The Spirit of Wild Places

My latest article for Voices of Monterey Bay http://VOMB.org is out. Here are the first two paragraphs.

I’ve been enchanted with the spirit of wild places most of my life. I went backpacking to the top of Mount San Jacinto when I was 9, long before the tram was built. My family and I took a weeklong mule trip to the high country camps of Yosemite when I was 10. We camped every summer when I was growing up. I grew up as a Girl Scout and wild places were very much part of my life. We were taught to pack it in, pack it out, just because … well, what else would one do? Long before there was a “leave no trace movement,” it was what we were taught and what we did.

This upbringing probably contributed to my love affair with Big Sur. It was a natural extension of my wildness education in many of the most beautiful places in California and the West. I learned to water ski on Big Bear Lake and hike in the Sierras. We traveled to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and other wild places of the West. I wish others had the opportunities that I did. Sadly, most of these places are overcrowded and overrun now. The experience is not quite what it was. The wildness is becoming harder and harder to find.

One can find the rest of the article here: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/08/22/the-spirit-of-wild-places/

Enjoy.

Juneteenth

Do you know what Juneteenth (today) celebrates?

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves effective January of 1863.

Then on June 19, 1865, the Union soldiers landed in Galveston with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free, according to the Austin History Center. After this, more than 250,000 slaves across Texas learned that they were finally free.

The celebration of June 19 was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants as they treated the day as their Independence Day, according to the Texas State Library. It spread to other states and has been celebrated every year since.

In 1872, Rev. Jack Yates led a fundraising effort to purchase land for Emancipation Park in Houston.

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Texas. It’s a day to celebrate African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures.https://abc7chicago.com/society/what-is-juneteenth/2117379/

President Obama states of this painting: “Outside the Oval Office, I kept a painting of a small crowd huddled around a pocketwatch, waiting for the moment the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. On Juneteenth, we celebrate the anniversary of that news – freedom – reaching slaves in Texas.”

Veterans Day, 2018

 

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A partial repeat: In 1967, the Summer of Love was over. Viet Nam protests were barely beginning, and I found myself without a place to live, and had quit a job with an abusive boss. I did not know what to do, and so I joined the USWACs. The Army was segregated in those days — not by race, but by sex. All WAC training was held at Ft. McClellan, AL and so the Army flew me out to begin my training. It was in Alabama, in 1967 that I first observed racial segregation. I saw “whites-only” bathrooms and water faucets. They were NOT just a “left-over” relic from an earlier and sad time. They were a commentary on how far we still had to come, and have come. Racial segregation, at least not overt, was minimal in California. It was still rampant in Alabama when I was there.

In 1968 I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ at the Combat Surveillance School/Training Center Headquarters. (Spook School) I was on my way home to California when an automobile accident almost took my life, and did take my leg.

I ended up at the Veteran’s Hospital in West LA, associated with UCLA medical center. The medical care there was the best available. What wasn’t the best, was how they treated women veterans. We were a rarity, and the VA was not set up to deal with us.

There were no changing rooms for physical therapy for women vets, and I was the only one in the program. They had me use a broom closet. Of the over 400 bed hospital, only 16 were for women, and we had a separate open ward.

In 2018, more women have been elected to state and federal offices than ever before in history and more people of color are fulfilling their dreams of public service. There was both a blue wave and an estrogen wave. In my lifetime, women have traversed a difficult path with determination and with grace. We are making a difference.

In Harris County, TX, home of Houston TX, 19 black females were elected to the bench this past Tuesday. In TX. In GA, a black female is still in the running for Governor, as of this writing. This past Tuesday, there WAS a shift in the American conscience. We achieved so much and overcame much of the hatred and racism which had infected some of our leaders. We told them, NO MORE. I could not be prouder of us and how we are taking back our democracy from those who have been trying to destroy it for the last couple years. We are a nation that is inclusive, not devisive. We are becoming stronger than ever before. America is powerful because of our diversity. Let us celebrate how much stronger our love is than the hate. Blessings to all our veterans and those who support them.

Labor Day, in honor of Anna Walentynowicz

This is a repost of one I posted back in 2014. Worth reposting.

Who is she, one might ask. I would have, too, before I recently watched a Polish Film called “Strike.”

She is the woman responsible for the Solidarity movement and the eventual overthrow of Communism in Poland. Her dedication and hard work took decades, and many sacrifices. She was originally a welder at a shipyard and couldn’t read. Her son taught her how to read so she could take the crane operators test – more money and better shifts. She was afraid of heights and threw up in her bag the first time up. She was a strong, fascinating woman. Her name was Anna Walentynowicz. She was the women’s labor rep at the Lenin Shipyard and a trouble-maker. She went to jail numerous times for her labor and anti-communist views and activities.

The Solidarity Movement started when the Shipyard fired her 4 months before her retirement. She was one of 7 leaders of the movement, one of whom was a male named Lech Kaczynski, later President of Poland. He wanted her to head the movement which started with her firing. She felt a male would be better, and she also felt he was the better public speaker, at least as portrayed in the movie. She died at the age of 80 in 2010 in a plane crash which also claimed Lech and his wife. She was a fascinating, hard-working woman who made a huge difference in the Labor Movement and also in her country. So today, I honor her.

Weston Call Memorial Fund

Hi Kate – soo very sorry for Big Sur’s huge loss. Here’s a link to the Fund for Big Sur Weston’s family set up: https://www.cfmco.org/2018/08/in-memory-of-weston-call/

Cristina Medina Dirksen

Communications Associate

Community Foundation for Monterey County

2354 Garden Road

Monterey, CA  93940

831.375.9712 x138 / Fax: 831.375.4731

www.cfmco.org
www.facebook.com/cfmco
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