Weekend Diversions 3.25.2016

I found out on Monday that I have been accepted to graduate school! I cried when I read the email. Fell to my knees and cried. So much vulnerability went into preparing my application materials and making it through the interview day, that I really felt my self  was wrapped up in the process. I shared with the admissions committee difficult aspects of my past, and how they all contributed to my decision to return to school. I trusted them to accept me as am, and that is always scary. I told them about my divorce, the poverty I faced when I tried to live in Los Angeles again, my struggles with mental health. If they had rejected me, they would also have (in a way), been rejecting my story. Acceptance into the program is validating. It means the choices I have made in my life have not shut me out of a career. Even though I have been broken, I can be trusted to help others heal.

I know my self-worth should not be tied to the whims of people who are basically strangers, and I certainly would have recovered had I been rejected, but I think that when we take the time to be brave we are making space for wounding. The important part is that I did not let my fear keep me from trying, keep me from exposing my whole self. I am proud of myself for taking this next step in my journey and so excited to see where it leads. I start in September, but part of me wishes I could start tomorrow: I don’t know how I will have the patience to wait five months. Perhaps with some reading? (My therapist suggested I indulge in as much fiction as possible before my time becomes consumed with academia. I started the fiction binge with The American, one of the few Henry James novels I have not read. As I expected, it is amazing and dense and critical.) Enjoy this week’s selections!

  1. Group protests number of low-income units in planned Lathrop redevelopment: This past Sunday, I joined hundreds of advocates, church leaders, and l0w-income housing residents to protest the redevelopment of the Lathrop Homes, a public-housing complex on Chicago’s northwest side. You can read more about my impressions of the project here. Only 400 of the 925 existing public housing units at Lathrop will remain after the redevelopment. The remaining units will be either market-rate (494) or low-income (220 -no idea what will qualify households for these units, but they don’t seem to be linked to any public or housing choice voucher initiative). Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Housing Authority have yet to create a concrete plan for replacing the 525 lost public housing units. The protest was intended to force officials to commit to a plan. So far, they have refused to expand upon their promise to build new units when finances, time, and space permit. In other words, they have no intention to do much of anything. The Chicago Reporter provides a thorough history of the inadequacies of the CHA and Mayor Emanuel here. (Warning: this may cause you to lose hours of time yelling at your computer screen. The good news is that you will be more well informed.)
  2. A letter in response: for housing and against displacement: In the same vein of protecting housing (can you tell my interests yet?), this eloquent letter in defense of housing and the need to treat homeless individuals as people with rights. Although the letter is in reference to a local problem here in Chicago (neighborhood residents complaining about homeless folk and demanding their immediate removal to…anyplace far away where they can’t be seen), the arguments for housing are universal.
  3. How do so many people get stuck in poverty? My unending question. This piece provides a nice overview of some of the factors that create and then compound individual poverty. Lack of education about supportive services (such as food stamps) and lack of emergency savings funds to shield people against unexpected expenses or the consequences of not having quite enough money to make ends meet some days (the example they use is not having enough money for gas, resulting in missed work, resulting in being fired, resulting in losing housing, children, etc.).  Increasing access to housing is one of the proposed solutions.
  4. Vegan eating would slash food’s global warming emissions: A study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that reducing reliance on animal products for food has positive implications for global health and climate change. Using a modeling program, the Oxford University researchers compared outcomes for four scenarios: no widespread dietary changes; a world in which everyone complied with guidelines to limit animal products and load up on plants; total vegetarianism; and total veganism. All movement away from the status quo resulted in fewer deaths and climate changes, but veganism had the most drastic improvements: 8.1 million fewer people would die each year by 2050, were vegan diets universal, and food-related emissions would drop by 70 percent. Following global guidelines would reduce deaths by 5.1 million per year and emissions by 29 percent, still meaningful reductions. This is proof that even the most incremental changes away from animal agriculture can yield important results.
  5. Not Carrot-Cake: Lastly, this is on my baking plan for the weekend. Carrot cake is my favorite, but I have yet to give it a try since becoming vegan over two years ago. This is the closest recipe that I have found to my mother’s (taken from a very battered copy of Cooking for the Health of It). I am so excited. Also, what a lovely way to celebrate my grad school journey!

Wishing you all a spring-like and sunny weekend!



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