Kirsten Anderberg: Journalism, Health & History


Women Buskers Project Interviews #2: Seattle Women Buskers!!

Read interviews with Seattle women buskers Yva Las Vegass, Pamela Suzanne Burdwell and Christine Gunn...(Read More...)

The "Mind Fucks" of Being a Street Performer

From afar, it may seem like proficiency at an art form (music, magic, etc.) is the most important component to a successful street performing act, but it is not. Honestly, having a professional-quality act is a small part of busking (aka street performing). I've always felt that it is better to be a great performer and a mediocre musician than a great musician and a mediocre performer when it comes to busking. But it goes much deeper than that. As a busker, you have to learn how to play mind games, even on yourself, to survive. How do you interpret a day when you performed beautifully yet only made 6 pennies all day? Do you suck? Do they suck? Was it the weather or time of month or some crazy astrological alignment? Learning to pay your dues without beating yourself up or giving up is perhaps the most important skill a busker can possess. You have to have a bit of a fighter spirit in you to take to the streets with your art. And a fighter spirit is at times necessary to endure many tides of hostile police, rude shop owners, highly competitive buskers and even your own self-doubt...(Read More...)

WATER FOOTPRINTS: Hidden Water Costs for Products

"Water footprint" is a term used to define all the hidden water consumption required to produce a product. According to the National Geographic Magazine/April 2010 (, it takes 1,857 gallons of fresh water to serve one pound of beef as food, when you add up the water the animal drinks, the water used to grow its food and the water used to clean its waste. Coffee takes 37 gallons of water to produce every cup of coffee. Although our planet is covered with water, 97% of the water is salty and 2% of our fresh water is locked up as snow and ice, which leaves 1% of our planet's fresh water for all our current water uses, which range from crop irrigation and industrial production to cooling nuclear reactors, sewers and drinking/bathing/recreational uses ( Referred to as "blue gold" or "the next oil," competition for fresh water is growing all over the world as we pollute and use more fresh water than is replenished, overdrawing our environmental bank account...(Read More...)

Catholic Medical Centers Trick Women into Giving Birth Against Their Will
Last night on the news I heard that the topic of the right to birth control and Catholic-run institutions has reared its ugly head in the Supreme Court again. Even though President Obama and the Supreme Court have made it clear that access to birth control is a woman's right, Catholic and other religious institutions are appealing for special loopholes to allow these religious organizations to bypass the laws regarding women's rights to such services from their medical providers. Due to this issue having the attention of legislators and law makers in this country again, I feel it necessary to share my story so that people can understand the intricacies that play out in real time, in real women's lives, regarding this issue of access to birth control. When I heard that Supreme Court has recently allowed religious groups to not cover birth control again (, it reminded me of an incident I endured in Eugene, Oregon, at Sacred Heart Hospital, now using the name Sacred Heart/PeaceHealth (, a Catholic institution in the heart of town. On their website, they say Sacred Heart aka "PeaceHealth is a private, nonprofit, Catholic-sponsored health care system." I can say with 100% certainty that the Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, OR tried to *trick* me into a pregnancy and birth, against my will, when I was 40 years of age due to their "unspoken" contraception policies. The problem at Sacred Heart/PeaceHealth in Eugene, OR is symptomatic of problems women face with regards to control of their own bodies and access to legal health care all over the country...(To read more of this article, visit

Read a new interview article with 3 women buskers from Sweden, Croatia and the US!

Woods on Vashon Island, WA (Photo: K. Anderberg 2004)

Is It Safe for Women to Go into Nature Alone?
"I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraining, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this." - Henry David Thoreau, January 3, 1853

I like to be alone in nature. Yet I am constantly told that is not safe. I am warned to take someone with me on every hike. Yet part of why I like going into nature is to get away from humans. I do not want to have to take a human chaperone with me every time I go into nature. That ruins it, to be blunt. I don't want to hear a human voice out there, I want to hear the stunning whisk of silence, I want to hear birds and frogs, not another human. Sometimes I will be watching a gorgeous sunset at the beach and all of a sudden two Chatty Cathys will walk by and for a few minutes I have to endure a he said-she said gossip narration until they trail out of sight again. It is a rude awakening from humans that interrupts my communing with nature often, thus getting away from humans, alone into the wild of nature, really is appealing to me. Yet, as I have said, I am constantly told this is not a safe behavior. My son bought me a cell phone partly because he did not like the idea that I would drive off into canyons and go into nature alone. Yet, cell phones don't work deep in those canyons, ironically, and perhaps, thankfully, so. (Read More...)

"Do yourself a favor, educate your mind..." - Stevie Wonder

I have been involved with activism to help stop homelessness for decades. The following is an article I wrote on the topic a few years back...

(Photo taken by K. Anderberg, Downtown Seattle, WA., 2007)

Homelessness and the Privilege of Privacy
When I've been homeless, the hardest part has been the lack of privacy. The *privilege of privacy* is something many take for granted, but for those of us who have experienced homelessness firsthand, privacy becomes a mindset, rather than a physical reality. And that fortress of privacy within one's *mind* adds to the wide chasm between the housed and the homeless, often making homeless people seem "crazy" to housed folks. And when one has been forced to make *mental* doors that shut, since physical doors to shut for safety are nonexistent, it is as if there is a change to one's soul. (Read More...)

Discipline and Punishment in Prisons, Schools, and Labor
Foucault details how torture was previously based on physical fear and "collective horror," with images branded upon the psyches of all the spectators to torture. The progression Foucault describes in punishment was a move to punishment now being based on a "lesson," and legally prescribed punishments for crimes with elemental standards. Foucault then also says this "gentler" punishment would then make possible "in society an inversion of the traditional discourse of crime," meaning there needed to be a proactive move to "extinguish the dubious glory of the criminal." (It is interesting to look at modern society's current glorification of "thug life," and "gangsta rap," as well as old school classics such as Ice-T's "Cop Killer" in this context.) Foucault says the discipline movement wanted to "silence the adventures of the great criminals celebrated in the almanacs, broadsheets, and popular tales," and that these then must be replaced in the public conscience by the recording and publicity of the punishment of these criminals so "the crime can no longer appear as anything but misfortune and the criminal as an enemy who must be re-educated into social life." (Read More...)

Miriamma Carson, Amazing Midwife

Rogue Midwifery
Women helping other women deliver babies is as old as humanity. It makes sense. So why do mainstream doctors and hospitals act like midwifery is some radical, dangerous, medically-irresponsible quackery? In Scandanavia, the UK, and the Netherlands, female midwifery is a thriving occupation. Yet in America, it has been constructively outlawed as a profession, for 100 years. While I was in labor, during my home birth, I actually asked the midwives, "Are you sure this is okay to do at home, and not in a hospital?" They said, "Kirsten, think about it. THIS is the way women birthed for thousands of years before doctors and hospitals." That made sense, but I had to ask, due to my years of American medical brainwashing. (Read More...)

Nettles have many medicinal uses...

Nettles, Nettles, Everywhere!
Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) grow like weeds in the woods where I live in the Pacific Northwest (Washington State, USA). Spring is the time to collect the top 6-8 inches of stinging nettles before they flower. You can dry them for later use, or make fresh oil or vinegar infusions, tinctures, hair tonics, herbal drinks, etc. Nettles have been used for centuries in medicines, cosmetics, dyes, teas, and also as an edible, calcium-rich green, like spinach. (Read More...)

Women Street Performers and Sexual Safety
Everyone agrees street performing, or "busking," is hard work. Someone once said about acting, that they do not pay you for the acting, they pay you for the waiting around. That is true in busking, too. Performing talent is about 30% of a good street act. The ability to persevere under harsh conditions, to battle police and merchants over air space, to assert free speech rights at every corner as they are questioned, to spontaneously gather and hold a crowd, and to keep up with hecklers, makes the profession a die-hard one, at best. You spend little time on musical rehearsal, as compared to holding your place in line for a good spot, or "pitch," and then defending that pitch from police when they show up to shut you down. Street performing is not for the weak. And being a solo woman street performer has extra unseen entanglements, due to societal gender stereotypes. (Read More...)

To learn something - you must seek it out.
To know something - you must write it.
To master something - you must teach it.

This sculpture of adult and child whales at Seattle Center artfully uses the lawn as the sea...

"I don't know what weapons will be used in WWIII, but I do know WWIV will be fought with spears and clubs!" - Albert Einstein

American "Insane Asylum" History: Giving Names To Numbered Graves
In 1997, an ex-mental hospital patient and activist, Pat Deegan, was walking her dog on the property of the then closed Danvers State Mental Hospital, located 30 minutes north of Boston. (Danvers State Hospital opened in 1878, and has been closed since the early 1990's). She came upon an overgrown, abandoned cemetery, with only numbers on small round markers. Soon she found a second overgrown cemetery of numbered markers. (It was estimated there was about 40 years of overgrowth covering the cemeteries). Pat soon began facilitating slide shows of what she had seen, as well as organizing ex-patients for field trips and action. (Read More...)

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"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein