More of the Story

Yes! Impact

Issue 90

The Travel Issue asked us to move through the world differently as we travel, to consider more deeply the places we visit and the people who live there. We heard from readers on how this issue impacted their travel plans:

Changing our travel plans

When I skimmed the Travel Issue, I felt almost fluttery. Unexpectedly so. I knew this issue was coming, but then when I held it in my hands and saw all the topics y’all delved into, I was surprised. This issue touches on topics, wonderings, dilemmas that have been a core part of my life for the past six or so years. My work in international development made me constantly question my role in foreign countries, not just in work, but where I lodged to abide by government safety rules, where I and my colleagues spent money on food, how we traveled and its impact on the planet. I’ve grown disillusioned with economic and social ventures like Airbnb and Lyft that started out so richly and too often now exploit. Through my work and passion for understanding the connections of people and place, healing the trauma that we’ve inflicted on both, and visioning new futures for people in place, I’ve started asking more questions about landscapes that I assumed I knew well, particularly focused on Indigenous history and current life. While I have been inspired and intrigued by many YES! issues, this one hit closest to home for me. Thank you and y’all again.

Marit Wilkerson, California

Your article on climate solutions came at a perfect time: Two of my granddaughters are fearing for their future that doesn’t seem to matter to the adults, especially those in power. (“9 Climate Action Styles” by Cathy Brown, YES!, Summer 2019.) I explained to them the best way to move out of fear is through action, and you offered good choices. I personally agree with your number-one personal choice of the Citizens Climate Lobby. Modeled after RESULTS (results.org) and founded by a long time RESULTS volunteer guided by the founder of RESULTS, it is based on relationships with our representatives and taking action. While RESULTS continues to focus on ending hunger and poverty, making great strides, by the way, Citizens Climate Lobby fills the much-needed space for a similar group focusing on turning around climate change. As a volunteer with RESULTS for over 25 years, I have experienced this nonpartisan method working and making a difference. So, readers, we need you, consider yourselves invited to use your voices to make a difference!

Willie Dickerson, Snohomish, Washington

YES! in the classroom

In a recent survey, teachers told us how they use YES!:

“I so appreciate YES! and all that you do! As [I am] an art specialist [for grades] 7–12 in a remote Indigenous community, you supply me with powerful resources to stimulate and engage my students in meaningful dialogues and art projects that affect them and their families, community, and world! Thank you for ALL that you do to support educators!”

“Our (your) magazine has been an incredible source of inspiration and hope. My students are now looking for answers for social issues.”

“Keep up the great work. I need you. My students need you. Our communities need you. You are appreciated, and I support the magazine’s premise over and over again.”

The YES! for Teachers program provides free subscriptions to help deepen students’ connection with contemporary issues and inspire them to take charge of their world. Other resources include a national student writing competition, student writing lessons, and newsletters. More information at yesmagazine.org/for-teachers.

Send us your ideas and responses to our articles to [email protected]
Yes! for Teachers Winning Essay

Decoding the Butterfly

For the spring 2019 student writing competition, “What Matters Most in Life,” students were asked to respond to the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age” by Nancy Hill.

Antonia Mills

For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must first digest itself. The caterpillar, overwhelmed by accumulating tissue, splits its skin open to form its protective shell, the chrysalis, and later becomes a butterfly. No matter how long a caterpillar has strived to become the colorful butterfly we admire on a warm spring day, it does not live a long life. A butterfly can live for a year, six months, two weeks, or even as little as 24 hours.

Listening to ‘OUTRO: Wings’ and ‘Butterfly’ by BTS often made me wonder if butterflies live long enough to be enraptured by surrounding blue skies. Do they ever take a lull in their demanding itineraries or are they always rushing toward completing their four-stage metamorphosis? Has anyone asked the butterfly, “Who are you?” instead of “What are you”?

Humans are similar to butterflies. As a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a baby becomes an elder. As a butterfly soars through summer skies, an elder watches summer skies turn into cold winter nights and back to summer skies again. And as a butterfly flits slowly by the porch light, a passerby makes assumptions about the slow-moving elder, who is sturdier than he appears. These creatures are not seen for who they are — who they were — because people have better things to do. They are too busy to ask, “How are you?”

Nancy Hill, who wrote the YES! Magazine article “Three Things That Matter Most in Youth and Old Age,” was right: “We live among such remarkable people, yet few know their stories.” Pressured by expectations, haunted by dreams, overpowered by weaknesses, and drowned out by lofty goals, we tend to forget ourselves — and others. Rather than hang onto the strands of our diminishing sanity, we might benefit from listening to our elders.

My grandmother Liza cooks every day, bakes bread on holidays for our neighbors, brings gifts to her doctor, and converses with neighbors even though she isn’t fluent in English — Russian is her first language. She has struggled all her life. Her mother, Anna, a single parent, had tuberculosis, and even though she had an indomitable spirit, she was too frail to care for her four children. She passed away when my grandmother was 16, so my grandmother and her siblings spent most of their childhood in an orphanage. At 19, my grandmother married my grandfather, Pinhas. He was a man who loved her more than he loved himself and was an inspiration to every person he met. My grandmother was — and still is — always quick to do what was best for others, even if that person treated her poorly. She has lived with physical pain all her life, yet she pushed herself to fly to new heights that she wasn’t ready for. Against all odds, she has lived to tell her story to people who are willing to listen. And I always am.

I asked my grandmother, “What are three things most important to you?” Her answer was one that I already expected: One, for everyone to live long healthy lives. Two, for you to graduate from college. Three, for you to always remember that I love you.

What may be basic to you means the world to my grandmother. She just wants what she never had the chance to experience: a healthy life, an education, and the chance to express love to the people she values. The three things that matter most to her may be so simple and ordinary to outsiders, but to her, it is so much more. And who could take that away?

The YES! for Teachers program brings solutions for a better world into classrooms nationwide by providing free teaching resources and magazine subscriptions to educators. To sign up or learn more, visit yesmagazine.org/for-teachers.
You can help YES! reach young people. Inspire the next generation. Donate now: yesmagazine.org/donate

Who Will Carry on Your Values?

Robin Simons

Throughout your life you’ve worked to make this world better — a world where all people live in dignity and Earth’s vitality is preserved for generations to come. That’s the world you want to leave for our children and grandchildren.

There’s much to be done to bring about that world. Who will carry your work into the future?

One of the best ways to make sure your work continues is to include YES! in your estate plan. By making a Legacy gift, you’ll ensure that YES! inspires people long into the future, and that others continue to build the world you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

You don’t need to be wealthy. You don’t need to write a check now. Just let me know that you’d like more information about joining our YES! Legacy Circle.

You can contact me at [email protected], or 206-842-5009 ext 213, or go to yesmagazine.org/legacy.

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Robin Simons, YES! Development Manager

Become a Yes! monthly supporter: yesmagazine.org/donate

From the Executive Director

Christine Hanna

“All negative.”

“Scan all good!”

The two texts came within days of each other, both generating waves of blessed relief. The first from my stepmother, who’d been given a preliminary diagnosis of a terminal brain disease. The second from a friend who had reason to believe the cancer she’d battled years ago was back. In both cases, follow-up tests proved the diagnoses wrong.

For these two women, these were crystallizing moments in their lives. Sitting for weeks or months with the strong possibility of near death — but not the certainty of it — has served as an intense course in the study of what really matters. On the one hand, better make the most of the little time you may have left. On the other, better make the most of a second chance at a life really worth living.

I’ve been riding along with these two friends as they sift through the details of their lives, applying the “three months” filter versus the “second chance” filter to decide “what really matters.” I’ve started playing with these filters in my own life, and surprise! They sometimes yield contradictory results. The old saying, “Live each day as if it’s your last,” it turns out, is not that helpful.

Take something as pedestrian as the clutter and unfinished projects abounding in our family home that make me bat-crazy. Using the three-month filter, I think: “At last — I can let that go! I don’t need to spend one more ounce of energy on it. For now, just give me love, give me joy, give me beauty and wonder, pure and simple.” Using the second-chance filter, I think: “I will not keep degrading my quality of life, surrounded by the oppressing claustrophobia of random stuff and unfinished business. I will take care of it, now!”

Or, take something more substantial, like how to live a life of purpose and meaning. Using the three-month filter, I think again: “At last — I can let that go! In my will I’ll support the people and organizations who will carry on my purpose. For now, give me love, give me joy, give me beauty and wonder, pure and simple.” Using the second-chance filter, my ego kicks in: “There is much to be done. Be strategic. Stay tuned up. Work hard and you will be rewarded with a legacy of positive impact.”

Wait a minute. Death, you trickster! Surely I don’t need a death sentence to create space for more love, joy, beauty, and wonder in my life. Surely my ego can take a back seat long enough to savor the best parts of being human!

Untold numbers of people wiser and more spiritual than I am have written tomes on how our awareness of mortality shapes the human condition, but, still, maybe I’m on to something. For starters, rather than ignoring Death — keeping it at bay unless forced to face it — I can try welcoming Death to the conversation, maybe even embracing Death as a trusty friend in helping me define and live a good life. I can use this issue of YES! to spark conversations with family and friends about these ideas now. And I can play with letting some things go to create more space for love, joy, beauty, and wonder.

Pure and simple? Probably not.

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Issue Contributors

The Death Issue

Sarah Chavez

Sarah Chavez Why the Story of Death Is the Story of Women

Sarah Chavez is executive director of The Order of the Good Death, co-host of the Death in the Afternoon podcast, and a founding member of the Collective for Radical Death Studies, a new initiative that is working to decolonize death studies and practices. As a leader of the death positive movement, she is passionate about addressing the underlying issues that adversely affect marginalized communities’ experiences of death. Sarah speaks at various events and writes about the relationship between food and death, Mexican American death history, and the intersection of feminism and death. Twitter: @sarah_calavera

Cynthia Greenlee

Cynthia Greenlee Friends at the End: The Death Midwives Who Will Ease Your Way

Cynthia Greenlee is an intentionally independent historian and journalist based in North Carolina. Her creative sweet spot is straddling the scholarly world and accessible writing for the general public. As a historian, she focuses on the legal history of Black Americans after the Civil War and Black girlhood. In her writerly incarnation, her beat is reproductive health, rights, and justice. She was formerly a senior editor at Rewire.News and is an editor with the Southern Foodways Alliance. She’s also a member of and mentor with Echoing Ida, a program that cultivates socially engaged Black women and nonbinary writers. For 2019-2020, she is an Open Society Foundations Media Justice Fellow. Twitter: @CynthiaGreenlee

Josué Rivas

Josué Rivas I Am a Future Ancestor: An Indigenous Perspective on Healing

Josué Rivas is a Mēxihcah visual storyteller whose work focuses on Indigenous identity and narrative reclamation. His mission is to decolonize media and to share stories through an Indigenous perspective. He is the founder of Standing Strong Project and co-founder of Natives Photograph. Visit: josuerivasfoto.com

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YES! Media Board of Directors

Chair: Jill Bamburg

Vice Chair: Eli Feghali

Secretary: Tanya Dawkins

Treasurer: Alisa Gravitz

Members: Berit Anderson, Manolia Charlotin, Rick Ingrasci, David Korten, Gideon Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Sanders

Editorial Staff

Editorial Directors: Lauren Bohn, Sunnivie Brydum

Creative Director: Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz

Senior Editors: Shannan Lenke Stoll, Chris Winters, Zenobia Jeffries Warfield

Associate Editors: Erin Sagen, Lornet Turnbull

Designer: Enkhbayar Munkh-Erdene

Digital Editor: Ayu Sutriasa

Digital Production Intern: Divya Rajasekhar

Copy Editing/Fact Checking: Bernadette Kinlaw, Doug Pibel, Miles Schneiderman

Books Editor: Valerie Schloredt

Surdna Reporting Fellow: Deonna Anderson

Solutions Reporter: Sydney Worth

Solutions Reporting Intern: Carla Bell

Positive Futures Network Staff

Executive Director: Christine Hanna

Co-founders: Sarah van Gelder and David C. Korten

Marketing Manager: Natalie Lubsen

Senior Director for Product and Marketing: Matt Grisafi

Development Manager: Robin Simons

Development Coordinator: Rebecca Lee

Donor Stewardship Manager: Camille Hanson

Finance and Operations Director: Audrey Watson

Finance & HR Manager: Yvonne Rivera

Fulfillment Manager: Paula Murphy

Education Outreach Manager: Jing Fong

Customer Service Coordinator: Kimi Mehlinger

Salesforce Administrator: Jon Sayer

IT Manager: Doug Indrick

IT Consultant: Michael Winter

Bookkeeper: Martha Brandon

Mail Assistant: Adam Jay Lee


Gail Benvenuta, Barbara Bolles, Rev. Mary Karen Brown, Susan Callan, Gaywynn Cooper, Carolyn Eden, Sally Goddard, Barry Hoonan, Barbara Kowalski, Joan Walters


YES! (ISSN 1089-6651) is published quarterly for $18 per year by the Positive Futures Network at 284 Madrona Way NE, Suite 116, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-2870. Periodicals postage paid at Seattle, WA, and at additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to YES! 284 Madrona Way NE, Suite 116, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-2870. Subscriptions: $18 per year. Call: 800/937-4451; 206/842-0216 Fax: 206/842-5208 Website: www.yesmagazine.org Email: [email protected]

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