Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The Elysium Charter School in Hoboken, NJ recently won the national "Farm to School" Youtube competition. A friend of mine, Aram Rubenstein-Gillis, is an arts consultant at the school (and who, after all, wouldn't want to be one of those?). He teaches music education, and he worked with a class of 5th graders to write, record and film the song and video, "Who Put That Burger on Your Plate?" The song is unbelievably cute, tells the inside story behind the travels of the aforementioned burger, and is kind of like Woody Guthrie meets today's green movement ... You can check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZlCoG6RMgs.
Neighborhood Progress Inc., a nonprofit that serves as an intermediary to community development corporations in Cleveland, is working on a "Model Blocks Resource Guide." The purpose of the guide is to help Cleveland residents to create a model block. What I find exciting about this project is that the "model block approach" combines grassroots action with coordinated and targeted resources. Done well, it seems to take community organizing to a higher level, layering various approaches to community redevelopment on top of one another, and applying these tactics simultaneously to maximize the impact. One example would be forming a block club, then applying for grants to fix up houses on your street while also using volunteer labor. NPI hired me to assist with the writing and organization of the brochure. Read more about NPI and model blocks by clicking here.
If you plan to check out some films at the Cleveland International Film Festival, I highly recommend "Pachamama", "El Camino" and "German Plus Rain". I had an opportunity to view these films before the festival, as I was hired as one of the synopsis writers for the program guide, and enjoyed both of these films. I know, I know - so many movies, so little time!
I had a chance to read The Namesake, a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, while I was vacationing for a few days in California. What a great book! The novel explores issues of ethnic identity in our so-called post-racial world. It also has some very tender and funny scenes, and the lead character, Gogol, unexpectedly turns out to be a bit of a lady's man. The novel centers around an Indian family that emigrates to the U.S. Told largely through the eyes of the second-generation Gogol, it asks the question, "can you ever go home again"?, yet does so in such a charming way, with seemingly fresh insight into the immigrant experience in today's world, that it works.