Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Valentine for Children in Need

Save the Children, with the help of seven prominent children's book illustrators, has created this lovely set of Valentine's Day cards. Perfect for classroom distribution, the proceeds go to aid children living in poverty in the United States. A nice way for kids to lend a hand.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

For the past two years I have been at work editing a book of essays on Iran. While in Istanbul this fall I had the pleasure of meeting Iason Athanasiadis, a photojournalist who has lived in Iran. This weekend he opens an exhibition of his work at the California Fine Arts Museum in Los Angeles. The show will run through March 29 at 5814 Wilshire Blvd.

---Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Friday, January 23, 2009

There is enough time

This morning frustration is tempting. I sit at my keyboard to face another day of revision on the fourth draft of my current novel-in-progress. The fifth self-imposed deadline for finishing it passed two days ago.

Maybe frustration isn’t the right word. Discouraged? Depressed? A writer two generations ago might open the scotch. A writer one generation ago might trip out. A writer last millennium might pop Prozac. What is my vice of choice in 2009?

Espresso & Enlightenment.

I’ve concocted my Double Mocha W/ 2oz. Half & Half, 2 Tlbs Belgium Dark Sipping Chocolate. I’ve practiced yoga and meditated. I breathe.

“There is enough time.”

“A writer is frustrated, not because things come together slowly, but because she imagines that they will move quickly.”

I've taped these quotes to my computer monitor. I see them every day. I don’t remember who said them or where I read them. But in my experience, they are true.

I have not become enlightened yet. But consciousness is coming to our world. Writers and other artists lead the way. Let’s not give in to our temptations to wish things were different in our writing life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Day for School Libraries

As if there isn't enough good news on this Inauguration Day! Looks like school children in Washington State may soon have some of the most progressive school libraries in the nation. Legislators will take up a bill guaranteeing a full-time teacher-librarian in every school.

The bill would give schools $155 per student to spend on textbooks and library books, plus $200 per students for technology.

We've told you before about the Three Spokane Moms. Their kids' schools shut down libraries half-time and teacher librarians seemed doomed to extinction because of budget cuts. These women made it their personal agenda to raise H-E-double toothpicks with the state legislature.

Here's their announcement today:

"Last spring your letters and phone calls helped secure $4MM in emergency funds. Well … you've done it again! The Basic Education Finance Task Force (charged with redefining basic
education) submitted its report, and thanks to you, it contains some of the most progressive language in the country pertaining to school library programs. It's part of a bigger vision to reform Washington's system of education and ensure all children are fully prepared for the challenges of a new economy and a new era."

Newly-elected State School Superintendent Terry Dorn says his number one priority is to push these recommendations into law.

"Change has come to America."

Want to help? Click here.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Harvey Milk and Civil Rights Today

Hands down my favorite 2008 movie is Milk, starring Sean Penn. His performance is riveting. But what has stayed with me for two weeks now is the civil rights' aspect. I write nonfiction books for young adults. And this story is for them, too. For all those gay teens who experience prejudice at school or teens who are put them down out of fear or ignorance. It is for all of us.
It’s been thirty years since Harvey Milk died fighting for the right to be treated like every other American. And yet in California this past November, Proposition Eight, the initiative against gay marriage, garnered more ink, more discussion than the presidential election. No matter what our moral feelings are about homosexuality, the United States has stated time and time again in our Constitution, in our laws and in our courts that Americans must not be discriminated against according to gender, race, religion or sexual preference. Yet all of the civil rights battles in our country have taken decades, even centuries to resolve. What are we so afraid of? As Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere.”
In January 2009, we don’t have that kind of time to fritter. We don’t have the seventy-eight years that women publicly battled for the vote or two hundred years for people of color to gain fair access to the ballot box. Our country has too many serious problems - war around the world, the economy, the environment, health insurance, better schools for our young people - to waste it fighting against a group of people who only want what all American citizens deserve - justice - to live and love in freedom. What are we so afraid? How much better for all Americans if all the time, effort and money spent fighting for the rights of gay people could be used instead to work for peace, better schools, and a cleaner environment.
I wish that every young person in this country could see and discuss the movie Milk with their parents. It won't turn them into a gay person if they aren’t one already. Who would choose that life style with all the discrimination and prejudice it holds?
Milk is such a hopeful movie, in spite of its ending. Harvey fought his heart out for what he believed in and his passion inspired thousands during his lifetime and millions more after his death. We honor him and al those who have fought for civil rights by making sure all Americans have them. My brother and sister-in-law in San Francisco were part of that the candlelight parade, real footage featured at the end of the movie. It made the movie even more special to me. But I didn’t need their connection to cause me to think about Harvey Milk’s legacy every day since I saw the movie. The 14th amendment promises equal protection under the law. It is time that gay Americans gained that promise. What are so afraid of?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Movies for the Snow Bound

What happens when unthinkable quantities of snow keep you home bound for the better part of two weeks? After shoveling the walks, the drives, the roof (and roof shoveling, we learned, is double-shoveling. Once off the roof, then again when the resulting heaps block doors), we caught up on movies. We see fewer in theaters all the time these days, because they seldom seem worth a $30 night out -- for another $10-15 we can go to the community theater, which feels more like a night out than a movie. But I digress. Over the holidays we saw:

Mamma Mia -- Like squirting whip cream from a can directly into your mouth. Tasty, but not something you want to admit having done.
Journey to the Center of the Earth -- We sat in the dark with our 3-D glasses on, jumping back from the screen. Very silly, but good clean fun.
Wall-E -- Trivia Question: Who sings "Put on Your Sunday Clothes?" in the Hello Dolly video Wall-E watches? Michael Crawford, the future Phantom of the Opera! (Well, my daughter was thrilled by that factoid anyway.) Good flick.
Dark Knight -- I used to love action movies, but ever since I had children I've found all the gratuitous violence off-putting. But Dark Knight was a wonder. Poor Heath Ledger. What a shame.
West Wing, Season 1 -- I needed a fix.

--cross-posted to Under the Covers

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year from all of us at Storyforce in snowy Washington State.