I wrote a series of blogs about the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon for love and cause. Love for the refuge and the wild creatures it holds and for my adopted home of ten years. Fury with the lawlessness and arrogance of insurgents who held the refuge and our town hostage for over 41 days and caused a great deal of financial and emotional stress. https://homesweetjeromedrapaport.wordpress.com
Some of what I learned from the ‘occupation’ is that writers, musicians and fine arts painters and sculptors are not the only ones that are disenfranchised, make pittance wages and hold day jobs to support our art. The insurgents are also disenfranchised—except they use bullets and guns to uphold their causes and tear down the system of laws that we have. Unfortunately, all too many people that are disenfranchised turn to shame and blame (it’s the government’s fault; the corporation’s fault; my father’s fault (or maybe my mother’s)—time to get a gun. They need to evolve beyond the rhetoric of hate and fear and the destructive polarities that result.
Art and Money
Most ‘cultural creatives’ that I know don’t work for money. The few that have prominence and fame may make a living, but they also pay a price. Kesha’s price was sexual harassment. It took a lot of bravery to come forward and put it out in the open, challenging both Dr, Luke, her producer, and her record label, which holds her contract hostage. Having worked in the music business as an artist’s manager for Bill Graham, arguably the godfather of rock ‘n roll concerts, I knew many women—artists and professionals whose careers were helped by f,,,king their way upstairs. (And so did many movie and TV stars etc). http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/23/arts/music/kesha-taylor-swift.html?_r=0
Most of us never make a living at our art. Writing never brought me more than a pittance, except when my clients who either manufactured scientific instruments or did remediation of soil and groundwater would pay me to write case history articles for industry magazines. That was my ‘day job’ and it helped me write my books: Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’ Richest Copper Mining City for love; and How to Make and Sell Your Own Record for both love and cause. The latter enfranchised a lot of musicians by helping them learn the rules of business, kept genres of music alive that major labels by and large rejected, such as bluegrass, Cajun and TexMex and helped them supplement their day jobs. A few made it into the big time, like Loreena McKennitt, who wrote the forward to the last revision of my book, which I deeply appreciated.
Writing for Cause
My favorite writers these days write for cause: Terry Tempest Williams and Katie Lee to preserve wilderness; Chuck Bowdoin (Charles Bowdoin) to expose white collar crime on the border, especially within the drug trade; Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben for raising our awareness about climate change; Svetlana Alexeivich to expose the terribly sad consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
I’m publishing a book in a few months called Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Leave by my friend C.J. Grace. It’s a great book on an emotional disaster that many women, including myself, have experienced and often mishandled. Will it make her or me money: the odds are way against it. We’re doing it for cause and for love.
Perhaps a great book will come out of the siege in Harney County. There has been some great writing already by Oregonian journalist Les Zaitz and OPB’s Amanda Peacher; by University of Oregon geologist Peter Walker; and an essay by Hal Herring In High Country News. Zaitz said the siege drew out some of his best writing. https://www.hcn.org/articles/malheur-occupation-oregon-ammon-bundy-public-lands-essay
I wish them well.
The photographer of the featured image of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is by Steve Terrill, a renowned Oregon photographer. His work has been featured in many magazines, including Audobon, National Geographic Publications and Travel and Leisure. The photograph is used with permission from www.SteveTerrill.com. Thank you.