Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to Celebrate May Day

May 1 is May Day and International Worker's Day, and thus, it is celebrated in a wide variety of ways.  So, I thought I'd make a list of ways that you could celebrate today, whether you're ready to be your creative self, your activist self, your worker self, or you just need some ways to feel festive.

--Make a bouquet of flowers.  If Spring has yet to come to your neighborhood, or if it's already left, buy some flowers!  Or get a plant, which will give you joy for many more weeks.

--Remember to appreciate your co-workers.  Take them to lunch.  Or say thank you for all the unsung things they do.  Send an e-mail that has good news instead of bad. 

A May Day tradition involves getting up early and leaving treats on doorsteps.  If you're usually the last person in the office, you can do a variation.  Buy a box of cheap cards and write a quick thank you--then leave the cards on desks tonight.  Or slide them under office doors.

--It's probably too late to launch a Maypole.  In my elementary school in the 1970's, we had a May Day celebration that focused on flowers and Maypoles, not on workers.  Looking back, I'm amazed that our teachers were able to rig together a Maypole.  We spent weeks practicing the weaving of the ribbons in the Maypole dance.  We had a whole Mayday festival.  Parents came.  There was a Mayday king and queen.

So, you probably can't dance around a Maypole today.  But if you have some ribbons, you could weave them together and think about what might make you happy enough to dance.

--Write letters on behalf of the unemployed, the underemployed, everyone who needs a better job.  Write to your representatives to advocate for them.  What are you advocating?  A higher minimum wage?  Safer working conditions?  Job security?  Work-life balance?

--The sun will be growing more intense in the coming days.  Yesterday as I waited to cross the street, I could swear that I felt my skin crisping a bit; I felt my dermatologist's disapproval, even as I wanted to stretch my arms towards the sky.   Buy some sunscreen to prepare.

--Update your resume.  You may be one of the lucky ones who gets to enjoy your job all the way into retirement.  But statistics suggest that you will not, and you might need to have that resume ready at a minute's notice.

--Send your creative work out into the world.  As you make your submissions, think about the ways you'd like your creative work to bloom.

--Explore the world of music that celebrates and supports workers.  This morning, I'm partial to this recording of the Woody Guthrie classic, "Deportee:  (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)."  The song, written many decades ago, still feels relevant as it explores some of the hidden human costs of our fruits and vegetables.

--Want to know more?  The son of my friends created a compelling video that explains a lot.  Go here to see it.

--Perhaps this documentary or song will inspire you to send some money to organizations that work for worker's rights.  I'm impressed with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which works to protect the migrant workers in the fields of Florida, but you certainly have plenty to choose from.

--Can you create something that weaves these strands together?  Here are some possibilities:  a sculpture made out of ribbons that explores the world of migrant workers.  A poem that celebrates flowers and contemplates the ways that we love some blooms (flowers) but not others (algae, cancer).  A painting that uses weaving in some ways to think about the past century of efforts to enlarge the workplace and make it safer.

No comments: