Monday, June 25, 2018

books have the power

I am reading a great new book - Sparks in the Dark: Lessons, Ideas, and Strategies to Illuminate the Reading and Writing Lives in All of Us by Travis Crowder and Todd Nesloney.

From the back cover:
Books have the power to shape the way we think. Stories--reading them, writing them, and sharing them--give us new lenses through which to view the world and the people we encounter. In short, words matter. 

Some of my favorite quotes:

"We believe this book matters because reading and writing are the foundation of all we do. When you teach someone how to read or how to express themselves using the written word, you change a life."

"When teachers allow students to choose their own books, assignments, and the ways they will demonstrate mastery, it sends a clear message to students that we value their voices." 

"There is an exquisite joy when a self-proclaimed nonreader falls in love with a book."

I love the Chapter 7 on Critical Conversations. "Talk is a powerful tool. It is during dialogue that we argue ideas, build new ones, extend our thinking, and grapple with the words and phrases that will enhance an argument."

And Chapter 11, The Noble Heart of a Teacher, is worth reading twice.

Finally, Chapter 13 gives amazing lists of books and resources to inspire your reading and writing life.

I found the Things To Think About and Tweet at the end of each chapter very enlightening.  Check out other readers' thoughts at #SparksInTheDark

Also, Todd and Travis have a Sparks in the Dark Podcast.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Keep Families Together

The cruel separation of immigrant families must stop. I urge you to call your representatives and demand that they take action.

Dial 202-224-3121 to call the United States Capitol. 
Press or say 1 to be connected with a senator.
Enter or say your zip code to be connected to your senator.

In Idaho, Senator Crapo's phone lines go directly to voice mail due to the high volume of calls. I left a message saying that I hoped he would vote to pass senate bill 3036, the Keep Families Together Act. Then I left my name and address as I wanted to hear back from him.

You can also sign the petition to pass the Keep Families Together Act.

Sign the petition to the Secretary of Homeland Security: Stop Separating Children From Their Parents.

You can take action with Amnesty International and send a note to congress.

Find out...  How You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border from  and  How You Can Help Families At The Border from WUSA9

Read @TiffanyBond 's twitter feed where she annotates SB3036 so you can fully understand what's in it.

Take a look at this list of companies that are profiting from the child detention centers. You can contact them.

If you can only read one post, read this:  On Stopping Family Separation from Cup Of Joe

Also READ:

From the Chicago Tribune: A World Without Grace? Stepping Into The Shoes Of Separated Immigrant Families

From the Washington Post:  What Separation From Parents Does To Children: 'The Effect Is Catastrophic'

From,  George Takei: 'At Least During The Internment...'

From the Washington Post: The Bible In The Hands Of A Bigot

From BuzzFeed News: The U.S. Isn't Just Separating Children From Their Parents. It Also Has No Plan To Reunite Them


Go To: and join an event near you on June 30th.

Thank You!

Friday, June 8, 2018

I call it education

Last month the City Club of Boise held its inaugural Marilyn Shuler Forum on Human Rights. The speaker for the event was Dr. Les Purce.  Dr. Purce is a third generation Idahoan. His family arrived in Idaho in the early 1900s and he was the first black public official elected in Idaho, serving as a Pocatello city council member and then mayor of Pocatello. In 1989 Dr. Purce became the vice-president at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. By 2000, Dr. Purce was the president at Evergreen, a position he held for the next 15 years. Under his governance, Evergreen State College continued its innovative approaches to interdisciplinary study in the arts and sciences, as well as its commitment to equity, inclusiveness, and social justice.

At the end of the Q and A session of the program, one of the audience members asked Dr. Purce what books we should read to 'help bend the arch of freedom toward justice'. The three books he listed were: Political Tribes by Amy Chua, Grant by Ron Chernow, and Educated by Tara Westover.

I texted my friend, Allison, the book list. She had gone to Evergreen while Dr. Purce was president. She texted back that she had just read Educated and thought it was so wonderful that she picked up a copy for me ("My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read." - Abraham Lincoln)!

Listen to the City Club event HERE

I loved Educated by Tara Westover. I have heard this book called an unforgettable memoir - that is difficult to read, but impossible to put down. I agree completely.

From a Powell's bookstore interview:
Describe your latest book. 
I was raised in the mountains of Idaho by a father who opposed many of the institutions that most people take for granted — public education, doctors and hospitals, the government. As a result I was never put in school, never visited a doctor or nurse, and was not given a birth certificate until age nine. I was 17 the first time I set foot in a classroom, but 10 years later I would graduate from Cambridge with a PhD. Educated is the story of how I came by my education. It is also the story of how I lost my family. 

My favorite quotes from the book:
On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don't go to school. Dad worries that the government will force us to go, but it can't because it doesn't know about us. Four of my parents' seven children don't have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we've never set foot in a classroom.

My life was narrated for me by others. Their voices were forceful, emphatic, absolute. It had never occurred to me that my voice might be as strong as theirs. 

Everything I had worked for, all my years of study, had been to purchase for myself this one privilege: to see and experience more truths than those given to me by my father, and to use those truths to construct my own mind. I had come to believe that the ability to evaluate many ideas, many histories, many points of view, was at the heart of what it means to self-create. If I yielded now, I would lose more than an argument. I would lose custody of my own mind. This was the price I was being asked to pay, I understood that now. What my father wanted to cast from me wasn’t a demon: it was me. 

It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you, I had written in my journal. But Shawn had more power over me than I could possibly have imagined. He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.

There was a date beneath the image: 1955. I realized that Mother had been four years old in 1955, and with that realization, the distance between me and Emmett Till collapsed. My proximity to this murdered boy could be measured in the lives of people I knew. The calculation was not made with reference to vast historical or geological shifts—the fall of civilizations, the erosion of mountains. It was measured in the wrinkling of human flesh. In the lines on my mother's face.

I began to read—Hume, Rousseau, Smith, Godwin, Wollstonecraft and Mill. I lost myself in the world they had lived in, the problems they had tried to solve. I became obsessed with their ideas about the family—with how a person ought to weigh their special obligations to kin against their obligations to society as a whole

And, from the final page of the book:
You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal.  
I call it education.

I loved so much about this book and the author.
If you are left wanting more once you finish reading Educated, check out the following:

C-SPAN interview, Tara Westover tells about her life growing up with survivalist parents in Idaho. 
CBS This Morning interview with Tara Westover.
NPR Fresh Air with Dave Davies filling in for Terry Gross.

And here's a quote from The Guardian interview that I didn't want to forget:

You write with the flair of a novelist. How did you learn that?
Everything I wrote at the beginning was awful. Then I became obsessed with the New Yorker fiction podcast.You can hear these wonderful things like Margaret Atwood reading a Mavis Gallant story and then she and Deborah Treisman, the New Yorker fiction editor, will discuss why it works. They’ll bring up all these weird little things that writers do that make it much easier to say – “Yeah, I can do that too”.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

know your rights

Know your rights.

If you're planning to be part of the coordinated student walkouts March 14th and April 20th, know your rights.

If you are a student, a parent, a teacher, school staff, or an ally it's important that everyone learn about their rights.
This Thursday, March 1st at 8pm ET, the ACLU will host a Know Your Rights Training call. Because of the disciplinary threats from certain schools and districts, everyone should learn about students' rights.

Download your own Know Your Rights card.

In addition, know your history: the history of teens organizing for justice.

Here is what I have so far from Larry Ferlazzo:
The Other Student Activists is by Melinda Anderson.

Finally, know what 18 years of gun violence in U.S. schools looks like (from the Washington Post).

Called "Generation Columbine", students currently in high school have never known the U.S. to be a place free from school shootings. The 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, took place before today's high school students were born. Today's students have grown up with active shooter drills, locker searches, locked school doors and gates, bulletproof backpacks, and armed officers in their schools. 

It's no wonder students are organizing for change.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

we call BS

As you know, on February 14th, Valentine's Day, another school shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and fifteen more were taken to area hospitals.

I haven't been able to wrap my head around yet another mass shooting, another school shooting, another weapon of war purchased legally... it's a circle of despair, horror, and anger. But this time there seems to be a spark, the call to action by America's youth, to finally change our collective reality around guns, gun violence, and our assumed right to weapons of war. 

I am not sure what I will do to fan this spark. But I know I can vote; I can march; I can support the young people who are pushing back on NRA funded politicians; I can do so much more than send thoughts and prayers.

We have to elect candidates that are not funded by the NRA this November and beyond. You can register to vote now, as long as you will be 18 by November 6th. Check out to find out about voting in your state.

We can support Everytown for Gun Safety, a movement to end gun violence and build safer communities, at

We can read Brene Brown's book, Braving The Wilderness, especially chapter four "People Are Hard To Hate Up Close" and "Speak Truth to Bullshit".

We can watch Emma Gonzalez's speech and be inspired:

Monday, February 12, 2018

These will redefine what official portraiture will look like.

This morning, Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery unveiled the official, highly anticipated portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama, painted, respectively, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald. 

The portraits, beyond capturing the first black President and First Lady, represent the first-ever official presidential portraits executed by black painters.

The two portraits will be on view at the National Portrait Gallery beginning tomorrow, Tuesday February 13th. While Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of President Obama will join the institution’s permanent exhibition of presidential portraits, Amy Sherald’s portrait of Michelle Obama will hang in its corridor of recent acquisitions through November 2018. 

Check out this wonderful video of Kehinde Wiley and his art. It contextualizes some of the elements of his portrait of the president.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Idaho Women's March 2018

The Idaho Women's March was today -  a day after many of the national marches for 2018, but the momentum to send the same message came out in full force: Women are not backing down and we will not stop our march toward equality, equity, and intersectionality.

 I made a few signs...

And was inspired by Boise's rally signs...

There are a lot of ways to get involved and stay involved. Check out #powertothepolls,  #MeToo,   #TimesUp,,  @peopleforunityBoise,,,,,  InternationalRescueCommittee

Monday, November 27, 2017

Moxie Girls Fight Back

Have you read the book Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu?
It's an awesome young adult novel about the power of voice, the importance of feminism, and the empowerment of having guts, gumption, and grit.

Today I left a few copies of Moxie in women's restrooms with the following note:

Moxie is the perfect book to get for every girl you know this holiday season.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Be Kind To Elephants

On Wednesday, the Trump administration lifted the ban on importing elephant trophies into the United States from elephant hunts in two African nations.

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

In a passionate speech, Ellen Degeneres promised to make a donation to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for every share her #bekindtoelephants campaign received. Saying, "I love elephants and if you take the time to learn about elephants you would love them too. Elephants show compassion, sympathy, social intelligence, self-awareness … all the things I have yet to see in this president."

Use the hashtag #bekindtoelephants; retweet and share @TheEllenShow's post on twitter, Facebook, and instagram; educate yourself on the magnificence of African elephants.