There are three questions that feed every issue of Minnesota Women’s Press and our new Changemakers Alliance initiative:
1) what issues are people are engaged in and what values do they hold,
2) who is finding solutions and connecting with others based on those shared concerns, and
3) how can we offer stories that also provide joy and relaxation?
This month’s theme of “The Commons” showcases how those three elements have become essential to the backbone of healthy communities. At a time when most of us are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry, the commons movement offers a way to appreciate and build what matters.
As Jay Walljasper wrote in the book “All That We Share,” a collection of stories about the commons movement: “The commons is not merely an assortment of things — natural resources, cultural treasures, public places — but also a way of sharing and working with others to create a better future.”
I met Jay when I was 19, putting together a newspaper with fellow students at the Minnesota Daily. If you veered right as you entered the L-shaped basement office of Murphy Hall, there was a team of Books and Arts writers removed from the news team, writing expansive and lyrical stories above the usual fray of day- to-day reporting. Looming large among them, physically and in terms of skill, was Jay, who would soon become, for 20 years, editor of the national alternative press magazine Utne Reader.
Two years ago, I interviewed Julie Ristau to write a story about a regenerative agriculture movement she managed with a diverse set of farmers in Northfield. I learned then that she was the former publisher of the Utne Reader, married to Jay. We have become friends, bonding over the art of co-created transformation.
After Jay tragically died of kidney cancer in December 2020, Julie gave me a copy of “All That We Share,” and other publications about the commons movement, to introduce me to the voices the two of them had worked with for more than a decade. The joys of developing communities that are not limited by government and capitalism inspired this month’s theme.
The people in our stories this month are representing the rights of wild rice, standing up for reproductive rights and healing, creating curriculum about climate change, and so much more.
Ecolution: An Introduction to the Commons
Ecolution: Appreciating the Common Wealth
Ecolution: Imagine the Year 2060 (fiction)
Turtle Island: Why Nature Needs Rights — Manoomin Case
In the News: Rights to Clean Water
Education: Toward Climate Literacy
Healing: Another Era of Care
Perspective: Nothing for Us Without Us
GoSeeDo: Fringe Festival