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Playboy image from 1972 gets ban from IEEE computer journals

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Playboy image from 1972 gets ban from IEEE computer journals

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Image)

On Wednesday, the IEEE Computer Society announced to members that, after April 1, it would no longer accept papers that include a frequently used image of a 1972 Playboy model named Lena Forsén. The so-called "Lenna image," (Forsén added an extra "n" to her name in her Playboy appearance to aid pronunciation) has been used in image processing research since 1973 and has attracted criticism for making some women feel unwelcome in the field.

In an email from the IEEE Computer Society sent to members on Wednesday, Technical & Conference Activities Vice President Terry Benzel wrote, "IEEE's diversity statement and supporting policies such as the IEEE Code of Ethics speak to IEEE's commitment to promoting an including and equitable culture that welcomes all. In alignment with this culture and with respect to the wishes of the subject of the image, Lena Forsén, IEEE will no longer accept submitted papers which include the 'Lena image.'"

An uncropped version of the 512×512-pixel test image originally appeared as the centerfold picture for the December 1972 issue of Playboy Magazine. Usage of the Lenna image in image processing began in June or July 1973 when an assistant professor named Alexander Sawchuck and a graduate student at the University of Southern California Signal and Image Processing Institute scanned a square portion of the centerfold image with a primitive drum scanner, omitting nudity present in the original image. They scanned it for a colleague's conference paper, and after that, others began to use the image as well.

The original 512×512 "Lenna" test image, which is a cropped portion of a 1972 Playboy centerfold.

The original 512×512 "Lenna" test image, which is a cropped portion of a 1972 Playboy centerfold. (credit: Playboy / Wikipedia)

The image's use spread in other papers throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and it caught Playboy's attention, but the company decided to overlook the copyright violations. In 1997, Playboy helped track down Forsén, who appeared at the 50th Annual Conference of the Society for Imaging Science in Technology, signing autographs for fans. "They must be so tired of me ... looking at the same picture for all these years!" she said at the time. VP of new media at Playboy Eileen Kent told Wired, "We decided we should exploit this, because it is a phenomenon."

The image, which features Forsén's face and bare shoulder as she wears a hat with a purple feather, was reportedly ideal for testing image processing systems in the early years of digital image technology due to its high contrast and varied detail. It is also a sexually suggestive photo of an attractive woman, and its use by men in the computer field has garnered criticism over the decades, especially from female scientists and engineers who felt that the image (especially related to its association with the Playboy brand) objectified women and created an academic climate where they did not feel entirely welcome.

Due to some of this criticism, which dates back to at least 1996, the journal Nature banned the use of the Lena image in paper submissions in 2018.

The comp.compression Usenet newsgroup FAQ document claims that in 1988, a Swedish publication asked Forsén if she minded her image being used in computer science, and she was reportedly pleasantly amused. In a 2019 Wired article, Linda Kinstler wrote that Forsén did not harbor resentment about the image, but she regretted that she wasn't paid better for it originally. "I’m really proud of that picture," she told Kinstler at the time.

Since then, Forsén has apparently changed her mind. In 2019, Creatable and Code Like a Girl created an advertising documentary titled Losing Lena, which was part of a promotional campaign aimed at removing the Lena image from use in tech and the image processing field. In a press release for the campaign and film, Forsén is quoted as saying, "I retired from modelling a long time ago. It’s time I retired from tech, too. We can make a simple change today that creates a lasting change for tomorrow. Let’s commit to losing me."

It seems like that commitment is now being granted. The ban in IEEE publications, which have been historically important journals for computer imaging development, will likely further set a precedent toward removing the Lenna image from common use. In his email, the IEEE's Benzel recommended wider sensitivity about the issue, writing, "In order to raise awareness of and increase author compliance with this new policy, program committee members and reviewers should look for inclusion of this image, and if present, should ask authors to replace the Lena image with an alternative."

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CrystalDave
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Jewish Activists Mobilizing Against War Are Finding a New Community

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“Let Gaza live! Let Gaza live!”

The chant bounced off the century-old granite walls of New York City’s historic Grand Central Station on Oct. 27, as thousands poured onto the floor wearing black T-shirts reading “Jews Say Ceasefire Now.” This messaging has become familiar, as massive rallies around the country, including one of 5,000 people in Washington, D.C., and others in dozens more cities, have been organized by Jewish activists speaking primarily as Jews.

These protests represent the biggest explosion of progressive Jewish organizing in decades, and have helped to launch the biggest surge in Palestine solidarity organizing since the Second Intifada. They also represent a newly unified movement with a new demand: a cease-fire.

The New York demonstration was organized by two groups: IfNotNow, an anti-occupation Jewish organization, and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an explicitly anti-Zionist group as large as it is controversial in the Jewish world. “The important thing was we needed to shift the narrative and bring cease-fire into the mainstream,” Rebecca Vilkomerson, the former executive director of JVP and current activist with the organization’s New York City chapter that flooded the station rotunda, told New Lines. “There is a clarity, fierceness and sheer size of those coming out.”

Both groups, along with other partners on the growing Jewish left, are mobilizing thousands of American Jews to leverage their unique role in this American-Israeli-Palestinian schema to demand an end to Israel’s war on Gaza, which at the time of publication has taken over 23,000 Palestinian and 2,000 Israeli lives. In doing so, they have invigorated members of the Jewish community looking to redefine Jewish life in ways that reflect their vision of justice, even if it puts them at odds with the major Jewish organizations that tend to set the tone in the U.S.

JVP and IfNotNow have chapters around the country where local activists take on regional campaigns, such as fighting for divestment from weapons manufacturers selling to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) or pushing elected officials to hold Israel accountable for human rights violations. The two groups have similar missions, but are distinct: IfNotNow is silent on the question of Zionism and hopes to influence mainstream Jewish opinion, while JVP — perhaps not willingly — has had to operate as something of an outsider to the rest of the Jewish world.

But that rebellious image has also worked to JVP’s benefit. The organization has more than 22,000 members, many thousands of whom have joined since Oct. 7. Its advisory board has included high-profile Jewish figures like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Judith Butler. JVP now sets much of the tone for the Palestine solidarity work coming to define the Jewish left. The new situation, and the unifying cease-fire demand, has allowed for a partnership to form between the two organizations as they jointly sponsor action after action in places where activists hope to create sufficient disruption to show political leaders that their constituents are passionate about peace.

In Chicago, the Jewish left has formed a historic new coalition. Directly after the Oct. 7 attack, JVP Chicago chapter leader and peace studies scholar Ashley Bohrer organized a flurry of meetings among Palestine solidarity activists to develop what she called a “united front” in the fight to stop what seemed like an inevitable Israeli assault on Gaza. Bohrer grew up in the world of Jewish day schools (private schools where students learn religious subjects alongside academic ones, as well as Hebrew) and summer camps — youth programs that huge numbers of American Jewish families send their children to — and said she has lost friends and severed relations with family members, including many living in Israel and serving in the IDF, over her break with Zionism.

“I had really grown up with the idea that to be Jewish was to be a Zionist,” said Bohrer. “When I started questioning Zionism I began to question whether I am myself Jewish.” It was “finding other anti- and non-Zionist Jews and being in community with them and having [access to] a whole different part … of Jewish history that has been systematically hidden from us” that brought her to a new understanding of Jewish life, she told New Lines.

This is a common experience in these circles, where people’s emerging political consciousness around Israel and Palestine frequently creates barriers within families and the Jewish community. The growth of groups like JVP is a testament to the demand not only for a movement against what many call ethnic cleansing in Palestine but also for building a Jewish identity that allows for an affirmative Jewish continuity by ensuring that a Jewish community aligned with such values exists.

As they did around the country, JVP linked up with IfNotNow and the pro-refugee Jewish organization Never Again Action, which had not previously primarily focused on Israel and Palestine. This unprecedented coalition drove a series of actions, first at the office of Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, whose suburban Chicago district includes heavily Jewish Skokie and the heavily Orthodox area of West Rogers Park. Schakowsky, who is Jewish herself, has moved left on the issue of Israel and Palestine, partly through her involvement in the liberal Zionist group J Street, but had yet to publicly support a cease-fire (which J Street had also not voiced support for). Next, this newly formed coalition staged an even larger demonstration at a Chicago federal building that houses offices for both of Illinois’ U.S. senators, Democrats Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, demanding that they support an immediate cease-fire. The action eschewed public promotion and instead connected specifically and directly with Jewish activists, 300 of whom turned out. Over 50 Jews sat down in the roadway during rush hour in an act of civil disobedience “to talk about how we cannot allow business as usual to go on while we are witnessing a genocide,” Bohrer said.

Hundreds of American Jews, including two dozen rabbis, hold a sit-in at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., in October to demand that Congress call for a cease-fire in Gaza. (Zachary Schulman)

While JVP and IfNotNow are major players, they are only part of the diverse range of organizations mobilizing Jewish identity on the left. Much the same idea that drives JVP motivates Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) in Canada, which has been fighting what it says is the manipulation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has now been adopted by countless universities, organizations and governmental bodies (but has been challenged and debated by leading scholars), and according to which anti-Zionism is almost always tantamount to antisemitism. Palestinian solidarity activists counter that the IHRA definition has been used to silence their activism by erroneously labeling criticism of Israel as antisemitism, thus putting their demands out of bounds.

Addressing the way that pro-Israel organizations often wield accusations of antisemitism to silence Palestinian demands, Corey Balsam, a founding member of IJV, told New Lines, “I think we were able to use that to open up space for others to, especially, be against the centrality of accusations of antisemitism by Zionist groups, by Israel itself. I think we have certain legitimacy to speak to those issues as Jews, as Israelis.” IJV collected thousands of signatures supporting their letter demanding that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly move toward a cease-fire, which Trudeau ultimately did in the U.N. General Assembly’s nonbinding resolution vote of Dec. 12.

If claims of antisemitism are frequently made by those opposed to pro-Palestinian activism, activists’ Jewish identities can give them a vantage point to reframe the issue. But this tactic is only one aspect of how identity plays into their organizing strategy, because it also gives many of those engaged in activism a pathway back into Jewish life. “I think there’s also an element of Jewish community-building. … We can have Shabbat dinners and Pesach seders and practice Jewish religion or culture with those that are like-minded,” Balsam said.

These relationships are part of the reason Jewish-led movements are growing. Many young Jews report feeling alienated by a Jewish leadership that is disconnected from their politics and especially by that leadership’s defense of an increasingly far-right Israel. While major Jewish organizations often cling to the idea of Jewish "continuity" — which they often present as threatened by intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews or a break between young Jews and the state of Israel — the actual continuity of young Jews with the traditions of their ancestors has come, in part, from the alienation they feel in the face of a Jewish political reality that appears increasingly untenable to them. Zia Laboff, a JVP member in Oregon, said that as she became more critical of Israel she felt increasingly unwelcome in mainline Jewish spaces. “It’s very difficult to seek spaces of Jewish spirituality that aren’t tied up in some way with Zionist funding or Zionist ideals or just not talking about politics, which I think are antithetical to Jewish values.”

Like many in her small radical Jewish network in Portland, she jumped into action in the days after Hamas’ attack and organized public events to pressure elected officials to support a cease-fire. JVP was a leader in Portland, organizing rallies with names like “Jews Against Genocide” where Jews could be publicly visible in their demands. On Nov. 8, this led about 80 of them to stage a sit-in at the Portland office of Democratic U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, asking for a cease-fire commitment. For Laboff, the work is important, but it is also a way of building the kind of Jewish space that was promised by the mainstream Jewish world but no longer feels on offer.

“There’s just a lot more people getting involved,” said Laboff, suggesting that the motivation behind the flood of participation includes being visible and recognizable as Jews, so that organizers are holding mixers and meet-ups to facilitate introductions. Since there are concerns about how Jewish grief over the Oct. 7 attack has been used to funnel energy into support for the war, Laboff arranged a private processing session so that Jews could meet with other anti-Zionist Jews in an environment of their own choosing. Essential conversations are happening among Jews around the world, and if young Jews cannot find a version that suits them, then they will create it themselves.

This is how Jewish anarchist Cindy Milstein described their work in Asheville, North Carolina, where addressing trauma and community-building are intertwined. “The trauma and grief we feel … we can either feel profound empathy where we can understand that our struggles and our faiths and our freedom and our future are completely intertwined … or people become brutal, fascistic or mean-spirited, and support unthinkingly or uncritically the Israeli state committing genocide,” said Milstein, who has created public mourning events highlighting both Jewish and Palestinian voices in shared grieving.

Milstein distributed a number of zines featuring voices from the conflict that are heard less often, such as Palestinian and Israeli anarchists, and discussing how direct action and mutual aid can help. At their rallies, they have seen a diverse range of people with common views meet for the first time, and security has been provided by both Jews and non-Jews so that they could share in what Milstein described as “webs of care.” “Our fates are so intimately tied in that region. … Any diasporic peoples, our fates, Muslims, Jews, Palestinians, all of us have for millennia been targets of pogroms, displacement, dispossession, genocides. … To combat antisemitism, we have to fight white supremacy and Islamophobia. … It's incredibly important to make those connections.”

Part of this was bringing Jewish ritual into the public events, an important part of the Jewish left since the 1960s, which activists often say honors the prophetic elements of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. In this moment of rising casualties, Milstein, Laboff and others we spoke with employed the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer meant to honor loved ones who have passed. The names of those who have been killed, Hebrew words of loving kindness and the candles that adorn memory have turned these public protest venues into altars to acknowledge the suffering.

“My initial feeling [on Oct. 7] was horror,” said Nate Cohen, a Chicago member of JVP and Never Again Action who notes that, like many people in his community, he had to balance both repulsion at what Hamas had done with a total rejection of Israel’s occupation and bombing of Gaza. “It can be true that Hamas did a horrible, horrific, terrible thing and that Palestinian liberation is deeply important and deserves to be a massive priority for the global humanitarian movement.” As a street medic, Cohen jumped into the work of planning the large coalition protests, helping to train and prepare for large-scale street demonstrations.

“The Holocaust is such a defining part of our collective narrative. … When I see a community for whom that notion and the spirit [of resisting oppression] is so deeply entwined in our collective identities, and then committing atrocities and war crimes against other people, I just feel like it is so wildly disconnected from what I understand Judaism to be,” Cohen said. “The biggest entity in the world, that claims to speak for our collective identity, is doing things that go so inherently against my understanding of what that identity is, I think … people’s rage is correct.”

A November 2023 protest organized by the Los Angeles chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. (Jewish Voice for Peace — Los Angeles)

“I am seeing … a major move in the American Jewish community to the right,” said Dove Kent, a longtime progressive Jewish organizer who closely watches the Jewish organizational landscape. Within 48 hours, she said, the center moved right, and firm binaries, which already existed when it came to Israel and Palestine, became entrenched. This could have the effect of breaking off the piece of the Jewish left that foregrounds Palestinian autonomy, forcing them into the same woods where JVP has been living for years.

While these Jewish Palestine solidarity activists are largely in line with American public opinion, which shows support for a cease-fire at close to 70%, there’s a disconnect with mainstream Jewish life. Nearly 300,000 joined the pro-Israel march in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14, a bipartisan affair where blame for the violence was directed at Hamas and an end to the bombing of Gaza seemed off the table. Across town, something called the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable was convened, a meeting where progressive Jewish activists compared notes. Some in attendance joined the pro-Israel demonstration, while others felt conflicted. That conference floor could be an indication of how the coming years of Jewish organizational life will look.

Rebecca Zimmerman Hornstein, executive director of the Boston Workers Circle Center for Jewish Culture and Social Justice, described an unprecedented tension simmering in the American Jewish community as she spoke to me from that conference. The Workers Circle was founded by Eastern European Jewish migrants as a mutual aid project tied to the socialist labor movement and has a history spanning more than a century. The Boston chapter was recast in the 1980s as a progressive, secular outlet for Jewish life, with Yiddish classes, a Sunday school and member-driven committees that work on political issues. Inside the organization, disagreement is welcome: The old Yiddish adage suggests that among two Jews, three opinions exist. So Zimmerman Hornstein explains that they have Zionist, non-Zionist and anti-Zionist members, who are all driven by what they see as core values of freedom, democracy and equality for all inhabitants of the region.

“We had a long history of holding conversation, holding conflict on the issue in our community,” said Zimmerman Hornstein. “It's not an issue we ever avoided in our community just because it can be challenging.”

But as a tenuous member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, a Jewish organizational coalition, members of the Workers Circle knew its days were numbered. The primary reason was that they had one particularly controversial collaboration. When they joined a coalition to hold a vigil after the 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, the council threatened expulsion because JVP was a co-sponsor.

They weathered that storm, but after the council passed a resolution saying any organization partnering with an anti-Zionist group would be expelled, their exit seemed inevitable. “Based on our principles … calling for a cease-fire was really in line with our organizational outlook on Israel-Palestine,” said Zimmerman Hornstein. They joined an Oct. 18 cease-fire rally co-sponsored by JVP, IfNotNow and the progressive Boston synagogue Kavod, but before the event even wrapped up she received a call from the council announcing its intention to expel.

JVP, as the largest Jewish anti-Zionist group, is controversial, often the “last stop” for radical Jews questioning consensus politics on Israel. But because it never had access to the support, or money, of mainstream Jewish organizations, it had to build its own infrastructure. Organizers from a number of groups who have sponsored these cease-fire rallies told me that they could not have done it without the pioneering work of JVP, and the reaction from mainstream Jewish organizations has pushed them more firmly in the direction of partnering with it.

“The desire to marginalize us is a desire to kind of make impossible or make invisible what is actually true about us, which is that we represent a real and growing and furious constituency of the Jewish community in the U.S.,” said Stefanie Fox, the current executive director of JVP. Their size, their connection to Judaism and their challenge to those who claim to speak for all Jews force some mainstream Jewish organizations to see them as a challenge to the apparent pro-Israel consensus in the Jewish organizational world, she said.

“I think a massive shift has just taken place, and … there are many progressive Jewish groups that are going to have to decide if they are leaping forward into full-throated solidarity … while [also] holding space for our own loss and grief and pain,” Sophie Ellman-Golan, the communications director of the long-established progressive organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, told me. “And there are the people who are going to decide they cannot move forward with that because they are still so deeply feeling that pain.”

She, like many others, lamented that many Jewish organizations are acting as if “empathy is a finite resource that has to be conserved,” which leaves them too inwardly focused, in her view. This is pushing those on the Jewish left even further away from the larger Jewish philanthropic infrastructure as demands for a cease-fire are uncommon and controversial. Many left-leaning Jewish organizations are facing some of the divisive and exclusionary treatment that JVP has had in the past.

Derek Penslar, who teaches Jewish history at Harvard University and is the author of “Zionism: An Emotional State” (2023), said that when many Jews encounter anti-Zionism, what they hear is “a challenge to their existential security” and a discrediting of their attachment to Israel. “They feel deeply psychologically, physically and existentially threatened,” Penslar told New Lines. He notes that the hardening of Jewish organizations toward criticism of Israel was “a product of the Second Intifada and a sense of real vulnerability,” adding that it was campus Jewish organizations like Hillel that, after 2000, developed a sharp line excluding anti-Zionists from the conversation.

We are now 20 years on, and views are increasingly polarized, while movements to confront what activists call Palestinian dispossession are met with a militant backlash, to the point that demands for cease-fire could be understood, as Penslar explained, as the “new BDS,” referring to calls for boycotts, divestment and economic sanctions against Israel.

“We’re building a movement of American Jews and that means we want to bring all of those Jewish institutions and leaders with us,” said Maya Yair of IfNotNow. “We recognize that we have all been sold on the idea that there is safety in this kind of violence. … We know that you are holding generational trauma. We know that there is a deep fear of antisemitism … and we know that we cannot find our safety through these means.”

This is how many of these groups re-imagine Jewish safety, and their “safety through solidarity” message suggests that it is actually a partnership between Jews and other marginalized people that ensures protection rather than Israeli nationalism. “I think it is really on us to say that [the current Israeli policy in Gaza] is not how you protect the Jewish people,” said Liv Kunins-Berkowitz, JVP’s media coordinator. “We don't believe in a version of safety that’s predicated on the dispossession and destruction of another group of people.”

While coalitions like the Jewish Federations of North America (formerly the United Jewish Communities) may consider themselves the gauges of acceptable Jewish thought, there were always dissenters. This was, in reality, what Workers Circle was in the first place, with groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee created as more tepid and middle-class alternatives to the radical organization that poor, Yiddish-speaking immigrants preferred to solve their social issues and address antisemitism. Boston Workers Circle was added to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston only in 1944, in an all-hands-on-deck moment in the fight against antisemitism. It was always an uneasy alliance. The notion of a unified “Jewish community” is a recent construct and is now breaking down, largely along historical communal fault lines. Only now, there are thousands more looking for their place in the schema of Jewish life.

All these organizations report a massive spike in membership, with IfNotNow tracking 40 protests from Oct. 7 to a Nov. 13 event in Chicago. That Nov. 13 protest, which brought out more than 1,000 demonstrators from across the Midwest, was a follow-up to the coalition effort that pushed Senator Durbin to support a cease-fire. On Nov. 2, Durbin became the first U.S. senator to do so, which was surprising given his long-standing relationship with the right-wing pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, a history chronicled in a recent report in The Intercept. Swarming the Israeli consulate, demonstrators interrupted access to the Ogilvie train station in downtown Chicago, while around 100 demonstrators were arrested in a public act of civil disobedience.

While smaller than the roaring crowds of the pro-Israel rally in Washington, D.C., the next day, it pulled together a crowd with a fraction of the money, organizational and political might or media infrastructure, built instead on the kind of person-to-person chapter organizing that has made JVP so effective. The disparity was on full display on Nov. 15, when IfNotNow and JVP led a multifaith coalition in a candlelight vigil where police injured 90 activists. “We were met with police officers pulling people … down the stairs, pepper spray to the face, actions that led to concussions,” said JVP’s Dani Noble at their Nov. 16 press conference.

Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, president of the Society of Jewish Ethics, speaking at a November protest organized by the Los Angeles chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow. To his right is Benjamin Kersten, a Los Angeles chapter leader of JVP. (Jewish Voice for Peace — Los Angeles)

Those assaults happened around the same time that Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles was shut down by JVP activists and thousands of others, holding signs reading "Jews say no to genocide." The next morning, IfNotNow led a blockade of a bridge crossing the Charles River in Boston to push Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to support a cease-fire. Just hours later, Jewish activists shut down the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, with protesters locking arms using piping. The numbers of those involved and the intensity of actions are escalating, and much of the country appears to be with them.

“We are pushing a cease-fire because we want Palestinians and Israelis to live in safety [and] we want there to be a long-term peace that is just and where there’s freedom for all Israelis and Palestinians,” said Matan Arad-Neeman, the Israeli-American deputy press director of IfNotNow. “I think there’s a clear choice for [Jewish establishment organizations] to make right now, whether … they will be on the side of peace … or will they be continuing to be calling for further war and destruction?”

The massive influx may also represent an exodus: from mainstream Jewish organizations and into the alternative infrastructure that many of the more radical groups have been building. JVP formed the Havurah Network, a collection of synagogues that are re-imagining Jewish life apart from Zionism. Synagogues like the Reconstructionist Tzedek in Chicago have helped spearhead this alternative pathway.

“Jews are going to find a way to pray together,” said Kent, who recently co-founded a progressive, anti-Zionist synagogue called Makom in Durham, North Carolina. “We’re going to find a way to be in spiritual community together that may be outside of the institutions that currently exist. There may be new ones built … luckily we come from a community that knows how to rebuild.”

Because memory is central to the rhythms of Jewish life, it’s easy to project the past onto current tumult. The chaotic years that led to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE were, in part, the result of Jewish infighting, an allegedly unified community fracturing on issues each segment interpreted as a matter of life and death. But following the catastrophe, a new Jewish path was built in exile — a set of institutions and laws and a peoplehood that was unthinkable when the Hebrew Bible was written.

This reinvention, the process of rabbinical commentary and debate, may be the core methodology of Jewishness. During rupture, Jews promise to continue being Jews, which means committing to both tear down and rebuild. As more Jews feel disenfranchised by the centerpieces of American Jewishness, they are not abandoning their Jewish identity but fashioning a new one. Whether this simply adds to the Jewish patchwork or replaces it will be up to the mainstream Jewish organizations that activists say have drawn impenetrable boundaries and chosen a type of narrow nationalism increasingly unpopular in the 21st century.

Part of this shift is involuntary: Some of those questioning and opposing Israel’s war are being forced out of their Jewish communities, and sometimes even their families. “After hearing that I went to a pro-Palestinian rally, my mom told me that she was ashamed of me, and that she wasn’t sure if she could have a relationship with me anymore,” said one caller featured on a recent episode of the Jewish Currents podcast titled “Talking to Our Families.” “She also asked why I don’t have any loyalty and why I don’t just convert to Islam.”

As Hanukkah began — a holiday meant to commemorate the Jewish resistance to compelled assimilation — those who see the fight for global justice as entwined with their Judaism made the holiday’s meaning a material reality. Demonstrations increased around the country, sometimes featuring early public lamp-lighting events and banners denouncing genocide or proclaiming “Hanukkah = Liberation.” On the final, eighth night of Hanukkah, when eight candles burn in unison, JVP led blockades on bridges and major thoroughfares around the country. In Seattle, a massive, 10-foot-tall menorah was positioned on the University Bridge, behind banners demanding a cease-fire and a line of Jews sitting down to stop traffic. “Up, up with liberation! Down, down with occupation!” chanted a dancing crowd in front of a banner reading “The Whole World is Watching” (a slogan made famous in the 1960s by protesters against the Vietnam War) hoisted into the air for cameras and onlookers.

That holiday ended with no established cease-fire in place, and the “humanitarian pause” lasted mere days. As the ground war in Gaza continues, the death toll will rise, creating an untenable situation for an American public whose tax dollars fund the munitions used. And the protests that promise to continue may be some of the most recognizably Jewish events in recent history, connecting an entire generation to these rabbinic traditions and ensuring the kind of continuity that the American Jewish establishment (in journalist Peter Beinart’s phrase) desperately yearns for.

The post Jewish Activists Mobilizing Against War Are Finding a New Community appeared first on New Lines Magazine.

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CrystalDave
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Quoting Chris Albon

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The thing nobody talks about with engineering management is this:

Every 3-4 months every person experiences some sort of personal crisis. A family member dies, they have a bad illness, they get into an argument with another person at work, etc. etc. Sadly, that is just life. Normally after a month or so things settle down and life goes on.

But when you are managing 6+ people it means there is *always* a crisis you are helping someone work through. You are always carrying a bit of emotional burden or worry around with you.

Chris Albon

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CrystalDave
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Meta in Myanmar (full series) - Erin Kissane's small internet website

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Between July and October of this year, I did a lot of reading and writing about the role of Meta and Facebook—and the internet more broadly—in the genocide of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The below posts are what emerged from that work.

The format is a bit idiosyncratic, but what I’ve tried to produce here is ultimately a longform cultural-technical incident report. It’s written for people working on and thinking about (and using and wrestling with) new social networks and systems. I’m a big believer in each person contributing in ways that accord with their own skills. I’m a writer and researcher and community nerd, rather than a developer, so this is my contribution.

More than anything, I hope it helps.

Myanmar got the internet late and all at once, and mostly via Meta. A brisk pass through Myanmar’s early experience coming online and all the benefits—and, increasingly, troubles—connectivity brought, especially to the Rohingya ethnic minority, which was targeted by massive, highly organized hate campaigns.

Something I didn’t know going in is how many people warned Meta‚ and in how much detail, and for how many years. This post captures as many of those warnings as I could fit in.

Instead of heeding the warnings that continued to pour in from Myanmar, Meta doubled down on connectivity—and rolled out a program that razed Myanmar’s online news ecosystem and replaced it with inflammatory clickbait. What happened after that was the worst thing that people can do to one another.

Also: more of the details of the total collapse of content moderation and the systematic gaming of algorithmic acceleration to boost violence-inciting and genocidal messages.

Using whistleblower disclosures and interviews, this post looks at what Meta knew (so much) and when (for a long time) and how they handled inbound information that suggests that Facebook was being used to do harm (they shoved it to the margins).

This post introduces an element of the Myanmar tragedy that turns out to have echoes all over the planet, which is the coordinated covert influence campaigns that have both secretly and openly parasitized Facebook to wreak havoc.

I also get into a specific and I think illustrative way that Meta continues to deceive politicians and media organizations about their terrible content moderation performance, and look at their record in Myanmar in the years after the Rohingya genocide.

Starting with the recommendations of Burmese civil-society organizations and individuals plus the concerns of trust and safety practitioners who’ve studied large-scale hate campaigns and influence operations, I look at a handful of the threats that I think cross over from centralized platforms to rapidly growing new-school decentralized and federated networks like Mastodon/the fediverse and Bluesky—in potentially very dangerous ways.

It may be tempting to take this last substantial piece as the one to read if you don’t have much time, but I would recommend picking literally any of the others instead—my concluding remarks here are not intended to stand alone.

I also wrote a short post about my approach, language, citations, and corrections. That brings the total word to about 44,000.

Acknowledgements

Above all, all my thanks go to the people of the Myanmar Internet Project and its constituent organizations.

Thanks additionally to the various individuals on the backchannel whom I won’t name but hugely appreciate, to Adrianna Tan and Dr. Fancypants, Esq., to all the folks on Mastodon who helped me find answers to questions, and to the many people who wrote in with thoughts, corrections, and dozens of typos. All mistakes are extremely mine.

Many thanks also to the friends and strangers who helped me find information, asked about the work, read it, and helped it find readers in the world. Writing and publishing something like this as an independent writer and researcher is weird and challenging, especially in a moment when our networks are in disarray and lots of us are just trying to figure out where our next job will come from.

Without your help, this would have just disappeared, and I’m grateful to every person who reads it and/or passes it along.

Thanks” is a deeply inadequate thing to say to my partner, Peter Richardson, who read multiple drafts of everything and supported me through some challenging days in my 40,000-words-in-two-weeks publishing schedule, and especially the months of fairly ghastly work that preceded it. But as ever, thank you, Peter.

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16 October 2023
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CrystalDave
240 days ago
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Qualities of life

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In an unfortunately fascinating 1963 collection of essays on computer-simulated personality, Silvan Tomkins, the founder of affect theory, wrote about:

…the tendency of jobs to be adapted to tools, rather than adapting tools to jobs. If one has a hammer one tends to look for nails, and if one has a computer with a storage capacity, but no feelings, one is more likely to concern oneself with remembering and with problem solving than with loving and hating.

Tomkins’ observation, which comes in the middle of an extended meditation on computer personality that is a wild ride for lay readers interested in AI, has concentrated my thinking about the tools that made our current networks: An ever-accelerating explosion of technical possibilities. Silicon Valley relationship networks. Venture capital’s it’s a fountain of money or a failure mandate. Open source’s programming-first culture. A lot of defensive libertarianism, a little charisma. The emotional range of a wellness beverage.

We made what we made because of what we carried in with us.


Consider the difference between two places: The first is a courtyard ringed in verandas or porches that provide shelter from rain and bright sunlight—a half-outdoor experience; it also offers views onto a street or open square, and is criss-crossed by pathways between multiple entrances and exits. The second is a fully enclosed courtyard with a single way in and no views into other open spaces; it has an abrupt transition from inside to out, with no arcade or partial cover at the edges.

In The Timeless Way of Building (last discussed here), Christopher Alexander writes about the first courtyard as alive and the second as dead, for several reasons, all of which I find illuminating.

First, Alexander says, the closed-off courtyard is dead because it produces—and prevents the resolution of—conflicting desires in the people meant to use it. People want to go out, but the stark contrast between out and in is too abrupt to be inviting, and the total enclosure and lack of views produces a claustrophobic feeling and quickly sends those who do venture out back indoors. Without functional pathways that bring people into a custom of crossing through the courtyard, the building’s inhabitants also spend less time there, and the courtyard is outside patterns of daily habit. In these ways, the courtyard fails to strengthen the life and wholeness of the people for whom it was made.

Second, the courtyard is dead because it fails to be self-sustaining. Because it’s uninviting, unpleasant to stay in, and removed from the normal walking patterns of the building, the courtyard becomes neglected. (I would add that commercially maintained but dead-feeling spaces, which are very common in many institutions of modern life, reflect intense upkeep and still project a sense of standoffishness or gloomy abandonment.)

Finally, the dead courtyard is dead because it pushes conflictedness out into the surrounding spaces. Alexander makes a precise argument about this, so I want to quote it at length in all its 1970s-gender-norms glory:

We try to go out, but are frustrated, because the courtyard itself pushes us away. We still need, somehow, to go out; the forces remain within us, but can find no resolution here. We have no way of resolving the situation for ourselves. The unresolved conflict remains underground; it contributes the stress which is building up. First, it reduces our capacity to resolve other conflicts for ourselves, and makes it even more likely that unresolved forces will spill over in another situation. Second, if the force does spill over, it may create even greater tension, in another situation, where there is no proper outlet for it.

Suppose, for example, the people who want to be outside go out instead and sit on the road, where trucks are going by. It is OK. But then perhaps a child gets hurt. Or, even if a child does not actually get hurt, the mother fears for it, and shouts, and conveys a continuous sense of unease to the child, so that his play is spoiled. … In one fashion or another, the effects always ripple out.

You may say—well, people can adapt. But in the process of adapting, they destroy some other part of themselves. We are very adaptive, it is true. But we can also adapt to such an extent that we do ourselves harm. The process of adaptation has its costs. It may be, for example, that the child adapts, by turning to books. The desire to play in the street conforms now to the dangers, and the mother’s cries. But now the person has lost some of the exuberant desire to run about. He has adapted, but he has made his own life less rich, less whole, by being forced to do so.

The bad” patterns are unable to contain the forces which occur in them.

As a result, these forces spill over into other nearby systems […] the courtyard which fails makes children want to play outside and causes stress and danger in the street.

But these forces make other nearby patterns fail as well. The pattern of the street may not be conceived as a place for children to play. So, suddenly, a pattern of the street, which might be in balance without this force, itself becomes unstable and inadequate. […]

In the end, the whole system must collapse.

I think I blew past all of the parent-child stuff the first few times I read Timeless Way, but now it snags me every time. The parent here is not presented as a neurotic mother or its update, a helicopter parent: The danger of the street is not imaginary. The mother responds to the shape of the built system in which she and her child exist—and then her shouts of anxiety become part of the system through which the child’s personality is formed.


When the subject of social media problems arises, commenters tend to divide into one of two very low-level orientations toward attributing problems (or successes) to systems vs. attributing them to personalities.

It’s not always obvious that this happening, because sometimes the surface discussion is more about whether the root problem is, say, interface design or capitalism, both of which are systems. But it’s rare to get through an online conversation without someone proposing that systems talk is largely a distraction, because some people are just assholes. And indeed, many people are assholes. Most of us, even, given the right contexts and deficits, though it’s clearly overrepresented among the leaders of social media companies. But lean hard enough on personality as explanation for mass phenomena and we get arguments that should be all too familiar, in which poor people are individually lazy, Black men individually scary, mass gun-murderers individually mentally ill, and homeless people individually recalcitrant.

I think it’s obvious that it’s always both, systems and people: People and systems can synchronize and strengthen each other (for good or evil); good personalities can patch bad systems, or sabotage them in service of good; good systems can reduce the harm destructive personalities inflict. But unless you work in therapy or social services, I think systems-level work offers the only practical place to put your lever if you want to move the world.

When I write about our networks as haunted machines, I am writing toward the systems sense of the mess we’re in. When I write about Christopher Alexander, it’s because his work has been one of my touchstones for a systems sense of something better—and better in a genuinely different way.


To be alive in the sense found in A Timeless Way of Building, a system would have to:

  1. avoid piling unresolveable stresses onto the people inside it,
  2. maintain its own aliveness through self-sustaining evolution and repair, and
  3. avoid worsening the life of the systems around it, ranging from peer-level technical systems to things like civil society.”

This framework is so heartening to me because it torches the constructions of a system’s inhabitants’ well-being and the spillover of generated stresses into the wider world as externalities we need not consider.

The Alexandrian orientation puts these factors at the center of the work, in terms sufficiently specific to make them hard to evade—unlike, say, the triple bottom line meant to indicate that corporations should consider worrying about People” and Planet” in addition to Profits.” In practice, this has aways been too woozy and vague to do much besides stretching the humanish skin of corporate social responsibility over the usual forms of extraction.

In the same way, tech slogans like We put users first,” could mean nearly anything, so they usually mean nothing. The first criteria for Alexanderian aliveness, though, translates into something like, Create only features, interfaces, and systems that resolve conflicting human desires.” I think that’s something we could use.

Moving to the second requirement in the aliveness criteria—being self-sustaining—clarifies problems of organizational character and pulls me back into adrienne maree brown’s sense of fractal trouble. In my own experience, most organizations that genuinely do a good job serving humans and avoid making the systems around them worse exist in a state of permanent precarity. I think this happens both because those orgs burn out the people who hold the place together, and especially because under modern capitalism, it’s nearly impossible to achieve financial stability when funding essential social support work is constructed as charity.

The third requirement of aliveness—to build systems that avoid worsening the world by dumping outward the stresses they create—cuts to moral vacuum at the tech industry’s core, which is the neutrality that sets the burning world at a professional distance behind UV-filtering glass.


Fine, but what does it mean in our actual work? Let’s begin with a person. Since I’m right here, we can start with me. A handful of the conflicting desires that arise on the networks I’ve been using for a couple of decades:

  • I want to have interesting conversations online without participating in modes of interaction I would never tolerate offline, ranging from brigading to individual abuse to soul-erodingly tedious explanation of my own words back to me.
  • I want to be visible enough to make interesting friends and attract work that I’m good at without getting stalked, doxxed, or successfully targeted for mass harassment. Relatedly, I want people who are structurally least likely to be heard offline to be granted space and access without being made into sacrificial bait for hate campaigns.
  • I want to be able to have semi-secluded conversations with variously durable and ephemeral sets of people without giving up my overall ability to participate in a wider, more public conversation. And I want to be able to be a good host, who can invite people into conversations without exposing them to the common brutalities.

A ~product design~ that resolved these kinds of conflicting desires would be vastly more useful than the notions of healthy networks” that zoom around every time a tech millionaire’s kids turn thirteen. There’s nothing alive about networks that enforce civility over care, and there’s much more life in honest squabbling than in the weird rictus of LinkedIn. But an emotionally and culturally literate form of social design would work toward spaces that let us be our petty, banged-up selves while structurally lessening the damage our bad days do to the people around us, instead of fanning each minor flare of ill temper into a housefire.

Stopping here feels depressing, so I won’t. There’s so much more life to be had if we start with human cultural patterns and try to strengthen what is alive and good in them.

  • When I’m invited into semi-sheltered spaces or moments, I want it to feel like I’m wandering through a particularly nice party—outdoors, day’s heat just subsiding, one cold drink, maybe some lightning bugs?—catching edges of conversations—and then I want to be able to trace unthreaded clusters of people and meaning back through time so I can perceive deeper relationships and shared interests.
  • I want to be able to browse through my online acquaintances’ varied interests like I was nosing through their bookshelves while they make coffee without sifting through stilted hashtags or stalking them across sites. I want to skip political slogans in favor of shared pathways into what we actually do in support of the ideas we care about.
  • I want systems of trust, recommendation, and vouching for people that work at least as well as the ones I use when I need a local dentist or a good lunch without the bandwagon problems that arise when trust gets conflated with celebrity.
  • I want to be able to summon a cloud of expert discussion on any topic, with each analysis clearly situated within the commenter’s background and history—and I want to do it without becoming a human filter for the corrosive exhaust of misinformation campaigns.
  • On the purely selfish side, I want social tools to support my cognitive capacity during wide-ranging reading, not to weaken it. I want an easy way to find half-remembered fragments that doesn’t involve me carefully labeling everything I might someday wish to remember. I want a stereotypical little demon to coalesce, sift through what I told people I would email them or promised I’d check out, and send me a list—and then I want it to break down harmlessly into water and salt, retaining exactly nothing, selling out exactly no one.

Tomkins, in the essay I quote at the top of this post, is paraphasing a central idea from George Kingsley Zipf’s Human Behavior and the Principle of Least Effort, a psycho-linguistic treatise that explosively decompresses a single insight about the inter-relation of tools that seek jobs and jobs that seek tools into an argument that includes passages like this one:

As to the incentives, first, of the greedy and venturesome outsider who wants to supplant some y lord of the system, we can see that as the y status of a lord increases, his Ay, income increases proportionally, and therewith his attractiveness to the bold outsider. In short, the y lord’s attractiveness is proportional to Ay. On the other hand, as the Ay, income increases, the number of y lords who have that income decreases according to c/Ay2, with the result that the N, opportunities of supplanting a y lord decrease more rapidly than the Ay, income increases.

…which is the kind of thing you don’t see as much now outside the twenty-five-cent stack at an estate sale, and also extremely funny to me. I’m afraid it’s also reflective of some of the communication problems I have when I try to talk about social forms with people trained to think algorithmically. It’s not the encoding of life’s weird pageant that I’m after; I just want tools better suited to human hands.

As I type this post, Reddit-the-company is steadfastly clinging to their decision to demolish thirty-party tools critical to Reddit-the-community’s ability to self-moderate, and therefore to produce anything of value to anyone but the edgelords and grifters who form the sticky ring around the bathtub when the water drains away.

Given that we seem to be stuck, as a techno-culture, on something as basic as don’t actively harm the people whose gift of free labor is your company’s only value,” maybe it’s unhelpful to be thinking out loud about how much better our social worlds could be! I don’t know. But unless we’re going to excise the influence of our networks from our societies entirely, and especially given the whole Gibsonian jackpot situation (spoilers for The Peripheral there), it feels impossible not to try.

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CrystalDave
360 days ago
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de Garde Brewing’s Decade of Spontaneous Invention

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A look back at a decade of spontaneous invention at Tillamook, Oregon’s de Garde Brewing

10 years ago, a young couple named Linsey Hamacher and Trevor Rogers launched a brewery whose concept seemed as wild as the spontaneously fermented beers it would produce. Sour beers and wild ales were becoming more popular among an increasingly savvy group of craft beer fans, but the idea of opening a brewery solely focused on these beers was a gamble to say the least. Doing it in a tiny farming town on the Oregon coast known for its cheese and little else seemed downright crazy. Not only that, but the tiny amount of beer that de Garde would produce meant that the vast majority of people who got to consume it would have to travel to the source. The idea of a destination brewery was still a somewhat foreign concept though more of these would come to fruition around the country in the decade that followed.   

Trevor and Linsey toast the installation of their original brewhouse in March 2013

“Honestly, we had no idea if people would come to Tillamook to try our beer. We didn't have a tasting room or anything, we were just brewing out of our rental house's garage. I think we had kind of imagined we'd be selling our beer to whoever might have an interest locally and in the Portland area,” says Linsey, who handles much of de Garde’s business affairs while Trevor manages the brewing. At just around ninety minutes away, Portland was the closest major city to Tillamook.  

“It certainly was a terrifying wager though,” adds Trevor.

At the same time, the unique environmental circumstances of Tillamook also had exactly what they were looking for. From the very beginning, Trevor has been obsessed with harnessing the energy of this landscape as the primary source of fermentation for de Garde beers. In doing so, he has taken the wine-related concept of terroir and applied it to native yeast. This yeast finds the mix of briny coastal air and rainy farmland giving each batch of de Garde its signature funk and minerality. 

De Garde Brewing is now in their third location since opening 10 years ago

 

“We're intrinsically tied to this place. Our area naturally provides the native yeast and bacteria that define our beer, and we'd be making something quite different in a different location. We chose to be here, because we believe it's a great location for this type of craft,” he says, but points out that this all comes at a cost. “There are definitely some additional hurdles and costs to making beer in our location, but it's part of being who we are, where we are. From a purely business standpoint, operating in a larger market would be ideal: Less transport costs, and proximity to a larger audience. While that would be lovely, we opted to pursue unique character and quality over economic ease and feasibility.” 

As a former chef at Pelican Brewing, Trevor saw de Garde as a way to explore his love of wild ales and wine. He brewed using the coolship method championed by his lambic-loving Belgian heroes like 3 Fontein, Cantillon and Tilquin among others, then transferred the beer to age in barrels and foeders where it would age for a minimum of one year and often more. Along the way, he might add local fruit and wine grapes to the beer. The result was and still is a beer that is tart, funky and expressive of its time and place.    

“I guess we were hopeful and optimistic that there would be an audience for what we made? We started out producing a tiny amount of beer, and really, we still do. We believed that we'd be able to find enough like-minded people to support these efforts, and suspected that our beer would find its way to receptive people,” reflects Trevor. 

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Luckily, his suspicions were correct and de Garde took off almost from day one, timed perfectly (though not intentionally) with craft beer’s transition into a more adventurous era. Word of the little brewery cranking out delicate wild ales on the Oregon coast was soon spreading amongst a growing number of craft beer obsessives who traded and shipped beer around the world. When they opened their first taproom near where their current taproom stands now, it became clear on opening day that the word was out on de Garde. 

“The first [big moment] that I can recall was the 'grand' opening of our original taproom, actually quite close to where we are now. It was an absolutely tiny space. We could somewhat comfortably accommodate maybe ten people? How many people were going to drive to Tillamook for our particular type of 'weird' beer after all?,” he says. “Anyhow, we had hoped a few people would show up for the opening. We ended up with a line around the corner of the block, and quickly realized that we were clearly unprepared.”   

Soon after, they moved to a non-descript warehouse space out by an old World War II blimp hangar that houses the Tillamook Air Museum. Their small but airy taproom was no frills, with the emphasis being on the liquids in the glass rather than the decor on the walls. Starting with the kind of respectful awe most breweries can only dream of also came with its own struggles, with Trevor, Linsey and their small but dedicated team focused perhaps more on meeting demand than providing the kind of brewery experience that matched the quality of their beer. This all changed in 2017 when they opened their brewery and tasting room at 114 Ivy Ave in November of 2017 after long delays and budgetary issues.   

“Major consideration for our current brewery and tasting room was put into the hospitality and guest experience, largely based on learned lessons,” says Trevor, who cites the opening of the brewery as perhaps their biggest milestone. “We'd gone through a long and frankly terrifying process of purchasing, renovating and adding onto the very old structure and property, but it allowed us to design the brewery and tasting room as we'd wanted but hadn't had the ability or opportunity for prior. It's what we needed, what the folks that choose to come visit us deserve, and what the beer deserves.” 

Indeed, the tasting room allowed for more spacious seating, including an outdoor patio. Behind the scenes, hundreds of wine and spirit barrels sit with wild ales happily fermenting away while the coolship lives on the second floor. The early days of the new tap room found eager beer nerds lining up every weekend, but much of the line culture that defined pre-pandemic hype beer culture went away when businesses like de Garde were forced to switch to online ordering and shipping, and quick, seamless pick-up. The decrease in tap room visitation also led de Garde to rely more on distribution, which means that ten years in, their beer is perhaps more accessible than it’s ever been.

“The pandemic changed the landscape, for sure. It's been a difficult few years for pretty much everyone, and I think we're all still finding our footing. Having our beer be more accessible is certainly not a bad thing though. It's been a goal of ours from the start, and one that as a small brewery we've often failed at. So long as beer is getting to folks that want it, we can keep working, and our team is well cared for, then broader accessibility is good. We'll see what future years bring, I suppose,” says Trevor. 

Trevor points to the fact that de Garde has actually decreased output over the years though it may not seem like that when you can now find their beer on shelves in bottle shops around Oregon, California and Washington. “Our focus has instead been on refining recipe and process, and maturing beer for ever longer times in barrels, with quality being the driving goal. With a finite amount of space and oak barrel and tank capacity, the longer maturation has necessarily resulted in a decreasing amount of beer output. We're ok with that. Particularly in the pursuit of quality. I like going to bed at night knowing that I tried to do something that I could be proud of.”

The brewery has also been devoting small but precious amounts of barrel space to making wine in recent years, once again leading a trend that has caught on at a small number of breweries around the country. (Read: It Took a Lot of Great Beer for these Breweries to Make Wine)

It’s difficult to gauge the influence of de Garde, but it seems fair to assume that the fervor it has generated over the last decade amongst beer nerds has pushed many other breweries to dedicate more time and space to crafting wild ales. Alongside peers like Jester King - which also just celebrated a ten-year anniversary - de Garde has helped bring more visibility to the idea of making spontaneously fermented beer using the coolship method, with breweries from coast to coast investing in the ancient style of production.

“There have been some pretty incredible and humbling moments over the years though. Seeing customers line up for releases, winning awards, festival invites, and finishing the renovation on our current building, will always bring me happiness,” says Linsey.  

For Trevor, there are a handful of key moments where he knew that de Garde had earned the respect of the same people he once idolized. “Perhaps the most inspirational moment that I've personally experienced happened at the first of the beer awards ceremonies we were invited to, in Santa Rosa, California. It was fairly early on for our brewery. We were awarded a medal as one of the top 10 breweries in the world, and the best in Oregon, amongst a number of other awards. This was as unexpected as it was humbling. Later that day, another Oregon brewer approached me inside Russian River Brewing and said, ‘You know that your awards are bullshit, right? Just want to make sure you know that.’ The awards and the following interaction definitely provided even more inspiration to do better.”

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As for his own favorite de Garde beers, Trevor says he’s “a huge fan of the long-aged, unfruited blends we compose, as well as the beers we make that incorporate wine grapes.” Many of these have been the result of collaborations, which also have represented milestones for Trevor and Linsey. “We've been able to blend and collaborate with some of our Lambic brewer friends, as well as numerous other inspirational folks. We've been invited to places and events and traveled around the country and world. Both to learn as well as to work, and we've found a lot of friends along the way. We've served beer with and next to our industry idols and been well received. We've met people in the most random and distant places that were familiar with our brewery and were fans of it. We've partnered with Michelin starred restaurants, and poured beer in numerous rustic beer joints. Every little bit has been an adventure. Every bit has been worth the effort.”

Many of those friends and collaborators will make their way to the Oregon coast when the first decade of de Garde culminates in a blowout anniversary party on May 6 just up the road from Tillamook in Garibaldi. Trevor and Linsey have traditionally kept their beer events low-key and smaller affairs, but the lack of social interaction during the pandemic and their own growth after 10 years signaled that they should throw what promises to be their biggest event to date. To pull it together, they have invited some of their famous friends including Hill Farmstead, Toppling Goliath, Cantillon, Side Project, Hill Farmstead, Monkish, Trillium and Anchorage, to name just a few. There will of course be plenty of de Garde being poured as well. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for the event to sell out.   

Ultimately, the event will be yet another major moment for a brewery that has earned its way into the upper echelon of craft beer. At the core of this is their unwavering commitment to quality as well as representing their little corner of the world that a decade ago seemed like a gamble for this kind of brewery. For Trevor, the balance of all these things is exactly what he hopes to maintain in the next chapter of de Garde. 

“We've built this business on a particular ethos, style and expression, and we're committed to doing it the best that we can. I'd like to say, perhaps to hope, that the future holds more of the same, with a similar focus on continual improvement.”  



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CrystalDave
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