Lessons from the Amish

by bicyclemark

Part of having a little office/studio space in an old squat means that I have to clock working hours on the actual building. Thankfully hammering, scraping, or painting are all tasks that allow me the mental freedom to listen to my favorite podcasts all day long.. stopping for the occasional watermelon break.

Today’s audio gem which I strongly recommend comes from On Point, with Tom Ashbrooke. Always a great program, the most recent episode focuses on the Amish population of the United States. It features an author who spent many years living next door to Amish, getting to know them and becoming good friends. He did extensive research about different Amish communities and provides some really eye opening information about them… what I would label as both positive and negative details.

One particular detail that opened my eyes was the fact that Amish communities, especially some of the most conservative ones, have seen population BOOMS in the last decade… more than doubling their numbers!
– Imagine that… living in the US, while all these non-amishpeople, media, objects, not too far from your home.. and yet.. a whole community not only staying out of much of it.. but actually growing!

Beyond that he presents important lessons that the amish could offer the rest of the world.. including: buying and selling local. He talks about their tremendous skill and capacity for farming, and the great tradition of selling locally, to communities down the street. Now of course he talks about issues of education and patriarchy which present some troubling realities… but overall I was very impressed with what he learned about the Amish.

Recomendations Before Centralia

by bicyclemark

Long long journey to Centralia, PA today was quite interesting but also very exhausting, but I’ll tell you all about it after I get some sleep.

Now in the third week of my longest visit to the US in 5 years, almost every hour of every day is programmed for visiting someone or someplace. Its always the same old problem, no time left for anything. Trying to find out more on the earthquake in the pacific, reading the news as it comes off the wire.


At any rate, plenty of stories, issues, and audio-visuals in the can for you this month. For now, I do what I know you enjoy, I recommend two things:

1– On Point with Tom Ashbrook had my favorite mayor, Salt Lake City’s Rocky Anderson was the guest and he says such excellent things that make me wish so much that cities all over the world had mayors like him. But don’t take my word for it, if you can’t go visit Salt Lake, at least give a listen to the podcast.

2– Ryan is Hungry teaches how we can compost even if we don’t have a yard. (thankfully I have a rare amsterdam yard) With the help of a composting MC.. or MC compost as she’s likely known.. you can see the step-by-step of how to compost right there in your apartment.

Don’t Praise the Kids

by bicyclemark

Arrived some hours ago from Brussels, after a very enjoyable weekend exploring neighborhoods I hadn’t gone to in years with my cousin and meeting up with my buddy Tim.

At some point the topic of child care came up, probably because of my imaginary children that you know, I’m always talking about and concerned about how I’m not raising them since they don’t exist.

But a great subject of discussion became praising, not praising, and over-praising one’s children. Though it was a theoretical discussion in our case, we each spoke a bit about how best to do it or not do it. Makes me remember alot of kids I knew that were praised for every little nothing that they did… and wonder where they are today.. did all that praise properly prepare them for life.. especially when things don’t go right even though others once told you about how great you are? I really wonder. Then again, if you were almost never praised, maybe you’re constantly unhappy with your actions; miserable in effect.

All this is the topic on a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED episode of On Point last week. Whether you have kids or not, I recommend listening. There are even some reasonable tips about what to do if AT THIS VERY MOMENT you realize you’ve been praising your kid too much… what to do now?

Grande Place

In closing I’d like to say to myself: “dam you did a good thing going to brussels this weekend, BUT, you should work on cleaning your room and fix your sleeping pattern.”

Resonating in my Ears

by bicyclemark

Working very very late on some upcoming podcasts, from Afghanistan, to Guinea, to Liberia.. there’s alot coming up.

But in the meantime, as I did my research for the day, which always includes almost 6 hours of podcasts daily, two in particular had me captivated and hitting rewind to hear words again.

The first was Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who most people in the Netherlands would be quite tired of hearing from, but in this case she appeared on WBUR Boston’s On Point, to discuss her new book and of course… the usual condemnation of islam. I must say, I don’t agree with her on many things, but I always tune in to interviews with her.. she has an interesting style and she handles debate quite well.
But in this particular program what is striking is her descriptions of both her and her brother being forcefully circumcized back in Somalia when she was a child. Each word of her sentences made me shutter. And even more captivating are the callers from around the US that call in to either condemn her.. or mostly to praise her in very strange ways.. including reminding her of how great it is to live in the US and having Jesus watching over her. AN INSTANT CLASSIC.

OT301 again.

The other program that Ill never forget was Monday’s democracy now, featuring an interview with one of my hero’s and citizen journalist-colleague… Josh Wolf.. on the phone from prison. You should really hear what he has to say about what has happenned to him and the country. Among other things, it reminded me of how dangerous it is for individual… independent journalists making their own media without the backing of corporate or government forces, to do what I do within the United States. As far as Im concerned it could happen to me or any other of my wonderful friends out there doing our own reporting. Josh is an inspiration and a hero…. they should be learning about him in schools everywhere!