This Changes Everything Vs. My Life on the Road


For NaNoWriMo last year I wrote a blog post a day and one of them was about comparative reading. I think it is such an amazing concept and I wanted to do it again. It gives you a deeper understanding of what you have read, how certain writers tackle certain aspects, and how you can shift your focus when reading.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” is a book by Naomi Klein from 2014 which looks into the economic, social, and environmental aspects of climate change while also analysing how capitalism brought us there. It was a fascinating book and will probably be one of the main sources for my own project because it has so much wisdom in it.

Gloria Steinem’s memoir “My Life on the Road” was published in 2015. She describes her life as an activist, the people she has met and who have guided her throughout, and the issues women were and are still facing today. It was inspiring to read about a life lived so fully.

What I loved most about these two books was their inclusiveness, their focus on minorities and their unique struggles. Steinem writes about her experiences with people who have faced discrimination and how they dealt with them. What we can do about them. Naomi Klein is also very aware and she takes it a step further, linking these issues to climate change.

One aspect that made me look at “My Life on the Road” through an environmental lens in the first place was this one by Steinem in her interview with Emma Watson: If we had real equality between women and men, women would be able to decide for themselves if they want to receive children or not. They would have full reproductive freedom and would not have to have children they don’t want or cannot have. It would offer them opportunities to work, to invest in education, to live more sustainably. The effect of climate change also depends on global population size. This is why feminism should be one of the main strategies to conquer climate change. Naomi Klein adds to this as she says that every movement aiming for equality is a step in the right direction of conquering climate change.

Our environmental problems today are the product of hundreds of years of inequality, of exploitation, and expression of power over nature. In a culture where not everyone is able to work together because of prejudices and strong opposing opinions, there will be no unified action against climate change. One which we so desperately need. Gloria Steinem argues that these movements are indeed happening right now, though, and that she has experienced living right among them. Felt their power and the hope they radiate. This is also what I noticed in the end of “This Changes Everything”. There is a way to get through this. We have to transform our values and work for a more just world.

“My Life on the Road” examines how this is done in detail. Going around, talking to people. Listening to their struggles and spreading awareness. Giving talks to activists, forming groups, marching. These are the practical aspects of the great change Naomi Klein wrote about.

Since Klein’s book is researched to a great detail and could be seen more as a piece of journalism, it does not have as many personal stories in it as “My Life on the Road”. However, the part I loved the most, was her telling the story how she struggled to get pregnant and how her son was born. She wrote about the BP oil spill and its effect on the eggs and youngest fish in lakes and oceans. It was beautifully linked and thus all the more powerful. “My Life on the Road” as a memoir has all these stories and anecdotes which are linked to the pressing issues of our time. This taught me a lot: When writing my own book I have to connect my own stories to the issues I’m talking about. Otherwise, they will get too distant. I don’t want to be a preacher. I want to be an observer of the world, a storyteller.

Both books have changed my perception. After finishing “This Changes Everything” today I am a bit more hopeful that we can avert the crisis, but I’m also more painfully aware of the damage that we have done thus far. I feel physical pain in my stomach and heart when I read about oil spills, about devastating pollution, and the exploitation of people all over the world. Gloria Steinem assured me through the women’s movement that this can be changed. I have had the great amount of opportunities only through women like her. Once we recognise our power as a unified people, we can make a difference. Once we tell our stories and share our values, we will succeed.

Both of them showed me a journalism at its finest. Since it is a profession I could really see myself in, it was interesting to read about their lives. I felt a personal connection through the love of writing and the passion with which they dive into their topics.

What is the overall message of both books?
Be hopeful. Work harder. Be more inclusive. Listen and learn.

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#climatemarch


We Resist. We Build. We Rise.

Weighed down by a bit of weekend-loneliness, inability to wrap my head around uni stuff, and the cold fingers of writer’s block strangling me, I was not in a good place today. Together with the news of Trump’s executive order on Arctic drilling… my hope hid itself in my cold, dark fridge. It doesn’t see climate change if it is in there. (I believe that is also what most climate change deniers do.)

 Just like the Women’s marches did early this year, the climate march on Washington today gave me my hope back. It crawled from between the kale and the carrots out of the fridge and announced that it would get stuff done now.

These marches show that people care. They show that we have the ability as humans to come together peacefully and protest for a common denominator: The future of our planet. It is beautiful to see people from all over the world supporting each other even if they are so different. Because this unites us all.

“When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses.” Gloria Steinem in “My Life on the Road”

Some argue that climate change divides rich and poor even more. Only to a certain point in time can those, who made their money through oil and coal, build their forts to protect themselves from floods and storms. In the end, nature always wins. We are all on the same page here. And it is not us against Mother Earth. We are rather her ignorant, carefree children who have yet to grow up. We don’t have the time to go through that process. We have to understand right now that it is best for us to work together in peace. That love and understanding are the only ways through which we will be able to survive. Humans took such a long time to evolve. All that time we have lived in connection with our planet, never against it. Let’s find that connection again. To our Earth, and between ourselves.

Did you go protesting in any of the climate marches? If so – Thank you so much! You are awesome! – please tell me your feelings and thoughts about it!

“I read a book about that…”


As I was just sitting in my Atmospheric Physics lecture (It’s complicated, confusing, and cumbersome), I could think of nothing else than getting back home to continue reading my new-found love: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, recommended to me by the lovely Stephanie (https://adventuresofabibliophile.com/). When I told a book-loving friend of mine, she said: “Feminism. The classic. Obviously.” She knows that I spend most of my money on books. About climate change, feminism, and self-improvement. The classics. One year ago I could never have imagined reading about these topics. I would always prefer fiction over reality.

This year I started to cure my little life-crisis with books. Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? How do I get there? Everything was explained to me. In books. All the books my friend and I had read and talked about during our runs in the last months had paid off. We were teaching ourselves how to be good managers more than our study course did.

When I started working on my book on climate change, I also started reading books about it for the first time. Took everything I could get my hands on. You wouldn’t believe how many works there are in our library. Every time I now have a conversation with my dad about the topic I always add: “I read a book about that…” He now is able to interpret the look on my face and finish that sentence for me. Climate change and the media? Climate change and feminism? Climate change and refrigerators? Climate change and bearded trolls in Sweden? You name it.

Through all this reading I got a little overwhelmed by the scope of the project in front of me. I read myself into a writer’s block. Do you know who cured it? Gloria Steinem. I was so excited that even in my lecture I couldn’t stop taking notes. Which was probably not a good idea. Hydrostatic equilibrium? Adiabatic what? Again please?

“A love letter to the books…
That make you jump up hyped to change the world.
That make you write your heart out.
That make you take notes in class with all the crazy ideas you have.
That take you back to your passions.
That make you daydream about reading on.
In which you want to underline every line because they are so true, so honest, so pure, so beautiful. “

My Life on the Road is such a book. I’m just into the first chapters and I’m already inspired. Her writing style is amazing and her sentences resonated with me even in the darkest minutes of my lecture when all I did is scribble down equations I didn’t understand, next to words I had never heard, and a professor who smiled briefly but coldly and said that it all was so logical. Of course. Welcome to uni.

In the midst of all that I remembered her words. They revived in me the wish to also be a journalist, a traveller, a seeker of stories:

“It’s as if attentive people create a magnetic force field for stories the tellers themselves didn’t know they had within them. (…) The simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.” Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

Weeks after weeks had I tried to word in my book the need for people to listen to each other, to consider each other’s fates, and to be inclusive in all their talking. Who would have known that it could be said that easily…

As you may have noticed I am in love with this book. I will write a review once I have finished it. Until then I have some questions for you:

Do you know any good books about journalism?
Any other non-fiction you can recommend?
What was one book that made you jump in excitement, that inspired you?

Reneé Elise Goldsberry


Include women in the sequel. Work!

This kept me going in the exam phase. Hamilton in general. My obsession with this musical has kept going for four months now (And then I discovered In the Heights. I’m lost in musical theatre). I think I will dedicate a whole post to the effects it had on me, it is such an amazing piece of art. And Renee is wonderful. Obviously.

I’m Back & Book Project


Oh it has been a long time. I actually have an excuse which is not really one. I have lost my password and nothing worked anymore and exam phase and bla bla bla. But I’m back. I will write essays about the environment and feminism again.

Over the last few months I have been writing daily. It gives me so much pleasure. At the moment these texts add up to 90 000 words… You would think that a student had better things to do. But writing in the evenings is always the thing I’m looking forward to most (Well, not every day … aka writer’s block or evil cycle of self-hatred)

What have I been working on?
It’s a book. You guessed it. My twenty-third (or so) attempt to writing a book. I think everyone is laughing about me and my projects. This one is different, I like to tell myself. It’s non-fiction.
I always loved to read fiction but I could never make enough stuff up to fill a book. I would be overwhelmed by all the things I had to consider. What would they eat? How would their kitchen counter look like? What would the pictures on their walls show? Nope, too much work.
Then I discovered non-fiction. First, through self-help books and then through books about the environment. Which got me thinking. I am an environmental management student. Why not write a book about that? I began to research a little and quickly settled with climate change as a topic. Far too broad. I read loads of scientific papers and decided it should be about the social aspects of climate change. Analyses of feminism, media representation of climate change included. Now that’s a topic I can work with. I wrote a bit and I read a bit and now suddenly it’s 12 000 words. This is going well.

The only problem: I’m a little bit overwhelmed by the dimensions of this project. The more I read the less I know. I am painfully aware of my ignorance and my following ancient concepts of society. I have to step past the rules and read everything I can get my hands on to be able to be a decent human being in writing about this.

This project gives me life, it gives me hope, and it gives me a purpose (why also keeping me putting words on a page every day).

Also I would like to give a huge thanks to the lovely women who commented on my post on feminism (https://verenacave.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/intersectionality-and-feminism/)

https://scribbledstories514.wordpress.com/
https://sammarshihab.wordpress.com/
https://tuneinfeminism.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much for you kind words, they really gave me back some energy to write on and to use my voice.

If you would like to point out any issues or questions I need to include in my book, please tell me! I would love to discuss them with you!

International Women’s Day


womens day

Happy #internationalwomensday!!! 💐🌹🌷 A day to remind us of the progress women have made and the long way we still have to go.
Here is to all women – you are strong, you are intelligent, you are creative, you are capable, you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, you are loved.  ❤

My gallery of amazing women is growing, whom should I paint next?
@adele @michelleobama @malalafund

NaNoWriMo Day 21: My Favourite Painters


Nanowrimo is starting to suck all energy out of me. Many people have asked me how I find the time to write. It’s difficult and I’m struggling a bit at the moment. However, I’m eager to keep going. Juggling all my other interests, uni and work. Today, let’s talk about something very dear to my heart – ART. Particularly my favourite artists. I will present you my ten favourite men and women artists.

In school, I only knew about Frida Kahlo as a female artist. We never talked about women also creating amazing paintings! Never! I never questioned it either. Why are our art books full of men? Why do we never discuss the great efforts modern female artists make to change this system?

The Guerrilla Girls (http://www.guerrillagirls.com/#open) asked the question: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. museums? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.”

I especially love this poster they made: The Advantages of being a woman artist. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/P/P78/P78796_10.jpg

“Working without the pressure of success.
Not having to be in shows with men.
Having an escape from the art world in your 4 free-lance jobs.
Knowing your career might pick up after you’re eighty.
Being reassured that whatever kind of art you make it will be labeled feminine.
Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position.
Being your ideas live on in the work of others.
Having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood.
Not having to choke on those big cigars or paint in Italian suits.
Having more time to work after your mate dumps you for someone younger.
Being included in revised versions of art history.
Not having to undergo the embarrassment of being called a genius.
Getting your picture in the art magazines wearing a gorilla suit.”

Here is an amazing video by Sarah Urist Green about The Fierce Women of Art: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHair5dvG0s If you are interested in art, this is the perfect channel for you. Thoughtful, diverse and intelligent.

Women are underrepresented in museums, in art history. Think of all the art periods: Renaissance? Da Vinci, Tizian. Baroque? Rembrandt. Rubens. Romanticism? Friedrich, Turner. Impressionism? Degas, Monet, Renoir. The list goes on and one. Could you name even one female painter in each of these periods? I couldn’t either.

It’s difficult for female artists to reach the art galleries of this world. The poster explains it perfectly. There are, however, some female artists recognised by history.

1. Frida Kahlo

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frida_Kahlo

My favourite one. A beautiful, strong woman who survived through her art. She made a lot of self-portraits. The colour contrasts are stunning. What strikes me most about her portraits is that she creates that intensive stare. That determined look that has the ability to see deep into you. Her art can be characterised as surrealistic, although she said that she doesn’t paint dreams, she paints her own reality.

2 . Kara Walker

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara_Walker

This lady is astonishing. She creates huge black paper silhouettes and depicts aspects of American history like slavery. She hasn’t narrowed her materials to just paper, though. She works with animations and projections and also makes paintings and sketches. Her figures are so vivid, so full of life. Even if they are just cut-out, she has found a way to make them express feelings and emotions. They are beautifully crafted and are critical in the same moment. In her own words: “I wanted to make work where the viewer wouldn’t walk away, he’d get pulled into history, into fiction, into something totally demeaning and possibly very beautiful.”

3. Amrita Sher-Gil

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrita_Sher-Gil#/media/File:Amrita_Sher-Gil_Group_of_Three_Girls.jpg

She was an indian-hungarian painter of the first half of the 20th century. Her paintings tell the stories of women and girls in India. Her colour choices are wonderful and she works a lot with light. The relations between the people in the paintings seem so intimate, so caring and loving. She has the ability to depict faces and catch their expressions without being that realistic. She knows how to reduce forms to a minimum.

4. Georgia O’Keeffe

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_O%27Keeffe#/media/File:Blue-green.jpg

Her pictures have a certain harmony to them. Flowers carefully studied with shadow and light, so plastic that you want to touch them. Skulls with antlers that remind me of the famous surrealists. Vibrant colours and calm landscape scenes. Hills like cloth discarded somewhere. The variety of her work is amazing.

5. Artemisia Gentileschi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi#/media/File:Self-portrait_as_the_Allegory_of_Painting_(La_Pittura)_-_Artemisia_Gentileschi.jpg

The only rather famous female painter of the baroque period. She was a master of her craft and learned from an artist you are more likely to know. Caravaggio. She painted dramatic scenes, brought painting light to perfection. If you see her pictures, you might think it was done by one of the great male painters of that time. Women are just as good, however, history is not very kind to them. Their works were attributed to men, they were not allowed to paint – you name it. This is why it is so incredibly important that we know about the female artists who were pioneers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_Gentileschi

Never in my entire school life, did we cover the topic of female artists. We never went to a gallery were female artists were shown. Picasso, Caspar David Friedrich, Monet… not one woman. Let me show you my favourite male artists now:

1. Rene Magritte

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Magritte#/media/File:Magritte,_Rene_1898-1967_Signature.jpg

I have a special place in my heart for surrealists. I always tried to paint like them but failed. Magritte – what can I say about him. His ideas to trick our eyes are so intelligent, so well thought. Incredibly minimalistic sometimes, he always reveals new strategies to make us think, make us laugh, make us question. Looking at his paintings always makes me happy somehow. I love the colours and the out-of-world-ness about them. The strangeness. I could never decide on a favourite. Every time a new door is opened, with every new painting a new border passed. A line of what is possible and what isn’t crossed.

2. Salvador Dalí

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Persistence_of_Memory

My friend and fellow artist Hannah and I went to an exhibition of Dalí recently. There were a lot of sketches and series of drawings by him. Sculptures, prints, films. His sculptures have drawers in them! How amazing is that? We were astonished, in awe of his ability to draw. He really did know how to draw. “He’s a little weird, isn’t he?” was our most common sentence as we walked through the rooms. He was a great artist. I admire his forms and colours, his creating of entirely different worlds. He made a film together with Walt Disney and it is amazing to recognise the elements that they used in their art. You can never fully get what Dalí wanted to say with his paintings. You can never get to the ground. But you can admire his technique. One of my favourite paintings are “The Elephants”. His work “Muchacha en la ventana” reminds me a bit of Picasso’s “Nature morte devant une fenetre a Saint-Raphael”, which is my favourite one of Picasso. It is so tiny in real life! I was fortunate enough to see it, though. I fell in love with it. Windows to the sea, a re-occurring motive in art. Dalí painted landscapes and portraits and combined elements of seemingly every period of art, there is always more to discover. You might find him a little odd but you cannot deny that this man was a genius.

3. Lyonel Feininger

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyonel_Feininger

An entire semester in our art class was dedicated to this painter. I love his work so much- just simple forms put together, carefully placed light. The composition is key. His paintings look like many differently coloured foils are put on top of each other. Illuminated with a single light source. Little broken glass pieces glued together to form masterpieces. I had the wonderful opportunity to see one of his works in a gallery in Lübeck. I didn’t want to leave. The museum was closing already and I wanted to stay, look at this painting. Absorb everything. His brush strokes, the hues he used, the clear lines. He mainly uses earth tones which makes his paintings look so natural, as if they just were photographs taken through a shattered window.

4. August Macke

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Macke#/media/File:August_Macke_004.jpg

Before I even started to draw, I learned how to use watercolours. My grandfather taught me. That’s why watercolour artists are very dear to me. August Macke made expressionistic art as well. His work is colourful, full of life. It seems sometimes like the naive work of a child. A beautiful world, one saturated with colours. My favourite paintings of him are those he made in Tunisia. Bright, white shapes and harmonising, warm colours. Scenes so simplistic and yet beautiful. He fell in World War I, only 27 years old. Left behind only his work. Which had a great influence on my artistic development. I always go back to him for inspiration.

5. Vincent van Gogh

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh#/media/File:Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Wheatfield_with_crows_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

A few years ago I was in Amsterdam and I got the chance to see van Gogh’s work in real life. I don’t know what it is about paintings but they always look so small when you see them hanging on the wall. My favourite painting is his last one. The beautiful ending for a tragic life. He sold only one painting in his entire life-time. The world was not ready. His love for colour, his thick, pasty application of it onto the canvas – they give his work so much life. He learned to get away from the dark tones that were used before. From the calm scenes with subtle light. He wanted his paintings to shine. To be alive. He was an eccentric, he was a little strange. He ate yellow paint because he thought it would make him happy. To this point you should know that I love artists with heartbreaking stories. Their art is the purest. The most honest.

Those are a few of my favourite artists. I am completely aware that they are very Europe and North America centred. My mind is so narrow, concerning art. I always try to search for new painters whose work inspires me. Get’s me to sit in front of a canvas again, swinging the brush.

I would love to see more great painters from all over the world. Please tell me who your favourite painters are. Did you have the same problem with naming female painters in art history? What do you think we could change to get more diversity in our museums? In our art classrooms? I’m looking forward to your suggestions!

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