I read the news today, oh boy

“rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

“rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

Is it just my imagination, or is the news worse than usual? In the Middle East, after killing two American journalists, ISIS has just beheaded a British aid worker, and we are sliding deeper into a military campaign that no one really wants. In Africa, Ebola is rampaging virtually unchecked while fear spreads even faster. All around the world, climate change is wreaking havoc, yet our political leaders seem unable to take meaningful action on the most pressing issue of our time, not just for our species but for all others.

It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed with a heaping supply of chocolate.

But instead of succumbing to despair, yesterday I went to the farmers' market on the Arcata Plaza with my family. We heard a great steel drum band play “Happy” while kids and adults danced and hula hooped around the lawn. We bought fresh organic strawberries, peaches, corn, heirloom tomatoes and flowers grown in our area. And we caught up with friends in the warm sunshine.

Every Saturday morning from April through November, the combination of beautiful local produce, live music, and smiling people creates a kind of magic in the heart of our small town—an alchemy of joy.

Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

This is not the stuff of headlines, but markets like this and other examples of people getting together to create something good—PTA meetings and choirs and grange breakfasts—are the antidote to all those dark news stories. This is how we weave the strands of community, week after week, one zucchini at a time. This is how we celebrate our connections to each other and to the land that sustains us. This is how we “poke holes between worlds,” how we build trust and understanding of each other despite our differences.

When my husband and I first traveled to China in 1996, the government-run People’s Daily had a front-page headline one day with this breaking news: “Ethnic Groups Live in Harmony.”

Well, isn’t that nice?

I’m not suggesting that our newspapers should run feel-good propaganda. We need to know what’s really going on out there. But it is helpful to balance out the depressing daily news by focusing on all the things that are going right with our world. In small everyday ways, we can beat back despair and nurture the hope that is the catalyst for action.

Eating farmers' market strawberries with a bar of Green & Black’s dark chocolate helps too.

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Humboldters, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza 10-6 this weekend, September 20 and 21. I'll have paintings, prints, cards and calendars at my Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Two-Woman Show: I’m excited to team up with mixed media artist Amy Uyeki for an art exhibit at the Adorni Center in Eureka, CA during the month of November.

Poetry & Honey 2015 Calendar: My new wall calendar for 2015 is now available in 18 stores and online. This is a 16-month mini-calendar with the month grids for September-December 2014 and 12 pages of art for 2015.

New Stores North and South: Several new stores are now carrying my art cards and calendars. Check out the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego; Wild Rivers Market and Del Norte Office Supply, both in Crescent City, CA; and The Crown Jewel in Ashland, OR.