September 5, 2015

Book report from more than an organizer

Guys, it’s like when I had to say aloud: I am more than an English teacher.

Now: I am more than an organizer.

I read and think and don’t just send reminder emails about upcoming events.

Finally today I'm carving out the time to share passages from recent books read. Admittedly, are somewhat topical in terms of environmental campaigning, burnout, politicians, and elections.

My Year Without Matches
An Australian forest campaigner, burnt-out from the work, lives in the bush for a year seeking connection and inner stability.
Everything changed once I was on the payroll. Gone were the spirited bush missions, the tribe, the magic. This was city campaigning by computer, sensible and sedate. The goals grew hairier as the ground crew grew thinner. Until it was just me. I tried to bring the magic back, upping the pace, working longer hours, telling myself what a privilege it was to have this job. I owed it to the members paying my meagre wage. I owed it to my parents, to the forests, to Daniel. To myself. 
But the truth was I didn’t feel passionate anymore. I just felt employed.
I’m not that bad (yet)! And it sounds like Claire Dunn, the author, hadn’t had enough grounding training in organizing to remember the importance of relationships. But, still… a touch hauntingly recognizable.

Gnarr! How I became the mayor of a large city in Iceland and changed the world
Jón Gnarr reflects on his punk past, the joke campaign, and how his life changed when he actually won.

When Gnarr has to negotiate a coalition with a leftist party to form government:
“Sjón and Óttarr had a conversation wth Dagur earlier today,” Heida announced. 
“Has he seen The Wire?” I asked. 
“We did briefly mention it,” Óttarr said. “No, he’s never seen it. And he wanted to know if we would make that a precondition for cooperation.” 
“He must watch The Wire,” I insisted. “What am I supposed to talk to him about otherwise–socialism?”
Gnarr is the first politician to make me want to go into politics. At the same time, the psychic resilience he must practice (using training from Judo) and the deep tiredness that he endures do make one think twice.

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
Zadie Smith applies her mega-intellect to books, family, politics, race, and the whole bit.

I re-read the essay “Speaking in Tongues” in which she points out that Obama is the first multidialectal American president. This time I noticed her praise for other politicians with far-ranging minds and linguistic capacity, in particular to a man named Halifax, who mediated between Parliament and the Crown in London.
His intellect was fertile, subtle, and capacious.
Don’t you wish we talked about current political candidates that way? 

The Tutor of History
An election in Nepal affects almost everyone in the village of Khaireni Tar.
And off the workers would go to spread word of the People’s Party in a haphazard way. 
It worried Om. True, the nature of electioneering work was like this: constant, strenuous and completely disorganized.

Unrelated, but a great passage:
How surprising to be cut free. Rishi felt a peculiar strength amassing inside him. He felt capable of moving in any direction and doing anything. He felt light. Things that hurt him earlier now slid past him with hardly any impact… And there were options he saw.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Mary! I see politics in your future. Maybe I should get out the Tarot cards~~Andy and I are listening to a book on tape while we drive and Tarot cards get used in time of 2nd WW.


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