All four of my grandparents were immigrants. They arrived in New York City in the 1920s, in their late teens or early twenties, seeking better jobs, adventure, or true love. (Or so my grandmother thought, until she met and married somebody other than her brother’s best friend.) They all wanted lives that were better than what they experienced between the World Wars in their native countries.
Yet things weren’t all that terrible back home. Difficult, yes; but not life threatening.
Today we see the largest number of displaced people since the Second World War: 60 to 65 million (depending on which statistics you read) people fleeing war, oppression, even genocide. They risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean in rickety boats, or travel long distances on foot. In their eyes the risk is worth it, because to stay where they are is even greater risk of death.
Spoiler alert: The best way to understand a Hunger Banquet is to actually attend one, no expectations. It’s a participatory event to make issues of hunger and poverty real, and words can’t do it justice. So if you’re planning to attend one in the near future, I recommend you wait to read this after the event. But if you’ve attended a Hunger Banquet before, of if you’re not sure where or when you might be able to, read on!
We had a good turn-out at St. Lydia’s in Brooklyn on October 14, about 50 people in a venue that supposedly holds 70, but still it seemed crowded.
As guests enter a Hunger Banquet they are asked to pick a ticket from a basket. Those tickets describe hypothetical people all around the world, divided into the high-income group (about 15-20% of the total), the middle-income group (about 30% of the total), and the low-income group (about half the participants). These represent the global demographics of rich, middle and poor.Continue reading →
I spent the last week of May doing something very cool: volunteering at the World Science Festival. And by “cool” I mean getting up close and personal with squid guts.
First up was a lecture by Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist. Did you know that the Chief Scientist at NASA is a woman? Neither did I. In one way I think that’s terrific; in another way I hope we’re getting past the “oh my gosh it’s a woman” phase and can just focus on her long fascination with space and science.
We have something in common, Dr. Stofan and me: we inherited our interest in science from our parents. In Stofan’s case it was her father, who worked for NASA during its early days; in my case it was my Mom, who was fascinated by the space program and watched every liftoff and splashdown on TV. To me it was as natural as watching a favorite TV series or sports team.
In third grade our teacher thought it would be a good idea to watch an early (pre-moon landing) Apollo liftoff during class time. When a boy in my class expressed amazement at watching a liftoff for the first time, I replied, “But they’re on all the time!” In my house, they were; not everyone had the same experience.
So, really, it’s because of Mom that I was sitting in a cafe at the New School, watching the live stream of Dr. Stofan’s talk from the packed auditorium nearby. The audience was an invited group of high school and middle school students from around New York City whom we’d checked in as they arrived. (I particularly remember a Summer program called “Mathematical Problem Solving”–because that’s so much better than solving problems with guess-work and wishful thinking?)
When I shared the news that I’ve given my blog a makeover, it led to a short conversation with Barbara, one of my LinkedIn connections. I asked if she has a blog and she replied, “No, but I’d love to start one for Emergency Management and Public Safety issues.” Well, I happen to be hunkered down in New York City while we wait to see if the forecast blizzard turns out to be the apocalypse they’re forecasting, so I’m going to use my time to share some suggestions for new bloggers.
If it seems like everyone and his brother already has a blog, it may be close; but there are a few who still haven’t joined the party. There’s still room!
I started blogging on a whim–and my goal wasn’t really to have a blog of my own but to help a writer friend start a blog of her own. As I played around with it, I got interested in building a better blog of my own. Most of what I know is self-taught, learned by experimentation and looking at what other bloggers do. In retrospect, that’s a very good way to do it–the online world changes so frequently that any print book you may find on blogging will be slightly out of date. (Though having a print reference at hand might be helpful at first, so if it works for you go ahead–just remember that what you find on your new blogging platform might be a little different than what’s in the book.)