pbs newshour

Dirt to Shirt with TS Designs

In early July we saw an interesting segment on the PBS NewsHour:

‘Dirt to Shirt’ movement hopes to regrow local textile industry

I very much liked the spirit of this company and what they were attempting to do for North Carolina jobs and the textile industry in the south, which has pretty much all gone overseas.

In the comments section under the embedded video I asked about and was directed to their web site:

TS Designs

I ordered a few small t-shirts (I usually take a small from LL Bean and Lands End) and they arrived in short order nicely packaged. They were very nice shirts but a bit too small on me. My wife wanted them so no problem. Ordered a few medium shirts and they fit perfectly. Ordered some more (all of my t-shirts are in need of replacement) and I’m really liking them.

But, in addition to liking the shirts, I like that I’m ordering them from an American company and they’re made of cotton grown in that company’s home state of North Carolina.

I’ve corresponded with the owner of the company Eric Henry and he says the NewsHour piece has given them a huge spike in business. I hope a few of you reading this check them out and order some shirts.

The True American

In ‘The True American,’ victim of attempted murder tries to save attacker

I tried to embed the video here, didn’t work. Watch it, it’s an amazing segment.

If you could face the man who tried to kill you, what would you do? A new book, “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas,” tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a U.S. immigrant from Bangladesh, who was shot in the face in Texas by a man trying to avenge the 9/11 attacks. Hari Sreenivasan talks to author Anand Giridharadas about Bhuiyan’s campaign to save Mark Stroman from execution.

This was a brilliant segment and once I got over Anand’s hair and listened to him I realized that this story isn’t just about how an ignorant American went on a rampage against south Asians with beards but about the fact that there is a class of Americans who are living in third world conditions inside the United States. No doubt this has always been but as the global village gets more connected and comfortable together, this class of Americans is being left out.

The fact that the person who made that observation is a Bangladeshi-American who came to this country from one of the poorest countries on earth and worked his way up is mind blowing. It’s also a great comment on how far we’ve come, leaving the Mark Stromans behind that the person who wrote the book documenting this is Anand Giridharadas, an American born journalist (New York Times, among others) of south Asian decent and he’s being interviewed by Hari Sreenivasan, an anchor on the PBS NewsHour, also of south Asian decent.

Affecting change with your change

One Family’s Effort to Buy Black for a Year

Paul Solman had a fascinating piece on the PBS Newshour on John and Maggie Anderson, two upper middle class black professionals who live in Chicago and their attempts to support local businesses owned and run by blacks. The short of it is, it was a lot tougher than they expected for a number of fascinating (and depressing) demographic reasons. Watch the piece, it’s well produced and the Anderson’s are articulate and frank in their discussion: they were willing to share the unspoken assumptions of the black middle and upper middle class. Bravo to Paul and his producer/editor to putting that in.

Maggie has written a book about it: Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy.

It’s quite like attempting to make a dent in Koch Industries profits by boycotting Brawny paper towels and Vanity Faire napkins (made by Georgia Pacific which is owned by Koch Industries) and other retail products they make. We particularly like Vanity Faire napkins, they’re excellent products and its been difficult to find a suitable replacement. That sounds rather trivial but it’s not, we’re making a micro attempt to affect change by channelling our dollars away from Koch Industries. The Jane Mayer piece in the New Yorker stuck with me; the Koch brothers are attempting to affect change with their (considerable) money and while I don’t have their money, I can at least choose to channel my retail buying away from them.

My folks would never buy a Ford car because Henry Ford was openly anti-semitic, thought Hitler had a great idea, and attempted to prevent FDR from entering WW II. Even though I’ve never owned any American made car for other reasons, that Ford meme is in the mix to this day when considering a Ford. And while I’m Jewish and that meme would have special meaning for me I know non-Jews who also don’t buy Ford cars because of this. Of course, Henry Ford (the first) is long gone and its not fair to accuse his sons and their public company of being anti-semitic. Keeping the meme alive now is not unlike a cat who jumps on a hot stove once and never jumps on a (cold or otherwise) stove again.

Many in comment streams are calling the Andersons “racists” but that’s an over-simplification of a complex issue. They’re doing a micro experiment to see if they can affect change in their community over time. I don’t think they see “blacks buying only from blacks” as an endgame, they see it as a means to a more integrated end. I applaud them for their efforts.

Albany Park Theater Project

On Stage, Chicago Students Tackle Immigration, Poverty, Race

Jeffrey Brown did an excellent segment on The NewsHour last night on the Albany Park Theater Project, an after-school community theater project for high school students in Chicago.

The segment is deconstructed on their blog: Monday on the NewsHour: Albany Park Theatre Project.

Stacy Pearsall, combat photographer

The PBS NewsHour had a great piece last night produced by Tom Bearden: A Life Under Fire: Combat Photographer Captures, Carries Wounds of War.

Her photography is first rate, especially her portraits, they’re some of the finest portrait work I’ve ever seen. And her story is compelling: she’s a vet herself who was wounded numerous times in Iraq.

You can see more of her work at her photo shelter site: Stacy Pearsall.

Hands-on learning

PBS NewsHour does Maker Faire: “Can DIY Movement Fix a Crisis in U.S. Science Education?”

Xeni Jardin, one of the tech contributors to boingboing has a great post and overview of a piece Miles O’Brien did the other night on the PBS NewsHour on the Maker Faire. Read her excellent post and watch the NewsHour segment, it’s very well produced.

I just commented on her piece, here’s my comment:

Great post Xeni. I too saw the NewsHour segment and have been following the movement for a long time. I’m of the age where we used John Muir’s How to Fix your Volkswagen for the complete idiot (me) as the bible and it worked by making car mechanics more accessible.

For at least one set of roots of the makers movement check out The Whole Earth Catalog and all of the associated publications Brand, Kahn, and others did.

The only thing that bothered me about Miles’ piece was that I think it was put together backwards: the case for making engineering more accessible should have been made first, then the makers movement shown as one possible way to help it happen for people with visual/hands on learning styles.

Hands on learning isn’t for everyone just like book learning isn’t for everyone. The problem with American education is that we design it for book learners so hands on types don’t do well (except in shop class). But, the answer isn’t to cater more to hands on types, the answer is to have many ways in and not rank them one better than another.

Current state of the art of disabilities and technology

Miles O’Brien of the PBS NewsHour did an outstanding job of putting together one of the best overviews I’ve seen yet of how technology is being used to help people with various kinds of disabilities. We saw this on air last night and it blew my mind and I’ve been involved in this area for many years. Very well produced and a spectacular collection of ideas in various stages of development.

Here’s the overview at the NewHour site: Minds, Machines Merge to Offer New Hope for Overcoming Impairments.

Jim Lehrer retires from anchoring the PBS NewsHour

Jim Lehrer Retirement Announcement

For the past few years, Jim Lehrer who co-founded the PBS NewsHour with Robert MacNeil 35 years ago has been slowly but surely stepping back and having other members of the NewsHour team take his place as anchor. MacNeil left the program in a similar fashion many years ago but still helps produce it and no doubt Lehrer, who will show up on Friday nights to moderate the punditry of Brooks and Shields will continue to keep a hand in for many years to come.

Robert MacNeil on Jim Lehrer’s ‘Stealth’ Exit.

I’ve been watching the NewsHour for close to its entire 35 year run and Jim, Robin and the current team (as well as many team members who have moved on) are like family to me.

Here’s a nice history of the program: Jim Lehrer: The Video Highlights.

The PBS NewsHour is a national treasure, in no small part because of the honesty, humbleness, and journalistic integrity of Jim Lehrer.