*Afterthought #82 – Souvenirs

This month’s afterthought has me still reflecting on my latest visit to Chicago’s American Writers Museum (read more at “Insider Information”). Since I live a couple thousand miles away from this treasure, I brought a bit of it home. I’ll share a few of these souvenirs with friends and will keep a couple for myself until I return to the museum again. There’s much more for me to discover there.

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*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers and refrigerator magnets.

*Afterthought #81 – Midterms

On this last day of October, I’m aware we’re just six days from the midterm elections. As always, there’s a great deal at stake, and this election feels even more urgent; health care, immigration, the environment, choice, and many other issues will be impacted by its outcome. In these divided and divisive times, there likely won’t be any landslides. Every. Single. Vote. Counts.

mailWashington State, where I live, does all voting by mail. Thanks to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, this year the state is picking up the tab for ballot postage. I’ve already inked in the circles on my ballot, put it in its protective sleeve and envelope, and slid it in the mail slot at the post office.

This election, though, casting my vote doesn’t seem like enough.

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vote forwardA couple of weeks ago, I joined about ten friends who signed up with Vote Forward to “adopt voters” to urge them to go to the polls. Vote Forward provided names, addresses, and a template for letters that we personalized with our reasons for pledging to vote in every election. My reasons: It’s my right, my responsibility, and it’s a way I can make a difference. The letters I wrote, along with about 300 more from our group, went in the mail yesterday to Democrats who haven’t voted in recent elections. I hope my note will encourage them to vote this time.

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On Saturday, I’ll join Swing Left to participate in a virtual phone bank in support of Kim Schrier for Congress. From the comfort of my own home, I’ll be able to call voters in the 8th district to urge them to vote for her. Schrier’s in a very close race there, and I believe we need her voice in the House.

Tuesday night, I’ll gather with friends to watch election returns. Hopefully, these midterms will result in the election of people and issues I voted for. Regardless of the outcome, though, I hope we’ll be celebrating a record-breaking voter turnout. That’s what democracy is about.

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*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

 

 

*Afterthought #79 – Clearer Skies

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Foggy August morning on Lopez Island

At the time of my last post (Wildfire Season), smoke from fires in the region seeped into my open office window. Now it’s been replaced by morning fog that gives this month the nickname “Foggust.” I’m grateful for the return of nearly-pristine air quality. I end the month, though, with a deepened awareness of the billions of people who never find relief from smoke’s harm.

I recently met a man who works for Oxfam, specifically with its efforts to develop and implement clean cooking solutions. Globally, three billion people cook over open fires that burn heavily-polluting fuels like charcoal, kerosene, wood, and animal dung. Not only does cooking this way have serious health and environmental impacts, but it disproportionally affects women and children who are most exposed to cooking smoke’s harmful effects.

Cooking-fire-with-drying-venison-Auxiliadora-Perez-house-Sta-Elisa-Nicaragua-1024x768I saw (and felt) these effects during a visit to Nicaragua, standing at the side of a woman in her family’s smoky kitchen as she made tortillas over an open fire. Two NGOs I’ve worked with there, Center for Development in Central America and Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Island Association, support health clinics that treat hundreds of people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses related to this pollution.

Fortunately, clean cooking solutions exist that can reduce exposure to harmful cookstove smoke and decrease climate damage. Putting these alternatives in place is complex, but groups like Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are working to eliminate barriers to production and use of efficient stoves and fuels.

Stories from the Oxfam worker don’t negate the reality of the discomfort and harm caused by wildfires and their smoke this summer. But they do remind me of what a privilege it is to turn the nobs on my electric stove each day.

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*Afterthought #77—Ferry Haiku

My “thing for ferries” surged again this month when the Summer 2018 Washington State Ferries Schedule arrived on the vessels (and online). The state agency frequently sponsors contests for artwork on the schedule cover, and the 2018 search was for a haiku. This short, Japanese verse form is ideal for the space on the schedule cover, and I was delighted there would be such a poem this year. With a print run of over 985,000 schedules, selected art is seen by loads of people.

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 12.33.29 PMThis wasn’t a typical writing competition, though. Entrants were to post submissions to @wsferries on Twitter so they could be reviewed by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna. She narrowed the field to three submissions; the final selection was made via Twitter, #WSFHaiku.

The talented winner? Lisa Salisbury from Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA.

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Claudia Castro Luna (l) and Lisa Salisbury (r) – admiring a “large print” schedule

The dramatic black-and-white photo on the cover, taken by Douglas Treuting, is of Wasp Passage off Shaw Island.

 

 

Lisa SalisburyI had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the recent Chuckanut Writers Conference and to congratulate her in person. She’s a Friday Harbor School librarian with over twenty years of experience in education. And clearly, she’s a fine poet, too. I told Lisa about my upcoming stint as Writer-in-Residence on the Interisland Ferry, and I can imagine some collaboration with her in the future. I’m sure we’ll talk about it when we schedule a time to get together—on the ferry!

Congratulations Lisa and Douglas, and thanks, Washington State Ferries.

 

*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.