In the meantime, I'd love to hear your ideas for future shows. What do you see as the most important or interesting issues in our community? Who has a perspective that isn't being heard? Send me your suggestions.
Until January, have a great holiday season and enjoy winter!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
This week on
His work raises interesting and troubling questions about the changing nature of work and the dynamics of race and class in American cities. Day laboring includes both jobs assigned by employment agencies that specialize in “work today, get paid today” labor, mostly in construction and landscaping, and the jobs workers get by standing on the right street corner and being picked up by a homeowner or contractor. In both cases, workers are at risk of workplace accidents, because the workers often have neither safety equipment nor safety training, and many don’t speak English. Worse, they run the risk of not getting paid at all, and when they do get paid, they usually receive just the minimum wage. Many of these workers are homeless and battling drug and alcohol addictions. Several organizations are conducting research and organizing to protect day laborers, among them the Day Labor Research Institute.
The problems facing day laborers have been exacerbated by immigration and the rapid growth of some cities, like
All of this may feel distant from
Monday, November 12, 2007
Come January, Youngstown’s city council will be dominated by new members, though some are not new to local politics. This week on
The primary city council concerns Brown raises are housing, crime, and economic development. He expresses concern about people buying local houses online without understanding the local conditions that create these seeming “bargains,” as well as concern about the quality of life in
Economic development will shape everything else, but it will require us to deal with two issues that most people would prefer to ignore: class and race. We’re facing a class divide in current discussions of development, which focus on bringing high-tech jobs to the region. That’s a great idea, but it won’t necessarily help many who live in the city. The local economy will certainly benefit from growth in the technology sector, but we also need jobs that don’t require specialized skills or high levels of education. We need to think about
Another key issue in economic development is regionalization, and that presents challenges related to race. If we want to create more regional networks, of any kind, we will have to face up to the realities of segregation and racism. We live in one of the most segregated areas in the country, and that’s partially a result of the white flight in the 1950s and 60s. But the problem isn’t just segregation. It’s also about attitudes. A few years ago, at a meeting of local government officials from townships in
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken with several local leaders who are working on community development, mostly with a focus on attracting new businesses to
One of the challenges that Brooke and her colleagues face is, ironically, the successful arts history of the area. Because of that, we have several active local community theaters, but they also compete for money, audiences, volunteers, and attention. We saw dramatic evidence of the problem earlier this season when several different theaters put on versions of Beauty and the Beast. No doubt, all were good productions, but I’d bet that none got as large an audience as it might have if it were the only production of that show. There may be similar overlaps among visual arts venues. I think the music community does a better job of coordinating its activities, perhaps because of overlaps of personnel and management in both popular and classical music.
We need the arts to ensure a vibrant future for the
Monday, October 29, 2007
The election is next week, and one of the hottest issues is the proposed levy for the Youngstown City Schools. This week on
New school buildings and significant renovations across the district are providing better learning environments for our students, and if we are to believe education scholar Jonathan Kozol, that will make a real difference. Better facilities not only increase access to technology, they also send a message that students and education are valued.
No doubt, the Youngstown City Schools continue to struggle with test scores and graduation rates, yet both have improved over the past few years. Graduation rates are up by about almost 18% since 2002, for example. Yet
Unfortunately, the Youngstown City Schools continue to face a serious financial crisis. Despite reducing staff and other expenses, the district’s budget will likely be several million dollars in the red by the end of the school year. It’s always hard to accept the idea of paying more, especially for a district that consistently lags behind in its performance. But the progress made over the past few years suggests there’s good reason to invest in the Youngstown City Schools. And if we want this community to be able to pursue a different kind of economic future, then we need to educate the next generation. As I see it, a vote for the levy is a vote for a better economic future for all of us.
I want to make one additional observation: the district could do a better job of telling its story. While the local press usually zooms in on the bad news, the district has plenty of evidence of progress. Yet finding that data on the district’s website is difficult. I went looking for links to include in this blog, but I couldn’t find the information I wanted. UPDATE: The district has now posted the latest issue of its "Dispatch," which includes some of the statistics on graduation rates and other news.
Monday, October 22, 2007
In recent years, public debates about creationism in the secondary curriculum have highlighted what seems to be an insurmountable divide between science and religion. This week, I’m discussing this divide with theologian Dr. John Haught. He’s a senior fellow in Science and Religion and the
For Haught, the idea that religion and science can’t fit together reflects a misreading of both. As he explains, the problem is not – as I had always assumed – about whether we read the creation story literally but about the religious implications of the key concepts of evolution. As Haught explains in our interview, and in the texts that you can access from his webpage, the apparent challenges to faith rest in the idea of a deity who could create a mutable world, especially one in which randomness and natural selection would play major roles. Yet, he suggests, these concepts do not necessarily contradict the core beliefs of Christianity.
Further, and even more interesting, is Haught’s claim that we might view science as another type of faith. The idea that we can only believe in what can be proven through material evidence and that nothing beyond that can possibly exist is itself an article of faith for scientists. So, he suggests, the conflict over evolution and creation is a conflict between two faiths.
As for how to resolve the conflict, Haught emphasizes the importance of education – not merely education in science or religion but education that examines the relationship between them. This should happen in schools but also among scientists and theologians. He believes that dialogue can be the first step to reconciliation.
Haught’s ideas reflect a complex and crucially important dialogue going on in American culture today, as we wrestle with the place of religion in public and private life. This is not simply a theological or philosophical debate; rather, it is a debate about what it means to live in a pluralistic society in which religion has almost always been at once contested and central, diverse and influential.
Monday, October 15, 2007
On Lincoln Avenue this week, I’m talking with Anne McMahon, YSU Management Professor, about Partners for Workplace Diversity, a project she started 12 years ago to create a network of local businesses and organizations who could work together to address diversity issues in the workplace. The network includes YSU, several area banks, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, GM, and other local companies and groups. Along with sharing resources, the group sponsors a series of events every year, including workshops, awards dinners, and cultural events. This year, the events have included programs in disability awareness, treating patients from diverse backgrounds, and a kick-off breakfast. If you’d like more information, contact Anne McMahon.
Partners for Workplace Diversity approaches cultural differences with a focus on appreciation and inclusion, and, as Anne explains in our interview, they try to ensure that people enjoy their events, instead of coming away feeling frustrated, angry, or guilty. That allows people to engage more positively with people who are different from themselves. At the same time, we live in the 4th most segregated community in the
Partners for Workplace Diversity make a useful start on addressing the divisions that can keep people apart. Their emphasis on the idea that everyone has something valuable to contribute works well to engage audiences in thinking about difference. Unfortunately, diversity is simply not something we can always feel good about – especially in the
On another note, it’s pledge week at WYSU. If you appreciate what you hear on the station, whether that’s
Monday, October 8, 2007
My guest on
Ryan is working with Pennsylvania Representative Jason Altmire on this project, making it the latest addition to an emerging array of regional projects. While some in the local community worry about maintaining local identities – and local control, it seems that we – as a region and locally -- have more to gain by cooperating than by focusing on competition. As Ryan notes in our interview, despite some historical divisions, our region faces some similar challenges and opportunities. And when it comes to securing funding, foundations and investors are likely to believe that their investment will go farther if it serves a whole region rather than just one locality.
Ryan also talks about the need for new approaches to education in order to prepare this area’s young people for new kinds of jobs. As a region, we have relatively few adults with college degrees, and if we are to build a high-tech economy, we will need to improve the quality and quantity of education that our children have. Ryan cites the robotics program at
After having several conversations with local leaders about efforts to support the development of a technology economy in northeastern
You can share your thoughts about the Tech Belt concept here, by posting a comment, or you can write directly to Ryan.
Monday, October 1, 2007
This week on
TechLift is one of several projects aimed at transforming this region from an area known for heavy industry, especially steel and auto manufacturing, into an area known for creative technical innovations. Chris hopes to accomplish that by mentoring business developers, helping them secure funding, and helping them connect with suppliers, staff, collaborators, and clients.
As Chris notes during the interview, many of the areas around the country that have successfully put technology at the center of their economies have been able to draw on the expertise and support of major research universities. Here in northeast
As with other projects focused on technology development, TechLift seems like a worthwhile project that will contribute to the region’s economic growth. Yet I think we should be wary of looking to technology as the savior for the
What do you think? Where do you see hope for the local economy and our community’s future?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Much has been made – in local blogs, regional politics, and in national and international media – about
Hunter has only been in
For example, Hunter predicts that the Cleveland/Youngstown/Pittsburgh corridor will become one large economic region, and because
You can hear the full interview at WYSU.org.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This week on
The neighborhood where Tim and his colleagues are working was originally built by Sheet and Tube, largely in response to a strike in 1916 that had resulted in fires that destroyed a large part of the town, which was then known as
That combination of conflict and innovation, divisions between people and collaboration, reflects well the power of our past to shape our future. Out of a turbulent and conflicted period in the area’s history, we developed housing that was historic – not only because it helped to shape the landscape of
Sokol hopes to make history all over again by using the remnants of
Monday, September 10, 2007
This week on
Next Wednesday, September 19, we will commemorate Black Monday, the day that the first of the major
Many people have asked me why we should remember Black Monday, suggesting that this community should stop holding on to its difficult history and focus on building a new kind of future. My answer has two parts. The first is simply that I believe that the present and future of this community will inevitably reflect its history, and if we want to create a different kind of future, we must recognize both the strengths and challenges of our past. That is, we must build on our history of hard work, strong community ties, and resilience, but we must also wrestle with our history of racial, class, and geographical divisions, of corruption and competition, and of relatively low levels of educational achievement. To build a stronger future, we must address these challenges.
At the same time, I think we should remember this history because it matters far beyond
Monday, September 3, 2007
In our conversation, Chris talks about how growing up here influenced his writing, the process of writing fantasy fiction, and about how his life as a writer is changing as he's having more success and therefore becoming a more public person. Along with publishing this novel, Chris had another piece -- "The Language of Moths" -- nominated for a Nebula Award in Science Fiction and Fantasy earlier this year. You can find that story and other links to Chris's work on his blog, Meditations in an Emergency. As always, you can listen to the interview at 7:30 Wednesday evening on the air, or hear it online by visiting the WYSU webpage.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Unlike daily news sources, a weekly program isn’t necessarily tied to immediate events. My goal is, rather, to draw attention to trends, issues, and ideas that might not be “hot” enough to make the front page or the evening news but that affect our community in important ways. Over the summer, I talked with “Janko,” one of the leaders of the recent wave of
This week’s show features Dr. Shearle Furnish, the dean of CLASS, YSU’s new
Last week, I talked with Dr. Martin Abraham, the founding dean of YSU’s new