EVANSTON, ILLINOIS: Bad public process at the local level — Harley Clarke
Harley Clarke mansion as public lakefront asset: Preserve or demolish
Posted October 14, 2018
How about a good old-fashioned grassroots community meeting?
This is a proposal originally made on:
— June 6, 2018: to Design Evanston, Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens (ELHG), Evanston Lighthouse Dunes (ELD). I believe that DE submitted my proposal as part of their official communication from DE members and supporters to Evanston’s City Council.
— July 22, 2018: petition to place an advisory referendum on the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot for saving Harley Clarke. My comment on the petition was: “Private conversations about public business are the most insidiously undemocratic traditions we have, guaranteed to create distrust, division, and suspicion. They are also almost 100% totally unnecessary. My recommendation is for Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens co-host a community meeting with Evanston Lighthouse Dunes to (a) pool resources (b) pool supporters, and (c) create a 100% public process for making a decision on the Harley Clarke Mansion. Such a meeting and process should be organized by citizens, NOT the City.”
— July 28, 2018: to a leader of Save the Harley Clarke (SHC)
— Sept. 24, 2018: to two individuals doing fundraising for ELD
1. PUBLIC PROCESS
The thing that has disturbed me most about this whole process is the behavior by the City. Specifically,
— in numerous ways, the City has acted in bad faith
— private discussions about public business are anathema to good public process. I include here any early discussions that the City may have had with ELHG folks. Private discussions as a way of doing public business has got to stop, from all sides on all issues. As “City” I include both city staff and elected officials. All these private conversations waste public time, especially when such conversations eventually cause the need for damage control (which so many City decisions have done in recent years).
2. STATE REP. ROBYN GABEL’s INITIATIVE
July 23, 2018 – Citizen comment at Evanston City Council meeting
I wish to highlight Robyn’s comment, which her staff member delivered during citizen comment on Monday (July 23) as a very positive development in the fight to save Harley Clarke and to have a better public process.
First, our State and U.S. legislators do not usually get publicly involved in issues before the City Council. That alone was noticeable Monday night.
Second, the content of Robyn’s comment was very positive for preserving the Harley Clarke through some sort of collaboration with the State of Illinois (as was the original suggestion that started us down this road). Obviously she made it because she thinks J.B. Pritzker will win in the November election and because his administration will be more amenable to funding projects like the one originally proposed (or something similar). I believe she would not have made this comment without having talked to Pritzker first.
Robyn’s comment should be printed out, copied, broadcast everywhere during the next few months — at every hearing, at every meeting, in every communication. I think it could make the difference in this process and the difference in funding any action that is approved by the residents of Evanston.
October 4, 2018: Evanston Patch published Rep. Gabel’s July 23 letter, along with a Sept. 17, 2018 letter from State Rep. Laura Fine. The full article by Jonah Meadows is here:
State Partnership could Spare Harley Clarke Mansion: State Reps
3. PROPOSAL: COMMUNITY MEETING OPEN TO ALL — yes, back to square #1
I reiterate my willingness to help plan and promote a community meeting sponsored by ELHG, ELD, Save Harley Clarke, and/or any neutral body (not the City) at any time during this process. Citizens talking to each other will be much more productive than trying to work with our outdated government structures and processes.
The specifics of such a meeting would be:
— The City would not be the host or organizer.
— City officials might not even be invited to be present in their official capacity. (That would be up to the organizers.)
— All ideas would be on the table, including the original suggestion for Harley Clarke — a State of Illinois Great Lakes educational and scientific center.
— So far as I can tell, there are now THREE grassroots groups involved in Harley Clarke: ELHG, ELD, Save Harley Clarke (the group who created the referendum petition).
U.S. 2018: For Women who are Feeling like Livestock
Posted Sept. 26, 2018
Per Gillian Flynn: “They don’t care about us enough to hate us. We are simply a form of livestock.”’
Tweeted by Sarah Kendzior re “endless wave of revelations about sexual assault”
In Time magazine, December 2017:
Gillian Flynn: A Howl
Sarah Kendzior is an expert on Central Asian autocracies and has been warning us about Trump, Russia, the media, kleptocracies, etc., for at least two years. She has been tireless in that endeavor, sharing many other experts’ clear-eyed takes on our current American path. Sometimes she re-tweets things multiple times (her own Tweets or others) because they are so pithy, accurate, evergreen, and sometimes it takes us a few repetitions to get it.
Yesterday she retweeted the quote by Gillian Flynn, which she’d already retweeted at least two times, commenting (again) “I’ll never get this Gillian Flynn quote out of my mind, because it’s true.” For some reason the word “never” sent me back to the original column, which was very painful, as were many of the replies on Twitter to Sarah’s re-tweet. For Sarah, the new awareness just seemed to be a new truth that she was examining over and over in order to decide where it should be filed in her woman’s toolbox of knowledge and wisdom. Painful, perhaps, but not soul-destroying.
For Gillian Flynn this new awareness (shared publicly in December 2017) seemed to indicate a deeper pain, a pain that other women shared (based on the Twitter replies) and that I also shared at one time—the pain of feeling, as a woman, existentially trapped by nature.
Flynn may have, by now, moved beyond the initial feeling. I can confirm that getting past that trapped feeling can be done, although it took me many years. For me, with no internet at the time, it was done through solitary study of all kinds–mostly books and articles.
In the interest of helping women who are still feeling or newly feeling existentially trapped–as if it is nature’s design to make women feel shamed, second-class, like livestock—here are some of the resources that helped me, as well as a few more recent ones that only confirm women’s existential value. All of these have helped me to understand how it isn’t nature’s design for women to feel like livestock. Many of these resources make clear that in fact nature’s design is just the opposite. See list below.
WOMEN’S PERSONAL AND PUBLIC AUTHORITY
The next question is, then what do we do about it? Some of these resources have answers. All of them do what Kim Chernin asked for years ago: “I needed someone who’d been sticking up for the female side from the beginning.” (Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, 1987)
At the age of 67 I don’t pretend to understand everything about life, about so much unnecessary suffering, or about men. But I do understand myself (more or less) and women’s central role to the species. As Kay Cordell Whitaker’s teacher told her: “Women are the center.” Period. Healthy cultures get built on that foundation—or they don’t get built.
I now put much of my own energy into promoting “women’s public authority”. While American women have been working on equality with men, they forgot to promote important differences that would actually make a difference between a peaceful, healthy society and a nasty, destructive one.
Mostly I share information about the Iroquois League—which was the precursor to the U.S. Constitution—and which codified women’s public authority almost 900 years ago, in ways many American women haven’t yet imagined. This seems to be especially true for women trained in the Abrahamic religions (Judeo-Christian-Islamic). There are other versions of human culture than this nasty, Puritanical, patriarchal one.
I might also suggest that, as we try to imagine a different world than the one we’re living in right now, American women should consider that the isolated nuclear family is really an aberration in human culture. For the most part, it seems to be a negative aberration. Women benefit from living more communally. There is not just one model.
PS re: Education of males in American culture (of particular interest today, Sept. 26, 2018, in the midst of the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court justice):
Gillian Flynn’s article ends with her suggestion for ending the treatment of women as livestock: educate our boys. I don’t disagree with the general idea, although I believe it was Adrienne Rich (many years ago) who gave the lie to that method in terms of a one-on-one project—one mother, one son. But current discussions about boys’ high schools, sports teams, etc., are certainly pointing to a collective discussion about how we educate boys. I support such discussions—at every level of our government and educational systems. And I support similar discussions on how we educate girls, how we see ourselves as women, and—most importantly—women’s public authority.
RESOURCES: “Sticking up for the Female Side from the Beginning”
Here are my suggestions for counteracting attacks on women’s personal authority and for promoting women’s public authority. (Most of these resources are non-denominational, earth-based, and plain spoken.)
A. Indigenous Wisdom from the Americas
BOOK: Make a Beautiful Way: The Wisdom of Native American Women
ed. by Barbara Alice Mann (Prof. Humanities – Univ. of Toledo)
4 essays 2008
BOOK: Daughters of Copper Woman
Northwest Coast Native myths & stories
by Anne Cameron 1981
Story of an American trained by S. American shamans
BOOK: Reluctant Shaman, by Kay Cordell Whitaker (first book) 1991
BOOK: Sacred Link, by Kay Cordell Whitaker (second book) 2005
Chapter 8: The Power of the Forbidden Fruit is all about women’s medicines (women’s powers)
VIDEO: Listen to your Mother 11 minutes
by Barbara Alice Mann
A (M)otherworld is Possible: Two Feminist Visions: Matriarchal Studies and the Gift Paradigm
SPEECH: Rematriation of the Truth
by Barbara Alice Mann (Bear clan, Ohio Seneca) 2011
“‘Rematriation’” retools culture in terms of matriarchal giving. Regarding speech, it means that the Gift of Breath replicates reality; it does not invent some myth convenient to bullies.”
ARTICLE: I Stand with you against the Disorder
by Jeanette Armstrong
YES Magazine, 2005
BLOG: In Case of Constitutional Crisis….Start Here: Great Law of Peace
by Debbie Hillman 2018
Details and Native resources about the Iroquois Constitution
B. Black Women in the U.S.
BOOK: I know why the Caged Bird Sings
by Maya Angelou 1969
Spoiler alert: The punchline is: “Because it must.”
BOOK: How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective
ed., Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor 2017
C. Women’s Spiritual Stories and Groups
BOOK: Feminine Face of God: the unfolding of the sacred in women
by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins 1991
interviews and narrative
BOOK: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom: The Feminine Face of Awakening
interviews of women spiritual teachers
by Rita Marie Robinson 2007
BOOK: Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism, and Awakening
ed. by Linda Hogan & Brenda Peterson 2004
ONLINE COMMUNITY: Net of Light: Grandmothers Speak
Started by a therapist who started channeling a council of grandmothers in 1997.
Three books filled with the grandmothers’ visitations.
International organization that is appealing to all sorts of women (and men).
Sign up for occasional newsletter with positive messages.
Occasional gatherings in US and worldwide.
Sept. 2018 Newsletter from Net of Light
The Great Mother is back….
D. Scholars of Matriarchies and Elderwomen
CONFERENCE VIDEOS: The Maternal Roots of the Gift Economy Conference
2015 (some are more scholarly than others, international)