Activism Nature Writing

Missing people: context and honesty in nature writing

Replied to by Antonia Malchik (On the Commons)

Maybe mothers can’t write about nature in a way that excludes other humans because they don’t have days that exclude other humans, Dungy said. And beyond that, far more than that, it’s a problem rather than an asset that so many people are able to write book after book about the wonders of nature and their love for it without including hints of what is going on in human society at the time. That they don’t have the imagination to think that you can write about struggles against prejudice and injustice and rivers.

“I have grown intolerant of that. I can’t be fully interested and engaged in writing that seems to erase me. Because all of those concerns about civil rights struggles and women’s rights struggles and those kinds of things—if those don’t move forward, if they don’t get paid attention to, if they don’t get talked about, that negatively affects my ability to move forward in the world.” — Camille Dungy, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden

This is part of what I’m enjoying in Braiding Sweetgrass: her life is not separate from nature that she can ever set either aside, that her connection with nature and community are intertwined, that the way she relates to nature is dependent on her personal history and her family’s history and her people’s history. There’s no pretending nature is this pristine untouched place “untainted” by people (untouched nature is largely a myth anyway) because she recognizes how humans have played a part in the ecosystem — she even studies the indigenous practices for harvesting sweetgrass and sees indications that gathering sustainably actually keeps the population growing healthily — that human stewardship is part of the balanced ecosystem.

Meta Writing

Tricking your brain into writing the way you want

Bookmarked lowercase magic by Rob HardyRob Hardy (Ungated)

how ignoring the rules of capitalization catapulted me into the land of cathartic creativity

I’m all about using tricks to fool my brain — switching from computer to paper somehow unleashes a different kind of brainstorming that doesn’t work for me on the screen, sending a book draft to my Kindle helps me forget I wrote it so I can read more objectively. This guy’s switch to lowercase writing makes sense as a way to unlock vulnerability because it’s closer to the way we text and chat, which we often do with friends and family who we probably feel comfortable sharing more with and being ourselves. It’s a good reminder that switching our context and rules for ourselves can reveal ways we’re inadvertently keeping ourselves from our best work.

(I wonder how he’d feel about going back through and restoring capitalization after writing, or if the lowercase is part of the cue to the reader that this is something more personal.)

The Internet

Context collapse is used to suppress marginalized groups

Liked The Dangers of Context Collapse by fluffyfluffy (

Context collapse is the favorite tool of the alt-right, but it has so many other implications. It’s important to avoid it, and to recognize where context collapse is leading to incorrect beliefs or actions.

This also leads to a vicious cycle where positive LGBT-related content is suppressed or marked as pornographic, which makes it harder to find and also sets up discourse about how LGBT identities are inherently pornographic as well. This then ratchets into ridiculous beliefs like “gay teachers are grooming their students” which then leads to the horror show of the current push towards “Don’t Say Gay” bills.

Art and Design Society

A Magic Wand

Replied to We’re on the cusp of another revolution by Ray (

💬 Replied to Will “good enough” AI beat human artists? — Tracy Durnell → “I’d say AI is not good enough yet for most use cases, but it will get

I love this way of thinking about the new AI art tools: magic. I am excited to see how people without art training use them, plus how artists will use renderings as tools (to iterate ideas quickly, to storyboard, to create mood / conceptual art, etc.). There’s a lot of good that can come from tools like this, and they seem like fun!

I’m just wary of the impact of tools like this in our corporatist society that values people only for the paid work they produce, and doesn’t support providing a social safety net. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become much more sympathetic to the Luddites, whose skilled labor had given them a good lifestyle since they were paid by the piece and could work as much or little as they wanted; mechanized looms stole their power and lifestyle by replacing skilled work with drudge work in poor conditions for low pay. Mechanized weaving made cloth more affordable and more widely available, so I can’t say it was a bad tool, but we’re still suffering the social fallout from the way mechanization was used and who controlled it. I still hope as a society we can work through some of these issues and grow into a culture where a cool new tool doesn’t spell possible financial disaster for a whole profession.