Category: Thoughts


This has been a long time coming.

I think I’ve been working on this for a month and a half or so. 

Okay, before I go any further: Bear with me. Let’s take a deep breath. I don’t want to have an argument, I want to start a discussion, or even and more importantly add my thoughts on the subject as a means of trying to find some logic in the rhetoric around me.

Breathe in with me, (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).

Hold it. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Breathe out with me. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

I don’t want to fight. I want to understand. Shall we take another breath? Let’s meet on the same level page. Let’s think about this, not jump into the roles predetermined for this topic. We are more than just single thoughts. We are more than either or. We are complex, and have different and difficult beliefs, and even when we want the same outcomes.

I want to start with the trope of the “good guy with a gun”, and how I see it developed in the culture around me. I then want to touch on, only touch on! some statistics and perspectives, from both the NRA and sources like the CDC and some research organizations, as well as the BBC. Finally, I just want to work on a simple thesis, which I will state now.

I want the U.S. to direct and fund the CDC in researching gun violence.

I don’t want to either take guns from people or make it easier to obtain them. I just want some research on the topic.

Again, O Reader, bear with me. Here we go. This is a long one.

1) The Trope and Some Context

The above clip is from the video game Overwatch. I’ve played this game, and while it isn’t my favorite, it’s a fun first person shooter style game.

The character speaking is McCree, a Western Cowboy styled hero, and if you look him up on gamepedia, his motto below his picture (smoking gun and cigar and all) is “Justice ain’t gonna dispense itself.” He is written as if he is from Santa Fe, New Mexico, and his voice actor, Matthew Mercer, has a nice western accent that feels familar and comfortable. You know who this man is, he’s the good guy bounty hunter, or the white hat sheriff. He’s the guy who rides off into the sunset, but also the one who does what needs to be done, the one you know will get his hands dirty and then pat the dust off himself with quick, efficient strokes. He is, as he likes to call himself, “Your huckleberry.” He owns his power of the quickdraw.

I remember as a child the games of the westerns that have been common in the states since the heyday of the era of the Wild West. The cowboy is the romantic, “the quintessential American hero“, the worn-down, civilised outsider, who has a flair for the heroic and fits as well into the rugged landscape as any man, the man who speaks to people of all races but is never himself actually subordinate no matter how much society looks down on him, because he’s good with himself and his God, and has the whole open space and his freedom no matter what. A free spirit, but often the law himself as well.

And one of the most iconic scenes, of the hero and villain facing off, is epitomized from the instance of the final showdown, where the white hat (our good guy) and the black hat (our bad guy) both stand in opposition, fingers twitching above there guns, eyes squinted despite their hat brims in the sunshine, the wind blowing in the background, both still as stone until – bang! bang! someone goes for their gun and gets the shot off a little faster, and the other man falls to the ground.

They aren’t always on the right side of the law, either. Some of the famous Outlaws draw power from their celebrity, the ability to excite the imagination in the same way Robin Hood does. Escaping the law to where the law can’t reach, taunting the people who try to create the civilized and make it exciting again. When kids play Cowboys and Indians, it’s a question of the Wild Other and the Othered Wild. It’s how we present the rough edges of civilization mashing up against the wilderness that is untamed and fights back.

Image result for Gunslinger

And the gender isn’t always male, although it mostly presents that way (for example, the Lone Ranger, Buffalo Bill Cody, Eddie Dean, the iconic John Wayne; Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, Jesse James). Annie Oakley, Kitty Canutt, Pearl Hart, Belle Starr, and Calamity Jane all took part the great unknown, the Manifest Destiny of taming and turning wildness into some form of sense. Bonnie and Clyde, among others, even took on the West in couples, rather than on their own.

Some of them found a fine line between their feminity and the projection of their empowerment into a place where, typically, no sane woman would tread alone. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes of her travels, but her womanhood isn’t questioned, as she helps farm with her family, marries, raises a family, does all the right, womanly things. Annie Oakley, and her competitor Lillian Smith, were promoted as “lady” sharpshooters, and dressed in hat, gloves, corsets and skirts. Others made their way in pants, or disguised as men, and simply got things done that they wanted done. Laura Bullion, for example, took this option as well as wearing the more conventional attire as it suited her.

I think Yosemite Sam is yet another version of our good guy with a gun, though he treads a little closer to the line. His attire and attitude present him as a foil to Bugs Bunny, but with all of his bluster and wild behavior, cleverness and yet failure to outwit his creature nemesis, he seems to embody an inversion. Instead of taming the wilderness, the wild creature is able to defeat him in his schemes, and he has to try again and again. The Cowboy, traditionally wins out. Nonetheless, despite Sam’s character flaws, he does keep trying, improving his approach, working towards his goals. He’ll pull himself up by his own bootstraps (another common trope in the U.S.) or die trying. Or at the very least, end up flattened or exploded or whatever the episodes require of him.

But overall, the image we have is the sun-tanned man with skin like leather, a ten-gallon hat, with a Remington or a Colt, cowboy boots with spurs, maybe a poncho, smoking or chewing tobacco, with a horse of his own and the ability to find perfect sunsets to vanish into at the end of the day. Weatherbeaten and seductive. What’s not to like?

And even the ladies have their place. Either shocking in buckskins, or in elegant and fashionable dresses, with rifles and/or a careless air, a drive to succeed and the ability to follow through.

There are no weak people in the west; they wouldn’t survive. The delicate must survive back east, and the strong and just will prevail in the west, paving the way so those delicate souls can follow them out safely, to conquer this new world.

What’s not to like?

And we still believe this today. We have heroes in Stephen King’s Gunslinger Tower series (which hits the nail rather on the head, I think), Cowboy Bebop, Firefly, Fullmetal Alchemist, Marvel’s Deadpool, DC Comic’s Vigilante (again, hammer meet nail), Kingsmen, the Dresden Files, some of the CSI characters, Criminal Minds, many tabletop role-playing games allow characters to embody this archetype, Devil May Cry, Call of Duty, Destiny, Mass Effect, Disgaea, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Overwatch (as mentioned above), Leverage, and the list goes on and on. We see folk heroes, played by people like Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford, John Wayne, Keanu Reeves, Angie Harmon, Renee Zellweger, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Again, they’re sexy, we trust them to protect us despite the odds, and they aren’t afraid to kill when danger presses. Usually, these days, it presses with guns and greater and greater martial threat.

They’re our heroes.

2) Arguments and Numbers

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/gun-control-debate

I’m going to try to be as unbiased as I can be in this section; I’m pulling from the places I trust, and also the big ones from the opposition to my usual view. I want to be as fair as I can. If you read this, O Reader, and think I’ve missed information or need to add more, please please let me know. I do not think we have enough information to successfully deal with all of the pieces of this issue, and I crave more, more and more that is valid and provable, and reasonable, and logical. Something that I can trust, and verify.

If I don’t manage to be unbiased, I am very sorry.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/0WsGTEN1njw/maxresdefault.jpg

 

Giffords Law Center states that, in regards to gun laws,

Many types of gun laws are effective at reducing gun deaths and injuries, keeping guns away from criminals and other prohibited people, and fighting illegal gun trafficking. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tracks important studies proving that smart laws can and do work to prevent gun violence. Our publications offer in-depth analysis of significant trends in firearms laws and policies nationwide.

According to their research, citing the New England Journal Medicine, living in a home with guns

“increased an individual’s risk of death by homicide by between 40 and 170%”

-[Garen J. Wintemute, Guns, Fear, the Constitution, and the Public’s Health, 358 New England J. Med. 1421-1424 (Apr. 2008).]

And from the American Journal of Public Health,

“…even after adjusting for confounding factors,  individuals who were in possession of a gun were about 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than those not in possession” 

-[Charles C. Branas, et alInvestigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault, 99 Am. J. Pub. Health 2034 (Nov. 2009)]

They state that the gun lobby has claimed a higher rate of defensive gun use than the Violence Policy Center with Bureau of Justice compiled statistics has found, that gun violence costs “at least $229 billion every year”, including emergency and medical services. They claim that it costs more than $700 per American yearly and that “smart gun laws” prevent loss of life or capital. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they say, over 30,000 lives are lost annually, and more are wounded. They have pages of statistics and numbers, and it’s worth looking through them to see what they have found, and to check their sources. But –

These sources are largely from 2010 and before.

So, moving later and later.

FactCheck.Org discusses “Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts”. They note these issues:

  • Laws allowing concealed carry do not necessarily lower the crime rate
  • Guns in school do not necessarily provide the option of preventing school shootings
  • More guns do not necessarily mean more violence, but there is no proof of a causal relationship as yet. There are other factors that lead to crime.
  • According to a study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, seven of the ten states who had the strongest gun laws also had the lowest gun rates
  • The number of daily gun murders is not the same as the overall rate of murder, and as of 2010, the rate of murder was the lowest it has been since at least 1981. BUT- non-fatal gun injuries increased last year and is the highest since 2008
  • Federal data shows violent crimes committed by guns have declined for 3 straight years; additionally, of the 130 school shootings included since Columbine are about a quarter fewer than claimed
  • The US has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, the highest rate of homicides among advanced countries, but gun crime has been declining. 
  • President Obama suggested that gun violence is an epidemic, but that factors like access to mental health care, and cultural glorification of guns and violence are factors; additionally, he said that polls show support of banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, as well as increased background checks
  • The CDC has been careful around gun issues, since the 1990s because NRA lobbyists worked through Congress to cut funding.

A Campus Safety Magazine explains the CDC in 2016 found that almost 90% of public school have a written plan for a response, and 70% of those schools drill students. And a 2015 report they reference found by a 2004 Secret Service Report suggested that “the likelihood a student will be killed at school [is] less than one in a million”. They count also that the statistics suggest that of 123 school shootings,

  • 93.5% of shooters were male
  • 5 used 2 firearms each
  • 26.8% of shooters committed suicide
  • 69.1% of shooters perpetrated a homicide
  • 15.6% of the homicides include multiple fatalities

Tracked through 2015:

  • 84 incidents of total shootings occurred at k-12 schools (53% of the total)
  • 76 incidents took place at college or university.
  • More than half of these shooters intentionally injured or killed at least one other person with a gun.
  • 12 shootings were unintentional.
  • almost 1 in 6 shootings occurred after a confrontation or verbal argument
  • in 33 of the shootings, no one was injured on school grounds

The Secret Service Report then offered:

  • all of the attacks were committed by males
  • 98% took place after an experienced/perceived major loss
  • 78% had a history of suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts prior to the attack
  • 71% felt persecuted/ bullied/ threatened/ attacked/ injured prior to the incident
  • 95% attackers were current students
  • 59% occurred during the school day
  • 61% used handguns, 49% used rifles/shotguns
  • 3/4 only used one weapon, even if they carried multiple
  • 81% were carried out individually

“Red Flag Behavior” can include bringing a gun onto campus (which feels obvious), but there are also other factors which can give warning to a student in trouble.

The BBC posted an article in 2016 when President Obama vowed to increase background checks on buyers. Their statistics, in summary:

  • in 2015, there were 372 mass shootings, where mass shootings are defined as a single shooting incident killing or injuring four or more people,  including the assailant.
  • in 2015 there were 64 school shootings, including Sandy Hook and also including occasions where no one was injured  but a gun was fired
  • in 2015, 13,286 people were killed and 26,819 people were injured (excluding suicides) and these figures were expected to rise once the end of the year as counted
  • in 2012 (the most recent comparable year), they say, gun murders per capita in the US were 2.9 per 100,000; in UK, 0.1 per 100,000; 60% of murders in the US, 31% of murders in Canada, 8.2% in Australia, and 10% in the UK were by firearm.
  • the death toll from 1968-2011 exceeds the number of deaths from the War of Independence to Iraq
  • After Sandy Hook, the NRA claimed its membership reached around 5 million
  • On average, between 201 and 2011, according to the US Department of Justice and the Council of Foreign Affairs, 11,385 people died
  • Guns are effective and lethal. When an attacker has a knife instead of a gun, there are fewer fatalities. However, more research is needed before making a conclusion from the variety of statistics
  • There are more guns being owned, but it is unclear if there are more gun owners because they do not have to register to purchase one.
  • The CDC shows falling gun homicide rates, but only includes “injuries inflicted by another person with the intent to injure or kill”, but some accidental shootings are included
  • The number of school shootings is sometimes inflated to prove a political point; this article only could confirm 130 school shootings since Columbine, which is still a lot and really tragic

Aljazeera posted February 15th of this year an article, where they explained that “three of the deadliest mass shootings in US modern history have occurred in the last five months” prior, and then provide a timeline of a 20 year period’s worth of the deadliest shootings in the US.

 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, who states they are a “not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States”, in 2018 alone, the statistics are thus:

  • Total Incidents: 17,055
  • Deaths: 4,299
  • Injuries: 7,542
  • Children (0-11) Killed or Injured: 179
  • Teens (12-17) Killed or Injured: 753
  • Mass Shootings: 65
  • Officers involved where Officer was shot or killed: 79
  • Officer involved where Subject/Suspect shot or killed: 708
  • Home Invasions: 629
  • Defensive uses: 495
  • Unintentional Shootings: 501
  • Annual Suicides (22,000) are not included on the Daily Summary Ledger

Looking at the NRA website, they formed in 1871 with the primary goal of “promoting and encouraging rifle shooting on a scientific basis”. Since then, they have promoted shooting sports for youth and adult members both, and have been affiliated with programs like the Boy Scouts of America, the American Legion, and many others. They also have provided access to legislative facts and analysis to members, so that they can act politically. Law enforcement training has also been a facet of their interests, in order to provide law enforcement with proper certifications. They also focus on firearms education and are proud that they boast some of the most politically active members who contact their congressmen and vote. They also offer support for members who identify as disabled, and try to provide better access. They are also aware of women who have begun to show their enthusiasm. According to their Gallup poll reference, 23% of women own guns as of 2011, as compared to 13% in 2005; And according to their own statistics as of 2016, there were 5 million members, their annual revenue was $348 million, 100,000 members joined after Sandy Hook, there are an estimated 310 million guns owned by civilians which means 22.4% of adults owned a gun, and 31% of households had a gun on the premises. They were able to spend $3,605,000 lobbying,  and $5,982,316 was given to them.  They also provide these demographics:

  • households owning a firearm: 42%
  • total individuals owning a firearm: 30%
  • total males owning a firearm: 47%
  • total females owning a firearm: 13%
  • total whites owning a firearm: 33%
  • total percentage of non-whites: 18%
  • Total Republicans owning a firearm: 41%
  • Total percentage of Independents owning a fire arm: 27%
  • Total Democrats owning a firearm: 23%
  • Total owners for Protection Against Crime: 67%
  • Total owners for Target Shooting: 66%
  • Total owners for Hunting: 41%

American Gun Facts provides its sources at the bottom of the page:

  • Guns are used over 80x more often to protect a life than to take one
  • 200,000 times a year women use a gun to defend against sexual abuse
  • They provide a comparison of Highest Gun Ownersip Rates compared to the Highest Intentional Homicide rates around the world
  • According to the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, they state there is a negative correlation between gun ownership and violent crime
  • Nations with strict gun control laws have higher murder rates (and after this statistic is a link to take action)
  • They provide the FBI crime statistic that Murders, Rapes, Aggravated Assaults and Robberies decreased, and offer the percentages of how much.
  • They also state that all public mass shootings from 1950 have taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns
  • This site also claims that between police officers and armed individuals, there are more citizens who own firearms, that they have a lower error rate, can stop shooting rampages more quickly, and kill more criminals per year than the police.

And if you want more sources, I recommend these two sites for a starting point. Personally, I’m more inclined to believe the NRA’s statistics than those from the American Gun Facts site, and more inclined to trust the numbers from FactCheck.org where I can dig through the sources they provide, but the short answer to this entire section is that there are too many sources and places for information to be gathered from and we need a more solid, comprehensive study that actually digs into all of the facets of this tricky issue.

3) My Personal Experience

I love folktales, folklore, cultural heroes. I love hearing about Annie Oakley, and the other heroes of the West who paved the way for settlers and the more gentle and ‘delicate’ city folk to make it out across the rugged mountains into a ‘civilized’ new home. There’s something about riding off into the sunset that appeals and the idea of being that one hero who can outdo the villain for the sake of the town by being just a little bit faster is a story I’ll read or watch over and over again. I’ll admit I like Zorro more than John Wayne, but both have their place.

https://www.sportsmansoutdoorsuperstore.com/category.cfm/sportsman/guns-of-color-rifles-pink

My cousins and my grandparents who ranch and who deal with large animals like bears, elk, and javelinas, have appropriate weapons to keep themselves and their land safe. They keep them carefully and make sure that they know how to use them as tools. They know how to do what they need to do, and they never, ever point them at anything they don’t want dead. Some of them use rifles; one of my cousins has a small rifle that’s Barbie pink. She’s very good. My grandfather took time to teach me how to shoot a .22. I’m not very good. But I have a feel for what a weapon that can kill feels like against my shoulder, in my hands, what it feels like to hit or miss a target. I’m lucky – I’ve never needed to train with one to keep myself safe from wild animals. But I know that if I did need to, I would put hours and hours and hours in making sure I knew how to do it safely and intentionally.

I will say, between a hand gun and a rifle, I like the rifle better. It feels more precise. And I do support appropriate guns for appropriate solutions. If you are a rancher, for example, you need to keep your home safe from things like bears and javelinas and possible your land safe from elk or moose. I don’t really think bleach is going to work in the case of a javelina coming at you. Wild pigs will mess you up. But I don’t think you need a submachine gun to deal with them. Probably. If you do, you have other problems.

I’m also a gamer; I play first person shooters, I play games where you have to kill aliens or spiders or monsters or other players and some of them are more graphic than others (I’m looking at you, Dragon Age. That is a lot of blood.) But they’re fun, and some of the stories that are developed in series are gripping, touch on important issues of gender and decision making, or just question who you can and can’t trust in a world torn apart.

I like to play Destiny, which is a first-person shooter and when given the option in game, I prefer to use my fists (see below video- that’s my jam! Although not me playing. Kudos to Mr. Fruit. Also I suppose language warning?). I’m more accurate with a shoulder check, and it really really surprises people when I charge them. There’s a certain distance that it doesn’t matter because I can get to you. When I have to, playing me against the computer, I prefer hand cannons and rifles.

When I played Call of Duty, I liked a sniper rifle alright, but my favorite weapon was a shield. You can do remarkable damage to another player if you corner them with a shield. You can also draw people out, help the people you’re on the same team with by drawing attention and causing enough of a stir that you can’t be ignored and you can’t be dealt with. There’s a power to it.

http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/Call-of-Duty/How-To-Not-Suck-With-The-Riot-Shield/m-p/9799918

That one on the left was my jam. Take ALL the attention! And find your corners. If you find a good corner, no one can touch you. It was great.

https://www.flickeringmyth.com/2017/09/captain-america-concept-art-from-the-marvel-studios-opening-logo/

Artwork by Marvel illustrator Ryan Meinerding

Captain America has been one of my favorite heroes since I got into comic book characters and superheroes. His strength of character, compassion, willingness to protect others and stand against what’s wrong, and his understanding of what it takes to overcome a disability and make something better. Fearlessness and compassion. The combination makes him dangerous – and I suspect it’s why he has a shield as a weapon, and not a gun, a hammer, explosions or magic. His job and his identity are wrapped up in his need to defend. That’s important.

http://redemption13.tumblr.com/

Credit to Guyu on Tumblr for this rendition.

I love Dick Grayson, Robin and Nightwing. He’s another one who doesn’t use guns, more inclined to disable than take apart a perpetrator. It’s a hypothetically gentle way to deal with people who break the law, who put other people in danger, who want to hurt and hurt until they get something out of it. He works out how to save the most people possible, and does it while quipping and making sure other people feel safe and okay while he saves them. He’s also fearless and compassionate. He learned from Batman, who I am reevaluating in my list of heroes; I didn’t use to like Batman, but Dick Grayson learned his behavior from one of the best, one of the original heroes with that perfect combination of need to protect and desire not to kill, even when it would be easier.

http://fillthewell.com/here-are-22-of-the-most-beautiful-libraries-in-the-world/

We’re going to pretend the library I work at is this one – The Trinity College Library, in Dublin Ireland. (Perhaps one day I WILL work at this one….. I’d at least like to visit.)

I work in a school library. I’ve been keeping an eye on the gun debate, on the schools that are attacked and the massacres. The stats and the stories and the protesting. I’m so proud of our students who protest. I support them wholeheartedly. They are changing the dynamic and the tone and the way we frame the dialogue around this fraught topic.

I keep an eye on them; make sure they’re safe, make sure that bullying doesn’t happen, make sure that the ones who need help are helped and that they know that they are safe. It’s important that they feel safe when they’re learning. When they’re seeing their friends, when they’re away from their homes and their families, and when they’re in a place that should be safe. A place that values merit and progress and access.

Kids should be safe. It’s my job to make it happen.

I am no man. And that doesn’t matter. I will protect my charges.

My personal thought on arming teachers? Don’t give me a gun. Give me training on using a fire extinguisher, or bleach, or cleaning chemicals, or even my school building itself as a weapon and a defense. I don’t want a gun. Don’t misunderstand please – I will get between my students and a threat, but adding my questionable capability with controlled death in a tense situation has never felt right to me. I can’t help anyone with that. And I think it frightens me more that a student would see me as an easy danger to their life than a person who wants to protect and help them.

We had a lockdown at work on account of someone reporting a gun case entering our school. It terrified students and teachers both, and even though it was resolved safely, and it was a good practice in case of emergencies, it was still an exhausting, frightening, and overwhelming experience. What broke my heart, in particular, was one girl, talking to her friends after the fact, who said, “It’s not that it’s going to happen to us, it’s that it’s going to happen to someone somewhere.”

In the morning, we were informed that we were on lockout and then lockdown. We collected our students, helped them to hide away and shelter in place. We waited together, in the dark; some teachers comforted crying students, so afraid they couldn’t help it. Some teachers prepared for the worst case scenario – one teacher at my school, who was locked into a small gym, nearly hit another teacher with a baseball bat when the door opened because he was ready to go, ready to protect his kids. Some students, when the teacher was not prepared or able to fulfill their duty, mutinied and protected themselves because they’d drilled for this. They knew what needed to happen and they made it happen. I am so very proud of them.

My kids were calm. I offered coffee in the dark, told them it was a precaution and that we would be alright. The cops I spoke to didn’t seem worried. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m not worried. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’ll let you know when I hear anything else. Some kids were nonetheless more cautious than others; some tucked themselves in between the metal shelves, away from doors and light and as small as they could. Some kids, not worried and with their phones updating them, sat in a dark corner away from the door and drank coffee in silence. I stood there, between them and potential danger, and couldn’t be afraid. I couldn’t. If I had had a gun I would have been more afraid. It would have signaled to them that I was unsure of what was going to happen and actually thought that they were in imminent danger. As it was, I kept my eye on the fire extinguisher and the email feed that told me what status we were in.

What was I ready to do to protect them? Anything. Anything, and above all, I needed to protect them from being afraid. I needed them calm and relaxed in the face of an emergency, because when you’re calm and rational, when you aren’t afraid to the point of crying, you can think and react safely. I needed that.

Just in case.

And we were okay. And I tried to check in with other teachers and kids for the rest of the day, tried to make sure that everyone was doing okay, and when I went home I started feeling the exhaustion and the fears hit. I’ve been going through what I did and didn’t do, over and over again, because my job is to take care of my kids, and what if something I did or didn’t do put them at greater potential risk? What if I could have done better?

What if I did something wrong?

I’m still having those feelings. I’m still unsure of everything, down to the words I put on the page to try to escape the circular, fearful thoughts. I’m unsure of driving. Drivers are frightening me, with how stupid they’re being, with not signaling, with swerving and being aggressive and just generally using a skill level we would be ashamed of our high schoolers using. I’m unsure of how tired I am or might be. I don’t know if I’m hungry or tired or thirsty, or what I want, but I’ve gone through quite a lot of ice cream.

Find the recipe here

I’ve been through a lot of emergencies when I was little. I think I have learned quite a few things about how to manage one, but it’s entirely different when someone else’s kids are with me. If it’s just you, or just you and your family member, or you and a friend. The stakes are different. But with those kids, who I may or may not talk to again this school year, who may or may not need my help as a librarian, all I could hear in the back of my head was quotes from a childhood activity I learned in kindergarten.

Here it is, in all of its glory:

Going on a Bear Hunt: Children’s Song

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s some long, wavy grass!
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
(Make arm motions like you’re going through
long grass and make swishing sounds.) 

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s a mushroom patch.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it!
(Pretend to go through the patch
making popping sounds by clasping
fingers together and clapping hands.)

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s a wide river.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go through it,
Got to swim across it.
(Pretend to swim and
make splashing sounds.)

We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! A deep, dark cave.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go through it,
Got to go in it.
(Pretend you’re in a cave)

Uh, oh! It’s dark in here.
I feel something,
It has lots of hair!
It has sharp teeth!
It’s a bear!

Hurry back through the river,
(Pretend to swim
and make splashing sounds)

Back through the mushroom patch,
(Make popping sounds)
Back through the long grass
(Make motions like you’re
going through grass
and make swishing sounds)

Run in the house and lock the door.
(Make a loud clap sound.)
Phew! That was close!

I’m not scared!

I haven’t thought about that in years and years. It was pretty surreal.

Apparently, repeating “I’m not scared” in the back of your head is a great way to encourage other people to also not be scared.

Or something.

https://nypost.com/2014/09/30/2-grizzly-bears-move-to-the-central-park-zoo/

Grizzly bear Betty playfully waves to on-lookers at the Bronx Zoo in 2005. J. Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society

4) Let’s Study This

In short, O Reader, since this has gotten quite long enough, I think we don’t have enough knowledge on this subject, and the causes and effects, to make an accurate decision one way or another. This is an incredibly complex issue, and there isn’t a simple answer, or we would have come up with it by now. I want more of us to be able to approach one another with a base knowledge to determine the grounds for the actual conversations, not arguments that we should be having.

I do think that our cultural outlook on the presence of firearms in our lives and who is allowed to have them and who is not is impacting rather dramatically our ability to approach this as scientifically as might be useful, or as compassionately as might be needed. The politicization of the arguments has further caused rifts and painful collisions of beliefs; I truly believe that we all want our families to be safe and happy and healthy, and that we want to live in a world where fear for our lives is not a common thing you drill for and instead we can continue to be a productive and united society.

Whether or not you agree with me, O Reader, I would request that if this sort of topic comes up, you try to take space, calm down, breathe deeply, then open your mind and question where the similarities are. What can we agree on? and how can we all best understand each other’s approach so that we can actually get somewhere with a contentious issue and make the world better?

Please let me know if you disagree in the comments, but I request you be as respectful with me as I will try to be with you. I would like to know what I don’t know that you do, or if you have other ideas or thoughts on how to approach this, I would like to hear it.

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The Process Continues!

As you know, O Reader, I am continuing to make my wedding dress from pages of books. I have made some progress since the last time that I posted, and I thought I would update you!

The front of my dress is largely made; the three panels will be attached together and form a sheet of fabric, essentially. The end result of the overlapping flowers I used for this part is a very tough textile that has a lot of movement and flexibility. It’s about as sturdy as a heavy canvas, and both heavier and lighter than I anticipated. I think it will work nicely. You can also see in the pictures above that the panels have a really nice texture of shadow and light with the petals. I put a 24-inch ruler down for a size estimate since I didn’t have a yardstick, just so you can have an idea of how long the panels are. I used all of Dante’s Inferno and most of a Native American Legends and Myths book, interchanged for a subtle pattern by the darker flowers. It’s interesting because if you read both of the texts (I’ve read them in full before, and read snippets of them again) they both include focuses on transformation, the journey, and finding appropriate guides.

So that’s cool.

 

The pictures of the bodice are a little blurry but on the left are pictures of the bodice before I started adding the extra outside ‘fabric’. I’ve used Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for this piece.

I took some pictures of my process. The little, rounded pieces of paper have slits on their fold lines, and I took those little wibbly bits and interwove them, creating the heart shape. I have no idea how many of these I made since I forgot to check page numbers, but it was a fairly complete copy of the “Canterbury Tales” so the answer probably is “a lot’.  It’s rather soothing folding these. Cutting them was a bit harder since I wanted to cut the pages in batches instead of individually (because perfection takes too much time?)  and the paper would slip and move as the scissors went through the layers.

The hearts are based on a pattern my mother showed me when I was younger. The hearts are great for Valentine’s Day, because when you weave them they form a little pocket, and you can tuck candy or cards inside and give them away. Not to shamelessly promote candy giving. I just really like candy and want other people to have as much as they like too!

I originally thought about gluing the hearts into the scale pattern that’s sort of happening, but when it came down to it glue was going to make the papers much too stiff and crackly. So instead, I’ve sewed the hearts together and I am sewing those strands onto the bodice itself. The layers are very thick and support themselves, and the thread holds them very steadily to the framework I have. The strands are also flexible, which makes me have hope for the more curved parts of the bodice. I will let you know how the negotiations with that particular challenge later.

As you can see, I still have a long way to go, but it’s really coming along nicely and is much stronger than I had hoped for.

So, that’s the update! I hope you have enjoyed it, O Reader, and I will let you know as soon as I make more noticeable progress!

Simply A-Maze-ing!

Take two! I had something all written up for this, but I apparently did not save often enough. So, once more into the fray.

Yesterday, I watched a fabulous movie called “Dave Made A Maze”. Here is the Trailer:

It’s a story that uses a simple design to tell a really compelling story. The set design is largely beautifully creative cardboard, tissue paper, and paper confections of imagination; everything from tubes to corrugated cardboard, to long streamers of sheer fabric with delicate lights brightening the room through a gentle mist that permeates the maze. I felt like the trailer didn’t spoiler the film either; the best moments were definitely not mentioned, but it still gives a really good feel of the wonder in the movie.

There are elements of almost cartoon horror; as the labyrinth begins to attack through multiple booby traps, red confetti and streamers are used in place of blood in all but the earliest instance (a paper cut). It was a surprise, but it brings forth the questions as soon as it happens; are injuries and fatalities permanent? If you die in a dream, do you die in real life also? How afraid should we be? There’s a sense of consequence, but ambiguity as to how heavy it is, at first.

Mazes and Labyrinths in mythology often have elements of concealing and revealing. Dave’s maze is no different.

Dave is an artist who has difficulty finishing any of his pieces. Left alone to his own devices, he builds from torn up bits of cardboard and origami. He becomes trapped in his own creation, unable to get out. It separates him from Annie, who returns and is, perhaps understandably irritated that another incomplete project is between her seeing him. Annie humors him until she also steps inside and realizes the depths that she has come into.

Annie, in many ways, is Dave’s strength. She pushes him to want more than what he knows he can do, and at the same time is the support structure that he needs to grow. Annie is also the furthest thing from a damsel in distress. She takes matters in hand, and is completely uninterested in playing to the camera, even when the enormity of what Dave has accomplished strikes her. Even when she accepts help from other characters, it is in the same way as any of them might need and not based on her gender. She isn’t superwoman, either. She has her limits and she is powerful within them. She knows Dave is capable of wonderful things, and the two clearly have a long and complex relationship which is presented in few words, the making of a sandwich, the unspoken communication that happens physically between the actors. Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Nick Thune do a remarkable job in contextualizing the couple’s dynamic in the way they behave around each other, with simple gestures such as holding hands or eye contact.

The story between these two is not just a revelation of what is being hidden in Dave’s life, his fears and worries overwhelming him artistically, and preventing him from completing anything. It’s a question of whether or not the couple can survive the stresses. Dave’s decision to finish the maze, despite all odds, creates possibility and changes the dynamic. It’s a really well developed and familiar storyline in the sense that it feels like a real relationship, not only one you see in the theaters.

Dave’s friend Gordon is also wonderful; a mix of supportive and smart, brave and also humorous, he clearly cares about both of them and is one of the first people to realize how dangerous the maze might actually be. He and Dave also have a great patter back and forth which I really think serves Dave as a point of restfulness; they play off words and silly rhymes which sometimes make you groan with the dad-jokeness of it all.

The trio of the documentary crew are great comedic relief, but the way that they continue to try to document the storyline raises questions about what we’re seeing as well. The director, Harry, is a friend, but he also is so single-mindedly focused on scripting reactions and creating scenes that it begins to make me question what we’re seeing as the film outside the film. What is scripted and what is a genuine reaction?

The cameraman is so devoted to capturing everything on film; he shares Harry’s determination to record and preserve that he sometimes misses what’s right in front of him. There were moments where my Fiance and I were shouting at the screen because he wouldn’t interact with the world he was in. He creates a dilemma because although there are moments he takes the camera away from his eye he constantly focuses on the narrow vision of the camera view and not on anything else around him. I began to think about how in the same way as the film Harry will present is different than the one we see, more constrained in many ways, there are also sections that we are not party to, that we don’t get to see, and that maybe add more layers to the entire labyrinth. You can only really take one path at a time, even when you’re watching a movie.

The sound guy actually turned out to be one of my favorite characters. He’s very understated, and at first it seems like he’s just going to follow the cameraman around and listen to what’s going on without engaging. But he is in an interesting place because he can hear what’s happening as opposed to just seeing it. He begins to change what’s happening around him and becomes as invested as anyone else in completing the labyrinth.

There is a great cast of other characters, but the core group was powerful enough to drive the film even with the focus shifting from one view to the next, with comedic relief and setting placement driven by the ability to expand what the audience sees in the labyrinth.

Slight spoilers follow.

All labyrinths have at least one beast lurking, and the classic minotaur makes an appearance here as well.

This has got to be one of my favorite depictions of a minotaur. It’s classic in design, and the combination of flesh and cardboard (You’ll have to watch the film to get the full effect!) is delightful and whimsical, as well as terrifying. He looms in the shadows and drives the characters to press the limits of what they can or are willing to do. He provides a perfect example of how your fears can overwhelm and destroy you. And on top of that, the artistry of the bull head in cardboard is fantastic! The texture is just amazing, and I love the details that go into it.

Dave also begins to meld with his maze, and again, the interplay between flesh and art really got me. Where is the division between art and artist? and what does it mean when they overlap? What does it mean when the beast of your fears becomes more real to you than your success? Seeing how your art and hopes and desires can divide you from the people around you is terrifying.

But I digress.

Thank you to the crew who made such a fabulous movie, and for Solar City’s generosity in having their back; this film’s cardboard was from recycling dumpsters and scrap cardboard, and Solar City offered them their leftover when they ran out of their first source. Part of what makes this cool is that all of the cardboard in this shoot was free. I love the recycled elements, which is such a cool eco-friendly way to make a movie!

I cannot recommend “Dave Made a Maze” highly enough. I don’t think it’s something I would recommend for kids, but it’s definitely a movie I will watch again and again.

And I want to make a maze now, too! I think I’ll try and make a kid-rated one for Halloween. Better start collecting cardboard!

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett

 

It’s never a bad time for a Snoopy dance! I love Peanuts, so I am really happy I could paint one for my coworker’s birthday. He’s always so wonderfully delighted with everything. We need more Snoopy days in our lives.

Edit: point of clarification! I do not have any rights or anything RE: Snoopy. The copyright is for my blog only. Snoopy belongs to the amazing Charles Schulz and all credit belongs to him. If there are any issues with my display of this character, please let me know and I will act accordingly. However, my words are my own and I would like to keep that credit for myself. Thank you!

Flowers from the Inferno

This is actually not a post about my garden; it’s an update on my wedding dress.

For my dress, I am taking pages from various texts and … I think the best word is ‘manipulating’ them into a text-ile. (Get it? It’s almost a pun! I’m done.)

For the front of my skirt, I am using flowers made from Dante’s Inferno, and also from American Indian Myths and Legends. I cut each page into a square, and fold it into a flower. Then, I take the flowers and glue them together with Loctite, and form little ten-flower squares.

I’m not quite done with the Inferno yet, but I am getting pretty close.

I picked these two mostly because the books I have are about the same size, so it’s fairly easy to keep the flowers the same size. To make sure I take into consideration paper color difference and the amount of text and handwriting on the pages, I’m planning on making a diagonal pattern where I alternate between the ten-squares of one and then the other.

I’ve come up with some interesting phrases as I’ve done this; I think my favorite is, “No commas in hell”. You can kind of see it in the pictures of this flower square.

I still have a long way to go.

When I tell people I’m using the Inferno for the front of my skirt, I’ve gotten some interesting responses.

“Why not the Purgatorio, or the Paradiso?”

“Is this just because you like the Inferno or is there another literary reason?”

“That’s pretty weird.”

“Oh, cool.”

I could give an argument that the Inferno is a tale of two souls traveling through difficult times together, giving strength and support to each other, before they emerge.

I could say that it’s one of my favorite texts and that it has influenced the literature I read, I write, the images I paint from, the way I view the world around me.

I could say that this is my fiance’s copy, and his writing on the pages leads to beautifully obscure and non-contextualized phrases.

I could even just say that I’m using it because I want to.

But I think the best way to explain why the Inferno, is in the language of the inferno itself. At the end of the final canto of the Inferno, it concludes,

“La duca e io per quel cammino ascoso

intrammo a ritornar nel chiaro mondo;

e sanza cura aver d’alcun riposo

salimmo sù, el primo e io secondo,

tanto ch’i’ vidi de le cose belle

che porta ‘l ciel, per un pertugio tondo.

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle”,

which my copy translates into

“My leader and I entered on that hidden path to return to the bright world; and, without taking care for rest at all, up we climbed,

up we climbed, he first and I second, until I saw the beautiful things the heavens carry, through a round opening. And thence we came forth to look again at the stars.

And thence we came forth to look again at the stars”.

I crewed for my dad’s ultra marathon in Arizona; through the night, I climbed down through the levels of hell with Virgil and Dante, I watched as my dad moved further and further into the pureness of running as opposed to the conscious running; and I waited for him, missing my fiance and the light.  I finished reading the Inferno in the early morning. Just a little while after I read those beautifully constructed sentences, the sun rose, and my dad finished his race.

The memories I have tied to the Inferno are embedded in life imitating art imitating life. I want it on my dress because it is important to me. I want it on my dress because it’s part of who I am in many ways.

 

Hello, O Reader. I am making a return from a camping trip followed by a successful BolderBoulder! I have also had some time to think in the last two days, mostly about why I was too tired to write!
But here I am, sitting on the couch, where our own little puppy-Daredevil is keeping me from sleeping, and my sweet Chaucer is hovering around the edges in hopes the puppy will move so he can come curl up with me, and I’m watching Tyra Banks’ Top Model series and wondering why I haven’t turned it off.

But!

More on that later.

First! Camping and BolderBoulder!

(Apparently so many exclamation points.)

We went camping up in the mountains over the weekend. One of my favorite things about living in Colorado is that you can drive forty-five minutes out from town and find yourself in some of the most majestic and empty places. The beautiful stretch of sky overhead is blue like wow……! Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. Lady Dr. Doolittle took some with her camera that will be clearer, when I get the chance to post them. But, here are some of mine!

It rained off and on while we were up there, but we stayed warm, and it was a wonderfully relaxing trip while I rested. It’s so nice to get away from all the hubbub and just breathe a little. Also, campfires and marshmallows!!!!

Then, we came back right into the thick of the hubbub! The BolderBoulder wraps all the way around the neighborhood, including our more permanent abode. We woke up early and walked to the start, then took off on the course!

We finished in about an hour and a half; our mile estimate was about 14-15 minute mile. It as so much fun; we discovered that I have the power to run as long as I get my hair watered down; every time we passed a hose, sprinkler, or super soaker, I ran through it and asked people to get my hair damp. I love the Bolder Boulder for many reasons, including the amount of cheering and enthusiasm of the entire city. Everyone gets involved, in one way or another, even if they aren’t walking or jogging, or running. And the costumes have been fabulous every time I’ve lost myself in the crowd. It really makes kids days to see their favorite characters going running past, and it’s great for everyone to just take a day to play in the street with a parade of happy, runner’s high people going past, followed by the actual professional race. It’s just such a joyful experience.

Now that I’ve started into an extremely long rant!

This is Chaucer! The Black Panther is on adventures elsewhere, but I have adopted my sweet boy, and he is fitting in…. about as well as would be expected for two cats of a certain age.

My happy kitty!

And finally, after all that, I am resting on the couch after weeding the front garden and trying to figure out what to write. Yesterday, I fell asleep on the giant bean bag instead of writing. It’s funny, because despite everything I did get to do, everything I achieved, and everything that was wonderful, my mind keeps rotating back to the need to write and the fact that I haven’t for this weekend. So, I’m breaking that cycle of negative thought. I’m posting. And now, O Reader, I’m going to go cuddle with my Chaucer, rest my legs, and prepare for the next adventure!

As an aside: Good luck to science and scientists as we press on. I was able to enjoy all of the luxuries that I had this weekend of clean air, mist rolling down the mountain through just the top of the trees, green grass and fertile soil, and sunlight warming me up from our extravagant use of water and other resources because of the work being done to protect them. Let’s keep on, so other people can also be a part of the beauty of everything. Amen? Amen.

This is a rant about a problem I have which is a very first world problem. I’m sorry to anyone who finds this to be nit-picking flaws in opportunity and privilege; the problem of phones is not necessarily only first world, but the complaining about privilege sure feels like it.  Nonetheless, I am still going to write this.

I have had a deep-rooted dislike of phones for most of my life. I feel a lot of anxiety when making calls, or receiving them, and as a result, I am typically very hard to get a hold of, either by phone, text, or email.

                                  From:            http://cartoonsmix.com/cartoons/can-telephone-cartoon.html

 Most of the people I know have mostly given up on timely responses. I’ll hear voicemail six months after it was intended to be heard, see texts and not answer them until I see the person who sent it and they ask in person, and my email backlog is insane. I’m buried in it. Part of the build up is because of a number of things I ask my friends to send me, images and story ideas and such, and part of it is because I have the same anxiety I do with phones and text, appointments and just things I miss. I start feeling existential dread that I haven’t responded yet, and it stresses me out to the point where I can’t respond because of how worked up in my brain the not-answering has gotten to. I can’t find the right thing to say, even if it’s obvious because I’ve taken so long to respond in the first place.

I’ll tell people I don’t like phones, but in this crazy, connected world we live in, the ‘dislike’ gets overlooked and becomes an unhelpful pattern, a problem that irritates other people. One friend even has concluded that if I haven’t responded to a person in a timely manner, it just shows that I don’t care enough. I don’t care enough to respond, I don’t care enough to be engaged in their life and their conversations and the things they need from me.

It doesn’t matter that I have tried to explain that I do care, but that I don’t like phones. It’s hard for me to express how much stress and panic the text and phone communication causes for me because I feel so irritated that it’s a problem for me at all. Usually, I try to just cover it up and compensate for it, but… well, it’s a big problem for me.

From: http://www.keywordsuggests.com/MsYM80XeMuN7eOKRVHGU2JmymoXHFDaCkf%7COVr0f0UnB%7CAW11WgGEbgZk2H0GVekhzIoG4u*n2FOXXr02QUzWw/

At my work now, I have to call people and answer the phone tens of times a day. And I put on my work face, and pretend it doesn’t bother me, and go home and feel emotionally and mentally exhausted. I can do this, I can keep doing this because I have to. But it wears on me.

Originally a quote from the TV series “Archer”

And I come home, and there are still people on my phone; expecting me to respond on their time, intruding on my brain space and my capacity. It’s an invasion of my space. When I come home, I want to be home. And since it’s not possible to just drop off the map for a while, when someone starts or continues a conversation with me, I feel like I have to respond — or show them that I don’t care, or that I’m too lazy, or selfish, or or or. It’s not a good feeling, and it quickly escalates into the guilt cycle of not having responded making it harder to do so at all.

The spin cycle struggle is real.

But with all of this said, I really like writing letters. There is something so incredibly beautiful about the written word on the page, the smell of the ink and paper, the feel of your tools in your hand, watching the words emerge from the tip of the pen or pencil or brush, whatever your favorite instrument is, and creating something that is a very real and finite intention of communication from you to the recipient.

They build up so wonderfully for you, in a stack of potential and secrecy, veiled love and statements and demands and questions that wait for you in a basket or on the floor, whatever your favorite storage system is, and the response demanded is not instantaneous. There is an expectation that travel time is included along with comprehension time and reaction. There is an expectation that when you put a letter in the mailbox, you might get one back, or you might not. It can get lost. It can be read and ignored. But there is nothing which grabs you by the ribs and demands your immediate intention. They’re on a timetable of when the USPS delivers them. The timing is slower, gentler, more permissive.

And that’s just the transportation of letters.

Letters themselves can be full of artistry and creation. Everything from the handwriting, to the introduction of olfactory potentials, and the content matters. You can have a very serious letter which is blocked out, black and white, demanding and self-important. You can have a letter which is illuminated like medieval manuscripts, torn at the edges and stained with the writer’s coffee.

You can include knights fighting giant snails. Because why not? From: http://io9.gizmodo.com/bizarre-and-vulgar-illustrations-from-illuminated-medie-1456202572

You can include comics, pressed flowers, clippings of other writing, pictures, glitter, gifts and all sorts of surprises.

Phones don’t have this quality for me. Maybe we will have that, someday. But right now, it is a separation from the people I care about, not something that brings me closer. It frightens me, instead of opening up possibility. If I had my druthers, I would wait for the mail everyday to see who had written me what, and what was important enough for them to take the extra time to sit down and actually write to me. Not a Snapchat, or Tweet, or Tumble, but actually a private and special message to me. That seems to embody more caring than text or phone.

This is entirely impractical. People need to be in touch with me more constantly, for more reasons, and I know I have to stretch beyond what frightens me and overwhelms me. I need to work on putting other people’s needs in the order that is appropriate to make sure that when I am contacted there is a response that is helpful and productive.

But I don’t want to. Not because I don’t care, but because if there is one thing that I want to do for myself, it’s allow myself this barrier. I won’t answer the phone, most likely, and I will probably wait until I see you in person to talk about your text. And heaven help you if you send me an email.

But I am trying. I do care about you, and I want to know how you’re doing and what I can do to help. I am trying, and maybe I’ll get better at it as time passes. But in the meantime all I can ask is that people understand that for me, this is hard. And maybe, just maybe, if you aren’t too busy, you might write me a letter.

I would love to talk to you.

Homelessness is a problem I would like to fix, but don’t know how. The place I work at is near a grocery store parking lot. We are up on the second floor, and often we conflict in space with one of the places that some of our homeless population in town collects. We interact on the stairs, in the elevator if it isn’t locked at night, and on our way to and from work.

Over the time I’ve worked there, several of my coworkers have commented on how some of the homeless people aren’t really homeless, they’re just high school students or other people who are trying to make an easy buck; how some of the homeless only use the money on alcohol and drugs so they won’t give them anything, and how much of a disruptive and dangerous presence they are.

It really bothers me when they do that. I feel like there are a couple of problems to this mentality.

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First, it really bothers me that the giver gets to decide how someone spends a gift. We don’t have ownership of a gift we give to a friend, and I find it particularly strange that we nevertheless seem to think we have control over a gift of money to someone on the street. When we give money, it is that person’s job to make the decision for themselves what they need most. Maybe they’re wrong, but it isn’t our job as the giver to make the decision for them. It isn’t right. A gift to someone does not buy that person. It is detached from you. It is no longer your experiences which drive and define the best way it should be utilized.

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Secondly, I feel like it shouldn’t actually matter how the person we give money to spends it. The act of giving is something we should do as much as a benefit to ourselves than anyone else. When you see someone who is in a position of being less well off than you are, or in pain, and you choose not to help them because of how they might choose to use that help, it makes you a lesser person. You turn away a request for help and move on with your life. I would rather give to someone, because no matter what they do with it, I have tried to improve the life of someone who is in need and that makes me better. It allows me to exercise my empathy and sense of community.

amy-carmichael-christian-quote-giving1

How do we deal with this as a security issue? I don’t know. Sometimes, due to conflict and the general atmosphere of interaction, I have felt unsafe myself. But it’s important to remember that just because someone is homeless, it doesn’t make them less of a person. Security issues are a fact for people who are also housed. It depends on the person and the situation, not the group as a whole. And often, there is more danger to not having a safe place to go anyway. I would rather look for ways to build positive relationships to foster a sense of security, instead of only working off the negative.

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In short, I don’t know how to fix this problem. I don’t know if the answer of providing more free housing, better healthcare, and finding a way to create accessible jobs is the answer, but it seems a great deal better than simply ignoring the problem or sending in the police every time we are made uncomfortable by a different group of people who are just as human and have just as many needs as we do. I know that with more opportunities, more people who need access will flock to an area, but I can’t see how leaving things how they are is an acceptable way to keep going. I think there has to be a new way of handling this problem, and when we find it our society is going to have made a very large stride forward. So, we need to actually talk about instead of just letting the problem be invisible.

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I got a little Zen when I was thinking this through, but there are a lot of different mentalities and beliefs that overlap with this, so I do think it’s relevant to everyone.

If anyone has any suggestions how to help with this problem, please let me know. I would love to start finding a practical solution.

UPDATE! The plants have all begun to expand beyond their horizons into the yard. We have the wooden planter boxes full of onions and sunflowers and cucumbers (it’s in the top right of this picture:)

 

and other things like that. I think there are peppers in that one also. It’s very exciting. Hopefully, they will all do better than the cucumber. It’s wilting a little bit. I’m not sure how to help it because it either looks scorched or wilty.

 

I’ve been being watched from the door a lot. Sometimes if they get too adventurous I spritz them with the hose gently. We don’t need them to claw through the door. Too many wasps and indoor cats being outside.

The new additions in the strawberry pots my family has had forever!

STRAWBERRIES!!!!!!!!!!! They are working on tiny flowers. I have confidence in them.

This is our other planter, full of lettuce and chard. It’s actually starting to look like chard and lettuce. As you can see, the chard leaf is almost as big across as my finger.

AND NOW FOR THE REMAINING SPROUTLINGS! This first one is the Plants for Pollinators! one. I’m going to plant them in the garden box that’s coming together in the front yard. Probably.

 

And then we have marigolds and little goblin flowers, and chamomile, and….. I’m not actually sure what else is in there anymore. We have a chart for that. but they are doing well! by and large.

And here above we have from left to right: A possibly growing raspberry, a definitely growing raspberry, and the definitely growing raspberry with one of my 15 or so year old metal peacocks guarding it from trampling feet and anything else the peacock guardian doesn’t like. Also, a rose bush in the background. They are doing well, even the one that is only possibly growing? the roots looked like they were fine when we planted it. Fiance says it will be fine. WE SHALL SEE!

My bucket of the Plants for Pollinators! I think it will be very pretty when they get a little bigger. Right now they are just lovely little clusters of multiple types of leaves vying for space. I’m not sure who will win but there are many contenders.

AND NOW FOR THE INDOOR PLANTS! They are all doing well in the window, but the herbs are a little wilty right now because they hadn’t been watered for six hours and apparently disapproved. Such picky, thirsty little plants. They perk up again quickly as soon as water is added. The succulents seem to be doing well? I find it kind of hard to tell with some of them, but the ones that look like little water sacks are doing well. And the aloe seems happy with its life. But, It’s an Aloe. It doesn’t do much.

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, O READER! One of my coworkers is a fellow gardener this year. She had some little sproutlings who needed to go to a good home, and so they came home with me! I brought them inside in a box, and told Fiance and the Golden Avenger and Lady Doctor Doolittle “So, before you get upset…” Lady Doctor Doolittle was apparently hoping for a puppy, but was quite happy with plants. Golden Avenger was mostly confused about why he would be upset. Fiance face-palmed.

I think they’ll fit right in…. 😀

 

Copyright © 2017 Anastasia Barnett