Posts from the “Society” Category

Evgenia Chirikova: change your life; change your country; change the world

Posted on 15 June 2019

In 2006, Evgenia Chirikova was an engineer, running a company with her husband, Mikhail. They lived a solidly middle-class life in Khimki, just outside of Moscow, with their young daughter and another on the way. She didn’t think about politics. Today, Evgenia is one of Russia’s most well-known environmental activists and a prominent member of the political opposition, having played a tremendous role in invigorating civil protests that ultimately led to the resurgence of the opposition movement and the historic protests against Putin regaining the presidency. She now lives in Tallinn, Estonia, and runs an online portal, Activatica, that organizes media support for activists all across Russia. This is needed work, since independent media in Russia is severely constrained and timely publicity can be…

Russian Environmental Activists: an introduction

Posted on 15 June 2019

This project was done with the support of the Henry M. Jackson Foundation as a part of their Leadership Fellows program. Protest and activism have shifted in my esteem over the years I have been an environmentalist, that is, since I was quite young. They have both enraptured me and sparked disdain as I made my way through different environmental groups and movements, and as the topics and tactics of activists, and the activists themselves, changed. Over time I realized that different contexts demand different methods and that my perspective was really quite narrow, as it was shaped largely by the United States climate movement that grew out of the broader environmental movement—sadly, one that was not yet as diverse as it is now…

Questions from Hong Kong

Posted on 10 January 2019

  How is the public transportation so good? How is it so cheap? So clean? Why do their buses have seatbelts and ours don’t? Why do I see so many bike share brands and so few shared bikes being ridden? Why do I feel so safe? How is it that I haven’t been sexually harassed? How do they build so high on such steep slopes? Is the slope maintenance environmentally friendly? Why do the street crossings take so long to change for pedestrians? Who are the people behind the dueling Falun Gong/Dafa protest displays? Who would pay over $1,000 USD for a pet fish? Are the caged birds in the market alright? How is the coffee so good here? When did they start serving…

Who Gives, Who Loses, Who Receives

Posted on 2 November 2018

The train station is impeccably shiny with lights reflecting from the ceiling off the floor. The platform is long and it took a few minutes to traverse the underground and emerge into the rainy day hanging above Monaco. As we wandered out onto the sidewalk, a few cars passed us by; I don’t know cars, but I could tell these were expensive. We walked up stairs abutting what was a fortress to Monaco-Ville, the older part of the city-state, turning around periodically to look out at the tall buildings climbing up the steep hill before us, and to our side at the port, where mega-yachts were anchored. Monaco is one of the very richest countries in the world. Every third person in Monaco is…

The Stories We Tell and the Stories We Take

Posted on 7 October 2018

Use of the Hammer and Sickle in Former Soviet Territories and Outside These Areas What do you say when someone tells you their father was sent to the Gulag? He came back from the war and off he was sent – Stalin’s orders, to the lager! Z.’s back was to me as she hunched over my bed, fixing the sheets, curling into even less space than her short body could claim. “He came back from the war, from the front, with children’s books in German, because I was studying German, you see?” A German book claimed a life where a war could not.   Ghosts occupied every shadow of the apartment. Molotov-Ribbentrop. A siege. Young girls, starving but never quite dead. An unlikely reunion…