Broom Forkmoss, Dicranum scoparium with a little cedar berry appearance. A macro photo of a mound of lush green moss. Each cluster of hairs

Thuidium delicatulum, delicate fern moss or common fern moss. A macro photo of lush green moss that resembles a small forest of fern leaves

A macro photo of lush green moss that resembles a small forest of fern leaves

ID uncertain, possibly Entondon cladorrhizans flattened entondon moss Long tendrils of cedar like moss grow along a tree branch

I almost missed this fallen branch covered in Luminescent Panelus, Panellus stipticus. Such a fascinating world if we take the time to see it.

A macro side view of cluster of Orangish cream colored mushrooms grow from a fallen tree. In the background green moss and more mushrooms are visible.
A Top down view of a cluster of Orangish cream colored mushrooms growing from a fallen tree. The mushrooms are in the shape of a Half circle and are irregular in texture and variations of color. In the background green moss, lichen and more mushrooms are visible.
A bottom up view of a cluster of Orangish cream colored mushrooms growing from a fallen tree. The mushrooms are in the shape of a Half circle and are irregular in texture and variations of color. As the photo is taken from below the underside of the mushrooms with gills or ridges are visible. In the background green moss, lichen and more mushrooms a

It is an indictment of the state of our nation today that Trump could be a viable candidate for the office he has disgraced. Even putting aside for now the lack of legal barriers; can he run if convicted, does the 14th Amendment apply; the fact that he has not been cast aside on the trash heap of history is frightening. … The next year may be the most crucial in our history since the Civil War.

What has happened to Americans?

Me: Slowly putting keyboard in place on lap desk. Cat: I see you. Me: Moves keyboard into position. Cat: Very slowly, as if hunting, climbs into a position between me and keyboard. Lays down. Purrs.

I loose at least two hours a day to this little purring furball.

Increasing public activism in the United States and the world for a ceasefire in Gaza is also helping highlight Israel’s apartheid policies.

It also signals how people across the globe recognise the Palestinians’ suffering and their battle for national rights as among the last anti-colonial struggles in the world.

Israel deserves every bit of the global public criticism it is receiving | Al Jazeera

In just 13 weeks, Republicans will likely lock in a criminal nominee determined to end democracy

But then I saw yesterday’s deeply sobering _Washington Post_column by Robert Kagan that opens by telling readers to “stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality.” The headline pretty well sums it all up: “A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.”

Soberly Imagining the Future - by Steven Beschloss

With last night’s rain and the soft light this morning the fungi, lichen and moss really popped out at me during my morning trail walk.

Luminescent Panellus, Panellus stipticus and Eastern speckled shield lichen, Punctelia bolliana Small off-white to peach colored fungi near a cluster of cup-like lichen and green moss

Sternum ostrea, false turkey-tail Fungi, dark brown at the center attachment to a tree. Rings outward gradually become lighter with the outer edges a light orange and white. They are in the shape of a semi-circle, somewhat resembling sea shells

Tremella mesentercia, witch’s butter A bright yellow, semi-translucent, gelatinous fungi grows from a tree branch. Pale green lichen are also growing on the branch.

Geneva/Dubai (WMO) - 2023 has shattered climate records, accompanied by extreme weather which has left a trail of devastation and despair, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

  • 2023 set to be warmest year on record
  • Greenhouse gas levels continue to increase
  • Record sea surface temperatures and sea level rise
  • Record low Antarctic sea ice
  • Extreme weather causes death and devastation

2023 shatters climate records, with major impacts

My ongoing experimentation with iPad set-ups continues. A couple of months ago while browsing the web I happened upon a new-to-me concept, the cyberdeck. The idea is to build modular, hacked-together computers that are semi portable. I spent a few hours obsessing over images that presented something very close to what I've been wanting for my iPad set-up for quite awhile.

At its core a set-up that raises the iPad/screen to eye level, semi-portable, stable, and a place to store/use a swap-able keyboard.

I've been using this stand for a couple of months now. It's the second stand of this style that I've bought. The other one purchased a couple years ago is now being used to hold a portable 15" screen. This current stand is a bit heavier, especially the base, and even more stable. A couple of notes about the stand and then I'll get into the purpose for adding the cardboard base.

  • The main point in using a stand like this is to raise the iPad fairly high, getting it much closer to eye level.
  • With two hinges it is adjustable to any angle, far better than the limited angles available with iPad Magic Keyboard or other folio style keyboards.
  • This stand is the older style of stand with a non-magnetic back and two support brackets on the bottom to hold the iPad. The newest magnetic stands look very clean and hold the iPad in place but only work with one size iPad based on the current model designs. They're also more expensive. These older style stands are sturdy and the cost is usually less than $25 compared to the magnetic stands that usually come in above $70.
  • I like being able to place my current keyboard of choice on the base while typing.
An iPad Pro on a stand that has been built into a plywood lap desk. In front of the iPad is an iClever foldable keyboard. To the left is a Magic Trackpad and to the right a mouse.

Editing to note that since original post the hacky cardboard component has been replaced with plywood. Still a bit rough but okay for a prototype. 🤓 Images below depict the original cardboard version.

Now, why clutter it up with the addition of the ugly, hacky cardboard? In short, the cardboard is a cheap, easy way to experiment and improve the function of the stand. I often work from my futon with a pillow or two in my lap. I'm more likely to be working this way than I am to be at a desk. While this stand is very stable when sitting on a desk, the metal base is too small to be stable on a pillow which means using some sort of lap desk. In the past I've always used a plank of wood as my improvised lap desk and it works very well. I'll still do that when I need access to my trackpad or mouse. But most lap desks, be they the purchased variety with cushion attached to a thin board or my improvised wood planks are quite a bit heavier and more unwieldy to move. And though the stand is stable on the lap desk sitting in my lap, when I need to get-up I do have to be careful that the stand with the 13" iPad Pro doesn't tip over as I sit on the shelf next to my futon.

An iPad Mini  sits in a stand that has a cardboard base and is resting on a pillow.

Thanks to the weight of the inserted metal base and the larger surface area of the cardboard, I now have something that is stable on cushy, soft surfaces like pillows. It won't ever tip over unless I intentionally flip it. I've got two pieces of heavy-duty cardboard taped together for a very rigid, sturdy base. I cut a slot in the top piece of cardboard to insert the metal base up to the hinge and between the two layers of cardboard. In addition to the stability it provides its larger size also means a better placement for the keyboard. The stand base is very snug in between the layers of cardboard. When I need to get up or move I can easily move the stand, iPad and keyboard by grabbing the cardboard or the metal arms of the stand. Unlike the stand sitting on a lap desk, this feels like I'm moving one, integrated piece similar to a laptop or the iPad attached to the Magic Keyboard.

An iPad Pro  sits in a stand that has a cardboard base. The image is taken from the side, rear and shows that an attached, folded Moft stand is clamped over the back metal slap of the stand to hold the iPad in place

The last bit that makes this work well is having a way to attach the iPad to the stand rather than just having it resting on the brackets. The stand is metal and when I'm using the iPad mini I just use Apple's folio cover folded behind the iPad. The magnets of the folio stick firmly to the stand so the iPad isn't going anywhere. With the larger iPad Pro I have the Moft float stand. It's attached magnetically to the Moft case and I just fold it down over the back of the metal stand. It's not going anywhere.

So, it's all a bit hacky but some free cardboard and duct tape make for a big improvement. I may well try a larger version next to accommodate use of a mouse or trackpad. For the moment it's easy enough to just use my wood plank lap desk when I need the extra pointer device.

They’ve dedicated their lives to understanding the problems then communicating to the world only to be ignored or, worse, threatened.

Decades ago, three pioneering Australian scientists were some of the first to warn the world about a looming climate crisis. They were branded alarmists and faced political pressure. We hear how they made their discoveries, the personal toll it took on them, and how, during the hottest year on record, they stay hopeful

Weight of the world | The Guardian

“We are talking about over 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners inside Israeli prisons right now. More than 2,500 are being held under administrative detention … without a charge and without a trial,” says Tala Nasir, a lawyer with Addameer, a group that advocates for Palestinian prisoners. We also speak with Israeli journalist Orly Noy, who says the sheer number of Palestinian prisoners shows “how central the tool of incarceration is in the Israeli project” of occupying and oppressing Palestinians

Incarceration Is a Central Tool of Israel’s Oppression of Palestinians | Truthout

It’s only been a couple weeks since I decided to give Obsidian yet another try and yes, this is going to work out. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try again. A few brief thoughts too about interstitial journaling.

First, my primary use of any markdown/text app is for writing blog posts. In this regard Obsidian is generally on par with any other markdown editor and so it’s easy to just copy my archive over. That’s the beauty of working from folders of files. I duplicated and tweaked my previous Shortcuts for quickly creating new posts from the Home Screen or for link blogging from a web page that now save to my Obsidian folders.

As for journaling, I’ve only ever been irregular at that effort. Obsidian has the daily note feature to help the process along so I took a look at various templates in the hopes that perhaps I’d find one that might help in the process. After a few days I found it wasn’t quite what I wanted. As I browsed around I hit upon “interstitial journaling”. My first thought was, no, not for me.

If you’re not familiar, the basic concept is to just record a timestamped entry when you’re between tasks. Note what you’ve finished, what you might work on next or if you’re taking a break. A sort of running commentary on the day but geared towards productivity. But I wasn’t looking for a productivity hack or anything focused on that. I tend to do fine getting work tasks done without any additional tools or apps. I’d rather my journaling be a bit more open. But something about frequent, time-stamped writing appealed to me. The structure isn’t topical, it’s not definite or set. I’m viewing it as a tool for simple self awareness and as an opportunity to note thoughts and activities as they seem worth noting.

A week in and I have to say that I’m really digging it. I set aside any desire to focus on some sort of constant productivity/task journal and have simply used it to check in. The time stamping pulls me in, I honestly don’t know why. But I do know that I’m writing more as a result. Also worth mentioning, there’s a behavioral phenomena called the Hawthorne effect that several folks have mentioned. The idea being that people “modify an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.” The idea in relation to interstitial journaling is that as one starts paying attention to the moments of a day with the added intent of recording those moments, a kind of self awareness sets in.

I suppose in a round-about way I am, in fact, being more “productive” but frankly, I’m just not fond of all of the nerd focus on productivity. I’d much rather think of it in terms of cultivating self awareness. Regardless of the framing, I’m finding it enjoyable and useful. And, unexpectedly, I feel like my days are longer and almost more meaningful as a result of the increased focus on my daily activity.

It’s worth noting, that most of what I’m doing with Obsidian I could have accomplished with iA Writer or other markdown editor. It’s a strange thing really but it’s a fairly small design detail that partly served to prompt my look back to Obsidian. I wanted to be able to more easily navigate and see all my files in folders at the same time. Most markdown editors have a sidebar file browser that functions as a singular column list of files. It makes for a lot of clicking or tapping to navigate. Obsidian offers disclosure triangles and it just feels easier and faster to view the contents of multiple folders at once.

That said, Obsidian is extendable via plugins so it does actually do quite a lot beyond a standard text editor. But out of the box it can be used in a more standard way. As I poke and prod I expect I’ll share a bit about some of the more advanced features.

While out on a trail walk yesterday, I saw something small and white moving around in the leaves and met this cute, furry moth, Artace cribrarius, the dot-lined white.

a furry white moth is perched on a brown leaf set against a blurred forest background. The image is taken from the side.

a furry white moth  set  against a blurred background of brown leaves. The moth has faint, delicate black specs on its wings.

a furry white moth is perched on a leaf. Is taken from the underside, showing its belly and its legs holding onto the stem of a leaf. The background is a blurred forest.

I’ve written two posts recently that I thought I’d tie together. The first was a post about the occasional resurfacing of the “minimalism” or “simple living” trend or meme especially as it exists as phenomenon in the US. The second was a response to a recent article in the Guardian about Trump’s authoritarianism.

The common thread between the two is fairly obvious but still worth calling out in its own post and it is this: in 2023 America finds itself in a deepening crisis of identity as a failed democracy. It’s not new but it is only growing worse because it’s not being addressed. And really, it’s not one crisis but rather several interdependent crises that have been decades in the making. Which is to say, these are crises deeply rooted in multiple generations of Americans, deeply rooted in our culture.

A failed democracy? Really? Has it fallen that far? We’re still having elections after all and though there were efforts to overturn the 2020 election by Trump and many of his supporters and in his party the results were upheld in the face of those efforts. Is that not evidence that democracy in the US continues to exist?

I would argue that democracy in the US, if it can be said to still exist, is weakened by decades corruption. It has been eroded to a thin veneer with little substance because the substance of democracy is the people. And the majority of people of the US stopped caring decades ago. Any sense of civic responsibility, of active citizenship has been eroded by decades of apathy. The truth is, America traded that responsibility for something shiny, something convenient: The American Dream.

Consider that phrase for a moment. What do you picture in your mind?

I was surprised (though perhaps should not have been) that Wikipedia even has a specific page for the American Dream. These two paragraphs are significant to our problem:

The American Dream is the national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals including representative democracyrightsliberty, and equality, in which freedom is interpreted as the opportunity for individual prosperity and success, as well as upward social mobility for oneself and their children, achieved through hard work in a capitalist society with few barriers.

The term “American Dream” was popularized by James Truslow Adams in 1931, saying that “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.[1]

I’d urge you now to re-read that slowly and carefully. Then, again from that page:

Throughout American history, there have been critics of its national ethos. Some critics point out that American focus on individualism and capital results in materialism, consumerism, and a lack of worker solidarity.[3] In 2015, only 10.5 percent of American workers were members of a labor union.[4] The American Dream has also been criticized as a product of American exceptionalism, as it does not acknowledge the hardships many Americans face, namely in regards to the legacies of American slavery and Native American genocide, as well as other examples of discriminatory violence.[5]

Those paragraphs sum up the problem very well. Any honest look at the America of 2023 would indicate that Americans simply gave up the collective effort to manage their country in favor of the pursuit of prosperity. Though it’s a poor indicator of democracy, participation in the electoral process is one common indicator used and in the US participation has fairly low for decades. Sure, there are years when participation in elections bumps up. For example, in the 2020 presidential elections 66% voted. That’s up from around 56% turnout in 2016. Midterm participation is lower. For example, in 2018, it was 47%. So, not great. Let’s compare to a few others' recent national electoral participation:

  • Sweden, 2018: 82.1%
  • Belgium, 2019: 77.9%
  • Germany, 2017: 69.1%
  • South Korea, 2020: 66.5%
  • Canada, 2019: 65.1%
  • Spain, 2019: 65.1%
  • UK, 2019: 62%
  • US, 2016: 55.7%

So, in general, voter turnout in the US is low. But that’s far from the whole story because democracy is not just about voting for a president, a house or state representative or a senator or even voting locally.

I would argue that a more important measure of democracy is what we do on the hundreds of days a year between elections. Consider a decade. 10 years is 3,650 days (ignoring leap years). Setting aside 10 days of voting that leaves 3,640 days. What’s our job as citizens for those remaining days? Is it nothing? Are we meant to be on vacation on those days? Because that’s certainly the way we seem to be treating the job. Maybe we vote maybe we don’t. And then the remaining days we’re on vacation.

This is why America is a failed or failing democracy. Because its people have allowed capitalism to step in and act in their stead. We stepped out and they stepped in. It’s that simple. When we get all hand wavy, finger pointy and angry about school shootings, climate emergency, outrageously expensive health care, well, my fellow citizens, we should go have a long look at the mirror so that we might face up to the problem.

We need to have that conversation with ourselves and each other. What are we doing about our democracy? If we’re truly going to quit then let’s FUCKING OWN THAT CHOICE. If we don’t want to be bothered with democracy then let’s admit it. We should loudly proclaim it rather than this bullshit moaning and pretending we go on with. It’s a farce we’re all playing along with. Truly, it’s embarrassing.

But I hear you asking. Well, but, but what are we to do? I’m just one person, what do you expect me to do? I can’t change anything. That’s the reasoning we all use. I can’t fix it. We convince ourselves that this is a valid response and then we continue pretending it’ll all be okay.

Stop pretending and start building. As the Wobblies used to say: Don’t mourn, organize! Let me give you a list to help you get started. We all love lists. This is far, far from a complete list. But it’s something to get you started. It’s also not in any kind of order. Some of these are things you can do as an individual, some are better with a group. Some are both. Many are more about building local community culture and capacity. Building democracy is not just about politics - remember that.

  • Read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and more history of people’s movements in the United States.
  • Corresponding with the above, make it a specific point to read more about the labor movement, it’s tactics and the general strike
  • If you have a blog or use social media begin using it differently. Think about how a citizen concerned with their country’s future might use social media. Shift the conversation.
  • Take an interest in the goings on in your neighborhood. Get to know neighbors if you don’t know them already. These are your neighbors and some of the most important citizens you can know. Care about them.
  • Identify problems in your neighborhood and consider how they need to be addressed. Talk to neighbors about those problems. Figure out a way to deal with it directly or talk to others who can help.
  • Grow the capacity of your neighborhood to take care of itself. This fits with the above two and is just a continuation of a process of taking more responsibility for ourselves in a space that we can have an immediate, tangible results.
  • Consider creating community and neighborhood institutions like co-ops that can help fill real needs. I’ll list some of these further on in this list.
  • Create study groups! I call them study groups, you could also call the working groups or reading groups or whatever else fits. These might function in a neighborhood context or not. Interested in gardening or community gardening? Form a group to explore it. Interested in fixing up a vacant lot? Form a group. Some groups might be temporary, project specific. Or might start with a task or project but then carry on to something else. The main thing is to get with others to learn as a group and even better, act as a group.
  • Start a community newsletter. It might seem old-fashioned in the internet age. But just consider how your neighborhood communicates with itself. How do neighbors keep up-to-date with the community news?
  • Create a lending library. Some public libraries already loan out more than just books. If yours doesn’t then start your own. The point is to share resources amongst neighbors. Tools, books, bikes, cars, etc. These already exist.
  • Create a community workshop or maker space. This might go well with the above. It’s a space for people to fix things, learn to fix or teach others to fix. It might become a space that specializes like a bike repair/recycling shop or it might be more general.
  • Cultivate a community of mutual aid. It goes with the above suggestions. Look for ways to help one another, to learn from one another. If a community is building ways to help itself it becomes more self reliant, more likely to re-use resources and goods that are not always getting used.
  • As the climate emergency grows, emphasize cycling in your community. Consider group rides for fun. If you’re new to cycling a group ride can help you gain confidence. Experienced cyclists can volunteer to do safety clinics to teach others. Learn and teach one another how to do basic bike repairs. Help refresh old bikes and get them on the road again. If there’s enough interest, start a larger cycling advocacy group to work with local town/city government to improve or add to existing cycling infrastructure.
  • If your community has a library consider how your activities might fit in there. Is there a meeting room available for public events were study groups, workshops, classes could be held? Consider taking on more difficult topics, create longer term study groups that explore more complicated problems. Find speakers to bring in that might help people better understand local, regional issues and problems.
  • Volunteer at your local library.
  • Get in touch with already existing community orgs. Find out who’s nearby or in your city. Consider helping those already doing work.
  • Many cities have groups already functioning that need volunteers in a broad range of mutual aid activities like teaching adults to read, aid to the houseless. Find an organization you can help and volunteer your skills whatever they may be.
  • If you’re an artist or musician you might be a part of a larger local community of creators. Consider working together either for your own community via co-op activities and also for the benefit of others by doing fundraisers.
  • Potlucks! Potlucks! Potlucks! Make these a regular happening in your community. Neighborhood potlucks are essential. Move the location from house to house or consider hosting in other spaces if available. Make the weekly, monthly, or as often as possible.
  • In many of the above projects consider partnering with the small, locally owned businesses around you.
  • Make it a habit to always be on the lookout for new sharing opportunities. Often times personal interests and hobbies can be branched out into valuable community enrichment activities. Have a telescope and knowledge of the night sky? Work with your local library to do a monthly star party. Alone or with other local star gazers, get out and help others see Saturn, Jupiter or the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time. You’re an avid photographer and naturalist? Work with the library to organize a photo walk in the local park or public forest.

Much of the focus with the list above is our shifting our priorities from our individual selves or even from our core family to include the larger community. It’s not politics so much as it is direct participation in the life of our communities. Democracy is not laws, rules, regulations. In its fullest, most meaningful expression democracy is the self management of our lives in community. It’s when we understand that our well being extends outward and includes the well being of those we share the planet with.

This is not to suggest that we should not also be working on and in the larger political processes going on around us We should. Those processes are broke and are in need of our attention. But to do that affectively we also need to remember the strength that comes with shared civic life. That shared civic life can be thought of as an expression of democracy as well as solidarity, a phrase that was in common use in the labor movement of 100 years ago.

In a future post I’m planning to share more about how we might create and build democracy politically. Plenty of people have already written about this. For now I’ll simply say that we have to turn our attention the fact that our political processes currently seem to be in a state of corruption and disfunction. We see it on on all levels and it’s well past the time that America get beyond the notion of cleaning the house. We have to reconsider the foundation. There’s nothing about it that will be easy.

From my morning trail walk.

A custer of flowers have turned golden brown for the winter. Amongst the remaining flower parts are several small seeds still attached. The seeds have an elongated black base with tiny white, feathery tendrils to catch the wind.
A custer of flowers have turned golden brown for the winter. Amongst the remaining flower parts are many small seeds are still attached. The seeds have an elongated black base with tiny white, feathery tendrils to catch the wind.
The golden seed heads of the sea or river oats plant. Each cluster  of seeds consists of around eight seeds which are flat and pointy on their outer end. the heads hang from deicate golden brown stems that are attached to larger stems that are, in turn, attachd to the main stem of the plant. Blurred against the background, a few remaining golden leaves can be seen along the main plant stem.
A very small white feather clings to a  dark brown stem of a plant. The feather is whispy with thin, delicate branches from its main stem.

Israel has long practiced “administrative detention” against , Palestinians, jailing them indefinitely without charge or trial. They call it a lawful preventative security measure using it to target people for political activity, including speech and nonviolent protest.

Even beyond administrative detention, when charges are brought against Palestinians they are almost always tried in military courts that have a near-perfect conviction rate.

Human rights groups have deemed it a violation of international law.

Palestinian prisoners and Israel’s unlawful administrative detention policy - Vox

How and why did the US get to this?

Trump’s talk of seeking “retribution” against foes, including some he’s branded “vermin”, has coincided with plans that Maga loyalists at rightwing thinktanks are assembling to expand the president’s power and curb the DoJ, the FBI and other federal agencies. All of it has fueled critics’ fears that in a second term Trump would govern as an unprecedentedly authoritarian American leader.

‘Openly authoritarian campaign’: Trump’s threats of revenge fuel alarm | The Guardian

The answer is in front of us. For decades we’ve allowed ourselves to be redefined from citizen to consumer. Whatever interest in self governance we may have had in the past has been drained away as we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by entertainment, shiny things, comfort, convenience. Our planet burns, people starve or go without medical care, children are shot in their schools. And yet we go about daily life, prioritizing our own happiness. We’ve forgotten how to be active citizens.

There should be no such thing as “activism” or “activists”. Those words are fucking ridiculous. They exist because most citizens don’t want to do the job of citizenship. “We the people” is a fucking farce and has been for a long time. Our “democracy” was broken from the start (designed by the privileged for the maintenance of priviledge) but it’s only gotten worse. And now here we are, divided, frustrated, angry but still unwilling to do the work of participatory, active citizenship.

Look in the mirror if you want to see why we are at the threshold of authoritarianism. What have YOU done to stop it? Oh, me? No, what can I do? Nothing I can do. 

Our attitude is always that the problems are caused by others. Corrupt government. Greedy corporations. Welfare recipients that don’t want to work. The list goes on. There’s always someone to blame. But it’s never us and our lack of commitment to citizenship. 

The truth is most Americans don’t actually seem to want democracy.

We like to pretend we do. We allow ourselves to think America is the “home of the free, land of the brave” blah, blah, blah. But that’s just nonsense in 2023. It’s arrogance, hubris and lazy patriotism. 

The truth is we don’t want to do the work of democracy. And no, not just voting. That’s the most minimal expression of what is a fairly hollow politics. I’m talking about the day-to-day practice of self governance. Of being a part of neighborhoods, communities, towns. Of being connected.

Democracy is going to city council and school board meetings. It’s calling your county commissioner to express concerns because you’re taking an interest in the happenings of your community. It’s noticing a problem on your street or in your neighborhood and taking an interest in fixing it.  A broken sidewalk, dangerous intersection, a lack of bike racks, a neighbor in need. It’s being a part of community and caring about it the same as we care about ourselves or our children. Community is home.

Being an active citizen means extending and practicing empathy outside of ourselves and our tiny bubble of family. It’s understanding that our lives and well being are intertwined with those of our neighbors. Our neighbors are next door, down the street, in the next town over, in the next county over and the next country over. Next door or across the planet, we are all connected and this truth is increasingly obvious. What we and our government does impacts the planet and our fellow humans.

Being a citizen means taking personal responsibility. It means making a point of noticing problems and taking charge as though we are the only ones on the scene. In some cases our actions are individual and are not the immediate solution but are symbolic at least, an expression of care and making an effort to do ones part. But our individual actions as citizens can and should be followed with social actions when we ask for help to do the job. Citizenship is collective and cooperative.

We are the problem and cause of authoritarianism because we’ve forgotten what it means to take full responsibility for our freedom. 

“Freedom is something you assume.Then you wait for someone to take it away from you. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free.”  -  Utah Phillips

While I love that quote I would argue that freedom is intertwined with responsibility and we don’t assume it. We practice it, live it in our daily lives. It has to be renewed daily.

The support for Trump and authoritarianism is an expression of our decades of complacency and our lack of attention. It’s the accumulated frustration of people who know the government is broke and even an awareness on some level that capitalism is a fundamental part of the problem. And that frustration, intertwined with a lack of knowledge of our history, of working people being used and turned against one another, it makes for powerful mechanisms for control and manipulation.

Angry, frustrated people who have lost sight of the larger context of their role in the process of creating the collective good. Alone and separated rather than connected in community. That’s what he’s given them. He’s given them a connection, a feeling of empowered. And combined it with people to be angry at. We all know the idea of divide and conquer. He embodies the largely negative, back-stabbing reality tv show culture that put him in people’s homes and helped him got to this point.

He’s given his supporters a mission, something to thrive in. They feel necessary, useful, powerful and connected. 

Connected. His movement overlooks his criminality and authoritarianism because they feel like they’re a part of something greater, a collective belonging. The fact that that something is based on authoritarianism goes unnoticed is, in part, due to the lack of historical understanding of authoritarianism. 

The counter is a movement that promotes active citizenship in daily life.

Next week, world leaders will head to Dubai for the Conference of the Parties—the United Nations’ annual climate meeting—to finalize the first “global stocktake,” assessing progress toward the Paris Agreement’s goals. The UN Environment Programme is not mincing words about how far from those goals nations are. Today, ahead of COP28, it is releasing a damning report: “Broken Record—Temperatures Hit New Highs, Yet World Fails to Cut Emissions (Again).”

Emissions Should Be Plummeting. Instead, They’re Breaking Dangerous New Records | WIRED

I am speaking with Professor Kevin Anderson from the Universities of Manchester and Uppsala about how journalists and experts have failed the public by an over dependence on reductionist thinking, as opposed to systems thinking, much needed to avert disaster.

Instead of making the space for envisioning a better world, perpetrators of the status quo instead construct fantasies as a way to deflect criticism and delay real action.

Kevin Anderson: Climate Failures and Phantasies | Full episode - YouTube

I so, so love the fungi images shared by Geertje Geertsma on Mastodon.