Saturday, January 1, 2022

Borahae 2022

Every year I create a new Twitter bio to reflect my life focus for the upcoming 12 months. It’s time once again and I just read through my 2020 to 2021 thoughts.


Wow.

Here’s my 2021 Twitter bio:







So...how’d I do on what I wanted to accomplish in 2021?


ONE BOAT: Nationally, we need massive efforts on multiple fronts: public health, social justice, green economy, education, infrastructure, and health care. Covid is top, but the others are vitally connected. By the end of 2021, I just want to see some progress on all these. We didn’t get here overnight. We won’t get out of it overnight, either. Dr. Richardson was a reminder to me of that truth and I hope to read one of her books this year to further my understanding.”


I didn’t read any of HCR’s books but I do see some progress in public health, social justice, green economy, and infrastructure. George Floyd’s murderer was found guilty. We have vaccines in about half our population. Infrastructure got some money. But we don’t have BBB and our voting rights are under attack.


REAL PEOPLE AND THE PLANET: We need to show we care about both. That we need to care for both. It's not about years old customs and stock prices.”

This one…is still a dream. Build Back Better and other work need to be put into place to walk us toward what we say are our ideals- that this is the land of opportunity for all. We (all humans and species) ALL deserve healthy food, water, shelter, and space to the best of our communal abilities.


STAY ENGAGED: To that end, I want to see an expanding political/societal participation by all the people at all levels- especially state and local. Volunteering somewhere. Supporting candidates. Talking with family and friends. Attending meetings as a citizenry. It’s important. Unfortunately, our problems are so big,many can’t do much more than try to survive. Those who can, should.”


My 2021 Verbostratis is filled with copies of letters to school boards and political leaders. I’ve joined meetings and a great book club. I’ve talked and I’ve written. I’m proud of not backing down and feel compelled to forge on in 2022.


“Personally, I just want us all to feel a little safer- to not feel like everything's hanging by a thread. That's #1. Then, I’d love to work with others and earn some sort of reward in return- money, food, other? Keeping busy would also help me shed some of those pandemic pounds. I’d love my kids to get back into society and the oldest to get a job and his driver’s license. A nature-based retreat sounds delightful: I want stars, water, and living stuff. And a bustling gathering of friends with great food, music, and drinks would be a dream come true. That's it. Well, that and finally see BTS again live.”


Except for the first line, I have achieved this entire paragraph. I feel less safe today than January 2021 and it’s not because of the current administration. I have found a new way to work with others, my children have rejoined the world, and our oldest has gotten a job and his driver’s licence. And though it did take until December, I was gloriously and joyfully able to see BTS again live. This time with a friend in a new environment I never dreamed I’d be a part of.





What about 2022?








KEEP EXPANDING MY AWARENESS OF THIS WORLDWIDE WEB OF LIFE


It’s a never-ending journey of discoveries and realizations: this person and I share X, that organism gives me Y, this element connects me with that, this country reminds me of that country but that other country has a really cool and different way of doing this.


KEEP STRETCHING MY HEART AND POSITIVE ACTIONS


Connected to the first goal, not only do I have to see connections, I have to process/internalize them and answer the question, “So, what am I going to do to participate in this?” As an example. in 2021, I began exploring a better understanding of Indigenous peoples of Wisconsin past, present, and future. In answer to that question I’m posing- “So, what am I going to do to participate in this?”, I gladly accepted and began practicing Land Acknowledgements when I am out in our natural world. I remember wherever I step, there are peoples who were stewards of this land long before me.



JUST KEEP GOING


Chunks of me are exhausted- at some levels it’ll be good enough to me to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s a common problem today and by saying it out loud, I weaken the power of the lure to give up.



I PURPLE YOU/BORAHAE/보라해


According to Urban Dictionary, “Kim Taehyung a.k.a. V of BTS gave a new meaning to the word purple. Purple means love, trust and loyalty. So technically if someone tells you "I purple you", that someone is saying "I'll trust you, love you, support you, and be loyal to you until my last breath".”


Using a purple heart tells the reader you trust, love, and support both yourself and them. I can’t think of anything better in life, whether applied to people or anything else on this planet.


Here’s to 2022.




보라해.




Sunday, October 3, 2021

Yes, Virginia. Racism and Sexism Do Still Exist

I wrote the following letter today because someone on my Assembly rep's page (Scott E. Allen) said no one reads these bills. And they were sort of right. So I challenged myself to print them off and REALLY read them.

Rep Allen stands by the wording of the bills as passed by the Assembly. He had an interesting response in a WISN UPFRONT piece last week that he shared in his weekly newsletter this weekend. I agreed with some of the counterpoints Rep. LaKeshia Myers made.



Senator Chris Kapenga

15 South

State Capitol

P.O. Box 7882

Madison, WI 53707-7882


RE: Please vote against SB 468, 410, and 411


Senator Kapenga,


I am writing as one of your constituents to voice my opposition to these faulty bills. I have read all three and have a number of concerns.


  • SB 463 places an extremely heavy financial and resource burden of documentation on already stretched IT capabilities in districts. There already are rules about transparency in curricula that should suffice. How are these extra costs and infrastructure needs to be covered?

  • SB 463 creates additional rules for assemblies, guest speakers, and other events that enrich the education of students. Will those experiences be denied students because of fears that something will be said by a speaker that goes against rules such as those being proposed in SB 411? I recall being moved as a child when a Holocaust survivor spoke at my school. That sort of thing may become a relic of the past with the passage of these new bills.

  • Why are these bills being proposed? I heard Rep Allen’s call that AB 411 is simply a means to establish what should not be taught in the classrooms. Has any school, district, or teacher been convicted of doing any of the things described in AB/SB 411?

  • SB 411 turns the very definition and understanding of “anti-racism” and “anti-sexism” on their heads. It reads as a call for people who have been in power to not be blamed for anything past, present, or future. 

  • I would ask all Senators to run the teaching of 1845’s Manifest Destiny, the ADA, or Title IX through SB 411. How could a teacher teach these history lessons without teaching about racism and sexism? Were there women and Black people in the federal government in 1845? What led to needing the ADA and Title IX?

  • I agree 100% that teachers should not ADVOCATE racism or sexism of any kind. But they have to TEACH it. SB 411 does not clearly state that and leaves the door open to being able to discuss, examine, and make decisions about our modern and historical issues of race, sex, rape, objectification, civil rights, reparations, and bias. 

  • In SB 411, I would ask that if modern students should not feel bad about people in their past, should we also teach them they can’t be proud of people in their past, either? True equity would mean embracing the goodness of all people through time and acknowledging the bad choices as warnings so we can move forward together.

  • My issues with SB 410 run along the same lines as SB 411. It reads like a cut/paste with edits to reflect the same ideas applied to all city, county, and state employees. It appears to be an attempt for those who have been in charge to avoid any sense of responsibility for what we exist in today instead of embracing an honest review and working with all of our citizens to build a better tomorrow. 


Wisconsin has rebuilt before- we were at the forefront of the mid 20th-century environmental movement. We have great thinkers and doers today in every corner of the state and from all walks of life. Our laws can and should reflect supporting them all as they work to bring us all forward into the future. 


Sincerely,


Susan Baumgartner


Monday, September 20, 2021

We're a Friendly and Adaptable Species



I sent this message today. BTS and South Korea's President Moon spoke at the UN Sustainable Development Goals Moment 2021 this morning about how global crises connect us all and the solutions and improvements to avoid further crises need to come from us all working creatively and flexibly...together. 

I think it fits what I tried to convey in my letter.

The title I gave to this blog post relates to an interesting video from 2020 that I saw on the BBC this morning. Why Our Understanding of "Survival of the Fittest" is Wrong.




To the WSD Board and Superintendent,


Your job is harder than it has ever been.

Your job is more important than it has ever been.


I continue to hope you are able to close your eyes and take a long, deep, full breath in, hold it for a moment, and then let it out slowly and exhale fully. Paying attention to that rise and fall can be a reminder of how nothing stays the same forever.


From the outside, it appears this county and district are attempting an experiment to see how loose we can be with pandemic protocols. No mask mandates nor mandatory quarantining of close contacts seems to be on the outer edges of practices nationwide and beyond.


I'm not one to just "do what everyone else is doing". But in certain cases, group thought is extremely powerful. Watching the United Nations assembly speeches in NYC today reminded me of the benefits of us all working together as a worldwide species. Of the necessity, as well.


I'd like to ask that testing in schools be reconsidered, especially if masks are going to continue to be optional, which I would also ask you to reconsider. There has to be money for testing and even offering masks. Let's help understand this pandemic and help our kids safely stay in school or get them safely learning off-campus if they are positive and until they are not positive.


My 15 year old has been notified 4 times at South of close contact. We tested him on Friday because he had symptoms but because it came back negative, we sent him back today. I have no idea if he had it and we just didn't find it. If he could get tested 4 times at school, I'd be much more confident. You could be more confident, too.


This past week saw the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, but it also saw the anniversary of the battle of Antietam, which occurred in the Civil War fight over "states' rights". We need to encourage the full understanding of our past and present- both the golden and the tainted bits. The speeches by students and the Sept board meeting said a lot. I ask you to emphasize and encourage the ideals of inclusion and acceptance of all within the district. All people who act in ways that help the overall whole should *all* be valued members of the community with the same rights and opportunities.


It's a huge job.


Your job is harder than it has ever been.

Your job is more important than it has ever been.


Thank you.


Friday, August 27, 2021

Dear School Board


I emailed my local school board and superintendent the following message yesterday. My last two posts in Verbostratis were letters to leaders and followed a similar thread of thought, but this one is a bit simpler. I welcome constructive and supportive discussion of any of them. 


For background information regarding the topics: 

Waukesha Is Only Wisconsin School District To Opt Out Of Federal Free Meals Program 

Waukesha School District informs staff to remove controversial signage

Masks Optional For 2021-'22 School Year In Waukesha: The board of education removed most of its COVID-19 mitigation measures





RE: Requests to revisit masks, universal food service, anti-racism, and equity



To the WSD Board and Superintendent,


I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and take a long, deep breath in, hold it for a moment, and then let it slowly out in a long exhale before slowly opening your eyes once more.


Breath. We all do it. We all inhale, stop, and exhale over and over all day and all night long. Deep breaths feel good. Whatever we look like. Whatever our bank account says. Whatever language pours from our mouths. We all breathe.


That breath. We are all connected by that one need and many others. Whether we like it or not. Whether we believe it or not.



When you picture our students, I hope your vision includes ALL of them and ALL their realities. Do you see all the colors, all the genders, all the religions, all the ethnicities, all the classes and castes?


I hope. They all breathe. Just like you and me.


Angry parents, demanding citizenry, fuming pundits. How is their vision? How is their breath? It’s all shallow and constricted.



It’s a duty of the board and administration of a school system to help expand vision and breath- to cultivate that broad vision of ALL, despite the broken bits that some have. Will it upset some? No doubt. But we must remember, the goal is to help ALL the students breathe a bit better over time.


Because if all the students breathe well, they can create an amazing future for themselves- ALL of themselves- and their eventual children. It gives them the space to try and to fly. That’s what education is all about, in my opinion.


There’s a lot going on, but if I just focus on this idea of giving breath to all our students, I see these three things as vital. I hope you consider them:



  • Please work that universal food service back in for all our students. Shared meals are a time to be together as a community and being full makes one breathe easier. If there’s extra food, I am sure older students would gladly organize sharing with others in need. Extra waste? Get the students to build a district-wide composting program.
  • Please implement a mask mandate. We want our kids in school and that face-covering helps. Districts already in session across the country are seeing absences skyrocket.
  • Please get back to equity and anti-racism. It’s not political- it’s moral. Our history, civics, and literature cannot be taught without facing our full truths. If we face it, we can breathe.


I really hope the teachers have been provided with a strong support system for this 3rd school year of Covid. I really hope a detailed system is in place for parents/guardians for what the district will do when kids/teachers become ill and what the district needs them to do.


I hope we all work together so we can all breathe slowly in, pause, and slowly out...together.


Friday, July 16, 2021

The Future




It's been a long time since I wrote here. Not that I haven't written- it's been mostly to friends and politicians. Today, I decided to take my state rep up on his offer to allow emailed comments for a listening session he will be holding next week. Rep Kapenga will be at the Sussex Library on July 20 as described in the attached photo.


Here's a copy of what I sent him. I included the request to keep my address hidden as many folks on social media are being attacked for voicing their opinions to politicians. It's a rough world out there. 


I am sorry I won't be able to attend this listening session. It would be my first and I would love to, but I have a prior book club engagement. Thank you for allowing written comments of your constituents.


You ask what is most on our minds concerning the state of Wisconsin.


For me, it boils down to this: who is on our team?


If it includes kids, we should ensure all kids have bountiful supplies, healthy schools, plenty of quality teachers, and job opportunities after they graduate.


If it includes Black and Brown people, we should make sure our criminal justice system doesn't single them out for judgment. If a young white woman gets arrested for drug dealing and having a weapon, she should get the same court care and sentencing as a young Black person.


If it includes rich and poor, both should contribute what they can to our overall society. For the very poor, it's really not worth the cost of collecting. Wealthy folks should pay into the system in such fashions that follow the old adage: for those with more means, more is expected. We have spent 40 years trying out trickle-down. It hasn't worked. We need to change our ways.


If it includes folks with medical and/or mental conditions, they shouldn't be expected to go broke or work tirelessly just to pay for their medical needs. If human life is truly sacred, we should support ALL of it with universal physical health and mental health care.


If it includes the elderly*, we should create incentives to support them. Middle-aged folks are left trying to support their parents and raise kids at the same time. If they are unable, the elderly suffer. Again, if human life is sacred, we should create systems that support that. Youth/elderly campuses are just one idea. *And that idea of "elderly" must include *all* elderly.


If it includes our land, air, and water and all the species that reside therein, we should establish and administer laws to protect them. PFAs are an abomination we know must be stopped. All people should have clean food, water, and air. Our biodiversity relies on those things as well.


If it includes everyone, we should all have easy access to voting rights- rights that are fundamental to our representative democracy. My choices should have as much of a chance of being picked as yours. The game cannot be rigged through restrictive voting rules and/or gerrymandering.


Thank you again for allowing this sharing. As a constituent, I am grateful. I trust my address will not be made public.