Jefferson Monthly

Features and columns published in the Jefferson Monthly.

Mary Landberg

On a sunny day last March over a hundred mostly gray-haired people file into an auditorium at Asante’s Smullin Health Education Center in Medford. A large screen behind the stage projects the afternoon’s agenda: HAVING THE CONVERSATION. On stage are two empty armchairs, violet with pale blue dots, a white rug, and a hospital gurney. On the gurney lies a manikin, its hairless head resting incongruously against a flowered pillow. For some reason I find this detail heartbreaking.

We seem to live in the age of “zero tolerance.” A zero tolerance policy imposes automatic pre-determined punishment for infractions of a rule or law, forbidding people in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the unique circumstances or history of any given infraction. While it’s hard to argue against the merits of certain zero tolerance positions society has taken, like drinking and driving, numerous examples exist where zero tolerance rules have led to unjust outcomes and caused detrimental unintended consequences.

Pets In A College Town

Aug 1, 2013

I love living in a college town. Ever since Socrates first got away with it, educators have learned they can ask questions for a living. It must be an intellectual version of keeping up with the Joneses, but before you know it, everyone is asking questions just for the fun of it.

Having been a fan of José Gonzalez’s solo work and then his work with Zero 7, I was intrigued and then delighted when I discovered his “new” project in 2010 – his band, Junip, and their first full length recording, Fields. Well aware of his popularity as a solo artist, as well as his apparent interest in collaboration, I assumed it was just one of his many side projects, not one that would necessarily take root. 

This summer as families break out the GPS (or road maps, if you’re old school) and hit the road for the mountains, rivers and beaches, NPR has a great selection of interesting radio series planned to inspire lively conversations and fill the silence during those long road trips. Here’s a taste of what’s on deck.

Animal Love Farm

Jul 1, 2013

Angel hair ears and pompadoured pig’s tail. Brazilian crystals. Speckled hen.

Old wood. Sunning kitty. Mule Mountain. Emerald woods. Open pasture. Scarlet hen’s comb. Sweet smelling barn. Smiling dogs. Cocky crowing roosters. Belly-scratching stumps. Labyrinthine stones. Big-leafed comfrey.

Why does it feel like I’m singing “My Favorite Things”?

Lost in Translation

Jun 1, 2013

I recently exchanged email with a JPR listener who was frustrated that one of our translators was experiencing a degraded signal. After our communication, I thought it might be useful to dedicate my column this month to explaining how translators work and why recent developments have caused difficulties for some translators JPR has operated for decades.

In 15 years of doing these essays, I’ve always tried to focus on something about the State of Jefferson — and now it seems time to realize this includes an invisible new layer called Facebook. Most of my 600+ “friends” live in Jeffersonia and this is how I know and communicate with them. 

In late March, NPR announced that it will discontinue production of Talk of the Nation at the end of June. Over its 21-year run, Talk of the Nation has made a powerful contribution to public radio and set the standard for high quality call-in talk programming. The show also created a model that spurred many public radio stations around the country to launch their own call-in shows, like JPR’s Jefferson Exchange.

Like the Syrah grape leaves that wrap a wheel of Rogue River Blue cheese, our taste buds, leaf-shaped on the tongue, wrap around the cheese as we put it in our mouths. Then, like the judges at the 2012 World Cheese Awards, who rated Rogue River Blue one of the sixteen best cheeses in the world, we might say we could “sense the cows and the grass in the cheese.” One of the best tastes my tongue ever wrapped around was fresh goat’s milk in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, where I met a young couple backpacking with their herd of goats. I emptied my water bottle so they could fill it with milk, the freshest, most delicious milk I have ever tasted. I could sense in it the wildflowers and shrubs of the Trinities.

Guts and Grace

Apr 1, 2013
United States National Archives

Editor's Note:  April 2013 marked the 71st anniversary of the Bataan Death March. It ranks among the most significant atrocities in the recorded history of armed conflict and has become a widely memorialized event. Craig Faulkner, whom many readers will know as the host of JPR’s American Rhythm — The Gourmet Oldies Show, has agreed to share the story of his father’s journey of survival and renewal — from the Bataan Death March and the Hell Ships, through fear and hatred, to forgiveness and the dawn of illumined spiritual understanding.

The Ordeal

Spring can really hang you up the most, you know? But that doesn't stop me from loving this season of growth, rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, re-everything, and crazy, crazy weather. Oh how I love spring. 

Mission Quest

Apr 1, 2013

In a recent conversation with a JPR staff member I found myself in an interesting and spirited discussion about the difference between public radio and what he referred to as “corporate” radio. As I listened, I found myself struggling with the very concept of “corporate” anything. It seems to me that a corporation is a legal structure, not a qualitative standard. I generally accept the principle that there are effective corporations and ineffective corporations, just like there are effective non-profits and ineffective non-profits.

Just Say KNOW!

Apr 1, 2013

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

to know what occurs but not recognize the fact

— William Stafford (from “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”)

The Big Picture

Mar 1, 2013

Running the day-to-day activities of a pretty complicated public radio network can be downright consuming. Each day, there are programs to produce, transmitters to fix and money to be raised. Through the buzz of daily work here at JPR, it’s sometimes easy to forget the part we play in a bigger public radio community. A recent email from NPR Senior Vice President for News, Margaret Low Smith, made me step back to put that bigger picture in focus and I thought I’d share portions of her communication with you.

A Sharp Divide

Feb 1, 2013

You may find this hard to believe, but I did actually study music in my youth. It was the principal focus of my academic work until I was in my late teens, and I played first violin in the school orchestra. So significant was music in my life at that time that, when I set off for university, my parents believed that I was training to be a music teacher.  I wasn't.  I went to read English, and I have never played in an orchestra or lifted a violin in anger since.

Beyond the Cliff

Feb 1, 2013

At the dawn of the new year, the U.S. Congress approved and the President signed H.R. 8: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 – averting the so-called “fiscal cliff.” What does this mean for public broadcasting and JPR? Since the legislation includes a two-month delay to sequestration, the mandatory cuts that would be imposed if no compromise could be reached, it delays the estimated 8.2% or $36 million cut to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that would have gone into effect on January 1 as a result of sequestration.

In November, NPR and the regional public radio organizations around the nation convened a meeting that I believe will be important in charting a course for the future of public radio. Much of the meeting focused on the sizzling pace of technological change taking place for consuming media content and how stations can and must adapt to providing content in this brave new world. There were three takeaways from the meeting:

Go Local

Shake Gently

Jan 1, 2013
wikipedia

  It was a dark and drizzly night when we arrived about 15 minutes fashionably late at a friend’s house for a holiday party. Greeted, and coats taken away, the sounds of lively conversation and laugher filled the living room, but seeing that all the cushy seats were taken we headed into the kitchen. A large table in a window nook was filled with goodies and hors d’oeuvres reflecting colorfully in the glass...but then I spied the kitchen counter cluttered with numerous bottles of exotic liqueurs. Grabbing a couple of nibbles I walked toward the counter.

There are those who love Christmas. I am one of them. I love the Christmas tree with its special ornaments, the evergreen-scented wreaths, the bells, the carols, the lights. I love making pies and cookies, making presents, wrapping presents, and giving (and, yes, receiving) presents. It is all so much fun.

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