Borderlands Digest

THIS SITE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Reading, Writing and Photography about

Justice, the Environment, Chaos,

and Cooperation in the Western U.S.A.


Craig Rock, editor and photographer, duniterock@gmail.com,

All images copyrighted unless otherwise noted


What is Borderlands Digest?

Welcome to the online journal Borderlands Digest. Stories, poems, and photographs on this site center on the environment and people along the culturally diverse communities of the western United States. How we cooperate because of this diversity? How we are kept apart? It is really an attempt to capture the spirit and humanity of people who, since the 1849 Gold Rush, have lived in regions heavily influenced by the migration of new settlers from every country in the world. The articles and links will usually concern the environment, immigration, criminal justice or injustice, and healthcare, four major issues facing us today. The borders are not just the physical borders separating countries but the borders in our minds that we all bring with us from our respective rural and urban backgrounds. This is better defined by artist and Stanford University professor Enrique Chagoya, “Now, the borders are in our heads and within us. Social, religious, gender, economic and class borders (that) are hard to cross.” Submissions are welcome with photos (jpg) and Word documents. Send to Craig rock via duniterock@gmail.com


Citizens Divided

how do you write a poem

about living:

in the “richest” country

in the world

so many burying their futures

in daily funerals

of dreams and ideals,


instead stuffing dollars

in mattresses

or off-shore accounts.

in the most “organized” country

in the world

power centered

black, not so black, white, not so white,

progressive, liberal, conservative, far right

radical, not so radical, not interested,

straight, gay, mixed

young, not so young, old, not so old,

God, no god, many gods

citizens divided.

in the “freest” country

in the world

if you can afford it

concealed or disguised

in mansions, mini-mansions,

gated and guarded

five-star restaurants

great hospitals

grand universities

if you can afford it

if not

one will be appointed

your choice of chains

high rents or endless mortgages

on homes or student loans

slums or prisons

and don't even mention

iPhones with invisible leashes,

video games that keep

eyes, fingers, and minds

twitching

into the middle of the night

awake or asleep, no matter

bumper to bumper traffic

on our streets, sidewalks

and commercial TV.

in our long waiting lines

with too many

too quick

to shoot

in so many different

directions

and its all “free.”

citizens divided.

how do you write

a poem

about that?

Some History on Child Labor

and Social Justice Photography

Social Justice has come a long way since the early 1900s. Note the young age of coal mine workers in the first couple rows of this 1911 Lewis Hine photograph. The Library of Congress (LOC) reports that Hine was an "investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). He documented working and living conditions of children in the U.S. between 1908 and 1924. NCLC photos are useful for the study of labor, reform movements, children, working class

families, education, public health, housing conditions, industrial and agricultural sites.....



Corporations, Community,

and the Individual

As corporations outsource our good jobs, and buy up our lands, our public buildings, and even our prisons, our attachment to places in the West is threatened. Wendell Berry is one of the leading advocates in protecting "places" and reminding us of their value in life.

If you get a chance, listen or read Wendell Berry’s talk on Youtube, "The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer." Berry has a knack of applying local history and a sense of place to today’s most important battle: impersonal corporations versus the individual and community. Here’s a snippet of his talk that will hopefully interest people with diverse political perspectives.


“My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.” “Boomer” names a kind of person and ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country...The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power.

“Sticker” names a kind of person and desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope. Stickers, on the contrary, are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it.

Of my grandfather, I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946.”

Why Get Involved in Workers' Rights -

It's All Connected

by Craig Rock

The 1970s, it was a time of great hope - hope that we should not and would not continue supporting dictators - dictators who arrested, tortured, and even murdered those who spoke out for worker rights. Jimmy Carter was elected president. The words “human rights” became popular. And as you walked the streets of Berkeley, you could hear the words, daily chants, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido.” The people united, will never be defeated. And today, for the most part, our country no longer supports dictators around the world.

However, we still face a similar challenge with some employers who rule over the lives of their workers through the use of fear, so they do not complain about unfair working conditions or harassment, so they accept wages insufficient for a reasonable standard of living, and a health insurance plan inadequate for decent medical and dental care.

Younger generations may have hoped for some resolution of these economic justice challenges in the early 1990s when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union. All the funds allocated to that war could now be spent on housing, hunger, and health care. But the war machine (the military industrial complex) found other wars and weapons to spend trillions of dollars on.

We can only hope that some day society will not look the other way when it comes to a humane standard of living for everyone, not based on the size of a person’s fortune but on the mere fact that we all are human beings on the planet together for a relatively short time.






















The 1970s, it was a time of great hope - hope that we should not and would not continue supporting dictators - dictators who arrested, tortured, and even murdered those who spoke out for worker rights. Jimmy Carter was elected president. The words “human rights” became popular. And as you walked the streets of Berkeley, you could hear the words, daily chants, “El pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido.” The people united, will never be defeated. And today, for the most part, our country no longer supports dictators around the world.

However, we still face a similar challenge with some employers who rule over the lives of their workers through the use of fear, so they do not complain about unfair working conditions or harassment, so they accept wages insufficient for a reasonable standard of living, and a health insurance plan inadequate for decent medical and dental care.

Younger generations may have hoped for some resolution of these economic justice challenges in the early 1990s when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union. All the funds allocated to that war could now be spent on housing, hunger, and health care. But the war machine (the military industrial complex) found other wars and weapons to spend trillions of dollars on.

We can only hope that some day society will not look the other way when it comes to a humane standard of living for everyone, not based on the size of a person’s fortune but on the mere fact that we all are human beings on the planet together for a relatively short time.