One of the consequences of the vast numbers of men we incarcerate in America is that over 700,000 people each year are being released from prisons. Many have served long sentences and are woefully unprepared to integrate back into society. Especially a society that has little willingness to receive them.
As changes in society come more rapidly, its harder and harder for these individuals to adjust. The result is often increased rates of recidivism, and a revolving door into the prison/industrial complex.
When we look at a photograph or a piece of art there are usually two imaginations at work. The artist or photographer, and the viewer whose interpretation gives the work life, energy and meaning.
Author and filmmaker Marisa Silver has taken a single, iconic photograph, the “Migrant Mother” by Dorothea Lange, as her inspiration for her own story and her own reinterpretation. It now allows all of us, to bring our own imagination and understanding to her novel, Mary Coin
There is an apocryphal story about the state of education, which tells the tale of a man who falls asleep, ala Rip Van Winkle, 100 years ago. He wakes up today and is totally disoriented. Everything is new and different. Transportation, technology, design, fashion, entertainment....then he stumbles into a school, into a 21st century classroom and suddenly he feels calm, at home....because, well because almost nothing has changed.
Some would argue that this is part of the problem of education today. Others would argue for the value of those fundamentals; that we’ve long had many of the right ideas, but that we just needed to execute them
In the world of extreme right wing rhetoric, particularly on the subject of immigration, it often seems that the practitioners are always upping the ante in order to get attention. Listen to any hour of talk radio and you get the idea. However, what happens when that rhetoric gets out of control. When the listeners, particularly those that are scared, marginalized or worse yet, psychotic, become easy pray to act on that rhetoric and take matters into their own hands?
Over the years we’ve seen many examples of this, and unfortunately a lot of them, for various reasons, seem to take place in Arizona.
Wherever we live, we all, to some extent live in Hollywood. We are shaped and influenced by its messages, its ideas and by connection, to it’s people. Perhaps by having a better understanding of the people that populate and drive that community, we might better understand our culture.
Back in 2008, David Sheff wrote a memoir that has become became a landmark in our understanding of addiction. Beautiful Boy was his powerful and personal story of the battle he fought alongside his son Nic, who was addicted to alcohol and various drugs.
The book catapulted David Sheff into becoming one of the country's most prominent and sane voices on addiction — not as a doctor, an addict or an academic, but as a father with real world experience. Now he takes a broader view of what we, as a society, are doing right and wrong in dealing with the still growing rates of addiction in this country. His new book is Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy.
Every hour, 72 more hours of video are uploaded onto Youtube. The moving image has become the literature of our time. Perhaps not since the development of moveable type has the context of our world and our understanding of it, changed so dramatically.
But what do we really know and understand about the “grammar” and the structure of visual communication? How are stories and our appreciation of them, different when we watch them, as opposed to reading them?
How will this new realm of visual literacy shape our children and how they see and set out to change the world?
Some of our soldiers have come back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan missing arms and legs. We’ve heard about the phantom pain that often accompanies those losses. The feeling of pain in a limb that is no longer there. In many ways the same is true for mental anguish. For the mind also feels pain. Where once normal life occupied a space, now for many who have long since left the war zone, the psychological pain is all consuming and fills that once peaceful space.
This is part of the story of Brian Castner. Brian Castner served three tours of duty in the Middle East, two of them in Iraq as the head of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit. He’s written about his difficult experiences returning home, in his book The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows
We baby boomers are aging. With all the talk about health care and retirement and 401k's and endless mail from the AARP, the one subject that seems to get skipped, is what it will be like being a grandparent.
We’ve spent so many years doting on and protecting and encouraging our own children, we almost forget that we get to do it again, sort of, with our grandkids.
Fortunately for those of us that do forget, we have Anne Lamott to remind us. Always a powerful and soothing voice for her generation, Anne Lamott, in her new book Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son, takes us on the new and unexpected chapter in her life, her own grandmotherhood.
1989 New York was a time in which social systems were breaking down. The crime rate was peaking, crack was a serious epidemic, racial animus was strong and it was safer for black and latino teenagers to hang out in Central Park, than to hang out on the mean streets of their own neighborhoods.
Amidst this atmosphere the body of a white woman was found in the park; beaten, raped and left for dead.
One of the all too many problems with education today, is its relentless focus on what kids can’t do, as opposed to what they do well. This is particularly profound when it come to children with special needs.
If we need evidence of this, we need look no further than the story of Kristine Barnett and her son Jacob. At age two experts said Jacob would never be able to tie his shoes. Today at 14 he’s pursuing a PhD in physics.
Unfortunately, changing the system is not enough. It takes a mother deeply committed, not only to her son, but to turning the old paradigms on their head, and not caring whose proverbial apple cart she turns over. She tells her story and Jacob’s story in The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius
Amidst all the talk about the importance of education, and all the endless debates about public policy, we often forget that at the heart of the debate, is what it means to be a teacher and the awesome power and responsibility that comes with that job.
Imagine a teacher who does not lecture, but leads; who teaches world peace by studying war; who respects students enough to instill in them the confidence to make the world anew...even while still in the 4th grade.
This has been the work of John Hunter. John is a teacher and musician and the inventor of the World Peace Game. He is the star of the new documentary and author of the new book World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements
The legendary Baseball player and coach Leo Durocher said that “nice guys finish last.” In our often cynical age, that’s become a kind of template for personal and corporate behavior. When someone acts differently, we consider that the.
Today though, we are coming to understand that the opposite may be true. That altruistic behavior, quite confidence and paying it forward, is not only good manners, it’s good business. Leading our understanding of this idea is Wharton Professor Adam Grant. He is the youngest full professor and single highest-rated teacher at Wharton Business School, and the author of Give and Take: A
Today the digital revolution has ushered in a whole new set of concerns with respect to piracy, copying and the very definition of who owns certain intellectual property. In fact, music copying and piracy is as old as recorded music itself. Moreover today, it’s the desire to share, that has created the world of social media, the very existence of which grows from this idea of sharing and repurposing copyrighted material.
If we understand this, if our legislators understand this, then perhaps we can undertake to redefine modern copyright and envision useful legislation and protection for the 21st Century.
In November of 2011, a British businessman by the name of Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in China. The reverberations of that death would reveal both deep and systemic corruption as well as surprising layers of conflict within the Chinese Communist Party.
It’s a human story of lust and greed, that also gives us some unique insights into a society and a political system, often cloaked in enigma and mystery.
Just as the politics our our time, often makes it difficult for science to find its way, so too was this the case in Victorian times. No where is this more in evidence than in the adventurers of a young man who would emerge from the jungles of Africa with evidence of great mysteries. Mysteries that would be co opted by one of the greatest scientific debates of the time; the arguments about evolution.
The great French novelist Andre Malraux once wrote that “man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” Certainly the secrets we all keep as individuals and as families place a heavy burden on us. Too often we think we are keeping secrets, when all we really are doing is hiding truth them from ourselves.
For a long time this was Michael Hainey story, as he knew that someday he had to find out what really happened with respect to his fathers death. He was only six at the time, by years later he would know that something was not right about what he had been told. As he approached his fathers age, when he died, he would work hard to uncover that secret and in so doing free himself, his mother and his brother.He lays out his story in this memoir After Visiting Friends: A Son's Story.
Back in the 1940’s theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the serenity prayer. You all know it. It tells us to accept those things that we can’t change and the courage to change those we can and the wisdom to know the difference. Over the years it’s been adopted by AA and various other groups. But it might also be the coda for Cheryl Strayed fantastically successful book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The story of her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s also the story of coming of age and Cheryl's journey out of her own heart of darkness.
We are always talking about how some area of our lives has been changed by creative destruction. We know that it’s widespread and impactful. In fact, even dictators today have felt the results of this creative destruction.
It’s much harder and more complex to be a dictator today. Dictatorships have had to become more sophisticated and savvy. Brutal repression has been largely replaced with subtle coercion. But at the same time, the individuals challenging dictatorships have also evolved. And while popular movements may seem spontaneous and romantic, they are in reality very strategic and organized, sometimes for years before we pay any attention.
Journalist William Dobson, foreign affairs editor of Slate and a former editor at Foreign Affairs, Newsweek International and Foreign Policy, has been looking deeply into these changes. He argues in his bookThe Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, that ultimately dictators cannot learn or adapt as quickly as the forces that oppose them.
Families are a little like snowflakes. No two are exactly alike. That’s why it often seems so ridiculous that so many people think they know what is best for families. The strict structure of the Chinese, the laissez faire of the French, the coolness of the British...all work and all don’t. It seems no one really has the magic formula. Therefore, maybe a little common sense is a good idea.