“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.” - Dorothy Day
The purpose of these Friday Five posts (all two of them) is, in part, to force myself to stay out of the rabbit hole of internet research and share just a small snippet of information on things I am interested in. But I am superfluous. And detailed. And hungry for all the information. About everything. All the time. Well, let's just say I'm curious (sounds better). So I did my best this week to keep things short and sweet and may have failed just a bit. But I hope you enjoy the journey either way through these five unrelated (and sort of strange) things I'm extra interested in this week:
The "Wild Effect"
Last Friday - instead of writing one of these posts - I watched the entirety of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix. If you haven't watched and plan on it be aware there are spoilers ahead!
In the Fall episode, Lorelei "does Wild" - she plans to hike the Pacific Coast Trail (a 2,650 mile trail through the Pacific States) a la Cheryl Strayed in her memoir Wild. The sequence was fun and made me think more deeply about the implications of the book. I read Wild for the first time a few years ago (it was published in 2012, was a #1 NYT best seller, adapted for film etc etc) and have come back to it many times since then for inspiration. And, not surprisingly, Lorelei and I are not alone in this.
The "Wild Effect" is something that has been written about a lot since the publishing of the book (and again after the film release). In 2012, the PCT reported double the number of thru hike attempts from the year before (over 2,000 in 2014). In fact, there is a whole section of the Pacific Coast Trail Associations website dedicated to Wild and "Wild Stories".
Books, of course, are meant to be inspiring/life changing and even specific to long distance hiking this effect isn't new. The Appalachian Trail also experienced a 50% increase in thru hike attempts within two years of the publishing of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods - another book I recommend - and again after the film version was released in 2015.
This past Tuesday marked the anniversary of Dorothy Day's death. Day has been an inspiration to me for more than ten years since I first read her autobiography The Long Loneliness. She was a journalist, social activist, and the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement - a nonviolent direct action social justice movement.
Day is fascinating for many reasons, but what inspires me most is the steadfast commitment she had to her ideals. Her life was spent actively rejecting war and intentionally working for the rights of the poor. She was imprisoned 4 times for civil disobedience (the last time at age 75!) due to her pacifist positions - once spending 10 days on a hunger strike before being released. She was a supporter of "distributism" and she helped start hospitality houses all over the country - many that still exist today - to serve the homeless and poor.
Although she is not an official saint in the Catholic Church, last year Pope Francis named her one of four "Great Americans" along with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Merton.
Some of my favorite Dorothy Day quotes:
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
“We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”
“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”
"Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily."
"I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions."
Tuesday also marked a recently made up holiday (the kind I like most) - Giving Tuesday! (ahem, #givingtuesday) I've read a lot about how the social media appeal (hashtags woo) has succeeded in getting millennials to give more than ever - and based on my own anecdotal evidence (um, facebook) - I would say that seems to be true.
Giving Tuesday raised 168 million dollars this year - 44 million more than last year! Whoa.
While that's all awesome - I think it's important to remember that these organizations need support year round!
If you don't have anything to give - give your time! I volunteer weekly as a tutor at the local Rescue Mission and it brings me so much joy. But if you'd like to give more of your money and need new ideas here are a few organizations I give to monthly:
World Vision - I sponsor a couple of girls who live in Africa through World Vision (both who share my birthday!). I've done it for years and it's so awesome. You send letters, pictures, and gifts back and forth all while supporting their education and other needs through a fairly small monthly donation.
A few years ago I was teaching a class of all girls in Louisiana and we decided to sponsor a girl together. Everyone brought in a dollar each month because they wanted to help her get an education. It was so powerful to see my students - who were themselves disadvantaged by American standards - feel so much empathy.
World Vision also has a Christmas catalog where you can help those in need (in America and around the world) through things like buying animals for a family, paying for healthcare, sponsoring the building of a well (or just a portion), or funding a child's education for the year.
88 Bikes - This is an organization started by a friend of mine that "endows bicycles to girls throughout the world, especially the heroic survivors of human trafficking." The bikes are only $88 to sponsor as a one time donation. You can send a picture of yourself to give to the recipient of the bike and then you get a photo back of them with their new bike! So cool.
I endowed a bike a couple of years ago on Giving Tuesday and have now set up a recurring monthly donation to help with other projects that are really awesome. Check it out.
Donors Choose - I've been lucky to work at schools and in districts that have generally supported my classrooms with basic supplies - but that is definitely not the norm. Even in my position I buy things for my classroom out of my own pocket weekly and it definitely adds up. Donors Choose lets you help fund a classroom project with a small donation and every bit helps!
The Death Penalty
One of the books I read this month was Dead Man Walking. If you've read it or seen the movie you know that it is a nonfiction book written by Sister Helen Prejean centered around the death penalty in Louisiana and her work advocating for death row inmates.
It's an older book (1993) but the subject is still at the forefront of debate. Three states just voted on measures that actually strengthen the death penalty in those states (CA, NE, OK) despite only 49% of Americans polled saying they favored it - the lowest in 20 years.
This is a subject I am very passionate about so instead of pontificating I will just recommend the book, the movie, and some articles about the current situation if you haven't been following. It's so important to understand what the new laws mean for the death penalty moving forward. It's fascinating and contradictory and maddening to say the least. But important.
I have been listening to Murder by Death nonstop this week. They've been a favorite of mine for over ten years and I always find myself coming back to them.
I have a tendency to assume that everyone listens to/reads/watches all the same things as I do, but on the off-chance you're not a big fan of this particular alt country/folk/cello/Gothic band (and there's a good chance you're not as they have less than 50,000 listeners per month on spotify - 0.05% of active users if you're into stats) I made a playlist of my current favs.
Don't be put off by the kinda morbid and emo band name - give it a shot - and let me know what you think!
and Happy Friday :)