A Soapbox for Current Social, Political, and Environmental Issues
Editorial - Anne Auten
The subject of social injustice here at home, in our own America, has been weighing heavily on my mind. Currently, this is a heated topic of debate in both news and social media outlets, and seems to be dividing the country almost as effectively as our presidential race. When trying to write about the issue, I found myself posed with a couple of dilemmas:
1. How can I write about social injustice in a way that illustrates what's happening from the point of view of the afflicted? And,
2. How can I write about it so that those who don't feel directly affected by it can empathize, and more importantly, realize that we are all directly affected by the effects of social injustice as members of the human race?
I began writing a series of questions.
This last question lead me to the most important;
Clearly, I decided, I was unequipped to write this essay. Empathy is not a substitute for experience. I needed to find someone else to write this article, so I turned to Google. For several days, nothing I found resonated for me. The nagging question also at the back of my mind was, when I finally found a writer, how would I convince them to write this article?
Congratulations! It's a Mockingbird.
Even before we're born, we're placed in one of two categories. Is it a boy, or is it a girl? It would have made my life a lot easier if I could have answered that question myself.
Throughout "To Kill a Mockingbird," Scout struggles with what is expected of her gender. Her favorite outfit is her overalls, not any of her dresses. When playing with Jem and Dill, she is both Mr. Crabtree and Mrs. Radley. While Atticus doesn't seem to mind her boyish behavior, the rest of the community does - Aunt Alexandra is constantly telling her to act like a lady, and the women at the missionary society giggle when she tells them how she's wearing britches under her dress. Other people try to dictate who she is and how she expresses herself.
Despite what my ultrasounds would tell you, I don't think I've ever been a girl. That said, I've never been a boy, either - while I call myself trans, I'd like to think it's not because I'm transitioning between genders, but that I transcend them altogether. I expressed this feeling from a young age, and fortunately, my parents were lenient about it. Even my community, being a small, liberal town, was okay with it for the most part. I could play with toy cars one minute, romp around in a dress the next, then wallow in the mud later that day and no one would bat an eye, at least to my face.
Still, sexism is insidious, and over time I started to separate myself from the boys in a desire to fit in. I'm glad to say I eventually came to terms with my identity and grew out of it, but it was a terrifying process; it's dangerous to be gender nonconforming. At its best, people make assumptions about your sexuality, constantly give you the wrong "sir" or "ma'am", or ridicule you for standing out in a world of pinks and blues. At its worst, you end up the next victim in a string of hate-motivated murders, where the news will ensure with sensationalism that you never rest in peace. Time and time again, we are defined by the communities we live in and not by ourselves. Even growing up in the most liberal of places couldn't have shielded me from this brand of bigotry.
This is where "To Kill a Mockingbird" hit me the hardest, because being trans is like being at once Tom Robinson and Scout. I watch as my community fights for its rights, and know in my heart it's a losing battle, but hope for societal acquittal anyways. Day in and day out I battle with discrimination, but only understand the gravity of it when I look at it from an outside angle. We are making steps, but just baby-steps--it's time that we, too took control of our own stories.
By: Melissa Pulsinelli and Anne Auten
Year after year, headline after headline, the media continues to shed light on the global issue of mass die offs within our bee population. We understand that Colony Collapse is a very real and scary occurrence with grave implications. So why does it keep happening? China has already been forced into hand pollination of food crops. Does the rest of the world want to follow suit?
Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.
It has long been concluded that there is no single cause for CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) or distressed bee populations today; managed honeybees and wild bees alike are struggling. As a managed product, replacing honeybee colonies is costly, but despite what their health is telling us, we continue to do so. Wild bees will not be so lucky.
Q: So why should you care about the fact that in the six years prior to 2013, more than 10 million beehives were lost?
A: Honey bees (and wild bees) provide the pollination of many of our agricultural crops.
CCD is a global issue. China is already resorting to hand pollinating crops in many areas. In the US, bee shortages have driven production costs up as much as 20% for some growers who've had to rent pollination services.
Science has made amazing improvements to human life, but when we begin trying to "fix" nature with more science, do we become out of touch with our place on this planet? Currently there is a lack of pollinators in our almond fields. Common sense would tell us to create a more bee-friendly environment by planting native wild hedgerows that will sustain the wild bees. Conversely, we could simply ignore the problem creating the issue and the agricultural science industry could develop a variety of almond that doesn't need pollination. What is the answer?
Mark L Winston, in his book Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive writes,
Is our world's vanishing bee population the 1000th cut for you or are you willing to listen to the message? They are showing us something. We need to tune in to the lessons from the hive.
Here are a Few Ways to Support our Bees
Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden
Planting a Bee-friendly garden is a Win-Win
Build a Bee Block or Insect Hotel
Provide a Bee-friendly Habitat for Wild Bees
Buy Local Honey - Support Your Beekeepers
Buying Locally Grown Products Supports Your Local Economy
Eliminate Garden Pesticide Usage
Eliminate chemical pesticides from use in your garden.
Neocides especially have been proven to be associated with mass bee population die offs.
Suggested resources for alternatives:
EarthEasy: Natural Garden Pest Control
Mother Earth News: Organic Pest Control
Weed'Em & Reap: Natural Garden Pest Control
Bee Activism - Click and Arm Chair Activate!