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Posts Tagged ‘social justice’

Do you ever read Kevin Lewis’s Sunday Globe column, “Uncommon Knowledge”? He covers new research in the social sciences. Thanks to him, I learned about this study on helping minority boys get engaged in education.

“A disproportionate number of students struggling academically are minorities, ” he writes. “Can we do better?

“In what they claim is the first credible study of the effect of an ethnically grounded education, researchers at Stanford analyzed the effect of a ninth-grade course offered in several San Francisco public schools covering ‘themes of social justice, discrimination, stereotypes, and social movements from US history spanning the late 18th century until the 1970s’ and requiring students ‘to design and implement service-learning projects based on their study of their local community.’…

“The researchers found that taking the course ‘increased attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23 credits (or roughly four courses).’ They call the results ‘surprisingly large effects,’ which were concentrated among boys.”

The paper, by Thomas S. Dee, and Emily Penner, is The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum.” It was posted at the National Bureau of Economic Research in January.

More here.

Photo: Stanford University
Teacher David Ko instructs an ethnic studies class at Washington High School in San Francisco. A Stanford study found students benefit from such courses. Here, Ko is explaining an assignment about the role of advertising in reinforcing cultural stereotypes.

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I am still employed at my job of 10-plus years until January 1, but since so many people are on vacation the last fortnight of the year, I got my good-bye party last week.

Wow. Only nice things were said. Kind of like Tom Sawyer attending his own funeral. Here you see my friend Lillian giving me credit for a discussion group that she was more than half responsible for.

A senior vice president surprised me by researching my online theater reviews (I used to moonlight as a critic) and reading two passages that suggested a strong social-justice interest, a theme I hadn’t realized was there. Another colleague commented that she had never met anyone that nice who was also so subversive. Then my top boss stood up to redefine “subversive” in a flattering way that related to the perceived social-justice streak.

Man, now I have to live up to all that. I should say that I have worked at about 10 places since starting as a camp counsellor, and I have never had affirmation like this. A number of those places were glad to see me go. I guess I have learned to tone down the subversive side so it sounds nice.

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In October, Tim Faulkner of ecoRI wrote that for the local celebration of National Food Day, “there was plenty to celebrate about Rhode Island’s food industry. During a downtown food festival, leaders and pioneers in the local food movement explained how they are connecting Rhode Island’s restaurants and culinary arts sector with farming, education, environmentalism, entrepreneurism and social justice.

“This effort was best demonstrated by Julius Searight, founder of a new food truck and mobile soup kitchen. Searight’s Food4Good held its grand opening during the Oct. 24 Providence Food Day Festival, selling chicken waffle sandwiches and baked potatoes. Proceeds from food sales are expected to fund about 400 meals a week for the needy.

“Searight, 26, grew up as a foster child in Providence and graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2013. He got the idea for the hybrid food operation after volunteering at local nonprofits and wondering what it was like for his biological mother to get fed.

“ ‘I really just saw the need to give back to those in need,’ he said.

More here.

Photo: Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News
Julius Searight is the founder of Food4Good food truck and mobile soup kitchen. Every $5 dollars earned buys two meals for people who need them.

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Nineteen years ago, about 500 people, many of whom had lost loved ones to urban tragedy, marched for peace on Mothers Day in Boston.

Today there must have been thousands. After the pre-walk warm-up exercises and the children’s choir, the prayers from all the major faith communities, the announcements by media personalities and the words of encouragement from Mayor Walsh and the police commissioner, we set out at a snail’s pace, crowding onto a Dorchester street that was expecting us.

A lot of organizations had banners, and many marchers wore T-shirts that pictured a loved-one. The spirit was upbeat and celebratory of lives. Politicians handed out water bottles, churches provided bathrooms, photographers recorded the event for free. The temperature was in the 80s, so by the end of the 3.5 mile walk, we older folks were ready for a nap.

The funds from the various team and individual contributors go to the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a local nonprofit that bases its actions on the belief that “Peace is Possible.” I like that slogan and also their “Seven Principles of Peace”: love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, forgiveness.

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observing-the-walk-for-peace

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Mothers-Day-Walk

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The 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize winners have been announced. The awards, given to “social design pioneers,” will be presented at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on November 15.

How cool are these winners?

According to the Curry Stone website, New York City’s “Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) collaborates with teachers and students, policy experts and community advocates, and artists and designers to visually communicate complex urban-planning processes and policy-making decisions.”

Liter of Light, Manila, Philippines, uses water in bottles to create solar lamps for people living in dark tenements.

“Model of Architecture Serving Society — aka MASS Design — is a Boston-based architecture firm that has created a niche practice in designing healthcare facilities in resource-limited settings, primarily in countries emerging from crisis.”

The Riwaq Center for Architectural Conservation in Ramallah “has spent more than two decades documenting Palestinian heritage and culture through restoration of the built environment.”

“Jeanne van Heeswijk is an artist who facilitates the creation of lively and diversified public spaces, typically from abandoned or derelict sites.”

More here. Be sure to check the pictures here.

Photograph: Jeminah Ferrer
The Liter of Light project uses water  in bottles to create solar lamps for the poor.

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Some days I walk in Boston and snap the sights down side streets. The first photo was taken near the harbor. The others were taken near Downtown Crossing.

I like the Adrienne Rich line painted on a bookstore wall: “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.”

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I met Mary Driscoll in playwriting class last summer.

Mary has had a lifetime focus on social justice for marginalized people. She has traveled to foreign countries to work with refugees. For people with HIV, she has taught pilates and the healing art of telling one’s stories. She has performed with mission-oriented theater troupes. And she is the founder of  OWLL, On with Living and Learning, which helps ex-offenders build new lives after prison.

At Mary’s invitation, my husband and I found our way last night to what is a virtual artist colony in the long-abandoned but reemerging warehouse district of South Boston. In Mary’s loft apartment, one of the artists she has drawn into her orbit presented a wonderful cabaret show to raise money for OWLL’s production of Generational Legacy about mothers and children after prison.

Michael Ricca interpreted songs by Michel Legrand with great humor and feeling (including the theme song of our wedding, “What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?”). Ricca is performing the songs and others by Legrand at Scullers in March.

My husband and I enjoyed talking to Mary’s guests  — artists, actors, musicians, social activists, old  friends. We’re especially keen to keep an eye on the doings of the Fort Point Theatre Channel in the Midway Studios building, where Mary  lives and works. The collaborative productions in the Black Box Theatre sound intriguing and offbeat. We like offbeat.

Phot0 Credit: OWLL

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