Sara R was one of the first people I "met" at Daily Kos.
About 10 years ago, I was a long-time Daily Kos lurker with a routine: a news trawl early in the morning, checking in for the Abbreviated Pundit Roundup, Cheers and Jeers, and a quick survey of interesting writing, when I stumbled across a question that I knew how to answer. This was a first for me, and it drew on a highly specialized experience: what to expect when your cancer has come back, and whether going back to chemo is worth it. So I created an account, wrote up everything I knew about what happens when your cancer recurs, and hit Publish.
I'd like to think it was useful to people who needed it, and I felt pretty good about it. And that was that, or so I thought.
About a week later, I got a KosMail from Sara R, telling me that the Community wanted me to have a love catcher quilt—that's what the Community Quilt Project was called back then. I felt honored, humbled, unworthy, and very grateful. Some time after that, my quilt arrived, and stitched by Sara R and her sister Ann (aka winglion), and filled with messages of kindness from the Daily Kos Community, all friends I didn't know I had.
It still chokes me up, and it's seen me through some fairly heart-stopping adventures in thrill-a-minute healthcare.
I'm not alone. The Community Quilt Project, powered by Sara and Ann and involving the whole Daily Kos Community, has produced 165 quilts for Community members (and some friends) who are experiencing hardship. In 2010, Meteor Blades wrote this of Sara: "She's proved to be a powerful community builder in a way that is almost shaman-like. Her quilts—both the signature-quilt fund-raisers she has stitched together for Netroots Nation and the spectacular ‘love catchers’ she's made for 30 members of the DK family in need of healing—are tangible expressions of community connection that transcend our workaday political world."
If anything encompasses the strength and variety of the Community, it's the Community Quilt Project, stitching together a Community as diverse as a patchwork quilt, disparate people united by love of country, commitment to decency and progressive values, and pooling resources to provide help and comfort in troubled times.
Each quilt one is unique; from the first in 2009, for Othniel (RIP), to 2020’s quilt for J Graham, they’re works of art that are treasured by their recipients. As Sara herself wrote, "Without question, it’s your words that make these quilts so valued by their recipients. Think of one of these quilts as a giant, cuddly group get-well card—something that will be kept and valued more than a stack of cards ever will. Such a quilt can be held onto, cried into, or hung on the wall and read over and over. This is a very special way for a person who is ill to keep the well wishes of all their friends close while they go through their treatments."
For years, Sara and Ann have been beloved members of the Daily Kos Community, celebrated over the years with tributes, testimonials, and, at Netroots Nation 2013 flash mobs. One of their quilts hangs in Daily Kos headquarters in Oakland, and a few have gone to famous people like Harry Reid and Keith Olbermann … but the overwhelming majority have been made for Community members.
Now, as Sara R faces her own health struggles, the Community has come together to make a quilt for her, and to help financially. It's not reciprocity, it's open-handed generosity—from a far-flung but tightly-knit Community that does more than lip service. It shows the best of human nature, that we help each other down the long road.
A patchwork of diversity also unites this week’s rescues, with subjects ranging from intensely personal to abstract and national. Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover great writing that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday at 7:30 P.M. PST. We look at an author’s Community participation to see if they comment on their own stories and comment on or recommend other stories, as participation builds community. Our rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
ELEVEN RESCUED STORIES FROM 1 P.M. PDT MAY 28, TO 1 P.M. PDT JUNE 4, 2021
In Couchsachraga's third rescue for Daily Kos, they explain Why the CDC cards are probably good enough; the answer is that worries about forged cards are really overblown. The CDC cards are federal documents, so anyone who forges a card commits a federal crime with clear penalties, one that the FBI has already warned the public about. "Once you fake a government document, and faking that government document results in harm to others, the FBI can verify both your health information and your identity. To quote Walter Sobchak, you’re entering a world of pain." Other "verification systems" carry their own problems and weaknesses. Mass enforcement itself brings risk, so deterrence is key. Couchsachraga has been a Kossack since 2013. This is their 25th story.
Jakko has Ideas about Rebuilding the infrastructure without destroying the climate, Rant #1. Rant #1 addresses the basic materials of building, well, everything. Traditionally we've used materials like Portland cement that deteriorate over time and exposure to wind, water, and sunlight. Portland cement and rebar might have been useful because they were the only building materials that were affordable at the time, but now we have newer option,s like geopolymer cements that "can be made from coal fly ash and steel mill slag, cleaning up vast toxic waste disposal nightmares. The carbon from those processes is already in the atmosphere; no way to unscramble that egg, but no excuse to burn more coal or make more ‘dirty’ steel, either; when we deplete those wastes, ‘pozzolanic’ (reactive) volcanic ash will work just fine." Jakko joined in 2018 and has written 14 stories. This is their first rescue.
While we are mostly aware of the obstacles disabled people face in employment and social access, the most basic need: A place to call home. A challenge for many people these days, securing housing is even more difficult for people with disabilities. In The disabled are facing higher rates of housing insecurity than ever before, arthorfong presents a well-documented picture of a situation in which “the disabled live on the edge of security, with 7 million disabled renters paying a third or more of their income toward rent and living in perpetual fear of being evicted. Black and Hispanic disabled renters suffer disproportionately from the cost burden of rent, and Black women are the hardest hit. Despite the protections within the Fair Housing Act—protections that aim to remove discrimination—discrimination is rife, with only the best tenant screening services complying with the law.” An advocate for "peaceful non-violence in numbers," Arthorfong has published 15 stories. This is their first rescue.
"Some of my classmates were involved in the takeover of the main administration building during the so-called Revolution in the spring of 1969. I was out of town that year, in a frontier kibbutz in occupied Syria. The then-president of Harvard University called mine 'the worst class ever.' I’m not the worst member of the worst class, but I try." This year Harvard Square was empty for graduation, but AliceT4 managed to make her 50th class reunion memorable anyway, as she reports in My 50th Harvard reunion. She recounts some of the ways she made previous, populous reunions memorable, by reminding the Class of 1971 what it means to be "the worst class ever," in the best sort of way. AliceT4 is a lifelong activist for social, economic, and environmental issues. Author of 16 stories, this is her first rescue.
The LGBTQ Literature series for Readers and Book Lovers takes a turn toward the personal in LGBTQ Literature: What this series means (or: My experience with LGBTQ Literature). Chrislove draws from his own life story to explain why "queer representation is of the utmost importance in all forms of media, from television to film to literature. A large part of the reason I think representation is so important is because all of these media play formative roles in the development of young LGBTQ people." As a child raised in a repressive, religious and rural setting, the lack of role models impacted Chrislove in ways that, once exposed to wider culture and greater acceptance, turned his life upside down. Still, the trauma remains, which drives his belief that LGBTQ literature can be life-affirming—indeed, life-saving—especially for those who are brought up believing that their orientation is shameful. A proud liberal in red Texas, Chrislove has written 945 stories.
People who change the world are not born, but made. So is the story of Alice Paul: Radical Quaker feminist & political strategist. Philly526 recounts Paul's biography, the story of a woman raised in the Quaker tradition, a tradition of equality between the sexes, and radicalized by the Suffrage Movement in England. Returning to the States, Paul and her allies powered the Suffrage Movement through hardship and brutal repression that escalated. Ultimately, the government's own harsh treatment of the nonviolent protesters won them public support, and support for their cause. "Few individuals have had as much impact on American history as Alice Paul," Philly526 writes. In addition to fighting to get the 19th Amendment ratified in 1920, which gave white women the right to vote, Philly526 notes that Paul “also authored the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923, and spent the rest of her life fighting for its ratification, to ensure the U.S. Constitution protects women and men equally. As of this writing, in May 2021, the ERA has yet to be ratified," Philly526 notes, proving that Alice Paul's work is not yet done. Philly526 has written 21 stories, this being her fourth rescue.
For Gregg Matson in Planting seeds of the future, a garden is not a trendy response to a pandemic or the result of the organic food movement, but a way of life begun back in the 1960s, with the awareness that food is not an inexhaustible resource, but the product of an intimate relationship with the earth and the rhythms of the season. "Gardening was more than an attempt to supplement our food supplies. We wanted knowledge about how the system (earth’s system, not the national power structure’s system) worked. Knowledge is power, and power provides the key to making meaningful changes." To the author, gardening is a radical challenge to economic and social pressures of consumerism. Gregg Matson, an unrepentant hippie gardener, has written 23 stories. This is his first rescue.
"Though less high-profile, state high courts are perhaps more important for the day-to-day life of Americans than the federal judiciary. This is because the vast majority of criminal prosecutions occur in state courts, with minimal opportunity for federal court review. Similarly, most civil actions take place in state court, even when they involve alleged violations of federal rights." With New York's top court in the balance, split between regressive and progressive judges while three positions are open, Mahtin sounds the alarm that Andrew Cuomo's recommendations for the appellate judgeships are alarmingly regressive, and calls for public pressure on Cuomo and the state legislature to appoint justices who will not stifle progressive legislation that citizens want and the legislature itself has passed. Mahtin, who joined Daily Kos in 2019, has written seven stories, this being their first rescue.
Prominent and long-time Kossack Crashing Vor mainstreams a regional treasure in Bunny Matthews: An appreciation. Matthews, a cartoonist and satirist of New Orleans, with a deep love of his city and just as deep knowledge of its music, recently died. Crashing Vor offers a fitting obituary for a man who "laid down a standard for cultural commentators to follow: Yes, you can laugh, but you’d damn well better love what you laugh at." From his advocacy of Louisiana music, to his cartoon creations Vic and Nat'ly Broussard, their Ninth Ward bar, and their love of po'boys, a keen sensibility and deep love for his home permeates this tribute to a cultural icon, and a wish that he rest in peace. Crashing Vor has written 270 stories about New Orleans, bespeaking his own love for his city.
New Kossack and first-time writer Wendell R Stemley explains How infrastructure and racial equity are intertwined, or at least, how they should be. In the past, public infrastructure projects were outright racist, siting highways in Black neighborhoods and toxic manufacturing and waste effluent near minority communities. Even now, with the government trying to redress and correct these wrongs, federal funds intended for minority or disadvantaged neighborhoods have routinely been redirected to affluent areas by state or local officials. "Too often, the infrastructure debate in Washington and the media centers on the total amount of funding. This is important. But for minority communities, the more important debate is not just how much is spent, but where and how it is spent." Going forward, the federal government must put safeguards on funds so they're spent as intended, and must also take into account the ways that contractors circumvent federal regulations to cut minority contractors out of the bidding pools. This is Wendell R Stemley's first rescue.
AdmiralNaismith plucks a story from the headlines and revives an old and famous earworm in From the Kos songbook: The Wreck of the SS Homophobic. Sung to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and inspired by an exquisite case of karma in action, he writes of how a couple of boaters flying gay pride flags while relaxing on a lake were set upon by a boatload of homophobes, who circled them, shouting abuse and threatening worse when,
The boat's speed awoke a thick cloud of black smoke
And the engine stalled out, which ill boded
A few seconds later, the strained carburetor
Caught fire, and the engine exploded!
Come for the karma, stay for the satire. AdmiralNaismith has authored 327 stories, many of them for Readers and Book Lovers. This is their 35th rescue.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
- To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
- You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).