COMMUNITY

The Art of the Flâneur

The qualities of the flâneur are not achieved overnight, if they can ever be today. But if the historical flâneur is missing from the physical streets of Paris, he’s increasingly present in spirit, as a metaphor for the kind of unrushed, intellectually rich and creative life we long for. And we can channel the spirit if we try. Paris showers its special magic on those who submit most fully to its siren call. That’s the mission of today’s flâneur and his contemporary partner, the flâneuse.

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Giving Birth at Home

I awoke on that spring morning in March, nearly forty years ago, in a state of knowing. The mild cramping had started so I crept out of the bed I shared with my husband and went downstairs to run a warm bath. I wanted to bask in the early morning solitude before sharing the news that our baby would arrive today.

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Aging at Home – Then and Now

What’s our history of caring for the sick and dying at home and how do we manage these responsibilities today? How can we make the home a stage set for the last third of life? In this podcast we talk with Peggy Flynn, founder of The Good Death Institute and author of The Caregiving Zone, a radically honest—and indispensable—book about the challenges faced both by caregivers and by everyone who plans to grow old at home.

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The Kitchenless Home

With childcare, cooking, and laundry demanding so much time, the question arises, Aren’t there more efficient ways to design the home? This radical idea was first suggested back in 1888: Science fiction author Edward Bellamy described a utopian community with public kitchens and rapid delivery services for food and laundry. Housework of all kinds was centralized and labor kept to a minimum.

Ten years later, feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman championed a kitchenless home that would give women the leisure to engage in more intellectual pursuits

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A Place for Women in Distress

Annette Rafferty is the founder of Abby’s House in Worcester, Massachusetts, an hour west of Boston. In 40 years, this organization has helped over 10,000 homeless, battered, and low-income women—many of them with children—-giving them a welcoming place to live and a chance to rebuild their lives. As I walked into the newly renovated building at 52 High Street, I was impressed by its comfortable home-like atmosphere. But Annette herself took my breath away.

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Re-entering the World

For a time, home was a window on the world—an odd encampment where we zoomed through business, online schooling and relationships, while longing for the camaraderie of the crowd. What will the balance of home and outside activities look like in the months ahead?

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Coming Home to the V.A.

In the early years of the Iraq War, female veterans slowly trickled in. They, too, were thrust into the general patient pool. Sometimes we had fifty-seven male residents and three females on the same floor. Of course, the women complained that they were “hit on.” And they were scared—because their doors had no locks. The open-door policy had been in place for decades, to ensure staff access to all rooms in case of emergency.

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Self-defense in Sarajevo

I was asked to teach self-defense to the volunteers who worked at a local community Center. Fights were common between overburdened migrants and refugees and a few women voiced concerns for their safety. After a while, I began to teach self-defense to women in the refugee camp too. The night before my first class, I wondered, would I be doing more harm than good by teaching Muslim women how to kick ass?

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The Soul of Washington

As the nation absorbs gripping accounts from lawmakers who sheltered within the U.S. Capitol during the riot, and from the Capitol Police—a lingering trauma remains. If there is a redemptive dimension to this tragedy, it may be that it has brought home the city’s significance in our collective American story.

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