Weekend Reading

This weekend’s reading is brief, but it’s also going to be the last one for a while. We’ll be taking a hiatus from keeping up with the Internet for the remainder of the summer, approximately. Life, research, and summer have been calling for a while, and it’s about time I answered. So, without further ado:

The student protesters demanded that the universities be investigated for profiteering. They demanded that municipalization be reversed. They demanded free education. They shut down several universities for an entire academic year. They took over government buildings. On June 30, 2011 some 100,000 Chileans turned out in the streets of Santiago and were joined by another 300,000 or so in solidarity marches in the rest of the country. Demonstrators paralyzed entire sections of Santiago during marches. Yet, at its peak, the student movement had an 81 percent approval rating. The public was on board.

In St Louis, the museums are free. At the turn of the 20th century, the city built a pavilion. They drained the wetlands and made a lake and planted thousands of trees and created a park. They built fountains at the base of a hillside and surrounded it with promenades white and gleaming. Atop the hill is an art museum with an inscription cut in stone: “Dedicated to art and free to all.” On Sundays, children do art projects in a gallery of Max Beckmann paintings. Admission is free, materials are free, because in St Louis art is for everyone.

In St Louis, you can walk 20 minutes from the mansions to the projects. In one neighbourhood, the kids from the mansions and the kids from public housing go to the same public school. On the walls of the school cafeteria are portraits of Martin Luther King Jr and Barack Obama, to remind the children what leaders look like.

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