One Year Later: An Election Reading List

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We’ve been thinking a lot lately–as probably evidenced by our slightly-unplanned lack of activity. Thinking about what our mission is, thinking about what we’d like our communities to become, and thinking about what the past year has meant for us all.

Some of the thinking you’ll see in this space soon, as we resume our Small Stones Interviews with people resisting in large ways and small, working to make our country and their home towns just a little bit better.

For now, though, we want to lean hard into this moment of celebration. Unlike a year ago, watching election returns last night was not cause for alarm or despair. There is more work to be done–there is always more work to be done–but last night’s election saw some pretty incredible things happen. So cheers to all who worked to make this possible, and here’s to continued progress, for us all, over the coming year.

Watch this space.

And in the meantime, check out these links:

  • Huffpost has a list up of historic victories from last night. Check out their rundown of victorious candidates who demonstrate the strength of diversity.
  • In good news for Charlottesville, the first independent candidate for city council in quite some time (reports vary on just how many years), Nikuyah Walker, has just been elected. We are in love with her platform. This is also the first time Charlottesville has had more than one black person on the city council.
  • Edweek has a quick writeup of what election results in Virginia and New Jersey might mean for their K-12 policy.
  • Part of how it happened: Flippable has a rundown of results, the work their organization and volunteers did, and the plan for 2018.

We’ll end on this, which we haven’t yet been able to source, but which is going around twitter and makes us very happy:

 

Welcome back, teachers! We love you all.

A back-to-school roundup of posts and readings.

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Here’s to all teachers and educators returning to the classroom, wherever that might be for you. And what a first week it’s been. Below are some of our most popular posts that may be helpful as the new school year begins.

If you, like us, live in a place where far-right and white-supremacist groups have been coming to visit, check out “Students and Civil Disobedience: Lesson Plans and Activities” and its sister-post, “Students and Civil Disobedience: A Reading List” for ideas on how to contextualize this moment in US history. For those who might have students participating in marches and counter-protests, we have some tips.

Teaching climate change? We will post information as soon as we have it on how to help Houston-area educators and students as they recover from massive flooding. (If this is you, and you have the bandwidth, please let us know what would be helpful, and we will amplify!) If you are currently on dry ground, here are resources for helping students encounter the basic science and impacts of climate change in the classroom.

In the spirit of resistance, we wanted to highlight one of our lesser-read but best-loved roundups: our post on the history of several US and Canadian general strikes. Seattle, Winnipeg, and Oakland all hold history that we never encountered in school. Don’t let your students be like us.

Best of luck to all in the new school year, and watch this space for more Small Stones Interviews. And if you have your own story to tell, please get in touch!

#Charlottesville Resources

Here are some things we’ve been reading amidst the onslaught of daily news. As always, our goal is providing resources that may be useful to teachers and/or students, whether in the classroom or in the larger world.

Common Sense Media has updated a previously-published article, “Explaining the News to Our Kids,” in light of the events in Charlottesville. The article includes tips and strategies for discussing difficult news with children by age-range, which we found particularly helpful.

With the nation still stunned from the horrific display of hate in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, families are once again faced with explaining difficult subjects to kids and teens. And as if hate speech, racism, and oppression weren’t enough, the president’s controversial remarks casting blame on “many sides” puts the burden on parents to educate their kids on the importance of tolerance.

In the meantime, technology is doing the heavy lifting — sending updates, tweets, posts, and breaking news alerts directly to our kids’ phones — long before parents have had a chance to digest the news themselves or discuss it thoughtfully with their kids. In many cases, kids aren’t at an age where they can make sense of these current events and are being thrust into a political debate that can seem scary or overwhelming. Often parents aren’t around to immediately help their kids make sense of challenging, upsetting situations.

The bottom line is that elementary school-aged kids and some middle schoolers have trouble fully understanding news events and their contexts. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.

From Chalkbeat.org, an excellent snapshot of the developing #CharlottesvilleCurriculum. Since doing this work, we’ve fallen in love with curricula like these, generated by careful curators and excellent crowdsourcing on twitter. Chalkbeat’s summary is worthwhile if you’re pressed for time, but we seriously encourage those who can to delve into the developing document itself.

From Chalkbeat:

Looking for help addressing Charlottesville in class? Dozens of other educators have your back.

In the wake of the racist violence in Virginia that left one protester dead this weekend, teachers took to Twitter with #CharlottesvilleCurriculum to share resources for addressing racism, hate, and history.

From the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum itself (a publicly-viewable Google doc):

This is inspired by the thread created by Melinda D. Anderson#CharlottesvilleCurriculum on Twitterin response to the White Supremacist/NAZI rally, violence and murder that took place in Charlottesville.

As educators, our job is to protect, support, love and educate all of our students. Anyone can add to this document.  Please feel free to add & make your own copy. This is a working document.

Facing History is another excellent place; they suggest a couple of their already-existing resources as appropriate for our time and place today. First up, Holocaust and Human Behavior, a multi-media collection that can also be used as a printable book. The Table of Contents is a great entry point.

Also from Facing History, we recommend The Reconstruction Era and Fragility of Democracy.

Facing History has produced a series of videos and accompanying lessons that will introduce a rigorous study of the Reconstruction era into American history classrooms. Our video series includes interviews with scholars of the Reconstruction era who provide insight into this complex history and address questions of freedom, justice, equality, and citizenship that are at the heart of the Reconstruction.

We have also developed a complete unit that offers 16 lessons and many primary source documents. The unit, available in print, ebook, and free PDF, will guide students through a deep exploration of the Reconstruction era while enhancing their ethical decision-making and capacity for emotional growth.

More to come from us. If you have suggestions or additional material, please don’t hesitate to pass it along. And huge thanks to Claudia of Mindful Digital Life (among many other projects) for flagging these resources.

Notes After Charlottesville

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Ella Baker portrait by Robert Shetterly. Courtesy of Americans Who Tell the Truth. Found here by Small Stones.

The Ella Baker Center is re-publicizing this post from 2013: Ella’s Song: “We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes”.

We found the words of the post comforting. As the author notes,

The song is an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve.

Here is a video of the Sweet Honey performance:

We are also proud to share the news that some of Ézé’s pictures from this past weekend are helping folks understand the hatefulness of the white supremacists. (We featured his work and words here).

Here’s one of his pictures that’s been picked up by the AP. The man pictured is accused of killing Heather Heyer, the protester who died.

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Ézé is on Instagram here. Below is a screen grab of another of his photos from the past weekend.

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Finally, here’s a recent article from The Atlantic: Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews. While the hatred is multi-faceted, so, too, is the pushback.

With love from us to you.

Revisiting Charlottesville

“…and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks, and at this point I was telling some of the policemen, ‘This is not necessary! What are you doing?’”

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photograph courtesy of Ézé Amos

In our most recent interview with photographer Ézé Amos, we mentioned that Ézé would be out again on August 12th, the day of another planned right-wing, white-supremacist march. That march, and its aftermath, are currently taking place.

We’re reposting our interview with Ézé to do what we can to highlight the strong grassroots community response to this horrific Nazi march. (And yes, we’ll stick with the term ‘Nazi’ so long as participants are carrying swastikas.)

Stay safe out there, all. Thank you for your courage.

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Here at Small Stones, we define education, and educators, broadly. So often, classrooms appear in the most unexpected places.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

As we continue our own work of interviewing some of these educators, we wanted to share with you work from a friend of the blog. Photographer and photojournalist Eze Amos, a Charlottesville, Virginia local, has found himself in the middle of some of the larger protests and counter protests that have taken place since the 2016 election. We are featuring some of his images in this post; there are far more on his Instagram feed.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

The issue at hand? A statue of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, that the city voted to remove earlier this year. The removal, however, is being held up by legal challenges. In May, white supremacist groups marched on the city carrying torches. This past Saturday, July 8, the KKK arrived.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

We were fortunate to be able to talk with Eze about his experience at the counter-demonstration, and here’s what he had to say:

What I saw, after the KKK guys had left the city, is they drove off with police escort right in front of them, and there was a [police] car behind the convoy of KKK guys. I’ve been telling friends about this actually, they were definitely given—the only thing short of red carpet treatment was actual red carpets. What they give them that day, it was amazing. Anyhow, the police escorted the KKK out of the city. And of course, people were still agitated—KKK came to town—so there were still people out in the streets. Nobody was being violent.

The police, the state police that were all in riot gear, turned around as though they were leaving. [Then] they went back up to the park and then suddenly they turned around, and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks. And at this point I was telling some of the policemen, “This is not necessary! What are you doing?” But they just kept doing what they were doing, putting on their masks, so I immediately stepped a little bit away from them.

Moments later, I heard the first gas canister go off, which was without warning. They didn’t warn anybody. So of course some of the people saw that this was happening, that the police put on gas masks, so they wrapped cloaks around their faces, to prevent whatever gas they were going to deploy. Now they’re charging those people for covering their faces in a public place, which I think is ridiculous. So that was what I saw. The police deployed the gas after KKK had left. KKK had left, and twenty minutes after they had left, this whole gas thing happened, and they deployed three gas canisters.

And the craziest part of it was after they did this, the crowd, you know, people were still on the streets, and the police just turned around, got in their vans, and drove off. The state police. So they weren’t really deploying the gas to displace the people or get the people out of the street, they were just doing it for exercise, I think, because it doesn’t make sense that you’d deploy gas and then you’d turn around and just leave the people on the street and just drive off.

So basically, that is what happened. That’s what I saw. I got some photos to back that up. You can see [from] most of the photos, I didn’t get right to where the gas was deployed initially, because of course I was running away from getting the gas in my system, and I got some, I got pepper in my face and stuff, but, yeah. That is what I saw. That’s what happened.

Police ultimately used tear gas, and 23 counter-protestors were arrested. Local activists are currently preparing to oppose a planned Alt-Right March on Charlottesville. If you’re interested in helping out, you can contribute to Solidarity Cville Anti-Racist Legal Fund here. You can also use an ACLU-spearheaded form to register your thoughts with the Charlottesville City Council.

Unless the city revokes the permit for the August 12th march, we may, unfortunately, be featuring more images from the ensuing pushback.

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Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

 

Friday Music: Rhiannon Giddens, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’

Wayfaring Stranger is an old North American folksong that’s been sung by artists as diverse as Burl Ives, Johnny Cash, and Ed Sheeran. We like this version by Rhiannon Giddens. Lyrics below.

A restful weekend to you, from us!

Wayfaring Stranger

I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
But there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that fair land to which I go
I’m going there to see my father
I’m going there no more to roam
I am just going over Jordan
I am just going over home

I know dark clouds will gather round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But beau-teous fields lie just before me
Where God’s redeemed their vigils keep
I’m going home to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home
I’m just a going over home

Do You Have A Story To Share?

We are excellent listeners.

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Welcome, new readers!

Small Stones is a project founded in the wake of the 2016 election. We focus on curation, education, and narration, and right now, we’re waist-deep in our Small Stones Interviews project. That’s probably how you found us.

Do you have a story of your own? We would love to hear it. We’re currently working on our Small Stones Interviews guiding principles. Here they are in their current form:

  • History is personal as well as factual. Facts and statistics are part of history, but so, too, is personal experience—otherwise known as ‘your story’ or ‘oral history.’ We think it’s important to think critically and compassionately about peoples’ stories. They are, after all, the fundamental stuff of history. We are living in a time of political and social upheaval that future historians will study. We aim to influence both how we see ourselves now and how posterity will see us. Because if we see ourselves differently, we may take different, braver action.
  • Stories can be transformational. Oral history is inherently humanizing because it recreates one-on-one conversation, rather than presenting a list of facts or abstract ideas. People learn about themselves and the human condition by sharing, reading, and hearing stories. When our children ask us what we did in 2017, we hope to tell them that we worked towards a better world by helping people listen to each other.
  • Conducting oral history is an opportunity to honor a person. We aim to be respectful, trustworthy, and accurate listeners to, and communicators of, our narrators’ stories.
  • The Small Stones storytelling process. When we interview you, you are giving permission for us to record, transcribe, and consider the interview for publication at org. However, you remain in control. You can call the process off at any time, you can edit the interview, and we’re happy to keep your identity confidential (i.e. publish it anonymously) if that makes more sense for you.

We welcome your thoughts and comments! And, if you’re interested in telling your story with us, please email us to discuss: smallstonesedu@gmail.com. Or reach out on Twitter. We’re at @smallstonesedu.