Has spring reached you yet, my northern hemisphere homies? The calendar, religious holidays, and flowering peach tree in my yard say spring is here, despite the April Fools’ Day surprise for baseball fans who saw snow fall on the season’s first home run. Birds fly north, croaking frogs seek mates, wildflowers paint mosaics across the landscape, and tree leaves unfurl. Spring this year is a more welcome revival than usual. As nature bursts into birdsongs and bright colors and the U.S. vaccination rate increases, we humans eagerly anticipate release from our year-long isolation.
The natural world is reflected this week in Community stories celebrating spring and nature’s astounding intricacies; two of them were rescued alongside our usual assortment of social and political stories. What says “spring is here” for you? Beginning of baseball season is a iconic U.S. tradition, while for others it’s Easter or Passover, or flowering fruit trees.
Sapsucker birds, on the other hand, see spring quite differently.
For wildlife, spring is signaled through deep natural rhythms. One of our rescues this week is a nature story by Community member giddy thing. It describes the life history of sapsuckers, birds whose spring migration from their wintering range synchronizes with the rising tree sap in their summer home. Upon arrival, the birds excavate sap wells used by other wildlife, sometimes in complexly choreographed movements. Because flowers are scarce in early spring, Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrating north from Central America count on access to the sap wells in Canadian trees—access made possible by the Yellow-bellied sapsuckers who migrated there from Mexico. Of course the hummers aren’t waiting for a sapsucker to text “On my way!” so they can coordinate their journeys. Instead, both sets of birds respond to cues in their overwintering habitats, like temperature and day length, which send an ancient message: “Spring is here, fly to Canada.”
What announces spring to us humans can be the opposite: a contemporary nature message composed by immigrant plants. A New York Times column, aptly titled “We Are a Nation of Immigrants. Our Ecosystems Shouldn’t Be,” observes that “Americans have cultivated nonnative plants and flowers for so long it has skewed our experience of spring. Those cheerful daffodils you’ve loved since you were a child? They came here from northern Europe. The ubiquitous golden sprays of forsythia? Varieties originated in both eastern Asia and Eastern Europe.”
Non-native organisms in human-designed landscapes often exist outside nature’s interdependent networks. People in Washington, D.C. may celebrate spring with a festival of flowering Japanese cherry trees. and not be disturbed when the nonnative cherry blooms eerily early. However, other animals are dependent on the natural elements they’ve evolved alongside, as The Times column notes.
“Wild creatures need wild plants to survive, but drive down any lane in any suburban neighborhood—or any landscaped city street—and what you are apt to see is a gorgeous, blooming wasteland where the flowers feed nobody at all.”
Gardens and lawns are not native ecosystems; no bird has taken flight in March from a roble tree in Mexico with their internal GPS set to the forsythias in your yard. So enjoy the imported beauties that signal spring—daffodils, tulips, roses, and flowering cherry trees—but also include in your garden the indigenous species whose ecosystems have been here all along. A sapsucker in Mexico may be flying north right now headed for a native tree in your yard.
14 Rescued Stories from 3 p.m. PdT Friday March 26 to 3 p.m. PdT Friday April 2, 2021
Before presenting the story blurbs, I want to draw attention to one we rescued last week that was picked up for the Front Page. Community member Toro Blanco described the labyrinth of false promises and misleading guidance that resulted in a disastrous student loan burden for a useless degree in Why we need student loan debt relief: One man’s story of deception, fraud, and consequences. I flagged it for Staff member Jessica Sutherland (who also edits this roundup each week), and she worked with the author to get the story featured on the Front Page.
This week’s 14 rescued stories consider contemporary, historic, and personal events as well as the onset of spring, sometimes explored through an author’s experiences. Six, possibly seven, of these stories are the author’s first rescue. The number of previous rescues can be difficult to pin down for people who have written many stories. Also, if you list your preferred pronouns on your DK profile page, I’ll use them. Otherwise, I use the non-gender “they/them/theirs” except for people whose pronouns I personally know.
Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday to the Recent Stories section at 3:00 p.m. and to the Front Page at 7:30 p.m Pacific time. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
R Camp examines a common perception about religion’s influence on American politics, ”that the content of our beliefs is more reliable, and far more important, than the evidence of our own eyes,” and turns it around. In Faith-based politics, the author breaks down faith, particularly blind faith and its influence on the political right. Instead of seeing malice in many political moves from the right, he suggests that such faith provides a framework “in which belief seeks out confirmation, contradictions are ignored and passions rule reason.” From there, it’s a short journey to where the right exists now: fascism, bigotry and anti-science. R Camp has written two stories since joining in 2012 and this is their first rescue.
In addition to chronicling recent news on domestic violence and discrimination against women, Elenacarlena points out that the patriarchy also hurts men in This Week in the War on Women, 3/21-27/2021: Toxic elite white male culture and hazing edition. Two young men died in the past month due to fraternity hazing that encouraged them to drink too much alcohol. “Hazing deaths … are a symptom of something much deeper, more widespread, more historic, more systemic, and much harder to root out … this persistent notion that young people somehow do not deserve success unless they prove themselves to be ‘elite.’ They need to prove their worthiness, their toughness, to be ‘acceptable.’” Elenacarlena joined in 2014 and has written 350 stories.
Zach Snyder’s recut of DC Comics’ film Justice League motivates Eihenetu to muse on second chances and personal arcs in Redemption of a Black superhero. The original film, which Joss Whedon took over from Zack Snyder and substantially altered, was a failure, both critically and financially. Whedon removed Cyborg from his central role and ruined Black actor Ray Fisher’s professional prospects. Snyder’s recut version restored Fisher’s character as a pivotal figure, redeeming both Cyborg as a character and Fisher as an actor, and redeeming the entire film’s artistic promise. “Ray Fisher’s experience as an actor was a trigger for me,” Eihenetu writes, explaining that they were sandbagged by a racist administrator, lost their teaching job, almost ruining their career, and how they found redemption. Eihenetu has authored 233 stories with 16 rescued.
CorinaR describes a holiday tradition learned as a child in south Texas in Cascarones! A fun Easter tradition in my family. “I have always thought of cascarones as a poor person’s ingenious improvement of a foreign tradition. I grew up making and breaking Easter cascarones.” The author’s family saved empty egg shells all year, then at Easter time, colored the shells and stuffed them with confetti. “On our Easter picnic, we would divide the eggs and then chase each other trying to crack the eggs on the other kids while dodging the egg attacks.” CorinaR has written 35 stories with six rescued, including two this week.
Jammin, a teacher in Boulder, describes the post-shooting scene in their city and muses about teaching and policing, examining whether they really are Easy jobs. “I am a teacher, and I have often seen the trials and challenges of the police through the perspective of the trials and challenges of teaching. The job does not pay enough … is very complex … very stressful … It’s easy to make a mistake that can ruin someone’s life … The people who do difficult work in our communities need real fiscal, educational, and systemic support—the kind we all have to pay for with real policy changes and real money.” Jammin has written six stories since joining in 2016; this is their first rescue.
CorinaR’s grandchildren are growing up knowing the joy of generosity by including a few dollars of their own money in every letter or card they send to friends and relatives. “They have a very successful grand-uncle who lives in a penthouse in the NYC financial district and they put $2 in his birthday letter and told him to use it wisely. He was charmed and just thanked them.” But when they sent a similar thank-you note to a family friend who is a Trump follower, “(It) took a while for her to accept that there was no manipulative intent, nor was it a staged or planned maneuver. She genuinely did not understand a generosity that sprang from affection.” The answer to the story’s title question Why did they give me money? is foreign to those on the hard right. This is CorinaR’s second rescue of the week.
Ronald Reagan’s cutesy but subversive soundbite, “The most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help,’” has been used by the Republican Party for decades—to denigrate and kneecap the government’s ability to make life better for its citizens. In We’re the government, and we’re here and helping: Report on the big FEMA jab-jam at Ford Field, Hatrax’s tale of getting vaccinated is an example of why we actually need government. “Hooray for big, efficient government. Hooray for a government that helps its people. Hooray for the diversity and strength of our military, on full display.” Hatrax joined in 2008 and has written 31 stories, with nine rescued.
In Accountability for producers and consumers of lies, Rmartin1241 looks at America’s experience over the last two years through the lens of two Biblical stories alluded to in the Pinocchio story—Jonah and the Prodigal Son—although neither was known for lying. The centrality of lying to the Pinocchio story indicates that lying can be seen as a gateway to bigger crimes. By aligning different characters from the Trump era to different characters in Pinocchio, the author concludes that the majority of Republican voters will come to realize, over time, that they were duped … but only if the liars ultimately are held accountable for their crimes. Rmartin1241 joined in 2020 and has written 12 stories. This is their first rescue.
Phosbrite posits, in Slavery & America’s racist heritage, that although in Liberal circles it has become fashionable to blame Donald Trump for the current assault on Black Americans, the problem goes back much farther, to the entire basis of this country’s founding. At three separate times—Jamestown in 1619, Philadelphia in 1776 and again in 1787—America was presented with the direct opportunity to either prevent or abolish slavery, but took no action. The author concludes with these stirring words: “1619, 1776, and 1787 murdered Breonna Taylor and George Floyd every bit as much as the cops who fired the shots or knelt on a neck. We were born as a racist country. We have yet to see much change from the condition of our birth.” Phosbrite joined in 2012, and has written 20 stories. This is their first rescue.
If you think about cryptocurrency at all, you may think “pyramid scheme” or “tax evasion” or “money laundering.” “Energy usage” probably didn’t come to mind. However, as CorpFlunky points out in Cryptocurrencies pollute, so tax them, a new study indicates the amount of energy used annually to “mine” Bitcoin equals Switzerland’s annual power consumption. CorpFlunky’s suggestion to better regulate these transactions is to track them and then tax them. This story is an excellent example of how Community members’ comments help explain and amplify issues surrounding a topic most of us know little about. CorpFlunky has been a member since 2014 and has written 126 stories, with several rescues.
Mrmuni12, whose name indicates his depth of knowledge of the topic explored in An extremely progressive infrastructure proposal, unlike any other, ever, explains why President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package is so radical. The first piece of evidence is the astonishing fact that more than half of the proposed $2 trillion spending is for activities that would not have been considered infrastructure in the past. Key progressive items in the proposal show an awareness of racial and economic disparity: A corporate tax overhaul; actions that overlap significantly with social justice causes, like reducing lead in water; the start of “greening” America; and affordable housing. Mrmuni12 joined in 2016 and has written 161 stories. This may be their first rescue.
Orphan children are one of the most marginalized groups in terms of human rights, as kabrail explains in My road to activism. Born in India and adopted by Indo-American parents, kabrail acknowledges the good fortune of circumstance that is particularly evident when seeing the inequalities inherent in Indian orphanages. However, this also extends to places that are not commonly viewed as stressed—like Switzerland, where the plight of incoming refugees presents a different set of challenges. From this perspective, kabrail has come to understand the impact to children from systemic corruption and the history of hierarchy. This is kabrail’s first story and first rescue since joining in 2020.
New member Madison Anderson shares a major life change in Becoming Madison, Episode One: Out of the closet. An Air Force veteran and airline pilot, the author’s brave memoir of being true to yourself shows that living well and loving deeply is both simple and complicated. Before beginning to transition, the author had to come out to their fiancee. “I practiced what I was going to say for hours. I stood in front of her spot on our sofa and pretended she was there. Once, I had to stop and go throw up.” And even though love is love is love, happy endings are not a guarantee. This is Madison Anderson’s first story and first rescue.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).