Monthly Archives: October 2008

Terry Tate and Sarah Palin–oh, that was good!

Terry Tate: Reading Is Fundamental

I was so NOT prepared for that!

That’s exactly what I’m talking about.

This is exactly what I’m talking about. Red, Blue, Black, White, Native American, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, rich, poor, city dwellers, farmers–we’re all Americans and Yes, We Can.

Real Americans vs. what… Un-Real Americans?

I personally love how politics is so happily intertwined with Scobleizer’s blog. It’s a risky thing to do because people will criticize your POV and that could impact your credibility in other, non-politicized subjects you undertake.

But another part of of me, the one that loves the political geekery of Scobleizer, wonders if the open minded perspective that runs through his brand of politics doesn’t also form the basis of his views on web apps, the open source movement, social networking, vast info sharing, and all the rest. I think it does.

So recently, I enjoyed his post where he borrows Dave Winer’s post on I am not an American. Dave lists all the ways that he is not an American, according to the extremely narrow-minded right wing definition of who is an American.

And in no small part did I enjoy this post because it joins in a growing chorus of the bigger US who do no fit in the narrow mold offered up by so-called real Americans–we are all growing so tired of this nonsense, at once dangerous and silly as only divisive rhetoric can be.

So let me add to the list:

I am educated, have advanced degrees, and am bi-lingual. I also like really good cappuccinos. I guess I am not an American.

I enjoy an open mind, even though sometimes it’s challenging, and really do want to learn new things from people who don’t think exactly like I do. I like diversity, I really do. Apparently I am not an American.

I am part of a network of people who think small changes to one’s carbon footprint really does make a difference, if only because we have to start somewhere and becoming conscious is a great place to start. I am not an American.

I am a lesbian, and have lived through calamitous times to fight for my rights. I have been subject to judgment and discrimination but still I know most people do not wish me harm. My friends, neighbors and family support my non-sanctioned relationship; after nearly 20 years together, I look forward to a legal marriage, even if it means going to another state to do it. I am totally not an American.

My government has helped me go to school and university, has set aside some of the most gorgeous areas on the planet for my own enjoyment, and has created and maintained highways and byways that I can travel–land, water and air–to go anywhere I want, has laid the foundation for a sense of safety and help in disasters, and has helped my city and state to make hundreds of changes that lead to a better environment. Proof, I am not an American.

I do not belong to an organized religion and admit that I wonder if organized religion will be the ruin of us all, but I do have a spiritual practice that involves buddhist meditation. There you have it, I am not an American.

I believe our government has saved our collective ass at key points in history and does best with more, not less, participation from each of us. I believe a democratic government can and should help us all be better global citizens. I am not an American.

I believe our public schools have been the envy of the world in the past, but are not now, and that the whole system is being undermined by the same fear-based forces that refuse to see themselves as part of a greater whole, part of a global community. I am not an American.

I believe we have an opportunity…no, a duty to lead the world in thinking about global climate change first, with greater technology and creativity, and the willingness to participate in change at a local, individual, state, national and global level. I am not an American.

Finally, I am very very proud to be part of that large group out there that doesn’t fit into the divisive, narrow confines of what the vocal unreal-american minority calls Real America.

The Whistle Stop Re-visited

A pal sends this visual explanation (thanks Claude!):

may this journey take us to a better place.

Trains of our times: may this journey take us to a better place.

Our Neighborhood Ice Cream Shop and Deli

The Husky Deli in West Seattle is local delight.  In the summer, the line for the ice cream counter stretches out the door; you can see kids twirling around on the old-fashioned soda counter stools–you know the kind, round, twirlable–happily licking the drips from their cones and trying to keep up with the melting concoction.

I stopped by there yesterday to get myself a pint of their original Husky Flake ice cream to take home, and the guy who helped me looked a tad older than the usual summer help they get.  I assumed he was part of the familly who founded the West Seattle landmark that the deli is.

Looking around, I noticed some photos up on the west wall that I hadn’t noticed before–they looked to span about 80 years.  I asked him who all the guys were, and he just beamed: “The one to the right of the clock was my Dad. Next to him is my grandfather who founded the deli. The other side of the clock are my uncles and they didn’t do much.”

Then he said, “My grandfather founded this in 1932.”  I marvelled at the timing of this, considering the whole world was in a depression at that point–tough time to be opening an ice cream shop.  I said as much to they guy as he was packing in a generous amount of Husky Flake into the pint container (happy me!).

He said, “yeah, but you know, they got a grant to make ice cream cones that they delivered to the local schools, so they were busy every single day making those ice cream cones and delivering them.”

I asked if that was part of a PWA grant and he nodded, “yeah, the kids were happy, my grandfather was happy–worked all day and night, but happy.”

Husky Deli is still thriving to this day, more than 70 years later.  It’s a strong part of our entire community, and a local gathering place.  It was born in the midst of a crisis but hung on with government help.

That’s small business and government at its very finest. I cannot think of a better example of a win/win situation.

Here’s my question: Can you imagine our current government having the leadership and vision to fund a massive PWA in this day and age?  No, it’s simply out of the question.  The less taxes/small government people who insist they are for the small business man and woman would jettison the idea before it ever saw light of day.  That’s the party of fear, not progress.  The party of small thoughts, not big dreams.

And we would all be the poorer for that approach, because the time is perfect for a massive mobilization of grit and ingenuity focused on the environment and energy challenges.

My Big Question for the politicians out there

Awestruck in Mt. Rainier National Park

Awestruck in Mt. Rainier National Park

There are all kinds of things people point to when they talk about the roots of our very blessed and fortunate country: our “melting pot” foundation which levarages the desire of every human being to live in safety and happiness; our constitution which is a brilliantly vague and lasting declaration and definition of freedom; our tripartite form of government (which has taken a real beating in the last few decades and may be poised to turn a new corner into something better).

To me, one of the shining examples of just how good we can be–how forwarding thinking, how able to act on idealism–is our National Parks, and our complementary State Parks.

I grew up in a family that was really taken by the generosity of our National Park System–my grandfather thought our parks were the best marker of our civility; my dad was wild about the western parks and every summer we headed out for a new camping adventure: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Death Valley. In between we camped in our beautiful California parks: Joshua Tree, Big Sur, Carpinteria, el Capitan, the Redwoods parks, Los Osos, on and on.

The first National Park in the world was Yellowstone, and it was designated such in the 1870s by Ulysses S. Grant–imagine the times: we had just come out of a bloody and devestating civil war. General Grant had the expansive vision to recognize our better self, to see beauty and hold it dear.

From that point, successive presidents, governors, activists, and visionaries have worked to set aside areas for our common good, common use, as places that would raise our collective consciousness toward beauty and majesty.

Recently some friends and I stayed at the renovated lodge at Mt. Rainier. The original lodge was built in 1916–imagine that: the world is heading into war and still we’re able to see beyond our calamities to imagine a loftier future. It’s a beautiful old lodge with a lot of original features that were put in place through PWA projects in the 30’s–and imagine that: gov sponsored art allotments during a global and domestic depression.

The thing that kept striking me as we hiked the well-maintained trails and enjoyed the massive gift of this park that is maintained through our collective desire to make such a thing possible was this: we enjoy a country that was envisioned by hard working dreamers, true visionaries. Our love of beauty, our shared taxes, and our collective willingness as a country made this possible under the guidance of leaders willing to dream really really big.

When I consider this, I get sort of sick when I hear candidates focus on less taxes, less government, less and less and less of the very things that have made the country they now take for granted. Those same individuals stand on the shoulders of giants. People who put muscle into their dreams–who talked less and did more.

Founder of the National Park System

Founder of the National Park System

Here’s one: Stephen Mather. Mather was an business man, an industrialist, conservationist, and a guy who recognized that our parks were a crown jewel of the nation. He left the business world after a string of successes and focused his energies on creating the network we now know as the National Parks System. Imagine: here’s a brilliant and wildly successful entrepreneur who, in 1916, a period of great turmoil, uses his skills and talents to enrich all of us, not just himself. His goal: to make the entire park system accessible to all so that they might experience the natural beauty of our country.

That’s vision. That’s patriotism. That’s determination. We have never been at our best when we think small. We have always been at our best when we think big.

So here’s My Big Question for the candidates out there, at every level: 100 years from now, what would the plaque that memorializes YOU say? What do YOU want to put in place that will last well into the next century, that will lift enough hearts up that we want to remember YOU?

For Sarah and others

Take a few minutes and watch this short narrated slideshow documenting climate change.  Fortunately it ends on an upnote…if we choose the right paths now.