Category Archives: Living Examples

How DC Mayor Bowser used graffiti to protect public space

Volunteers helped city workers paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the street near the White House. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rebekah Modrak, University of Michigan

When President Donald Trump sent heavily armed federal law enforcement officers and unidentified officers in riot gear into Washington, D.C. during the height of protests recently, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser responded by painting “BLACK LIVES MATTER” directly on the street leading to the White House.

While many spoke of it as a daring political act, for artists like me, it was also an act of urban intervention, an artistic act intended to transform an existing structure or institution, that reclaimed public space back for the public. And she accomplished this with little physical matter at all.

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To Provide Safety and Solidarity, DC Residents Open Doors to Protesting Teens Cornered by Police Crackdown

“I hope that they go out there today, peacefully as they did yesterday, and not blink,” said Rahul Dubey, who sheltered dozens of people, “because our country needs them.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-2-2020

Rahul Dubey, a Washington, DC resident who sheltered dozens of protesters in his home overnight, salutes neighbors and onlookers from his front door Tuesday morning. (Photo: kikivonfreaki/Twitter)

In a show of solidarity applauded as the kind of empathy and mutual aid needed in the face of brutal police crackdown, city residents in Washington, D.C. on Monday night opened their doors to protesters—mostly teenagers—fleeing police, keeping the demonstrators safe until curfew lifted Tuesday morning despite efforts from law enforcement to make arrests.

“I hope that my 13-year-old son grows up to be just as amazing as they are,” Rahul Dubey, who sheltered around 70 demonstrators in his home overnight, told WJLA. Continue reading

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‘I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down’: Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn’t Disperse Their Town’s Protest—They Joined It

“Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity.”

By Common Dreams. Published 5-31-2020

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson joins protesters as they walk for George Floyd. Screenshot: YouTube

Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week’s brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.

When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself. Continue reading

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Is it safe to visit your mother on Mother’s Day? A doctor offers a decision checklist

Many Mother’s Day visits this year will take place by video chats, as people put safety first. Stockwars/Shutterstock.com

Claudia Finkelstein, Michigan State University

As a physician, mother, daughter and socially responsible human, I’m finding Mother’s Day to be complicated for me this year, as it is for millions. Questions of whether and how to see my adult children and my own elderly mother present medical and ethical quandaries. As an associate professor of family medicine with a focus on wellness, as Mother’s Day approaches, I’d like to share with you my thinking about this using some tools to aid discernment.

Wouldn’t it be great if choosing time with parents or offspring were ever an easy decision to make? However, the answer is rarely that simple. This year, in the midst of a global pandemic and the need to continue to practice social distancing, the decision is even more complex than usual. Continue reading

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In European First, Proposed Constitutional Amendment in Sweden Would Enshrine Rights of Nature

“When we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse,” said the lawmaker who introduced the measure, “I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-8-2019

Pine forest in Sweden. The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas”—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature. (Photo: Peter Lesseur / EyeEm/ iStock)

Heralded as the first of its kind in Europe, a proposed constitutional amendment in Sweden seeks to enshrine the rights of Nature to ensure that the creatures, fona, and features of the natural world are protected from exploitation and abuse by endowing them with legal status previously reserved only for humans and select animals.

The proposed amendment to Sweden’s Instrument of Government, the nation’s constitutional document, would secure the Rights of Nature to “existera, blomstra, regenerera och utvecklas”—which translates as “exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve”—in order to provide the people and government of Sweden the ability to defend and enforce these rights on behalf of Nature. Continue reading

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‘Because Business as Usual Is a Death Sentence’: Youth Climate Strikers in Their Own Words

“If we don’t come together and create change now, future generations will remember us as the people who stood idly as our world burned.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2019

A sign (and costume from #ClimateStrike in Austin, Texas. Photo: Nicole Cobler/Twitter

As millions of people of all ages joined the first-ever global #ClimateStrike on Friday—answering a call from students of the school strike for climate movement—youth activists from around the world shared why they are compelled to take to the streets to demand more ambitions efforts to tackle the planetary crisis.

The youth-led strike comes ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York City on Monday and launches a week of action that will culminate in another global strike on Sept. 27. Continue reading

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Greta Thunberg Comes to America: Celebrations as Teen Climate Activist Arrives at Coney Island

“Your journey is a symbolic reminder of the ways we need to work together across every ocean!” tweeted 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-28-2019

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City by boat to attend a U.N. summit. (Photo: Jen Edney/Team Malizia via Boris Herrmann/Twitter)

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived Wednesday in New York City ahead of a United Nations summit after two weeks of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a fossil fuel-free vessel, the Malizia II.

The 16-year-old tweeted Wednesday morning that the Malizia II had anchored off of Coney Island and that those aboard—including Thunberg’s father, a documentary filmmaker, and sailors Pierre Casiraghi and Boris Herrmann—would come ashore as early as mid-afternoon once they cleared customs and immigration. Continue reading

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A long walk back to the garden: Woodstock turns 50

Whatever happened to that blissful dawn? I want it back.

By Gregory Leffel. Published 8-13-2019 by openDemocracy

Woodstock, 15 August 1969. | James M Shelley via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Woodstock…Over your half-open name
rumors of life raised a curtain
where linger, limned by childhood memories,
the legacies of ancient ties
binding our tribe to the garden primeval. Edgar Brau

It’s Woodstock’s fiftieth. Happy birthday! But which Woodstock shall we celebrate? I prefer the nostalgic “legacies of ancient ties binding our tribe to the garden primeval” version from Edgar Brau’s acclaimed poem “Woodstock.” But that’s just me, and it’s a long story.

There’s also the received popular media version, the historical event itself: half-a-million efflorescing, tie-dyed baby-boomers in full bloom at flood tide; three days in rock and roll heaven; three days of peace in a nation at war with itself. The Sixties, a decade by turns fractured, violent, deadly, righteous, subversive, creative and mythological got captured in a single image, as if one picture could distill the decade’s entire ordeal and make sense of it. Continue reading

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There’s a dark political history to language that strips people of their dignity

 

Baltimore’s inner harbor. Photo: needpix

William A. Donohue, Michigan State University

Dehumanizing language often precedes genocide.

One tragic example: Extreme dehumanizing language was a strong contributor to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As I have written, the Hutu majority used a popular radio station to continually refer to Tutsi tribal members, a minority in Rwanda, as “cockroaches.”

As support for this characterization grew among Hutus, it essentially stripped away any moral obligation to see Tutsis as fellow humans. They were just vermin that needed to be eradicated. Continue reading

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At White House Gates, Hundreds of Religious Leaders Demand Trump and His Enablers “Repent of Their Sins”

“We must show up in person to deliver a prophetic indictment.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-12-2019

Religious leaders walk towards the White House on Wednesday as part of the “Moral Witness Wednesday” protest against the Trump administration. (Photo: AFSC via Twitter)

Hundreds of interfaith leaders stood ready to face arrest outside the White House on Wednesday where they delivered a “moral indictment to an immoral administration.”

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