It’s raining outside as I type this, and after a stretch of very hot days here in the Northwest, a series of cool days have asserted themselves as if to provide notice that Fall is on the way. And it is; in just three weeks, the Fall Equinox will have arrived. The leaves are beginning to change color here and I notice more and more that plants—perhaps even people—are starting to look and feel a bit more ragged, as though worn out by the steady drumbeat of summer.
Myself, I’ve been canning the last few weeks. Tomato sauce and a variety of jams: nectarine lime, spiced nectarine, pear ginger. I just wrapped up a last few jars, taking care of four remaining nectarines that were puckering on my counter top. I didn’t bother with the water bath; those will simply go into the freezer and we’ll pull them out soon enough to smear on whatever appears handy. We’ve been eating a lot of toast here the last week or so, working on cleaning up all the half jars of jam scrapings inevitably left over once the batch has gone in the canner. I would have to say it’s one of my more favored clean up jobs.
Aside from the canning, I’ve been writing more of late. Not yet as much as I would like to be, but for those of you who haven’t yet noticed, I started a new blog on the Figuration Press website called Litterfall. My intent is for it to be a place for honest conversations about the tough future we face, with musings on peak oil, industrial decline, climate change, ecological degradation, and all the other forms of chaos we’re doing such a bang up job of creating for ourselves. However, while I have no intention of looking away from those consequences, I also plan to write with a very definite focus on some of the positive changes we still can make and the useful responses available to us as our various collective predicaments continue to play out. My introduction attempted to lay out the general ideas behind the blog and my intentions in writing it and, since then, I’ve written about the first two of three key realities I believe promise the United States a continuing era of decline.
I’m updating the blog with a new post every week on Monday nights. In the coming weeks and months, I plan to write about a variety of important subjects: the current, exhausted state of America; redefinitions of some key terms and assumptions bouncing around in our collective discourse; the concept that less can actually mean more; the relief of letting go; and the elegance of simplicity, along with quite a few other topics. We will be talking about hope, too, and about ways to redefine and reorient our expectations of the world. As noted, I want Litterfall to be a place of honest hope, in which we can converse about positive ways forward without deluding ourselves about the challenges ahead. I think that can be a tough line to walk at times and I know that I too often fail at that balance. I intend to strive mightily to get it right with this blog, and I hope that a good number of you will join me, join the conversation, and help me with the process. A good blog feeds and builds on its readers’ thoughts and feedback, so please join in.
Of course, the new blog is not all that’s happening in the world of Into the Ruins and Figuration Press. I also am in the early stages of getting together the third issue, which is (hopefully) coming fast. As such, I want to once again put out a call for letters to the editor for this new issue, but with an extra prod for you all: a question to get the conversation started. As always, I encourage feedback on the previously-published issues, as well as musings and considerations brought to mind by the stories and editorial content contained within. I also encourage recommendations of good deindustrial science fiction. But I also would like to spur a bit of conversation and, being that the Presidential campaign is in full swing, I thought I might regale you all with a question concerning politics.
For sanity’s sake, though, there is one key ground rule for this conversation: please do your best not to mention or advocate for any of our current Presidential candidates. I realize that may seem odd and censorial, but I am far more interested in a discussion about issues than I am in a discussion about candidates—and I’m far more interested in a discussion that isn’t weighted down by the intensely emotional baggage of our current election. From what I’ve seen, it does not inspire much in the way of lively but grounded discussion about the myriad issues before us, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for from this question. Specifically, I’m interested in a lively but respectful discussion about the myriad unmentionable issues troubling us as a nation.
And therein lies your question: What unmentionable and ignored issues would you like to see an American presidential candidate center their campaign upon? I’ll start off with a very easy example to help get the wheels turning. I would like to see a candidate for President run their campaign on the simple fact that we cannot continue to run our economy upon a paradigm of growth, and to speak about and advocate for a series of policies and changes that begin the process of reorienting ourselves toward a steady-state economy. That’s the sort of straightforward but unmentionable issue facing us that I’m talking about.
I want more of you all than just a sentence like that, though. I want a statement of the issue facing us and then one or more ways of responding that you would like to see advocated. The focus can be tight and detailed, burrowing into one very specific or smaller issue facing us, or it can be much broader with a series of currently-unspeakable principles enumerated. It can be more policy-oriented or more principle-oriented, so long as there is a depth and clarity to the principle rather than a series of vague, feel-good statements. Finally, please focus on issues or principles that are not being spoken about currently on the national stage. If they intertwine or touch on issues being spoken about, that’s fine, but the most important issues facing us are, so far as I’m concerned, largely being ignored in our current national political discussion. It’s those ignored issues that I’m most interested in bringing to light. Therefore, the more off the beaten path you are, the more likely I am to consider your letter for publication.
There are two ways you can make your voice heard. The first option is to email it to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The second option is to post it as a comment on this blog post. However, if your comment is meant for consideration as a published letter in Into the Ruins, please note that at the beginning. Otherwise, everyone is also welcome to post a comment of general discussion, not meant for the letters section.
Oh, and one last rule: you may write about controversial subjects (that’s in many ways the point) but I have no interest in putting through bigoted comments, even of groups that it’s currently okay to speak bigoted comments about in polite company. Therefore, no sweeping generalizations or rants about certain ethnicities, races, cultures, sexual orientations, genders, religions (including Christianity), etc. But also none about rural people, certain regions of the country, members of any particular political party, etc. You’re welcome to be controversial, but keep it kind and considerate and, most of all, focused on issues and policies. Note also that comments here are moderated, so be patient once you put yours through and I’ll get it published so long as it doesn’t violate the aforementioned rules, or otherwise is inappropriate or too off-topic.
Here’s hoping for a good conversation! (And don’t forget to join that other conversation over at Litterfall!)