At the beginning of the pandemic, people flocked to purchase copies of 1984. Are we ready to take on Big Brother?

In the spring of 2013, I spent a night in Michigan State University’s drunk tank with a girl from Grand Valley, a university about two hours north of Lansing where we were. She wasn’t much older than me at the time, eighteen or nineteen and she told me that the officer who brought her in had sexually assaulted her. He’d known she was drunk, he’d known she was alone and he probably thought that she wouldn’t say anything. …

I discuss the benefits of building community gardens for LGBT+ folks, for mental health and for finding space outside together.

A tribute we held at the allotment on November 20th, Trans Day of Remembrance, in honour of all those who have lost their lives to transphobia, both this year, in the past, and for those whose lives will be lost to anti-trans violence in the future

In 2016, I was listening to my dear friend (and then housemate) Rohit Menon give his TEDx talk to the Greater Lansing area. In his talk, he discussed the theory of ‘third places’ — a concept that fascinated me then, and still does five years later writing this piece.

Third places, as named in Roy Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place (1989), are social condensers; they are places where the people of a community or a neighbourhood meet to develop friendships, discuss issues, and interact with others. They are distinctive, informal gathering places, such as bars, clubs or cafes. They nourish…

The first time I used the words ‘sexual misconduct’, it was in trying to understand what had happened to me. To this day, in this moment, I still hesitate to use the word rape — because it was not forceful, it was not violent, and because it was done to me by a man I was seeing at the time. I confided in a friend that I didn’t feel like my story fit the ‘conventional rape narrative’ of stranger danger and violence, that I was drunk when it happened, that I had been drunk many times when men I hadn’t…

This morning reminds me of November 9th — the first time I woke up to a much darker world than I’d gone to sleep in, politically speaking. I had participated in my first election the year Barack Obama came into office, and I was a passionate and fervent Bernie supporter in 2016. After the DNC scandal, I begrudgingly found a place in my heart for Hillary Clinton and came to admire her long political career. I had been so sure that on that morning I would wake up to a woman in the White House.

And of course, I was…

Born a virgo, I feel like being organized has always come very naturally to me. Yet, since starting my PhD nearly nine months ago, I’ve struggled to find a human way to keep track of all the literature I’ve read. I highlight, I take notes, but I usually don’t look back on them, and unless they become integrated into my literature review or some other work, they just sit in my Zotero library waiting for the rare day where I realize I need something from them again.

I have a really horrible headache today, as I sit and write this…

As a middle class, midwestern American, I didn’t have a clue about the concept of rest. From childhood, I was encouraged to set goals and achieve gold stars for jobs well done. I grew into an adult who measured worth by success, accomplishment and status.

Goal setting is a good practice, don’t get me wrong. Goals give us purpose, they help us get things done, they help us build ourselves and our lives with intention. Some brain chemistry works in favor of goal setting as well — when we set goals, our brain releases dopamine. Just like we are drawn…

Image of three women dressed in black pushing against the large fist of patriarchy
Image of three women dressed in black pushing against the large fist of patriarchy

I first learned of the impact our institutions can have on our wellbeing in 2015, in a 150-person lecture hall and a class on neurobiology.

We were learning about the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and it’s role as the stress control centre of the body[1]. These three structures in our body - the hypothalamus, and the pituitary and adrenal glands - communicate together when we experience stressful stuff. They pour us a hormone cocktail while our brain conducts risk assessments to try to understand whether we are safe or whether we are going to die.

We are learning machines, so when these…

There once was a woman who stared at lions.

Every Tuesday at 2:45pm, she would leave work early to go down to the Chicago Zoo. She would sit on the bench opposite the west end of the lion enclosure, because that’s where they liked to sun themselves best in the spring.

She left work early to avoid crowds of noisy, happy families and unruly packs of children. No, she it wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy families necessarily, it’s just that she preferred quiet for lion watching.

The lions didn’t pay particular attention to any of the humans, save for the…

Becca Brunk

PhD researcher interested in the intersection of stress, psychology, emotions and our modern environments. Michigander across the pond.

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