The Curious Autodidact

March 15, 2017

Homelessness in the Richest Country in the World

Filed under: helpful hints,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:43 pm

Image result for google image homeless camp seattle


Tom Ashbrook’s radio program, On Point, out of WBUR in Boston is national treasure.

We are all puzzled how to make a difference when it comes to the problem of homelessness, particularly in big cities. There is no one-size-fits-all and it is sometimes difficult to think of what one person can do to make a difference. I began volunteering at a homeless tent city weekly. I hard boil eggs and take down 4-6 dozen every week with other items I collect such as warm clothes, magazines, toiletries, paper goods, crayons for the children, and tampons. Boiled eggs are a good source of protein are easily kept and easily consumed. Most weeks I remember to bring salt and pepper too which is also much appreciated. Delivering them warm just out of the water is appreciated particularly in the colder seasons.

I don’t just drop these items off and drive away, most weeks I take an hour or so, to talk to people I have come to know there, and ask their names, and treat them with the dignity I would anyone in my home. I don’t make my usual hundred suggestions, I just listen actively, and give them an caring ear. I have heard some amazing tales and have also received amazing appreciation that I care and will take time to stop my busy life to regard their struggles.

I have concluded that when you are homeless you want to be treated with dignity but being on the street changes you immensely. It is almost as if you have been living on another planet and everything is topsy turvy in your life. It is terribly stressful just getting the activities of daily living taken care of to stay healthy and clean, never mind find a place to charge a cell phone, or find a safe place to sleep.

Here is a short video featuring a Real Change vendor in Seattle, Shelly Cohen, that is worth a viewing. Real Change started in Seattle over twenty years ago and has over 300 vendors. It has influenced the lives of many with the advocacy in the social justice arena. It has over a million dollar a year impact on the community of homeless and low-income.

Tom Ashbrook hosts an interesting discussion about Tackling Homelessness we could all benefit to listen to and think for a moment how you could lend an ear or a meal for someone who has no permanent housing. It’s not that hard and there are a million ways to make a difference in someone’s life with very little effort on your part.

February 20, 2017

Krista Tippett: A Gem


Krista Tippett is a National Treasure. She lived in Germany and was a foreign correspondent for the NYT. She went to divinity school and has become an expert in creating spaces for civil conversations in a time of too little of this.

She hosts a show called “On Being” that books fascinating guests. She was the recipient of the  National Humanities Medal from President Obama in 2014, and has won a Peabody Award. I am surprised more people aren’t aware of her work and her great show.

She most recently is the author of Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living which she has issued a great discussion guide for each chapter to encourage people to share their thoughts about the book.  She explores the materials for a meaningful life:

Words — The language we use to tell stories to ourselves and others;
Body — “The body is where every virtue lives or dies”;
Love — More than something we fall into or out of, love is “the only aspiration big enough for the immensity of the human community.”;
Faith — “Literal reality is not all there is.”;
Hope — Hope has nothing to do with optimism or wishing, rather it reflects reality and reveres truth. Hope is a habit.

She has also written Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit and Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters—and How to Talk About It. 

Her interview style is intelligent and almost always enlightening. She features guests you are familiar with a some that you will not be. Also interesting is the fact that she releases the one-hour edited show and also the raw version.

Some of my favorites of her podcast include Rep. John Lewis, Pico Iyer, Parker Palmer with Courtney Martin, David Isay, Maria Popova, Ruby Sales, Mary Karr, Gordon Hempton, Isabel Wilkerson, Jimmy Wales, and Pauline Boss.

Here Krista is interviewed by the talented Debbie Millman.


June 5, 2016

Updated: One Person Can Make a Difference: Denise “Cookie” Bouldin

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 10:19 am

Image result for detective cookie seattle

Some posts deserve to be refreshed and reposted. This is one of those that needs a new airing as people making a positive difference in the world around them should be recognized and their good deeds shouted from the mountain tops.

Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin of the Seattle Police Department is just such a woman. She is a role model as a police officer but also as the founder of the “Urban Youth Chess Club” based in Seattle’s Rainier Valley, encouraging kids to get off the streets, channel their energies, and learn to think critically through chess.

I have supported this club for many years and was thrilled to hear of this publicity they received on the local news station about the new art with Cookie in mind, brava!

There was an interview with Eric Lui on the Seattle Channel and a great article that appeared in 2011 urging support of her organization that appeared in The Stranger by Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Sanders.

You can listen to the segment from the local NPR station here.

Those wanting to support this terrific endeavor are encouraged to donate on line thought Seattle Neighborhood Group by clicking here.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself: What have you done this week to make a difference in your community?

May 27, 2016

Point of View: The Return

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,prison reform,social justice — Honilima @ 12:15 pm

It’s summer, the time of year to suspend the Netflix account and spend more time outdoors when there is ample daylight. But if you are having an inside night don’t let educational opportunities to learn pass you by when there’s so much quality free content on-line.

Point of View (POV) is a showcase for some stunning documentaries that are shown on your local PBS station. Many people don’t realize that you can watch these marvelous independent films online or stream them onto a larger screen with a  device such as a $30 Chromecast (you can find them on sale for $25). As of this writing there are over 100 selections to choose from and trailers for many of the offerings to access.

The other cool thing is that the website provides interviews with the film makers and other educational resources to learn more on the topic. A major bonus for those thirsty for knowledge.

I watched The Return and Neuland both of which follow the pattern of the POV series by taking you intimately into other worlds. Each give viewers a “you are there” perspective which I find to be helpful to learn new viewpoints.

I have been a prison advocate for decades. Most who are paying attention are unable to grasp how we wound up imprisoning so many people and treating them like animals, instead of encouraging them with education to make the best out of their potential, from a young age. We should educate not incarcerate.

Along comes The Return, a film by Kelly Duane De la Vega and Kelly Galloway, an eye-opening look at what it is to be released from prison after thinking you would be there the rest of your life. Not only that but how your family and community might accept you after thinking you were going to be behind bars for the duration.

California was the first to adopt the three strikes law and their over-crowded prisons and incredible cost caused them to consider releasing those who were given unreasonable sentences if they were convicted of nonviolent crimes. This wise documentary follows several men who are released to see what life is like after being behind bars for years. This is one of those films that you will watch and think about weeks or possibly years later. For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Ken, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

For me, there weren’t major revelations because I am so familiar with struggles of integrating back into society but it was sobering to see Kent, with so much family support in place, wander about like he was visiting from another planet. This film will inspire you to work for prison reform and possibly to hire one of these former prisoners or provide support for families of the incarcerated, especially the children who are so impacted by this separation.

Neuland, takes viewers into a Swiss classroom to learn what these young new refugees must deal with as foreigners in a new land. The emotion in the room is highly charged. The teacher is passionate about helping young people. It is interesting to see his approach compared to those you might see in America. His students have fled all kinds of tragic situations at home and he is trying to get them integrated into his culture and help them to set their goals realistic whilst understanding the feelings of home-sickness and agita that are in the hearts of his students.

These are films that have staying power and remind you that your burden may be heavy some days but others have different struggles and it is best we understand we all have room to grow and understand one another’s days.



December 7, 2015

Sibling Support: For the Families of the Developmentally Disabled

Filed under: media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 9:38 pm


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When you think about disabled children generally you have pity for the parents. Many marriages crash and burn at the prospect of raising a special needs child but what this little film will make you aware of is how long the relationship is between this child and his or her siblings will go on longer than those with the parents.

Don Meyer is based in Seattle has helped siblings all over the world with his Sibshops and those interested should connect to his website and subscribe to the Sibnet that has subscribers from all over the world who discuss sibling issues.

For a moving YouTube experience see this piece about the word “retarded” and a sister’s love of her brother.

Open your mind to the needs of the developmentally disabled and take a moment to see how you could make a difference in the lives of these special people and his or her family.

November 13, 2015

The Thomas Jefferson Hour

Filed under: media related,social justice — Honilima @ 1:52 am

Thomas Jefferson

If you are looking for a way to escape the day to day routines of life, take an hour to listen to Clay Jenkinson in his weekly portrayal of President Thomas Jefferson. You can listen on the computer or download his podcast using i-tunes and an mp3 player.

The Thomas Jefferson Hour is an hour in which humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson creates a show around a topic as statesman Thomas Jefferson. Occasionally he will take an hour to answer listener’s questions or to talk about one of his journeys. He is a thoughtful person and his portrayal of Jefferson takes you back in time to the founding of the United States.

This is a marvelous way to get in touch with your inner history buff and to seek refuge from the usual daily grind. Highly recommended!

August 21, 2015

The Liberators: History Brought to Life

Filed under: book related,media related — Honilima @ 10:20 am

The Liberators by Michael Hirsh

Podcasts of radio shows are a fun to learn new things and often brings history to life. On Point Radio had a great show featuring Michael Hirsh, author of “The Liberators: America’s Witnesses to the Holocaust.” He interviewed more than 150 World War II veterans who entered the concentration camps.

Milton Silva is also featured, he was a sergeant with the Army’s 120th Evacuation Hospital who arrived at the Nazi Buchenwald concentration camp on April 14, 1945, as U.S. troops liberated the complex and began helping survivors.

Stanley Friedenberg is the other guest, he was an officer in the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps. He arrived at the Nazi Ohrdruf concentration camp on April 5, 1945, in the hours after U.S. troops first entered the complex. Part of the Buchenwald system of subcamps, Ohrdruf was the first concentration camp to be liberated by American soldiers. Later, Friedenberg was also at the concentration camp at Gusen-Mauthausen, in Austria, on May 5.

August 10, 2015

News Websites of Merit you May not Have Discovered

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,nonprofit,social justice — Honilima @ 11:47 pm


A few websites that are worth checking out often are PolitiFact with it’s famous Truth-o-meter. Here you will find the facts behind the many political spins that circulate around our mainstream media. If you are wanting to keep an eye on the health care reforms proposed for our country with in excess of 47 million people without health coverage this is a good place to start.

Check out ProPublica, “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. Our work focuses exclusively on truly important stories, stories with “moral force.” We do this by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them.” (from their website) They hope to put into place more investigative journalism that has lost it’s place is our fast paced 24 hour news cycle. Staff includes: Paul Steiger, the former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, Stephen Engelberg, a former managing editor of The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, and former investigative editor of The New York Times, is ProPublica’s managing editor. For a sampling check out their coverage of the bailout.

NewsTrust is also a good site to keep in your bookmarks. Here readers rate the quality of the stories featured and you can find some stories you may not see in the mainstream media. From their site “NewsTrust reviewers evaluate each story against core principles of journalism, such as fairness, accuracy, context and sourcing — using our unique review tools.” Here’s a sampling of that they offer, an article on sleep paralysis. NewsTrust based in California is a nonprofit public benefit corporation with an educational purpose. They started NewsTrust to “address growing problems of information overload, misinformation and mistrust on the Internet, caused by the rise of opinion news and amateur journalism, as well as media consolidation and newsroom cutbacks” (from their website).

For international news that is more in depth check out Global Post where you will find this moving story about children born behind bars. They have quite a stable of on-the-ground journalists of superior quality. They have more than 65 correspondents in nearly 50 countries giving it a hand up in international coverage.

August 6, 2015

We Were So Beloved

Filed under: cool internet stuff,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 1:58 am

Discovering older documentaries on-line is one of the joys of the information super highway to use an old-school term. Netflix streaming has allowed these older titles to be introduced to a whole new audience. You can log onto a movie you might not otherwise try and if you don’t like it stop the stream and begin again, it’s incredible.

We Were so Beloved” is from 1985 and although it is powerful in emotion and message it’s almost worth watching just to see the 80s hairstyles and fashions.

Filmmaker Manfred Kirchheimer, who moved from Germany to New York in 1936, interviews friends and family who moved to New York City’s middle class Washington Heights in the 1930s, to establish the Jewish Community he grew up in.

The film begins slowly and has been criticized it for its length, but his interviews with these survivors of the Holocaust are quite powerful and pull together lesser known attitudes by some emigrants. The attitudes of the elders as compared with their then 50-something sons is also remarkable to absorb. The film focuses on the contradictions that exist in their “whole new lives” in America and some of the elder’s attitudes obviously shock their middle-aged offspring. One son sits on the couch unable to keep quiet, challenging his mother who he feels is being too forgiving and too upbeat. There has been much written about what it is to grow up the offspring of Holocaust survivors and you can see the emotion in the expressions of the three sons who are included in this film.

Just the interview with Elsa Marcus, the lady in purple/pinkish velour with the pearls, with her passionate opinions, is worth your time to watch this low budget film. She has some powerful things to say about our animal nature that will stick with you long after you have completed viewing the film.

July 18, 2015

Mary Jo Kopechne, a Young Woman Never to be Forgotten

Filed under: end of life,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 1:04 am

Mary Jo Kopechne
gone but not forgotten…

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