Non-Reader vs Wallstreet Bull


The Weekly ran another Save the Square charade that suggests Dan Egan is out to “steal” the Kesey statue. I posted on this three days ago, then, took it down. The next day I made a video, I have yet to publish. Then, appear the image of the defiant girl of Wall Street.

We Liberal Bohemians can capture this beautiful girl. Is she a Kesey?

“Teach me to read!” is the new BRAND.

Jon Presco

Kesey Square

The PPS consultants said, “We’re going to call it Kesey Square,” and so should we officially and soon. Rumor has it that Dan Egan, of the Wildish Community Theater, is actively conspiring to steal the Kesey name and sculpture over to Springfield.

Why The ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Is Kinda Bull
Don’t be seduced by Wall Street pinkwashing.

By Emily Peck

Brazil Photo Press/CON via Getty Images


It’s impossible not to feel something when you look at her. The sculpture of the slender little girl in downtown New York is as defiant and fierce as advertised: her little feet firmly planted, hands on hips, head lifted upwards. She’s bravely facing off with one of Wall Street’s most masculine, powerful symbols: The Charging Bull.
Crowds flocked to the girl this week, after State Street, a massive investment management firm, placed her in front of the iconic bronze bovine, installed in 1989 to symbolize Wall Street’s roaring return from that decade’s stock market crash.
But don’t let emotions about this piece of art fool you. That adorable, perfectly irresistible little girl is just a super-sophisticated bit of feminist marketing, used to make us feel good and do little that is substantive. You can think of the bronze sculpture, called “Fearless Girl,” and the gender awareness campaign State Street launched along with it, as kind of like a 401(k) ― another consumer product pumped out by the financial industry: It’s better than nothing and definitely not enough.
The girl represents “the future,” State Street says in a press release. Her adorable visage is an act of political art, the company said, to force a conversation about one of the dullest and yet most important issues in the business world that no regular person cares about: the boardroom. Board members represent the pinnacle of corporate power, advising, hiring and firing the CEOs of companies. They can help set the overall tone and strategy of a company. And overwhelmingly they are male.
“We are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action,” State Street said in its press release, issued the day before International Women’s Day.
What State Street failed to mention is that the company doesn’t actually have a lot of women on its own board ― or at the top of its leadership team. Only three women sit on State Street’s board of directors out of 11 seats. That’s 27 percent. Just two years ago, there were only two women on its board. Less than one-quarter ― just 23 percent ― of State Street’s executive vice-presidents are women. And only 28 percent of senior vice-presidents are female.
If the goal is gender equality, State Street’s women stats are terrible. They reveal the sculpture and the call to action as a mostly empty seduction, not unlike Ivanka Trump’s non-threatening #WomenWhoWork marketing campaign or a male-dominated car company like Audi using women’s economic inequality to hawk luxury vehicles.
Yet State Street doesn’t think it’s doing that badly when it comes to hiring and promoting women, a spokeswoman told The Huffington Post on Thursday.
“Three and 27 percent is better than zero,” said the company’s head of public relations Ann McNally, referring to the number and percent of women on its board.
Those stats are only moderately higher than average. Only 21 percent of board seats at Fortune 500 companies are occupied by women, she noted, also emphasizing that 1 in 4 firms on the Russell 3000 index, the companies that make-up 98 percent of the stock market, have no female board members. That is indeed shockingly terrible.
McNally concedes that progress industry-wide has been slow. “It’s not moving fast enough,” she said. But at the same time argues that State Street practices what it preaches.
State Street said earlier this month that it would, in a year, consider using its power as a shareholder in public companies to force change by voting against board members who don’t do anything to nominate women.
If a board doesn’t put up a woman, State Street would ask for proof that it tried, it said.
Still, the preference is for more gentle pressure. “Our preferred engagement process is engagement,” McNally said, somewhat inscrutably, meaning they want to have conversations about this stuff ― rather than take harsher action.
State Street, like many other firms who are lagging on diversity, has set company-wide diversity goals. They’re pretty modest: getting the vice-president number up six percentage points by the end of this year, for example. And like a handful of other well-intentioned firms, the company makes achieving diversity goals something that managers are evaluated on in performance reviews.
This is commendable. However, they’re still not hiring women at anywhere near parity. Thirty percent of new hires in 2016 were women, McNally said. She declined to give anymore detail on the gender composition of the 33,000-employee firm or detail which divisions of the company are hiring the women. At many finance firms, women are shunted into divisions like Human Resources and legal, which are not responsible for profits and are considered not quite as important to the firm.
At State Street, for example, there are only two women on the management committee, the Human Resource chief and the chief administrative officer.
For all its bluster and programs and calls to action and art pieces, State Street isn’t treating the lack of diversity as it would a core business problem. You’d imagine that if, say, profits were down by a considerable amount, the firm would take action to immediately rectify the problem. Indeed, the firm recovered quickly after receiving bailout money from the federal government during the financial crisis.
That brings us to something else about this sculpture: It makes you feel really good about a massive financial institution less than a decade after the 2008 crisis, which made us all feel very badly about massive financial institutions.
It wasn’t that long ago that Wall Street ― led overwhelmingly by men ― crashed the global economy, forcing millions of families out of their homes, driving massive job loss. While investors and the richest Americans have bounced back and beyond from the 2008 crisis, regular people most certainly have not.
When a firm like State Street successfully co-opts feminism for marketing purposes, it lulls us all into forgetting. We’re essentially “empowered” to keep buying into the current system, despite the fact that it has so clearly shortchanged women (and men).
But never mind all that, look at that cutie girl!  Not a woman, of course. A fierce woman facing down the bull, one imagines, would have actually been too threatening to make this marketing ploy work.

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 9: Hundreds of tourists take photos of ‘The Fearless Girl’ statue as it stands across from the Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull to draw attention to the gender equality and lack of female managers on March 09, 2017 in New York City, US. Third largest asset manager worldwide State Street Global Advisors installed the statue on March 08, 2017. (Photo by William Volcov/Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images)

The Turning Point Downtown?

The Park Blocks and Kesey Square

When people come to Eugene for the 2021 World Track and Field Championships, they will, like all tourists, spend a large majority of their time in our outdoor public spaces. The most charitable way to describe our present situation is that we are not yet quite ready for them downtown.

A year ago last December people filled the LCC downtown center to express their revived hopes about improving our downtown park and open spaces and to let city officials know unambiguously that they didn’t want to sell Kesey Square.

The upshot was that we needed help with our open space planning, and so the city hired The Partnership for Public Spaces from New York City. For the past 30-plus years, the firm has developed and successfully applied the ideas of William H. Whyte’s The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces to cities around the country and the world.

So PPS came, consulted and emphasized that we weren’t going to be able to realize our significant potential for vibrant and healthy downtown places until we came to grips with the negative social dimensions of our present situation. Successful placemaking, as they called it, needed to be understood as a socially driven, physical design process. Here is a partial critique of two of their proposals.

The Park Blocks

The PPS proposal for the Park Blocks is in happy agreement with the city’s most recent decision to restore the northwest Park Block and build a City Hall that crowns it along 7th Avenue. Their “big idea” here: to restore the Park Blocks to central importance as “the civic square for all Eugene,” overlaps perfectly with what has become our own idea.

We’d already made it easy for them by deciding that this was the right place for a more permanent home for our farmers and Saturday markets, and that it was time to retire the “butterfly” parking lot. On PPS founder-president Fred Kent’s first trip to Eugene, he looked down on the Park Blocks from the Hilton and said that this was where we should place our City Hall.

More controversial are their recommendations for the existing Park Blocks. We’ve grown used to their presence as passive park space downtown, our pastoral downtown green. In a word, they recommend that this is the time to reassess their potential and change from predominately passive to much more active use: the West Park Block to be redesigned for families and children; the East Park Block to better support programmed activities and events. Keep the trees, they say, but open them up.

The social strategy behind this is to enliven our downtown spaces with more regular round-the-clock and calendar use and to design them to purposefully serve a wider diversity of people.

The Park Blocks are great assets on market days, just as Kesey Square is just what is needed when events fill it with purposeful and passionate people. But our downtown spaces need to be transformed from empty, passive receptacles at non-event times and managed to become the social, political and commercial centers of our downtown living.

If there is an obvious missing element in the PPS plan, it is bathrooms. Ice cream doesn’t just go in one end and stay there. No one is going to bring their kids downtown to play in the East Park Block if there is nowhere to take them nearby. The Eugene Public Library, which now bears the brunt for those in need of bathrooms and shelter downtown, is just too far away and is sorely in need of help in this regard.

This is of course a basic need for everyone, but it is important not to forget to design for the retired and the elderly. Support for their growing presence and participation downtown should be much more present in the plan. They also serve who sit and watch.

Kesey Square

The PPS consultants said, “We’re going to call it Kesey Square,” and so should we officially and soon. Rumor has it that Dan Egan, of the Wildish Community Theater, is actively conspiring to steal the Kesey name and sculpture over to Springfield.

Here the proposed social strategy echoes the Park Blocks. The space needs to have a “24-hour” anchor, a built-in café or restaurant or beer garden, to keep it alive at non-event times. They show a number of examples where this has been done successfully, including possibilities for temporary cover.

The PPS proposal has essentially replaced the food carts, which reduce the impact of the high brick walls, with more permanent structures. The problem is that the carts can fill up too much of the square, reducing the center’s flexibility and use for events. The obvious answer is still to open up the flanking walls to connect and overlap business with the square.

What is wanted is a better balance between commercially active, penetrated walls and flexible inter or space for tables and events. The Kesey sculpture doesn’t want or need PPS’s remodeled base, but it could be moved a bit closer to the corner to help form multi-useful central space.

Resolving the zoning, right-of-way and fire code issues that are needed to make wall penetration possible and economically attractive to the owner could still use a bit of an outside push. But what are consultants for? I’ve heard of a New York minute, but never about New York timid.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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