Dear friends and family,
So we’re coming up on the holidays, and you may have started to think about what to get me this year. I’ve never done this before, but this is a year like no other, so I’m doing something different.
This year, instead of buying me something, I’d like you to take that cash and make a donation to one of the organizations listed below instead. You can do so in my name.
I’m lucky. I have everything I need. I have a wife who loves me, a farm full of animals, and food on the table. And I have you, someone who cares enough about me to read this. Thank you. But there are many in this country who do not have those things, and many who are desperately afraid for their future right now.
I don’t know how you voted in this election, and I don’t want to. No matter who you voted for, the fact is, the incoming administration is on the record: they plan to dismantle health care, disregard environmental regulations, fight the free press, and take away the civil rights of many who only recently achieved them.
The organizations that will stand up to these injustices are more important than ever. They need the cash more than I do. Please support them instead of me.
I am terrified for the future of this country for the first time in my adult life. Your donation to one of these organizations, even if you don’t agree with them, is the greatest gift you could give me.
Please donate to:
American Civil Liberties Union
Color of Change
Center for Reproductive Rights
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Electronic Frontier Foundation
International Refugee Assistance Project
International Rescue Committee
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
NARAL Pro-Choice America
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
National Organization for Women
Natural Resources Defense Council
Southern Poverty Law Center
This photo was taken in a Displaced Persons Camp in Austria in 1949. That’s my Grandma and Grandpa Powazek with their two sons. That fat kid on the right is my dad, who was born in the camp. A year later, they’d be in New York.
They were in that camp because they fled from their home in Poland. They were refugees from war, victims of discrimination, lucky to escape with their lives.
My grandparents had lifelong scars from that war for the rest of their lives. Grandma always worried. She knew the next time was just around the corner.
As the first grandson, the beginning of the new generation of American-born Powazeks, I tried to reassure my grandma. I told her that life was better now. The war was over. It was safe here.
But as this disgusting election has worn on, and all of the old anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and intolerance has returned to the surface … I just don’t know anymore. More than once I’ve felt grateful that she isn’t here to witness it.
My grandparents could have gone to other places, but they waited for years to get out of that camp. They wanted to come to America. Because it was the land of opportunity.
I think they understood what makes America great better than the politicians who talk about American greatness today. Because those same politicians scapegoat immigrants, use thinly-veiled anti-Semitic slurs, and insult minorities.
I’m proud to be an American. My family literally died for the freedoms we have now. So I used that freedom to cast a vote against bigotry and for Hillary Clinton this year.
I did it because I believe in this place. Because I’m lucky that I’m able to. And because Grandma Powazek would have.
It was a great pleasure to have this conversation with my longtime garden hero, Gayla Trail. We talk desert plants, my San Francisco cloud forest, and botanical tattoos. If that sound like fun, you’re my kinda plant nerd. Go give it a listen.