Fall Photos

The Boston Marathon was in October for the first time, after missing two Aprils because of Covid.

We ourselves had to hustle a little to get to the Boston Marathon as the new technology told us Erik was running faster than expected and might reach our viewing spot before we could get there. Fortunately, we arrived with a few minutes to spare.

Erik’s final time was a hair over three hours. The photo above is of runners near where we stood. It was a happy day, and although runners had to be vaccinated or show a recent test result, it had a welcome feeling of maybe-life-will-get-back-to-normal-sometime. And the sun was shining.

On a drizzly day, I went up to the Brush Gallery in Lowell to see Meredith‘s lovely exhibit. The artist herself came over from her studio in her rain gear, and I learned some interesting things about how she thinks about color and how she works. The first painting below was my favorite.

On another day, I took photos at Concord Art‘s juried show. The piece using corrugated cardboard was by David Covert. The wax art suggesting a dreamy ocean was Elvira Para’s. Nadya Volicer’s unusual sculpture was made from from paper pulp and charcoal.

I couldn’t resist shooting an urban mural even though it wasn’t far enough along for me to understand what meaning flowers, a fish, a rooster, and a barefoot woman walking on chairs, might convey.

Meanwhile, nature has been making its own art, and there have been many beautiful days to enjoy it.

Photo: Anamni Gupta/Indian Express.
One aspect of the 2019 Shaheen Bagh protest organized by Muslim women against India’s Citizenship Amendment Act was the emergence of free libraries.

Most Americans don’t keep track of politics in India, but it was hard to miss the news back in 2019 when the Modi government decided to change the rules about who could be counted as a citizen. Muslim women organized a protest that spread across the country from the original site in Shaheen Bagh. One aspect has remained.

As Harshvardhan reported at India’s National Herald in January, “The Shaheen Bagh protest site is gone, but its legacy continues to inspire those who dream of a more egalitarian and democratic India. Led mostly by Muslim women, the Shaheen Bagh protest site inspired one of the most aesthetically-pleasing and thought-provoking experiments with protest art in recent times. Walls and streets of Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh protest site exploded with creativity as students and artists camped there and experimented with ideas. …

“One of the most distinctive contributions of the Shaheen Bagh movement was the introduction of a ‘protest site library.’ The idea of a ‘protest library’ came up during the Occupy Wall Street protest, one of the largest popular demonstrations in the United States. Occupy protesters erected a tent and established a ‘People’s Library’ in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in November 2011. This one of its kind library held over 5000 volumes of books along with magazines and newspapers, and was finally razed down by the police.

“Since then, the concept of a ‘People’s Library’ captured the imagination of protesters all across the world. It travelled to Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013 when people resisted the commercialisation of public spaces. Make-shift libraries cropped up in different parts of Spain during the anti-austerity 15-M movement (2011-15) and then it travelled to Hong Kong during the pro-democracy movement there.

“At Shaheen Bagh, a group of students decided to convert a bus stand into a makeshift library in the heydays of the anti-CAA protests [CAA stands for the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019]. The ‘Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule Library’ captured the imagination of people and soon the make-shift library started to attract a lot of donors and also inspired similar libraries at different anti-CAA protest sites.

“The year 2020, an otherwise gloomy year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic … ended on a high note with the farmers’ uprising against the three farm bills, passed by the BJP-controlled Parliament in haste. … By blocking the entry points of nation’s capital, farmers are actually attempting to block the privatization and corporatization of Indian economy. Along with that, the protests are also a powerful assertion of the right to dissent. …

“It is but natural that such a huge protest in terms of both mobilization and concerns will also develop into a rich site for cultural production enriching the protest repertoire of the country. In one of the most innovative moves, protesting farmers launched their own bi-weekly newspaper. … They also set up libraries at the protest sites. [It] clearly carried on the legacy of the Shaheen Bagh protests. Now, we can be sure that protest site libraries are going to feature every time there is a sustained peoples’ movement.

“The first library came up at Tikri Border, Pillar no 783. On December 22 [2020], a group of students began the ‘Shaheed Bhagat Singh Library’ with a single book stand with almost 200 books standing against a yellow tent. Farmers at Tikri border welcomed the idea and people could be seen browsing through the limited books available there. Soon the idea picked up and similar libraries came up at Singhu border as well as Ghazipur border while attempts were being made to establish one at Shahjahanpur border. …

“From the anti-CAA movement to the anti-farm law movement, the protesters have been accused of being ‘uneducated’ and … of ‘not having ‘read the law’ or ‘not knowing what they are protesting against or for.’ …

“The protest-site libraries stand as proof that these people are not ‘uneducated folks’ [but] are mature enough to develop a concrete socio-economic-political understanding and act upon it.”

More at the National Herald, here. Search Suzanne’s Mom’s blog on the word “library” for examples of other unusual libraries around the world.

Photo: Uncommon Threads.
Uncommon Threads in Lawrence, Mass., helps “low-income women see and feel their true potential by using clothing and image as tools for building self-esteem.

Some time ago, Grace told me about the Lend a Hand Society, whichprovides emergency financial assistance to low-income families, individuals, seniors and disabled people primarily in the Greater Boston area.” It’s been filling a gap for generations now, and as you can imagine, has been especially needed during the pandemic.

A local nonprofit doing similar work but with a narrower focus is Uncommon Threads in Lawrence, Mass. Liz Neisloss at GBH television reported on the gap that the founder identified almost by accident.

“It’s not hard to find organizations that offer free or low-cost clothing,” says Neisloss, “but Susan Kanoff has created a boutique that uses clothes to transform not only the way women look, but how they feel.

“A social worker by training, Kanoff made her living helping low-income families move out of poverty. In her spare time, she channeled her love of fashion as a private stylist and style blogger. When her style clients began asking her where to best donate their old clothes, she had an idea.

“ ‘I started taking them into my social work office,’ said Kanoff, who lives in Methuen. ‘I had racks set up and (if) one of my clients was having a bad day, we’d put an outfit together; going on a job interview, we’d put an outfit together. And I started to realize how powerful these clothes were and how really important they were to a woman’s self-esteem.’

“Partnering with Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, she opened the non-profit Uncommon Threads [in 2017]. … In late 2019, the retailer Timberland helped fund the renovation of a larger space with dressing rooms, a sitting area in shades of beige and dark blue and a on the entry-way wall a message that reads: ‘Self Confidence is the Best Outfit.’

‘Our main goal is dignity and respect,’ said Kanoff. ‘We want women to feel like they’re in, they’re shopping in a beautiful place versus getting a handout.’

“Kanoff, who previously worked for the North Andover Housing Authority running the family self sufficiency program to help lift people out of poverty, works with a more than a dozen social service agencies who must refer women to be able to shop at the store. Retailers and the public donate clothing.

” ‘We could dress a woman who was maybe a victim of domestic violence and is ashamed to go to their kid’s school conference,’ said Kanoff. ‘Whatever it takes to get that woman to feel strong and powerful through the way she looks.’ …

“Women first meet with an Uncommon Threads volunteer to talk about their clothing needs, as well as their work or life goals. Clients can get up to four outfits and two pairs of shoes in one visit – but they can also get some items not commonly found in donation shops: bras, underwear, pyjamas and even matching jewelry. The meeting looks like one with a personal shopper at a pricey store, but costs just ten-dollars — a fee that can also be waived. Otherwise, the clothes are free.

“[Volunteer] Jen Marin sat down for a ‘styling session’ with 19-year-old JJ Ortiz. Shuttled around between group homes and foster care since she was 12, Ortiz said she struggled to find clothes that fit her as she grew and became self-conscious about her weight.

“ ‘I was kind of uncomfortable in my skin, who I was, how I would like show myself, like my clothes wasn’t the best,’ Ortiz said, ‘But they didn’t see that. They saw me for who I am.’

“Marin helped Ortiz try on a jeans jacket and then moved around to take a look. …

“Another volunteer stepped in to put a necklace over Ortiz’ head. Ortiz smiled, ‘I look so pretty,’ she said.

“With shopping finished, Ortiz stayed to sit in on a workshop called ‘Feminine Rocket Fuel.’ She took careful notes as motivational speaker Rosie Dalton explained to the gathering of clients how to use obstacles as ‘fuel’ to move forward.”

More at GBH, here, and at Uncommon Threads, here.

Are there similar services in your part of the world? But will clothes needed for work be different post-Covid? And finally, what are the chances that low-income people can start getting paid enough not to need charitable services in the future?

Photo: Barrett Doherty, Cultural Landscape Foundation.
D.I.R.T.’s corporate campus for Urban Outfitters in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

When you rehab a Superfund site or other industrial dead zone, should you wipe out the history or make the interesting parts work for a new generation? You can guess that I’m going to answer that question on the side of the landscape architect mentioned in today’s story. Read on.

Justin Davidson reports at Curbed, “If there was a childhood moment when Julie Bargmann had intimations of her future as a landscape architect, it came not during some backwoods tromp or while touring a lavish garden but when she was sitting in the back seat of her family’s station wagon on the New Jersey Turnpike. The great chemical plants exhaling sulfurous plumes seemed to her like magic kingdoms, and she wondered about the lives of the people inside. Later, when she was in college at Carnegie Mellon in the 1980s, Pittsburgh’s ozone-laced air gave her the same jolt of industrial excitement. …

“Bargmann, who has just been awarded the first $100,000 Cornelia Hahn Oberlander prize in landscape architecture, never lost her taste for such wounded and poisonous places, even after they’ve stopped being productive. Old industrial areas bring out her desire to nurse them slowly back to health.

As a professor at UVA and the founder of a firm she called D.I.R.T. (short for ‘Dump It Right There’) studio, she rejects the urge to demolish dead factories and scrub the land of memory, to conflate cleanup and obliteration.

“ ‘For me, the modest or the genuine way to approach these ugly-duckling sites is to be empathetic. I see a place that’s impregnated with the labor of generations of workers. That goes deep. How do you honor that history without just resorting to plaques?’

“The answer lies in projects like Detroit’s Core City Park, where Bargmann unpaved a parking lot and bared the foundations of a fire station that had been razed long ago. ‘I blurted out “Dig!” and up comes this beautiful red sandstone from the former engine house,’ she says. ‘The miraculous moment was when they hoisted out of the ground the cornerstone with “1893” written on it. The client wanted to stand it up and put it on a pedestal, and I said no — “Put it in the ground and put it back to work.” ‘ Stones, bricks, and asphalt became the raw materials for a new pattern of pavers, interspersed with trees to form an urban woodland. The result is a public space layered with memory.

“Bargmann preaches an ethic of modesty and restraint. Instead of moving great mountains of earth, making the land conform to a drawing, sift through what is already there. Don’t delete; preserve. …

“The conventional technique for cleaning up a contaminated site is [scooping] polluted soil and carting it to other dumps — essentially, moving dirty dirt around. Bargmann prefers to leave as much of the stuff in place as possible to avoid spreading toxins ‘to someone else’s backyard’ and help nature perform its slow-motion cleanup. She starts by visualizing the different levels of contamination and letting those variations suggest a strategy. ‘I love to take the data from the engineers and do a map of what’s hot and what’s not,’ Bargmann says.

“Where conditions allow, she opts for phytoremediation: using plants to clean the soil. At AMD&ART Park in Vintondale, Pennsylvania, acidic mine runoff filters through a series of rock-lined ponds that raises the pH to safe levels, then washes through a sculpture park and flows into a restored wetland.

“The mission to use landscape as a ledger inscribed with both heroic and unsavory history can smack up against her clients’ goals. Sometimes she finds herself working for the companies that ravaged the landscape in the first place and then want to erase that stigma as quickly and cleanly as possible. When Ford opened its River Rouge plant in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1928, it was a marvel of Machine Age efficiency that beguiled filmmakers, painters, and photographers. …

“ ‘They were going to wipe out everything, and I was just … Why?‘ Bargmann recalls. ‘This is the most critical part of an integrated manufacturing world — the first anywhere! Some structures were really nasty and best dealt with off-site, but we also planted remediation gardens in front of the old coke ovens, which were preserved. If you’re going to honor history and work on the toxic legacy, storytelling is a really powerful tool.’ …

“Bargmann’s approach coexists uneasily with Instagram culture, in which landscape is treated as a frame for a preening object. Her projects aren’t conceived to be photogenic on opening day since they set up processes that can grind on for years. Rather than plant meticulously coordinated gardens that require constant tending, she pops in trees and grasses that can be relied on to fend for themselves. Bargmann also has a soft spot for rough hardscape. …

“She has trained contractors to chop up concrete into big reusable slabs she calls ‘Barney rubble’ and mix smaller chunks with crushed brick to produce ‘Betty rubble.’ The combination can produce results that verge on the chic, as at Urban Outfitters’ headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.”

Read more — including why a developer in Detroit says he “inhales her ideas” — here.

More at Curbed, here.

Photo: Suzanne Kreiter/Boston Globe.
George, a chicken, and a sign to turn out the lights at the entrance to the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vt.

I knew this Boston Globe article was for me as soon as I saw it was about celebrating the everyday. Most people have bucket lists of adventures they expect will be highlights of their lives. But after we check an item off our list, how do we feel when we get back home?

Maybe we should be enjoying what we do every day. A “museum” founder in Vermont thinks so.

Dana Gerber writes at the Boston Globe, ” ‘What would a museum look like if it was dedicated to ordinary objects of no monetary value, but immense everyday life consequences?’

“That’s the question Clare Dolan seeks to answer at the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Vt. Dolan, who founded the museum in 2011, has no interest in celebrating the precious, the rare, the famous. She’d rather honor the stuff of junk drawers — toothpaste tubes, safety pins, old to-do lists — and present them with reverence.

“So, she set out to create a museum that would redefine what is valuable, and whose lives are worth putting on display.

‘We need a museum that’s about us, too — the ordinary people,’ said Dolan, 54, who has dubbed herself the Chief Operating Philosopher of the museum. ‘We’re here, and there’s something lovely about our lives.’

“In a remote corner of the bucolic Northeast Kingdom, the Museum of Everyday Life beckons from the side of the road. There is no admission fee or lock on the door; patrons let themselves in and turn the lights off when they’re done. Dolan, who lives in a house next door, works as an ICU nurse at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in nearby St. Johnsbury, so she’s often not home to greet visitors. The only security is a feisty chicken named George.

“The museum grew out of her childhood love of the material world. ‘I was the kind of kid that would talk to chairs,’ said Dolan, who’s originally from the Chicago area. After she bought her Vermont home in 2004, ‘I found the means to start making the thing that I wish I could come across.’

“The museum, now in its 10th year, champions the small to illuminate the universal. The front of the museum boasts the ‘greatest hits’ of exhibits past, like a trove of tone balls — dust that accumulates inside of instruments — and a violin made of matchsticks. Matchboxes from around the world rest on a wooden table, some from Dolan’s travels, others from outside contributions.

“Each of the exhibits, which run from one summer to the next, are communally curated. Dolan puts out a call for submissions in February when she announces that year’s object of focus. Throughout the 1990s, she worked as a puppeteer at the nearby Bread and Puppet Theater, a political troupe that has tackled a litany of social justice issues throughout its decades-long history — but she also enlists her ‘philosophers at large,’ or board of advisers, to assist her in creating each exhibit.

“This year’s exhibit highlighting notes and lists received the most submissions of any in the museum’s history, Dolan said. The selection is organized by category: love notes, bucket lists, and unfinished lists, like one that reads, ‘Things that have never happened: 1. I’ve never been asked to dance.’ There is a number two, but it is left blank.

“ ‘My heart just broke for that person,’ said Corina Orias, a California elementary school teacher visiting the museum with a local friend on a recent rainy Sunday. ‘I just hope that she did get asked to dance, sometime, someplace.’

“Why lists and notes? Dolan loves their inherent intimacy: the content, but also the way they bear the signs of human use; a pencil smudge here, a crinkle in the paper there. ‘They’re so connected to a person and a person’s story,’ she said. ‘They’re snapshots into how we make our way through the world.’ …

“ ‘It’s a lot of work, and it’s sort of thankless work in a way,’ Dolan said, ‘but it brings a lot of joy to me.’ ”

She brings joy to herself every day. Good idea. Could be at least as satisfying as checking off a bucket list. More at the Boston Globe, here.

Do you know other cool museum concepts? I’m remembering, for example, one man’s Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis and the Museum of Bad Art in Dedham, Mass. The blog has also covered the Mermaid Museums, the Museum of Aromas, the Covid Art Museum, a Museum for Gerbils, and more. Search on the word “museum” at the blog when you have time for joy.

Photo: Bettina Hansen/Seattle Times.
Naomi André, Seattle Opera’s scholar in residence, is passionate about sharing her love of opera and making the art form welcoming to a wide range of people, reports the Seattle Times. “I feel that everybody can find something to relate to in opera,” she says.

In March of this year, Naomi André gave a virtual talk at Vermont’s Bennington College on opera and her role as the Seattle Opera’s first scholar in residence. She was appointed right before the pandemic to share her enthusiasm for opera with a new and more diverse audience.

Here’s some background on the opera company’s pathbreaking appointment from Gemma Alexander at the Seattle Times.

“A week before Naomi André’s panel [in February 2020] on Black representation in the arts, Seattle Opera closed registration for attendance. The number of online reservations had hit the 300-person capacity of the Opera Center auditorium for the first time since the building opened in late 2018. At least in local opera circles, André’s name had buzz.

“André is Seattle Opera’s inaugural scholar in residence. It is a role the company created specifically for her and may be the only job of its kind in American opera. As scholar in residence, André acts as an adviser to help Seattle Opera become more inclusive, both for audiences and behind the scenes. …

‘There’s a kind of joy in going to the opera and seeing it live. Unfortunately, opera has an elitist reputation,’ said André, a professor at the University of Michigan, where she has taught courses on 19th-century Italian opera as well as classes on race and gender. …

“Her personal experience as a Black woman in the opera field led to her most recent book, Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement, which examined African American and Black South African participation in opera.

“ ‘I feel that everybody can find something to relate to in opera. This is not a genre that should go away,’ André said.

“To help Seattle Opera become a place where everyone can find their something, André advises on issues of race and equity both in their internal operations and in contextualizing the works they produce for audiences. One of her first acts as resident scholar was a response to the death of pioneering African American soprano Jessye Norman.

“ ‘There were a lot of pieces being written, but they were all so white! No one wrote about what she meant to Black fans. So I suggested that and they said, “Great! When can you have it ready?” ‘ André said with a laugh. ‘I was so impressed that this isn’t contentious.’ The piece she wrote is posted on the Seattle Opera blog.

“André first came to the attention of Seattle Opera when she participated in a forum on race and gender sponsored by the Glimmerglass Festival, a summer-season opera company in central New York state known for producing rare and new works. Called Breaking Glass, the panel visited Seattle in tandem with the 2018 production of Porgy and Bess. Impressed by André, Seattle Opera brought her back for 2019’s Carmen. In a forum called Deconstructing Allure, André and a panel of academics and artists — all women of color — explored representations of women and ethnic minorities in art. They considered the responsibility of contemporary arts organizations toward both classic works of art and the people who may be misrepresented by those art works.

“ ‘Some people would view that as a pretty radical conversation in the opera space,’ said Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera’s director of programs and partnerships. The event was so successful that Seattle Opera designed the new position of scholar in residence to formalize an ongoing relationship with André.

“[André] has recorded an episode of Seattle Opera’s podcast and contributed essays for program booklets. But her most visible role involves a series of free, public community conversations that invite audiences to question problematic social themes and portrayals of marginalized communities in opera while appreciating the artistic elements that continue to hold up.

“On Feb. 13, 2020, she [moderated] the Black Representation in the Arts community conversation at the Seattle Opera Center with speakers Theresa Ruth Howard, curator of the Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet symposium, and Bridgette Wimberly, librettist of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.”

For her 2021 talk at Bennigton, André provided this preview: “In this talk, I outline some of the larger frameworks from my book Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018) and take them further to include a quick mention of Beyoncé’s Homecoming (2018), and three operas on Black topics that debuted the summer of 2019 (Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Opera Theater of St. Louis; Anthony Davis and Richard Wesley, The Central Park Five, Long Beach Opera; and Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson, Blue, Glimmerglass Festival).

“I quickly contextualize Fire Shut Up in My Bones and The Central Park Five and then spend the most time with Blue. I have been fortunate to see all three operas and got to know Tesori and Thompson through several panels in the Breaking Glass series (run by Glimmerglass Opera Festival). From the legacy of minstrelsy and the frequent negative portrayal of Blackness in opera, this talk outlines a shadow history and explores how opera can be relevant for today and a space of liberation.”

More at the Seattle Times, here, and at Bennington College, here.

Photo: CC BY-NC 2.0.
Australian ash forests are home to many species, including arboreal species like the Greater Glider.

Speaking of damage to forests, remember the terrible bushfires in Australia just before the pandemic — all those pictures of traumatized koalas!

Well, as worried as I am about the environment right now, I’m going to focus on what Mister Rogers said his mother told him when there were tragedies in the world: “Look for the helpers.”

The radio show Living on Earth (2/7/20) tells us that helpers rose up in Australia to rebuild the eucalyptus and ash forests when helpers were needed.

“After years of repeated bushfires, some of Australia’s eucalyptus forests can no longer come back on their own, so humans are giving them a helping hand by carefully collecting and distributing their seeds. Owen Bassett of Forest Solutions and host Bobby Bascomb discuss how the reseeding works, and the impacts of prolonged drought and climate change on Australian forests. …

“BASCOMB: Bushfires have burned through dry habitats home to many of Australia’s most iconic species, like koalas, kangaroos, and wallabies. They’ve even burned the more humid eucalyptus forests, home to the lyre bird, lead beater possum, and the great glider – an animal so adorable it’s been nicknamed a flying teddy bear. Some of these humid forests aren’t naturally equipped to deal with frequent fires and are struggling to grow back on their own. … Owen Bassett is Director of Forest Solutions, which is helping the government reseed forests in Victoria and New South Wales. He joins us from Melbourne, Victoria. Owen, … please describe the forests where you work. What do they look like and what does it feel like to be there?

“BASSETT: [The] forests that I work in are tall mountain forests, they’re known as ash forest. I suppose in terms of stature they’re similar to your California redwoods. So they’re very tall, very large trees and sort of a wet forest. [You] might think that a lot of Australia is covered in dry forest; most of it is, of course, and most of it is arid, but along the southeast corner, we have beautiful wet forests that run up the Great Dividing Range and they are gorgeous to be in. They’re cool, they’re damp, full of great native wildlife. …

“We have all of those marsupials that you American people know about, the jumping ones and the kangaroos; we have a species, or a number of species of wallaby that live in those forests. And we also have arboreals, so these are mammals that live up in the canopy of the forest. And then we have this magnificent songster, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the superb lyrebird. It has the capacity to mimic a whole range of birds and sounds that it hears in the forest. And it’s an absolute joy to listen to them. …

“BASCOMB: I think we actually have some recordings of the lyrebird we can play here. Let’s have a listen.

“[They] have the ability to imitate the shutter sound of cameras. They can imitate the sounds of chainsaws, dogs barking, all sorts of things like that. But the main repertoire is, is the full suite of other birds that are, and animal sounds that are in the forest.

“BASCOMB: So you mention that this is a very wet forest. Why is it burning now, and how common is that? …

“BASSETT: All eucalypts have evolved with fire, so fire is part of the environment here in Australia, a little bit like your California. But the thing is that, you know, we do have a changing climate here at the moment, a drying climate. And we’re currently caught in this real cycle of droughts, okay, so, in southeast Australia, we had this mammoth drought. We refer to it as the Millennial Drought. It went for 12 years, from 1997 to 2009. So what that left was this huge legacy of soil moisture deficit. … The species needs at least 20 years to be able to then reproduce, because young trees don’t flower. … We [have] forests that are at the stage of population collapse. Classically, it occurs in species like alpine ash and mountain ash that, you know, require much longer periods of fire intervals to survive.

“BASCOMB: So it sounds like if there was no intervention, these forests would likely turn into some different type of ecosystem altogether, maybe savanna or grassland or something like that. …

“BASSETT: These species are obligate seeders — if we have enough seed, and we have the means to spread that seed where the forest is going to experience population collapse, then we can intervene, lay seed on the ground or sow seed on the ground, and these forests will return. But it’s easier said than done. So we have to collect the seed, we have to distribute the seed, and that’s a mammoth operation. …

“BASSETT: Mountain ash, for example, is the tallest flowering plant in the world. And every year I go up in a light aircraft, and I actually map the distribution of the flowering. So once it’s flowered and we know where it is in the landscape, one year later, we can expect that there will be seed there. And so at that point, we send climb teams in and they climb these tall 80-meter trees. And they de-limb, just [to] keep the tree alive. We … take just a section of that crown out and from that, we can pick the seed pods, if you like. They’re sent away and the seeds extracted from that fruit or those pods. The seed looks a little bit like coarse pepper, so tiny seeds, the seeds are not, not big and it’s extraordinary to think that such a tall tree, something akin to your California redwoods, comes from this tiny, tiny piece of cracked-pepper size seed.”

“BASSETT: Yeah. So the concept of a seed bank is one that, you know, you put some seed away for a rainy day. We needed 10 tonnes of seed this year. At the moment, we might have a third, maybe to a half of that. Now I’ve been advocating for a seed bank for about 10 years, and the state government has only ever funded small seed collection operations that were emergency in nature, if you like. “Okay, we’ve got a bushfire, we’d better go and get some seed.”

Read what happens next at Living on Earth, here. There’s more at the Australian tree seed centre, too.

Photo: TimberWars podcast.
When the environment wins, logging families and their communities suffer. We need to find ways to meet the needs of both.

Until I heard a report from the investigative radio show Reveal, I didn’t understand the full import of the 1980s fight to save the northern spotted owl, a fight that pitted logging livelihoods against a bird.

Apparently, it was never really about the owl — or at least not primarily about the owl. It was about old-growth forests and the habitats they provide for an array of species.

Activists at the time were concerned that there were no laws protecting ancient trees. But there were laws protecting birds and animals. Getting the northern spotted owl listed as threatened or endangered, activists thought, could save a whole ecosystem.

The TimberWars podcast, here, offers “the behind-the-scenes story of how a small group of activists and scientists turned the fight over ancient trees and the spotted owl into one of the biggest environmental conflicts of the 20th century.”

From Reveal: “In the 1980s and ’90s, loggers and environmental activists faced off over the future of old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. In this episode, Reveal partners with the podcast series Timber Wars from Oregon Public Broadcasting. Reporter Aaron Scott explores that definitive moment in the history of the land – and the consequences that reverberate today. 

“We begin with an event that became known as the Easter Massacre, in which a stand of old-growth trees in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest was cut down despite protests that attracted national media attention. 

“The Easter Massacre helped galvanize the environmental movement. Protests intensified in the forests, but environmentalists kept losing in the courtroom because there aren’t many laws to protect ecosystems. There are, however, laws to protect animals. 

“We explore how a small team bet it all on the northern spotted owl in a high-stakes strategy that involved the science of fruit flies and secret meetings at lobster shacks. While environmentalists ultimately succeeded in locking down millions of acres of forests, that success turned what had been bipartisan environmental laws, like the Endangered Species Act, into cultural wedges. 

“We end with how this conflict affected one timber town and how this fight that started decades ago continues to rage on. With the rise of climate change and the threat of intensifying wildfires, battles over the role of forests take on even greater significance.”

The Oregonian, here, published an update in March of this year. “Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to preserve protections for 3.4 million acres of northern spotted owl habitat from the US-Canada border to northern California, the latest salvo in a legal battle over logging in federal old-growth forests that are key nesting grounds for the imperiled species.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cut the amount of protected federal old-growth forest by one-third in the final days of [the last] administration. … President Joe Biden’s administration has since temporarily delayed putting those new rules into effect in order to review the decision. …

“ ‘We didn’t want to leave any room for error,’ said Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center, a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Portland, Oregon. Brown estimated there are fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs of the owls left in the wild, but no one is sure. …

“Timber interests, including the American Forest Resource Council, filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the delay in implementing the new, reduced habitat protections and say the forest in question isn’t used by the northern spotted owls.

“The existing protections on logging in federal old-growth forests in the US West have cost Pacific Northwest communities that rely on the timber industry over $1 billion and devastated rural communities by eliminating hundreds of jobs, the group says. …

“The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed in a settlement with the timber industry to reevaluate the spotted owls’ protected territory following a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a different federally protected species. …

“For decades, the federal government has been trying to save the northern spotted owl, a native bird that sparked an intense battle over logging across Washington, Oregon and California. Old-growth Douglas firs, many 100 to 200 years old, that are preferred by the owl are also of great value to loggers.

“After the owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act, earning it a Time magazine cover, U.S. officials halted logging on millions of acres of old-growth forests on federal lands to protect the bird’s habitat. But the population kept declining, and it faces other threats from competition from the barred owl and climate change.”

Read more at the Oregonian, here.

Rx: Nature

Photo: Jim Wileman/The Guardian.
Seven of the UK’s National Health Service care groups received [$6.9 million, combined] in government funding for projects harnessing nature to improve mental health.

I’d be the last person to tell any person who badly needed therapy to take a walk in the woods. But as today’s article indicates, nature does have healing properties. If you’re feeling down, you could try it. Like chicken soup, “It wouldn’t hurt”!

Reporter Damian Carrington at the Guardian has been talking to patients.

” ‘It sounds dramatic, but this place saved my life,’ says Wendy Turner, looking out over the Steart salt marshes in Somerset. ‘I am really loving the colours of all the marsh grasses at the moment, and the flocks of dunlin and plover. The light is just so beautiful.’

“Turner was once a high-flying international project manager. ‘But the Covid pandemic resulted in me losing everything – my business and my home – and I had years of abuse in a marriage.’ In July 2020, she attempted suicide and woke up in [the emergency room].

“But then she discovered the Steart nature reserve. …

“Turner is one of the fast-growing number of people using nature to improve their health and wellbeing and she is now helping to boost the rise of ‘green social prescribing,’ where health and community services refer people to nature projects. She has helped co-create a mental health and nature course with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), which manages the Steart reserve, and the Mental Health Foundation.

“There is already good evidence of nature’s efficacy, such as a 2019 study showing that a two-hour ‘dose’ of nature a week significantly improved health and wellbeing. The missing link has been connecting health services and nature activities.

“ ‘These activities have being going for years, it’s just that they often have not had that connection into the health systems to enable them to receive the people who need the benefits the most, and to deliver precisely what they need,’ says Dave Solly, at the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP), which was launched in 2019 with funding from the Department of Health.

“But things are changing. Seven NHS care groups from the Humber to Surrey received a combined £5m in government funding in December for projects harnessing nature to improve mental health, including tree planting and growing food. There are also now more than 1,000 social prescribing link workers working in GP surgeries and health clinics, helping doctors link patients to nature activities, as well as arts, heritage and exercise groups. A million people could be referred to social prescribing in the next few years.

Among the projects championed by NASP are Wild Being in Reading, an open-water swimming group in Portsmouth, Dorset Nature Buddies, the Green Happy cafe in Northampton, and a Moving in Nature project in Chingford, Essex.

“Back in Steart marshes, NHS rehabilitation physiotherapist Ralph Hammond is setting off on the weekly 30-minute health walk he leads. He started the walk as a volunteer in 2017, having found there was no suitable walking group for recovering patients.

“The flat landscape and good paths on the reserve, which hosts otters and samphire beds, are important, he says: ‘We are trying to break down barriers – the people I am after are not walking at all.’ The group have been following the fortunes of a pair of white swans and their cygnets. …

“Suzanne Duffus tackles the walk enthusiastically with a sturdy wheeled walking frame. She started coming to Steart after her husband died and is now a volunteer, giving support and encouragement to newcomers. …

“Increasing access to such activities requires staff dedicated to connecting nature groups to the health service. The WWT’s Will Freeman is doing this at Steart and says: ‘For a lot of people, it is very exciting, but it can also be difficult as the cultures of organisations may not match.

“A lot of nature reserves have not been that well connected with their communities.’ … The social side is key too, he says: ‘We sometimes miss the simple human side – just having a chat and asking how you are. Nature is an asset that adds to all that.’ …

“Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of NASP and of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, says: ‘[During the pandemic] we have all become increasingly reliant on our local outdoor space as other activity was restricted. From allotments and parks to walks in the country, being outdoors has been a lifeline for many of us.

“ ‘However, all too often those who would benefit more from time “closer to nature” simply cannot access it. … Social inequalities mean that those in the most deprived areas spend less time outdoors. As a practising GP myself, it is so heartening to see so many projects flourish right across the country, making the most of this approach to health provision.’

“Solly, who is on secondment to NASP from Natural England, hopes that green social prescribing will become routinely offered to those who would benefit: ‘Instead of a prescription for further medicine, your prescription is to go to an activity, with a suggestion of a few options that work for you.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here.

Ad from a gadget company: SAF Aranet4 Home: Wireless Indoor Air Quality Monitor for Home, Office or School [CO2, Temperature, Humidity and More] Portable, Battery Powered.”

Trust anxious parents to come up with an extra level of protection for their school-age children! Something different is going in lunch boxes now.

Emily Anthes reports at the New York Times, “When Lizzie Rothwell, an architect in Philadelphia, sent her son to third grade this fall, she stocked his blue L.L. Bean backpack with pencils, wide-ruled paper — and a portable carbon dioxide monitor.

“The device gave her a quick way to assess how much fresh air was flowing through the school. Low levels of CO2 would indicate that it was well-ventilated, reducing her son’s odds of catching the coronavirus.

“But she quickly discovered that during lunch, CO2 levels in the cafeteria rose to nearly double those recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She shared what she’d learned with the principal and asked if students could eat outside instead.

“ ‘He expressed surprise that I had any data at all,’ she said.

“Ms. Rothwell is one of a growing number of parents who are sneaking CO2 monitors into schools in a clandestine effort to make sure their children’s classrooms are safe. Aranet, which makes a monitor popular with parents, says orders have doubled since the new school year began.

“Some school systems have made the monitors part of their official pandemic precautions. New York City has distributed the devices to every public school, and the British government has announced plans to do likewise.

“But elsewhere, parents are taking matters into their own hands, sneaking in the monitors — which can cost a hundred dollars or more — in their children’s backpacks or pants pockets.

“Although the devices, which can be set to take readings every few minutes, work best when exposed to the open air, they can generate informative data as long as they are not completely sealed away, said Dr. Alex Huffman, an aerosol scientist [who] has sent the monitors to school with his children. …

“Some school officials have frowned upon these guerrilla air-monitoring efforts, but parents say the devices have armed them with data to advocate for their children. …

“The coronavirus spreads through tiny, airborne droplets known as aerosols. Improving indoor ventilation reduces the concentration of these aerosols and the risk of infection in an indoor space, but there is no easy way for members of the public to measure the ventilation rate — let alone the accumulation of viral aerosols — in shared spaces.

“ ‘Ideally there’d be some machine that cost $100 and it starts beeping if the virus is in the air,’ said Jose-Luis Jimenez, an aerosol scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder, who is sending a carbon dioxide monitor to school with his son. But in the absence of such a device, he said, ‘CO2 is something that provides an affordable and very meaningful shortcut.’

Every time we exhale, we expel not just aerosols but also carbon dioxide; the worse the ventilation, the more carbon dioxide builds up in an occupied room. …

“Jeanne Norris, who lives in the St. Louis area, said that she bought her monitor after losing confidence in officials in her son’s school district.

“ ‘They just hadn’t been very transparent about their ventilation,’ she said. ‘They say that it’s fine and that they did their own testing but then they wouldn’t share that data with me.’

“Ms. Norris and her husband are both science teachers, and so far their data suggest that the ventilation is excellent in both of their classrooms. But CO2 levels in her son’s classroom sometimes surpass 1300 parts per million. The C.D.C. recommends that indoor carbon dioxide levels remain below 800 p.p.m. After she collects more data, she plans to take her findings to school officials and ask them to improve the ventilation. …

“Some parents have gotten results. When Jeremy Chrysler, of Conway, Ark., sent a monitor in with his 13-year-old daughter, this fall, the CO2 readings were a sky-high 4,000 p.p.m.

“He brought his findings to district officials, who discovered that two components of the school’s HVAC system were not working properly. After the units were fixed, CO2 levels plummeted.

“ ‘What my measurements showed was, hey, measuring CO2 can identify problems and sometimes those problems are easy to fix,’ he said.”

More at the Times, here.

Wish I had one of these monitors the other day when I was worried enough about air quality to risk asking someone if she was vaccinated!

The Wonders of Lace

Seen on Hyperallergic: “Left: Matthias De Visch, ‘Portrait of Empress Maria Theresa’ (1749), Musea Brugge – Groeningemuseum (© Lukasweb); right: Sleeve fragment in bobbin lace, Brussels region, Southern Netherlands, 1740–50 (© The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lannoo Publishers).”

Did you ever read the book Lark Rise to Candleford about the old days in rural England? There are two aspects of the life I read about that have recurred to me often over the years. One memory from the book comes to me when I am fiddling with the car radio dial and finding almost too many choices for music. Back in England between the wars, people came from surrounding towns to hear one musician in one village play one instrument. I think it was a glockenspiel in the book, and being able to hear it was a big deal. Folks made a day of the outing.

The other memory is about the transition from handmade lace to machine-made. Today we know how glorious the handmade kind was. But women in the book wanted machine-made lace — they thought it was much cooler.

Today’s story is about the old kind of lace.

Valentina Di Liscia reports at Hyperallergic, “When the latticed fabric first appeared in the 16th century, says Kaat Debo, director of the ModeMuseum (MoMU) in Antwerp, ‘it was something completely new.’

,“ ‘Lace [was] originally intended as an open-edge finishing for clothing and interior textiles,’ … Debo writes in a foreword for the book accompanying the recently opened exhibition P.LACE.S – Looking through Antwerp Lace. The show explores the city’s role in the trade and production of lace across the centuries, bringing together historical fabrics, paintings, and archival documents to reveal how the delicate, weblike design became a staple of art, craft, fashion, status, and commerce.

“P.LACE.S is on view at the museum and at four sites connected to the history of lace in Antwerp. Presentations at the Plantin-Moretus Museum, which holds one of the oldest archives in the world on the lace trade, and the St. Charles Borromeo Church, home to a large collection of 17th- and 18th-century lace, illuminate the international lace trade and its local production, respectively. At the Snijders & Rockox House, where Nicolaas Rockox, mayor of Antwerp, displayed his art collection, the exhibition focuses on lace as a symbol of wealth and class.

The final location is the Maagdenhuis (Maidens’ House), a former orphanage for girls turned into an art and historical museum.

“Throughout history, lace has been primarily produced by women, and in the 16th century, the Maagdenhuis housed a workshop where they learned sewing and lacemaking. For the show, a film by Rei Nadal inspired by the aesthetic of Dutch 17th-century paintings follows three young girls who lived at the orphanage and made lace. …

“[The MoMu] presentation highlights industry innovations, like 3D printing and laser cutting, that are changing how lace is produced and worn — designers including Iris van Herpen, Azzedine Alaïa, and Prada are all using new technologies and mediums to reimagine the possibilities of the enduring fabric.

“ ‘This ambitious project tells the extraordinary story of the emergence of lace as a new luxury product at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and of the prominent role played by the city of Antwerp: a story of extraordinary professional skill and craftsmanship, technology and innovation, international trade and enterprise,’ writes Debo. ‘It is also a story of girls and women who played an important role not only in the creative process and the production of lace, but also in the commercial activities of the international lace trade.’ ”

More at Hyperallergic, here. You can see some beautiful pictures there.

Photo: Kino Lorber.
The film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, directed by Bill Morrison, is a project that got started after an Icelandic fisherman pulled up an old Soviet movie from the depths.

Remember this post on repurposing 1980s photos of New Orleans street life damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Today’s story on waterlogged 35mm film found by a fisherman reminds me that creative people keep discovering ways of working with damaged art to convey deeper messages. It’s as if the lost island of Atlantis wants to break through to our modern world.

Dan Schindel reports at Hyperallergic, “In 2016, a fisherman dredged up a case off the coast of Iceland that contained four reels of decades-old 35mm film. It looked like the beginning of an inspirational story about a precious movie rediscovery. But, anti-climactically, he’d merely found pieces of the 1968 Soviet mystery-comedy Derevenskiy Detektiv (‘Village Detective’) — which was, as filmmaker and historian Bill Morrison puts it, ‘not lost, rare, or even, to my mind … particularly good.’

“But such an unusual event still deserved scrutiny. What circumstances led this particular film to this completely unexpected place? Morrison’s investigation resulted in his new film The Village Detective: A Song Cycle.

“Morrison constructs his films — such as Decasia (2002) and The Great Flood (2013) — from raw, unrestored fragments of celluloid. In 2016’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, he told the story of a much more exciting rediscovery, how hundreds of lost films were dug up from under a skating rink in the Yukon. He showcases the images of these movies with every scratch, fade, and blur included.

“Each film print records two stories: the one a crew conjured together however long ago, and the record of everything that’s happened to the strip since its creation. The vagaries of the projection, transportation, and preservation of physical film leave it vulnerable to damage. Many archival projects focus on the first story, but Morrison is interested in both. …

“Finding some reels of Village Detective may not in itself be remarkable, but this specific reel has its own unique story, and Morrison finds value in that. His interrogation of the water-warped images becomes a rumination on mortality.

Village Detective starred Mikhail Zharov. To several 20th-century generations of Russians, he was a vital figure, an acclaimed and popular actor who worked with many of the titans at the forefront of Soviet cinema development, including Sergei Eisenstein. … Morrison was told about the fisherman’s discovery by his friend Jóhann Jóhannsson. …

“Through images of Village Detective and Zharov’s other films, as well as pieces from contemporary Soviet cinema and modern-day interviews with historians and preservationists, Morrison reconstructs the actor’s life and times, tracing the path of his career.

“The discovery of his work entombed at the bottom of the sea precipitates the audience’s own rediscovery of him — through the use of his films, that rediscovery becomes something like a resurrection. He’s dead, he’s gone, and yet there he is again. He may be hard to discern through the haze of distorted colors or the flurry of scratches, but you can appreciate the way he acts. …

“The past is supposed to just be what we remember, and yet in the act of watching a film, we are in communion with it. From what could have merely been a curiosity, Morrison constructs a haunted, haunting meditation.”

Whenever I see an offbeat movie like this (the most recent being Agnes Varda’s The Gleaners and I), I think of my friend Penny, now gone. She used to make offbeat, artsy but messy Super-8 films back in the ’60s, and I helped. Even though we both worked in the mornings, Penny was a great one for dragging me out of my apathy to go to downtown Philadelphia for a Kenneth Anger flic or an Andy Warhol. Sure do miss her.

More at Hyperallergic, here.

Photo: Boaz Rottem/Alamy.
“For hundreds of years, Rwandans with enough milk would share their supply with those in need,” says the BBC.

You learn something every day. From an article in the New York Times and another at the BBC, I just learned that drinking milk is so popular in Rwanda that milk is the main thing served at the country’s favorite bars.

Abdi Latif Dahir reports at the Times, “As the sun scorched the hilly Rwandan capital on a recent afternoon, a motorcycle taxi driver, two women in matching head scarves and a teenager wearing headphones all separately sauntered into a small roadside kiosk to drink the only thing on tap: milk.

“ ‘I love milk,’ said Jean Bosco Nshimyemukiza, the motorcycle taxi driver, as he sipped from a large glass of fresh milk that left a residual white line on his upper lip. ‘Milk makes you calm,’ he said, smiling. ‘It reduces stress. It heals you.’ …

“Men and women, young and old, sit on benches and plastic chairs throughout the day, glass mugs before them, gulping liters upon liters of fresh milk or fermented, yogurt-like milk, locally known as ‘ikivuguto.’

“Some patrons drink it hot, others like it cold. Some — respecting an old custom of finishing your cup at once — chug it down quickly, while others sip it slowly while eating snacks like cakes, chapatis and bananas. …

“ ‘I come here when I want to relax, but also when I want to think about my future,’ said Mr. Nshimyemukiza, who added that he drinks at least three liters of milk daily.

‘When you drink milk, you always have your head straight and your ideas right.’

“While milk bars have popped up everywhere over the last decade, the drink they sell has long been intrinsic to the country’s culture and history, as well as its modern identity and economy.

“Over the centuries, cows were a source of wealth and status — the most valuable gift to confer on a friend or a new family. Even royalty craved easy access to milk. During the Kingdom of Rwanda, which lasted for hundreds of years until the last king was deposed in 1961, cows’ milk was kept in wooden bottles with conical woven lids right behind the king’s thatched palace.

“Cows were considered so valuable they ended up in children’s names — Munganyinka (valuable as a cow) or Inyamibwa (beautiful cow) — as well as in traditional dances, where women raised their hands to emulate the giant-horned Ankole cows.

“In 1994, Rwanda was the scene of a genocide. … As the country recovered from the genocide, Rwanda’s government looked to cows again as a way to grow the economy and fight malnutrition.

“In 2006, President Paul Kagame introduced the ‘Girinka’ program, which aims to give every poor family one cow. The program has so far distributed over 380,000 cows nationwide, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources — with contributions coming from private companies, aid agencies and foreign leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. …

“As milk production increased in this landlocked nation, so did the number of people who moved to urban areas for education and employment. And so were born the milk bars, which allowed farmers to sell their surplus milk and let customers drink copious amounts of it to be reminded of home. Most milk bars are in Kigali, the country’s most-populous city, with 1.2 million people.

“Steven Muvunyi grew up with nine siblings in the Rubavu district in the country’s west. After moving to Kigali to attend university, he said he missed being in the countryside, milking cows and drinking milk without limits.

“I come to the milk bars and I am overcome with nostalgia from my childhood,” he said one evening in late September, as he drank from a big mug of hot, fresh milk in downtown Kigali.

“As he sat at the bar, Mr. Muvunyi, 29, who works in Rwanda’s budding technology sector, showed photos of his 2-year-old son looking at him while he drank a glass of milk at his parents’ farm. He worried, he said, that children growing up in cities would not be as connected to the country’s dairy culture, given the easy access now to pasteurized milk at supermarkets. ‘I want to teach my children early the value of milk and cows,’ he said. …

“No matter the circumstances, Rwandans say the milk bar is here to stay. During the pandemic last year, Ngabo Alexis Karegeya started sharing images and videos on Twitter about the Rwandan attachment to cows and milk — drawing national attention. Mr. Karegeya graduated from university this year with a degree in business administration, but still fondly remembers his days tending cows as a boy. He tweeted a photo of himself in his graduation gown with the caption ‘certified cow-boy y’all.’

“ ‘Rwandans love cows and they love milk,’ said Mr. Karegeya, who owns five cows in the lush hills of his family’s home in western Rwanda and drinks three liters a day.

“ ‘The milk bar brings us together,’ he said. ‘And we will keep coming to the milk bar to drink more milk.’ ”

More at the Times, here, and at the BBC, here.

The Marathon Is Back

The year there was no Boston Marathon.

October 11 is a little different this year. Some people will still be celebrating Columbus Day. (Time, here, explains why some Italians feel positive about the explorer.) Others will recognize Monday as Indigenous People’s Day, honoring the tribes who were here before the arrival of Europeans and the devastation they brought. Rhode Island, for example, plans to use its the PRONK parade to celebrate Native Americans.

And here’s something that hasn’t happened in October before: the Boston Marathon. Erik is running again, so my husband and I will be there, cheering him on.

The Boston Marathon is usually run at the April holiday New Englanders call Patriots Day, the day that in 1775 the “embattled farmers” stood at the North Bridge in Concord “and fired the shot heard ’round the world.”

In 2020, Covid cancelled the Marathon. And 2021 was touch and go, too, until organizers at the Boston Athletic Association decided the pandemic might be under control by October.

Well, it is and isn’t. So there are unusual Marathon protocols in place.

Says the BAA, “Entrants in the 125th Boston Marathon, scheduled for Monday, October 11, will need to either provide proof of vaccination or produce a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate in the fall race. It is strongly recommended that all entrants, staff, and volunteers are vaccinated. Masks will not be required while running the 26.2-mile course, but will be enforced on participant transportation and in other areas in accordance with local guidelines.

“We understand that COVID-19 related-travel restrictions may prevent many international participants from toeing the line in Hopkinton. In recognition of this unique and extenuating circumstance, any Boston Marathon participant who resides outside of the United States can move their entry to the virtual race and be refunded for the difference.

“Prior to bib number pick-up, Boston Marathon participants will be required to either produce proof of a complete vaccination series of a World Health Organization-certified vaccine or produce a negative COVID-19 test, which will be administered on site in a Boston Marathon medical tent.”

According to the Boston Globe, “there will be 14 former champions in the field, with a combined 32 first-place Boston finishes, including two-time men’s winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, as well as countryman Asefa Mengstu, who has the fastest personal best in the field and the 23rd-fastest marathon ever at 2:04:06.

“The women’s field features nine sub-2:22:00 marathoners, including Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese, whose 2:19:36 personal best ranks fastest in the field. Melese will have some tough competition from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.”

If an aspiring runner hasn’t run the required number of previous races at the required times, she or he can still participate if sponsored by a charity and willing to raise money for it. The Globe says, “There are 41 charity organizations, with 2,090 runners, participating. Over the past 32 years, more than $400 million has been raised for charity.”

And here’s an interesting note: “For the only time in its history, the Boston Marathon will take place on Oct. 11 — which is recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in cities and towns on the route.

“Patti Catalano Dillon, a three-time Boston runner-up and a member of the Mi’kmaq tribe, will be interviewed at Fan Fest Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. about setting the American marathon record at Boston 40 years ago. She also will serve as an official starter.

“A ceremony will be held Oct. 8 to commemorate the 85th anniversary of Ellison Brown’s first of two marathon titles. A banner will be presented to the grandchildren of Brown, who was a member of the Narragansett tribe.”

More at the Globe, here.

Photo: Upcycle Stitches.
Sashiko is a needlework to reinforce, to repair, to mend, and to decorate the fabric. 

Whenever I hear something good on Public Radio International’s the World, I hope they will post a text version online so I have something to edit, but today’s story is accessible only as audio. So I am combining it with a May 2018 blog post that “atsushijp” wrote at Upcycle Stitches: “Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project.” (Atsushijp did us all a favor by sharing this work with a different audience, and I have not tried to tweak her English.)

“It has been almost 7 years since I had encountered this beautiful project: Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko  Project. … After the earthquake followed by Tsunami on March 11th, 2011, the five volunteers established the project to support the people in Otsuchi, especially those who had nothing to do but sitting in the evacuation shelter. The men had a lot of things to require the muscle power after the disaster. The young generation also had many tasks to revive the infrastructure such as distributing the support goods and clean. However, those who wouldn’t be able to move, mostly elderly women, did not have things to do and had to wait. …

“The project tries to create jobs for those who couldn’t do hard labor outside. They have been trying to create the community where anyone can gather for the purpose of stitching. We all then hope that the stitching can be a part of the purposes of their new life after the earthquake. I, Atsushi, first join the project in June 2011. …

“I had written many articles and reports regarding the Otsuchi Sashiko in English, but I had to give them up when my father passed away and the stakeholders decided to shut down the website. Well, even after the sad reality of me leaving Sashiko behind for while, my mother, Keiko Futatsuya, kept in touch with them. Now, she is the advisor of Sashiko technique and designing in Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project. …

“Otsuchi town was badly damaged by the earthquake followed by Tsunami, including the loss of town hall and the mayor and more than 1,280 of people’s life. The survivors [who] needed an evacuation shelter by losing their house were more than 9,000 people.

“In the evacuation shelter, mothers and grandmothers, who were very much hard worker in their own house as a house-maker, didn’t have anything to do. There were no kitchen to cook, no living room to clean, no dishes to wash. Men and young generation could work for the cleaning debris, but the job required a lot of muscle power. Mothers and Grandmothers couldn’t help them even if they wanted to. …

“The answers they had come up with was Sashiko, in which requires only a needle, thread, and piece of fabric. The Sashiko was doable in a limited space of the evacuation shelter. The mothers and grandmothers wanted to do ‘something’ instead of just waiting.

“An elder woman who lied down all the day in the evacuation shelter. A hard-working mother who lost her house-making job. A young woman who lost their job opportunity. Everyone in Otsuchi moved the needle with hoping the recovery of Otsuchi. Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko project is their first step to the recovery by women in Otsuchi since June 2011. The Earthquake destroyed the houses and jobs and took away our previous people. We, as Otsuchi Recovery Sashiko Project, would like to re-establish the town of Otsuchi throughout Sashiko by strengthening, mending, and making it more beautiful. …

“When a mother, who enjoy Sashiko, is happy, the household will be filled with smiles. If the household is filled with smiles, the town of Otsuchi will be energetic. When the town of Otsuchi become energetic, everyone in the town and related to the town will be happy. …

“We strongly respect the value of hand-made craft culture with spending so much time and putting the good-heart in it in the era of ‘speed’ and ‘efficiency (productivity)’ with mass-production and mass-information. ‘Hand-Made Craft’ provide us ‘Care’ and ‘Mindfulness (Mental Wellness)’ by thinking of other, and using our own hands.”

More at Upcycle Stitches, here. The audio story at the World, here, covers aspects of the initiative in which men have helped, too.

%d bloggers like this: