On Abolition

Every day, we take hundreds of steps towards abolition.

Waving to a neighbor walking her dog.

Stoping to help a kid on their way to school who’s bag is spilling papers.

Handing out Halloween candy at your front door.

Meeting a new person who works near your office.

Collecting a few pieces of trash.

Holding your kid’s birthday party at the neighborhood park.

Closing a street to cars for a community festival.

Visiting a playground and playing.

Asking someone if they’re OK.

Sharing a tradition.

Picking up dog poop that’s not yours.

Giving another human grace.

Moving forward when you’re not offered the same.

Writing a poem.

Flying a kite.

Checking in an old friend.

Letting your boss know, clearly and honestly, what isn’t working.

Joining a community network that connects folks across your city to solve problems.

Asking your neighbor if they’d stop setting of fireworks.

Getting over neighbors continuing to set off fireworks.

Finding a new home for books you’ve already read and things you no longer use.

Bringing food to a potluck.

Forgiving a person who wronged you.

It’s hundreds of daily acts of resistance, easy and hard, that makeup the steps on the infinitely long path to abolition.

On Parenting

By the end of this month, my child will turn 18. There was a time she was struggled to lift her head during tummy time, and I remember her first wobbly steps while I feared she’d take a header off the coffee table.

I occurs to me that these moments reoccur.

She’s currently navigating decisions about college, and now, like then, I have to remind myself to let her grapple with the challenge.

She was learning to ride a bike, I couldn’t hold her up or she’s never learn to balance. When she was learning to drive, I couldn’t hold the wheel or she’d never learn to steer. When she was falling in love, I couldn’t play her matchmaker and chaperone or she’d never learn how to exist in a romantic relationship. As she learns how to be an adult, she needs the space to try and fail — or fall.

Like a newborn bird working its way out of its shell, the struggle is critical to the necessary growth. The necessary strengthening. Standing back comes with risk, but intervention comes with more.

Rating Apples

It should be no surprise I love an obsessive strong opinion about something that doesn’t really matter and so I love Apple Rankings. That I disagree with it is only better.

Personally, I’m thrilled it’s Zestar season, so I’m stocking up on local ones.

It’s Gonna Be BANANAs

Iowa City is considering a zoning code change to open up more properties for “accessory apartments,” a rediscovered solution that might help our housing crisis.

The City of Iowa City explains:

Accessory apartments, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), are small, self-contained dwelling units located on the same lot as a primary home. ADUs can be attached or detached and come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and configurations.

You’re going to hear a lot of folks oppose this with a lot of the same tired arguments we’ve heard from team NIMBY1 for years:

  • It will hurt (my) property values
  • It won’t fit the “neighborhood’s character”
  • It alone can’t solve the affordable housing crisis
  • Something something families
  • Something something corporate take over

You will almost certainly hear this from folks who — staunchly — say they support affordable housing in a vague sort of way and are definitely not opposed to change (just this change) or density (just this density).2

They have, in fact, already started.

The truth is this: building more places for people to live in necessary, but insufficient, to solve the housing crisis, and we need to find ways to do it on land folks already own in a way that reduces the power of the people living there to keep new people out.

This is one of those changes.

  1. My preferred term is BANANA, for build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything. ↩︎
  2. It might sound something like this: “We would be eager to work to come up with buildings that contribute to a healthy balance of affordable rental and owner-occupied housing without compromising the character of the neighborhood.” ↩︎

Local Coffee Notes

A local note: Daydrink is opening a new, second location, in what was the original location of New Pioneer Coop.

This is just a note about how much I love the aesthetic of the teasers they posted to their Instagram account.

I don’t get coffee from a shop as my daily drink (that’s a subscription to Brass Ring’s rotating single-origin beans), but Daydrink is exactly the kind of approachable coffee snobbery I envision for my imagined post-retirement coffee shop (but I’d go with different hours).

On the Reassessment of Parents

At this lake house, on this vacation with my parents and my child and their boyfriend and my brother and his girlfriend, there is a table tennis set.

I haven’t played a game with my child, as they recall, since they were 7 and taking swimming lessons at the local recreation center a decade ago. In their recollection, I am very good at table tennis.

I am very bad at table tennis. This is a long-standing fact, not due to a decline in a skill I once possessed.

Reddit Goes Dark

Casey Newton at Platformer:

As a result, Reddit is a rare social product that has seemed to become more relevant over time, as a growing user base comes to appreciate its distinctive, human-centered approach to digital conversations. Another result, though, is a user base that feels uncommonly possessive of the product.

That history begins to explain the meltdownthat has taken place on Reddit over the past day, as thousands of communities go private — effectively taking themselves offline — to protest changes that will eliminate most third-party apps, and could threaten third-party moderation tools and research initiatives. So many forums went dark on Monday, in fact, that Reddit itself briefly crashed.

I was a late comer to Reddit — my account is just over four and a half years old — but is tied to a third-party app, Apollo, which will go away at the end of the month. After Twitter’s demise, Reddit had, in many ways, replaced it as my media diet to fall asleep to.

I don’t know how many users Reddit will lose, or if it will walk back any of its announced changes, but there was practically nothing to read this morning, so I deleted Apollo today and suspect I won’t return to Reddit in any meaningful way. The web experience really is that terrible.

There is Nothing New Under the Sun

Transitions can feel like celebration, growth, an unopened present. And like loss.

As another group of high-school seniors graduated and got ready to head out on their next steps, I was struck at how it can feel overwhelming and scary and joyful all at once. And we’ll do it again next year and the year after that and the year after that.

We can feel alone, and it can feel dangerous, but the path ahead is well trodden.

What has been will be again. What has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.