Two Thanksgiving toasts

Pinch yourself this holiday.
Pinch yourself this holiday.

I don't know how many What-I'm-thankful-for declarations around your dinner table will involve Barack Obama's election. I'm thankful for getting to watch a variety of "It's so weird this is really happening, isn't it?" reactions from folks still giddy over the fact that we'll have a new president in less than two months.

I keep returning to this meditation on race from a friend who teaches in Chicago Public Schools. From his blog entry on Nov. 5, the day after the election.

At school today, the only thing students were talking about was this incredible man named Barack and how he is the president and how many states he won and how he was a Black man and how he was a BLACK man and how he was a BLACK MAN and how he was also a Brother. Any lesson plan that I had planned that didn't involve this incredible man was not getting learned on a day where students were engaged in a heated discussion about the final tallies of the electoral college. These children, who are often given so many reasons to not believe and to not hope, know that something special has happened and that it has the power to transform their lives. Today they didn't need me to educate them on the significance of current events. And I have to admit that it was a strange feeling.

And there's this from Grist environmental blogger David Roberts:

I've been to a great many conferences on climate and energy, and this one was different in ways both concrete and ineffable.

Most conferences on climate in the last decade could have been subtitled: Wouldn't It Be Nice. Everything — technologies, industries, laws, habits — was discussed under the dark cloud of knowledge that the policies to support and accelerate a green future would not be forthcoming from the world's natural leader, the U.S.. George W. Bush had his finger firmly in the dike. It gave all the wonky conversations a slightly futile and farcical air, like an engine revving hotter and hotter but connected to no drive shaft. Vroom vroom! Sigh.

The Governors' Summit was different. Ironically, the sessions themselves were fairly boring — probably unavoidable for something called, say, "Sectoral Cooperation to Combat Global Warming." They were boring because they were attempts to move past airy statements of principle and wonky policy wishlists to the tangible, hands-on work of hashing out real agreements and strategies. It wasn't wishing we could start, or hoping we'd start soon. It was starting.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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