Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy
More than 130 writers, artists, and thinkers appeal to a divided nation
America is at a crossroads. Conflicting political and social perspectives reflect a need to collectively define our moral imperatives, clarify cultural values, and inspire meaningful change. In that patriotic spirit, nearly two hundred writers, artists, scientists, and political and community leaders have come together since the 2016 presidential election to offer their impassioned letters to America, in a project envisioned by the online journal Terrain.org and collected, with 50 never-before-published letters, in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy.
In the inaugural piece in the Letters to America series, Alison Hawthorne Deming writes, “Think of the great spirit of inventiveness the Earth calls forth after each major disturbance it suffers. Be artful, inventive, and just, my friends, but do not be silent.” Joining Deming are renowned artists and thinkers including Seth Abramson, Ellen Bass, Jericho Brown, Francisco Cantú, Kurt Caswell, Victoria Chang, Camille T. Dungy, Tarfia Faizullah, Blas Falconer, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, David Gessner, Katrina Goldsaito, Kimiko Hahn, Brenda Hillman, Jane Hirshfield, Linda Hogan, Pam Houston, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Karen An-hwei Lee, Christopher Merrill, Kathryn Miles, Kathleen Dean Moore, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Naomi Shihab Nye, Elena Passarello, Dean Rader, Scott Russell Sanders, Lauret Savoy, Gary Soto, Pete Souza, Kim Stafford, Sandra Steingraber, Arthur Sze, Scott Warren, Debbie Weingarten, Christian Wiman, Robert Wrigley, and others.
Dear America reflects the evolution of moral panic that has emerged in the nation. More importantly, it is a timely congress of the personal and the political, a clarion call to find common ground. The diverse anthology features personal essays, narrative journalism, poetry, and visual art from nearly 130 contributors—many pieces never before published—all literary reactions to the times we live in, with a focus on civic action and social change as we approach future elections.
As Scott Minar writes, we must remain steadfast and look to the future: “Despair can bring us very low, or it can make us smarter and stronger than we have ever been before.”
“These letters come from a deep, real love of this place, and they imagine willing, receptive readers on the other end. We need a series of miracles looking forward, and this is one.”
— Bill McKibben
“You should carry Dear America onto the battlefield and into classrooms! It's a tool to sharpen the mind, see injustice, and raise as a weapon.”
— Jimmy Santiago Baca