The Yard: Vol 11 No 3

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table of 07

pg. a conversation with T. Kira Madden


pg. the ongoing fight for the holy city's real history


pg. Behind the prime: amazon's rising labor unions



Trend-spotting with Tyler?


pg. The Living Pause: Holocaust Memorialization


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Since I began my first draft of my first article for The Yard, the words of former Washington Post President and Publisher Philip Graham have consistently rung in my head. Though not the first to say it, Graham is often credited for noting that, “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.” From reporting on racially harmful Halloween costumes in 2018, to investigating thesevere downsize of CisternYard Media’s office facilities in 2019, to interviewing survivors of systematized sexual violence in 2020, I have been consistently shown the sheer necessity for critical and accurate journalism, especially on the collegiate campus level—the need to capture these histories before they are slipped under the rug. As the detriments of COVID, a tumultuous sociopolitical climate in the U.S. and, now, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine have amassed into a generally calamitous news cycle, Graham’s assertion becomes even more critical for all corners of news media. As Editor-in-Chief in these circumstances, I have sought to provide a space for students at the College to voice their nuanced perspectives on all of the collateral issues to these larger and psychologically taxing paradigms that we are collectively experiencing. In the same breath, however, I have additionally emphasized the need to look underneath those issues that inundate our news and social media feeds with decreasingly auspicious updates on the human condition. That is not to say that I’ve discouraged coverage of crucial news, but instead have looked to highlight all of the ways that CofC students and Charlestonians have remained resilient in the face of it. With all of those considerations at heart, it only felt right to deem this issue the ‘Little Things Issue.’ For this magazine, we’ve highlighted the fascinating background of a new English professor on campus who began teaching to fill in the holes of representation that left her feeling alienated in school. We’ve also included submissions of students’ tattoos, only offering a mere preview of the artfulness and complexity of our student body. From discussions about Charlestonian activism by an upcoming mayoral candidate to discussions about climate change from a professional in the literary industry, we have used this issue as a way to show just how crucial each individual, in all of their uniqueness, is to the grander narrative at the College of Charleston, and how each story has a hand in history, no matter how little it may seem. Though this is my final letter as the Editor-in-Chief of CisternYard News, I hope that I have at least helped solidify the groundwork of this publication that not only necessitates, but relies wholly upon the telling of stories that are uncomfortable and disruptive, because those stories help mold a sliver of history. I hope that I have helped at least one other person see that telling stories isn’t only helpful for the sake of catharsis, but for the sake of establishing human connections on the basis of shared experience. More than anything, I hope all of you never stop telling your stories and that you see the inarguable value that your narratives have in the whole of human history. It is often said that you don’t get a choice in what happens to you, but you do have the choice of deciding what you will do with your experiences. Thanks to everyone I’ve worked with at CisternYard, I’ve found that being able to share those experiences is critical to gather control over one’s own narrative. Thank you for helping me share your stories for all of this time.


Katie Hopewell Editor-in-Chief '22


An Infinite Dialogue by Margaret Bruce

A Conversation with T Kira Madden


T Kira Māhealani Madden was welcomed to the College in the fall of 2021 as part of the English department. Madden brings a unique and exciting perspective to the department as a published author. Her debut memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, addresses her life in Boca Raton as a Chinese and Kānaka Maoli queer woman, in the shadow of the Madden brand. The book was released in 2019 and was named as a New York Times Editors’ Choice pick. She has also received the Lambda Literary Award for lesbian memoir and is

“Whatever your background is... [it’s] worth a space in literature.” the founding editor-in-chief for No Tokens Literature and Art Magazine. At the College, she teaches writing classes, such as creative nonfiction. She is also an amateur magician. This semester, I had the privilege of taking Madden’s class in Creative Nonfiction. I had been told by multiple English professors to take any opportunity to have a class with her. In her class, she drives her students to explore different modes of writing through unconventional methods: making lists, attaching stories to objects, keeping a journal of simple, day-to-day observations. She fosters an incredibly welcoming

environment for her students, inviting them to share their work when they feel comfortable to do so and allowing other students to offer uplifting feedback. This communal feeling is what I enjoy most about Madden’s class: it feels less like a class of strangers, and more like a group of writers, friends, ready to help one another. Earlier in the semester, I had the chance to sit down with Madden (via Zoom) and discuss her time in Charleston and her motivation as a writer. As a biracial, queer woman growing up in south Florida, Madden often didn’t feel represented within her education system. In a white conservative surrounding, Madden didn’t see narratives that were similar to her own. The work introduced to her failed to represent things she could relate to. Without stories to reflect her struggles and desires, Madden didn’t feel that the arts could support experiences like hers. It was this environment that, in part, led her to teaching. She

“Learning in the arts is circular. You don’t cross an invisible threshold and know how to be a writer.”

Photos by Alix Averitt

seeks to encourage her students to embrace that their stories matter. Her greatest piece of advice for young writers is not about publishing, or a paycheck, or where to get an MFA– it’s about finding yourself through your work. “Whatever your background is,” she says, “or whatever your cause is, or your hopes, your dreams, the issues your community faces, the glories of your community, all of those are worth a space in the literature.” She aspires to show her students that the bounds of writing are limitless. The things that are important to you–your obsessions, as Madden likes to call them–deserve to be written about. Coming from such a discouraging atmosphere, not only is it incredibly uplifting to see Madden come into her own as a writer, but her determination to break this cycle and provide an encouraging space

for her students is nothing short of inspirational. When asked what sparked her passion for teaching, Madden’s response reflected her incredible dedication to her students. “Learning in the arts is circular,” she explains, “you don’t cross an invisible threshold and know how to be a writer.” Although her accomplishments are certainly noteworthy, she recognizes that, like all writers, she is still learning. In the classroom, she seeks a mutual conversation with her students. She is driven by the collaboration between professor and student, the ongoing exchange of knowledge and ideas. When bringing previous works to budding writers, Madden says, “it feels like this great dialogue through time, where I’m engaging with the past texts, I’m bringing them to…

“It feels like this great dialogue through time.”

the voice and visionaries of the future.” Madden calls this conversation the “infinite dialogue of teaching,” where she can allow the writers of the future to communicate with the writers of the past. This mindset reflects the faith Madden has in her students: to become part of a larger, moving conversation of language and narrative. Though the job offer certainly helped, it is not the only reason Madden found herself in Charleston. When asked what drew her to the Holy City, Madden says, “I only applied to positions at universities and colleges that I found really interesting in terms of their outreach, their footprint and their student bodies.” Charleston is a city rich with history, while also remaining relevant in a modern context through questioning its own past, much of which stems from The College’s campus itself. From its deeply problematic past with slavery to its current buildings named after known racists, it’s no secret that The College has a lot of questioning to do. However, it’s the student body that constantly pushes these questions to be addressed. This relationship through time, similar to the dialogue through time that Madden seeks in the classroom,

is part of what drew her to the city. When looking toward the future, Madden says she is hoping to join with other faculty to create interdisciplinary course offerings that further push the boundaries of what a writer can be. She mentions a possible course combining video games and writing, saying, “Narrative and writing have this exciting place of collaboration, where one can bolster the other.” She also looks forward to further

“Narrative and writing have this exciting place of collaboration.”

engaging with the student body and the city of Charleston itself. Like most of us, she hopes for relief in the pandemic, so that she may get more involved.


Not Eliza’s Work

a poem by Jordynn Pickney

Studying your history, of course you are my teacher. The only history ever told. The students and I sat, and listen to you tell your fibs. We couldn’t know them to be lies, One sided, and bland. I was only 10 Eliza Pinckney the entrepreneur of indigo! You stated, rejoicing with pride. I so proudly exclaimed, I think I’m related to Eliza Pinckney! I couldn’t know I had her last name, we didn’t share one. You told me I was too dark. Your eyes showed me that I was not capable of such exaltation you tell me i’m too dark, for who? Your people. The same people that stained my ancestors’ healing hands with indigo, to harvest your blue gene.

Their enchanted hands labored day in and day out to ward off those eyes. Charleston, South Carolina home of the blue gene. Our history isn’t rooted here. But because they dug up the roots from where our tree was originally grown, jammed them in occupied territory, and impregnated my ancestors’ bellies with curses. blue gene. It is not to my understanding because it is not my inheritance. Fluorescent Indigo, you are my truth. Your soulful power was used as a weapon. You are my people’s birthright the enchantment of, divinity, royalty, wisdom. Indigo, my true teacher.


we take our souls back, that were not for profit. You give me more than many can obtain– your essence belongs and courses through our veins color of the galaxy. I close my eyes and my heart looks out to you. I see my ancestors through you their hands become mine and embrace my body, healing the wounds that started with blue gene.

I paint a beautiful family portrait, invalidating that vile fabric that was never meant to be. On that day when my eyelids were engulfed in tears, I couldn’t see the vision that called out to me. The true beauty within myself awakens my bloodline forever and always my Indigo. I am your baby. Your Indigo Child. The curses have been broken.


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The Ongoing Fight for the Historic City’s by Lara O'Dell AS CITIZENS OF CHARLESTON, we know well the cobblestone streets and historic architecture that bring tourists in flocks to our city—but it’s a well-manicured distortion of the truth. We pass moments in history on our way to class, and some of us live in historic buildings. This pride that Charleston takes in its history is admirable, and the city feels like a romantic walk into the past to an outsider. However, the grim reality is that Charleston’s historic preservation is a strategic choice of picking only the parts, the people and the culture they want to remember. This erasure of South Carolina’s history is an incredible threat to our growth as a state and a community. We see this image of a white society deeply ingrained in our legislature, with bills such as H.4325 encroaching on curriculum out of fear of indoctrinating Critical Race Theory into youth. In more obvious ways, we see it literally towering above us all: the John C. Calhoun statue in Marion Square that was removed in 2020, and the confederate flag that flew high above the South Carolina state capitol until 2015. There have always been inspiring people speaking out in opposition of this conscious obliviousness towards Charleston’s past. One modern voice that we should all know is Mika Gadsden. Gadsden is a local Charleston activist working to dismantle the Antebellum image of Charleston to “liberate the black, indigenous and Gullah communities” that hold deep roots in our city. Gadsden’s parents experienced and survived Jim Crow law in the American South. After retiring, her father moved her family back down to Charleston during her early teen years. This move was pivotal to her career and her activism. Her first-hand experience of the city’s “refusal to not confront its past” truly shaped her role in southern justice. Gadsden later founded the Charlest

on Activist Network, a platform that hosts minority voices and speaks loudly on the consequences of crossing out important history with black ink. The network hosts Twitch streams and podcasts as their primary path of relaying this information to their viewers. They cover an amalgamation of different issues, from connecting with people who are intertwined with local Charleston businesses to deciphering police habits and reports. Gadsden also helped to found The People’s Beat: a BIPOC-owned journalistic website. South Carolina has a deep history of Black-owned newspapers and journalistic reports. Gadsden says, “Contemporary black, independent journalism is what the community is missing.” This absolutely rings true in an age where white supremacist violence is being ‘justified’ through 88 million dollar settlements, instead of policy change. Prior to the foundation of the Charleston Activist Network, Gadsden aided in the fight for women’s equality through her time with the Women’s March. A space is now an inclusive and intersectional space for women’s rights, but had beginnings of racist white feminism. In her interview with Katie Hopewell, Gadsden spoke about how dangerous white feminism can be to BIPOC and the fight for racial equality. White feminism conceals its white supremacy under a sheer veil of progressive social justice work and in some ways can be detrimental to the fight for equality. Some white liberal women feel entitled to a “comfort and convenience,” reluctant to face or admit their own privilege. This dangerous ignorance mirrors that of white supremacists and is why platforms such as The People’s Beat are so important to Charleston’s community. BIPOC voices are and have always been an essential part of our community, even if they have been quieted by fear or forces that continue to shout over them. Now, it is vital to listen to people in the

Gullah-Geeche, Indigenous and Black communities. Listen to these voices by tuning into Mic’d Up by the Charleston Activist network. Begin reading the articles written on The People’s Beat. Pay attention to Mika Gadsden, especially when her campaign begins for

Mayor of the City of Charleston! Charleston’s past is not something to paint over with pastel paints and tour in horse-drawn carriages; it is something to acknowledge, learn from, teach future generations about (factually), and let it inform our community’s priorities.


Conducted, transcribed and edited for clarity by Katie Hopewell

Q: How long have you lived in Charleston? It’s a zig-zaggy story. I was born in north central New Jersey. When I was 14, my dad moved back to Charleston, which is where he’s from. Then, I graduated from St. Andrews High in 1999 and I hauled a** out of here. I would come back during summers, after graduating high school, to work at the aquarium when it first opened. I realized I didn’t have that connection with Charleston that residents did, and that’s when I decided to move here permanently after graduating from undergrad. So, it’s been about 8 years. It was really jarring to move as an adolescent when my dad retired. My move to Charleston was easily the single-most politicizing event of my life, because it was such a big culture shock— even in the 90’s.

Q: What would you say is the overall exigence of your work? First and foremost: Black and Gullah-Geechee liberation—it’s at the core of everything that I do. Additionally, dismantling white supremacy and elevating and amplifying Black and Indigenous and Gullah Geechee historical figures. I can go on and on, so that’s my short answer.

Q: What drove you to the work you do now? I experienced the ramifications of not confronting your past and the City of Charleston’s failure and refusal to confront its past. It impacts my life, it impacts policy, it impacts the way I engage with the city—whether I want to have fun with my friends or entertain my family. What drives me to do the work I do now is this constant running up against the vestiges of the enslavement of Africans and the city’s refusal to confront that history in a way that is substantive.

Q: So you're considering mayoral candidacy for Charleston; any updates on that? I don’t have the exact timeline set, but I will say this: I have every intention of running for Mayor of Charleston. I want it to be powered by people, mostly by young people,and really push back on the things we’ve seen. I want to make this something very disruptive, in a way that’s regenerative, that brings about positive change. I’m excited. The last guy that held the presidency down broke shit in such a way that made me see: ‘there’s something we can do with this.’ We can use some of it to our advantage, and that’s what I intend on doing.

Q: What other activist channels are you involved in? I’ve had to scale back a bit for capacity purposes recently, but Friends of Gadsden Creek is my highest priority out of the work that I do. We recently did a mutual aid effort with them. We bring them hot meals, some kids crafts and teach folk about the history there and try to help people make contact with the issue that is trying to revitalize and repair the Gadsden Creek. We know that by saving the creek, we are, in a sense, advocating for the Black populations—past and present—of the Gadsden Green Housing Projects.


Q: I saw you helped to found The People’s Beat, how would you describe that entity? I see it as critically important work. It’s contemporary Immigrant and Black-led work, it’s independent journalism and it’s what Charleston has been missing for quite some time. Now I’m not erasing the legacy of Black independent media, specifically The Charleston Chronicle, which I know recently shut its doors, and it wasn’t just them. We want to emulate that work because Charleston needs it. So many reporters have left The Post and Courier, especially in the last two years. Some of them have gone on to do independent journalism, and others to do something more in their wheelhouse. At their core, they were an arm of white nationalism as a sort of propaganda mechanition. They can write as many pieces on slavery as they want, because the fact that they only have white journalists covering it only further proves my point.

Q:What is your proudest accomplishment regarding your activism? Can I be real? It’s like talking to you. For me, this work is very lonesome because a lot of times I feel really alone in my ideas. Like when I go so hard against something, I usually don’t have a lot of people behind me. So whenever I get to sit and discuss with someone, whether it’s virtual or in-person, and actually talk to them, even if we disagree, it means a lot to me. I don’t enjoy virality, and I know I’m not as popular—I know people know me, and I’ve got a following—but I’m not popular. So when I connect with students and other stakeholders and they want to hear what I have to say, that’s huge. Because what I really value is community. I have my twitch fam and I don’t call them ‘followers,’ I call them ‘community members’ because I don’t want followers. Creating community and connection—getting us out of the comment sections and out of the Twittersphere for a second—that’s my biggest goal. I want to create more spaces like that. It may not sound like an accomplishment, but it is to me.

Q: How would you describe the climate of Charleston’s municipal government? Well it’s supposed to be non-partisan, but I think we can all see who’s who in there. But, unfortunately, too many of our current elected officials have an agenda that does not keep their constituents at the forefront of their priorities—not all of them, but many of them. We’ve specifically got newly elected Councilmember Parker; she has a political agenda, she has aspirations and ambitions and a lot of the things that she does are performed by outsiders, who are feeding her information and using her as a talking piece. She’s emblematic of what happens when you don’t really model courageous leadership. Right now, I feel we’re seeing the fruit that is born of the tree that lacks courageous leadership.

Q:Any advice for people who are new to this type of political involvement? If it’s white people, I would say: buckle up and get ready for uncomfortable moments where you will have to check your own privilege and sit with some difficult feelings, and anticipate that. A lot of times, I tell white people to stop showing up to Black-led causes, Black-led movements and treating it as a therapeutic space to work out your own bulls**t. Whether it’s your own trauma, or your own learning and unlearning, we’re not here to give you political education. Stop acting entitled to Black labor and attending these events in hopes of Black people will dispense some magic that will solve centuries of racism—know that you’re the solution. Become white accomplices—not just allies—in order to actually make substantive changes. Black folk, I would just say: do the best you can with what you’ve got. I don’t usually instruct Black people too much, because they already know what’s got to be done. Question whiteness, question the history you’ve been taught, question your own privilege.

Q: What do you love about Charleston, despite the things you’re fighting to change? That’s the thing: I love Charleston so much. That’s the reason why I fight so hard. But what I love specifically is encountering what my ancestors, what indigenous folk, what they built, how they led, their engineering brilliance, their customs and traditions. I love so much of the history and culture that is Black, Brown, Immigrant, Gullah Geechee; while white nationalism has worked so hard to erase that culture, it’s so durable and insistent that you can’t help but encounter it in the city. Whether I am excavating the stacks at the library, or just taking a walk down the street, you can’t escape that profound history. It’s not just downtown, it’s everywhere. We are a historic city and we should be proud of that, and I would like to promote that part, but I want to promote accurate history. I know I complicate people’s relationship with Charleston, but I’m a Black person in America—my relationship with this country is complicated. Dual consciousness is something I have to struggle with everyday, due to my blackness, so why can’t others? To keep things, like this side of history, in the dark only perpetuates the harm of Black and Brown folk. You can enjoy Charleston Wine and Food and all of the other wonders of Charleston, while still keeping a healthy skepticism of oppressive systems at play and I want more people to understand that.

Q: Which issues have your attention right now in Charleston and the state? The real question is: which don’t? *We both laugh a little too hard* But for real, I would say environmental racism, the development that has been spearheaded by our past and current mayor, and white nationalism being promoted through members of our city council. In the state, I’m definitely focused on education and, specifically, the ongoing efforts to attack public school systems and, I would say, philanthrocapitalism—philanthropy and capitalism joining forces to do f**k s**t—you can quote me on that. So many people profit from being humane and it’s ridiculous, just like disaster capitalism but with a smile attached.

Q: Who or what inspires you? Everyday, both of my parents inspire me. They’re Jim Crow refugees and they’ve survived a lot and they downplay a lot. But my parents inspire me because, like I mentioned, black culture is durable, and black culture is only durable because its people are durable. My parents are two of the hardest working people I know. Just like everyone else, they’re imperfect, but I know that many of their imperfections were shaped by their lived experiences of being Black, and living and existing and surviving the Jim Crow South, so they inspire me everyday.





Look Good, Feel Good? The Fallacy of Esthetic Self Care in the 21st Century by Rachel Simpson I said Olaplex so much over the span of a month that one of my best friends barred me from saying it. I had recently fried my hair following my bi-yearly bleaching, causing me to panic and turn to the very popular hair product that repairs damaged hair bonds to ease my surmounting flyaways. Olaplex, as advertised, would alleviate my tendency to become distracted by my constant hair twirling. Aware that I was placing too much nit-picky importance on my appearance, I comforted my glaringly shallow concern with the common phrase: “Look good, feel good.” Later, I would suffer not only physically but mentally from Ramsay Hunt, a neurological disorder that causes facial paralysis. As a result, one side of my face doesn’t move, rendering me ugly by Aristotle’s definition of beauty based on symmetry.

I don’t feel pretty, so I increased my usual amount of esthetic care - only to quickly realize I didn’t feel any better. And even more startling, in a very brief moment of strong cognitive dissonance, I half-expected my skin care routine to improve my facial paralysis. Or, at the very least, make me not care about it anymore. Aside from the groundlessness of such a thought, it spoke to my inclination towards seeing esthetic products as the pioneer of my health, physically and mentally. In Charles Baxter’s Against Epiphanies, a 1997 essay that comments on the constant American tendency towards self-improvement, both in terms of their literary habits and overall consumerist habits, he writes, “In a relentlessly commercial culture, the communication of our private meanings has been vaguely corrupted around the edges by the toxic idioms of merchandising. Wanting to convey an inward sensation of the sacred, we find ourselves skidding toward the usages of sales and marketing.” The tenet of ‘look good, feel good’ is certainly supported by my declining mental health, following the onset of my condition. But ‘look good, feel good’ has expanded to unforeseen dimensions as the beauty industry takes off. Olaplex’s net income has increased by 99.9% year-over-year, which they’ve attributed to growth across all distribution channels, meaning the wholesalers, distributors and the internet. Profitability specifically increased during the second half of 2020, around the time that TikTok grew in popularity while we were confined to our homes during quarantine. Many have correlated millennials’ and Gen Z-ers’ attention to physical wellbeing to the state of the world; Jia Tolentino, a staff writer for the New York that focuses on issues related to youth, released a cultural commentary piece titled: The Year That Skin Care Became a Coping Mechanism. She details her experience with skin-care, reeling about the surplus of sophisticated beauty products that importantly nourishes the largest organ of our body (skin) while simultaneously critiquing the way beauty products put women at the disadvantage of always feeling they need to look “better.” On top of this, Baxter’s position that we are in the age of false insight also aligns itself with the age of technology and social media. With our reflections constantly in sight, and with these reflections being transported through fiber cables for others to see, looking good to feel good becomes even more pervasive. I spend 20 minutes a week putting Olaplex in my hair, 20 minutes a day on skincare and 20 minutes a day styling my hair. That puts me at 261 hours of beauty care

a year. At that rate, my affinity towards esthetic selfcare can certainly be considered a leisurely activity. I recently came across a video on TikTok where the creator wrote “blow out hair because it makes you productive and happy” whilst using the $635 Dyson airwrap hairstyling tool. From that viewpoint, styling is a hobby. Painting requires paint and brushes, golf requires clubs, knitting requires needles and yarn, to name a few. Hobbies have instrumental value to our lives; they can give us a sense of purpose and importantly, they can improve self-esteem. Most hobbies require some level of consumerism, but esthetic self-care specifically revolves around our own being. When someone becomes better at painting, they’re able to reflect on their personal progress. The same may be said for someone using a product to alleviate their flyaways. Yet-somewhat ironically-given the overt selfcare focus of the beauty consumerist hobby, a hobby like painting gives us more self-agency than the other. With painting, one can rely on themself to improve, and not on their equipment to work. But if the equipment related to beauty—as a hobby—works, the user should, ideally, be able to see a tangible improvement to their life. As the beauty industry grows in sophistication, the standard for what it means to look good does too— symmetry alone doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. With so many possibilities to improve our appearance, those not partaking fall behind. Competition as an attribute of capitalism encourages businesses to compete with one another. But capitalism also breeds competition on a personal level—it’s difficult to avoid consumerism if you have the means, especially knowing others are constantly taking steps to look “better.” If everyone uses Olaplex, then everyone has pretty hair. If I don’t use Olaplex, even if no one did before, my hair looks worse than everyone else’s. The standard rises, almost requiring non-participants to catch up. The hobby of esthetic consumerism creates a never-ending cycle of dissatisfaction as we search for the next life-changing merchandise. And with the amount of time we spend on the beauty product application process, esthetic consumerism or the more popular “self-care,” each of these can certainly be considered a hobby. But the lack of control we have on the larger paradigms of the beauty industry progress hinders one of the core values of a hobby—building our self-esteem. With this, we will only continue to return to the products that box us into strict standards.


Is Love Blind? by Briana Dixon

Netflix’s hit show Love is Blind has become a worldwide phenomenon. Having many adaptations other than its American counterpart, Love is Blind Brazil and Love is Blind Japan were received relatively well in terms of viewership. But the show’s popularity brings a new set of conflicting perspectives. The show takes single men and women, oftentimes with complicated backgrounds, separates them into pods that inhibit visibility of each other and allows each person to get the opportunity to talk to each contestant in the hope that they will find someone with a personality and character that attracts them. Perhaps the biggest catch of the show is once you find your perfect match, you are engaged with them—and only then, shown their face. After the reveal, the couples are sent away on a honeymoon to test the waters of their relationship. With few exceptions, the majority of couples who match split before the wedding, often citing conflicting personalities. But it leaves the question: does lack of physical attraction play a part in these splits? In an attempt to answer this question, I decided to ask students their opinions to figure out if love is truly blind. Based on a survey released on the CisternYard In-

stagram, most individuals rated physical attraction rather moderately. One respondent stated that “if an individual had a desirable personality, [they] could easily look past physical beauty.” Personality-wise, there was a resounding agreement among respondents hat humor is the most sought-after personality trait, so better look up some funny jokes next time you have a hot date. But if physical attraction is all you have going for you, perhaps maintain good hair or flaunt those beautiful eyes, as both of those features were rated the most desirable physical traits. Another question asked if individuals would marry someone without knowing how they looked; the answer was a unanimous “no.” Guess we won’t be seeing any CofC students on the next season of Love is Blind. While it is popular, the show has its share of criticism. Critics cite the lack of diversity in the show; aside from a few races, they seem to have few minority contestants. Season two contestant Natalie Lee praised the show as an opportunity for her race not to be a factor in her love life. The show seems to be a missed opportunity in helping minorities get their own happy ending that reality tv and Hollywood alike seem to avoid. Likewise, you won’t be seeing a contestant over size 12, but isn’t that just “reality” tv?

Campus Answers Q: What do you consider an important characteristic?

(1-10 most) A: Average of 7 (Slighty important)

they had a desirable personality to you? A: Majority Ÿes

Q: Could you marry someone without knowing how A: Resounding no 23

it’s the it’ little things


photo by josiah thomason


photo by katie hopewell

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On October 25, 2021, the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at the JFK8 warehouse in New York filed for a union election to make it the first organized Amazon labor union in the United States. Amazon has been known for poor working conditions throughout the U.S., failing to grant sick days to workers during the Covid-19 crisis and providing inadequate benefits to full-time employees.

Although labor movements have existed in the U.S. since the dawn of the country, national labor unions began—unsurprisingly—with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The era led to a shift in the structure of labor in the U.S. By 1870, over half of American men–who made up a majority of the labor force at the time– worked for an employer who enforced brutal conditions.

The ALU is based in Staten Island and consists of active and former employees of Amazon warehouses in the area. Founder and President, Chris Smalls began the ALU when he was fired after organizing a demonstration during the warehouse’s lunch hour protesting the company’s protocols regarding Covid.

Workdays were often over 12 hours, and workweeks were six days, excluding Sunday. Wages went unregulated, benefits were nonexistent and laborers often suffered career or life ending injuries with no support. The influx of workers into dangerous new industries led to a new group of silenced laborers that had no one to advocate for their rights.

Originally, the hearing to organize an election was scheduled for November 17, 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board counted many of the workers’ over 2000 signatures as invalid, so the ALU was forced to petition again. Furthermore, Amazon has continuously attempted to thwart Smalls’ and thousands of other employees’ efforts to create the ALU by using intimidation tactics and threatening organizers. Labor unions are organizations composed of workers in a particular area, trade or company that promote workers’ rights; this includes advocating for increased pay and benefits or improved working conditions like shorter work days and longer breaks. Labor unions are meant to help democratize the workplace, which is typically very authoritarian in nature because executives make decisions without workers’ consent. Labor unions have democratic structures, where leaders are elected by members of the union who pay a fixed fee to join. The fees are typically inexpensive, and in the case of the ALU, they are less than one percent of workers’ paychecks.

The most influential early national labor unions were the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor, both formed in the latter half of the 19th century. These groups at their peaks represented over two million American workers and were influential in raising wages, shortening workdays, introducing the weekend and improving working conditions, specifically in factories and railroads. Labor unions continued to prosper in the early 20th century, especially during World War I, but by the late 1920s, unions began to decline because of anti-union capitalists and government policy. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 heavily restricted labor unions right to secondary boycotts, an act of solidarity by a union supporting another union of a different company. This law is still enforced in over half of states today. The diminution of labor unions reached its peak during the 1970s and 1980s, when leaders of both of the majority parties advo-


“...Voiceless in an

cated for less regulation of the business sector and the bolstering of the free market. Major labor acts attempting to repeal national anti-union legislation and fortify workers’ rights were killed in Congress. The trend continued into the 21st century and in 2019, union enrollment reached an all time low with only 10.3% of workers being unionized.

However, the rhetoric around unions in America is shifting again. From 2019 to 2021, union enrollment increased, albeit slightly, and attempts to unionize private companies, like Amazon, have increased. Americans want and need labor unions. This is because unionized workers generally have higher salaries, better benefits and, most importantly, a voice in decisions that directly affect them. Although public opinion has shifted in favor of unionization, companies, especially privately owned, are fighting this trend. Amazon is the largest private sector employer in the country with over one million U.S. employees. Their anti-union efforts ended an attempt to unionize in Alabama, and the ALU faces the same fate without more public support of the cause and media coverage of the anti-union maneuvers that have caused one million U.S employees to be voiceless in an authoritarian corporation. Thanks to Amazon efforts, the dates of the JFK8 ALU election have been pushed back to March 25-30. According to the ALU, while informing employees of the election,

r i t o arian c h t u A orp ora tio n. Amazon said to “make your voice heard, and vote NO.” Higher-ups are continuing their efforts to stop the formation of a union by intimidating workers, with a leaked audio from Vice documenting an Amazon union buster saying, “you can end up with better, the same, or worse than you already have.” Amazon also called the police on Smalls and other union organizers, leading to three arrests for “trespassing” in the last week of February. These scare tactics are threats that bar many workers from seeing the advantages of an Amazon labor union and a more democratic workplace. Historically, labor unions improve working conditions and give a voice to the working class. Amazon’s attempts to stop the formation of the ALU are a continuation of the anti-worker sentiment that an unregulated free market promotes and will further separate the working-class from the corporate elite. Despite Amazon’s union busting efforts, the future looks bright for the ALU. With an election at JFK8 in New York and in Bessemer, Alabama fast approaching, and another petition for an election at a warehouse in Staten Island being approved, it finally looks like U.S. Amazon

Dirty Business: The Grime Behind the Renovation of McAlister Hall by Lizzie Moore The city of Charleston is well known for its historic buildings, brutal heat and stifling humidity. Unfortunately, this means the city’s businesses, institutions and residents often combat damages from mold, mildew and moisture intrusion in their residences and buildings, and the College of Charleston is no exception. Troubles with mold and mildew in dorms has been a common experience for the majority of students during their stay at the College of Charleston. The College has renovated residence halls in the past, like Rutledge Rivers in 2017, and other popular dormitories, like Marcia Kelly McAlister Hall and College Lodge, are known on campus for their ongoing battles against mold. Despite common knowledge about the water damage, the College’s announcement of the long overdue renovation to McAlister came as a shock to students. However, the restoration plan was not nearly as surprising as the consequences it would have on campus housing and livability. The first announcement of these renovations came as an email sent exclusively to on-campus residents on December 17, 2021. It explained that there would be limited hous-

ing available for upperclassmen, specifically rising juniors and seniors, for the following school year. The email that formally notified students on the severity of upcoming housing restrictions, however, was not sent until January 31, 2022. This time, it was sent to all attending students and included a crucial detail: individuals with 16 earned credit hours or more from any institution, including high school programs and transfer credits, would be considered upperclassmen and would not be guaranteed housing. Upperclassmen who needed financial housing assistance and wished to stay on campus had to submit a pre-application request for housing by February 8, and it was recommended that these students additionally submit their 2022-2023 FAFSA no later than February 2. Upperclassmen who applied for financial clemency would be notified by February 24 if they were granted a place to stay on campus. In this email the administration additionally claimed that, “The College attempted to secure additional housing for our students with off-campus operators using Real Property Services – which provides centralized real


estate services for the State of South Carolina – and could not find a tenable solution.” They followed up with several brief emails throughout early February to address concerns about scholarship funds and advertised in-person and online housing fairs for students to learn more about off-campus housing alternatives. However, many students do not see the campus housing department’s repeated emails and housing fairs as adequate attempts at providing housing accommodations for the 2022-2023 school year. Since the initial announcement of the Marcia Kelly McAlister Hall renovation and the project’s subsequent impacts to housing availability, students have shared their experiences with the potential housing crisis. Some students started an Instagram page, signed petitions, talked to local and campus news organizations, attended protests and used social media as platforms to voice their disapproval. Students’ most prominent concern is the College of Charleston’s perceived lack of planning and failure to provide more advanced communication to students. John Harmon, a Resident Assistant in McConnell, Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association, and a junior at the College of Charleston, expressed his opinion on the issue. According to Harmon, the College made these decisions due to financial constraints facing the renovation, but as he commented, “more prior planning could’ve mitigated this crisis in the first place.” Unfortunately, these student criticisms about The College’s lackluster foresight are not unfounded.

Education’s website provides access to documents belonging to South Carolina universities and colleges, including College of Charleston. Several of these documents detail building and infrastructure renovations under the category: “permanent improvement project.” According to the application for the “McAlister Residence Hall 2021 Renovation,” Marcia Kelly McAlister Hall was originally built in 2002 by a third-party developer that managed the building’s infrastructure until 2007 when The College took over. It was in 2006 during the transitioning of the building’s management that, “they originally discovered problems with the HVAC design, the first of many deficiencies with the structure,” as stated in the McAlister Residence Hall’s Description of Permanent Improvement Project for Consideration. Additionally, a similar document containing the blueprints for the McAlister Residence Hall 2021 Renovation identifies that the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved of the proposal on September 5, 2019—well over two years before the College of Charleston’s abrupt announcement on limited housing availability in December 2022.

“More prior planning could’ve mitigated this crisis in the first place.”

The South Carolina Commission on Higher

Students have also expressed concerns about rising housing costs off-campus. An anonymous freshman commented, “with the housing crisis, now everybody’s trying to get apartments that are on-campus or around campus and prices are skyrocketing so nobody can afford anything.” Housing prices have been steadily rising according to an analysis conducted in December 2021 by Redfin, a real-estate brokerage company based out of Seattle, the United States has seen the average national rent increase by 14 percent in

2021. The Charleston area has not been exempted from this rule with rent increasing significantly within the past couple of years. Much of this is additionally attributed to Charleston garnering attention for its natural and historic beauty paired with a growing economy. The city even made headlines when it scored a spot on the Forbes List of Top Ten “Hot Housing Markets” for 2020. Some students have considered moving, or already have moved out of downtown Charleston in order to afford the cost of living, but this comes with a new set of hurdles. An anonymous freshman shared their thoughts on moving: “Even if I was able to get a place just outside the city [...], I’d be paying way more in gas and parking.” Unsurprisingly, this expensive downtown real estate also means expensive downtown parking. In addition to their issues with mold, the College is also quite popular for the price of their parking passes which hover around 600 dollars per semester. Private lots downtown sell parking spots for around 150 to 200 dollars a month, and recent increases on the cost of gas have not helped to cushion the financial blow. These exponential parking prices coupled with the high cost of gas mean that living off the peninsula is not a significantly cheaper option and it is not seen as an effective solution for students. There have also been complaints about the standards for upperclassman qualification. Since students with 16 or more accumulated credit hours are not guaranteed housing, the freshmen class of 2021 has found themselves in an unique and difficult situation. Many freshmen take college credit courses, like AP or IB, while in high school in order to get ahead in their college careers. An anonymous freshman majoring in elementary education shared their concerns on this topic, stating, “a lot of lower income students like myself take classes in high school because we can’t afford college, and now because of that very reason we are not going to be able to go

to school here.” Not only could rising sophomores like this student be disqualified from on-campus housing if they participated in AP or IB programs in high school, but they could also lose eligibility if they took certain recommended courses at The College. English 110 and general education science courses paired with labs are courses that academic advisors at the College of Charleston suggest incoming freshmen should take during their first semester that count as four credit hour courses. If

“Even if I was able to get a place just outside the city, I’d be paying way more in gas and parking.” a freshmen were to take one of these courses in addition to a full 12 hour course load they could easily find themselves without access to on-campus housing for their freshman year. Another issue on the minds of students at the College of Charleston is how minority students will be affected by the housing crisis. An anonymous freshman at the College, majoring in elementary education, living on-campus, states, “I am highly upset with how anyone that did SPECTRA is affected by this … because if they were a full-time student they’re not guaranteed housing and I just think that’s very unfair.” SPECTRA is a summer program run by the college that counts as three credit hours. This course is meant to serve as a way to help Black, Latino, Asian and Native


American students better integrate into life at the College their freshman year while connecting them to additional resources on campus. While this class is not required it is often recommended as it counts as a general education humanities course. As previously stated, if a freshman took SPECTRA the summer before their freshman year, it’s possible for their credit hours to be too high leaving them unqualified for on-campus housing in Fall 2022. While SPECTRA is a great way for Black, Latino, Asian and Native American students to feel more at home in Charleston, the strict housing qualification requirements for returning freshmen have negated any of the benefits students may have initially received from this program.

“How am I supposed to do my classes when I’ll need probably three jobs to pay for housing?”

Overall, the disruptions caused by the Marcia Kelly McAlister Residence Hall renovation to student’s education have been significant, leaving many to feel like they are not valued at the College of Charleston. An anonymous student attending the College shared how they felt: “Why do they feel the need to make next year the largest freshman class when they know they don’t have enough space for everyone to live? I think all [of the College of Charleston] cares about is money at this point.” Another student commented, “How am I supposed to

do my classes when I’ll need probably three jobs to pay for [housing]? I have no more reason to be here. They don’t want me here.” The perceived lack of planning and concern expressed by the College has led students living on-campus to feel overwhelmed and helpless to a difficult situation, during an already stressful time in their lives. It’s important to note that all students currently attending the College of Charleston, and at colleges and universities across the country, are still trying to mount the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on their academic careers, but they have made the decision to persevere for the sake of their futures. Hopefully, the College will use these outcries as a catalyst to help students affected by these renovations feel supported by their school in their pursuits for success and more secure in their housing accommodations, in turn, encouraging them to overcome once again.

OPEN MINDS AND OPEN HEARTS. Article by Lea Neufeld Foreword by Josiah Thomason

Charleston County has made the groundbreaking decision to accept an influx of thousands of refugees fleeing the hardships occurring in Afghanistan. Since the withdrawal of United States troops by President Biden in 2021, the Taliban has seized control over the area once again, launching a massive movement of over 800,000 refugees hoping to escape the conflict. As a city and community heavily influenced by and tied to the global human market, Charleston is making an enormous leap forward to open its arms and––hopefully––its hearts to the incoming Afghani refugees that are set to arrive. It is important to understand that when displaced peoples are relocated, their lives do not flawlessly adapt to their new environment. Humanitarian work’s first step is to secure shelter and other extremely basic necessities for survival. The disproportion is found in the lack of assistance in cross-cultural communication between refugees and their new neighbors while those who were displaced are forced to learn and understand their new environment on their own. We can, however, acknowledge the efforts of the Joe Biden administration in opening its borders and resources to those in need, especially with the United State’s continuous mistreatment of immigrants and turning away of refugees and migrants. We must all be a community that is welcoming, ready to listen and understand, and do our part in ensuring the Afghani refugees that are now part of our community are given the love and respect they deserve here in Charleston and all over the nation.


“Many in humanitarian work do not truly comprehend, nor think about how difficult it is for refugees to adapt to an incredibly new environment.” – Helena Zeweri The Taliban offensive in Afghanistan was rapid and vast. Within a matter of weeks, the extremist groups reinstated its control in the major cities of the country, and the war against them started just as it began: with the Taliban holding the power. Following the fall of Kabul, in August 2021, over 80,000 Afghans have been forced into the status of ‘refugee,’ joining millions of others around the world. These are families, who fear the notorious control of the Taliban, judges, academics, anyone who aided foreign military as translators, guides, etc., journalists and other Afghan civilians. The international airlift, seen on virtually every news cycle, was part of a major effort to get as many people out of Afghanistan and to safety as possible. But in the political climate of the 21st century, what does safe mean? With the rise of right wing, anti-immigrant groups around the world, exclusionary nationalist movements and attacks on multiculturalism, safety from the Taliban does not necessarily mean a safe life for Afghani refugees. Since High

the beginning Commissioner

of the conflict in 2021, for Refugees issued the

the United Nations following statement:

“We would like to underscore that the overwhelming majority of people coming to Europe, including Cyprus, are refugees fleeing civil wars, persecution, and human rights abuses. Many are escaping from extremism and terrorism. Loss of hope that the war in their home countries will end, combined with their precarious situation in the first asylum countries and the lack of alternative legal avenues to reach safety in Europe, is forcing many refugees to risk their lives by resorting to the dangerous Mediterranean and Aegean crossing. Conflating refugees with terrorists is irrational. It is not logical. Worse still, it is dangerous.”

Racialization of religion, in this case of Islam, and the rampant accompanying islamophobia perpetuates the narrative of foreigner, a person who does not and will never belong. In this way, refugees are ascribed as permanent outsiders. Welcoming mechanisms in many countries are lacking and ineffective, perpetuating a narrative of “us” versus “them.” This alienation and discrimination can often be traced to polity.

The cycle for asylum seekers in the United States and in most Western democracies is a vicious one. Bureaucratic processes swallow people up, giving no expected timeline for paperwork reviews or acceptance. After months of waiting, it is not unheard of for refugees to be spit back out without the proper strategies and support. But now a few hundred Afghan refugees are being welcomed in Charleston having overcome the limbo and bureaucratic traps indicative of the U.S. asylum seeking system. Charleston has committed to the Welcome. U.S. Coalition: a group of states and cities dedicated to the national effort to help Afghan refugees land on their feet once they’ve made it here. As a campus, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to be part of the effort to support this movement. Sara Solan, president of the Cougar Refugee Alliance here on campus, is working hard to dispel that damaging narrative. If you want to get involved please keep a lookout for future material and food drives, percentage nights, Circle of Welcome information and other ways to help foster a strong and welcoming community for our new neighbors. Refugees making the monumentally difficult decision to leave their homelands do so out of absolute urgency. It’s important to remember that generally, forced migrants love their homeland, they miss it, and they only left because it was vital for their survival to do so. In the same vein, it is vital for us to remember that refugees are not passive victims. They are people who have the right to control their own narratives, have agency and autonomy, a rich history and the right to a future.

People to follow & sources to look into: Arash Azizzada Instagram: arash87films Afghans for a Better Tomorrow Instagram: afghansforabettertomorrow Cougar Refugee Alliance Instagram: cofc.cra Afghan-American Foundation Fundraising options Volunteer options



S O S R W C O E RD H by Margaret Bruce

Down: 1. 3rd word of CofC club seeking to help Afghan refugees 2. 10 on Tyler’s trendspot

Across: 3. Last name of person commissioned in 1999 to build Holocaust memorial in Marion Square

4. 1947; restricted labor union’s right to secondary boycotts

5. T Kira Madden is editor-in-chief for this literary magazine

6. Most sought after trait in a prtner, according to CY Instagram survey

7. April performance by Center Stage 9. Phenomenon restricting green spaces

8. Fiction crafting narratives about the consequences of environmental threats

10. CofC dorm set to be renovated

11. Instagram account for Center Stage

12. Wrote 1997 essay on American tendencies toward self-improvement

14. 4th word of T Kira Madden’s memoir

13. 2nd word of network founded by Mika Gadsden

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Are you out of touch? Get your finger on the pulse with these Spring and Summer ‘22 trends, straight from our Creative Director.

Minor Larceny

Grand Theft Auto’s baby cousin is making a comeback- and this summer, theft under $2000 is going from minor to MAJOR.

Unrefrigerated I’m talking those metal tins of vienna sausage, the weird in-between realm in which Slim Jims reside, sliced ham left on the counter– you name it.

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Picture To Burn (Scooter’s Version) I’m not saying I support Taylor Swift’s homophobia. But she made a few points! And for that reason, I’m calling that Scooter’s Version of Picture to Burn, sans radio edit, will be the song of the summer.

Shedding Your Skin and Leaving it In the Second-Floor Maybank Gender Neutral Bathroom This top-secret industry beauty tip has been used by the women of ADPi for generations. One shed a week and you’ll be looking hotter and feeling scarier than ever.

Big Oil

Petroleum is having a major moment right now, and to make sure you have the summer of your life, make sure you strike before the world is hot.

Becoming a Sovereign Nation Summer of 2022 is all about taking care of you, girl! Take it to the next level by establishing yourself as an independent nation with its own laws and currency. Five bucks if you can get in the UN by fall!


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I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground all season long to spot these upcoming trends for our readers, and trust me– a few lifestyle changes and you’ll go from drab to fab just like that. XXXOOO,



An Interview with Elisa Faison


think we’re all aware that the Earth is in crisis. The seas are rising; the reefs are dying; we’ve got too much plastic, too many cows, not enough trees and not enough time to sort it all out. Generally, things are looking grim and climate anxiety is an ever-present fact of modern life. You may be asking yourself, as I am: what if this beautiful, balanced, biodiverse Earth is soon just a myth of the past? This speculation about our environment’s future has a strong hold on the entertainment industry. Climate fiction (or cli-fi) is a genre which takes inspiration from real-world environmental threats and crafts narratives about their potential consequences. You may have seen the slightly inaccurate, but nonetheless climate-inspired 2004 film “The Day After Tomorrow,” which follows a rapid-onset ice age caused by global warming.

Many of the most popular cli-fi stories are doom and gloom depictions of the future. Certainly, distressing audiences is the fastest way to communicate urgency and, after all, who doesn’t love a seat-gripping thriller from the apocalypse? But there’s also something to be said for less popular cli-fi stories in which readers are finding comfort and even a trace of hope. I spoke with Elisa Faison, a PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who is currently studying cli-fi domestic novels. This sub-genre originates from 19th c. women’s writing about matters of home and family. Think Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” or Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Today, Faison says that the cli-fi versions of domestic novels come from “authors who are filtering their perspectives on climate change through this very small and really classical novel lens of domesticity.” Faison explains that by writing in the epistolary style, “they’re dealing with managing climate anxieties through a kind of recourse to that original small mindset.” Her research considers the lessons we take from these stories about the day-to-day of future human life: “There are certain aspects of our current culture, life, history, that can be recycled, reframed: ideas like family that actually can be quite helpful in doing the hard work toward saving some type of future, instead of sort of throwing the future to the side and saying ‘oh, we’re screwed.’”


These domestic cli-fi novels don’t necessarily ignore the climate crisis, but rather can provide a kind of template for navigating human life as Earth undergoes vast environmental change. Faison says that, barring the rare exception, the books she’s read “have a perspective not that we should navel gaze away from the huge and focus on having a baby or these very small hopeful tasks.” Instead, Faison continues, “the kind of small hopefulness of having a baby or making friends with the neighbor or cooking a good meal might actually be ways to imagine how you can recycle certain things for a future.”

Good Books with Poor Reviews The thing is, people like reading about the doom and gloom, even if it gives them anxiety. Faison herself says apocalyptic novels are some of her favorites to read. Those kinds of texts are the most popular in the genre, while this domestic sub-set tends to be published by indie presses which garner mixed reviews. Faison mentions Louis Erdrich’s “Future Home of the Living God.” “It’s by a huge named author. Louise Erdrich is incredibly well respected, always gets good reviews, and this is her least popular and most poorly reviewed novel.” Part of the problem is that critics assign certain principles to the texts they review. There’s the idea that climate change is too massive a thing to contain within a human narrative, that our drama doesn’t really matter compared to the grand scale of the world. But Faison says there’s a balance: “I think it’s always valuable to read widely and gain alternate perspectives… I think they’re both literarily worthy; I think they’re both good, but I also think that they can have an ethical push for you. I think you can find something helpful in both of them.”

Faison says that there may be some hope for the future of the sub-genre. “All We Can Save” is an anthology of essays by women and queer individuals addressing their climate anxieties– something that’s difficult to sell from a publishing perspective

because most people don’t tend to read essays with their spare time. But this particular book “seemed tofill a hole in the market,” according to Faison. “People seemed to want to buy that, to have that perspective where they weren’t finding it in many of the other sort of hefty nonfiction texts about climate change or the apocalyptic novels that are being sold to them as the pinnacle of climate fiction.” Reading widely, as Faison put it, is one way of encountering new perspectives. She brings Louis Erdrich’s novel back into the conversation which considers climate change through an indigenous experience. “Indians have always been adapting and there’s this idea that native people have already lived through an existential apocalypse in their country and have learned how to adapt and what to save,” Faison says. “It’s valuable to me to read a text [like “Future Home of the Living God”] that I think is beautiful and interesting, and I can find personal value in that, but if I have never encountered native perspectives or other ways of living that aren’t my own sort of white lady perspective, that can teach me a new frame of thinking.”

“We’ve always learned how to live in the world through stories.” Regardless of whether you choose to read these types of domestic novels, stick with the ominous apocalyptic imaginings or simply comb through the climate data from which the fiction originates, there’s no denying that consuming those texts will have readers thinking more about the changing Earth and our place in it. Regardless, the question remains: how will we move forward? According to Elisa, there’s an answer in the small acts of those we read about: “We have always learned how to live in the world through stories… We put ourselves into the characters and I absolutely think that that is instructive.” •

E L I S A’ S

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore A university student named Tassie takes a job as a nanny and learns to care for the child as her own amid post-9/11 anxieties in this hilarious projection into a future.


Future Home of the Living God In this dystopian thriller, evolution is reversed and every animal gives birth to primitive versions of their species. Amidst the crisis, pregnant Cedar searches for her Ojibwe birth mother to understand where she came frrom.

P I C K S:

... All We Can Save Anthology This collection of essays and creative work houses a wide range of voices from 60 women working in climate policy, science, and activism.


A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki A humourous story of crossed paths across time. A meeting of Zen Buddhist perspective, apocalypse, and a reconception of time.



his year, more than ever, I have learned about the importance of green spaces and access to nature for the human psyche. Just like food, water and shelter, being connected to our natural environment is important for our survival and health. During the pandemic, I was quite isolated at home. My family moved to Richmond, Virginia in April 2020. I was unfamiliar with the area and felt overwhelmingly out of place. In order to explore safely, I started trail running. I was fortunate enough to have extensive trails and a park just a few blocks away along the James River. The trees were bright green; there was life all around. Though quite residential, I was able to observe the beauty of the plants and animals that I stumbled across (or that stumbled across me).

Just like food, water and shelter, being connected to our natural environment is important for our survival and health. It was a humbling experience, knowing that I fit into that vast ecosystem

but, at the same time, comforting. The point here is that nature allows our brains to feel a connection to something larger than ourselves. We see the big, the small, and where we fit into these complex, intertwined levels of existence. No matter how we try to avoid the rawness of the outdoors, as products of nature, we need it to survive. More than ever, research has shown that green spaces are vital to our health. In fact, in a study analyzing poor neighborhoods in Chicago, with varying amounts of green spaces surrounding them, sociologists Frances Kuo and William Sullivan concluded that “residents in barren environments showed poorer attentional functioning than residents in greener environments, which led to higher levels of intra-family violence and aggression.” Kuo and Sullivan’s findings put into perspective the

need for a natural, outdoor space. If access to nature affects the well-being, functionality and ability to work with others, then it is a necessity. So, what happens when green spaces aren’t as available to everyone, as their communal nature typically entails? This question is what the growing issue of “eco-gentrification” refers to. Generally, gentrification is the process of more affluent populations encroaching on lower-income neighborhoods. Their more expensive lifestyles increase the cost of living in the areas they move to, forcing many original residents to relocate. Similarly, eco-gentrification is the near exclusive occupation of green spaces by affluent demographics. While this subset of gentrification is not directly related to the

by Amelia Brown cost of living, it does affect quality of life. Accessibility to greenspaces brings comfort. When a space reflects your lifestyle, you are more likely to spend time there. People of lower incomes are less likely to make use of parks and trails if they are in a richer neighborhood. They may stand out or be personally estranged. Their transportation options (or lack thereof ) also confine them to a smaller geographic circle, limiting their outdoor accessibility further. The trails I ran, along the James River, were within reach of a select few people. Those that could afford to live in the rolling, forested areas along the water could easily take their family and pets out on the trails. Transportation and proximity are not obstacles. At the end of my trail runs, I ar-

rived in Pony Pasture to recover and take in my scenery. Sometimes, the park was packed with people trying to safely escape the confines of their homes. It was during my people-watching that it became clear to me who came to the park routinely and who had to travel or save up gas money to come enjoy it.

Eco-gentrification is the near exclusive occupation of green spaces by affluent demographics.

failed interstate, has been the target of wealthy storefronts and housing. Under the guise of benefitting the entire community, the High Line project ultimately placed the needs of original residents on the backburner. The same fate awaits, as wealth slowly creeps up the Charleston peninsula. Eco-gentrification will become just as real in our own backyard. I encourage my readers to observe this issue in their own locales, as this is just one step to equalizing the disparities in how we define “quality of life”. •

This phenomenon is not limited to the scale of Richmond, Virginia. It runs rampant in larger cities like New York City and San Francisco. The New York City High Line, which was originally a repurposing project for a


A Living Pause: The Importance of Holocaust Memorializaton in our Present Lives by Rachel Nasby

Holocaust history is active, vibrant and cathartic. It is not entirely preserved by memorialization, a single devoted day of halfhearted sympathy or speeding through Eli Weisel’s “Night” before a final exam in high school. It is a story that has no end, no final summation. There is the collective memory students have of sifting through the gimmicky wizarding shelves of Addlestone Library. Perhaps it is too familiar, the feeling of forgetting how the printing algorithm works or even catching a wave of tension when even the second floor is crowded. It seems that swiftly, in blurred fragments, everything is touched, surveyed, mulled through and agonized over in the Addlestone Library. As a collective of students, a space becomes familiar with its flow and patterns. However, in this

“open book” library, what is left alone? What is untampered with? What is memorialized in Addlestone? Unbeknownst to many, there exists an archive of Holocaust testimonies, artifacts, albums, personal histories, family photos, and fragments of life that span beyond a simple section in a library. Charleston is historically a center for deep South Jewish culture that predates the Civil War. In a 2001 survey, an estimated 5,500 Jews lived in Charleston. However, Charleston is not simply a singular and monocultural epicenter for the Jewish experience; several synagogues and traditions exist and coexist. In 1954, two of Charleston’s Orthodox

congregations agreed to merge. They became known as the B’rith Shalom Beth Israel synagogue, which sits soundly on Rutledge Avenue. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim is one of the oldest Synagogues in the United States. It was also the birthplace of the American Reform Judaism movement in 1824. The Charleston Jewish Federation centers around the Jewish community, education and outreach and has currently over 15,000 members. Jewish life on the College of Charleston’s campus is extremely vibrant as well, holding weekly Shabbat services, midweek dining or “Meet to Eat” and other community inclusive events in the Sylvia Vlosky Yaschik Jewish Studies Center.

2001, hundreds of albums, letters and personal oral histories lay dynamic in these archives. With our obsession with the constant change of our present world, is this archive enough to truly remember the Holocaust

“ Memorialization is a

process that satisfies the desire to honor those who suffered or died during the conflict and as a means to examine the past and address contemporary issues.”

The present is accessible, colorful and strengthened in our memory. In regards to the past, the Addlestone Library also holds a space for narratives and living stories to provide an archival episode into an experience of the vibrant Jewish culture in Charleston. More recently, the vast expanse of Jewish history in the Addlestone Archives has expanded to meet the needs of Holocaust testimony. Since

- Judy Barsalou & Victoria Baxter


as a living, breathing tragedy? What does it even mean to memorialize? Judy Barsalou and Victoria Baxter write in their report about educational memorialization that, “Memorialization is a process that satisfies the desire to honor those who suffered or died during the conflict and as a means to examine the past and address contemporary issues.” Understanding the humanity that was lost and taking moments to allow this memory to live in our daily lives is important beyond description.However, when we don’t engage with these stories and simply engage with the death of them, memorialization can become a tactic in forgetting. Understanding the humanity that was lost and taking moments to allow this memory to live in our daily lives is important beyond description. However, when we don’t engage with these stories and simply engage with the death of them, memorialization can become a tactic in forgetting. Vamik Volkan, a professor at the University of Virginia, ventures into the disingenuous side of memorializing. He notes that often there is a defined “victor” and “loser” in this process. When we want to explain something heartbreaking, it is easy to mark a group’s identity as “victim” and carry on. This removes the diversity of these groups, of the Jewish experience after the Holocaust and beyond. As students, leaving shelves untouched and untampered within the Archives is allowing for them to be

simply archived. We risk labeling and characterizing complex experiences. Memorialization does not succeed in this way. Laurena Langer wrote a riveting dissertation on the physical aspects of memorialization, comparing two Holocaust Memorials (one in Boston and the other in Berlin) and how aspects of memorial construction are key in understanding how society remembers and grieves over the Holocaust. She writes,“The shapes represented blank invitations to visitors to decide where they have been summoned and what direction their sense of uneasiness should lead them.” A blank invitation. A space to grieve. To feel the horrific gravity, and to lay present in a world where that horror is separate from the collective consciousness. The eeriness of knowing how many creative geniuses, doctors, comedians, fathers, world leaders, knitting fanatics, football players, little sisters, writers and complex, vivid, beautiful people were scratched and seared out of history’s cloth. This space needs to be in the center of our daily life, and it is. We just need to recognize its reverberating presence. James E. Young writes in his novel “The Memory’s Edge,” “The process of Holocaust memorialization reveals a delicate balance between giving credence to the horrors of the past, engaging the visitors of the present, and inspiring a memory for the future.”

Amongst the library, there is this working pause, a space to give credence and provide a vivid memory of the present and future. Next time you are in Marion Square, look beyond the still trees and gentle hills of students studying and pause. Pause at the outof-place, out of time and eerie structure. In 1999, Jonathan Levi was commissioned by the Charleston Jewish Federation to build a Holocaust memorial. Today, you can witness the rectangular elevated “room” barred by pillars that enact a separation from the viewer and the inside. Perhaps there is also a claustrophobic tension, while this dark metallic prism sits amongst a widened and spacious green space. In the center of the memorial, there is a mill-finish stainless steel Tallit cast in bronze. In 2015, Levi made his intentions for this project clear: “[It] is designed in three parts, a place of reflection, a place of assembly, and a place of remembrance.”

2020, they note that through the online experience, “the program reached 24 states, 4 countries, and reached over 6,500 people through the Speaker’s Bureau,” making the program a nationwide experience in enlivening stories and narratives from First, Second, and Third Generation survivors of the Holocaust. Remembrance and active memorialization is a necessity, not a finite resource to a singular group. Students use their intuition to learn and grow beyond their current knowledge and need to take the opportunity to find ways to feel displaced. We need to rest with the eerie feeling of looking into a guarded prism, with a living object of prayer being cast in Iron, locked from our touch. We need to trace our uncomfortableness and grief, sit in it and bring it to the future, into our spaces of comfortability. Because we cannot change the fact that within a busy library or a peaceful field, there are albums,photos, lives and memories that experienced the worst humanity has to offer.

“ Remembrance

and active memorialization -

resource to a singular group.”

The Charleston Jewish Federation has started the Remember Program, which consists of continuous assemblies that open the dialogue of Holocaust testimonies from all communities. In their recent report of




CENTER College of Charleston’s very own theatre company is coming back better than ever. photo courtesy of Raven King

by Erin Solka Center Stage is CofC’s student-run theatre company run by a board of five students with the mission to “Provide practical theatrical activities to students, exposing them to experience the theatre as a cultural force through our productions.” This mission statement proves itself to be true by the company’s productions so far this school year. These include the wellloved classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, performed by a shadow cast for one night only on October 30, 2021, as well as the boundary-pushing comedy The Thanksgiving Play, performed in November of 2021. In the spring semester, they put on the powerful play Swing of the Sea, performed in February of 2022.The history of Center Stage at CofC dates back to as early as the 1970s, evolving along with the College. The company has

produced various types of shows over the years, including musicals and straight plays, one acts and full-length. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of traditional live theatre, Center Stage adapted so they could continue providing students with opportunities to be creative. During the 2020-2021 school year, podcasts replaced live performances. Joey Kirkman, the President of Center Stage, explained that the current board is working on rebuilding Center Stage “to its former glory” after a difficult year with few in-person connections. Center Stage prides itself in providing students with opportunities they cannot find within the College’s Department of Theatre and Dance, according to Joey Kirkman. Although Center Stage is overseen by faculty advisor Charlie Calvert and works with the department on some aspects of productions, the two often function independently. This is what makes Center Stage’s work so impressive––it is put on almost completely by students. Everything that goes into producing a show (directing, casting, tech design, marketing, etc.) is accomplished by student members. This allows the company to select shows that include diverse perspectives, something that is highly valued in Center Stage. This ensures that students of all races, genders and ages are encouraged to get involved and feel accurately represented and appreciated onstage.

that shows can happen. Marketing majors can create advertisements and online programs for shows. The chances to become involved in the company are endless and are what Center Stage is all about––creating opportunities that students want. Throughout their interview, President Joey Kirkman and Vice President Abbie Lemaster emphasized the importance of the social bonds that Center Stage fosters among members. Joey explained that Center Stage “helps people find a home [at CofC which] can’t be replicated” in many other spaces on campus. Center Stage is a truly impactful and unique organization on campus. It is welcoming and exciting, always brewing with new ideas and people. Joey Kirkman concluded that Center Stage “hopes that we are taken seriously as a group that produces theatre that matters”. The future of this company is bright and is always willing to welcome new members. If you are interested in getting involved, visit their website and follow them on Instagram @ctrstage. Also, don’t miss out on the last performance of this school year, The Cake, being performed April 1-3 in the Chapel Theatre.

The production process also gives students unique opportunities that prepare them for careers in the arts. Arts Management majors can gain experience booking venues, raising funds and organizing ticket reservations so