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The Icy Black Serenity of Greenland

February 9th, 2012 · No Comments

The 43,000 Inuits look to the rising of the sun after almost 7 weeks of total darkness in a film called “Return of the Sun”. This film explores whey these hearty people live in this cold wretching climate and why they do not rejoice when for the first time, the sun rises 2 days early.

I found this film on a blog for a radio show I’ve listened to for years called On Being. The show is a public radio weekly that explores spirituality, the finer side of life, right-brainy versus left-brainy things and just makes you sigh… This latest story is about Nicholas Kristof talking about how a life spent foreign reporting on atrocities can make you more sympathetic or more numb to human suffering.

→ No CommentsTags: Author - Channon · Earth, Science and Smart Stuff

Good Reading for the Holidays

November 29th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Today is the birthday anniversary of Louisa May Alcott, author of one of my favorite novels, Little Women.  Born on November 29, 1832, Louisa lived near other famous authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau during the Transcendentalist movement in New England.  Her life was fascinating and unconventional for its day.  For instance, she chose not to get married because she wanted her freedom, and she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.  While she was a prolific writer and had published numerous stories (including novels under the pseudonym A.M. Barnard), Louisa earned the most recognition for Little Women, which was loosely based on her own childhood.  This popular novel was the Harry Potter of its day, published after the Civil War, at a time when children’s literature was a new and emerging market.  Each chapter contains not only a story, but a moral, and these life lessons are as true today as they were in the mid-19th century.  The values of hard work, giving to others, and staying positive under difficult circumstances are just a few of the lessons that challenged the March girls in this poignant novel.

So if you’re looking for a good book to read during this holiday season, why not return to a timeless classic?  Many fans of Little Women have read this novel again and again, and I can see why.  The characters are endearing and Jo March is an inspirational protagonist, modeled after Louisa, herself.  She is strong-willed yet tender-hearted; independent yet fiercely loyal, especially to her family.  To learn more about Louisa and Little Women, check out the blog Louisa May Alcott is my Passion.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Author - Michelle · Entertainment

Soil to City: From Upstate Farm to Bronx Streets Farmer’s Market

November 27th, 2011 · No Comments

Soil to City: From Upstate Farm to Bronx Street by Nida Najar and Channon Hodge from CUNY J-School Video Storytelling on Vimeo.

Originally published at The New York City News Service CUNY website.

Story by Channon Hodge and Nida Najar

Ben Schwartz wakes to the chirping of grasshoppers and the wind rustling through the trees of Wassaic, N.Y. He gets up at the hint of dawn most days – though earlier on Wednesdays – to work a rich plot of land that yields herbs and produce. He finds his reward in the faces of the Bronx residents who buy the medicinal herbs, teas and produce that Schwartz hopes can help keep them healthy.

While some community-supported farmers head straight to pricey parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Schwartz and his partners, with the help of a generous donor, bring their products to the neighborhood that he believes need them most: the South Bronx.

South Bronx residents have high rates of diabetes, but little money to buy expensive organic produce or medicines. The farmers do a brisk business at the Mott Haven Farmers Market and Harvest Home North Central Bronx Farmers Market.

Still, Schwartz and his colleagues earn little money from their endeavor. They have no health insurance and split earnings from the farm. While the goal is to eventually “pay people a living wage,” the Wassaic Community Farm is providing an outlet to people who are looking to, as the saying goes, “live in the world and not on it.”

→ No CommentsTags: Author - Channon · Earth, Science and Smart Stuff · Food

The Good News of Governor Christie’s “No”

October 5th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Photo by Tim Larsen

The one thing I admire about Governor Christie is his ability to say, “No.”  And I think that his decision to not run for president was one of his best “No’s this year.

I imagine how tempting it must have been to get swept away by all the national attention.  I bet it would have been easy to be swayed by all the big-time donors to enter the race.  But in the end, New Jersey’s straight-talking governor stayed true to his word about his intentions.  “What I’ve always felt was the right decision remains the right decision today,” he said.

I think that it takes a lot of honesty and humility to walk away from an opportunity like running for president.  As a fellow New Jerseyan, I’m happy about my governor’s choice.  There’s still so much that needs to be done at home and I think that it’s good news that Governor Christie is planning on sticking around.  Whether you agree with him or not, at least you know that he’s a man who says what he means.

→ 1 CommentTags: Author - Michelle · News

An Ultrasound: $74 or $59,000?: A New Website to Expose Varying Health Care Costs

September 10th, 2011 · 1 Comment

A concerned journalist is using your help to expose the exorbitant and varying costs of medical care. Sometimes where you live and what insurance you have can dictate the price of anything from birth control prescriptions to Lasik to hospital procedures. Who wins big when you pay unfair prices? You guessed it – Big Pharma and providers.

Journalist Jeanne Pinder learned to create a web-site and crowd-source information from CUNY’s Graduate School for Journalism. She combined that with hard-core reporting to create this awesome website to give you more awareness and power over what you spend on your health.
Check out

→ 1 CommentTags: Author - Channon · News · Wellness

Happy Birthday, Peace!

September 9th, 2011 · No Comments

(Photo by Jim Burton)

Before Bob Vortuba’s One Million Acts of Kindness, there was Peace Pilgrim: a woman who repeatedly walked across America from 1953 – 1981 to spread her message of peace.  Her message was simple:  “When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”

Peace Pilgrim, as she wished to be called, was an extraordinary woman, known to have boundless energy and no fear.  She walked by herself throughout the country, carrying her only possessions in her pocket-filled tunic, which included her toothbrush, comb and Steps for Inner Peace pamphlets to hand out.  Her tunic, which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 Miles on Foot for Peace” on the back, was the only way she drew attention to herself, and she found most people to be kind, curious, and giving.  While Peace never accepted money, she would accept room and board from churches and groups who wanted to hear her speak.

The good news about Peace Pilgrim is that her inspirational life continues to touch people to this day.  In honor of her birthday, the Fourth Annual Celebration of Peace Pilgrim will take place from September 16th-18th in her hometown of Egg Harbor City, NJ.  Her positive message can also be discovered in her book, Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words, published by some of her friends after her death.  I love this book because it not only offers profound wisdom, but also practical steps for anyone who wants to help make this world a more peaceful place.

→ No CommentsTags: Author - Michelle · life · News

Good Things Come in Small Packages

August 23rd, 2011 · No Comments


This just in from interactive journalism professor, Jeremy Caplan, – a curated list of small things that work well. First of all – is a very cool website which allows anyone to create their own “pinboard” of interesting items, photos or factoids.

Secondly…I can think of quite a few items to add to this list here –

1) Babies wailing for a bottle
2) Chocolate covered espresso beans
3) chapstick
4) Me on coffee or chocolate covered espresso beans
5) Popsicles on a hot day
6) Credit-card sized subway maps
7) Tom Cruise 15 years ago

→ No CommentsTags: Author - Channon · News

Citizen Journalism in Guatemala

August 7th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Help Young Guatemalans Cover Their Elections from Nadia Sussman on Vimeo.

Are you tired of the Murdoch, News of the World Stories? Are you one of those folks that says that the media just isn’t covering the news that needs to be told – the stories from people who have no voice, no fancy equipment of their own, no outlet – but a lot of hope?

Well, here’s citizen journalism at its best. If you haven’t heard this concept before, it’s simple: take some inexpensive equipment, train folks to use it, and let them report on their own communities. Check out this project from some CUNY Graduate School students and multi-media journalists.

They’re helping Guatemalan citizens, emerging from a history of strife, to report on their own elections this year. They’re looking for a little funding – so if you can spare something, or if you can spare some time, head to their website to learn more. You an even donate just by clicking on ads! (so strange, but it works!):

→ 1 CommentTags: Author - Channon · News · There's Still Hope

Debt Is Like A First Date….

July 31st, 2011 · 3 Comments

Long Shot Magazine and Radio Show

In 48 hours, some zany folks got together and produced an entire magazine and podcast from start to finish.

The subject – DEBT.

They took a sour subject and turned it into a bright little nugget of inspiration. What they got were stories from contributors all over the world, and radio segments from people strolling through the McNally Jackson Bookstore talking about what or who they owe.

They heard stories ranging from student debt, to the support you owe a lover you’ve let down, or the debt you owe yourself once you’ve made a promise and find it hard to keep. I even helped out for a few hours, and I’m still thinking about Jules and how every ex should be just like him. (maybe they are and don’t say?)

For radio stories from the MacNally Jackson Bookstore – head to SoundCloud

And listen to this from producer Alex Goldmark to hear folks wax-poetic on synonyms for debt –

LS Word Games: Credit cards are like a first date because … by LongShot Radio

And one last uplifting debt story – because I couldn’t resist. Debt-ceiling in Comic Fashion

The Debt Ceiling from

→ 3 CommentsTags: Author - Channon · News · There's Still Hope