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Culture

In Whitewater, Three Recent Trespasses Against Public Comment

Whitewater’s public comment periods are lawful rights worth defending, and there has never been a time when respecting public comment – humbly and gratefully – has been more important for the city. Since June, there have been three meetings during which Whitewater’s current council president has deprecated public comment, or wrongly set the order of…

Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

It was the Trump apologist Salena Zito who, by way of defending Trump, suggested that his words should be taken ‘seriously, not literally.’ (She offered this defense in a deceitful effort to absolve Trump from the plain meaning of what he said, at any moment. Instead of considering his statements, one was supposed to take…

A Black Cowboy’s Story

Cowboys are among the most iconic figures of the American West. They’re mythologized as strong, independent people who live and die by their own terms on the frontier. And in movies, the people who play them are mostly white. But as with many elements of Americana, the idea of who cowboys are is actually whitewashed…

Social Capital and Hardship

What role does social capital play in a community’s health? Adam Gopnik, in The Paradoxical Role of Social Capital in the Coronavirus Pandemic, ponders whether there’s a relationship between communities with high social capital and a community’s public health. Gopnik uses a traditional definition of social capital as the “parts of society that, without being…

Facebook Discussions as Displays of Ignorance, Fallacies, and Marginal Literacy

In communities in the Whitewater area, assorted Facebook pages (particularly) are a significant means of messaging about politics, culture, etc.  Too often, these messages are evidence of ignorance, fallacies, and are poorly written (to the point of only marginal literacy). Over time, as these rural communities have suffered relative economic decline, they have also experienced a…

Widespread, Continuing National Support for Racial Justice Protests

Steven Long and  Justin McCarthy of Gallup report Two in Three Americans Support Racial Justice Protests: WASHINGTON, D.C. — About two in three Americans (65%) support the nationwide protests about racial injustice that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. Half say they feel “very” (23%) or…

The Price of Ignorance is Widely Paid

As nationwide chains take sensible measures to require masks, ordinary workers at those chains find themselves the underserving recipients of abuse. Kelli Weill reports Walmart Workers Are Terrified of Enforcing Mask Rules: Even in a time of record unemployment, some of Dan’s colleagues at an Indiana Walmart have walked off the job. They aren’t quitting over…

Individual Responsibility in Conditions of Pandemic

Economist Robert Samuelson, writing Americans are historically unhappy. But there’s a lesson to learn here, observes that The connecting threads of these pessimistic surveys are the novel coronavirus and its devastating impact on the economy. Nearly everyone is affected in one way or another. There’s a clash between America’s individualistic culture (“You can’t make me wear…

Barriers to Substantive Change in a Small Town

Several recent posts here are FREE WHITEWATER are, collectively, a cautionary series on the difficulty of effecting substantive change in Whitewater, Wisconsin. One might want change; realism demands a clear-eyed assessment of its likelihood. Other towns might have better (or even worse) odds; Whitewater is not, by definition, another town. A listing of challenges, with…

Built Against Substantive Change

Over time, no matter how small the city, national conditions and trends make their way to the edge of town. Some towns will address these conditions, but others will be resistant to substantive change. For those towns in the latter category, business as usual and rhetorical feints suffice in response to powerful forces to which…

Mentoring

When a small community like Whitewater comes to rely on hundreds of non-resident commuters to provide services (for city, schools, or university), those commuters will have a different work relationship than resident workers. (About these workers see The Commuter Class.) Many will be less attached to the community (as they’ve freely chosen to live elsewhere…