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Better ships than citizenship — Thoughts on the Theme — September 2022

Many stories in this issue say that our governments’ priorities don’t reflect the priorities of the governed but instead serve the demands of profit. Their decisions direct public resources—and even the modest resources of workers and other members of the public—into the hands of investors for their private gain. Illustrating this are articles about turning Olympia into a city of renters, about selling off the trees needed for shade and slowing global warming, and an interview describing the status of local Starbucks’ workers after they voted to form a union.

Increasingly, our governments’ priorities don’t even reflect the priorities of voters. Articles about neighborhood centers and the one about the tax for a Cultural Access Program, illustrate how voters’ consent can be manufactured. (Measures in state legislatures to restrict access to the vote are another approach, allowing politicians to choose voters rather than the other way around.) Annabel Gregg’s article on abortion also shows how decisions by elected officials in other states play out in Washington.

Articles about the implications for democracy come from the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion (“Ordered liberty”) and a book review on the history of free speech. Enrique Quintero’s column on our habit of violence against black people is all too clearly illustrated “The strange case of Sheriff Troyer.”

There are better ways. One is described in “Making affordable housing a reality.” The program “puts land planning, acquisition, and the actual building of housing units into the public’s hands” because “a local administration which can build its own housing can never be held hostage by developers expecting an unreasonable profit margin again.”

Some possibilities for a better future can be glimpsed in the center spread featuring stories by students of a TESC class on “The Peoples’ Epistemology” and in Thad Curtz’s conversation about reducing your carbon footprint.

But in my opinion, real hope lies in this reply by a young woman when asked whether citizenship could be redefined to produce a culture of care:

“Better ships than citizenship include friendship, relationship, or even a pirate ship, where unauthorized motley formations are bound together to disrupt notions of the private, of property, of wealth and its concentration. …one of the worst aspects of citizenship is that it needs authorization or that its expression is tied to what is given by a governing (or, more precisely, ruling) body. The kind of citizenship I dream of is one where we acknowledge our attachment to each other, desire to be attached to one another, in relations other than property relations. Where serving the other is a way of serving the self. It sounds romantic, but isn’t that the origin of all the things we want to make and bring into the world? The power of a love letter that is written without a guarantee of a response?”


The Future of WIP: Update Fall 2022

As readers know, the production, publication and distribution of Works in Progress has always depended upon a reliable team of volunteers. In addition to the contributions of writers, artists, proofreaders, editors, and distributors, a small team of people shoulders the burden of assembling the paper for production. Managing editors in particular ensure that copy is ready to deliver to layout before the paper goes to press. In the past, that has always meant several days of fulltime work in the week after the copy deadline, plus a dedicated weekend for proofreading, editing and production details.

Last spring, WIP’s Publishing Committee decided to shift to a quarterly publication schedule, to limit the time demanded from the current team, reduce costs and allow us to find and develop new leadership. In June, WIP held a meeting to present the situation to community members, specifically hoping to identify a potential new editor candidate.

At the gathering, there was a clear desire for WIP to continue to serve as a progressive voice and offer a unique source of information in this community. The Publishing Committee is committed to maintaining WIP’s print format. At the meeting, some attendees said WIP could call on them to help expand its presence on social media. Importantly, though, we were not able to identify new leadership to continue the paper in the form it now exists. The publishing committee has agreed to produce a December issue while we continue to search for a potential editor or people to form a managing editing team, as well as prospects to join the Publishing Committee.


December theme: Hostages to the future

It’s moving ahead, with or without us. Who’s keeping track? Is change the same as progress? Is being human still a good thing? Who gets to decide?

Deadline for contributions is November 1. We depend on the community to submit articles, especially on the theme. We’re also looking for volunteers interested in “guest editing” part of the paper. A guest editor rounds up content related to the theme (primarily recruiting material from others, but may include a piece of their own writing) and does the initial editing for those pages. If you are interested in being considered for a guest editor role contact WIP by October 1 at and put GUEST EDITOR in the subject line.


About the cover

A City of Renters, as well as graphics for articles on pages 14, 15, and 16, were created by Wyatt Gaer, an artist and designer interested in vulnerability, bodies, and personhood. Wyatt is local to the Olympia/Lacey area and enjoys staring at pictures of robots. Email Wyatt or follow her at @wyatt.gaer

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