Community Spotlight: A paean to Meteor Blades, Night Owls, and the Community who gathered there

Community Spotlight: A paean to Meteor Blades, Night Owls, and the Community who gathered there

Dismay surged through the Daily Kos Community last month when Meteor Blades began his Feb. 25 Thursday Night Owls with these words: “This is the final edition of Night Owls, a themed open thread that has appeared at Daily Kos since 2007.” I knew we’d miss the intriguing news stories he featured every night for 14 years, plus the Tweet of the Day. However, I didn’t realize that the absence of the comment thread also would leave a huge chasm in my nightly routine. I liked to let the comments accumulate and then read the entire thread late at night, like sitting quietly in a chair listening to my friends talking at a party, late, after the crowd has left and we are alone.

The end of Night Owls was a clue many didn’t fully grok until Markos published this story: Meteor Blades is retiring, and it’s impossible for me to fully express my love and respect for him. The 503 comments to that story voiced our gratitude and our desolation. Finnegan05 wrote, “It’s like a support beam shattered in the wall.” TrueBlueMajority summed up the Community’s response, “(H)e defines badass, and I don’t even know half of what he has done. He is the activist we all aspire to be if we had the courage and resilience. I can’t imagine DK without him.”

This week, I’ve wondered what Meteor Blades would have written to mark the historic confirmation of the first Native American Interior Secretary, Debra Haaland. I know he’d express an atypical perspective in his strong voice, although I doubt he’d focus on her ribbon skirt. Despite all Haaland brings to the environmental issues that are at the core of my being, I want to focus on the fashion statement she made at her swearing-in. So here’s my sort-of Night Owls in his honor. Be sure to hit up the poll at the end to show your appreciation for Meteor Blades.

The fashion director and chief fashion critic for The New York Times, Vanessa Friedman, writes that “Deb Haaland Makes History, and Dresses for It.

When she took her oath of office, the first Native American cabinet secretary also took a stance for self-expression.

On Thursday, Deb Haaland made history when she began her job as Secretary of the Interior, becoming the first Native American to lead a cabinet-level agency. And she did so not in the recent uniform of many female politirati — the fruit bowl-colored trouser suit — but rather in traditional Indigenous dress.

Standing in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to Vice President Kamala Harris to take the oath of office, Ms. Haaland wore a dark jacket over a sky blue, rainbow-trimmed ribbon skirt embroidered with imagery of butterflies, stars and corn; moccasin boots; a turquoise and silver belt and necklace; and dragonfly earrings.

Against the flags and dark wood, the former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico stood out, her clothes telegraphing a statement of celebration and of self at a ceremonial moment that will be preserved for the record. It was symbolic in more ways than one … it’s a break from the prevailing wisdom regarding female dress in the corridors of power, which dictated safety in a dark suit — with maybe the occasional red jacket for pop. The point being to look like the (male) majority that ruled; to be a company woman and play the part of the institution. Not any more.

Agnes Woodward, a Plains Cree from the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada who owns ReeCreeations along with her husband, designed Haaland’s ribbon skirt. They are clear about the company’s mission: “Everything we design and create is meant to empower Indigenous Peoples and to amplify Indigenous voices. Take up space and walk unapologetically.” A story about the designer in Native News Online has a photo of Woodward holding up the skirt to clearly display the design.

Woodward explained the skirt’s significance in an Instagram post

The ribbon skirt reminds us of the matriarchal power we carry as Indigenous women.

They carry stories of survival, resilience, adaption, and sacredness.

As survivors of genocide we wear our ribbon skirts to stay grounded in our teachings, to stay connected to the earth and our ancestors.

Wearing it in this day and age is an act of self empowerment and reclamation of who we are and that gives us the opportunity to proudly make bold statements in front of others who sometimes refuse to see us.

It allows us to be our authentic selves unapologetically.

Here’s Haaland’s statement.

I meant it when I said I believe every one of us shares a common bond: our love for the outdoors and a desire and obligation to keep our nation livable for future generations.

— Secretary Deb Haaland (@SecDebHaaland) March 19, 2021

Tweet of the Day

Second dose of Pfizer today via Kaiser. Afterward, I had a brief Rand Paul moment and felt like casting off my mask and walking up and down the street hugging strangers. But I got over it.

— Meteor_Blades (@Meteor_Blades) March 19, 2021

quote for the first day of spring 2021

“There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.” -Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

Happy first day of (northern-hem) #spring! Here is “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley, writing 200 years ago about a world ravaged by a deadly plague, on spring in a pandemic and what makes life worth living:

— Maria Popova (@brainpicker) March 20, 2021

نوروز مبارک! Happy Nowruz! Celebrating the dawn of the year 1400 and the triumph of the Spirit of the Sun 🌞🎉

— Maryam مریم Zaringhalam, PhD (@webmz_) March 20, 2021

Daily Kos still has three not-Night-Owls open threads available, plus this Community Spotlight open thread every Sat. at 7:30 p.m. PDT on the Front Page. On Sun. through Fri. at 7:30 p.m. PDT, Hunter publishes his News Roundup to the Front Page. Community groups daily publish Top Comments at 7 p.m, and Overnight News Digest at 9 p.m. Let’s meet in the comment threads and hone our badassery.

Eight Rescued Stories from 1 p.m. PDT Friday, Mar. 12 through 1 p.m. PDT Friday Mar. 19, 2021

Despite ample current events such as two notable confirmations—Haaland and “aggressive culture warrior from the radical left” Xavier Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, plus the horrific misogynistic and racist killings in Atlanta—we rescued zero current events stories this week. Instead, we spotlighted book reviews, a Myanmar reading list, pandemic backyard birding, Nixon’s second inauguration, a meeting with Queen Elizabeth, and a devoted grandmother’s ode to her grandson.

Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday at 7:30 p.m Pacific time. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years. 

BehindTheLine revisits Richard Nixon’s second inauguration through text and photos in 1973 January 20: An inauguration photo diary. The U.S. in the early 1970s was a peak culture war led by people old enough to be drafted but too young to vote. “The Vietnam War protest movement was front and center. But other social issues were coming of age. In some ways the protests of that day were a culmination of seven or eight years of frustration with the war, on top of civil rights demonstrations, summer riots and assassinations.” BehindTheLine joined in 2019 and has written three stories, all rescued.

Ellid introduces her topic by describing a prayer rug scam she recently received “that had about as much in common with my actual religious life as Charlie the Tuna has to The Old Man and the Sea.” In Books So Bad They’re Good: Hoaxes, Part III—ignorance and superstition, she discusses The Faith Healers, by James Randi, a book “describing some of the worst, most egregious, and most knowingly cruel religious hoaxes of all.” A quilt historian who joined in 2007, Ellid has written 576 stories, with 174 rescued, two of them this week.

Even life-long birders found surprises in their yards when the pandemic kept them close to home. Through description and photos, Linneatus details some of her sightings in Dawn Chorus: My year of birding (not so) dangerously. “This was the year many of us re-discovered the joys of backyard birding (and it) has been an eye-opener for learning about the locals … birds and people … I got to know my neighbors better than I had in the previous 16 years. We bonded over birds, over knowing that our neighborhood provides (a) safe haven for a great variety of feathered friends.” In her 14 years at Daily Kos, “all-purpose enviro” Linneatus has written 279 stories with 12 rescued.

Public school teacher and librarian bookgirl writes about a March-Madness style book competition in Contemporary Fiction Views: The art of conversation. The 2021 Tournament of Books pits authors against each other to claim the prize of a virtual rooster. In the competition, readers participate in judging rounds and discuss their favorite writers. “What a delight that in this world, where people advocate for racist tropes and keeping children in poverty, that people also have the chance to show they care about ideas, characters, plot and how words bring a story to life.” Bookgirl joined in 2008 and has written 254 stories, with 97 rescued.

In A few books about Myanmar/Burma, Scribal explains their history with Burma, having spent 6 months in Yezin and Yangon in the early ’80s, while the author’s father was working in Yezin. After lamenting about the pain and suffering of the Rohingya people, Scribal offers reading suggestions for anyone wanting to learn more about Myanmar. “On Twitter this week, I read plea after plea from Myanmar: ‘The troops are killing us in the street and burning our homes, please help us.’ What can I do? I’m an information sharer by nature and by training so that’s what I can offer.” Scribal, a librarian, joined in 2020 and has written three stories, with two rescued.

Nigerian international lawyer Irene Fowler fondly recalls her 2003 experience in My memorable moments with Queen Elizabeth II. “I am a Director of Vivian Fowler Memorial College, a private secondary school for girls in Lagos, Nigeria … and in 2003, Priscilla Quoa, one of our students, won the Commonwealth essay competition. As it turned out, Nigeria was hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that year and Queen Elizabeth II was expected at the occasion.” Irene Fowler joined in 2020 and has written eight stories. This is their first rescue.

Philly526 asks readers What inspires you? and explains how her 16-year-old grandson became her inspiration. “Bo isn’t shy about expressing his views, nor does he hesitate to call me out when he thinks I’m wrong or if he holds an opposing view. This often makes for lively dinner conversation.” Philly526 joined in 2008 and has written 14 stories, with two rescued.

Ellid’s second rescue this week, Book Chat: The greatest Irishwoman, focuses on Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, an Irish Nationalist. The author, once married to an Irishman, recounts her affinity for the Irish. “I still appreciate good Irish music, food, and writing. Yeats, Synge, Binchy, Stoker, Wilde, Ethna Carbery and Brendan Behan and James Joyce and Seamus Heaney—these are writers any country would proudly claim, a heritage that many might envy … And then there was Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory, who might justly be called The Mother of Them All … Widowhood may have honed her power of observation and given her the solitude to write, but it also brought an unexpected gift, one that would change the literary and political fate of her homeland: a passionate love for the folklore, language, and people of Ireland.”

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).

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