February 17, 2017 · 5:30 PM
Abigail Scott Duniway, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Thursday night I reached the epilogue of Evicted, so I’m in the home stretch of finishing that book. Honestly, I’m probably not going to read the backmatter of footnotes and such, which take up the last 20% of the thickness of the book, so I’ll likely be moving on to the next selection in my towering to-read stack.
Related to Current Political Shenanigans
Over the last couple of weeks certain historical figures have been on my mind. Figures such as Frederick Douglass, who the current occupant of the Oval Office recently referred to as if he was alive (Douglass died in 1895).
When I was attending Lewis and Clark College I was in a course where we read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. One of the details that stuck with me over the years is that Douglass didn’t know the day he was born, something that most of us consider to be basic information about ourselves. Of course it’s worth reading for more reasons besides that, and it’s public domain so it’s pretty easy to find. Highly recommended—after all, POTUS says that Douglass guy is really going places!
Conservatives Sure Love Progressives and Radicals—At Least After They’re Dead (Salon)
Most of my favorite historical figures relate to social history—the revolutionaries, the people who fought for their beliefs despite negative pushback from others. Here in Oregon we have Abigail Scott Duniway, who fought for women’s suffrage in Oregon alongside national figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. An announcement recently informed Portland that the local Hilton Hotel would be renamed after Duniway, which I can only think ties in to the above Salon article. A few years ago I created a Facebook page for Duniway, hoping to start a campaign to rename SE Division street for her…but it looks like the profiteers have now discovered her too.
Finding Time to Read
What would Bookish be without reading? I’ve seen a few articles about making time to read over the last few weeks. They all have something interesting to say.
Making Time to Read (Unclutterer)
In the Time You Spend on Social Media Each Year, You Could Read 200 Books (Quartz)
Books You Can Read in the Time It Takes to Watch the Super Bowl (Minnesota Public Radio)
The Importance of Saying No
Finally, this week I took on another short-term commitment that I probably should have said no to. Obviously I ran across this reminder later in the week…
One Critical Time Management Technique: Saying No (Unclutterer)
Although I admit I should have said no, I’m not entirely sorry because I’ve accepted the opportunity to learn the choral part to the last movement of Beethoven’s 9th, aka “Ode to Joy.” It seems pretty flipping timely to me to sing Schiller’s “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” again and again. Loudly.
February 10, 2017 · 1:00 PM
There’s a lot going on these days, am I right? This month, in addition to regular dispatches on Rain in the Forecast (which involves taking Rain to agility class and practicing our homework), I’m learning to knit by a class I’m taking at local knit shop Starlight Knitting Society, I’ve returned to a regular yoga class after an unexpected two-month absence, and I’m cooking up fundraisers (see above and below). But I’m still reading.
A friend says this journal article came out of her lab. One can read the full piece if you have library access to a service like JSTOR:
Association of Facebook Use with Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study (American Journal of Epidemiology via PubMed)
There’s a new occupant in the Oval Office this year, and if you’re having as hard a time adjusting to that as I am, perhaps this piece will be of interest to you. It’s long-form, but largely worth it.
A Short History of the Trump Family (London Review of Books)
After you’re done with that, you might need a dose of comedy to cleanse the palate…
This is Why We Have Photoshop (Cake Wrecks)
Inspired by the amazing things happening these days in US government, I’m selling some pencils. Proceeds will go to the Center for Investigative Reporting in Emeryville, CA.
February 7, 2017 · 1:00 PM
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is the book selection for the Everybody Reads program at one of my local libraries this year.
Why Evicted? Portland’s popularity has lead to a housing crisis in the last few years. Home sales prices have shot up, making ownership even more out of reach for many. An influx of newcomers (some perhaps attracted by the Portlandia mythos, others escaping drought in California) has meant rental prices have become insane. A friend was renting an inner-SE basement apartment about ten years ago that was priced around $895 per month—while that seemed too expensive for me to sustainably afford at the time, a similar apartment might now go for $1300 or more.
Considering this environment I’m glad to own a house with no mortgage, although the condition is not that far from the housing described in Evicted. If my house ever becomes completely uninhabitable, it’s likely I’ll need to move to another part of the region. Or Tulsa—it always seems cost of living is reasonable in Tulsa.
The theory behind Everybody Reads is that if a community has one book they’re reading around the same time, it can spark connections among strangers and a larger public discourse. The library also uses the opportunity to schedule several related events—this year the author will be giving a lecture event in Portland and there are many opportunities for community members to participate in book discussions, learn about local renters rights, and participate in a poverty simulation.
It seems to me that this book is in some respects picking up where The Jungle left off, with the author writing in order to spur social change. That said, rather than creating a fictional account, Evicted was crafted after author Matthew Desmond conducted plenty of interviews and information gathering. A note in the front of the book points out that all the situations really happened, although names have been changed for anonymity.
And it’s a good thing, too. I’m only about halfway through the story and I already feel compelled to write a nastygram to one of the landlords in the book! If this is any recommendation, I promise you’ll feel so moved as well. Evicted does a great job of pulling the curtain back on a system that we should all engage in changing, in the name of human rights.
November 23, 2016 · 1:00 PM
March: Book Three won the National Book Award last Wednesday! Wahoo!
And last weekend, Representative John Lewis got another surprise when he returned to Nashville. There, in the place where he began his activism, he was presented with copies of his earliest arrest records that nobody had been able to locate previously.
In Nashville, Rep. John Lewis Gets Surprise from His Civil Rights Past
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been doing a lot of pondering about the next few years, puzzling over what actions I should be taking to stand up against hate. Representative Lewis had a thought that spoke to me. From the article:
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just,” he said, “you have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate, to stand up, to speak up and speak out, and get in the way, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.”
You guys? I think he’s speaking to all of us.