Advocacy

The League of Women Voters of Roseville Area that includes Roseville, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Maplewood, and Falcon Heights, has adopted positions regarding several issues of local importance. By clicking on the link below, you will be directed to a downloadable copy of those position statements.  Click here for link.

Windows and Mirrors for All: Persuasion - but no, not Jane Austen, Florence Sprague, May/June 2024

“Persuasion, I suggest, should not be understood as an exercise in argument and counter-argument, as if it were a tennis match—won by hitting shots an adversary is unable to return. Instead, persuasion is best thought of as a process of making or finding space for a given outcome in another person’s world view. Rather than looking for arguments an adversary will be unable to deny, we should look for arguments an adversary will be able to affirm. This in turn depends upon developing as full and nuanced as possible an understanding of that adversary’s view of the world. Thus persuasion depends upon imagination, and in particular upon a certain imaginative capacity to see the world from the perspective of others. Reading may be the best way to develop that capacity.”

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Windows and Mirrors for all: Ethnic Studies, Florence Sprague, April 2024

One morning as I was mulling over several ideas for Windows and Mirrors, my radio was ever-tuned to MPR. There was Angela Davis talking to students and teachers at Roseville Area High School (RAHS) about Ethnic Studies! There it was.

During the 2023 legislative session a law was passed incorporating ethnic studies into social studies curriculum for Minnesota classrooms K-12. This must be done by the 2026-27 school year. The scaffold for this is still being developed by the Minnesota Department of Education, with curriculum tailored to the age and developmental needs of students. Some districts, including Roseville and St. Paul, are already offering courses in high school. My home district, ISD 622 will have a course beginning next year.

Windows and Mirrors for All turns 20 - Florence Sprague - March 2024

Windows and Mirrors for All is twenty. Not quite old enough to imbibe at Brews and Book Reviews, but old enough to reflect upon its age. When the first column ran in the March 2004 Voter seeing things through a DEI lens was in its early stages in LWVRA and those initials were not yet in vogue. As noted then, “The heading above, Windows and Mirrors for All, is gratefully derived from a wonderful essay by Emily Style ‘Curriculum as Window and Mirror’…Ms. Style states that “education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected. I think people of all ages need both mirrors and windows with which to view the world, but too often we only have mirrors.” The goal remains the same.

[Read https://www.nationalseedproject.org/images/documents/Curriculum_As_Window_and_Mirror.pdf ]

Windows and Mirrors - Just Deserts - Florence Sprague - January 2024

Justice─a powerful and important concept. The word seems straightforward enough, but just try to get three people to agree on what is just in a particular case! Pinning it down can be elusive. Justice means different things to different people, in different eras, in different cultures, by class, by race, by religion….  

What we think of as just may reflect what we think about the structure of our society, but also how we think about human frailty, about personal and societal responsibility, about how to measure harm, about consequences and their functions. 

League of Women Voters Minnesota - Thank you - november 5, 2023

The League of Women Voters Minnesota is so grateful to the excellent tribute shared by the Editorial Board of the Star Tribune. Our members are vital to our democracy, and we appreciate the great work our LWV teams continue to do to educate and engage our voters, even during local elections. Take a minute to read this Thank You to YOU - as our members and supporters! 

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Windows and Mirrors - Thought Experiments - Florence Sprague - November/December 2023

This month I want each of us to create our own content by trying a couple of thought experiments.

It will be easiest to do these when you have some quiet moments. Some may want paper and pencil, but they are not required. Don’t judge yourself, just observe carefully. Try not to anticipate or predict; just observe.

Sit quietly. Close your eyes, if that helps you to focus.

Windows and Mirrors - Evolving Language - Florence Sprague - October 2023

I will never claim to be the most up-to-date on the evolution of the English language. New slang is constantly surprising or mystifying me. I will also admit to being a bit of a curmudgeon in defense of “good” grammar. Still, there are changes to terminology I see and hear used with diversity topics that seem positive.

This begins, of course, with the move from talk of diversity to inclusion and equity, and now belonging. This change in language reflects the realization that numbers or mere presence is not an accomplishment to be sought. What is needed is a truer meshing of groups. 

One good source of teaching resources on DEI has long been the magazine, now providing online resources, for educators from the Southern Poverty Law Center. This was called Teaching Tolerance; it is now called Learning for Justice. This reflects the reality that tolerance is much too minimal a goal. Who feels good when just “tolerated.” It makes me think of a younger sibling tagging along with the big kids. They may be tolerated, but often are not truly included. Fortunately, society is now ready to be more attuned to a larger goal—justice.

Windows and Mirrors - One of Many - Florence Sprague - September 2023

Not too long ago there was a photo essay in The Atlantic magazine comprised of photos in which there was a single woman in a much larger group of men. The photos were excerpted from the book The Only Woman, by Immy Humes. Humes curates photos that span more than 150 years and crisscross the globe documenting a broad diversity of social, business, educational and cultural settings and reflecting multiple ethnicities, but there is always only one woman among the group of men. 

Windows and Mirrors - Weathering - Florence Sprague - July/August 2023

"The crimes of rape, and of assault and battery were felonies in the slavery era as they are today in any civil society. They were seen then as wrong, immoral, reprehensible, and worthy of the severest punishment. But the country allowed most any atrocity to be inflicted on the black body. Thus, twelve generations of African-Americans faced the ever-present danger of assault and battery or worse, every day of their lives during the quarter millennium of enslavement.”  Caste, Isabel Wilkerson, p. 153 

We have all seen the effects of weathering on the landscape, from the beauty of dramatically sculpted canyons to the terror of coastal homes teetering on undercut coastlines. The forces of wind and water are powerful, working relentlessly to modify the environment.

But what about the figurative wind and water of stress, fear, abuse and other human-made forces that lead to poorer health outcomes? This concept is not brand new, but it is more in the news today.

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