Day 434, May 25, 2021

A Better Species 

Tonight's soundtrack: Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, 2002 (the video is weird, but it sounds quite good)

It has been a busy few weeks and I have fallen off of my usual routine of writing so I feel like there is so much to share, and yet it seems almost too overwhelming to start.

Over the weekend, I was reading about ethical responses to markets. The main focus was on being an educated consumer that understands where the goods one purchases are from, and being aware of all the intermediary steps and people that are affected by that purchase. There are choices we have as consumers to choose brands or products that are produced with sensitivity to human livelihood and the environment, there are formal structures like Fair Trade products, and more local solutions like buying shares in CSAs, participating in alternative currencies, and gift economies.

Like all things, we make compromises. We have a diversity of choices and factors that come into play with any product we buy, but what TBTE is emphasizing, is that the more educated we are about the impact on people and the environment we are on the things that we buy, then we can better check our inclinations towards consumption as a succor for our desires and as a substitute for true well being. 

Coincidentally, this weekend I also read an article about cobalt mining in Congo, an ingredient in the batteries that power our cellphones (including my iPhone), and how it comes at tremendous human and environmental cost. Some day, in the distant future, I hope we look critically at such foolishness, how we valued the production of things over human life and the wellbeing of the planet. I suppose that is a tradeoff that is just more abstract when we think about countless other products as well, but still present. The Washington Post article seemed to reinforce all that I had just been reading about in TBTE.

This past year has been a kind of trial run at what it might be like to exist as a different kind of consumer. I think I can count on one hand the number of new articles of clothing I've bought over the past year. Most of the non-grocery "things" I have bought are small items that have attracted my attention for various reasons, but in hindsight, most of those things didn't bring me happiness or fulfill an important need, though I had pretty much convinced myself that they would.

When I want to buy something, I will often research my options, read reviews, forum posts, compare prices, weigh used vs. new and at the end of all this, it can feel nearly inevitable that I will purchase the thing. I will have persuaded myself that it is something I need... something like a guitar pedal, or sneakers specially formulated to stick better to flat pedals on a bicycle. What the sneaker and guitar pedal promise is to transform the experience, make it something new. They promise to make the experience so wonderful that I will now love life on this Earth better.

I tend to forget that it is riding the bicycle, playing the guitar, that make me love this life on Earth better. I can do either of those things without any additional equipment. I am good at fooling myself, however, so it is a constant thing to be critical about, to try to examine. It is one of those things to engage in our attempt to be better citizens and inhabitants of this planet, along with our work to dismantle racism, sexism, ableism, and all the -isms. It is part of our evolution to becoming a better species.

Be well and take care,

Leo


From Our Friends:

From the Museum of Chinese in America:

MOCA CURATORS IN CONVERSATION

Brian Kuan Wood

Thursday, May 27, 2021 from 5:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. EDT


Join us virtually on Thursday, May 27 at 5:00 PM EDT as writer and editor Brian Kuan Wood talks about his life and work with Andrew Rebatta, MOCA's Associate Curator. This conversation is part of the series Curators in Conversation, where we learn about how curators, artists, and cultural producers in the Chinese and Asian American community approach their work. Brian will discuss growing up Seattle and becoming interested in music, moving to Egypt and then to New York in the early 2000s, the genesis of the online platform e-flux journal, and more recent attractions to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China in relation to being a mixed-race cultural producer in the art world.

From GBH:

The State of Race: The Road Ahead 
THURSDAY, MAY 27, 2021, 7:30-8:30PM EDT
Zoom Webinar 
GET TICKETS
It's been almost a year since the murder of George Floyd. His death sparked a movement, and in response, individuals and organizations made commitments to racial equity and justice. The recent guilty verdicts appear to signal change, but is progress really being made? This month GBH, The Boston Globe, NAACP Boston and GBH WORLD present The State of Race: The Road Ahead. Our host Dan Lothian will have an in-depth conversation with Tanisha Sullivan, president of NAACP Boston, Dr. Jamila Lyiscott, assistant professor of social justice education at UMass Amherst, and Meghan E. Irons, reporter for The Boston Globe. This panel of experts will discuss where we are and where we might be headed next.

From Asian Americans Advancing Justice:

Asian American Education Project Teacher Workshops


Asian American and Pacific Islander history is American history, but is often left out of curriculums in K-12 schools. Advancing Justice | AAJC, fiscal sponsor of The Asian American Education Project, launched a series of free workshops for K-12 teachers designed to promote the inclusion of historically and culturally competent curriculum about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) nationwide.

In this series of virtual K-12 Asian American Curriculum Teacher Training Workshops, The Asian American Education Project showcases curriculum on the AAPI experience. It is divided into themes to make it easier for educators to adapt the whole or part of the curriculum into their own practice.

Learn more and sign up for an upcoming workshop here.

 






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