Written by Tara Sitser
(c) Feb 2022
Leadership Team Member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project; Animal Rights Activist; Mom of Senegal Parrot, ToQer; Wife of Art Brickman; Chocoholic; Singer/Songwriter/Percussionist; Catch up on the latest Tara's Thoughts – offerings about climate issues, animal rescue, musings about current events, the written word and people who write. Tarasitser.blog
Written by Tara Sitser
(c) Feb 2022
The Winter Solstice is sometimes called a Tipping Point. The climb from lengthening nights and shortening days flips into a gradual progression of shorter and shorter nights offering longer and longer days as we go forward. I see it as a Transition into the journey that becomes the New Year.
Transitions are inevitable. We grow and change. People come into our lives and also leave us. We change our living spaces. We take on new responsibilities and close the door on others. Transitions happen. Often without our permission. Sometimes bringing wonderful surprises. Sometimes bringing pain.
Transitions can be joyous and exciting. But also, uncertain and frightening. Some will cause us to grow in ways we could not have anticipated. Others will feel as if you are swimming across a river and, having finally reached the center, leave us lost in that place where you can no longer see the bank of the river you left behind and have yet to find the new riverbank you are swimming toward.
It’s OK to tread water for a while.
The Winter Solstice gives us the space to rest in that uncertainty knowing that the way forward, whatever that is, will always continue. It’s OK to tread water for a while.
This moment in time – the Winter Solstice that has been approaching, that, starting tomorrow, will just as smoothly, move away from us – can be your invitation to acknowledge where you are and to make space to welcome what is waiting for you down the path. Your destination will reveal itself in time.
Celebrate the uncertainty and know that this, too, is part of that journey.
This post is directed to all the writers out there who may have an interest in sharing your vision for a world that has found its way through the Climate Crisis. AND there is prize money involved here, folks! Grist is accepting submissions through April 12, 2021 (11:59pm US PST).
What is Grist? Here it is in their own words:
“Our independent, nonprofit newsroom pursues in-depth stories on under-covered topics like clean energy, sustainable food, livable cities, environmental justice, and a better economy. We elevate solutions, expose inequity, and give our readers the context, knowledge, and tools to make a difference.
Grist was founded in 1999 as one of the nation’s first online-only publications, covering serious topics without taking ourselves too seriously. TIME magazine calls Grist the Colbert Report of climate change … except with real reporting and analytical journalism.”
And here is their Media byline:
“A non-profit news organization for people who want a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck.”
Well said!! OKAY, so. Here is what Grist is offering via FIX, their Solutions Lab:
“All 12 final stories will be published in a digital collection on Fix’s website, and the authors will be celebrated in a public-facing virtual event.”
Here are the rest of the details and submission guidelines:
“Welcome to Imagine 2200 — a new climate-fiction contest by Fix, Grist’s solutions lab. What we’re seeking: short stories that envision the next 180 years of equitable climate progress. What we’re offering: $8,700 in prizes, publication, and a reason to stay hopeful.
The world is crazy right now, and the stakes are high: just, you know, our entire frickin’ future. Our newsfeeds are full of denial, delay, and doom that make us want to scream into our pillows. But that’s just the old story. At Fix, we are telling the new story, of a path to a clean, green, and just future, and the people who are driving it. Our mission is to make the story of a better world so irresistible, you want it right now.
With that goal in mind, we decided to launch our first foray into the world of hopeful, forward-looking fiction — to inspire visions of the future that haven’t even been dreamt up yet, and welcome more voices into the climate conversation. Join this uprising of imagination, and help us turn the page on earth’s next chapter.
Nuts & Bolts
Find more information about the contest at Grist.org/fix
And head over to their Submission Portal for complete guidelines: Grist.submittable.com
(When you are ready, click the SUBMIT button at the bottom of the Portal page.)
Please let me know if you decide to submit your story. And, by all means, share this opportunity with any other writers you know.
I will end with one more quote from the Grist web site:
“Climate, sustainability, and social justice are the most important stories on the … well, on the planet right now. The stakes are high: just, you know, our entire frickin’ future.”
So write your hearts out and use your vision to inform, educate and enlighten, well, everybody you can so we can create a healthier world that, as they say on the Grist site, doesn’t suck.
The electric fan sits on the floor by the window. It protects me from the heat and humidity that plagues modern society. In my youth I lived in world where my goals were achievable and my task list was short enough to complete by the end of the week. Here in Los Angeles it was almost always pleasantly warm and dry. And I didn’t have to fight the weather to make space in my brain to tackle daily goals and dreams. I don’t remember having so much to fight for and certainly not so much to fight through.
Now I feel the encroaching world press in on me in ways I never expected. And on top of all the daily challenges, the aches, the tasks piling up around me, the demands of a world grown altogether too connected to handle in any rational fashion, I have to fight through the physical discomfort of an environment grown so hot and sticky that it produces another, previously unexplored, struggle: distraction. Distraction of a physical nature that Just. Should. Not. Be. There.
But there it is. It frightens me to think I may have grown so old that my body can no longer survive in its environment. And it frightens me to think that we may have so deeply destroyed our environment that we, as a species, may not survive the very effects we have loaded on our planet and our own backs.
But, I have never been one to sit in my fears for very long. No pouting, pity-party for me! So, kick up the level on the fan. Take a drink of cold water. Take a deep breath. Focus on what’s next. Focus. Ignore the ache that sits at the back of my brain that screams at me, “You could lose this time.” Just put one foot in front of the other for as long as you possibly can and – focus. Say a prayer of gratitude for the cool air coming at me from the fan by the window enveloping me like a Cone of Silence. (Yeah, you have to be “of a certain age” to understand that reference!)
Just keep fighting to move forward. Enjoy the cool air and ….. Focus.
I published this post six years ago. It has gotten only more relevant as time passes. As we reach this year’s Thanksgiving celebration I give thanks for those in public service who actually understand that their jobs exist to serve the public.
George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was a playwright, journalist, public speaker and champion of the working class. He wrote more than 60 plays in his lifetime and was the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name).
Many of us may be surprised to learn that he was also a co-founder of the London School of Economics. No slouch he.
In stark contrast to the attitudes of so many of our currently elected officials, here is his statement about public service:
“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.
Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Today we say goodbye to one of the most unique, beloved figures I have ever had the privilege to know.
Ed Terry (AKA Ed Theriault; AKA Eddie The Spoon Man) has been a fixture in the Southern California acoustic music scene for many years. His enthusiasm, natural musicality and love of people made him a sought-after guest in the many bands he played with and a welcome presence everywhere he went.
Eddie started playing the spoons as a young boy and never stopped. Among his accomplishments are a stint playing with the Horace Heidt Orchestra (circa 1940), a 1st prize win on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour and he has the distinction of being one of the few people to ever appear on The Gong Show and NOT get gonged off!
Eddie was 76 years old when he met John Zipperer and very quickly became part of our band family. He performed with us over a period of years in concert halls, at senior homes, backyard parties, coffee houses and was a big hit with audiences every time. (He was also a big flirt and always got lots of attention from the ladies!)
Ed Theriault had his share of life challenges but I never saw him without a smile on his face. And the same goes for his wife of more than 60 years, the wise, wonderful Virginia. He was a joy to be around and the world is a brighter place because he was with us.
Rest Easy, Eddie! Your shinning soul, sparkling humor and enthusiasm for life touched many people and we will remember you!
Take a look for yourself:
July 2015 – Ed “The Spoon Man” Terry sits in with John Zipperer & Friends at Julie’s Joint House Concert jammin’ to JZ’s original tune “Here by Me”
(All emphases is mine.)
“Bernie Sanders is hanging on, still pushing his vision of a Nordic-like socialist utopia for America, and his supporters love him for it. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is chalking up victories by sounding more sensible. “We are not Denmark,” she said in the first Democratic debate, pointing instead to America’s strengths as a land of freedom for entrepreneurs and businesses. Commentators repeat endlessly the mantra that Sanders’s Nordic-style policies might sound nice, but they’d never work in the U.S. The upshot is that Sanders, and his supporters, are being treated a bit like children—good-hearted, but hopelessly naive. That’s probably how Nordic people seem to many Americans, too.
BUT THIS VISION OF HOMOGENOUS, ALTRUISTIC NORDIC LANDS IS MOSTLY A FANTASY. The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship. Rather, Nordic people have made their decisions out of self-interest. Nordic nations offer their citizens—all of their citizens, but especially the middle class—high-quality services that save people a lot of money, time, and trouble. This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me.
Here are some of the things I personally got in return for my taxes:
As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal. And it was equally beneficial for others. From a Nordic perspective, nothing Bernie Sanders is proposing is the least bit crazy—pretty much all Nordic countries have had policies like these in place for years.
….THE TRUTH IS THAT FREE-MARKET CAPITALISM AND UNIVERSAL SOCIAL POLICIES GO WELL TOGETHER—this isn’t about big government, it’s about smart government. I suspect that despite Hillary Clinton’s efforts to distance herself from Sanders, she probably knows this. After all, Clinton is also endorsing policies that sound an awful lot like what the Nordics have done: paid family leave, better public schools, and affordable day care, health care and college for all.
…supporters of not only Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but also of Donald Trump, are worried about exactly the kinds of problems that universal social policies can help solve: worsening income inequality, shrinking opportunity, the decline of the middle class, and the survival of the ordinary family in the face of globalization. What America needs right now, desperately, isn’t to keep fighting the socialist bogeymen of the past, but to see the future—at least one presidential candidate should show them that.”
“A bird may love a fish but where would they build a home together?”
When the question is about life choices there is usually more than one right answer. Case in point:
One of my very favorite Broadway musicals is Fiddler On The Roof. I have always felt it is one of the better written scripts in the vast Broadway repertoire. Every word of every line of dialogue and every lyric of every song is there for a reason. There is always a nugget of a story to tell or a window into the mind or soul of a character. Or, as is so often the case with Jewish material, there is a lesson to teach.
That is not to say every point of view in the story is agreeable. When his young daughter falls in love with a man outside of their faith Tevye says to her, “A bird may love a fish but where would they build a home together?” This one line has always stood out to me as slightly disturbing. He is trying to tell her that their differences are too great to overcome. After all, a bird cannot swim (unless it is a duck. See what I mean?). A fish cannot fly (well, OK. There is one species that can. But we’re looking at this particular quote here). A bird cannot live underwater. A fish cannot breathe out of the water. How could they share a life? It seems, on the face of it, to be a practical statement of a physical limitation.
But when you take a deeper look what you might find is a limitation in thinking and an intolerance for choices that do not mirror your own. Stick to your own kind. Take the easy route. Don’t make the neighbors uncomfortable. It never occurs to Tevye that some form of cohabitation different than his own traditional choice might be a better fit for someone else.
Yes, most birds live in the trees and fish live underwater. But songbirds come to the pond in my backyard and sit at the water’s edge. They drink, bathe, rest and sometimes seem to be looking into the pond to see what may be under the water’s surface.
I question even the notion of the bird and the fish being so very different from each other. Look at the photo on this page. Both bird and fish have round bodies, pointed mouths, round eyes and tails. They both spend their day foraging for food. Traveling around their environments and resting in the sun.
And, perhaps, even their differences are a benefit to our very non-traditional partners. The bird’s song can speak for the mute fish. The fish provides a stable home-base for the adventuring bird to return to.
That may not seem like enough to some. Well, then, you’ve made your choice. But to say that no other choice is acceptable, or even possible, is to deny others the right to choose what is best for them. You may decide that you can’t live without a swimming partner. Others might be content to coexist in the same back yard.
Fiddler On The Roof opened on Broadway in 1964. And yet, more than 50 years later, the analysis of this world view is just as relevant. In the past 50 years we have seen overwhelming amounts of inhumane treatment and intolerance justified by our “differences”. We have seen ever growing amounts of environmental degradation justified by corporate greed and the notion that those “other” people don’t matter. If they knew what was good for them they’d be living like us!
Growing gun violence. Open hate speech. Devaluing of entire groups of people based on race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. All because we are taught to fear each other’s differences.
And we all breathe the same air.
Wouldn’t it be a nicer world if we all remembered that? After all, flowers come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and colors. Some need a full day of sun. Other varieties thrive in the shade. Is a lily really more “correct” than a sunflower?
Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces a Bill to make College tuition free