Winter 2020

Publishers Note

Publishers Note

Summer 2021

By: Wade Rathke 

Some of the world seems to be gingerly opening up, as summer flips the calendar. Vaccination rates in North America, the United Kingdom, and many European countries are rising. Businesses — and the rest of us — are desperate to return to something even remotely near normal. Like former President George W. Bush, we all want to declare the pandemic over and done, whether we believe it or not.

 

It’s important to note that some of the world never closed. Some countries wouldn’t and couldn’t, hoping for the best and pretending about the rest. Many people had to work to live and didn’t have a choice. Others are caught in new surges like India and Brazil, reckoning with the real death count like Peru, or paying now for early luck like Singapore and even New Zealand. No matter what country claims us, what we’re all hoping in this terrible tragedy is that we’re learning something that makes change possible now, perhaps in ways that seemed increasingly unlikely only a couple of years ago.

Many of our essayists in this issue take exactly that tack in looking at the opportunity for change in different arenas. Professor Miller-Adams sees an opening to talk about higher education, especially community college,
as a right and entitlement. Professor Fred Brooks writes about the excitement in Georgia as we all played a part in a historic election that points the path we need to follow in the future. Adrien Roux writes from France about the precedent-setting victory ACORN’s Alliance Cityonne won to mandate energy-efficient retrofits in public and private housing that marries our tenant unions’ demands with those of environmentalists.

Maybe that’s the glass half full from the pandemic. Keith Sutton and Bob Hall remind us that voter suppression is a real threat. Their experience in North Carolina with the missing votes of Black men highlight a local and national struggle. Dr. Moshe ben Asher and Khulda Bat Sarah, frequent contributors, caution that without care and redirection, the glass might be half empty. They worry that community organizations are not less more

meeting the challenges of scale and purpose necessary to deal with the opponents of democracy. Bruce Boccardy believes we also court danger by refusing to fully acknowledge class in a homogenization and fabrication in the middle.

It’s a lot of think about, but we’re not alone. Stephen Preskill reminds us that this was also the project of Miles Horton and the Highlander Center in Tennessee and that there are many ways to contribute to change. In another excerpt that seems especially timely in the era of Trump, QAnon, and the like, Michael Butter reminds us that we have to be take conspiracies and conspirators seriously and be willing, as Horton would have argued, to listen well and engage them directly, if we hope to tamper the inherent threat to democracy and the society that they represent.

James Mumm reviews books by James Fonda, actress and activist, and Alicia Garza, community organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and finds lessons for changemakers in both volumes. Matching their wisdom with that of his own mother, he finds clear signposts to follow going forward.

Our columnists spare no punches either. Phil Mattera revels in the tipping points on climate accountability from both the courts in the Netherlands decision on Royal Dutch Shell and impatient investors and activist shareholders at ExxonMobil in recent weeks demanding action rather than words on their environmental and social impacts. Drummond Pike wants to see the same accountability brought to tax cheats trying to offshore their profits and avoid taxes. John Anderson joins all Canadians and the rest of us in horror at the discovery of a mass grave of First Canadian children in British Columbia caused by the genocidal culture destruction centers, masking as residential schools there.

All of our columnists and other authors are crying for more action and less words. We heartily agree, although in Backstory, I remind that words are also actions, freighted with meaning, and critical for moving people, and therefore demand our attention as well.

This issue isn’t a checklist for the post-pandemic or the future of change, but it’s chock full of tips, suggestions, and tools for getting there.

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