Ed. Note: Poet and Author Susan Eisenberg appeared on TruthToTell in February talking about Women in Construction. Her "On Equal Terms" exhibit and talks continue that work.
As a kid I loved teeter totters –– the playful shift of ups and downs. There’s a rhythm, laughter. Even the meanest tricks on them were pretty harmless. As a grown-up, I can appreciate the hands-on learning. The math and physics kids figure out instinctively: the heavier person moves in so the two are balanced.
Talking about the history and experiences of tradeswomen has the same challenge: finding the balance of delight and routine and terror that feels fair and accurate. My eyes tend to roll backwards when the conversation is limited to successful pilot projects, but not whether they were replicated. Or how many women graduated pre-apprenticeship training, but not whether they were placed in apprenticeships — and fairly trained and graduated to journeylevel careers. Obviously with women only 2.3% of the construction workforce there’s a lot that requires concerned attention and activism.
But the goal is, of course, the satisfaction of skilled work and successful careers being available without discrimination. It’s important to celebrate the experiences that help us see that possibility. So, with the On Equal Terms installation going to New York City this fall (September 22 – October 20, 2013 at the Clemente on Manhattan’s Lower East Side!), I’m adding a new element–– Women Run Work –– to the always-shifting exhibit.
I figure that a lot must have gone right when we see a woman lead the work on a jobsite. She’s being trusted to manage a crew and manage business. Someone believes that she will get the job done right and on budget — enough to take a risk on that. I figure there were people earlier in her career who saw to it that she was well-trained, and mentored her. And maybe a good union rep or lawyer who advocated to make sure she wasn’t unfairly passed over . . . maybe a supervisor or owner who recognized talent . . . or??? Probably different for each woman. But when a woman runs work, it likely represents a lot that’s worth celebrating.
The first responses have been heartening. I found out that high voltage electrician Wanda Davis supervises “two of the hydroelectric generation projects that produce power for Seattle” — how cool is that!!! And I’ve been interested to learn who women credit for their chance.
If you’ve run work, or know a tradeswoman who has, please fill out this form and send it in. I’ll include it in On Equal Terms. I’ll also be adding a Women Run Work page to the blog (as balance to We Remember).
I’d be glad to hear any comments on this. I know some women have told me, No one ever asked me to be foreman. Or, explained why they turned down the offer, when they were asked. And, like Diane Maurer explains in We’ll Call You If We Need You, a woman successfully running a job doesn’t always carry the same benefits as for a man. I’m curious about all that, too. But let’s also celebrate that Women Run Work
ORIGINAL BLOG POST: Women Run Work! ©2013 Susan Eisenberg
I’m a poet, multi-disciplinary artist and educator. I like to re-imagine the everyday, playing with scale and juxtaposition to investigate issues of power and social policy. I’m drawn to documentary material and found objects; and to the arts as tools for sense-making.
Whatever the content area, I find myself curious about why silence and lies so often seem easier (and safer) than truth. And why it’s so hard not to have some group be the other whom it’s okay to shortchange. Poetry Reading, Lansing, MI, February 1, 2012
A well-traveled email came through my computer today pretending to tout the secession of “blue” states from “red” given the propensity of those regions to elect one sort of presidential candidate over another. If the numbers this tidbit cites about which values reside in which states, it would be truly interesting. This stab at nose-thumbing the opposition (red) has been adapted to this last election, substituting a few recent victories, but, it’s the same general pattern as circulated at least four years ago. A little humor, perhaps. The figures are interesting.
The Electoral College is an archaic practice with no real relevance anymore, if it ever had any, in an era of technological and demographic reality. It provides none of the balance it was designed to because it disproportionately skews far too much power per capita to low-population states to be fair to the nation’s more populous regions – where needs are amplified by their numbers. Political influence should be proportionate to the need. It redistributes presidential campaigning to places that may need some attention, but certainly not the overwhelming resources poured into them at the expense of so many others who rarely, if ever, get a chance to view and hear the candidates.
Worst of all is the graphic divide imposed by the media-designed red-blue designation a decade or two past now dictating our descriptions of every state's leanings - not the raw reality. The red/blue blocs are an utterly inaccurate rendering of each state's own uneven mix of party preferences when the vote is broken down into sub-regions – usually counties. But, it's all too convenient for us in the media to describe each state as either red or blue. Until we rid ourselves of this unity-destructive device for electing presidents and designating party preferences, we will do little more than reinforce those divisions we claim to abhor.
The Electoral College must go – and quickly, starting now. It does no good to wait another four years to lodge these same complaints over the results of a recent presidential election. The bill should go forward as soon as the next Congress assembles.
For twelve years Democrats have been residing in delusion over the 2000 Presidential Election, needing desperately to place blame for Al Gore’s “defeat” and Bush’s elevation to White House. Instead of placing responsibility where it belongs, too many Democrats found their easy scapegoat in Ralph Nader and his third-party – Green Party – candidacy and the 10,000 votes he assembled in Florida.
The answer to this self-deception should be obvious, but as we approach the threshold of yet another hand-wringing presidential election and the specter of third-party candidacies loom large against the backdrop of yet another tight election, it is important to re-visit 2000 in light of the failure of our Constitutional presidency and the nondemocratic Electoral College’s power to thwart the public will.
Nader did NOT deliver the presidency to Bush in the 2000 Election.
Andy Driscoll – April 30, 2012
Now that the so-called Human Services Omnibus bill has passed with some devastating cuts first proposed, then restored, thanks to lobbying and demonstrations – and, perhaps a very dicey election year looming and a clear threat of yet another Dayton veto of a radical GOP bill – some of the disasters in waiting have at least been put off until and if the GOP retains its surprising majorities in next year’s session.
The baffling thing about poverty, like other societal maladies, is that, despite the dry, old statistics showing incredible increases in poverty, the decline in median incomes, the rise in homelessness and the decline in public assistance, the increase in foreclosures and the plunge in property values – the gap widens – and the people in power really don’t seem to give a damn.
What is it going to take short of a complete collapse of our economic infrastructure? Some say it’s already arrived; we’re just hanging on. Are we? For all the hope we keep wanting to generate, is there room for it? How long, if ever, before middle-class suburbanites take up arms against The Man and find themselves in the same place as the poor and people of color have been for decades – on the business end of a police officer’s 9mm Glock or Billy-club, a pepper-spray can or tear-gas canister for their trouble?
Perhaps. Then again, perhaps that will be the only time a march on the banks and politicians will yield some results and policies will change and wealth will be shared.
But, leave us not hold our breath.
Average citizens/residents are feeling the pinch created by people and institutions who literally could care less – because they seem to have no depths to their lack of caring.
Poverty is NOT one of those conditions that will get better by the pulling up of bootstraps. Poverty is a societal disease that needs a major injection and infusion of capital – real capital – money and other resources. Anything else is a punishment inflicted on people who have less than the people making the decisions and who spend much of their legislative or administrative time and capital denying others their fair share of a pie they keep shrinking.
How bad is it? Some statistics to chew on, thanks to several sources:
Nationwide, 46.2 million people were in poverty in 2010. While the poverty rate sits at 15.1 percent, Minnesota ranks 13th lowest in the nation in numbers of those living below the poverty line ($11,344 for an individual or $22,113 household income for a family of four), but the state's numbers have increased significantly from 2007-2008. The poverty rate then was 9.6 percent. BUT…in 2009-2010, 560,000 Minnesotans lived in poverty, or roughly one out of ten state residents. That represents a 2.1 percentage point increase from 2006-07.
Even more staggering, says the Minnesota Budget Project, the preliminary numbers show that over the last decade, Minnesota’s median household income fell from $65,120 in 1999-2000 to $54,785 in 2009-2010, or by more than $10,000, after adjusting for inflation. Only Michigan experienced a larger decline in median income during the same period. And things aren’t much better out in our rural communities. The economy remains stagnant in all sectors of the state, even though our economy remains more diversified than most states. We simply don’t rely on a single corporation or a single industry, like the Detroit auto economy, for instance.
Today, we try and catch up on the status of poverty and its fallout in Minnesota as the Legislature winds down its work and Minnesotans have a chance to assess the needs of the next decade while statistics continue to rise giving the lie to promises of imminent prosperity – homelessness, especially among families and children and veterans home from the wards; free and reduced lunches among increasing numbers of kids in our schools; unemployment checks coming to an end after too many months seeking jobs and failing. And on and on.
Advocates spend their lives with and lobbying for families, children, homeless Minnesotans and those who need a huge variety of services and take their cases to the halls of the Capitol every session, only to find themselves in the same battles with dispassionate lawmakers year after year, sometimes even when things ought to be better.
Some believe MoveOn and progressives should not be quoting conservative Barry Goldwater, who famously is quoted saying: "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
But, Goldwater is a perfect resource for what could happen to an old conservative who not only moderated as he aged, but actually supported Clinton, I believe. Better that it come from another conservative than some secualr lefty like me.
The MoveOn quote is merely a portion of the few choice words Goldwater uttered in reaction to the preponderance of religious influence.
Here’s another: “On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom.”
This is an old war in every country. Religious zealots have forever believed they should be in charge of the corporal world around them and elsewhere. Not that most of it was a spiritual belief system driving this, but a zealotry of religious overlay on the secular diversity around them. That’s where politics stepped in to create the schism between Christians and Jews, Catholics and Islam, the pope and Henry VIII, the Catholics and Martin Luther (and John Knox and John Calvin, evangelists in their own day), between the Coptics and Rome, between Rome and the Byzantine rites, between Roman orthodoxy and Greek and Russian orthodoxy. The Puritans and other Americans. It’s what the Inquisition was about. Note the dominant presence of Catholicism in that history. Note the domination of evangelism in rightwing politics in this country, yes, but the role of Catholicism in anti-human rights initiatives yet again. Witness the attempted hijacking of Far Eastern/Asian cultures by Spanish and Portuguese Jesuits in the 16th and 17th Century.
Today, it's Opus One and a plethora of evangelists and archdioceses gamnely attempting to stop human rights in their tracks - especially any human right and proven science associated with sex and marriage.
Human rights = equals freedom FROM religion, not freedom OF religion. Most religious conservatives hate human rights - because it means losing control of the masses to secular humanism - a death knell for religious dominance over irreligious politics.