I’m starting a new personal project: an email newsletter (sign up for it at https://tinyletter.com/domesticleft).
A couple of weeks ago, a lunchtime conversation at one of the DSA regional conventions turned to the question of “what are your roses?” — meaning the creative projects that sustain you. I mumbled something about music, but the reality is, I don’t even play my guitar that much anymore, let alone perform, play with others, or write songs.
Really, what sustains me is intellectual work. I’m lucky that I get to do that as part of my job as UE Communications Director, but my political and intellectual interests are broader and more varied than even the fairly broad and varied topics covered by the UE NEWS. Since I’ve taken this job I’ve only written a handful of posts for this blog, and I’m not even terribly disciplined about the most passive form of intellectual work (and, perhaps, the one I am least willing to think of as “work”), reading.
So I’ve decided to start a monthly newsletter, as a practice to help me remember to attend to my roses. I am not planning anything more ambitious than a set of brief reflections on things I’ve been reading or thinking about. Though of course if I do write any blog posts, or any UE NEWS articles of more general interest, I will include summaries and links. (If you want to read everything I write for the UE, sign up for the UE Action Net at https://www.ueunion.org/actionnet)
I’m also planning to include some photography. Photography is one of a number of skills I’ve had to learn as part of this job, and I’ve found I really enjoy it. For work, of course, I mostly take pictures of people. But I have found that taking photographs of nature, and the built environment, and the intersections between the two, also fulfills my need for “roses,” perhaps because almost all of my writing is about relationships between people.
I’ve named the newsletter “Domestic Left,” which observant readers might notice is also my Twitter and Instagram handle. I originally chose that as my “nom de internet” way back in 2004, when I started my first blog. At the time, my primary work was raising two small children and all the associated domestic labor of running a household. As a lefty trade unionist, I was interested in bringing a left perspective to the labor of social reproduction, and I also thought it would be fun to reclaim a cold-war-era term used almost exclusively by the right wing to describe “the enemy within.”
Though I no longer do much social-reproduction labor (my kids are now 18 and 20), I’ve chosen that name for the newsletter because I think one of the most important goals of parenting is helping one’s children develop a broad curiosity about the world, along with the commitment and skills to be a protagonist in changing it for the better. I hope this newsletter will help me, and perhaps my readers, maintain and further develop our curiosity about the world and our commitment and skills to change it.
And, of course, if I ever *do* write any more songs, I’ll let you know about that too 🙂