The Last Living Letter Writer
We invited writers to submit a projection of the future. Reader Beverly Anderson sent us this bit of creative writing.
I am the last living letter writer in America. Of course, they don’t call it that anymore. Back in 2025, Canada, Mexico, and America merged into the Northwest Combine, to offset the power of the European Union, which covered all of Europe and the Middle East.
I was born in 1949, right after Europe blew itself up. The U.S. was lucky enough to have what the world needed, and prospered. That lucky generation invented computers, and now, in 2049, people plant so much data in the air in front of themselves that they don’t know where they are walking.
I like to stick my foot out and watch them trip. They apologize, “Oh I am so sorry. I didn’t see you.”
My point exactly.
We spend so much time with computers now that we don’t see people. In my day, we talked to each other face to face. When we couldn’t, we wrote letters. The color of the paper, the way we signed our letters — all of it meant something. Bits of data can never match that.
Nowadays people have trouble with loneliness, including me. I am lonely for human contact. I sit alone in my room at the end of the hall and listen to old answering machine tapes, just to hear my friends’ voices. They have all gone now. It’s just me and the computer generation. So I write letters to myself. I am the last living letter writer in America.
What do you see in the future? Send us your own vision in first person voice from a future year, and we will add it here.
Different Data on Military Budget
I would like to call attention to the U.S. budget chart on page 7 of the June issue. It deceptively targets the total military budget as only 15 percent of the total U.S. budget. The real figure is 1.25 trillion, closer to 35 percent of the total budget. There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. The final annual tally for war — preparations for war and the impact of war — comes to more than $1.25 trillion, more than double the Pentagon’s base budget. This trillion dollar figure includes the following budgets: Base $554.1B, War $173.8B, Nuclear $24.8B, Defense Related Activities $9B, Veterans Affairs $216B, Homeland Security $69.2B, International Affairs $51B, Intelligence $80B, and Interest on the Defense Share of the National Department $156.3B. TOTAL $1.2542T. — Sue Ann Martinson
Source: “Making Sense of the $1.25 Trillion National Security State Budget,” by William Hartung and Mandy Smithburger,Counterpunch, dated May 9, 2019.
Editor’s Note: Thank you for the additional information, Sue Ann Martinson (“My Life as a Peace Activist,” Minnesota Women’s Press, June 2019). Our Tapestry item included a chart that is from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
Explain Where Women Get Their Support
I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘support people’ lately. The ones (usually women) who do the daily drudge work — cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
It’s been in the back of my mind for quite a while, but was recently re-triggered by reading an older book, “The Search for Solutions.” The first chapter was talking about scientists, almost exclusively male, and their discoveries that often led to the Nobel Prize, or to other prizes. I do sometimes think about Einstein. I am quite sure he did NOT do his own laundry! There was no mention of who did all the behind-the-scenes daily drudge work so that they were ‘free’ to focus on their science! I feel like whoever they were/are, they should also get a Nobel for ‘support work’!
I’d like you to address this in the articles in Minnesota Women’s Press, about all the really wonderful women/people who are doing a lot of the hard labor of changing society and politics and life in general. They are truly amazing folks! And I don’t think they are doing it all on their own. Could you add a sentence or two tabout who does their ‘support/drudge work’? Something like ‘XYZ gets help with daily chores from her/his friends, spouse, housemate.’ Be as specific as you can – spouse/partner does X percent, subject of article does X percent, and who does the scheduled things (laundry, grocery shopping), and who does the not-so-scheduled things (cleaning up messes, picking up sick kids from school). If they do indeed do it all themselves, put in something about how they manage to do it – shortage of sleep, very careful time management, whatever.
Kudos on “Healing Trauma” Issue
Just read it cover to cover, and wanted to compliment you on the excellent publication. The theme of Healing and Trauma, articles, interviews, personal stories, inclusion of Animal Comfort, all made for an outstanding and helpful issue!
— Susan Lasoff
“I Wish I Had Been Braver”
I am reading your February 2019 issue and flashing back to a time I went to see a therapist at a local hospital. After a few sessions, he walked me to the door and grabbed my breasts and then reached below my waist to touch me. I pulled away and ran. It felt like it didn’t really happen. He called at midnight, suggesting he come over because he couldn’t stop thinking about me. I hung up and barred my door for a long time. I went to the psychologist supervising this man through his doctoral studies. He said, “Lots of young women have sexual fantasies about their therapist. If you insist, you could file a formal grievance to the psychology board but I want to tell you, they will make mincemeat out of you.” I walked away. But I never forgot.
About ten years later, I called clinic after clinic and bingo! there he was. He took the phone call and I said, “Hi. Remember me.”
He began explaining his behavior and what was going on in his life back then. I stopped him and said, “I don’t want to know anything about you, ever. I want every penny back that I paid you out of pocket.” I got a cashier’s check the next day — with no signature. That didn’t erase the memories of the fear and the vision of barricading myself every night in my apartment.
I finally went to Walk-In Counseling and filed a complaint. When I gave his name, the director gasped and said, “We have a stack of complaints against this person.” I added mine and thought something would be done. He continued as a counselor for many more years.
It takes a lot of fear to not reveal this person’s name. I wish I had been braver.
— Barbara Mishler
Gratitude for January 2019 issue
I had many reactions to the January 2019 edition of Minnesota Women’s Press, but the consistent theme among them was gratitude. Specifically:
With many thanks, Stefanie Bell-Egge
Response to Changemaker: Kathy Hermes
Your profile of Kathy Hermes (Changemaker: 2018) was shared with me this week. I appreciate your efforts to highlight Kathy’s good work in our community. Since Kathy’s departure, much has changed at Marshall School and many adults and students have worked to make Marshall a more inclusive community. In recent years, in fact, Kathy has returned to Marshall to conduct workshops with students and with faculty. Your profile did not make clear that Kathy left our community a decade ago, so we fear readers may view Kathy’s comments as a characterization of our current community.
If you were to visit our school today, as you entered the front door, you would be greeted by a wall-sized mural of our new Statement of Community, which reads: The Marshall School community shares responsibility for the safety, inclusion, and well-being of all members. We nurture and protect an environment that is affirming and empowering of individual voices, life experiences, and perspectives. We commit to learning and growing through our daily actions and interactions. We seek always to value, respect, and uplift those around us.
Marshall School cares deeply about all of its students. Our Statement of Community is just one important step we have taken since we formed an Equity & Inclusion Committee. That volunteer committee, comprised of seven peer-nominated teachers, guides our professional development. Last year, for instance, they organized several important listening sessions with students and alumni. Although inadvertent, the characterization of Marshall as “institutionally homophobic,” without any historical context, diminishes the good work of that committee and other faculty and staff.
Kathy Hermes left Marshall about ten years ago. Absent that fact, one might falsely conclude that LBTGQ+ students are currently unsafe at Marshall School. Indeed, the article might dissuade students from joining our community at all — and that is what worries us the most. We know we are a safe place, we welcome LBTGQ+ students, and we are committed to continual improvement. In fact, we would like to invite you to visit us and learn more about our ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion.
Respectfully, Kevin Breen, Head of School, Marshall School
Defining Myself: A Response to the Environment
Growing up I always defined myself as an athlete. When I went to college, I found that I could no longer define myself in such singular ways. I had always cared about the environment, but never fully committed my daily life to these values. A few years passed, and I could no longer ignore my inner drive to commit myself to living in line with my values.
After moving to the Midwest, I have committed myself to these values. Now, after redefining myself as an environmentalist, it is extremely important that we urge corporations to do the same. Industrial meat production from companies like Tyson and Cargill rank among most environmentally damaging industries, posing major risks to climate, water, and public health. With Cargill here in Minnesota, I believe strongly that we have a responsibility to call for a redefinition of their practices and to ask the retailers and foodservice operators who work with them (like McDonald’s and Whole Foods) to require environmental standards for its supplied meat.
— Mackenna Morton
I Start With a Healthier Future
The future I envision is full of good things for me — a senior citizen. (Though I don’t feel like a senior citizen.) Why? Because I stopped being a victim of my mental health issues. I kicked depression out of my life and replaced it with a new, eager, can-do philosophy! I’m getting stronger and healthier every day. So is my husband. He holds the turtle shell steady — and then I kick the “t” out of can’t!
— Bonnie Pouliot
Native Voting Rights
Kudos to Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith for signing onto the Native American Voting Rights Act of 2018, along with 12 other Democratic Senators. There should be no suppression of the Indian vote in areas where those votes can make a difference.
— Sharon Fortunak
Health Care Costs: #2
As a November 2018 Minnesota VOTER, I thank you for your October issue’s report featuring views from two of our women state senators: DFL Franzen and GOP Rosen, with their astute and compassionate explanations of policy dilemmas in our state.
Earlier this year, Senator Franzen was among 70 MN legislators who signed a petition to pursue further scrutiny regarding the HMOs’ handling of our public health dollars and programs. ANNUALLY, Minnesota hands over 5 BILLION (taxpayer) DOLLARS to the HMOs to take care of low-income and disabled patients.
Minnesota has failed to get a detailed (GAAP-style) accounting for decades about how our MN HMOS spend that $5 billion.
I have concern for patient safety — such as elder neglect and abuse in care facilities — and whether patients and their professional caregivers are the people getting the most benefit from taxpayer monies.
We need and deserve oversight and accountability about what our HMOs do on the taxpayer dime.
— Elly Clark
Health Care Costs: #1
You quoted Senator Franzen on health care policy, about it being the “toughest nut to crack.”
To crack it, we should follow the vision of Representative Tina Liebling. Liebling proposes a return to the lower-cost method of delivering health care to people on Medical Assistance and Minnesota Care, one which the state used to have. That more efficient method cuts out the expensive middlemen, the HMOs. Returning to that superior system, where the state directly pays for patient care, will save us millions of tax dollars which could be redirected to other needs such as education and transportation.
Proof: Both Oklahoma and Connecticut eliminated the HMOs from delivering their states’ public health programs, and the immediate result was annual savings in millions of tax dollars. Also, more dentists in Connecticut began offering dental care to patients on government assistance because they got fairly compensated (they were not fairly compensated when HMOs were involved) and the Connecticut patients were pleased with their improved access to dental care. Policymakers: join Liebling’s lead and save us money which can be spent on other state needs.
For efficient health care, Diane J. Peterson
I’m writing because of the huge unemployment disparity within Minnesota, and the pressing need for professionals to help struggling Minnesotans find employment and achieve economic sustainability.
While the state’s average unemployment rate last year was 4.5%, according to a recent study by the Minnesota Budget Project, there is a widening chasm in unemployment statistics among people of color, including African Americans (11%) and Native Americans (13%). The same study revealed that unemployment among Minnesotans with less than a high school diploma was six times as high as that of Minnesotans with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Irrespective of ethnicity, the issue of under-employment is pervasive in Minnesota. To provide “basic needs,” a two-parent, two-child household would need a combined annual household income of $87,000. However, according to recent census data, 41% of households in Minnesota make less than $50,000 a year, while 60% make less than $75,000.
As the Director of Opportunity Corps, I see the real impact that this AmeriCorps program makes. Our Navigators help low-income adults get good jobs and the training they need to advance in their career goals, and get a living-wage job. While they serve, they develop their own careers and receive a variety of benefits, including a living stipend, eligibility for housing, transit, transportation, and childcare assistance, and robust professional development opportunities.
We currently are looking for approximately 20 Navigators to start almost immediately. Anyone interested in learning more about serving, please visit opportunitycorps.org or call 612-206-3045.
— Alana Stimes, Director of Opportunity Corps
It’s Okay Not to Be Strong
I have been told many times, throughout the past seven months of my ovarian cancer journey, how positive my attitude is. I am relieved to hear that people see this in me, instead of strength. Why? I do not like “you’re so strong” because it puts so much pressure on women to keep being strong. It doesn’t give them permission to fall apart.
There are times in life when it’s perfectly acceptable to fall apart. I think it’s necessary during “dark nights of the soul,” of which I have had many. Nights when, from chemotherapy pain, I simply wanted to die. It was support from my inner circle and my own belief in God that kept me alive. It surely wasn’t because I was “so strong.”
In the year of “Powerful Everyday Women,” I think it’s important to realize the power that women bring to the world: positive, uplifting, charismatic, and collaborative, while not pressuring women to “be strong.”
— Dawn L. Huberty
What About Celebrating the “Average”?
I have just finished reading your March 2018 issue, “Tapestry.” I am a friend of Nancy Miller and wanted to read her article (“What I Learned About Restorative Justice”). My problem: This issue makes me feel insignificant. That I have done nothing, contributed nothing, and it makes me feel a little guilty for not doing ‘more.’
But I am 69 and have been a single mother, raising two sons, with not a lot of help from other people. I worked full-time, did the laundry, the grocery shopping, the cooking, the housecleaning — all the mundane daily things that have to be done. And I feel like there are thousands more women out there who are in the same category. Some recognition for US would be nice!
Who takes care of the mundane stuff for the women you feature? Even a little note that they have a housecleaner come once a week would make me feel better! How about an entire issue, or at least a long article, about us “average” women? Coping as best we can through life?”
— Kathleen Quinn
[related to March 2018 story “Seeking Diversity in Environmental Activism”]
Recently, I attended a hearing on HF 3280. This bill would nullify sulfide standards for Minnesota waterways. I received a notice of the hearing the evening before from the Clean Water Council, of which I am a member. The hearing was to be at 8:15 the next day. I posted it on Facebook in the morning. At the hearing there were approximately 12 people testifying from the Iron Range Mining Companies and Chamber of Commerce in support of the bill. Four individuals from environmental groups testified against the bill. Needless to say, with the exception of Rep. Jaime Becker-Finn, I was the only Indigenous Person to speak against the bill. Perhaps more Indigenous People would be there to speak to this issue had they had any notice.
In my testimony, I said, “ this bill is a direct attack on Ojibwe and Dakota people.“ I asked the legislators, “what more can you do to us?”Wild Rice is sacred to Ojibwe and Dakota people. Do you understand what Sacred means?Sacred is something to cherish and protect.
In the Indigenous World view, Ni Mama Akii means My Mother Earth. Our mothers bring us into the world.We love our mothers.We would do anything to protect our mothers from harm. Nibi mino bimadiziwin means Water Is Life.This is why we work to protect the earth and our waterways.If they become so befouled, our species will be extinct.It’s easier to keep something clean than to sully it and try to clean it up later.
Sulfide standards need to stay at the current limits. And then the current laws need to be enforced. The Iron Range needs to have new economic development. Development that protects the last pristine waters in the state of Minnesota.
Our voices need to be heard. Our environmental work needs to be resourced at the same levels or more than the Big Greens. If you truly want environmental justice, then fund us so we can get the people to the hearings that are most impacted by environmental degradation. You cannot speak for us anymore, nor can you impact environmental justice within your organizations by training your middle-class privileged staff, or letting us be partners and volunteer to do same work you get paid for. Either hire us or step aside so we can do our work.
— Sharon M. Day, Ojibwe Water Walker
Judith Guest and Sleep
Thank you for telling us that you sleep nine hours a night (“Don’t Age Me Out of Living”, March 2018). Or, should I say, admitting to it. Somehow sleep has gotten a bad name in our culture, as if it were a sign of laziness instead of a source of sanity. Sleep is restorative.
— Elizabeth Ellis
New Methods of Storysharing
WoW! I have read both new issues this year and I am so impressed with this magazine! I have read and supported this magazine since it’s beginning. And I am so pleased to see it reach this level of quality. I am telling everyone I know to revisit this new version of the Women’s Press. Thanks for the great journalism.
— Wendy Gaskill
Focus on Diverse Voices
Thank you so much for the amazing design of our piece, “Losing My Baby” (February 2018), and for what looks like a massive focus on the voices and experiences of indigenous and women of color at MWP — so needed.
— Shannon Gibney
The Obvious Truth About Race
I so appreciated the perspective of Amoke Kubat in “Hidden in Plain Sight,” (February 2018) and I particularly appreciated her naming two distinct types of men who abuse women: “Men who feel powerless, and men who are engorged on power.” The second you might call a “type.” They are the ones who verge toward being monsters. The former, men who feel powerless, is unfortunately, far too many. And thus, we have a lot of non-descript abusers around.
“We have learned to not make men angry.” That is also one of my favorite lines. Anger, coupled with Abuse of Power, can be horrific.
Here’s my takeaway from the last words of her essay: Fair-minded white people are no longer allowed to say: “Don’t you see my side, too?” Not until you have seriously bowed down to the obvious truth about race in this country can you say, “It wasn’t me that did the prejudicial things.” Honor and Shame are huge human motivators. It’s very hard for whites to admit that so much of what we believe in, our entire currency and economic structure, was built on slavery. We don’t want to hear it, and our not wanting to see it is another way of adding to the invisibility.
— Larry Lavercombe
Kudos for Powerful Viewpoint
I just read Siena Iwasaki Milbauer’s article “I’m 18 and Proud To Be An Imperfect Feminist,” and I was floored by the clarity this young woman possess. At 18, Ms. Milbauer possess more confidence, and more willingness to do the hard work of introspection and wrestling with complex topics, than most adults in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. Kudos to her for her powerful, clear, genuine point of view – and for sharing it so willingly with all of us.
— With gratitude and awe, Stefanie Bell-Egge
Favorite January 2018 stories
Two of my favorite January articles “Finding Power in the Discarded,” resonating in the sacred both for earth and for human values, both spiritual yet grounding, practical. The second, equally as enjoyed was “Being Whole.” As a highly sensitive person having healed (in but minute’s time) animals and later through classes led by a priest through attention, acknowledgement of our Creator, intention, presence and love, this article reminded me of the gifts we all possess if we but remind ourselves of the Holy and Sacred within us, if we invite and share our sacred and presence energy, not just with others but first blessing ourselves. Once we’re a conduit for sacred healing, like anything practiced, connectivity, and energy flow become automatic. A very appreciated, power-filled issue inviting us to use our good gifts for good, to claim our power!
— Judith Blackford
RE: Extremists and Wealth on the Left and the Right
It has already been mentioned that the 2017 election exposed the raw, greedy, racist and sexist underbelly of the extreme elements of the Republican Party, however, the sanctimonious behavior on the neoliberal Left isn’t any better. Rich, diverse, female and male movie stars, authors and philanthropists celebrate their politically correct victories equally zealously, while completely overlooking the lack of any real benefit for the majority of working poor women and men in this country. Fortunately, Susie Tompkins Buell has re-considered her financial support for senators who forced Senator Al Franken out and donors are re-considering their support for MPR since they forced out Garrison Keillor which at least provides a tiny opening for a possible some discussion of all of the variables at play: Forcing people out of work without due process is as extreme and reminds me of Kafka, as excluding Muslim immigrants and appointing Cabinet members and Agency directors from the private sector.
Colin Kaepernick is unemployed and Martin Luther King is dead; their convictions and their actions cost them something. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t find Jesus sitting in an expensive restaurant sipping a glass of wine with wealthy donors. Government by extreme, wealthy, educated, sanctimonious elites, Democratic or Republican, hedge fund manager or philanthropist, with agendas that promote their prosperity and soothe their consciences, is not a victory (see Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America by David Callahan) and is not democratic. Raising wages, providing health care for all, and working side by side with people in the trenches, will end the rise of the extremes because ordinary people can support themselves and control their own destiny; they will not need private philanthropy or public welfare.
— Mary Voight
RE: January 2018 writers
Thank you to the articulate writers in the January issue: Nausheena Hussain, Jessica Wicks and LaDonna Redmond. Your words and stories are heard, important and appreciated very much.
— Julie Kilpatrick
RE: 2017 Changemaker
WeARE the Clinic (December 2017 issue)
These women are doing incredible work! I am so proud to call Julie Ingleman a dear friend. Her warmth and vivacious, non-stop work ethic is contagious. Thank you for awarding their hard work with the CHANGEMAKER award! WeARE will make an indelible mark on the community, one young person at a time. Thank you for your work in the under-served northern MN counties!
— Jody Peterson Lodge
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