Take back the light in 2022
“There is light in darkness, you just have to find it.” —bell hooks
After the year we just had, asking readers where they find light may sound like a maddening and unanswerable Zen koan. And honestly, given our species’ epic capacity for self-delusion and antipathy, abandoning a trope as shopworn as darkness giving way to light seems justifiable. Yet we return again and again to the idea of seeking light because light—and its first cousin, hope—are not empty ideals. They are cellular imperatives.
We received many thoughtful submissions this month that suggest the answer to where and how we find light is through connection to others. “What’s in your walet?” makes a case for opening our hearts and hearths to each other as the most direct path to lighting our way. “Fire” takes the theme to its most elemental level, reminding us of that most ancient of ways to bond.
Our feature on page one talks about the kind of light that shines when a diverse group of activists and visionaries pool their talents to become a force for change in the community. Olympia Community Solar’s efforts to bring renewable energy to people of all income levels reframes our understanding of the power of light.
The needed opinion piece by “Cassandra” shines a light on our diminishing freedoms at the hands of officials who are bending laws to accommodate questionable—and unlegislated—agendas. Considerable inner fortitude has always been required to defend the rights of those we oppose but such is the responsibility of those who champion liberty.
For sheer fun, don’t miss Dave Harris’ reminiscence on the energy and excitement surrounding the music scene in Olympia in the 90s and why this area provided such fertile soil for bands like Sleater-Kinney and labels like K Records. The only question is whether the same conditions that made such a nexus possible, like youth-friendly venues and affordable housing, will reappear. Matt Crichton’s interview with psychologist Pete Sanderson reminds us that kids have it pretty tough these days and that helping them build a healthy self image is a slow but sacred task.
As the new year begins, we are mindful of the devastating fire that claimed so many small businesses downtown on December 15, 2021. Their losses are staggering and, in some cases, irretrievable–equipment, hardware, customer records, memorabilia. Some are facing the possibility of shutting their doors permanently. Still, as some of the business owners told WIP, the support they are receiving from the community—often in the form of $5 and $10 donations—is keeping the lights on, if only virtually and psychologically, for the moment. We invite you to give oxygen to their re-kindling efforts on page 15.
The losses of 2021 are undeniable: social isolation, illness, reduced income and an increased distrust of each other via a media machine that delights in darkness. Bishop Desmond Tutu, Steven Sondheim, bell hooks, E. O. Wilson, Hank Aaron, Cicely Tyson, Beverly Cleary, Betty White and so many other light bearers left the planet last year. How do we embrace the uncertainty of what lies ahead? The great soul who bore much darkness in his life, Bishop Desmond Tutu, said “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”
Happy 2022. Keep the home fires burning.
About the Back Page
bell hooks is the pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins, a groundbreaking professor and author of over 30 books on race, feminism, art, history, education, gender, community, family, love, and politics. The fierce, reflective, soulful nature of hooks’ work, colored by her unique blend of Buddhism and Christianity, continues to inspire people of all ages, races and orientations. Born in Kentucky, hooks held teaching positions at Stanford, Yale, Oberlin College and New York’s City College. In 2004 she returned to Kentucky, where she joined the faculty of Berea College as Distinguished Professor in Residence. When she died there in December 2021, tributes and memorials poured into Berea from around the world. Dr. Cornell West, co-author with hooks of Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life, said “she was an intellectual giant, spiritual genius and freest of persons! We shall never forget her!”