Sarah van Gelder

I Was Wrong About the Rural-Urban Divide

I thought I knew something about Wisconsin politics. I assumed the state was neatly divided between blue cities, like Madison and Milwaukee, and solidly red rural areas that twice elected Governor Scott Walker, one of the nation’s most right-wing governors, and went for Donald Trump in 2016.

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Americans Are Going to Jail Because They Can’t Pay a Fine

The United States has the largest incarcerated population in the world, climbing from 600,000 to over 2 million in just a few decades. We also have the highest percentage of our population behind bars of any country. The people most likely to languish behind bars are Black, Latino, Native American, and poor. It’s a legacy rooted in Jim Crow-era policies that continues in the thinly veiled racism of the war on drugs, as lawyer Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow.

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Big Mobilizations Like the Women's March Are Important, but Movements Need Local Organization Too

Last year at this time, a giant women’s march was in the planning stages. It turned out to be among the largest in U.S. history, according to the Washington Post. Four to 5 million people turned out in over 650 marches across the U.S. on Jan. 21, 2017, ranging from 200 in Abilene, Texas, to five who bravely marched in their hospital cancer ward, to between half a million and a million each in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and New York. In spite of Trump administration sputtering, the D.C. women’s march alone dwarfed the size of the official inauguration.

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Feeling Burned Out? When We Gather, We Get Energized

If it feels like you and the people you know have no say over what happens in Washington, D.C., that’s not an illusion. Research shows that ordinary people have close to zero influence on policymaking at the federal level while wealthy individuals and business-controlled interest groups hold substantial sway, according to an analysis published in Perspectives on Politics.

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How We Can Reimagine and Reinvent Our Society in the Coming Year

I’ve been writing a year-end column for YES! for years. Previously, my aim was to find the strands of hope from the past year that can be woven into new possibilities in the next year.

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Americans Are Stressed About the Future - Here’s Why That’s Promising

Americans are really stressed out, according to a new poll by the American Psychological Association. That’s not news, but what’s surprising is that we are slightly more stressed out by the future of our country (63 percent) than by the usual stressors—money (62 percent) and work (61 percent). In fact, well over half of all Americans, 59 percent, believe this is “the lowest point in our nation’s history.”

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90 Companies Helped Cause the Climate Crisis - They Should Pay for It

Pacific Northwest forests are on fire. Several blazes are out of control, threatening rural towns, jumping rivers and highways, and covering Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and other cities in smoke and falling ash. Temperatures this  summer are an average of 3.6 degrees higher than the last half of the 20th century, according to the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group analysis published in The Seattle Times.

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The Urban Common Spaces That Show Us We Belong to Something Larger

An American friend living in Germany told me a story about when she first arrived. She and her German boyfriend were out walking when she heard a noise that got louder as they approached the town’s main square. Puzzled, she asked her partner about the unfamiliar sound.

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The Urban Common Spaces That Show Us We Belong to Something Larger

An American friend living in Germany told me a story about when she first arrived. She and her German boyfriend were out walking when she heard a noise that got louder as they approached the town’s main square. Puzzled, she asked her partner about the unfamiliar sound.

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Why Small-Scale Farming Is Our Best Hope for Restoring Rural America

Boarded-up business districts. Abandoned warehouses. Barns and homes covered by tarps slowly collapsing into the earth. It was startling how often this scene repeated as I drove through the rural areas of the Midwest, South and West on the road trip that resulted in the book The Revolution Where You Live.

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