From the Editor
This is our first Journal since the November elections. Those are long behind us; at this point, I have little interest in continuing the post-mortem discussions dissecting who ran, who should have been running, who won and lost and why. Aren’t we all pretty tired of the Red State/Blue State maps? Ossifying We the People into urban/countryside, religious/secular, intellectual/workingclass, and elite/mainstream graphics ultimately benefits the neo-conservative agenda. The extreme right is desperate and unconscionable and very happy to convince us that people who have the same rights and share the same needs are enemies. We can fight for these basic rights and needs without undermining our common humanity. Lately I pine for those old bumper stickers proclaiming attitudes like Pro-Family, Pro-Choice.
In the face of all that can bring outrage—from current threats to academic freedom and free speech to the integration of evangelical fundamentalist Christianity and state—those of us working for change would do well to take to heart Joe Hill’s immortal words, Don’t mourn, organize.
This issue of the Journal is full of fuel to energize us and foster hope as we move forward. Bernardine Dohrn’s experiences in Venezuela last December and her description of the peaceful, democratic, Bolivarian revolution there, along with Valerie Busch-Zurlent’s first-hand observations of that country’s referendum election last August, are testimonial reminders that when power is returned to the people, extraordinary things happen.
Likewise, the family report from this year’s exuberant World Social Forum in Brazil heralds the happy fact that there are people all over the planet who believe a better world is possible, that it is worth fighting for, and that it’s a great idea to gather together not only to analyze and strategize, but just as importantly, to celebrate our visions for change. Activism in the 60s included large doses of humor, poetry, music, dance, street theater, and other anti-grim ingredients—we could sure use them now.
Speaking of back in the day, Michael James’s centerspread history of organizing in Uptown will stir memories for some and provide inspiration for any of us yearning to find ways to connect with others in our own communities as we resuscitate democracy one neighborhood, one street, one building at a time.
In the pages that follow, we celebrate much: the life of Carlos Cortez; the Urban Youth International Journalism Program; finding long-lost family; some really good music, books, and film; the wonders of oats; and lots of sports, including Sports Day in China. As for recycling in Sweet Home Chicago, Susan Rans’s low-down celebrates at least the fact that, as she puts it, the silence has been broken, the press is on the story again, and change is in the wind.
It’s warm, it’s gorgeous, everything is blooming. Enjoy Chicago’s late spring and early summer while it lasts, and let’s all take heart as we heed the many calls
to action these times provoke.