I first became interested in gardening through Elizabethan textiles, English country estates and the photos of Edward Steichen. Those ideas and images of gardens eventually led me to the real thing: creating my own garden. I dreamed of someday growing a shad blow tree (below) like the one Steichen photographed in a famous pictorial series that I first saw in the mid-1960s. Steichen spent his early years in Wisconsin and left a record of that time with scenes of misty Milwaukee woods (bottom) and a stunning portrait of his sister, Lilian, and her husband, Carl Sandburg (directly below).
On December 29, 1907, Sandburg met Lilian Steichen when she stopped by the Milwaukee headquarters of the Wisconsin Social-Democratic party to say hello to her socialist friends. It was Sandburg's first day on the job as an organizer for the party. You can read details of their romantic correspondence and relationship here, in an article published in the Wisconsin Academy Review.
But what I love most about this young couple is their passion for progressive politics. According to the Wisconsin Academy Review, Lilian was actively involved in politics, translating socialist pamphlets from German to English, and vice versa. She and her mother were often the only women in attendance at the Social-Democratic party meetings. Among their friends were famed Wisconsin socialists, Victor Berger and Emil Seidel.
In 1908, the year Lilian and Carl were married, he was often away working on the presidential campaign of Eugene Debs. The following year they moved to Milwaukee where Carl was a newpaper reporter. When the Socialists took office in the spring of 1910, Carl became secretary to Mayor Emil Seidel.
If you know your Wisconsin history, then you know that this state has a proud history of socialism. It was under their leadership at the local and state level that some of the most progressive legislation in Wisconsin history was written and and passed into law.
So today I'll be voting in our local elections channeling the spirit of Lilian and Carl. Then I'll go home and remember Edward Steichen as I work in my garden.
A Dane County Circuit judge today ruled Act 10 — which aimed to limit public workers' rights to bargain collectively — is unconstitutional under both state and federal law. Grateful thanks to Lester Pines and the other Madison lawyers on the legal team. You can read early details of the story here.
Note: I don't know the source of this photo. If you do, let me know so I can properly credit them.
I went looking for Caitlin Moran's "How to Be a Woman" after reading this review in the NYTimes. Found it at Room of One's Own Bookstore where they knew exactly what book I was talking about even though I could not remember the title or the author. "Room" may be the only bookstore left where I knew they would know what I wanted and have it in stock as well.
Went home and devoured it in 48 hours — in between bouts of laughing til I cried. It was so smart and sassy I kept interrupting my husband who was trying to read his own book. He didn't have a chance as I endlessly said "listen to this," and then read long bits out loud to him. He went on to read the book himself when I finished.
If you're a feminist this is the book you've been waiting for. Read it; laugh out loud, jump up and down and then give copies to every young woman you know. Though the author is British, there are very few references that don't translate and, in fact, I think it may be easier to read about contentious topics through a different cultural lens. I guarantee Moran will entertain, enthrall and energize you with this feminist memoir cum manifesto.
For another review with more background, read what Peggy Orenstein said about the book on Slate.
I made a wise decision last night and went to the 384th Solidarity Sing Along on the steps of the state Capitol in Madison. We sang union songs for an hour as the polls closed. The bagpipers, drummers and drum major from the firefighters' union joined us for a rousing round of solidarity. We'd barely turned around to leave when we started to get the bad news. As Matt Rothschild of the Progressive Magazine noted, it was a brutal night for progressives in Wisconsin.
But, as we've been saying for more than a year, "We're still here" and this morning the sun is shining. Just got an email from the neighborhood association saying that my polling place (Ward 77 at Toki School on the west side) had an 85% turnout and 298 new registrants; 1127 votes cast for Barrett and 425 for Scottie. In the 17 years we've lived here, it appears our neighborhood is getting more progressive! On a larger note, it looks like the good citizens in Racine did managed to flip the state Senate for us.
I don't believe any of us who took up the call in February, 2011, regret our efforts. We shared something in those days at the Capitol that was as unprecedented as it was unforgettable. What happened yesterday was a setback in a long struggle. The landmark progressive legislation that came out of Wisconsin 100 years ago took ten years to achieve. I figure we've got the first 18 months down. As my friend John Nichols noted last year, "The recall elections are not the start of anything. They are the continuation of La Follette's 'old fight' by Wisconsinites who know that this is a progressive state, with a progressive history and a progressive future." On Wisconsin.
One more message from the couple on Tokay Blvd., not far from my house. When I stopped to photograph this sign, I talked for a while with the homeowner who's been making and displaying these signs on his front lawn for months.
We both agreed that no matter what happens today, a foundation of participatory democracy has been laid that won't disappear. Thousands of people have worked long and hard, educated themselves along with their friends and neighbors, participated in historic events large and small. We've all been changed. Whatever the outcome of today's six elections*, there's no going back.
I will see you tonight at the Capitol for the Solidarity Election Night Vigil and Sing Along from 8-9 p.m. with the intrepid Solidarity Singers. As Ed Garvey of Fighting Bob says, "Go in peace but keep your powder dry. Visualize the party on the 6th."
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and four state Senate races.