Posts tagged with best of
Bringing Orchestra to the Social Masses
Kristi Seehafer, first violinist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, started playing the violin in the fourth grade.The reason she picked up the instrument in the first place was out of grumbling necessity: She had to get her own because her brother wouldn’t let her touch his.
What began as sibling rivalry gave way to full-blown wonder and then, once she was older, to the discovery of her life’s calling, after she fell under the spell of a performance in her hometown by the Milwaukee Symphony. It was a night she remembers that something clicked, “and I knew I had to play in an orchestra.”
Her telling of that story is captured in a YouTube video clip. That it’s posted to the orchestra’s Tumblr page is revelatory. Physically, symphony orchestras perform at a considerable distance from their audiences, and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra is no different. Its home is the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, which includes a 30,000-square-foot concert hall. Given that size, it’s not an easy task to foster a close bond between performer and listener.
Fatshion Bloggers Make Plus-Size Chic
This story was produced in partnership with The Daily Beast.
Short of having a bucket of blood dumped over your head at prom, few things compare to the humiliation of being the only customer browsing the racks of an overpriced lingerie store and hearing the painfully chic saleswoman — who’d begrudgingly buzzed you in — loudly proclaim, “I wish people would realize we don’t stock sizes larger than a medium.”
Anyone who’s ever attempted to shop at a schmancy boutique in a body that’s larger than a size 10 already knows that buying big-girl garb requires a skin that’s nearly as thick as your waistline. Fat-loathing is the last acceptable prejudice, and nowhere is that more pronounced than in the world of fashion.
"I have a genuine hatred reserved for cut-out shoulders, drawstring waists, loud prints, cargo pants, waterfall cardigans and hanky hems," says 28-year-old British blogger Lauren Ding. “It’s so difficult to find something that is not only my style, but that fits well.”
Which may account for the recent explosion of so-called “fatshion" blogging — the tag used by hordes of plus-size bloggers who are melding the two worlds. Until recently, fashion blogging had been the domain of straight-sized women. But sick of being ignored by fashion mags and relegated to sack dresses with screeching prints, a growing number of women — unapologetically plump, and tired of being treated like third-class citizens — are taking their musings online. They post OOTDs (outfits of the day) and ruminate on body positivity. Many of them, as a backdrop to skinny models storming the runways of New York Fashion Week, have started calling this month “Fatshion February" — and are blogging aggressively in its honor.
Letters to Newtown: Preserving 500,000 Messages of Hope & Sorrow
Walk into the Newtown town hall, and you see bin after bin of cards and letters — some 500,000 at least, more arriving every day. They line both sides of the long main hall and fill up the branching halls and offices. Posters, paintings, quilts, and flags cover the walls. There are banners from students at Columbine and Virginia Tech; there are letters from school kids across America and from people as far away as France and Australia. And there are boxes of Kleenex on every table for those who read them.
A Day with New York City’s Pothole Repair Crew
Each morning, at a small depot tucked away under the Williamsburg Bridge, the New York City workers who call themselves the “pothole gang” pore over a giant spreadsheet known as “The Daily Pothole.” On it are thousands of potholes all over the city: giant gorges caused by rain and sleet, small interconnected divots that can flatten tires, and pretty much every other roadway wound you can imagine. The sun is barely up, and yet for these men — members of a street maintenance team tasked by the Department of Transportation with roadway repair — the race has already begun.
Over the next eight hours, they will hit the streets, filling giant yellow trucks with smoldering hot asphalt, navigating endless traffic, and smoothing as many potholes as they can before the sun goes down (only to do it all again the next day). Does it get tiring? Sure. But in a city that’s always moving, roadway repair is crucial. On a good day, the team might fill 4,000 potholes. In an average week, they could resurface 100,000 square yards of road. After Hurricane Sandy, their crews removed 2,500 tons of debris. And every day, on a Tumblr called The Daily Pothole — named after that early morning spreadsheet — New Yorkers can take a peek inside the workings of a city system few have likely thought about. We spent a day with six men who help make up New York City’s pothole repair team.
For Transgender Youth, a Home on Tumblr
Lucas Fabray was 22 years old when he realized that he was born in the wrong body. It happened at the grocery store. Fabray, who was born and raised as a girl, began looking at the older women around him. “They were casually pushing carts, holding their baskets, sorting coupons … and I realized that I didn’t want to grow old as a woman,” he recently wrote. “It was just then I realized that I wasn’t in the right form, and that I had to do something about that.”
That was in 2002. The internet had already become the predominant research tool for people of Fabray’s generation, but it was, well, limited. Once back at home, Fabray started looking up terms like “transgender,” “female to male,” and “gender identity disorder.” What he found was educational — but foreign. “There were these few guys that were out there that had these sort of super masculine names: Hudson. Alpha Dog,” he recalls. “They were like the forerunners, and they wanted to give back and make some awesome resources. And they’re awesome! But they scared the hell out of me.”
Fabray says that at that age, he wasn’t ready for surgery or hormones — and he wasn’t sure he ever would be. Living as an “alpha dog” seemed almost as alien to him as living out his life as a woman. And yet, 10 years later, the web no longer presents such limited answers. To the contrary, it’s become a place that reflects how complex, fluid, and nuanced we now understand gender to be.
Fabray’s story about the grocery store is his answer to the first question — “When did you realize the term transgender referred to you?” — on something called the “30 Day Trans Challenge,” a questionnaire first posted on Tumblr in the fall of 2011, though it had appeared elsewhere on the web before that.
The idea behind the challenge is simple: Participants answer one question about themselves each day over the course of a month (or thereabouts). In this variation, aimed at people who identify as transgender, the questions run the gamut: technical (“What is your binding choice and why?”), logistical (“Bathrooms”), legal (“How do you feel about the trans laws where you live?), personal (“Have you ever been outed?”), and profound (“How do you manage dysphoria?”).
The answers are no less varied — both in substance and style. Some respondents knew their gender identity was in question from the moment they were conscious of gender itself, while others wrestled with it until they were young adults. Some say they are both transgender and transsexual; others call themselves straight or gay. And while most respond to each prompt with text, there are variations to that, too — Fabray with original art, others with video responses, often alongside updates on the way their bodies have responded to surgery or hormone treatments.
Taken as a whole, the blog confessions show that the transgender experience is far from singular — instead, it is as diverse and multifaceted as the human experience itself. Which, according to advocates in the field, is exactly why projects like this have value. “Everyone’s experiences are going to be different, obviously, but the more you hear about others, the more easily you will be able to navigate your own,” says The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s Aaron McQuade. “The more educated we can make people about a [group] that our society has been grossly uneducated about forever, the better it is for everyone.”
According to the Transgender Law Center, between 2 and 5 percent of the population is transgender; and McQuade says that just 7 or 8 percent of Americans know someone who identifies as such. But the population has been more visible in recent years — competing in beauty pageants alongside biologically female contestants, appearing on reality television, and modeling in the pages of glossy magazines. Earlier this month, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees announced that it would replace Gender Identity Disorder with the less-stigmatizing “gender dysphoria” in the next edition of the DSM; the University of Iowa also announced that it would add questions on sexual orientation and gender identity to its application forms, a move praised by LGBT advocacy groups.
For McQuade and others, some of this increased acceptance is directly related to people sharing their stories — online and elsewhere. He says projects like the challenge, and another called “I Am: Trans People Speak,” are powerful ways of speaking not just to young people wrestling with their own identity, but also to their friends, families, classmates, and coworkers.
For Fabray, though, the process has been just as much about taking the time to reflect on his own experience as it has been about sharing his story with others. Because he creates a drawing to accompany each response, he says the question it is intended to answer “sort of permeates the entire process.” “I kind of wrestle with myself,” he says. “It’s a really good process to be able to pause and ponder what you’re doing.” Sometimes, he’ll get questions or responses from readers who recognize their own stories in his. And occasionally, a reader will challenge him on an answer, forcing him to reconsider his own thinking.
“Tumblr is just the place where people are talking about identity,” he says. “You see that you’re not alone. You’re not weird. You’re having feelings that can be out there and in forms that are celebrated. That is awesome.”
This story was produced in partnership with Time.com
In early 1992, a census report predicted that 40 percent of children would soon live in divorced homes. As one of the most famous children’s television programs in the world, Sesame Street was determined to take on a topic most kid’s shows wouldn’t touch. They cast Snuffy, a.k.a. Mr. Snuffleupagus, for the part of child divorcee.
With a team of its best writers, researchers, and producers, a segment was scripted and shot. It went through a half-dozen revisions, with input from the foremost researchers in the field. And on a typical sunny afternoon on Sesame Street, the furry, red, elephantine muppet known as Snuffy prepared to drop the bomb on his loyal preschool viewers.
"My dad is moving out of our cave," he confides to Big Bird one afternoon, distraught after knocking over a house built of blocks. "I’m not sure where," he continues, crying. "Some cave across town."
Big Bird, naturally, is horrified. “But why?” he asks his friend.
Snuffy blinks his long, dark eyelashes, and pauses. We know what’s coming. Well, he explains, “because of something called a divorce.”