Earth Day 2020

Every year, Earth Day affords an opportunity for us to collectively take stock of our relationship with the environment. The first Earth Day fifty years ago is the result of one such stock-taking. Environmentalists were inspired by the “Blue Marble” photo ⁠— an image which still reverberates through Western culture with nearly the same potency as when it was first viewed.

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Quiet Times

We are learning, if we did not know before, that there are different ways to be quiet: the quiet concentration of holding one’s breath; a silent prayer; deep breathing in the moments between acts of care-giving, or going through the now-displaced motions of our former lives. We’re not quite sure when this quiet will end.

I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts, but it’s difficult to think. Hard to reconcile big, transformative ideas into the strange quietness of this moment. But over the next few weeks, I will share some of the things I’m reading here, in case they are as helpful or inspiring or merely interesting to others as they have been to me.

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The World is Changing. The World Can Change.

While many of us are at home ⁠— with others or alone ⁠— the world outside is changing. Under the pressure of a global pandemic, many are seeing the possibility of further change⁠ — of the ways that it becomes more possible every day to resist falling back into “normal” once quarantines and self-isolation protocols are lifted.

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Review: The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy

This creepy bit of sylvan horror is the kind of thing we’d like to see in our slush pile: a story about the inhabitants of an anarchist commune in Freedom, Iowa, who summon Uliksi, a blood-red three-antlered deer god, in order to deal with their hierarchy problems. Uliksi “turns predator into prey” when he “hunts those who wield power over others”.

Though Uliksi is originally summoned to deal with a violent sociopath who has seized control of the commune, the summoners soon realize that the act of summoning an “endless spirit” to dispatch Freedom’s unwanted leader results in the deer god’s gaze falling, inevitably, upon them.

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Wet’suwet’en Land Protectors & the Canadian National Narrative

Two weeks ago, the RCMP raided Wet’suwet’en territory, arresting dozens of Wet’suwet’en land protectors in an effort to clear the way for the Coastal Gas Link pipeline. This action by Canadian authorities has since resulted in nation-wide protests. It seems inappropriate to post good news eco-stories when this is happening in Canada; but this always happening in Canada. And every other colonial state. This is the perpetual context of environmentalism in the West.

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Review: “The Ones Who Stay and Fight” by N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin’s “The Ones Who Stay and Fight” is the opening story in the author’s short story collection, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month. The story introduces the collection, as does the book’s title, as a work of fundamentally utopian sff.

“The Ones Who Stay and Fight” was written in conversation with “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s own challenge to utopia, published in 1973. “Omelas” has been discussed extensively (a recent article on “Omelas” and its utilitarian implications for our own times can be found here) and this review will side-step a comprehensive comparison of “Omelas” and “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”. Instead, the focus here is on Jemisin’s story, its conception of systemic violence, its implicit sense of justice and hope, and how Jemisin’s vision applies to the fight against climate change.

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