I've been on the road for the past week, but used some of the travel time to start nailing down the lyrics for the video...and...hopefully...Little Foxes BOOK! I'll be ready to reveal our cast of characters in a few days, but first, let's learn a little bit about the ladies who inspire this project!
We'll start with Malvina Reynolds, the grande dame of Little Foxes. I grew up with parents who played a whole lot of Pete Seeger's music in the house and on road trips, so he was definitely a portal to Malvina and my general folk music and humanist education. There aren't a whole lot of people who become famous later in their lives, but Malvina, the daughter of immigrant Socialists, was moved to start writing/singing/performing when she was just shy of her 50th birthday. According to Seeger, her earliest output wasn't very polished, but her tenacity to learn and evolve paid off. I found a really great 30 minute documentary about her online that was made about a year before she passed. In the film, you hear Seeger talking about the moment she wrote "Little Boxes," the song that she's most remembered for, but here's a more personal quote from her daughter: "My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time Magazine (I think, maybe Newsweek) wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn't find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered."
Now to introduce the gal I'm recruiting to perform my version of "Little Foxes," Janet Julian. I met Janet through her beautiful artwork and later found out that she was also a singer/songwriter who regularly performs at coffeehouses in my neighborhood. When I thought of this project, I knew she was the perfect one to perform "Little Foxes" because she embodies the folk spirit and humor I was looking for. Here's a video of Janet singing a mildly famous Patsy Cline song.
Another inspiration for this project was my kindergarten teacher Elga Brown. It's crazy that I can't find a photo of her online because this woman was a lifelong inspiration to me and hundreds, if not thousands of kids in the town I grew up in: Eugene, Oregon. She's even written a few academic papers and was cited in this article about early childhood education, but I could find no online photos of this amazing woman. It seems that a road trip is in order. One of the most memorable parts of the class was when we would all sing a little song as we cleaned up the room at the end of the day. The act of singing and working as a group made the un-fun activity a lot better. I still sing that simple song occasionally, and one of my dreams for the Little Foxes video is that children would learn and sing it while they recycle or perform other earth-friendly chores.
So now we come to the ME portion of this post. The timeliness of the Make/100 challenge by Kickstarter pushed me into realizing this idea I'd had for years. In addition to the fact that just yesterday our new President has successfully inducted a known anti-environmentalist to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, I am feeling the daily shock of watching my government transforming into something unimaginable. The only thing that's made me feel centered in the middle of this past few months was peacefully participating in the Portland Women's March on January 20. Within that week, I knew that working on a book that promoted a simple, but progressive voice towards our future was my new mission. Little Foxes WILL be a video and (hopefully) a book that will talk about all the ways that one person can make a difference by recycling, composting, bringing a bag to the grocery store or choosing human-powered transportation. Malvina, Janet and Elga are empowering me to push forward with this and more books that teach our future leaders how to put the world back to order. We have a little over a week left, so here's the link to make your pledge if you haven't already, and if you know of anyone who loves foxes or recycling, help me spread the word!
faithfully yours, Hilary
(You can barely see one pink ear of my gray and pink pussy hat that my dear friend--and Little Foxes supporter--Kristin knitted for me in the upper right corner.)