Archive for January, 2017

The Women’s March: A Rare (and Wonderful!) Display of Unity Around the World


My favorite sign from the Women’s March on Paris. (Photo by Christine Nesrallah. Used with permission.)

This is going to be a fairly short post, both because of the other projects waiting impatiently for me on my desk, AND because I know that there are many other posts out there, and that all the amazing statistics from the extraordinary, historic display of unity and harmony expressed around the world on Saturday will be covered elsewhere.

I just want to say how grateful I am to have been able to participate in the Women’s March in Paris on Saturday. I also want to say how grateful I am to the many French women, Frenchmen (and other men), and children who joined us in marching through the streets of Paris to express our solidarity with all those who have already felt slighted, threatened, or otherwise badly treated by the new president of the United States. Your support meant a lot to the American women who were marching in Paris, and it matters a lot also to our compatriots in the U.S. (I know this is true: many of them have already said so to me on Facebook.)


Me and some of my friends at the Women’s March (My friends don’t really look very nasty, do they?)

I’d also like to say that in addition to the overwhelming feeling of solidarity, harmony, and good cheer that dominated the manif” in Paris the other day, there was also such a lot of creativity in the signs people were carrying. And though (smartphone-less as I stubbornly remain), I did not get pictures of any of them, I did note a few of them that I’d like to share with you verbally:

Thou Shalt Not Grab (I love this one, because it eloquently implies that there are many things one should not grab. I believe this is true, of people, of corporations, and of governments.)

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance

Women of Paris, Nasty Since 1789

It takes guts to be gentle and kind 

And my favorite one of all (shown above) was Make America Kind Again.

I also want to share a few of the slogans we chanted as we marched:

“SO-SO-Solidarité! Avec les femmes du monde entier!”  and

“No hate! No fear! Everybody’s welcome here!”  and

“C’est la meme colère qui ressent, à Paris et à Washington…” 

and (last but certainly NOT least)


Finally I would like to say that despite the hugely successful turnout on Saturday, I’ll bet the powers that be are not exactly running scared yet. My guess is they’re counting on most of us to drop the ball now.

We have to NOT DO THAT!!!! Because while we were marching (and before we were marching) they have already busy undermining our rights, making terrible decisions, and in general wreaking havoc in the world.

And they will continue to do so, and they will hope that we all go back to our busy lives and forget about what they are doing.

I know that it’s not easy to stay on task in this regard, for many very good reasons: but really, as Adam Gopnik wrote last week in the New Yorker, “the best way to be sure that 2017 is not 1934 is to act as though it were.” The full article is here. It’s really good: read it!

And so. We have to become, or become again, or remain, activists. We really have to.

There are many many ways to do that. I would urge everyone reading this post to find a way to figure out what they are for you. There is no doubt someone in your world who can help you get started (and more importantly), help you keep going.

Here’s one good source for help along the way.

In solidarity, I leave you with the text from one more sign I saw the other day. I believe this sign was addressed to those same Powers that Be that I was referring to above. It said:

“Respect Existence. Expect Resistance.” 

Let’s make sure they do both.

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She leads book groups at the American Library in Paris, writing workshops in Essoyes, a village in the Champagne region, and teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” each summer, in Paris, for Queens College, CUNY.

January 23, 2017 at 5:29 pm 2 comments

A Peek Ahead at the Year of Renoir


This year is the Year of Renoir not just in Essoyes, but throughout l’Aube, the département in which Essoyes is located, in the Champagne region of France.

Essoyes is situated just a couple of hours southeast of Paris,  very close to the border of Burgundy. Could there be a more perfect location? Well, many of us don’t think so.  🙂

In any case, why is this the Year of Renoir? And what will there be to see and do in l’Aube this year? I’ll be posting details of upcoming events from time to time, but for now I just want to give you a peek at a few of them, and suggest that you might want to mark your calendars for a visit to Essoyes–and Troyes–in 2017!


The Maison Renoir in Essoyes, currently undergoing a major renovation. It will open to the public in June. Photo by Janet Hulstrand.

The opening of the Renoir home, currently undergoing a 600,000 Euro renovation, is the big, central event, and the reason the département has decided to designate this year the Year of Renoir. This is the home in which Pierre Auguste Renoir and his wife, Aline Charigot–who was born and raised in Essoyes–lived with their family much of the time, from the late 1800s until Renoir’s problems with arthritis forced a move to the South of France. This is also the home in which Jean Renoir spent many of his happiest times as a boy.

The house will open to the public on June 3. This is a very exciting event indeed: until recently the house was still being used as a summer and weekend home for Sophie Renoir, a great-granddaughter of the painter, and her family. A few years ago the village purchased the home, and the renovation now underway will offer visitors to du côté Renoir, an interpretive center dedicated to educating visitors about the life of the Renoir family in this village, a much more complete, and more satisfying, sense of their life in Essoyes at the turn of the twentieth century.


During the weekend of July 22-23, the village will recreate life in Essoyes in the year 1900. And throughout the summer there will be special events planned in Essoyes, in the surrounding area, and in Troyes, which is a wonderful city to visit at any time in any case. One of these events is a Renoir exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Troyes, which will include, among other things, a famous portrait of “la belle Gabrielle,”  who, as a cousin of Mme. Renoir, beloved nanny of Jean Renoir, and one of Renoir’s favorite models, is perhaps the second most famous Essoyenne, after Mme. Renoir herself.

I’ll be posting soon about other events being planned, including a weekend celebrating the work of Jean Renoir. And you can find details of upcoming events as they are being released by the département de l’Aube, here.  So stay tuned!

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She leads book groups at the American Library in Paris, writing workshops in Essoyes, a village in the Champagne region, and teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” each summer in Paris for Queens College, CUNY.




January 15, 2017 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

“I believe–I really, truly believe–that you have the opportunity before you to decide whether to be absolutely the worst president in our history, the one who presided over the destruction of our republic, and the boldest experiment in democracy the world has thus far known. Or the one who seemed like he was going to do that, but then did not…”

Continue Reading January 10, 2017 at 2:41 pm 2 comments

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