If you read one thing today, make it Ursula K. Le Guin (b. October 21, 1929) on what beauty really means and how we limit the full range of our experience.
Early on in our philanthropic journey, my wife and I became aware of something I started to call Philanthropic Colonialism. I noticed that a donor had the urge to “save the day” in some fashion. People (including me) who had very little knowledge of a particular place would think that they could solve a local problem. Whether it involved farming methods, education practices, job training or business development, over and over I would hear people discuss transplanting what worked in one setting directly into another with little regard for culture, geography or societal norms.
Often the results of our decisions had unintended consequences; distributing condoms to stop the spread of AIDS in a brothel area ended up creating a higher price for unprotected sex.
A lot of people are surprised to learn that back in 1800, 90 percent of American teachers were actually male. Today we know that actually 76 percent of [them are] female, so how did this huge flip happen?
The answer is that as school reformers began to realize in the 1820s that schooling should be compulsory — that parents should be forced to send their kids to school, and public education should be universal — they had to come up with a way to do this basically in an affordable manner, because raising taxes was just about as unpopular back then as it is now. So what we see is this alliance between politicians and education reformers in the early 19th century to redefine teaching as a female profession.
They do this in a couple ways: First, they argue that women are more moral in a Christian sense than men. They depict men as alcoholic, intemperate, lash-wielding, horrible teachers who are abusive to children. They make this argument that women can do a better job because they’re more naturally suited to spend time with kids, on a biological level. Then they are also quite explicit about the fact that [they] can pay women about 50 percent as much — and this is going to be a great thing for the taxpayer.
It’s possible to bend language to your will, to invest extraordinary amounts of effort and care to make words do what you want them to do.
Our culture celebrates athletes that shape their bodies, and chieftains who build organizations. Lesser known, but more available, is the ability to work on our words until they succeed in transmitting our ideas and causing action.
Here’s the thing: you may not have the resources or the physique or the connections that people who do other sorts of work have. But you do have precisely the same keyboard as everyone else. It’s the most level playing field we’ve got.
Seth Godin on doing the word.
To do it well, bookmark this evolving library of notable advice on writing from celebrated authors, then revisit Steven Pinker on the art and cognitive science of effective writing.(via explore-blog)
We mostly hear stories from big personalities who already have a spotlight on them. I think that everybody carries stories that are just as profound as the ones we hear from celebrities or whoever. I’m interested in the stories of people who don’t usually get to tell them. I think those are sometimes the most interesting.
Wonderful Longform podcast conversation with artist and graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton about her latest project, an illustrated catalog of the moving stories behind people’s tattoos.
MacNaughton’s Meanwhile project embodies this ethos brilliantly.(via explore-blog)