Protest! She Urged, Some One Hundred Years Ago

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Protestors advocating for voting rights to be extended to women were called “suffragettes,” rather than suffragists, to diminish them, much as the belittling term “women’s libbers” was used in the 1970s. Similarly, when Hillary Clinton was running, female supporters were accused of “voting with their vaginas.” In response, feminists now speak of their political “vagendas.”

THE FERVOR OF POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT since the 2016 election, notably — but not only — the global women’s marches on the day after President Trump’s inauguration, has startled commentators and politicians alike, and heartened some. But this should be no surprise, for protests are a solid part of the American experience. More than a hundred years ago, this American poet celebrated the fact that here “speech, thank God, no vested power…can gag or throttle.” Ella Wheeler Wilcox also complained of “the lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws.” Read on for more of her only-too-timely views.

Protest

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born on November 5, 1850, at Johnstown Center, Wisconsin. She was widely read in her time, and Brooklyn Artisan recently reprinted a New Year’s poem of hers. Her books include Poems of Passion (1883) and Poems of Peace (1906). This poem was published in a collection in 1914, and may have appeared earlier in a periodical. Ms. Wilcox died on October 30, 1919, the year before the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women’s voting rights protection under the Constitution. 

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April Is Poetry Month (Not the Cruelest After All)

BROOKLYN-RESIDENT PATRICK PHILLIPS, who teaches at Drew University, is also a working poet with several titles published. The most recent, Elegy for a Broken Machine, is just out from Knopf and in bookstores now ($20) or in a Kindle edition from Amazon ($12). He is reading tonight (April 2, 2015) at Drew University (with Tiphanie Yanick) and later this month at a Poetry Society gig in the Fulton Street Subway Station. Keep up with his readings schedule at www.patrickthemighty.com. (The following poem is reprinted with the poet’s permission.)

Sunset Park

The Chinese truck driver
throws the rope
like a lasso, with a practiced flick,

over the load:
where it hovers an instant,
then arcs like a willow

into the waiting,
gloved hand
of his brother.

What does it matter
that, sitting in traffic,
I glanced out the window

and found them that way?
So lean and sleek-muscled
in their sweat-stiffened t-shirts:

offloading the pallets
just so they can load up
again in the morning,

and so on,
and so forth
forever like that—

like Sisyphus
I might tell them
if I spoke Mandarin,

or had a Marlboro to offer,
or thought for a minute
they’d believe it

when I say that I know
how it feels
to break your own

back for a living.
Then again,
what’s the difference?

When every light
for a mile turns
green all at once,

no matter how much
I might like
to keep watching

the older one squint
and blow smoke
through his nose?

Something like sadness,
like joy, like a sudden
love for my life,

and for the body
in which I have lived it,
overtaking me all at once,

as a bus driver honks
and the setting
sun glints, so bright

off a windshield
I wince and look back
and it’s gone.

 

Walt’s Words: “Election Day, November, 1884”

The Cyclone, Coney IslandAs Ample Hills Creamery oft reminds us, Walt Whitman wrote admiringly about our Kings County homeland. The words below, however, are Whitman speaking of the country as a whole and what makes “America’s choosing day” so quintessentially American: “the swordless conflict” to be resolved at the ballot box. 

If I should need to name, O Western World, your powerfulest scene and show,
‘Twould not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye limitless prairies—nor your huge rifts of canyons, Colorado,
Nor you, Yosemite—nor Yellowstone, with all its spasmic geyser-loops ascending to the skies, appearing and disappearing,
Nor Oregon’s white cones—nor Huron’s belt of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi’s stream:
—This seething hemisphere’s humanity, as now, I’d name—the still small voice vibrating—America’s choosing day,
(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act itself the main, the quadriennial choosing,)
The stretch of North and South arous’d—sea-board and inland—Texas to Maine—the Prairie States—Vermont, Virginia, California,
The final ballot-shower from East to West—the paradox and conflict,
The countless snow-flakes falling—(a swordless conflict,
Yet more than all Rome’s wars of old, or modern Napoleon’s) the peaceful choice of all,
Or good or ill humanity—welcoming the darker odds, the dross:
—Foams and ferments the wine? it serves to purify—while the heart pants, life glows:
These stormy gusts and winds waft precious ships,
Swell’d Washington’s, Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s sails.

 

A small footnote: 1884 is the year that Coney Island started building its roller coasters, a perhaps-too-perfect political symbol. 

Bill Jones to Jeffrey Krusinki: What were you thinking (with)?

Bill Jones Life Too Short Groping

As has widely been reported, less than two weeks ago Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program, was arrested and charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in a suburban parking lot in Virginia.

The fictional Bill Jones was the voice of career advice in the 1920s and 30s posters put out by a British printing company. Though the advice here was meant in another context, it’s not hard to imagine what Bill Jones would have thought about sexual assault or harassment, or derailing one’s career in this way.

Getting Your Message Across?

sayitwithsnapIT’S A 140 CHARACTER WORLD NOW, and what used to be called a magazine article is now “long-form journalism.” But this Mather poster advocates not only brevity but “snap.” Brooklyn Artisan long ago offered thoughts on quotability, but here snap means directness, too.

Some examples of this are in the Brooklyn Artisan photo pool. A favorite:ChalkWoodlandURhungry

Staying Motivated in a “401 k World”

v26-1FIRST IT WAS TOM FRIEDMAN writing in the New York Times two days ago about  the 401 k world where pension responsibility is thrust back on the individual worker, instead of custodial employers, unions, the Social Security Administration. Next came the Matthew Yglesias piece in Slate yesterday, “It’s a 401 k World and It Sucks.”

It’s hard for the small-business owner and artisanal producer – who’s very often the supply-buyer, the marketer, the Flea Market hawker, the copywriter and the chalkboard artist , and sometimes also holding down a day job too– to stay motivated in a such a low-payoff world. Too often there’s no über-corporation to put matching funds into one’s artisanal retirement account. But wait!

Let Bill Jones keep you pumped! Out of the pages of history comes a bunch of illustrated sayings of this fictional Brit, in inspirational posters put out by a printing company called Parker-Holladay. We’ve pulled some together from various archives, and mixed in others from sources like the Chicago-based Mather Company and the WPA, and will be posting them from time to time to fuel your creativity – and/or your staff.we-can-do-it

Because of the eras in which they were created, most are addressed to men, but it’s out of this tradition that WWII’s Rosie the Riveter came to celebrate and motivate the women who were serving the country. For the collector, poster historian and art director Steven Heller looks to the Reinhard Brown Gallery. (And just in case the artisanal chili-pepper face cream business never takes off, you might want to take out the thumbtacks and stash your dad’s Milton Glaser poster of Dylan with the psychedelic hair (1966) and even your Shepard Fairey Obama “Hope” poster into sturdy archival tubes.) Bill Jones Size of the Fight in the Dog

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for February 15, 16, 17

Just call it fun and make something! Like Lego Gadgets. At the Makery Pop Up, students explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competencies using traditional design tools in addition to advanced digital fabrication tools. See Saturday for details.

Just call it fun and make something—like these Lego Gadgets!
At the Makery Pop Up (see Saturday, below), all ages have a chance to make cool things using
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competencies that make use of
traditional design tools and advanced digital fabrication methods.

On this Maritime Sunday, witness the struggles of the Thomas D. Witte tug as it manages a barge into place on the lamentable Newtown Creek. That’s the City’s “Newtown Creek Dock”, tenanted by the mill of the titanic SimsMetal operation.http://newtownpentacle.com/

Could this be the most polluted body of water in the United States?

About that border between Brooklyn and Queens…

Friday Obscura Society: “Up the Creek” a talk with historian Mitch Waxman. Is Newtown Creek, running along the border between Brooklyn and Queens, the most polluted body of water in the United States? Mitch Waxman will lead you through an evening of discussion featuring his research and photographs of this 3.8 mile-long waterway that was named to the Superfund list by the Federal EPA. The NYTimes recently named Mitch as “Your Guide to a Tour of Decay” in part for his passion of documenting the obscure and forgotten area that was once one of the nation’s great manufacturing centers. Part of the Atlas Obscura Speakers series at Observatory, Gowanus. 7pm-9pm.

The Makery's instructors are part of HTINK.*

The Makery’s instructors are part of HTINK.*

Great parent/child activity

Saturday The Makery Pop Up on Bergen Street. Call it a portable digital playground, a 21st century shop class, or Dad’s garage workshop (if dad was an MIT grad). The Makery aims to be a venue where all ages can become Makers using cool, new technologies. Today’s event will have Makers building a Drawing Robot using simple circuits, soldering, 3D design and printing. Through April 30 this pop up space will have weekend and some weeknight sessions offering topics such as DIY Cell Phone Projector and Intro to Soldering, all led by instructors with engineering backgrounds. *Instructors and The Makery team are part of HTINK (pronouced tink) an educational services cooperative focused on spreading technical learning and creative problem solving skills to as many people as possible. BOCOCA.

tedXStream this entire event live

Saturday TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat.” This year’s conference has a theme that rings loud and clear to us: to explore and bolster sustainable ways of eating and producing food. An interesting mix of speakers include Gary Hirshberg, chairman, Stonyfield Farm, Anna Lappé, founding principal, Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, Bill Yosses, Executive Pastry Chef, The White House, along with film clips and music performances. The disappointing news is that tickets sold out awhile ago, but the entire event is available for livestreaming from 10:30am-6:00pm.

Base Design’s branding for NYCxDesign.

Base Design’s branding for NYCxDesign.

Citywide design event just announced
40,000

NYCxDESIGN, a 12-day citywide event to showcase and promote design of all disciplines, chaired by City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We have more designers in New York City than any other U.S. city, but we do a terrible job promoting them in their totality,” she told the NYTimes. The idea behind NYCxDESIGN, planned by Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis, is to make design visible to people who don’t normally think about it. Many types of programs are planned, including exhibitions, installations, trade shows, talks, launches and open studios. All will be culled from design disciplines of graphic, product, architecture, fashion, digital, urban, furniture, plus design thinkers and educators. The BKLYN Designs 2013 exhibition of contemporary furnishings and home accessories at St. Ann’s Warehouse, DUMBO will be an official event of NYCxDESIGN. Check the website to see how you can participate as well as attend events. May 10 thorough May 21.

Portlandia is just Brooklyn spelled differently.

They like their artisanal stuff as much as we do.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

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