A picture forms in my mind, constructed by bits and pieces I’ve read and heard. I’m going to Cuba, a place that’s been shrouded in mystery and intrigue all of my lifetime. I consider this a baseline visit—a chance to see the country just as it begins to thaw from the long freeze out. Continue reading
If you live in the U.S. or some other country with strong rules for clean air and water, the most polluted places in the world seem far away. It’s likely your neighbors don’t have radiation poisoning or barrels of pesticide festering in the backyard.
But those in low- and middle-income countries are not so fortunate. They bear the brunt of almost all the cancers, disease and other afflictions caused by pollution. Children are especially vulnerable.
Fortunately, the Global Alliance for Health and Pollution connects needy nations with sources who can help. “GAHP exists so countries don’t have to deal with pollution on their own,” according to Richard Fuller, president of Blacksmith Institute for a Pure Earth, one of the NGO’s partners. “There are terrific results where countries have done the right things,” adds Stephan Robinson of Green Cross Switzerland.
Here are some success stories from a new report, The Top Ten Countries Turning the Corner on Toxic Pollution: Continue reading
If you want to be more durable in body, mind and spirit, it helps if the place where you live supports your efforts. Are there sidewalks in your neighborhood? Maker faires and meetups nearby? Is it easy to be active and follow your curiosity?
The new website Urbanful made a list of “cities to watch” whose “horizons are glowing especially bright.” But, if Merriam-Webster defines durable as “staying strong and in good condition over a long period of time,” is the future looking good for their residents, too? Continue reading
To fix a community problem, it may be better to bypass the adults and leave it to the kids. After all, they revived “the most depressing park in America” in what has been considered one of the roughest towns: Camden, New Jersey.
I was lucky to learn about this story at my college reunion when I sat down for breakfast next to classmate William “Jud” Weiksnar, now a Franciscan friar and former pastor of Camden’s St. Anthony of Padua.
Jud told me he was curious to see if middle-school students could learn civic engagement, so he offered it as an after-school activity. Community organizing, he says, “goes at the root of the problem” and is all about “finding your own voice and speaking for yourself.”
I had to smile at his group’s name: the Student Leaders’ Von Nieda Park Task Force, or SLVNPTF. With an acronym like that, they had to be serious.
The first meeting of interested sixth-, seventh-, and eight-graders was less than three years ago. They chose a target: their dark, rundown, crime-ridden neighborhood playground. They then set out to “make the calls, write the letters and meet the people” who had the power to fix it up.
The students have been stunningly successful. The park now boasts Continue reading