Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Much faster than you would have thought

Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prize winning economist who writes a column for The New York Times, wrote about the accelerating crisis of global warming.  He pointed out that we shouldn't generalize from what this moment looks like to what the future will look like.  He wrote:

... there’s a well-known proposition in my original academic home field of international economics known as Dornbusch’s Law, named after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist (and my mentor) Rudiger Dornbusch: “The crisis takes a much longer time coming than you think, and then it happens much faster than you would have thought.” 

At the University of Orange, a free people's urbanism school in Orange, NJ, we have been observing this process.  We have been warning about the threat of gentrification for over a decade.  Now, seemingly overnight, market-rate apartment buildings are springing up all around the city and it is obvious that the crisis of gentrification is upon us -- as Dornbusch put it, "much faster than you would have thought."

It is worth knowing that this is, in fact, a law -- meaning that it is a phenomenon which has been observed repeatedly and can be translated into a series of mathematical equations.  In this case the mathematical equation would produce a graph with a line that rises slowly from the baseline for a long time but then turns sharply upward, rising very quickly in a short amount of time.  

What we see today does not tell us what we will see tomorrow, especially in periods when many variables are moving quickly.  We have to take threat seriously.  We can't delay.


Monday, May 16, 2022

One Million and Ten

I get home delivery of The New York Times. Sunday, May 15th, the "front page" was two pages, front and back, with a map of the US, showing where the 1,000,000 people who had died of COVID in US had lived. In the same paper were the first reports of the massacre in Buffalo, in which 13 people were shot and 10 killed by a white supremacist teenager. The subtext of the news was that the mass abandonment of the marginalized, poor and people of color is escalating in our country.

Sunday afternoon I joined friends and neighbors at the Music City Festival. The Festival partners with restaurants in Orange, NJ, so Sunday's event took place at a park in my neighborhood opposite Hat City Kitchen. The crowd of young black and brown artists sparkled with genius, like the sun glinting off diamonds. It is a true thing that specific places can nurture specific geniuses, and Orange is such a place for musicians. 

I suddenly felt the dissonance between the implications of the news and the evidence of my own eyes. It made me dizzy. I asked one of the organizers if we might pause to memorialize our losses.  As the echoes of the steel drum faded, I asked people to stand for a moment of silence. One young woman looked at me quizzically for a second. When she understood what I was saying, she shifted gears swiftly, from the languor of the listening to music on a sunny afternoon in the park to the intense energy of youth dedicated to the cause of our survival. She stood tall.  We all stood. 

There was no music in that moment, yet there was lots of music standing there with us. We Shall Overcome was there, and so was We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder, War (what is it good for), and Give Us Bread and Give Us Roses. And every song that the artists performing there that day had shared with us. We stood in the music, embodying the sure knowledge: Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

We Are All Colored Girls (who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf)

I haven't posted in awhile -- too busy trying to keep up with daily life to have enough time to think about. But yesterday, which was April 9th, I saw the new Broadway production of "for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf." The rainbow of actors instantly won me to their cause and I couldn't stand fast enuf at the end to join the standing ovation!  

It was one of the rare moments in this time when my heart felt better -- that a deep truth had been revealed for me: that the rainbow is present in our suffering. Like a revelation, but only when we are broken enuf for the light to get in, thank you, Leonard Cohen.

And then I thought of the whole world, aching over nuclear bombs, Covid variant BA2, fracturing ice shelves, gas prices -- whatever. Around the world depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and actions have increased to remarkable heights. The ache in the world is palpable. I took the train to New York and a group of young Yankee fans got on, on their way to opening day. They were defiantly NOT wearing masks as required by the train. And they were drinking, also a No-No. But they were drinking as fast as they could, drinking to get drunk, drinking to be removed from whatever is on their hearts -- they, too, were longing for the rainbow but didn't know where it was. 

And that is the trick with rainbows. A rain shower was ending as I drove into my driveway on my way home from the play. I looked up to see if a rainbow had come out. No, but my dog Toby greeted me at the door with hugs and kisses.