A Great Send-Off

Farewell bourbon

Several of the nice bourbons and whiskeys from friends and colleagues

Last Friday, my colleagues at work hosted a wonderful send-off party.  There was a “B” theme to evening, as we had barbecue (Rocklands, my local favorite); bourbon (with gifts of several very nice bottles of whiskey over the course of the week); and bluegrass (the latter supplied live by the By-and-By Band). The band was even kind enough to let me sit in with them on a spirited rendition of Sitting On Top of the World!

Friends, former and current colleagues, and partners came in from as far away as Los Angeles to celebrate. I used the occasion to say a few words (no surprise there), beginning with the observation that I was finding that almost anything that was said in the office brought to mind something that happened 10, 20, or 30 years ago—what I’ve dubbed the Old War Stories part of my transition.

By-and-By Band

Playing Bluegrass with the By-and-By Band. DJB is the guy in the middle trying to hang with this talented group of musicians!

I knew everyone would be thankful if I kept it short, so I brought notes.  On the occasion of my 60th birthday, I composed a post entitled 60 Lessons From 60 Years and I used the send off to call out five of them.

Lesson #2: The graveyard is full of folks who thought the world couldn’t get along without them. This lesson is always a good reminder that no one is indispensable, so while I appreciated the many nice accolades that came that day, I pulled this one out in order not to get too big for my britches.

Lesson #8: I will cry at the movies, so I need to bring a handkerchief. It was an emotional day and I brought along a handkerchief, just in case. However, I used it more to wipe the sweat from my brow than for wiping tears from my eyes.  It was an unseasonably warm late winter day in Washington.

Lesson#10. All things considered, I’d rather live in a community full of old buildings. I have lived in five Main Street communities during my life – including two that won our Great American Main Street Award at the National Trust. Somehow, old buildings and walkable communities are in my bloodstream.  I joined the National Trust in 1975 and attended my first Trust conference in Philadelphia in 1976. As a young professional, I carried my back issues of the Trust’s newspaper from the 1970s and 1980s—Preservation News—through 3 moves.  Suffice it to say that it has been the privilege of my professional life to help the National Trust do its vital work over the past 22 years.

Lesson #59: A few years ago I became intentional about saying “thank you” to someone every day.  It is one of the smartest things I ever did. I thought about so many people I could thank, but that would take much too long if I were to touch on all the people who have touched and supported me.  So I simply want to thank my Executive Assistants—the individuals who live with me during the work day and do so much behind the scenes to make me look good.  In many ways, these individuals taught me a great deal about how to be a good boss:

  • Kaye Garris—My first assistant when I moved to Charleston to be the director of the Southern Regional Office.  Kaye was the voice of the talented, young Southern staff (when we were all much, much younger).
  • Liz Welsh McGonagle—The first assistant at the Trust that I hired. Liz, a wonderfully kind and friendly Minnesotan, set the standard for the type of “public face” I wanted my EAs to have with other staff and the broader public.  I went to see the Minnesota Twins at Target Field with Liz and her husband Dave and my daughter Claire on our cross-country trip back in 2014.
  • Susan Neumann—Susan helped me set up the Executive Office as Chief of Staff and died much too young.
  • Erin Dowling—When I was managing the capital campaign at the National Trust, Erin was my EA on the development side.  She now works in the real estate business in Colorado, where I see her on occasion.
  • Amelia Sams Whittington—Amelia could write in my voice better than I could, so she quickly took on composing letters, notes, and even speeches for me.  She works in development for a theatre troupe while her husband continues his life’s work as a chef in New Orleans.
  • Leigh Ivey—While only with me for a short while, due to a death in her family, Leigh was the first EA I had to make me feel old.  Her mother went to our high school—with my younger sister!
  • Kelly Schindler—With an interest in museums and historic sites, Kelly worked as my EA until a better opening / opportunity came up in our historic sites department, where she continues her admirable work today.
  • Lisa Thompson—Lisa had worked as a Main Street Manager and for a local preservation non-profit, so when she came to work as my EA I knew I wouldn’t have her for long.  Sure enough, she left in 2018 to be the National Register Coordinator for the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office.
  • Chelsea Lundquist-Wentz—Chelsea is my current EA and combines many of the great traits I like from some of her predecessors. She is, quite simply, a gem.

If you do the math, you can see that I keep assistants for 2-3 years at a time.  That’s because I want to hire smart people, help them move along their chosen career path, and support them after they leave.  Amelia recognized the pattern and began what is officially called the Chief Preservation Officer (CPO) Operational Guide but what I took to calling The Users Guide to DJB.  It is 6-7 pages of single-spaced directions on setting up “the prefect trip,” organizing meetings, writing letters, and the like.  The last two pages are a grab bag with the subtitle “Miscellaneous DJB Facts and Preferences,” and I want to share a few of them with you (to see what these individuals have to put up with!

  • David’s wife’s name is Candice. Everyone spells it Candace, which is incorrect.
  • David likes to drink unsweetened iced tea at lunch, and bourbon (on the rocks) or red wine at happy hour.
  • David does not like beets or olives (and Lisa later added “and avocados – except in guacamole”)
  • David likes honesty.
  • David dislikes rumors and confidentiality breaches. You are going to hear a lot of confidential information. It will be tempting to spill things you know, even a little bit.  Don’t do that.  Keep it all to yourself, and you’ll be the most valuable assistant around.
  • David is on a quest to visit every major league baseball stadium in America. When thinking of trips, make suggestions of those he could visit while on work travel – he’ll love you for it!

Now you know how Liz and I ended up together with our families at Target Field in Minneapolis!

Lesson #60: Savor every moment. It passes faster than you can ever imagine.  Enough said.

More to come…

DJB

Quest for the Best (Picture), Once Again

Has it really been seven years since we decided to try to catch the Best Picture nominees before the Academy Awards show?  Indeed it has. Truth be told, this has been an up-and-down process.  There are years when I’ll see 7 of the 8 or 9 films nominated.  Then, there are times such as last year when we took in four on one weekend…and that was it.

This year was really different, in that I’ve seen all 8 of the films nominated, plus a few more that could have been in the running. 100 percent!  That’s a first.

Film Reel

As in years past, I’ll provide the caveat that I’m no movie critic, so these are totally personal views without any understanding of the nuances of filmmaking. I’ll also list these in the order I ranked them, which is where I get the most comments.

So, my best picture award would go to If Beale Street Could TalkWait, you say, it wasn’t nominated!  Well, that’s not my fault; it should have been.  This was a beautiful and powerful movie, with incredible cinematography.  It is based on a strong story by one of America’s great writers, James Baldwin. Barry Jenkins won the Best Picture Oscar two years ago for Moonlight—another powerful film—and this one is just as good in my estimation. The theme—loving while black—is incredibly relevant today.  If you haven’t seen this movie, go.

Now, for the films that actually were nominated, my top choice is Roma. Set in Mexico and focusing on one family and a young indigenous woman who works for them, this movie has a majestic scale while featuring an intimacy that captures the viewer’s attention from the beginning and never lets go.  I found the pace worked well, and the story had depth and meaning.  I don’t care if the Academy is mad that Netflix plays with their business model . . . I don’t know enough about that to have a meaningful opinion, so I’ll just stick to the film.  I’d watch this one again.

BlacKkKlansman surprised me.  The premise—a black undercover cop infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan—seemed so outrageous that even though it was true, it couldn’t be serious.  However Spike Lee’s movie, from my point of view, was terrific.  Very original, with a great deal of heft to make the viewer think.  And goodness, the ties to life today are too close for comfort (and Lee makes them clear at movie’s end).  This is another one on the list I’d go see again.

Black Panther was the last one of the eight I saw, and frankly I didn’t know what to expect.  I’m not a fan of superhero or sci-fi movies, but I knew this film was somehow more than that.  In the end, I loved it. The characters are strong and the production values are amazing.  I came away understanding more of why this movie is a defining moment for black Americans.  Leonard Pitts, Jr. was singing the praises of Black Panther at his book talk at Politics & Prose last week, and his point of view is one I admire.  Again, I’m not sure I can see a superhero movie as Best Picture, but this was darn close.

Fourth on my list is The Favourite, a dark comedy set in the court of Queen Anne (circa 1710). I very much enjoyed this movie, and as everyone says the acting, costumes, and script are all wonderful.  Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, and Rachel Weisz are terrific in their roles…which, unfortunately come off as an 18th century version of Mean Girls.  Best picture?  It doesn’t quite get there for me.  Would I see it again?  Definitely.

I fully expected to rank A Star is Born before Bohemian Rhapsody, but when I saw the Queen biopic earlier this weekend, I had such a good time that I couldn’t push it further down the list.  Rami Malek, as the dynamic lead singer Freddie Mercury, was incredible, and is very deserving on a Best Actor award. The movie’s pace and energy held up throughout the full show, ending—as most everyone knows—with the band’s breathtaking Live Aid performance.  There are quibbles (such as the fact that Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis is moved to a more dramatic point in the story from real life), but hey, if you get your history from movies you get what you deserve!  Others have complained about the director’s personal life (a real issue) and the soft-peddling of the gay story line (some people will complain about anything.)  I’d definitely go see this one again…and that’s saying something from a person who gave up listening to rock and pop in the early 1970s.

So I’ll put A Star is Born next.  I loved Lady Gaga in this picture. Bradley Cooper was good as her musical and love partner.  Shallow is a terrific song that I hope wins Best Song this year.  But the movie drags in the middle, and you almost lose interest until it picks up again near the end. I enjoyed it, but not sure I’d go see it again.

Green Book was a disappointment to me.  I went in expecting to see a film with some serious civil rights and social justice commentary, and instead got a buddy road trip between two guys without a touch of nuance (to quote one reviewer).  If I want buddy road trips, I’ll go watch Thelma and Louise. And seriously, the fried chicken-eating scene was one step too far.  I know it ended on a happy note and everyone melts with all the feel good stuff at the end (beginning with the cop pulling them over in the snow), but it didn’t make up for this movie’s sins for me.

Finally, my vote for least appealing Best Picture nominee goes to ViceYes, Christian Bale in the title role and Amy Adams (I love her) as Lynne Cheney are terrific.  But who the hell wants to see a dark comedy about one of the worst Vice Presidents in history who helped lead us to our current political polarization?  Not me.  The filmmaker has all sorts of gimmicks and techniques that he clearly thinks are very clever.  They aren’t, and they don’t help in making the (obvious) point that Dick Cheney is a heartless individual who has spent his entire life trying to amass power and take it away from anyone who doesn’t agree with him.  Let’s don’t celebrate that with comedy (even dark comedy).  Let’s take it for the tragedy we are living in here in 2019.

And that’s all folks.  Jump in with your favorites, argue with mine, and let’s enjoy the Oscars next Sunday evening.

More to come…

DJB

Farewell 2018, Hello 2019

It is that time of year, dear readers, when I look back over the past twelve months, assess progress (or lack thereof) against my goals, and think ahead for 2019.  Careful readers know that for several years I have worked with a set of life rules (rather than annual resolutions) for living the next third of my life.  This review is just one small part of an exercise to have an honest conversation with myself, so I’ll be able to have real conversations with the larger world.  We don’t do enough looking at our uncertainties and vulnerabilities, sometimes choosing as an alternative getting angry at others—which hinders real understanding.  Steve Almond, in the book Bad Stories, asserts that’s true because we take our grievances seriously but not our vulnerabilities.  In the 2017 essay “Facing the Furies” (found in the collection Call Them by Their True Names:  American Crises and Essays), Rebecca Solnit frames it this way:

“. . . more often, lashing out is a way to avoid looking inward. A 2001 study by Jennifer Lerner and Dacher Keltner found that feeling angry made people as optimistic about the outcome of a situation as feeling happy.  In other words, anger may make people miserable, but is also makes them more confident and crowds out other, more introspective miseries: pain, fear, guilt, uncertainty, vulnerability.  We’d rather be mad than sad.”

2018 was another strange year in America, where anger and grievances (real and perceived) took center-stage in too many instances.  You know it is a strange year when Dave Barry can’t make-up fake year-in-review anecdotes that are any funnier, scarier, and/or weirder than real life.  But worse than strange, the year brought actions that lead many to question whether we’ve completely lost our way as a country.  I have to go with Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr., who recently wrote “This was a godawful year . . . and that leaves me full of hope.”

“. . .hope, one hopes, will breed new activism and involvement, will help people who may not have considered politics before to realize that they have the ability and the responsibility to create government that looks like all of us and reflects the majority’s values. Maybe this, in turn, will breed more waves of youth, femininity and color, as more of us decide to take America at its word about forming that more perfect union.”

While 2018 at home and work was a time of tremendous transition, I also head into 2019 with hope.  Hope for the people I love and for the causes and country that are important to me.  Hope that I will continue to understand more about what brought me to where I am today and where I want to go in the future.  Because, of course, hope demands things that despair does not.

Brown family (credit: John Thorne)

The Browns – looking forward to 2019! (photo credit: John Thorne)

So, how did I fare on my eight life rules I stare at every morning on my computer wallpaper?  Here is a short summation.

1. Be Grateful. Be Thankful. Be Compassionate.  Every Day.  Several years ago I made it a habit to say thank you to one person each day, and that simple habit has made me richer in spirit.  In 2018 I kept up that habit and made progress in being more intentional about gratefulness, thankfulness, and compassion. Being grateful, thankful, and compassionate is, to me, about equality. If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that we are all in this life together.

2.  Exercise six days a week for the rest of your life. Last year I wrote that I was going to keep the cartoon in mind where the doctor asks his middle-aged male patient, “Which is more inconvenient for you: 1 hour a day of exercise or 24 hours a day of dead?”  In 2018 I built a daily ritual of long-distance walking into my mornings which has been very satisfying.  But I have to focus on Rule #5 for this to really have an effect.  My health has to become more of a priority in 2019.  Period.

3.  Listen more than you talk.  This is a tough one to measure, as few people will give you honest feedback (and few people have the same standard of what is too much talking).  So I’ll just repeat what I wrote last year:  “It is always a challenge when I find myself in a place of some authority (either at work or home) not to grab the bully pulpit.  While David Isay, the founder of Story Corps, says listening is hard, he also notes that listening is an act of love…an act that one never regrets.”  I do know of a number of instances this past year when I really listened, and for that I am grateful.

4.  Spend less than you make.  2018 was (yet) another year when I didn’t buy any new guitars! Seriously, I think I did well in this area, although when I do spend (e.g., good restaurants, good wine) I tend to treat myself and others well. I continue to adjust some of my expectations in order to live with much less regular income in the not-too-distant future.  I’m also thinking more about what to give away.

5.  Quit eating crap!  Eat less of everything else.  Well, I failed here. Bigly. When I go to “My Fitness Pal” and look at my weight trend line for the year, I had a very good first quarter, and then saw it slowly but relentlessly rise over the last three quarters.  Several years ago I successfully gave up drinking sodas (I had a several-Diet Cokes-a-day-habit), and now I have to get serious about some other things to give up completely.  See Rule #2 above.

Play more music

Play more music

6.  Play music.  I continue to believe that the world is a better place when I play music.  My music is better when I play with others.  However, when I look at my tracking charts for 2018, I only pulled out my guitars 2-3 days/week.  While I may not make it to every day in 2019, I’d like to open those cases and hear those strings sing at least five days a week.

7.  Connect and commit.  Over the years since I set these rules, we made progress as a family in gathering people together on a regular basis.  While that slipped some in 2017, I was able to get together more with colleagues from work in 2018.  Next year, I want to add more friends outside work to this equation. I’m going to push myself not just to think of getting together for dinners, but focus on talks over coffee and other less demanding yet ultimately satisfying connections.  I’m going to take some of my own recent advice when I find myself not knowing how to break the ice.  I’ll “simply walk up and say, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ (a.k.a. the only icebreaker you’ll ever need.)”

8.  Don’t be a Grumpy Old Man.  Enjoy life! This is not a concern on a daily basis, but more of a reminder that it can be easier to lose the joy of life as one moves through the years.  I’ve certainly seen my elders who have handled this coming period of life with grace and happiness, and others who feel entitled, bitter, and—yes—grumpy. During the winter months, I work very hard not to let my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) symptoms show through to others. I also spent time this past year thinking about how much I still had to contribute in a range of life’s activities.  Others helped me remember—as Madeleine L’Engle has written—that “you are every age you’ve ever been.”  Living through what you know and who you have been from the years of life is a way to understand current circumstances and embrace new possibilities. That’s my goal in 2019 and beyond.

So there you have it.  2019?  Bring it on!

More to come…

DJB

Our Year in Photos – 2018

Family along Monterey Coast

The Browns along the California Coast

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come…. We have much for which to be thankful in 2018.

This was yet another year unlike any other in the recent history of our country. The level of vitriol coming from some of our so-called leaders has put many on edge and has driven others to do unspeakable horror.

In spite of the turmoil in the world and some significant changes in our lives, we were blessed again this year with good health and good friends. Each of us is doing well.

Shortly after Thanksgiving last year, Candice and David traveled to Providence to hear Andrew solo with the Brown University Chorus in Messiah.  While there, we took advantage of the trip to visit some of our favorite haunts in this food-friendly gem of a city.

CCB at Ellies

Candice at our favorite Providence bakery and cafe: Ellie’s

Of course, each December brings a special celebration of Andrew and Claire.  The twins’ birthday is always a major highlight, but given that they reached the 25-year-old milestone in 2017, it was a special event for all of us.  We also celebrated the holidays together in Washington, seeing good friends and visiting special places like the evocative Museum of African American Culture and History on the National Mall.

25th birthday celebration

Celebrating 25 years of Claire and Andrew – one of the great achievements of 2017!

We all have our passions.  David has his sports and writing; Candice her cooking and friends; Claire the outdoors and children; and Andrew his music and travel.

Nats Jacket

Sporting a New Jacket and High Hopes for the Nats

 

Claire at Lake Tahoe

Claire with her roommates at Lake Tahoe

 

A typical pose for Andrew

A typical pose for Andrew

 

Caps Win the Cup!

Caps Win the Cup!

Summer brings baseball (and more baseball) along with the Bach Soloists Festival in San Francisco.

2018 All Star Game with Andrew

2018 All Star Game with Andrew

 

Cathedral Tour

Andrew, on his stained glass window tour of the National Cathedral

 

Claire at A's game

Claire joins her roommates at an A’s game this summer – rooting for a team that actually MADE the playoffs!

 

Bach Festival

Andrew and fellow musicians at the San Francisco Bach Festival

We loved our vacation time together as a family at Pacific Grove, California.  It was a respite from the hustle of the year.

Lone Cypress

Candice and DJB at the Lone Cypress in Pebble Beach

 

Yoga with Andrew and Claire

Yoga with Andrew and Claire at Pacific Grove

 

Claire and Blair at the Bixby Bridge

Claire and Blair at the Bixby Creek Bridge along California’s Highway 1

 

Claire Whale Watching

Claire Whale Watching

Fall brought transitions in life for everyone.  We gathered with long-time friends, saw Andrew off to graduate school in London, and said good-bye to David’s boss of the past 8 years.

DJB Fly Fishing and casting

A fly fishing beginner learns to cast in the Yellowstone River

 

Andrew tattoo composite

Andrew with his tattoo, along with the inspiration

 

McCain's Funeral

Andrew singing at Senator John McCain’s state funeral

 

Whirlwind weekend

A whirlwind weekend: the McCain Funeral, a special evensong, and then off to London

 

Staunton Friends

Staunton Friends – Bizzy, Mary, Margaret and Candice – at the National Gallery of Art

 

DJBwith SKM

David and National Trust President Stephanie Meeks at the 2018 PastForward conference in San Francisco (credit: David Keith)

 

Candice and Tom

Candice and our friend Tom Mayes at the PastForward 2018 Conference in San Francisco

 

DJB at PF Final Luncheon

David speaks at the Final Luncheon of PastForward 2018 in San Francisco (credit: David Keith)

 

At Filoli

David, Candice, and Claire enjoying the Holiday decorations at Filoli in Woodside, CA

 

MAAHC Visit

At the Museum of African American History and Culture in December 2017

Our family continues to be blessed, and for that we are incredibly thankful.  We remain grateful for each of you and the friendships we share.  Happy Thanksgiving to all.

More to come…

DJB

Freedom

As Candice and I were walking back from today’s July 4th parade in Takoma Park, we overheard two women—both wearing an “I Care Do U” sticker—talking about the diversity seen in this progressive enclave from the participants of this most all-American of holidays.

There’s your medical marijuana advocates, Christian evangelicals, 9/11 truthers, Republican and Democratic candidates for county executive, the First Panamanian Marching Band of Maryland, Doggie Washerette, the MAGA (Mobsters are Governing America) PAC, all the public works vehicles (love the lawn mower guy spinning around in circles), Boy and Girl Scouts, the Intergalactic Female Motorcycle Federation, the Silver Spring Yacht Club, and the Takoma Park Lesbians and Gays all mixed together.

And don’t forget about the Reel Mower Precision Drill Team.

Keep It Reel

The Takoma Park Reel Mower Precision Drill Team “Keeping It Reel”

There’s a lot of chatter in the right wing entertainment universe these days about political correctness shutting down free speech.  But today’s experience in Takoma Park shows that this narrative about the progressives not hearing from different voices isn’t necessarily true.  Everyone had their say, everyone was treated with respect (if some were treated a bit more enthusiastically than others), and it all happened in a celebratory, civil, and often humorous way.

MAGA meets Takoma Park

MAGA meets Takoma Park

I was thinking about this as I read Dana Milbank’s column in today’s Washington Post about the battle for freedom. Milbank notes that “Every 75 years or so in our history, Americans have renewed their commitment to freedom.” The first time was our Civil War.  That was followed some 75 years later by our emergence from the Great Depression and the entrance into WWII.  Now, we are just past 75 years from that fight, and Milbank notes that much of the country now fears the loss of basic freedoms as Americans.  In a call for us to rededicate ourselves to freedom, he includes:

“Freedom from…constant attacks on women, immigrants, people of color, gay people and Muslims.

Freedom to work and live without discrimination, harassment and violence because of your gender, race or religion.

Freedom to get medical care when you or your children are sick.

Freedom to earn a living wage, to attend college or get job training, and to retire in security.

Freedom from a rigged economy in which the top 1 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent combined.

Freedom to marry whom you choose.

Freedom to make decisions about your own body.

Freedom to send your kids to school without fear for their safety.

Freedom to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, to live on a habitable planet.

Freedom to elect your leaders without the rich, or foreign governments, choosing them for you.

And freedom to speak, to protest and to publish without the threat of violence.”

We’ve never been the country we—or our founders—imagined us to be.  But we can be dedicated to freedom and continue to push toward the type of country we hope to be.

Only in Takoma Park

Celebrating – and fighting for – freedom in Takoma Park

Happy July 4th.

More to come…

DJB

 

What a Wonderful Washington Weekend!

It is a great weekend to live in Washington…

Stanley Cup Celebrations Continue — From bars in Arlington to today’s game at National Park to the Georgetown Waterfront, the Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals are having a great time celebrating the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship with the hometown fans.  While I was across the country when they clinched on Thursday evening, I could hear the city explode from Phoenix. We’re ALL CAPS here in D.C. It was an especially satisfying run, given 1) that they weren’t expected to go very deep due to losses of players to the expansion draft, and 2) that they got through a couple of perennial stumbling blocks:  John (Torts) Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets and—most significantly—the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Too bad Martin St. Louis—who was always a playoff pest—no longer plays for Tampa Bay.

If you want another thrill, watch the highlights from the cup-clinching game.

Pride 2018 Celebration — Thousands have descended on DC this weekend for the annual Pride celebration.  Andrew almost always makes it to Pride, but because of singing commitments out-of-town, he’s only able to attend Sunday’s festival.  (Work can be such a bummer sometimes!)  I have a number of friends and colleagues who are enjoying this celebration of diversity in the DC capital, and I suspect the good times are rolling.

Politics and Prose Member Sale — Several times a year, our wonderful independent bookstore, Politics and Prose , holds a big members sale…and it just happened to be this weekend.  So after our traditional Saturday morning farmers’ market visit and pastries at Tout de Sweet, we headed into town for the sale.

Candice was much more methodical in her research than I had been.  Nevertheless, I had a few titles in mind, and planned to trust my instincts when faced with a decision.

Books from Politics and Prose

Today’s purchases at the Politics & Prose members sale – what a treasure trove!

The books from Educated to the top are Candice’s choices.  Mine go down from there to the recent Pauli Murray biography Jane Crow.  Our summer reading bags are full once again!

And Did I Mention That the Nationals Won — Once the Nats were finished with the pre-game celebrations with the Caps on Saturday, they turned around to beat the San Francisco Giants 7-5, holding on to first place in the National League East.  Adam Eaton returned from the Disabled List and Bryce hit another home run.  Go Nats!

Have a great weekend…wherever you live (but this weekend, it is hard to top D.C.)

More to come…

DJB

P.S. — Oh, and not everyone stayed in Washington this weekend…that’s not a bad thing.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Men Explain Things

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

I made a resolution in 2016 to return and read Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me once or twice a year, just to keep that clear voice and perspective front of mind.  International Women’s Day seemed to be a special moment this year to act on that resolution.

I took time today during my lunch break to read, once again, of the silencing that occurs when men talk over women.  As Solnit phrases it, “Being told that, categorically, he knows what he’s talking about and she doesn’t, however minor a part of any given conversation, perpetuates the ugliness of this world and holds back its light.”  We are living in an age when our civic discourse shows just how serious the impacts of this silencing can be.  Solnit ends the postscript to the original essay by noting, “Having the right to show up and speak are basic to survival, to dignity, and to liberty.”

I think about this dynamic a great deal.  When I’m learning from and celebrating the accomplishments of women, I am reminded of how important it is to have these basic rights. To hear from this experience and knowledge. To hear of these stories and perspectives.  When I find myself speaking over women in conversations or in meetings, I am reminded (often too late) of the position of privilege that I – a white male – often take for granted.

Solnit’s is a powerful voice, and I recommend you read anything by her you can get your hands on.  I went on a Solnit reading binge several months ago and found myself both humbled and enlightened.

I was also working on a presentation today which included a quote from The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray.  That quote brought her story back to my mind: that of an African American member of the LGBTQ community, Civil Rights and Women’s Rights activist, the lawyer responsible for producing what Justice Thurgood Marshall called “the Bible of Civil Rights law,” a poet and writer, the first female African American Episcopal priest, and an Episcopal saint. Pauli Murray is one of the great, underappreciated women of the 20th century who is rightfully celebrated today.  The quote — which is featured on a mural in her hometown of Durham, North Carolina — is as relevant today as it was the day she said it:

“True Community is based upon equality, mutuality, and reciprocity.  It affirms the richness of individual diversity as well as the common human ties that bind us together.”

Pauli Murray Mural

Portrait of Pauli Murray, on a wall in downtown Durham, NC

Wonderful words to remember on International Women’s Day…and every day.

More to come…
DJB