Can the Sun Rise in the West?

That’s a line from Fan Shen — said by Kuomingtang reactionaries to scoff the idea that Mao’s revolution could ever really happen.


First annual Tommyfest.  Musicians from all over the area brought their instruments and jammed.  Four men went off into a quiet place to play.

Big wind, lightning, trees down; bursts of rain. The rivers come up fast. Out west, the wildfires are getting started three months early.


I have not written much because I am so ashamed of my country. Children coming across the border are taken from their parents and sent to detention centers — some in other states.  Huge demonstrations to protest this. A judge has declared that they have to be re-united, but they don’t have a  process set up.

I am not up to writing about grassroots democracy and how it can turn the tide.  Maybe later. Here is the brook below Pikes’ Falls.


Below, see if you can see the bird on the bird feeder.  A red dinner napkin around its neck.


John’s studio. He did the woodcuts a year ago, before the current publicity about the children at the border.


Bean. Where are we?

The Bean

Joe said, “She wrote for the ages.”  Winter after winter, she would sit in the living room with a small table set up with a typewriter and transcribe this manuscript.


The writer, my great-great grandfather Joseph Goddard, was so angry about slavery that he couldn’t stop writing, fighting, preaching, traveling all over western New England to rage about it. This was 1838, thereabouts. The first version of this manuscript was stolen, along with his clothes, out of a trunk on a trip he took to New York State, so he wrote it again. This is it.

Something else worth doing.


Tiepolo.  Feet as beautiful as hands.


Ladora, Iowa.

LAdora outside

This building was built to be a bank. It functioned as a bank for about 8 years during the 1920’s, when Iowa was an agriculture-based boom economy. Then it went bust. Today it stands out in the town (most of the town is in the picture) like a mausoleum. Inside, it is a bistro, serving high end “small plates” of very good tasty food, lots of wine and beer, no coffee or tea.  Inspirational homilies about thrift and integrity run around all four sides of the ceiling. Upstairs is a tiny “board room” where the decision to declare bankruptcy must have been made.


Five men playing croquet on the lawn. Three of them are lawyers. One is a union activist. The fifth works in tech.

5 men playing croq

Back in San Jose, the COCAL XII conference drew participants from Canada (Anglophone and Francophone) and Mexico as well as the US. Note headphones for translation. The equipment alone for translation cost $11,000 to rent. The Mexicans reported difficulties getting visas and additional surcharges when coming across the border in Tijuana.


Posters at the Museum of Mexican American Art in San Jose. So this has been going on for a long time.

Posters in SJ

In the meantime, reports from the primaries are coming in with results in some areas (Ohio, for example) that were sure-thing Trump areas now “too close to call.”  And Missouri put down a right-to-work law 2 to 1.

Here is Jovanka Beckles, who is running for the CA state legislature from our district. She is speaking at a fundraiser houseparty last week in Berkeley. She is a mental health caseworker from Richmond, CA and has been elected to the City Council there. Jovanka ran in a busy field against a stack of other local aspirants, and came in second in a very close vote, which enables her to run in the upcoming primary.  Her opponent, also a Democrat (this is a top-two election) is a white woman named Buffy Wicks, who was an Obama staffer, very young and has never held public office. But Buffy has Obama’s endorsement. Jovanka got the endorsement of all of the people who ran in the primary against her and takes no corporate money.


And then this, which I consider a good sign:






Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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