New and worth noting…
Land Almost Lost: A Call to Save Our National Monuments. This gorgeous e-book is available for free viewing and download. It contains photographs of the 27 national monuments that the Trump administration is considering abolishing or slashing, including Bears Ears in Utah, Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon, Giant Sequoia in California, Grand Canyon-Parashant, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. It also tells how to submit a comment to the U.S. Interior Department to help show massive public support for our monuments. New photographs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, another of the endangered 27, may be found here.
In the Fields of the North by David Bacon (University of California). With more than 300 impactful photographs, informative text and captions, and farm workers’ own moving stories, all in both English and Spanish, a journalist shows the work life, living conditions, and culture of immigrants who produce America’s food supply.
Janesville by Amy Goldstein (Simon and Schuster). After the 2016 presidential election, many commentators made broad generalizations – often based on little actual knowledge – about why many voters in the heartland either stayed home or switched to Trump. Goldstein, a Washington Post reporter, had been regularly spending time in Paul Ryan’s hometown since 2008, following the lives of working people and the business elite. She provides a readable account of how, more than ever, there are two Janesvilles – one thriving while the dreams of many working people become harder and harder to reach.
The Firebrand and the First Lady by Patricia Bell-Scott (Vintage). Pauli Murray was one of America’s most important civil rights and feminist activists, yet most people have never heard of her. This fascinating account follows her from the 1930s to the 1960s as she challenged North Carolina’s ban on African Americans in its universities, Harvard Law School’s ban on women, sexism in the civil rights movement and the Episcopal Church, and racism in the feminist movement. A particular focus is her long friendship and many frank exchanges with Eleanor Roosevelt.
An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao (FlatIron). Twelve stories share the backdrop of the partition of India and Pakistan as two countries in 1947, triggering traumatic disruption in the lives of millions of people based on their religious and ethnic identity.
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler (Public Affairs). Corporate advertisers and pop stars are using feminist images and slogans to polish their brands and sell products. This “marketplace feminism” encourages us to focus not on power relations, race, or class but on individual girls who can succeed if they just improve their self-esteem.
Big Hunger by Andrew Fisher (MIT). As workers’ buying power has declined, many communities have started food banks, often with corporate partners. But telling the public that donating a can of food will address the problem is misleading. Anti-hunger groups should be actively supporting movements to raise wages, make housing affordable, promote sustainable development in rural areas, and win other gains from corporate special interests and the top 1%.
We Are Data by John Cheney-Lippold (NYU). A professor of digital studies delves into the ways big corporations and government agencies use algorithms to monitor and affect individuals’ behavior.
Culture Jamming edited by Marily DeLaure and Mortiz Fink (NYU). A collection of 24 articles examines efforts to disrupt corporate consumer culture through hoaxes, parodies, flash mobs, street art, and other tactics.
Rules for Revolutionaries by Becky Bond and Zack Exley (Chelsea Green). Two political consultants for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign say what they learned from the experience about how to combine technology with person-to-person organizing.
The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare by Suzanne Gordon (Cornell). Corporate interests are lobbying Trump and Congress to give them control of the Veterans Health Administration. That wouldn’t fix health care problems faced by 8 million veterans – problems faced in many other parts of our health care system as well. Instead, it would destroy a service that in certain ways could be a model for national health care reform.
A Great Vision by Richard March (Hard Ball Press). For those who like to read history through someone’s personal story, this account follows three generations of the author’s family as they immigrated to the U.S. from Croatia, helped build the union movement, and got involved in the anti-war and anti-racism movements of the 1960s.
The Light of the Moon. An honest and nuanced feature film starring Stephanie Beatriz reveals the complex impacts of a street rape on a young Latina architect and her psychological well-being, career, and relationship with her long-term boyfriend.
My First Kiss and the People Involved. A unique and powerful feature film focuses on Sam, a girl in a residential group home who does not speak and only rarely engages with other people. She starts to connect with a new female caregiver, but then picks up clues suggesting that the caregiver has met a violent end. The visuals and sound attempt to replicate what Sam sees and hears, creating an intense introduction to her world.
Hearing is Believing. Rachel Flowers lost her eyesight soon after birth, but by two years old she could play Bach fugues by ear. Now a young adult with a ready smile, she is a highly skilled and creative jazz and rock musician who masters virtually any instrument she picks up.
Spettacolo. For 50 years, a small village in Tuscany has put on a new play each summer with townspeople as the actors – usually developing each play through conversation about their own experiences. But, as this documentary shows, the tradition is in jeopardy as young people leave the area or pursue other interests and as gentrification driven by city dwellers wanting summer homes divides the town.
Black Canaries. A stark 19-minute feature evokes the grip coal mining had on the filmmaker’s ancestors as a man continues each day to enter the mine where his father was crippled and his son rendered blind.
Death by Design. Big corporations are producing staggering quantities of electronic devices with little regard for what happens to the waste, how workers are treated, how the environment is damaged, or other concerns. From China to Silicon Valley, this film shows that a technological boom guided only by short-term profits is not socially sustainable.
Small Pieces by Rakkatak. A Canadian trio shows a variety of musical influences as they combine tabla, sitar, and bass.
Migration Blues by Eric Bibb. A themed album links songs about today’s immigrants and refugees, the black Great Migration from the South, and the Dust Bowl exodus in the 1930s.
Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes. Clean, simple bluegrass duets range from children’s music to traditional mountain home themes to several socially conscious tunes, including fine renditions of “Bread and Roses” and “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew.”
All proceeds from photo sales at MattWittPhotography.com go to the Rogue Action Center, an independent nonprofit hub for Rogue Valley community organizing for social, economic, racial, and climate justice.