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"Now Are We Willing to Face Our Own Hypocrisy?"
That is the question asked yesterday by Goldie Taylor, Senior Editor for Blue Nation Review.

It's a harrowing essay, beautifully written and poignant. It is hands down the best and  most important thing I have read so far about Baltimore and the nature of Why we are where we are right now.

Tough questions. Few answers.

Below are the requisite three paragraphs, but honestly I recommend you ignore everything below the fold and simply go and read her piece.

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{Dear|Hey|Yo} {Markos|management},

Greetings from fabulous {Disappointment, KY|Horneytown, NC|Toad Suck, AK|Spread Eagle, WI|Looneyville, TX|Whiskey Dick Mountain, WA|Winnipeg}!

I’m {bored to death|fucking bored} at work so I decided to {check out|troll} your {site|website|blog} on my iphone during lunch break. I'm hoping no one needs to use this bathroom while I do it.

I {enjoy|tolerate|love|am hopelessly addicted to} the {drama|meta|stories} you {present|provide} here and can’t wait to take a closer look when I get back to my basement. In the meantime I'll be eating this sandwich while I type.

{Anyhow|Anyways|Anyhoo} this a {awesome|rad|wicked}and fully entrenched {site|blog}! The comments that run to the right hand margin are particularly insightful.

{In my opinion|Personally|Lookit}, if all {webmasters|diarists|n00bs} and bloggers made good content as you did, the{internet|tubes|life} will be {much more|a lot more|more or less} useful than ever before. I especially like your site's focus on cats.

{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can|should} encourage your community to write {next|subsequent} diaries {relating to|referring to|regarding} the topic of cats? I {want to|wish to|require to} {read|learn} {more|even more} {things|issues} {approximately|about} cats! Such as, are they truly not herdable like moar goatz and sheeple?

{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers and Jeers|Thank you|You're welcome}, I appreciate it {sir|man|broseph}!

{Your name here} Mimo Mordacitas

Poll

{I wanted|I needed|I want to|I need to} to thank you for this

11%6 votes
9%5 votes
13%7 votes
16%9 votes
49%26 votes

| 53 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 07:00 PM PDT

Top Comments: Small Town News

by bastrop

TopCommentsRedux

AS I suspect is the case with other Kossacks, my writing career began as a teenager working for the High School newspaper. I wrote editorials that took politicians, administrators and other Powers That Be to task and my future wife spent her time bailing me out with the Principal as my Editor in Chief. I was decidedly more trouble at that time than I am now, my only filter being the one at the tip of my Camel cigarette.

It would be fair to say I was happy in that role. Anymore, though, my open public writing is oriented toward flowers, basement cats and rocks crushers while only on occasion dabbling in the political. In comments I can still be a troublemaker. In real life it's a dedicated manuscript. And so the world turns.

More below, but first, a word from our sponsor ...

Top Comments recognizes the previous day's Top Mojo and strives to promote each day's outstanding comments through nominations made by Kossacks like you. Please send comments (before 9:30pm ET) by email to topcomments@gmail.com or by our KosMail message board. Just click on the Spinning Top to make a submission. Look for the Spinning Top to pop up in diaries around Daily Kos.

Make sure that you include the direct link to the comment (the URL), which is available by clicking on that comment's date/time. Please let us know your Daily Kos user name if you use email so we can credit you properly. If you send a writeup with the link, we can include that as well. The diarist reserves the right to edit all content.

Please come in. You're invited to make yourself at home! Join us beneath the fleur de kos...

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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 06:35 PM PDT

Houston Equal Rights Ordinance Upheld!

by bastrop

Sometimes common sense and equality actually wins in Texas.

Today state District Judge Robert Schaffer is the voice of common sense and equality.

Opponents of Houston's non-discrimination ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, a state district judge ruled Friday, validating city officials' decision to toss out the petition foes submitted last summer.

After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart.

Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election.

Houston has had a vibrant GLBTQ community for a very long time. It's the cultural center of the city and is one of the things that makes Houston such a world class town. There have always been haters. I remember watching rednecks with baseball bats cruise up and down Montrose through the heart of the district looking to bash. I have countless friends who had been on the receiving end of that kind of bashing in the past. For the most part the city has grown out of that, but it still exists. The haters are there. They may not be using bats as much as the internet and the voting booth but they are there.
But opponents, largely conservative activists and pastors whose objections center on the protections the law extends to gay and transgender residents, say they will appeal the decision.
It isn't over but they aren't going to win. Haters can't control Houston anymore, and really haven't for a long time. They can't stand that a city in Texas would have this kind of ordinance. It drives them crazy that they can't control it.

Bring it, haters. Bring it!

Chalk one up for equality and reason in the Lone Star State!

From Houston abc13:

HOUSTON -- A judge has ruled in favor of the city in Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance.

The district judge on Friday declared opponents of the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on several categories including race, sexual orientation and gender identity, did not have enough signatures required to put the issue on the ballot.

"I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge's ruling," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections."

The ruling comes in response to a jury's decision back in February.

For those who do not know, Houston Mayor Annise Parker is a major force of progressive maturity and is the natural evolution of GLBTQ history in the city as our first openly gay Mayor.
Discuss
TopCommentsRedux
Click to embiggen for extra closeatude.

It's springtime in Austin and that's pretty nice. It isn't hot yet and nights and mornings are still cool for the most part. We have had a ton of rain in the last 6 months, bringing much needed relief from this major drought. I see Austin is just outside the color lines and into normal territory and that means everything when the Edwards Aquifer and Lake Travis (52.5 feet below full), both sources of drinking water for the region, are still way, way low after years of parching, out-of-control impermeable development and wasteful usage . Fingers crossed, prayers, smudges, chants and meditations for a similar relief for our friends on the West Coast and everywhere rain is needed.

These last months of rain have made for a gorgeous opening to the year. While underground and in the waterways there remains a serious problem, wet soil up top promotes a lovely show of flora and fauna alike at the edge of the Hill Country. Bluebonnets abound and so do oxeyes, phlox and many others. Ladybird Johnson's legacy of highway beautification is really picking up steam and now is the time when sunny weekends have folks pulled over alongside vast stretches of flowers, sometimes in their fanciest clothes, to take family portraits and pictures of their kids or themselves or their partners sitting amongst the booming colors of a Central Texas Spring.

A few days ago I strolled through the Zilker Botanical Garden to see what I could see. I hadn't been there in a year or so and it remains a stunning lesser-known gem of Austin. Tonight I have assembled a sort of Zen offering to our friendly readers, a sampling of what I discovered on my hike through the gardens. My hope is that such pictures will bring light to those not yet in touch with their regional Springs, soothe the reader's and mind loosen our collective spirits in preparation for the week ahead.

As you read, please click to embiggen. I am noticing some of the pictures don't enlarge as fully as others even while they are exactly the same size and were batch processed. Regardless of whether this is an artifact of the recent upgrade or if I've somehow bolloxed it up, I do hope tonight's Top Comments serves to brighten your evening.


But before we do that, a major shout out and great big props to Jotter and elfling. They worked non-stop all day, all night, and into the wee hours of the morning today to resolve problems with our Picture Quilt, a definite artifact of the site upgrade.

It's easy to take stuff like this for granted and assume that Daily Kos has a magic picture spigot that spits out (mostly) cat pictures when you turn it on. While that is true it's only true when koseostasis is in effect. The upgrade disrupted koseostasis so Jotter and elfling broke out the hand crank and commenced to fix it. After many grueling hours of hand cranking (and they aren't allowed gloves apparently), the cats started to run on the conveyor again and here we are, freaking cats a'plenty and at full tilt. Thanks you two! We love you and hope you are getting that well deserved down time!

Also too, a huge thank you to mik for taking personal time out to resolve a secondary issue with Top Mojo, and also too for BeninSC who ran relay on communications. The spigot mik fixed doesn't spit out cats it spits out Kossacks and their highest rated comments for the previous 24 hours! Top Comments could never be be the same without it! Teamwork!

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

        e.e.cummings

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In honor of Daily Kos taking a long nap and sort of getting a new head screwed on, here's something strange for you to take away to whatever second tier watering hole you choose to fill the void with.
Not making this up folks

A man with a fatal medical condition has spoken exclusively to MailOnline about how he is set to become the first person to undergo a head transplant and hopes it could be as soon as next year.

Valery Spiridonov says he is ready to put his trust in controversial surgeon Dr Sergio Canavero who claims he can cut off his head and attach it to a healthy body.

Mr Spiridonov, 30, a computer scientist from Russia, said: 'My decision is final and I do not plan to change my mind.'

Dr. Spiridonov suffers from Werdnig–Hoffmann disease, a rare genetic disorder that wastes the body but leaves the head and mind intact. From the wiki link above:
The severe form manifests in the first months of life, usually with a quick and unexpected onset ("floppy baby syndrome"). Rapid motor neuron death causes inefficiency of the major bodily organs - especially of the respiratory system - and pneumonia-induced respiratory failure is the most frequent cause of death. Babies diagnosed with SMA type I do not generally live past two years of age, with death occurring as early as within weeks in the most severe cases (sometimes termed SMA type 0). With proper respiratory support, those with milder SMA type I phenotypes, which account for around 10% of SMA I cases, are known to live into adolescence and adulthood.
The brave and desperate Doctor Spiridonov is one of the rare ones and he's had enough. Rather than die a certain death, he hopes to become the first known human test subject for the procedure. Clearly, this is controversial, but there are others out there desperate to volunteer.
The surgeon said he has received many emails and letters from people seeking the procedure. Dr Canavero has named the procedure HEAVEN, an acronym for head anastomosis venture.

Anastomosis involves the surgical connecting of two parts. The new body would come from a transplant donor who is brain dead but otherwise healthy.

He will present his plans at the annual conference of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons (AANOS) in June. He aims to perform the transplant in 2017.

AANOS isn't endorsing this, but they are giving him a platform to air his thesis and search for collaborators. He estimates 150 medical professionals will need to be on hand to make it happen.

For his part, Dr. Spiridonov is naturally scared but remains hopeful and philosophical, as well as scientifically curious.

"Am I afraid? Yes, of course I am," he said. "But it is not just very scary, but also very interesting.

“But you have to understand that I don’t really have many choices.

"If I don’t try this chance my fate will be very sad. With every year my state is getting worse.”

As well, others are scared for him. A piece in ScienceAlert put it this way in their headline:

World’s first head transplant volunteer could experience something "worse than death”

And what could that something worse be?

"I would not wish this on anyone," said Dr Hunt Batjer, president elect of the American Association for Neurological Surgeons. "I would not allow anyone to do it to me as there are a lot of things worse than death."

From speaking to several medical experts, Hootan has pin-pointed a problem that even the most perfectly performed head transplant procedure cannot mitigate - we have literally no idea what this will do to Spiridonov’s mind. There’s no telling what the transplant - and all the new connections and foreign chemicals that his head and brain will have to suddenly deal with - will do to Spiridonov’s psyche, but as Hootan puts it rather chillingly, it "could result in a hitherto never experienced level and quality of insanity".

This is actually happening, and we're terrified. Also, I’ve suddenly got a great idea for a movie, and judging from the creepy performance below, Canavero could pretty much be cast as himself:

Here is that creepy TedTalk

Pleasant dreams.
Discuss

Sat Apr 04, 2015 at 05:05 PM PDT

WYFP? Tomorrow is my birthday.

by bastrop

Yup, tomorrow I turn 43 years old and that is a problem. Not because I am afraid of getting older or because I'm one of those people who broods about aging. In fact, I am largely enjoying my entry into middle age and have never felt insecure or regretful in regard to getting older.

Sure, there are some things I don't particularly care for, like my previously excellent eyesight slipping into the need for reading glasses. That's kind of a pain. I'm also not too keen on arthritis, although I have battled that since long before now in genetic fashion and am frankly lucky it isn't already worse. There are a few other things that kind of suck about aging, but in general I'm a pretty fortunate early 40's and have little I can legitimately complain about in my life.

So why does having a birthday tomorrow present a problem? Jump the degenerative cartilage to find out why I take my cues from Doug and Wendy Whiner...

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Sun Mar 22, 2015 at 01:13 PM PDT

¡ Basement Cat Returns !

by bastrop

Let me OUT! (as soon as I finish this can...)

It is with great relief and a sense of determined accomplishment that I bring to friends and readers the news that Radar, aka basement cat, has been caught! In the wild! With SARDINES!

For all of you who read, rec'd or responded to my original posting last Saturday, WYFP? Basement Cat has left the building..., and my subsequent mewling in comments, thank you for your support. Many of you were adamant that I not lose hope or give up and for that encouragement I thank you specifically. Clearly we did not give up in our efforts to recover Radar but we were losing hope and it's hard not to. Radar was gone for 12 days in an area that's an active feeding ground for coyotes. Cats regularly disappear in this part of Austin and in the evenings that weren't raining and cold while he was missing (poor kitty!) those coyotes loped and laughed at the edge of the neighborhood in good numbers. Yet, here we are with him in the house, bathed and fed and purring himself to sleep. I will now reiterate the advice and support offered to me on this site and from many others I researched dedicated to finding lost cats, for anyone now of in the future whose beloved disappears:

DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR SEARCH!
Details under the fold.
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Sat Mar 21, 2015 at 10:35 AM PDT

Women Drivers

by bastrop

Last night my kids had a sleepover with their best friend K who I call my third kid. She and my oldest have been friends since he was three and she was four. She's just the loveliest child. Last summer K went on vacation with us and I was possibly the biggest advocate for that. I enjoy having her around. She makes me a better father.

Her parents are pretty young for a thirteen year old, having had her when her mom was 16, and they don't have a lot of money. K's world is kind of small. I knew the trip would be an eye-opener for her and this proved to be true. She grew up a lot on that cross country, month long adventure to Maine and back and I'm glad we could play such a role in her life. For years I have secretly wished she lived with us, the daughter I never had.

But twelve and thirteen at different schools with different friends is a time to grow apart, especially when you are different genders. Watching them fall asleep to SNL reruns at 1am it occurred to me that this could well be the very last sleep over. It's a sad but inevitable transition. My instinct says they will always be friends but we all know how these things can go. By high school all bets are off, so it was nice to wake up to requests for blueberry pancakes and bacon and the familiar sounds of their play and laughter. Just like old times, even if for the last time. I will take it.

We were out of bacon and orange juice so I made a quick trip to the market on this cool, rainy morning while kids picked up the room they destroyed. "Please return all the pillows in the house to their rightful places," I reminded, closing the front door. Mornings like this are a gift of life not everyone receives. They help me take stock and remain humble, to keep in perspective the minor frustrations of raising children as well as the major frustrations. They remind me that each day is a last day and to live as much for the present as for the future. They admonish me to avoid as much as possible living for the past.

This market at 10am on a Saturday is a moderately busy place with a lot of mothers shopping for the week before a Sunday rush. People are relaxed, enjoying a last taste of cool before the heat returns in earnest. They wear shorts and light jackets and smile at passing strangers in the parking lot. A kid collecting carts has new iPhone earbuds. Grackles attack the doughnut a child dropped before his car door closed and are dunking pieces in a puddle before swallowing them. The collector passes the grackles with twenty noisy carts and they ignore him. Someone's car alarm goes off and the grackles fly into the trees then immediately return.

All of the small carts have been rained on and I laugh at the notion of wiping off a wet handle with wet wipes so I use my shirt tail instead. Bundles of oak firewood in excessive shrink wrapping are on sale by the door, making the entrance a little tighter than normal. The odd angle has me heading through the middle as the doors part and at this moment a handsome couple in their thirties is coming out with a small cart full of goods. Such a common grocery store moment of occupying the same space unexpectedly, I smile and he smiles. He has golden eyes and semi-blonde curly hair and I can tell he is a runner. Her smile is pursed and wary.

"Watchale!" he says to her as we jockey for space, his voice playful toward me but commanding of her. In this word I can hear a familiar but rare accent for my area. They are privately educated, upper-class criollos from Monterrey, Mexico. I wonder which department he works for at the University.

"It's fine," I say, shifting my cart to the right, "excuse me." She shifts to her right and we make eye contact. She is stiff and uncomfortable with his hand on her shoulder guiding her movement. I look at him and he smiles big, slapping me on the shoulder as we pass.

"Women drivers!" he says, pushing her out the door.

Discuss

TopCommentsRedux

"Exclusively for WHITE PEOPLE
maximum of 5 colored customers
colored BOH staff accepted
sponsored by the City of Austin
Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program"

Someone has decided that this second week of SXSW would be the right moment to raise a stink about the fast-paced gentrification of East Austin, and whoever that someone is has succeeded in getting people's attention.

The story first came to light Wednesday morning on Facebook, of course, where user Brianna Smith posted a photo she took on her way to work. That's her photo you see at the top of the page here.

It didn't take long before that image made its way to Twitter and across social media platforms, eventually gaining wide attention. I first read about it at the Statesman, our local paper, early yesterday and watched all day as notice rapidly spread from State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (in whose district it happened), the NAACP, other news outlets and eventually from the Mayor Steve Adler's office. The entire affair was generally confused, in part because of the use of the City of Austin logo and a sponsorship statement that the sticker was promoted by the non-existent "City of Austin Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program". "No one" knew what was going on and there were lots of pissed off people all across the city.

I put "no one" in quotes because I know that's not really the case, even if most statements and news stories give the impression of shock and surprise. As an artist who has engaged in very aggressive agitprop I immediately recognized this sticker for what it is: a searing commentary on the out-of-control gentrification that is taking place all across the East side and in particular around the neighborhood targeted by these stickers. Anyone paying attention knows what's up on the East side. Whether they are interested in talking openly about it is another issue altogether.

Use of the CoA logo and the fictitious "Contemporary Partition and Restoration Program" were a pretty slick touch by whoever perpetrated this hoax commentary. Placing these stickers overnight or in the early morning hours on business that are high visibility and reflective of gentrification was a deliberate act, despite the reality several businesses are minority owned. Whoever did this knew exactly what conversation they wanted to provoke and it seems to me they were successful as hell, a sentiment I doubt is shared by the City and the businesses targeted. It's a nasty reminder with inconvenient timing and it paints an ugly picture of a city that keeps close watch of its image.

So, what is happening that has people upset enough to take up guerrilla agitprop and punk the CoA in such a blatant way? The East side, designated as a minority district by the 1928 Austin master plan, has undergone a rapid transformation as real estate prices soar. Developers have bought up large swaths of an area close to downtown that has been traditionally poor, black and hispanic and occupied largely by renters or owners who can not afford the rising taxes. Many of those owners are cashing out at the top of a hot market and the result is young, white and largely affluent people moving in and taking over the community. Same story, different city.

And while this has been going on for several years, the past year has seen a major boost in construction and a major boost in tensions. The City is of course seen by opponents of this development as complicit in the destruction of these communities, and that's understandable. Austin is 68% white by the last census and is tremendously segregated. The historical animosity in regard to school and services is in major play here, and while the City has made efforts to appease these communities it's pretty hard to argue they aren't complicit. They are, after all, issuing the permits that allow this redevelopment even as community activists have struggled for years to gain support for initiatives to mitigate gentrification and protect the historical nature of the existing community.  

One recent incident came to mind as soon as I saw that sticker: the early-morning destruction of Jumpolin, a Latino business on East Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Jumpolin was a piñata shop and rented inflatable bouncy houses. It was the East side party rental place for the last 8 years and a business that was considered an institution by people in the community. Back in February the owners bulldozed the structure and all of their inventory in the wee hours of the morning. The leaseholders argued they were never given notice and the owners argued that they were. Texas Monthly had a good article about it at the time, breaking down the he-said she-said and generally agreeing that whatever the circumstances, it wasn't a pretty picture of the gentrification issue and was in fact predictable. Here's the meat of it from TM, which is a recommended read:
No matter which way you spin it, though, it’s a bad look in a city whose racial issues are real and ever-present when new owners tear down a business that sold piñatas for children in a traditionally Latino neighborhood. And it’s an even worse look when one of those new owners gives an interview in which he implies that the Lejarazus may have actually been drug dealers and, likening the Lejarazus’ business to “a house that was infested by roaches,” promises that the site “will get cleaned up, landscaped, and beautified” like the high-end landscaping firm Big Red Sun nearby.
That paragraph and the article it comes from about sums it up in regard to what's happening here. In an affluent city with a long history of institutional racism and stark segregation, the new rules of the game are the same as the old rules; money talks and poor people lose. Whoever put those stickers out is clear about the game and has decided to play outside the established rules. That's an uncomfortable act in a town obsessed with image, especially when it happens in the midsts of the massive international attention of SXSW.
And now for the reason y'all came here this evening, The Tops!
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It is with a heavy heart and diminishing hope of recovery that I share with friends tonight the sad news about our beloved Radar, aka Basement Cat. He has gone missing.
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Banner for Kitchen Table Kibitzing

Anyone else in need of refresh on humanity? Boy, I sure was today. So, when I came across this video story on Facebook from SBS2, an Australian news channel, it was truly welcome.

My kids are boys who don't play with dolls, so I've never had to deal at home with the culture of sexualization of toys marketed toward girls, particularly dolls. As a teacher, though, it's an issue I am aware of and have addressed in my classroom as part of studies in Media Literacy.

How much of an issue is the premature and hyper sexualization of female identity in toys, media and culture? Enough of one that the American Psychological Association instituted a task force to examine a phenomenon that over the past 10 years, with proliferation of social media and the closing of gaps between media and consumer products, has drawn increasing attention from parents, schools and even lawmakers.

In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.
A Google search of the term "sexualization of girl's toys" turns up reams of blog, magazine and network focus on this issue and the impact it can have on real lives. Distorted perceptions of body image have a measurable effect on self-esteem, which can precipitate negative mental health outcomes that go beyond depression and eating disorders to include suicide and relationship violence.

But it doesn't take research or proliferation of criticism online for parents to tell you the real life impact. It isn't simply about policing your kid's friend's doll collection. It can be all but impossible for young girls to escape the cultural pull the older a child gets, particularly after puberty, often causing household tension about clothing, music - just about the entire adolescent experience. That's a lot of years of worry and struggle to protect in the face of almost insurmountable pressure and ubiquity.

One Tasmanian artist, Sonia Singh, has a young daughter and in the course of thinking about her toys and the messages she will absorb from them, arrived at a solution. It's a natural outgrowth of her penchant for thrift shopping and upcycling, and as word has spread, parents worldwide think her solution is brilliant.


From an interview with dailylife.com.au we learn some background about Sonia Singh and what inspires her to do this work.
Eleven days ago, Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh, 34, posted pictures of an art project to her Tumblr. The project, Tree Change Dolls, showed Bratz dolls she had "rescued" from op-shops after they had been given "make-unders". Within two days, her dolls had gone viral and were featured on news sites across the globe. As the dust settles after what Sonia calls a "really funny week", she chatted to Daily Life about her project and the astounding reaction to it.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up with my four sisters in Tasmania playing outdoors a lot and most of our toys were second-hand. I'm an illustrator and a science communicator. I was made redundant from CSIRO in September last year, so that's when my doll project - which is what I was calling it - started.

2. Where did the idea come from?

Now that I have my own daughter [who is almost two], I'm collecting toys I find in op-shops with her in mind. I see a lot of these dolls discarded in the op-shops and I buy them [for between 50 cents and $2] and see what I can do with them. Part of the satisfaction for me is taking something discarded and making it into something useful again. I did one recently that had been drawn on by a kid; it had biro all over the face. I've actually tried to work with that and so it has lots of freckles.

9. Why do you think the project has resonated with people?

It's really brought up a lot of different issues. I've been contacted by a lot of mothers from all over the world who want to find dolls that they are happy to give their children. I got a really sweet email from a mother in one of the Latin American countries saying she has a son and she would like him to grow up in a world where these kinds of dolls are valuable to girls and she talked about the perception of women in her country. I think it's something that concerns all parents. I'm really happy that my work has not just inspired people in terms of dolls and toys, but opened some discussions about issues to do with women in society.

I've had a few really nice emails from children. I had a really nice email from two little girls in Vienna who said I had inspired them to have a go themselves to create their own dolls. I think that's lovely.

She replaces missing hands and feet by molding and fitting new one with matched skin tones and her mom helps make the clothes, hand knitting many of the pieces for a custom fit. From hypersexualized and fake looking to simply natural, this is a beautiful solution to s problem parents all over the world have found exasperating.

Needless to say for a hand made item, you may have a hard time getting your hands on one of these. According to all of her pages she is out of stock and backlogged on orders. I would encourage all of you to watch the video, check out her Tumblr page, Etsy, Instagram and Twitter feed. Give Sonia some love (not that she isn't getting any) for a sane and creative solution to the problem.

How was your day?

Mine just got exponentially better. No school tomorrow!!!! Ice day!!!! Sleep late, day at home with the kids. All Central Texas peeps and all peeps everywhere, stay safe out there!

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