Who are we as Americans?

I know writing a blog post about my feelings to a small audience won’t accomplish anything to curb gun violence. What I could do today though was dig into statistics, distill them, and provide their sources. Whatever we do individually to educate ourselves and inform our actions can potentially have a collective impact.

Firearms became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers in 2020.

This sad fact represents a major shift in risks for young people in the U.S. For over 60 years, car accidents were the leading cause of death for kids and teens. Car accidents are now number two, while drug overdoses are number three.  —TIME MAGAZINE

45,222 firearm-related deaths in the U.S. in 2020

4,358 in total—were children

“It takes a monster to kill children. But to watch monsters kill children again and again and do nothing isn’t just insanity — it’s inhumanity.”

Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate

1994 the assault weapons ban went into effect—there were about 400,00 AR-15 rifles in America then.

In 2004 the federal ban on assault weapons expired.

Today, there are 20 million.

Assault weapons are military-style firearms intended to fire multiple rounds in quick succession – killing people quickly with little effort. They can be used with detachable magazines that can fire more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Assault weapons were primarily designed for use in war and battlefields. But because there’s no federal restriction on the sale of these weapons, civilians have been able to purchase assault weapons to carry out some of our nation’s deadliest mass shootings.  —SANDY HOOK PROMISE

This is a hostage situation…Pew Research shows that 81% of Americans believe in some common-sense gun laws.

Here’s a link to the congressmen and senators who benefit the most by NOT supporting what their constituents want in gun policy.

https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:

GUNS AS LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH: https://www.npr.org/2022/04/22/1094364930/firearms-leading-cause-of-death-in-children

TIME MAGAZINE: https://time.com/6170864/cause-of-death-children-guns/

EDUCATION WEEK/27 SCHOOL SHOOTINGS THIS YEAR ALONE: https://www.edweek.org/leadership/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where/2022/01

ASSAULT WEAPONS: —Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, May 26th—Subscribe on Substack for a daily email that puts news from a historical perspective from a historian. https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/

SANDY HOOK PROMISE: https://actionfund.sandyhookpromise.org/issues/gun-safety/magazine-capacity-limits/?_ga=2.147810295.1346543022.1653831698-1939731440.1653831698

TEXT OF ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN BILL IN 1994: https://www.congress.gov/bill/103rd-congress/house-bill/4296/text

EXTREME RISK LAWS empower law enforcement and, depending on the jurisdiction, family members, health professionals, and school administrators, among others, to work with courts to temporarily remove firearms from those who pose a danger to themselves or others. Extreme risk laws have the power to prevent suicides, mass shootings, and interpersonal violence.  (Note: only 19 states have these laws on the books.)

EXTREME RISK LAWS: https://everytownresearchorg/rankings/law/extreme-risk-law/

...The Pew polling found that significant majorities of Americans support background checks (81 percent), an assault-weapons ban (63 percent), and a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines (64 percent); a majority also opposes concealed carry of weapons without a permit. Majorities of Republicans who don’t own guns shared those opinions, as did Democratic gun owners, by even more lopsided margins. Even most Republicans who do own guns said in the polling that they support background checks and oppose permitless concealed carry (which more red states, including Texas, are authorizing). 

Despite all of this, Republican elected officials, in their near-lockstep opposition to gun control, have bent to groups like the NRA in equating almost any restrictions as a sign of disrespect to the values of red America.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2022/05/senate-state-bias-filibuster-blocking-gun-control-legislation/638425/

John Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions: https://publichealth.jhu.edu/departments/health-policy-and-management/research-and-practice/center-for-gun-violence-solutions

FOLLOW THE MONEY $$$$$$$$$: https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

FOLLOW THE MONEY: The majority of Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that are proven to reduce deaths. But in 2019, the NRA spent $3.22 million to benefit the political campaigns of senators who oppose gun safety legislation. In 2020, they spent $2.20 million. These senators refuse to support common-sense gun reform, like expanding Brady Background Checks and banning assault weapons.  https://elections.bradyunited.org/take-action/nra-donations-116th-congress-senators

image v. memory

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I remember this day well.  My twin daughters were three.  We’d been at the beach for the afternoon, they were hot, sandy, cranky and tired.  I was pretty sure putting them in a tub of water and giving them popsicles would buy me a few minutes to sit on the porch and collect my thoughts…or do I have it all wrong?  I must have it all wrong because of the look in their eyes.

What am I not remembering? 

I love the picture, but I only remember this moment through the image. It isn’t as hardwired as it would’ve been by simply being there with my girls.

I’m proud of my photos.  They certainly fill a creative craving for me…but I think I might need to be more judicious about when I pull out my camera or iphone.

Sometimes I want the buffer the camera allows me and sometimes I don’t want the burden of being the photographer.

The more I learn about neural pathways, they more I want to let experiences get hardwired into my brain and not always captured in pixels.  I might be more willing to explore this because my camera is now being repaired.  At first I felt like I was missing a limb when I dropped it off last week.  However, after being away for the weekend with my family it allowed me more time to be “in the moment”.

This morning my husband and I walked the beach and in the distance I noticed that there were seals on the rocks.  My phone had died and I didn’t have my camera.  We walked closer and got a better look.  We watched them slide on and off the rocks and Jeff made “seal sounds”.  We joked about how cool it would be if his calls were actually summoning them.  I’ve always wanted to touch a seal.  (I was told they feel very “oily”.)  This is now a memory to call upon.  I created the neural pathway of this moment on March 27th, 2016 of walking the beach with my husband in the sun and seeing a bunch of seals.

I found the story below on the RADIOLAB site about photographs and memories.

RADIOLAB (link & excerpt from article)

“A recent study out of Fairfield University suggests that taking digital photographs actually diminishes our memory. That’s right, makes it worse. What we have here is forgetfulness being enforced on two accounts.

First, and probably no surprise, the action of taking a photo distracts us from physically instilling the moment into the hardwiring of our brain. In the time normally spent capturing the moment in our neurons, we’re thinking, “I want to take a picture of this.” Whipping out our camera, setting up the shot, we become more focused on the act of capturing a copy of the moment with our camera rather than the event itself in our brain. The moment is recorded in pixels, but it’s not imprinted in our brain’s neuronal wiring.

Secondly, our future recollection of the moment (now haphazardly hard-wired in our brain) is lessened because of the medium we’re using — digital pixels as opposed to physical prints.”

________________________

This makes a lot of sense, but it will be a tough habit for me to break.

I’m actually glad now that I don’t just have a grainy picture of the seals in my camera.

What is “rewilding” to you?

Saturday I was listening to NPRs TED RADIO Hour in my studio. Here’s the link.

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/225426662/225429850.

George Monbiat used two terms I found utterly fascinating and relevant: rewilding & ecologically bored.  This is a fascinating TED TALK about bringing the wolves back to Yellowstone Park, however it’s the story within that story that resonated with me.

Wikipedia: “Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species. Rewilding projects may require ecological restoration or wilderness engineering, particularly to restore connectivity between fragmented protected areas, and reintroduction of predators where extirpated.”

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Ellis and Adam jumping off the East Sandwich, Mass bridge.

We live in an era where so much information is at our fingertips all the time and because of it a lot of time is spent hunched over a computer all day.  We need to “rewild” for the sanity of our modern day lives.  Now, “rewilding” can obviously go to extremes and it would be very different for everyone.  It could be as grand as giving up every trapping of modern life and taking off with your belongings on your back OR it could mean that you are going to take a walk at lunch instead of sitting in front of your computer all day long.

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My husband, Jeff and I parasailing.

However, it’s the second term I found so interesting…ECOLOGICALLY BORED.  After spending a summer learning to navigate Cape Cod Bay and area harbors in a kayak.  IMG_5448

I now know that I was indeed “ecologically bored”.  I really needed to get in touch with that innate part of myself that uses intuition, muscle memory, wonder and strength.  I now realize that it had been way too dormant in me lately. Sometimes we don’t know what’s missing in our lives.

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A beach fire on Town Neck.

So, however you “rewild” or satisfy your “ecological boredom”…

I wish you the best. You won’t regret it.

It was great to be in my studio today…

and I didn’t even turn NPR or music on all day.  I was so happy to be alone with my thoughts, a giant iced tea (thanks to my son) and all of my leathers, fabrics, trims, sewing machines and tools.  I wanted to start working on my accessories for the fashion show (STRUT) on September 12th, in Burlington, Vermont. I’m afraid this bag may be a little dark for the runway.  However, with the right styling it might just work.

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TED Radio Hour, second adolescence & hopefully gaining some wisdom

After visiting my family in Burke, South Dakota (population 670ish) last week I’ve returned home to Vermont and made a few discoveries.  I thought I’d share them and maybe you’ve experienced something similar at some point in your life.  As always, I would love to have you shoot me an e-mail and share your thoughts.

Burke Cape Cod Vermont Lisa Lillibridge

This is a mash-up of where I’ve spent the most time in my life.

South Dakota/23 years  •  Vermont/25 years   • Massachusetts/Lots of summers/holidays

1) As a nearly 49 year old woman (October 12th) I no longer visit my childhood home feeling like a child.  It helps when my husband comes with me.  I feel more in touch with my adult life…and much less so when it’s just me and the kids.

2) My children are rapidly growing up and I’m no longer a parent of “young kids”. GOOD.

3) I don’t feel particularly old except that I need “readers” in every damn room.

4) I basically like who I’ve grown to become AND I know that I’ll spend the rest of my life getting to know myself better.  I’m up for the challenge and hopefully the people I’ve chosen to date are up for it too.

5) Life isn’t easy and sometimes during the hard stuff all we can do is “show up” for our people.  However, the hard stuff makes you grow and the good stuff is just pretty wonderful.  And I’m slowly learning (very slowly) to let the bullshit slide.  It isn’t worth my energy now.

6) At this age I am more deliberate about my time, my people and choices. I think “deliberate” feels awesome in nearly every context.

7) Sometimes this age feels like a second adolescence.  I like it, my twin daughters and I are in it together—which is sometimes adorable and sometimes really NOT…but always interesting.  One day they will find it all very funny, I think.

  ad·o·les·cence

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This photo is our shared sorrow over the end of the “van years”.  I had to fake my sadness, actually. I now drive a VW Passat and I don’t really miss my van…except maybe listening to movies on road trips.  But, now we listen to the TED Radio Hour, This American Life and The Moth on NPR.  We save them up for our trips and they always provide remarkable discussions.

Here are a few links you might enjoy:

A great TED Talk on aging: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/19/414999589/why-should-we-look-forward-to-getting-older

This is an interesting site that was referenced on the TED Radio Hour last week—Stanford Center on Longevity.  http://longevity3.stanford.edu/

Cheers,

Lisa sig