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When the Unimaginable Becomes Inevitable - from Orion Magazine Blog

by Kathleen Dean Moore on

Reposted from The Orion Magazine Blog with permission from author Kathleen Dean MoorePlease visit the website for Moore's book Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril.

The main event of the People’s Climate March took place on Sunday in New York City, but demonstrations were held around the world. Orion contributor Kathleen Dean Moore sent us this note from a gathering in Eugene, Oregon. Photograph courtesy of Mark Watchman.

This is a bad day for pipelines and export terminals and tankers and coal trains.

This is a bad day for the Koch brothers, and Rex Tillerson of Exxon Mobil, and anyone else who would trade the life-supporting systems of the Earth for obscene profits.

This is a bad day for universities, holding on to their last investments in fossil fuels, insisting on their right to profit from death and extinction—even as their own scientists warn them, warn them that fossil fuels will carry us, smoking and stinking, to the end of life as we know it on this planet.

This is the last day for despair. It is the last day to say it’s too late, that there is nothing anyone can do. It is a day to awaken to the fact that we are not helpless at all, that we have the knowledge and the courage and the joyous communities it will take to make the great turning away from death and toward a reinvented life.

This is the last day for lies and excuses and delay. It is the last term in office for elected officials who will not or cannot protect the future. It is the last day that anyone can be silent about climate change.

And so, this is a great day for the hoofed and winged things. It’s a great day for small children of all species, a great day for ice and oceans, a great day for reliable rain.

This is a great day for justice, and the right of all beings to clean air and clean energy.

This is a great day for sanity and imagination. Imagine a world without wars for oil. Imagine a world without the din and dirt of internal combustion engines. Imagine democracy without the corrupting wealth of coal barons. Imagine a world powered as plants are powered—by the sun.

Today is the day when everything changes. In every struggle for justice, there is a turning point, a tipping point, when what was unimaginable becomes inevitable. It is the day when the people pour into the street to reclaim their futures and the future of all the glorious lives on Earth.

Life is not a commodity, to be bought and sold, wrecked and ransacked, for the profit of a few sullen and frightened men. The profusion of life is a sacred trust, a great and glorious gift, to be honored and protected, and passed along, intact and singing, to the next generations of all living things.

Kathleen Dean Moore’s newest book is Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, which makes the moral case for halting climate change and honoring our obligations to future generations. Her most recent piece for Orion, “The Rules of the River,” appears in the September/October 2014 issue.


Improving the Environment One Talk at a Time

by Eliza Perez on

Being a new intern at TU Press, I've quickly learned that the environment is important to the press be it through sustainable printing practices or through the publication of books that focus on nature and one’s place in the world. 

Perhaps you've read Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril or Wisdom for a Livable Planet or On the Edge: Water, Immigration, and Politics in the Southwest? These books explore environmental issues our planet faces and the people working to improve the state of the environment. If you have or if you’re simply interested in learning about our planet, then head over to the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center. There are still a few more installments of their community school summer series, “The Rights of Mother Earth.” This is a great opportunity to learn for anyone in San Antonio! These events are free and open to the public.

This Friday, September 26, the Esperanza will screen the film “Rooted Lands/Tierras Arraigadas,” a short documentary about the first county in the U.S. to ban fracking. After the screening, Eleanor Bravo, the Southwest organizer for Food and Water Watch, will share her experiences and insight on working with different communities to ban or restrict fracking. 

The following Friday, October 3, Nina Wilson, co-founder of Idle No More, will give a lecture on the rights of Mother Earth from a Native person’s perspective. If all goes well, we’ll be sending someone to this lecture and we’ll report back for any of you that may have missed it. So no worries if you’re not in San Antonio! 

It’s times like this that I miss my best friends from home who are my usual go-to companions for lectures and documentary screenings. We love going to events like this together, not only for the great lectures and discussions, but for the wonderful people you meet. And if you go to events in San Antonio enough times, faces start becoming more familiar and suddenly you’re part of new community and that’s the best feeling when you’re away from home.

For more details, check out the Esperanza website. I hope to see you there! 

Artwork from the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

by Eliza Perez on

Yesterday, September 21st, marked the first day of this year’s Banned Books Week in which we celebrate the freedom to read and the importance of preventing censorship. Here at TU Press we know how powerful books can be in shaping the lives of current and future generations. Books offer us a multitude of interesting perspectives and inspire people to change the world, be it through involvement in environmental issues or through the understanding of one’s self in the world. 

Some of my favorite books, that have incidentally changed my life in some way, are regularly challenged or banned. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya and Animal Farm by George Orwell are both books I read as a freshman in high school and helped grow my love of reading and creative writing. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa had me in tears the first time I read it as a junior in high school. It was one of the first books that spoke to me on a level no book had ever been able to. San Antonio’s first poet laureate Carmen Tafolla’s book of poetry, Curandera, has also been challenged and banned. It is also currently sitting on my bookshelf at home, a constant inspiration for me. 

As a lover of books and a supporter of the right to read, I understand that banning books isn’t good. However, parents and teachers can still be wary of allowing children to read certain books; the best thing we can do is talk to children about the issues these books present and figure out which books are appropriate for them. As they get older, they’ll be able to choose to read books that may have been deemed too mature for them as children. 

This year the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is sponsoring a free webinar on Wednesday, September 24th over regional issues for banned books in 2014 which will showcase three activists from both the U.S. and the U.K. If you miss out on the webinar, there are still many ways you can get involved and exercise your rights. 

Even after Banned Books Week ends, I encourage you all to stay informed on which books are being challenged or banned, along with speaking out against censorship in your community. Head over to the American Library Association’s Banned Books website to see a list of Frequently Challenged Books and learn how you can help support the continued freedom to read. 

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.

All Hail to Trinity!

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

Late-night cramming sessions! Naps in between classes! Shortages on cash! For Trinity University students, school starts up again in less than two weeks. For some of us, it may be just another ordinary school year. But many others are dreading it because it will be our final year here. The next ten months will be filled with trips to Career Services to try to figure out what we want to do with our lives, an overwhelming pile of transcripts, resumes, and essays that we’ll try to compile into grad school applications, or an immeasurable amount of hours spent prepping for the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, or GRE. Whether it’s the agony of having to abandon the small sense of freedom that we have left or the stress this final year inevitably brings upon us, it’s certain that leaving Trinity won’t be easy.

Unlike many of my fellow classmates, I’m actually looking forward to it. Although there are many bittersweet feelings that walking through this beautiful, green campus for the last time will bring, it’s important to realize that there are greater things ahead as we prepare to leave the great people and memories behind.

As I reflected on my final year at Trinity, I tried to think of what I would miss most about this school. I came to the conclusion that there’s way too much to love about this place (except for Mabee, of course) to select one thing. Instead, here’s a list of the top five things I love (and will miss) about Trinity University.

1) The traditions. Every university has its rituals that differentiate it from the pack, but many of the traditions we have at Trinity really make it special. Murchison Tower, which stands at 166 feet, is one San Antonio’s tallest and most recognizable monuments, and the tradition of climbing to the top on the night before the first day of classes has become something everyone looks forward to. Another favorite (or least favorite) is the birthday fountain dunk, in which our friends kidnap us from our rooms at midnight on our birthdays and dunk us into Miller Fountain. Also, who can forget about petting the beloved Trinity cats (Trinicats) that are always roaming through campus?

2) The convenience. While many students at LPUs couldn’t imagine going to a liberal arts school of our size, I think that is the reason everyone at Trinity really loves it here. There are only around 2,500 of us on campus, and it’s easy to run into someone we know and have a quick chat. Because we’re a small student population, the size of the actual campus is great, too! The walk to class is easy, and sometimes we even have time to grab a snack in between. There’s no need for buses and shuttles to take us to class, since most of our classroom buildings are only one (large) staircase away.

3) The professors. The professors truly do give their students the attention and assistance they need. In my three years at Trinity, not only have I had all my questions fully answered by my professors during their office hours, but I’ve also had the chance to work with them outside the classroom and develop great relationships. I’ve bonded with some professors so much that I’ve even taken certain classs just to be able to have them a second, third, or fourth time, and I know I speak for many others who have done the same.

4) The student involvement. I don’t know a single student here who isn’t involved with something on campus. Whether it’s Greek organizations, academic organizations, intramurals, work-study jobs, or volunteer groups, there is something that everyone can get involved with. I’ve had the pleasure to meet some of my best friends through these organizations, and I know my experience at Trinity would not have been the same without them. It’s refreshing to see how much students enjoy staying involved and keeping busy.

5) The sense of community. The thing that sealed the deal for me and many others is the sense of community students feel when they’re walking through campus. The previous four qualities shape this sense of community and define what it means to be a Trinity student. It’s an indescribable feeling that I can’t sum up in words. This final quality speaks for itself.

Now, let the year begin!

RIP Robin Williams

by Eddie Kolbinskie on

If you’re like me and browse social media feeds waiting for something interesting to start trending, then you, too, probably found out about the unfortunate death of Robin Williams through an online news source as it went viral.

Robin Williams was the type of actor who was so talented and recognized that he was easy to take for granted. He left us with timeless classics like Good Morning, Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire, and one of my personal favorites, Dead Poets Society. It wasn't until I read what happened and rewatched one of his films that I realized what we'd lost and, more importantly, what a tremendous person we had in Robin Williams.

While there is much good for us to remember about Williams’s life, there is also much that we should take away from a tragedy like this. Out of respect for his family, I won’t acknowledge what is believed to be the cause of his death. I will say, however, that his passing was stunning to many who were unaware of his struggles with depression. We hear about it all the time. We hear about the hotlines, counselors, and therapies that are supposed to prevent this type of thing. But it isn't until we see it happen to someone we care about that we start to realize how important it is to discuss.

Depression is serious. Admitting to having a mental illness takes strength and courage. Regardless of how tough it is, it is critical to talk about it with someone—a friend, family member, therapist, or even a stranger. Being the outlet for someone means so much more than we realize. As we mourn the loss of a beloved actor, let us remember to be kind to everyone we meet, because anyone, even the funniest person on the planet, could be struggling with something more substantial than we realize.

When someone dies, it’s important to reflect on that person’s life, not his death. Williams's death certainly serves as a lesson for us all, and I, personally, have received some of the greatest lessons from his films. Growing up with divorced parents, I always loved Mrs. Doubtfire because it provided a comedic outlook on a tough issue families deal with. Attending an all-boys' school and having the pleasure of being taught by some of the most inspirational people, I always admired Dead Poets Society, especially Williams’s character, Mr. Keating, for his advice to stray from conformity, appreciate literature and poetry, and be our own selves.

Mr. Keating’s message that the themes we find in poetry—like beauty, romance, and love—are "what we stay alive for" is one of the reasons I've come to love reading so much and why I love working at the press. From Williams's comedic roles in lighthearted films like Aladdin and Flubber to more serious roles in dramas like The Fisher King and Good Will Hunting, there is such a range of messages that it’s hard not to find one we love and relate to.

I want to end this post by remembering the inspirational person Robin Williams was to millions and by quoting one of his most memorable lines: "Carpe diem. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary."

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You will be missed.