I Don't Always Paint Trees...But When I Do They're Happy

On benign visual interventions in physical space

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

Which signs do people see?

Was Sheldon Whitehouse’s sign effective? The junior U.S. Senator from Rhode Island delivered his Time to Wake Up speech to his colleagues 279 times. It was a weekly oratory effort to make politicians move on climate, dutifully delivered on the Senate floor since 2012. This week, finally feeling that the government was beginning to act, Whitehouse retired the speech. He also retired the charmingly huge and 1995ish clip-art sign he displayed each time he made said speech.

Was Greta Thunberg’s sign effective? Her Friday School Strike for Climate signage, messily but disarmingly painted, helped her galvanize the world. I prefer Thunberg’s hand-made placard to Whitehouse’s Capitol Kinko’s affair, but both get the job done for their respective audiences.

So what should my sign say?

I’ve been thinking about this visual vernacular very much lately, given the distance at which we all communicate these days. Our faces are covered by our masks, so physical cues are nearly nil (If I’ve passed you on the street and not said hi, sorry!!! I seem to need more facial real estate to determine identity!).

We cannot engage strangers at close range. We’re bundled, swaddled, removed from the frisson of everyday interaction, with precious few clues to understanding what the people in the spaces around us are feeling and thinking. Unless of course, they are sporting this mask:

It’s similar to a Talk Climate button that I made for a work project. It’s loud and bold and it’s been on my jacket for the past few months. It’s meant to invite people to chat, but … it hasn’t worked as well as I’d have liked. If anything, people seem to avert their eyes. It’s no different than when I had kale smoothie on my nose at work, and no one mentioned it. All day.

I think it’s because the shouting feels antagonistic. The message needs more surprise and delight. Every time there’s a climate protest, it’s the funniest and most clever signs that win the day. I think my next batch of pins will say “Ask me about rainbows (and climate).”

The right visual cues, bright and playful and inviting, may be the key to climate communications magic. A few years ago we started decorating the tree in our front yard. We’d cut the piles of gratuitous vegetable delivery cardboard into big shapes and paint them in loud colours. I made one for the Raptors (Tree the North. I know, couldn’t resist). And our 30 cardboard skulls have been hauled out for a few Halloweens now (much to the chagrin of our kids, who want all the gory plastic decorations they see on other houses. Not gonna happen!).

One day, a woman told my husband that she walked her granddaughter by each day to hear the toddler laugh at the creepy skulls dancing in the wind. It was all the cardboard affirmation we needed—this tiny little anecdote inspired my husband to make a batch of gorgeous hearts, which he put up a few days ago.

I like to sit in the window drinking tea and watching people smile when they spot a heart bouncing in the breeze as they walk by. 

Last year we painted forest signs in the park next to our street for a friend’s birthday. They weren’t climate messages, so much as the punny musings of two former headline writers. But with precious few outlets or ways to make our voices heard (especially through three-ply cotton), perhaps climate signs need to move beyond marches, and find some greater pride of place in the daily conversation. A little physical real estate to help others see that the vast majority of humanity wants to tackle climate change

Our tree signs worked because they were barking mad. Hopefully after chuckling at the silliness, people stopped to think about the fact that they were strolling a miniature urban forest, a truly wonderful and beneficial thing.

What could a large-scale visual intervention entail? Should it be a unified message, or a diffuse invitation to visualize climate concern on your place or person? I feel seen and green! If you lived 🌎, you’d be home by now. Nature is the opposite of doomscrolling. Dismantle dystopias! Here to stop the destruction of the planet so that future generations can live in a world that is not a desolate hellscape! Maybe that one’s a bit too wordy. But the possibilities are endless. And we’ve got to do something with all that delivery cardboard.

What will your sign say?

THIS WEEK

Is your home or apartment or body a climate billboard? Could it be? Let me know.

LAST WEEK

So many great recommendations, thank you! Writes Scott:

You asked what folks are reading, & right now I'm in the middle of Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. It was originally written in response to W Bush and his time in D.C., but now has a new foreword & afterword. I love the way she illuminates so many events & how they have affected our world. The first people to propose abolition of slavery was a small group of folks in London. They were determined, acted on their convictions & built a movement that saw it come to fruition in something like 25 years, and later the movement came to America. Great stuff, I highly recommend it.

I keep getting incredible solar punk missives, too. Writes John:

Sarah, I was inspired by your article describing indoor waterfalls to consult my 9 yr old granddaughter about an idea for a crossover relationship between Mindcraft and Lego.  She informs me that there is already a relationship. I am almost 72.  My time is coming to a close but hers is just beginning.  I am going to get her some minecraft legos because she loves them both and I need a way to believe that the world is going to be safe for her. 

And Chris produces a whole fictional solarpunk podcast from the year 2047. Check it out! 

PEOPLE DANCING

The end

Thanks for much for reading. If you’re new here, I’m Sarah Lazarovic. I work on communicating the importance of good climate policy and carbon pricing by day, and this newsletter and my dance moves by night.

If you like MVP you can support it by telling all your friends and frogs about it. Hit the 💚 below to let me know when the newsletter is on the right track. Send me a note when it’s not! I’m always open to new ideas, and very much respect and value the fact that a few thousand people take the time to open this thing every week.

Make sure to drag this email into your primary folder so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Have a great weekend!

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The Young and the Feckless

No spoilers, just despoiling

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

You can be optimistic without being uncritically positive. This doesn’t mean you don’t allow yourself to think about the range of very real climate possibilities that are terrifying. I have those moments. I have those days and weeks. And, well, years. But. I have learned to manage my climate grief with a framework that is equal parts optimism and action. Doom and Myopic Hope is a false binary. Optimism laced with truth and anger is simply the operational mindset for a world that requires us to assimilate so much climate tragedy while simultaneously working to prevent so much more. 

My friend Rebecca recently elbowed me into reading Lydia Millet’s A Children’s Bible, a novel that perfectly conveys diverging generational responses to the climate crisis, with wit and beauty and a teensy bit of ageism (the adults are flabby and self-interested and grotesque). It tells the story of Evie, a clear-eyed but loving teen, trapped in a past-its-prime mansion of a summer house with her parents’ college friends and their children. The kids bond out of their mutual contempt for their moms and dads. Also, they have nothing else to do: their tech has been locked away in the safe for a Wet Hot Analog Summer. The young people, ranging in age from Evie’s adorable nine-year-old brother, Jack, to late teens, are repulsed by their perpetually sozzled, climate-window-of-opportunity squandering parents—the generation that failed to solve the crisis when it was manageable. When the apocalypse does indeed materialize, in the form of a storm and floodwaters and plague and downed everything, the children act. The parents take ecstasy.

I’ve written before about how much I cower from climate fiction. The reality of the crisis is so much to bear that, at the end of the day, I just want to dunk my head in a Sally Rooney novel, where the drama plays out in a space no wider than a pint of Guinness. Who am I kidding, I just want to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and listen to my kids rank their favourite characters (Gina/Rosa tie at the moment). This is all to say that reading A Children’s Bible took all the strength I had, plus Rebecca is a hard-ass and I didn’t want to disappoint. 

I was struck by how similar Millet’s apocalyptic vision was to what I picture on those days where I read too many ominous reports about freshly discovered methane leaks (another one? really?). There’s a comfort in seeing your worst fears committed to paper. What’s more, the novel rather perfectly conveys the two primary modes of climate response: Head in Sand and Get ’Er Done. The parents are hollowed-out creatures, unable to live in a world that requires massive adaptation. The kids take the reins. 

Most of us sit somewhere in between. Not as cartoonishly culpable and incapable as the parents, nor as pragmatically efficient and adaptable as the kids. It’s not that the children are optimistic. It’s that they have no choice. 

The book spends mercifully little time on guilt and blame. The kids hate their parents because they’re useless GenXers, selfish narcissists, and bland hedonists. (And also because they, you know, destroyed the planet.) This is just what is.

For a nonfiction adult caught in the torpors of generational trauma over our inability to act, it’s best to take inspiration from the younger set. Not in a “the kids will save us” way, but in a “the kids remind us to be adults” way. To plow forth with angry optimism and courage and steadfastness. Millet practices what she proses, too - she works at the Center for Biological Diversity. Art and action.

I’m interested in the resilience part of it. If you’ve grown up with climate uncertainty, you have always understood instability and adaptation. If you came to it midlife (like moi), there’s an understandable mourning for a life less existentially fraught. But then, allegro con brio, a get-the-heck-on-board reckoning comes. Millet’s adults are never capable of making that leap. The key to solving the crisis is that we need them to move.

All these ideas are ones I’ve grappled with in bits and bobs, but thinking them through in this deft little story caused me to flip them around in new ways. Which is, I suppose, the point of literature. And yet I’m still not ready for The Overstory. Baby steps. 

THIS WEEK

What earthly lit are you reading? Does it help, inspire, hurt, expire? LMK!

LAST WEEK

So many great comments. Everyone wants a solar punk future. Here’s a mathy take from one of the most cleverly quirky brains I know. Writes Josh:

My solarpunk moment is learning about the angle about which many plants rotate their bud placement in order to have leaves coming out at an angle between 137-138 degrees. That means that each leaf is rotated about 137.5 degrees from the one above and below it. Engineers have replicated this convergent number by mechanically looking to see how to maximize sunlight on each leaf. 

Basically, to me, this means the tree balconies (and solar panels) of our future buildings should probably embrace 137.5 instead of 90-degree construction.

Math nerds love this because this angle is also represented by the number phi, aka the golden ratio. You can make this ratio at home, such that 2 numbers a and b satisfy: a/(a+b) = a/b.

More about that on Wikipedia.

PEOPLE DANCING

The end:

Thanks for much for reading. If you’re new here, I’m Sarah Lazarovic. I work on communicating the importance of good climate policy and carbon pricing by day, and this newsletter and my dance moves by night. If you like MVP you can support it by telling all your friends and frogs about it. Hit the 💚 below to let me know when the newsletter is on the right track. Send me a note when it’s not! And make sure to drag this email into your primary folder so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Have a great weekend!

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Solar...but make it punk!

Cli-Fi for health and inspiration

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

One of my most oft-repeated climate maxims is “paint the positive future.” We need to visualize what a sustainable, decarbonized world looks like if we’re going to get people excited about climate action (cue jazz hands and zero-carbon fireworks). But while there are a few great examples hither and thither, these positive visions of the future are not as plentiful as they ought to be. And if the virality of the lovely poet Amanda Gorman tells us anything, it is that we have been starved of beautiful inspiration these last few years.

Which is why I’m intrigued by solarpunk. What is it?  Writes Jay Springett on Medium

Solarpunk is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share. At once a vision of the future, a thoughtful provocation, and an achievable lifestyle.

Art by Imperial Boy

As Noah Smith writes in his newsletter, Noahpinion (nice!), solarpunk is more an aesthetic movement than a literary one.

Solarpunk at this point is basically a gestalt of images and ideas — cities physically merging with nature, powered by clean energy, in a future usually implied to be much more peaceful, diverse, and egalitarian. But so far it lacks any of the narrative and character tropes that define cyberpunk, and lacks much of the technological rigor that defines biopunk.

I agree that it’s silly to suffix the word punk to anything and everything, but it’s also kind of...funpunk! And it’s hard not to love these visions of a world where cities merge with nature. It’s an idea explored in an amazing essay by Kendra Pierre-Louis called Wakanda Doesn’t Have Suburbs, in which she debunks the idea that humanity is always at odds with nature. It’s a trope evident in so much of pop culture, where humans are the stain on a pristine landscape, the scourge. “We are the virus” is essentially baked into our art. But Black Panther redefines the relationship between human and nature, to dazzling effect.

Black Panther’s vision of Wakanda rejects the oft-repeated story that we humans and our environment are natural enemies. Instead, it tells a story in which humans have become technologically sophisticated while maintaining a flourishing relationship with their surrounding environment.

In other words, Black Panther is solarpunk. 

Black Panther’s blending of healthy tech and nature reminds me of the treeful skyscraper prototypes that appear every few months on all the design blogs I love. They’re usually fanciful creations built of greenery and compressed laminated timber dreams. And the first comment on these posts is always, “but those trees would never survive.” Which is...not the point. (And also not true - the trees look just fine on these award-winning Milanese skyscrapers.)

The point of solarpunk is to start telling that new, creative story. Illustrating a world where humans don’t live in opposition to nature, and where we also don’t forfeit the advancements of modern life, but instead flourish in harmony with the environment. The air is clean because we’ve decarbonized. The soil is healthy, people are healthy, communities are healthy. Food tastes better. People are happier. Technology facilitates life without undermining it. There is no fascism, racism, or autotune. The whole world is thriving to a catchy beat. (And everyone is dancing all the time. OK, that part’s just me.)  I think Kendra Pierre-Louis puts it best: 

Once upon a time, some humans told a story about their relationship to the Earth, and they used it to build a world that was beautiful but flawed. Over time, people realized that was the wrong story and they constructed a new one, one that said they could live in harmony with their environment. And they used the pieces of their old story to help construct their new one.

My solarpunk is a mix of kibbutz, absurdist art, rooftop gardens, mangroves, and Mary Poppins. But seeing my daughter’s epic Minecraft creations (a waterfall inside the house?), I realize how limited I’ve been in envisioning this positive, sustainable future. In-home renewable hydropower waterfalls for everyone. And fizzy water on tap. Can the future please have carbonated drinking fountains?

This week:

Send me your best solarpunk. In words, pictures, or interpretive dance.

Last week:

Did you make good trouble? LMK.

The end:

Thanks for much for reading. If you’re new here, I’m Sarah Lazarovic. I work on communicating the importance of good climate policy and carbon pricing by day, and this newsletter and my dance moves by night. If you like MVP you can support it by telling all your friends and frogs about it. Hit the 💚 below to let me know when the newletter is on the right track. Send me a note when it’s not! And make sure to drag this email into your primary folder so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Have a great weekend!

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The Year of Good Trouble

Warning: this newsletter contains swears and fun fur

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

A million years ago, on a quiet street in Toronto. Or: Tuesday, January 5th, 2021

Teddy (7): Why are you giggling?
Me: Because I’m really happy. Sometimes people giggle when they’re extremely happy.
Teddy: Weird.

Yes, my son called out my glee. I was full of mirth because it looked almost certain that Jon Ossoff would clinch the second Georgia Senate seat, thus further repudiating he who shall not be named, but much more importantly, giving the Dems greater latitude to save this pale blue dot. With our help, of course.

But then came the coup. 

I had the same bifurcated response as everyone else: Disbelief + Duh. My dad had predicted it months ago, to a chorus of son-in-law doubts on our family WhatsApp chat (I know, we’re going to switch to Signal). Yet still the tenuousness, the weakness of institutions, and the profoundness of the rot took my breath away. Democracy upended by a white supremacist in a Chewbacca bikini, as someone somewhere on the Internet said. 

But I gave myself some grace, took some deep breaths, walked a borrowed corgi with my daughter (recommend!), and sat out this newsletter for a week (people had enough to read!). I’m happy to report that I’m ready to pop up my head like the climate whack-a-mole that I am.

Here goes. 

A year ago I heard Kara Swisher call someone a Fatuous Chucklehead and it became my favourite term of art for Trump’s enablers. Just saying it aloud was a micro stress reliever. Try it: Marco Rubio, You Fatuous Chucklehead! Ted Cruz, You Fatuous Chucklehead! But this week, fatuous chucklehead became too light, as I realized the FCs were, in actual fact, Seditious F*ckheads (source: unknown). The line they danced back and forth over for four increasingly fraught years is dead clear now. They meant it (duh!). It really is seditious f*ckery.

I know what you’re thinking: How is she going to tie this back to climate? And a positive way forward?

Well, we’re in a race to save the planet. And seditious f**kery means everything is laid bare. SF is the nadir, the seventh rung, Stephen Miller’s bathroom. Last week Eric Holthaus wrote brilliantly about how white supremacy gave us the climate emergency, and is our biggest obstacle. And he’s right. 

In the coming years we’ll have to fend off militias, block further attempts at government overthrow, quash internet hate and radicalization, change the minds and hearts of millions upon millions of people, and eat our vegetables. But we also have tailwinds now — the strongest Democratic opportunity for meaningful climate action in years, the ever-decreasing costs of renewable energy, and the deepest conviction that a just and sustainable world is the only antidote to hate and violence. And while we always talk about the BAD kinds of tipping points (which are indeed very bad), we’re dangerously close to some good tipping points, too. 

What we saw last Wednesday was petro-masculinity on full display, because Proud Boys and climate denial go together like peanut butter and jelly on white (supremacist) bread. Wait, can I take back that metaphor? It might ruin PB & J for me.

And yet, while all this insurrectionist idiocy was happening, clean energy stocks ticked up. Even as a bunch of seditious f*ckheads cling to hate, the world pulls away. Investors, governments, reasonable humans, and pets can all see an imminent threat that is exponentially more existential than a racist in fun fur. And they’re shifting priorities accordingly. Already, governments have made huge commitments to a net-zero world.

But unstable democracy is the greatest threat to climate action. Which is why we are going to use our climate tailwinds to wash away these racist agitators, to Build! Back! Bettererer!

I didn’t know the phrase Good Trouble or its storied history until last year. It was love at first read, and a love that grew deeper once I understood the phrase’s provenance. RIP John Lewis. So much has been written about the double standard between the way peaceful climate and BLM activists were treated compared to the way the supremacist terrorists were treated. Climate activism is about Good Trouble. Good Trouble, in the words of John Lewis, is about “trying to make the world a better place.”

So let’s make this the year we push further, harder, and stronger for that healthy world. Let’s be pragmatically optimistic and clearheadedly realistic and make all the Good Trouble.

I heard a great metaphor from the amazing Donnell Baird of BlocPower on How to Save a Planet. It jibes with how I feel about our chances for avoiding the worst of climate destruction. I’m a basketball bandwagoner who loves Fred VanVleet so I may be irrationally susceptible to this series of words, but I’ll leave you with them all the same: 

We’re fairly screwed. We have a real authentic shot. It’s not like a half-court shot. It's like a three-pointer down—it’s a corner three, the shortest three pointer of all. It’s not a free throw. It’s not a layup, right? It’s a three-pointer. Like, you need skill. You need focus to hit it. Like—but it’s not—it’s not gonna be luck. Like, it’s within our grasp to do it. And to me, that means we are not screwed. This is within our grasp, if we can get the right people to the right tables to have the right conversations, and get them to focus on the right thing. 

Hope you are safe, healthy, fired up, and ready to go,
Sarah

Good things to read:

Why 2021 could be the turning point for climate change (BBC)

Biden climate team sparks enthusiasm among climate activists (Marketplace)

EU’s ‘Climate Leader’ explains why 202 has left him optimistic (Bloomberg) 

The Year in Cheer (Reasons to be cheerful)

Why did renewables become so cheap so fast? (Our World in Data)

This week: 

What good trouble will you make this year? LMK

Last week:

Lots of great thoughts on individual action for political traction

• Writes Liz: 

I’m especially interested in your perspective on individual action to mitigate climate change and create system change. I’ve written something very similar in the book "Spend Green And Save The World - Tackling Climate Change Through The Consumer-Led Movement" which has just been published. 

As the name suggests the book supports a movement that aims to bring our individual actions together to help make us successful at reducing our collective carbon footprint, creating system change and improving our wellbeing (rather than decreasing it) in the process. Check out consumerledmovement.com

• I got so inspired by my friend Kristen’s wonderful, collaborative program for young climate activists, Rooted and Rising. Check it out and subscribe to her newsletter, too.

• Thank you to the amazing Eric Holthaus for sending so many new readers my way. If you don’t already subscribe to his newsletter, The Phoenix … what are you waiting for? Also, welcome Phoenicians! Please drop me a line to tell me who you are and what kind of ice cream you like.

People dancing:

The end:

Thanks for much for reading. If you’re new here, I’m Sarah Lazarovic. I work on communicating climate policy and carbon pricing by day, and this newsletter and my dance moves by night. If you like MVP you can support it by telling all your friends and frogs about it. Hit the 💚 below to let me know when the newletter is on the right track. And make sure to drag this email into your primary folder so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Have a great weekend!

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Shmindividual shmolitics

Or, Individual Action is Political Traction, and warning: some sadness

Hi! I’m Sarah. Minimum Viable Planet is my weeklyish newsletter about climateish stuff, and how to keep it together in a world gone mad. I’m always curious to know what you think.

I got to interview the super sharp Dr. Kate Ervine last week, and she mentioned an idea in passing that I’ve been unable to put down. Because it’s perfect. It’s smart and obvious and yes I believe in the underpromise/overdeliver, but it’s just so simple and good that I’m bigging it up with gleeful abandon. DRUMROLL through a megaphone, pls...

Let’s reframe individual action as POLITICAL STRATEGY

Because A) that’s what it is… and B) it sounds way more powerful and unimpeachable.

Refusing a straw isn’t a twee act of reduction. It’s a political act. That doesn’t suck.

Which is such an important reframing in a world where people constantly undermine individual action. Rebranding personal behaviour change as political strategy bakes in the upstream, collective goal. 

My fave Twitter handle has got to be this guy’s:

Yes!! The fake battle between individual and systems change is such an unnecessary sideshow that we should dispense with as quickly as possible. We need them both. One begets the other. One is made up of the other. This is as basic as Gap clothes in the 1990s.

But individual action/personal behaviour change has been made to feel small and insubstantial, despite its catalytic power and ability to shift norms. It’s extra annoying that there’s a very distinct type of person (append the suffix ’SPLAINER to the end of their name and you know who I’m talking about) who usually diminishes the importance of individual action. Yes, 100 companies are responsible for 71% of the world’s emissions. But also: Individual change is the beating heart of systems change.

So how to stop putting mason jars into a corner? Politicize them. “The personal is political” has always felt like a nice phrase on a button to me, and not a real, living way of seeing. But it truly is a political act to position yourself in opposition to a system, whether it’s a system that hurtles single-use cups at you, or one that forces you to buy only one form of power that happens to be dirtier than a pig in a puddle.

Pressing against these barriers is not exerting a twee green gesture, it is PUSHING THE SYSTEM TO CHANGE WITH YOUR DEAD COOL POLITICAL MICROMOVES. 

You are also shifting norms. Said Dr. Ervine, who gave up flying to academic conferences: “My life is still rich and wonderful. Just because I can’t fly...it’s not a big sacrifice. We need to model what we need to see, but recognize that as political strategy and not consumer choice.”

When other profs see her not flying, they take note. When conference organizers see many profs not flying, they adapt accordingly by making the online conference experience better.

Though I’ve preached the gospel of individual action for years, it’s tiring. When the hoops are tortuous, you can feel silly. Remind me again why I’m going to so much trouble to do this small yet impossibly difficult thing that this world seems intent on not letting me do? Because it’s a POLITICAL ACT. 

My 15 year-old self, knee-deep in cynicism and corduroy, would roil at the idea that everyday actions could be infused with the political, and I concede that rebranding personal environmental action might feel sloganeeringly pat. And even unhelpful if one’s political action starts and ends with refusing a straw. But I don’t think it ever does. And if we can bolster someone’s maiden steps on the ladder of environmental action by sliding them over to the realm of legitimate political exertions, why wouldn’t we?  

THIS WEEK 

How does this framing land with you? LMK

OTHER THINGS

I wrote an OpEd in the Toronto Star last week on corporate efforts to start labelling more. Read it?

My parents live in Florida. Their very smart friends just bought and renovated a condo on the water. Every time I hear stuff like this, my ears fall off and float away at high tide. Which is why I more than loved this excellent essay, If Miami Will Be Underwater, Why is Construction Booming, by Sarah Millar. Funny, smart, insightful, and it’s read aloud by the wonderful Julia Louis Dreyfus. Such a great listen!

LET’S SKIP THE DANCING THIS WEEK

I can’t stop thinking about a beautiful 23 year-old in my neighbourhood who was killed while riding her bike last week. She loved riding her bike. She worked at a plant shop. She studied journalism. She was loved by her family. She was loved by everyone who knew her.

Every cyclist death is gutting but I guess this one is extra devastating because I see myself and my daughter and her curls and our lives in Alex. How often have we biked the exact same streets of our lovely neighbourhood?

I don’t know how many more times I can read a story about senseless bicycle deaths in our (un)fair city. We’ve known about this problem forever. Nothing ever changes. Despite the fact that we need cyclists. We need people riding bicycles everywhere in our city. As much as possible. For the sake of plants and planet. We need complete streets, and speeding enforcement, better design, and reduced car traffic. How can we still be talking about this in 2020? How can this still be happening?

I wanted to go to the ghost ride for Alex but though I’m an all-season biker I suddenly felt scared, delicate, impermanent. It was dark outside, and I wanted to hug my children in the warmth of my home. This is the cycle of fear that a city that doesn’t prioritize safety engenders. I’m so sorry for Alex’s family.

Have a beautiful, wonderful, safe, healthy week. Hug the people you love (if you can),
Sarah

PS. Does this newsletter go to your junk mail? Please drag it from promotions to your primary inbox!


PPS. I am part of a wonderful newsletter crew. We’re working together to figure out this format, and constantly improve our publications. Check out my ladies’ amazing newsletters here: Friday Things (smart pop culture), The Knowhow (ambitious women doing cool stuff) and At the End of the Day (thoughtful takes on life rn)!


PPPS. As always, LMK me how I can make it better! Is it too momjeansy?


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