What kind of gifts do you give friends and family in this year of living strangely in Fitzwalkerstan? Top of the list for most of my friends would be to get the required number of signatures to recall Gov. Walker. But I'm thinking a bit smaller in this instance. There's the whole buy local initiative, of course. But what about gifts that capture this moment in time, that celebrate it, link it to our past and future? There are a lot of potential possibilites out there, some obvious and others less so. Here are my suggestions:
Union Town by Tom Morello / The Night Watchman: This CD features 8 union songs; the last one on the disc was recorded live in Madison last February. The disc itself carries an image of the crowds in the Capitol Rotunda and the inside of the jacket shows one of the rallies here. In addition to the music, I like this CD (versus Morello's World Wide Rebel Songs, for instance) because it's inexpensive and has just enough music to get you fired up. Under $10.
We Are Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Uprising in the Words of Activists, Writers and Everyday Wisconsinites Who Made it Happen: Edited by Erica Sagrans. $18 paperback or you can download a PDF. The strenght of this book is that it contains the first writings, essays and blog posts coming out of public resistance to Governor Walker last winter. Farmers, politicians, students and citizens make their voices heard. First-person history in a convenient package.
Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams: This anthology of poetry and essays — edited and with an introduction by M.L. Liebler — is an amazing and inspiring collection and includes titles both familiar and unknown. The voices range from Ed Sanders of The Fugs to Jack White of the White Stripes; from Walt Whitman to John Sayles to Michael Moore; Amiri Baraka to Dan Berrigan to Li-Young Lee. Coffee House Press, Minneapolis. This is strong stuff and not intended for Tea-Partiers.
Where We Worked: A Celebration of America's Workers and the Nation They Built: By Jack Larkin. This is the story of the 99%, our grandparents and theirs — all the citizens who built the mills and factories and dams and farms. While the book tells our history and our stories, it is the photos (from the Library of Congress) that speak most powerfully across time and generations. Most Americans today would be hard-pressed not to be able to find images that show the jobs members of their family have done. There's a whole section on coal mining, for example, with a number of pictures of breaker boys — the job my paternal grandfather had as a 10-year-old in Pennsylvania. Lyons Press, $40.00.
Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues: By Bill Moyers. I picked up this hardcover book by Moyers at A Room of One's Own after the first day of the Democracy Convention in Madison last summer. Came home, sat down and began to devour it. Moyers, as usual, finds those people who speak most clearly and eloquently about the issues of the day: from poetry to poverty, gay marriage to plutocracy. This book will give you Progressive talking points and an endless list of books you want to read by the people Moyers interviews.
Cut From Plain Cloth: The 2011 Wisconsin Workers Protests: By Dennis Weidemann. This hardcover book about the Wisconsin uprising has 150 photos and personal stories that exemplify the diversity and intimacy of this movement. I recognized old friends and new in its pages. Different enough from We Are Wisconsin that you could own both without too much overlap.
And, of course, you could make a donation to United Wisconsin (to Recall Scott Walker) in the name of a friend or family member as their gift this year!
NOTE: All of these books and the CD are also available through the South Central Library System in Wisconsin.
SHE SAID:Yes, this is a radish! According to "Wikipedia: Black Spanish or Black Spanish Round occur in both round and elongated forms, and are sometimes simply called the black radish or known by the French name Gros Noir d'Hiver. It dates in Europe to 1548, and was a common garden variety in England and France during the early 19th century." This one's about the size of a clementine. Mark bought it specifically to photograph it rather than eat it.
Not only is April my birthday month but it's Poetry Month, too. This one's for you Wisconsin.
The Low Road
What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
. . . How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.
But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.
Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organisation. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.
It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.
For ten years now the cycles of freeze and thaw have been doing their worst to the little wall by the garage. It was the first of several walls I built in our garden and clearly the worst. In order to plant behind it I back-filled with soil. Soil holds moisture. That's good for plants but ruinous to walls. The saturated soil swells when it freezes and pushes against the stones. For ten years the wall settled back to some degree as the soil thawed, but never completely. Year after year the bow and tilt of the stacked stones increased until this spring gravity settled matters.
And so this weekend, with Robert Frost in my thoughts, I'll start to rebuild my wall with the fervent hope that this time it will stand as long as I do.
This is one of my assignments from the Aboretum Corps of Discovery workshops, called "The Language of Landscape." I was given the word "fluttering" and had to use it in describing landscape. As with many of the class assignments, I used our garden as the inspirational landscape.
Ever since I published James Godsil's wonderful tomato poem last fall, I've been on the receiving end of his e-mails. They come fast and furious, filled with ideas and enthusiasm. Godsil's current project is Sweet Water Organics in Milwaukee, a group of urban fish farmers and veggie growers, whose aim is to revolutionize commercial food production. You can visually follow the Sweet Water story with Godsil's flickr set.
SWEET WATER ORGANICS PHOTO
Now Godsil wants your old watering can. Of course, it needs to be in working condition. In fact, Godsil sent out this poetic e-request for cans, along with suggested payment options. If I lived in Milwaukee, I'd take him up on his offer:
Deviations from perfection in the workmanship of contemporary hoses As well as in the social practice of Sweet Water workers Has given rise to a serious hose shortage and the notion that Perhaps watering cans might be better for life's advance than hoses!
Anybody know somebody with spare hoses and watering cans To trade for Sweet Water Basil, Tomatoes, Raspberries, or Compost?
Sweet Water Organics is actually an attempt to take Will Allen's methods to a commercial — rather than a non-profit — level. Allen has long labored in the service of urban agriculture in Milwaukee, believing that many of the health problems of the urban poor stem from the lack of food choices, especially fresh produce.
The mission statement of Allen's organization — Growing Power, Inc. — says its role is "inspiring communities to build sustainable food systems that are equitable and ecologically sound, creating a just world, one food-secure community at a time." A great concept, but even better is the fact that Allen's talent and efforts were rewarded in 2008 with a MacArthur "genius" grant.
Come hear Will Allen talk about Growing Power and more at 6 p.m. this Thursday, Sept. 17 at the Evjue Community Room at the Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison. Allen's appearance is a warm-up for next month's Wisconsin Book Festival where another "farmer-hero," Wendell Berry, will be the keynote speaker on Sunday, Oct. 11. Both events are free.
Sweet Water flickr set
Sweet Water sprouted at Will Allen's Growing Power.