Sous les pavés, la plage! Beneath the pavement, the beach!
That famous graffiti slogan hit the walls of Paris 50 years ago this month. France tossed in a revolutionary reverie. The big-number anniversary of May of ’68, and the protests that came within a Gallic mustache whisker of toppling the French government, may not resonate here. It was all super-French. Cigarettes. Communists. Philosophy. Cinephiles might remember some hot scenes from The Dreamers. Otherwise, the past is a foreign country.
But we all need mental vacations these days. (Right?) And for some reason—many reasons—May ’68 keeps coming to my mind as we create this issue of Portland Monthly. May of ’18 brings our fourth “Oregon Woman” project; our cover story unites stories of women reshaping the state, while other compelling women and their work percolate throughout the issue. On May 12 and 13, we’ll aim to harness that energy live, in our second-annual Woman Up festival of community and better living.
It all arrives to tumult, as perhaps you’ve heard. The issue’s conception roughly tracked the #MeToo reckoning with workplace sexual misconduct, individual and institutional: a crack in a dam that should have burst generations ago. As we assembled the magazine’s pages, the kids took to the streets in America with an urgent case against the lethal violence that pervades the nation, toting signs as clever as any devised at the Sorbonne in ’68.
I can’t write about what it all means. We don’t know yet. But I know how it looks: like the start of something big. Our first Oregon Woman issue, in 2015, felt like a simple nod to reality. Women lead in every sphere of life here. As our 2018 stories show, that leadership often requires the nitty-gritty of running a big-city police force, pursuing public office, shoring up rural resources, or producing a magazine with something to say. (Fabi Reyna of She Shreds, you have our heart.) Now these stories seem to imply a bolder demand. Sous les pavés, la plage—or, less Parisianly, we can do better than this.
Call up mai 68 on YouTube (I admit I have) and you enter a different epoch. The protest wardrobes are chic, the flags red, the cars tiny. (It takes several to make a respectable barricade.) As the radicals of 50 years ago and a world away stream past, though, they do bear familiar aspects: humanity, and hope that another world is possible.
Editor in Chief