My Mother's Blue Chevy Convertible

My Mother’s Blue Chevy Convertible

Someone should write an erudite essay on the moral, physical, and esthetic effect of the Model T Ford on the American nation,” wrote John Steinbeck in Cannery Row. “Two generations of Americans knew more about the Ford coil than the clitoris, about the planetary system of gears than the solar system of stars.”

New York State Shook by Power of Bottom-Up Politics

New York State Shook by Power of Bottom-Up Politics

New York makes it hard for citizens to influence policy.   They cannot put an issue on the state ballot no matter how many signatures they gather.  And although the state Constitution has a home rule provision, cities and counties lack authority to undertake some of the most basic initiatives.  Even mighty New York City, with over 8 million people, must go hat in hand to Albany to request permission to reduce city speed limits, install red light cameras, open their courts at night, or raise taxes other than those imposed on property.

Norma Rae is Spinning in Her Grave

Norma Rae is Spinning in Her Grave

In a small town in rural North Carolina in those days a mill job was about the best a blue collar worker could do. Crystal Lee’s grandfather had worked in the mill, as had both of her parents. It seemed to be the natural order of things that she would follow her parents and grandparents into the mill.

What's On Your Commons Bucket List? 1

What’s On Your Commons Bucket List?

Everywhere you turn, people are talking about–and attempting cross off items from–bucket lists. Only a few people are talking about “generativity”–a term introduced by psychologist Erik Erikson, who described it as an active concern for the next generation and a need to leave something of value for people who will live on after we die. But I feel there is a strong connection between the two. The idea of generativity suggests that it might be a good idea to have a bucket list for future generations–not just for ourselves. These too can offer adventure, challenges and fun by making a long-lasting contribution that helps people and the planet.

The Death of Anas al-Atrash

The Death of Anas al-Atrash

ON THE EVENING of Thursday, November 8 [2013], Anas and Ismail al-Atrash closed up their family’s shoe store in the central West Bank city of Jericho. Before leaving for their home in Hebron, about an hour’s drive south, the brothers called their mother. “She asked me to buy tomatoes and lemons and oranges and cucumbers and potatoes,” recalled Ismail, squeezed between his parents in the sitting room of their three-story house in the Hebron neighborhood of Abu Sneineh. Ismail’s hair was neatly gelled, but his cheeks were unshaven, his eyelids heavy. An uncle sat sprawled across an adjacent sofa, fingering a length of wooden prayer beads.

The Game is Rigged Against Small Business

The Game is Rigged Against Small Business

Small business looms large in American political rhetoric. From the campaign trail to the floor of the U.S. House and Senate, members of Congress love to evoke the diner and dry cleaner, the neighborhood grocer and local hardware store. Ensuring the well-being of Main Street, we might easily assume, is one of their central policy aims.

The legislative track record tells another story. It is one in which the interests of big corporations are dominant, and many laws and regulations seem designed to bend the marketplace in their favor and put small, independent businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

Dealing with a Mystery Disease

Dealing with a Mystery Disease

I ignored the blur in my right eye. About two weeks later, I figured I had time, so I made an appointment with Dr. Lowe, my ophthalmologist, for December 1.

The Alchemy of Collaboration

The Alchemy of Collaboration

The commons describes a social practice that unleashes people’s capacity to create things together and take their lives and livelihood into their own hands. It is a social form that has long lived in the shadows of our market culture, but which is now on the rise.

For You

For You

Maureen N. McLane’s poem “For You” appeared in the April 27, 2015 issue of The New Yorker.  A two-time BMC alum, she is the author of three books of poetry, including 2014 National Book Award finalist This Blue (FSG, 2014). Her book My Poets (FSG, 2012), a hybrid of memoir and criticism, was a finalist for the National Critics Circle Award for autobiography. She teaches at New York University and loves the Adirondacks—Blue Mountain Center in particular.

Coming of Age in the Time of the Hoodie

Coming of Age in the Time of the Hoodie

Earlier this year I decided to read Joe Brainard’s cult classic, I Remember. The book had long intrigued me for I had heard that it was widely taught in creative writing courses and was a favorite of many authors, including several well-known authors whose work I admire. I was immediately drawn to Brainard’s style, each line starting with the words “I remember.” As I read it, I found myself jotting down remembrances of my own, complementing Brainard’s memories of America with my memories of Nigeria.