjQxoPqS6Q2) with a Noon rally at the State Capitol. Marchers are encouraged to wear blue and green.  (Unlike the Women’s March, parkas, thermal underwear and boots are optional)

Learn much more here:  http://www.MarchForScienceMN.com/march

Minnesotans have a unique opportunity to learn and think about the mission of the March through a series sponsored by the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul.  All are welcome to participate in the April 8 Solidarity Saturday: Science, Not Silence discussions:  http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/solidarity-saturdays-science-not-silence/

The web offers a wealth of information about the March – background, mission, examples of proposed and current budget  cuts, and why science matters more than ever.

One source of particular relevance is PLOS, a “peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. It’s a great – and accessible – update on what’s happening in the world of science.  A recent op-ed by PLOS co-founder Harold Varmus, explores “why Trump’s NIH cuts should worry us,” Another PLOS post by Judith Reichel speaks to the relevance of the March, “Standing up for science – Now more than ever.”  More about PLOS here.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLOS_ONE

Among other resources I enjoyed are book reviews of a current popular read entitled “Rigor Mortis: How sloppy science creates worthless cures, crushes hope, and wastes billions.   Though I have yet to read the book, the reviews motivate me to dip into what seems to be accessible to this lowly liberal arts major who knows little but cares mightily about the ongoing attacks on science.

Planners provide many options for keeping abreast of and engaged in plans for the Minnesota March for Science:

Email: info@MarchForScienceMN.com
Facebook: /MarchForScienceMN
Instagram: @MarchForScienceMN
Twitter: @ScienceMarchMN
Snapchat: @ScienceMarchMN

Equal Pay Day – In case you thought we’d solved that problem

A reminder before you get decked out for work that Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day 2017.  This is the symbolic day when women’s earnings catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year.  Some would have the public believe that the wage gap has been closed – these are the people who look at high paid female corporate executives, not at clerical workers or even long-term professional women whose lifetime incomes are affected by a host of obstacles to equal pay.

The early day reminder is that many women will decide to wear red on Equal Pay Day to emphasize how long it takes women to catch up.

It’s also worth remembering that it’s been over a half century since the Equal Pay Act became law.  After 54 years’ women now make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns; at this rate, it could take at least 70 more years before the gap closes.

It’s generally assumed that the pay differential results from women’s choices, particularly to interrupt their careers by taking time to rear their families.  Still, Olivia Mitchell, director of the pension research council at the Wharton School, avers that this does not recognize other significant contributors including women’s lack of negotiating skills and the bias women face from employers – in other words, the “penalty” of childbirth and rearing are a biased excuse for a discriminatory situation.  I agree with Dr. Mitchell’s analysis – and would add a host of other reasonable explanations of what is a thorough explainable – and inexcusable – disputation.

A small sampling of resources for more on Equal Pay Day:

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/04/147705/what-is-equal-pay-day-gender-wage-gap-facts?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email_share

https://www.pay-equity.org/day.html

http://fortune.com/2017/04/03/equal-pay-day-2017-wage-gap/

Definitely check the excellent resource guide prepared by the American Association of University Women – a more systemic approach to a systemic problem.  http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-equal-pay-day/

For the lark of it, see how far you get with Cheryl Sandberg’s 20% counts campaign.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/03/lean-in-sheryl-sandberg-20-percent-counts-campaign-to-close-gender-pay-gap/99841634/

In any event, no matter where you fit into the world of work and pay for work, take time to think about the inequity of unequal pay and the impact of low for women not only on individuals but on families and on the long-term welfare of older women.

 

UPDATE: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protections-for-women-workers/ar-BBzink0?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP

UPDATE: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trump-just-revoked-protections-women-workplace

 

 

“RestaurantsRising” to face immigration challenges

The Ides of March is one of the standout dates on the calendar.  So it should be easy to member that March 15, 2017, is a significant date to mark on your calendar.

In Minnesota diners will celebrate this year’s Ideas of March with a great meal at a local restaurant!  A host of Minnesota restaurants and retail establishments are collaborating to make the Ides of Marsh a day to support – publicly and financially –  the work of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota. (https://www.ilcm.org/)

The ILCM is one of the most visible of the Minnesota organizations – and individuals – stretched beyond their resources to meet the challenge to help people who are caught up in unprecedented immigration battles.

A host of eateries are joining forces to speak out.  The initiative bears the powerful name “RestaurantsRising.”  A large number participated in the successful Day Without Immigrants resistance.   That led to the Ides of March campaign to pledge a portion each restaurant’s daily profits to support the legal representation provided by IMLC and other legal services.

There’s a great website where you can find the names and logos of each restaurant as well as a clever indication of the percentage of sales the establishment will share with legal aid providers.    It’s a very impressive and growing collaboration.

Check the RestaurantsRising website (http://restaurantsrising.com) and follow RestaurantsRising on FB.

Freedom of Information Day 2017 – An unprecedented challenge

It strikes me that it is more than appropriate that Sunshine Week, March 12-18, 2017, begins on the first day of Daylight Savings Time!  Maybe an extra hour of sunshine will actually help!  One can hope.

I have written so often about open government, transparency, the right to know, the First Amendment and the free press that I mention just one recent blog post that perhaps best expresses my deep concerns about the crisis in which we find ourselves. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/  

As citizens of a threatened democracy we need to think more than ever about our rights, the role of the press, and our need to discern truth in an incredible barrage of data, misinformation, fake facts, propaganda and, happily, thoughtful exposition of ideas, issues and facts.  We can’t give up.  

Nationally, the week is sponsored by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  The SW website offers an excellent introduction to the principles, the issues, a valuable Tookkit for local activists including a calendar of what’s happening around the nation. It’s an essential starting point and inspiration to take action.  All is revealed through multiple channels, including #Sunshineweek@asne.org, and on Facebook.

For many years the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI) has commemorated Sunshine Week by sponsoring a Freedom of Information Day event. The history of FOIA Day (March 16) respects the birthday of James Madison, author of the First Amendment.  And so each year MNCOGI hosts a Freedom of Information Day public event.  This year’s event is set for Thursday, March 16, Noon at the Minneapolis Central Library.

Keynote speaker at FOI recognition is Patrice McDermott, founder and long-time director of OpenTheGovernment.org, a DC-based coalition of organizations that endorse government accountability and access.  Her talk is entitled “Secrecy and Accountability – Looking Forward, Looking Back.”  Member of the National Freedom Act Hall of Fame Dr. McDermott is a national authority on the principles and challenges to the right of the people to access to information by and about the government.  

At the same gathering the Coalition will honor Tony Webster, recipient of this year’s John R Finnegan FOI Award.  Webster  is a self-proclaimed “web engineer, public records researcher, and policy nerd”. (@webster)  MNCOGI chair Gary Hill observes that “Tony Webster is a shining example of the power of a single individual to make government more transparent and hold it more accountable.”   

Sponsored each year by the Coalition, the Finnegan Award honors Minnesota newspaperman John R. Finnegan, installed in 2011 as a member of the Freedom of Information Hall of Fame (http://www.nfoic.org/2011-open-government-hall-fame)

(https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2012/10/eulogies-john-finnegan-sr)

The FOI Day event is free and open to the public.

Related updates:

A powerful statement of press freedom endorsed by a broad coalition of agencies:  http://ncac.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Press-Freedom-Statement-FINAL.pdf

Recipient of the James Madison Award, sponsored by the American Library Association Washington Office, is Jon Tester (D-MT).  The award will be presented at one of the main events of Sunshine Week, a gathering at the Newseum in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, March 15 – streamed live from the Knight TV Studio in the Newseum.  http://www.newseum.org/live/)