Labor organizers and education advocates worked together on local election campaigns in 2012.
Ghazwan al-Sharif talks about memories of his Iraqi hometown, Tikrit, his work as a translator for the U.S. Army, the bombing of his house, his journey as a refugee through Jordan and finally to the United States.
This is a piece I reported over several months and produced with support from the UC Berkeley 11th Hour Food and Farming Journalism Fellowship. Thanks to my fellowship colleagues and editors for all their support and insight along the way. Thanks to all the people I interviewed for this story. And thanks to Valley Public Radio for airing it. Hunger and food access disparities in the middle of our nation's most productive agricultural land have to be addressed.
Hundreds of different food crops are raised in and around Fresno County. But many of those who live and work nearby have little access to the fruits of their own landscape. In fact, more people go hungry here in the Fresno metropolitan area than almost anywhere else in the entire nation. It’s this not-so-modest problem that Food Commons Fresno wants to solve — starting with their Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) brand, OOOOBY, or Out Of Our Own Backyards. Their vision is to support smaller farmers, and get more fresh produce into the area’s food deserts. And nine months in, they’re making some progress. But their goals are ambitious. And the basic cost of food for those who need it most, may still be too high. Listen to hear more.
In a recent East Bay Express article, For-Profit 911 Cellphone Service Coming to Oakland in February, Darwin BondGraham writes:
"A company called BlueLight plans to roll out a smartphone app that works as a subscription-based 911 service in Oakland next month. The service cost $20 a year and promises users that when they dial 911 from anywhere in Oakland, the Oakland Police Department will have access to their exact geographic location, making for a faster response. But the app appears to be widening the tech-fueled inequality gap. Will those able to afford smartphones and a BlueLight subscription receive superior emergency services over those who cannot?"
It's an interesting moment in the Bay Area, where apps are changing our relationships to so many of our services -- transportation, food, health, etc. The controversy over this new 911 app, Bluelight, reminds me of my reporting about 911 in 2013 which explored the potential for socioeconomic and racial disparities in access to emergency response here in Oakland. I can see the upside to having an app that routes a 911 calls directly to OPD -- though they'd need more dispatch center resources to take all those calls! But I can also see the concerns that this could widen the divide between people who have smartphones and can pay for this app, and those who can't.
Several leaders in the field of health IT make predictions for 2016 in this New Year's report for iHealthBeat.
I'm on high alert to stories about Fukushima, Japan since I traveled there a little over a year ago to speak with residents about how their lives had changed since the disasters of 2011. This one from the NY Times recently struck a chord because it echoes what we were told by a doctor working on the ground in one of the affected towns of Fukushima Prefecture. She said people's physical and mental health were damaged more by fear and avoidance of potential radiation exposure than by the exposure itself. It's hard to say what the data about cancer rates will reveal in this region as the years go on. But for the time being, this argument is interesting food for thought.
After reporting this audio story for California Healthline on California's precision medicine initiative, I can say this:
Precision medicine seems to be about using our rapidly developing knowledge of genomics (DNA) to improve and personalize health care delivery. If we know a patient's exact DNA landscape - what genes are turned on or turned off - and we know the genetic specifics of their disease or pathogen, then we can tailor both diagnoses and treatment for that individual person and their condition.
There's a national initiative to study precision medicine and a statewide one. For this report, I focused on what's happening in California. I talked to some interesting doctors, researchers, and one mother whose teenage son survived a rare form of encephalitis thanks to a new DNA-based diagnostic test.
An old family friend who is a physician recently told me he wonders if precision medicine is too pie-in-the-sky right now. Just another set of lofty promises for hi-tech health fixes? On the other hand, he told me, if the catch-all diagnostic test that saved that teenager's life could really be developed for use on a large scale... that would be a game-changer. I guess we'll have to watch and see.
This week marks 3-year anniversary of President Obama's executive order on immigration known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. And holy moly! Who did Senator Dick Durbin decide to profile on the senate floor to commemorate this anniversary? Denisse Rojas -- the lead voice in my recent Latino USA story about DACA students trying to become doctors!
Feeling very lucky to have had a week with this group of smart storytellers and editors. We critiqued each other's pitches, gave each other ideas, ate quite a few bagels, and left with a camaraderie that will hopefully help us jump any hurdles in our way as we report our stories for this fellowship over the next 6 months. They'll be a mix of print and radio, and will cover food and/or farming in some way. Look out!
The beautiful website for the SF State Fukushima Reporting Project is up! So many good stories and photographs all on one site - a thorough documentation of our interviews and experiences traveling across Fukushima prefecture last summer. Take a look!
I've been doing some interesting reporting for the California Healthcare Foundation. This one is an audio story up on the website, iHealthBeat. It's about all those apps folks are using now to monitor their own health, fitness, and medical data. And what privacy questions arise when we voluntarily enter so much personal information into our smart phones.
I have begun writing farm profiles for Agrarian Trust, a new project of The Greenhorns. Here is my first one. Actually published a couple of months ago. Just getting around to posting it here. Better late than never!
I really enjoyed talking to Jim Cochran, founder of Swanton Berry Farm, on the Central Coast of California. He's got some incredible insight into models for fair labor practices on farms.