12 Months of Love and Labor


The US Department of Labor Century of Service Honor Roll of American Labor Organizations in the lobby of the Francis Perkins Building. Marble wall with the seals of every pertinent labor union.U.S. Dept. of Labor Century of Service Honor Roll of American Labor Organizations
Top Row, 2nd from the Left: The American Federation of Musicians

Happy Labor Day!

On this day one year ago, I embarked on my “Labor of Love” Challenge. Every month from then until now, I attended two events. One, a cultural event where classical music wasn’t the only art-form involved. The other, a labor event that didn’t exclusively involve the musicians union, the American Federation of Musicians.

The purpose and spirit of this challenge was Solidarity.

Solidarity with those who present different types of culture.
Solidarity with workers and labor activists from different professions.

Over the course of these 12 months, I’ve:

  • Visited museums and libraries
  • Attended functions celebrating Labor
  • Gone to plays
  • Participated in workers’ rallies and marches
  • Went to a jazz club
  • Advocated for workers’ rights inside government buildings
  • Learned some ins and outs of organizing labor actions
  • Chosen events from the metropolitan areas of Washington, DC; Chicago; Boston, and Boise

Now that this challenge is all said and done, here are a few reflections that I feel are worth sharing.

  • In these…shall we say, interesting times…this challenge has helped me focus my energy into doing positive, productive things.


  • My interests in attending theater and art museums have both been rekindled.


  • I chose several events that are “off the beaten path”. For example, even though I spent my first 23 years of life in the Chicago Area, I had never thought to see the National Hellenic Museum. It’s fulfilling to investigate a city in a more in-depth way, and I intend to continue seeking out hidden gems in the cities I explore.



  • While there are thousands of workers in the area, the DC Labor Community can feel very close. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful people from even just a few of these events. Not only are they friendly, but they also make sure to ask how things are going with the musicians union. In turn, I’ve become interested in seeing how music and musicians can be of utility to our brothers and sisters from other professions.


  • We Americans love to complain about politicians. But there are people in government who are actually good human beings and genuinely want to build progress in our country. It’s my observation that an elected official who takes the time to participate in labor action is someone we should carefully consider supporting.


  • I’d be lying if I said this challenge was always easy. Sometimes I just didn’t feel like doing things. (It’s really fun to sit on the couch and do nothing.) But I went anyway so I wouldn’t fail in front of my blog fans. And I’m really glad I attended each event. Moving forward, I’m not sure what I’ll do next time I’m tempted to flake on an event I had otherwise planned on attending. But I hope I remember how fulfilling those 24 times I left the house were, those times I did something to connect with people and institutions in solidarity.



Month 12: Poetry and Prose

The beginning of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. An outdoor venue, but intimate. The photo was taken from the back of the lawn, which overlooks an audience with blankets and clothes of many bright colors. There is a tree under which one sees the stage. Green floor and wood sides. The scenery is a barebones with a few arches.

Cultural Event: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

For my last cultural event of this challenge, and very apropos to the month of August, I attended A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. I was visiting two dear friends in Boise, and this performance began our few days together. It was a terrific performance, a beautiful setting, and perfect weather.

I realize that 3 of my 12 cultural events were Shakespeare plays. I didn’t set out to do this, it just kind of happened. I’m really glad about that though, because truth be told, I used to think Shakespeare was above me. Now I know that with just a little homework (reading the synopsis, if nothing else), I’m able to follow the action, understand the themes, and most importantly for me, connect emotionally.

A view from the front of a room of a Ralph Northam for Virginia Governor fundraising event. Lt. Gov. Northam speaks with hands apart. He wears a suit and is facing the left. Surrounding him are other elected officials in business attire and attendees form a horse-shoe that faces right.

Labor Event: Dr. Ralph Northam For Governor

A labor event in Virginia started this challenge, and now another ends it. This fall, the eyes of the nation are watching the Commonwealth of Virginia as residents vote for a new governor and other state and local officials. A colleague of mine helped organize a fundraising event for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate Dr. Ralph Northam, who is currently Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor.

While I’m not voting in this race, I felt it was important to support Dr. Northam nonetheless. He is a strong supporter of labor issues; in fact, he mentioned the Service Employees International Union in his remarks. He also spoke in favor of the pro-labor side of several matters that effect the workplace. Defending the Affordable Care Act. LGBTQ Rights. Immigrants’ Rights.

If you are a Virginia resident, make sure you vote on November 7th!

About Doug Rosenthal

No one told Douglas Rosenthal to give up playing music. Not even his patient siblings, who endured many early-morning practice sessions; even they encouraged their brother to follow his passion. As the years passed, that passion evolved from simply playing music to advocating for music, musicians, and music-lovers. Douglas is based in Washington, DC. He is the Assistant Principal Trombonist of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra/Washington National Opera Orchestra. He currently makes his home on Capitol Hill in DC with a pug named Jake, who serves as a constant reminder to relax, eat well, and sleep plentifully.

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