The Good Trouble Questionnaire

English Professor at Harford Community College Ben Nadler

Ben Nadler makes good trouble as a member of the new Union of Harford Community College Faculty, where he is an English professor. He is among the organizers who founded the new faculty union at HCC, MSEA’s first higher ed unit in the state. Read more about MSEA’s newest members here.

What do you love the most about community colleges? Public colleges make it possible for working people to do the things they want to do and become what they want to be.

What issues agitate you most about public schools? Seeing funding go to policing and incarcerating people when more of it could be going to educating and supporting people.

What kind of world do you want to leave for the next generation? A world without prison or war, where people receive the education, shelter, food, and health care they need.

What is your vision for higher education? A quality public college education should be free for everyone.

When you work so hard for your cause, self care is important. How do you take care of yourself? Sometimes I just need to leave the phone at home and go for a long walk with my dog, Alyosha.

What is your favorite activist t-shirt? I’m a big fan of union swag. Anything that reps union membership, and starts conversations about union membership, is great.

What do you wish more members knew about getting involved in their local or MSEA?

It’s easy to become competitive in higher education because of how rough the job market is. But we need to understand that we win when we organize together, not when we compete against each other.

What’s the most exciting march or protest you attended? Occupy Wall Street was a very exciting time. For a brief period, regular people literally reclaimed a portion of New York City.

What is your favorite union chant? “Whose streets? Our streets!”

What song gives you strength to fight for education justice? The old Joe Hill tune, “There Is Power in a Union.”

Who is your best activist buddy? Why? My mother. She took me to my first protests, back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Who listens to you rant about the issues you care about the most? My wife,Oksana Mironova. I listen to her rant abouthousing justice issues, so it’s a fair backand forth.

What keeps you doing this work when it’s hard? My connection to the Jewish radical tradition. In Pirkei Avot, which is an important Talmudic text, it says, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

What’s your favorite way to make good trouble? I grew up in the punk rock scene, so I’m most at home when art and activism can be combined, whether that’s through music, poetry, visual art, or any other way.

What current campaign or issue is at the top of your radar? The main thing right now is the organization of the Union of Harford Community College Faculty. It’s an exciting process. It’s also great to see unionization happening at other community colleges across the state, too.

What one thing do you wish elected leaders and the public understood about your job? The humanities aren’t elite, esoteric, or superfluous. Subjects like literature, art, history, and philosophy are central to people’s lives. They belong to everyone, and everyone deserves access to the

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