Sunday, April 27, 2014

Robert Frost Three Books

I bought Robert Frost Three Books from a remainders table several years ago. I don't remember when, but I know the reason was two-fold. One, I love Frost's poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. For those of you who don't recognize the title, I think it's also referred to as the "miles to go before I sleep" poem. Two, I felt driven to study the work of well-known poets. I bought the book without even opening the cover, so imagine my disappointment when I discovered Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening isn't in the book. The book contains three of Frost's books, A Boy's Will, North of Boston, and Mountain  Interval. The poems in this book are divine. I read and reread many of them many times. They take the heart and mind on a journey through nature and human reaction. Wind and Window Flower reminded me of fleeting love and lost opportunity. The Vantage Point reminded me of the inner struggle between the need for solitude and the need for connection. Some poems, like Snow and The Self-Seeker, tell stories that seem both complete and incomplete by design. Interestingly, many of the poems seem as if they could have been written today. There is a timeliness in Frost's work that leaves the reader feeling suspended between the past and present ever pointing out what many of us know to be true, humans tend to repeat patterns of behavior and living until something shocks them into change. Frost manages to be weave complexity and simplicity into his words without ever sounding as if he's trying to be impressive.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community by Karen T. Litfin

I was really excited about reading and reviewing Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community by Karen T. Liftin before I even opened the book, but I don't believe I allowed my excitement for the topic to interfere with my objectivity. Ecovillages addresses several topics I find relevant to the day and to our future. Liftin took an entire year to spend time at ecovillages around the world. She explores what each of these ecovillages are doing to create a better Earth and a more sustainable lifestyle. There is a thread of living simply throughout the book that supports much of my own point of view. She addresses what she refers to as E2C2, shorthand for ecology, economy, community, and consciousness as the components that make up any society. She discusses in detail how each of the ecovillages she visited address each of the components of E2C2. While we may have these images of ecovillages of hippie communes, Litfin points out various ways in which this stereotype is far from the truth. I like that she ends the book by discussing how the ideas these various ecovillages employ can be scaled up to be introduced into communities already in existence. She addresses the reality that we can't all move into ecovillages and that it might not even be prudent to do so. Liftin makes her points well in an easy to read fashion that makes her message and the message of the ecovillages she visited very clear. Ecovillages is a discussion starter. Many times I stopped reading just to discuss points with my husband and to think through not only what she wrote in the book but the implications on my own life and the lives of those I know. Liftin writes with passion and clarity in every portion of the book. Her ideas and discoveries are presented well even when her topic leaves the reader with questions. Liftin provides a thought provoking analysis of her experience within the ecovillages. Ecovillages isn't just about sustaining the Earth but about sustaining a sense of togetherness and community through less consumption and more interaction.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anderson & Roe at LaSells Center in Corvallis, Oregon

Anderson & Roe talking about
the music they would play.
Anderson & Roe energized LaSells Stewart Center in Corvallis, Oregon Sunday, April 6, 2014, with their piano duo. Their performance vibrated the very souls of those in attendance. When I attend concerts like the one Anderson & Roe performed last night, my soul longs to be musically inclined. I listen and enjoy but don't understand music the way I sometimes wish I did. I rarely recognize tunes from the notes being played. I can never explain to someone else why certain music resonates with me in anything coming close sounding musically talented. I have friends who can compare performances and give you nuanced reasons why something works and something else doesn't. Music like Anderson & Roe's makes my heart ache for such a connection to music. They play with such an effortless ease and energy the listener, the listener
can't help but feel inspired. 

They introduced the pieces they played and described a bit about their interpretations of each. 

Anderson reading a poem.
Roe preparing to play
They even read poetry before each set in their opening performance of Rachmaninoff, which they played on separate pianos facing one another. They moved into a portion of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, which they played on the same piano sharing space and reaching over and around one another. They finished out the first half of the performance playing Libertango by Astor Piazolla/Anderson & Roe on the same piano. I loved that they described this piece as being like a dancing a tango, and even invited the audience to dance the tango in the aisles. I smiled wondering if anyone ever has taken them up on that offer. The music certainly had my foot tapping, but I wasn't tempted to jump up and start dancing...

When they came back from intermission, they had changed clothes. The audience reacted to this unexpected occurrence with applause, which I found amusing. Still, it's not often you see a clothes change during a piano concert.

They started the second half of the performance with an interpretation of Mozart's work.They played these three pieces starting on one piano and moving to separate pianos for the second two pieces. They moved on to a an interpretation of a the Christoph Willibald Gluck ballet, Orphee et Eurydice, that grabbed the imagination and held on tight. They played this piece on the same piano again. For the final piece, they played an interpretation of the opera, Carmen, that condensed all the emotion of Carmen into thirteen roller coaster ride minutes.

Anderson & Roe meeting with fans.
Two encores held the audience enthralled as the second one ended the performance with Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.

After the two hour performance, they met with fans in the lobby for a while.

The energy of this performance made me want to seek out more of their work. Luckily, they have a website and a YouTube channel!

I hope Anderson & Roe continue to bring their vibrance and talent to the musical scene for many more years to come. Their interpretations of classical music invigorate and inspire as did their performance at LaSells Stewart Center.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gender and Global Justice edited by Alison M. Jaggar

Gender and Global Justice edited by Alison M. Jaggar tackles an interesting, timely, and complex topic. The essays within seek to both ask and answer the questions of how gender affects justice and how justice affects gender. Though some of chapters in Gender and Global Justice feel a bit reminiscent of college papers, they deftly highlight the complexity gender plays in global justice. There are times when the words chosen feel as if they were chosen to impress rather than to better explore or explain the topic at hand, but the content outweighs these word choices. Jaggar compiled a set of essays that tackle the effects of things like migrant work, domestic violence, sex trafficking, tax policy, and family dynamics on gender inequality as well as gender inequality on all of these issues. The essays attempt to look at myriad sides of an issue, but often feel labored as they attempt to explore various sides without sounding like they're excusing injustices wrought by the effects of the realities of people's situations and choices. The academic nature of Gender and Global Justice draws attention to the importance of exploring solutions to gender equality and the problems it causes throughout the world without exploiting the issues to further a political agenda.