Stay Free Of Today’s Political Drama; Build Your Own Sand Castle

As was the case during the US presidential election, and again during the inauguration, unrest dots the American landscape today. Those agitated are protesting. Those angry at the protesters are scoffing. In all, there are large amounts of activity and time spent attacking one another. It’s so easy to get caught up in the back…
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An Appalachian Woman Tells All: Poverty And Drug Abuse In West Virginia

The first thing that comes to people’s minds when hearing “West Virginia” is likely one of the following: mountains, hillbillies, coal, poverty.  These latter two are best represented in the interview below.  The woman on video isn’t a coal miner nor the wife of one. But the coal industry’s demise, as she mentions, does play a part…
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Vanessa Travels (And Philosophizes Upon) The Winter Wonderland Of Bryce National Park

Nine years ago, I was a 26-year-old taking my first international trip. I had met a Minneapolis schoolteacher who would take school supplies to a fledgling primary school in Antigua, Guatemala in Central America.  Aided by the connections she had in that city, I visited this historic city over the 2007-2008 New Year. I wasn’t the…
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It’s Cold. So Here Are Some Summer Nature Shots From The South

It’s long john season. Wool socks. Sweaters and parkas. Squeeze into your car with all that. See your breath. Try to reach for the seat belt with limited flexibility and then wrap it around your now 60-inch waist line. Whoop. My phone’s in my coat pocket. Better undo my seat belt to get it out.…
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A Bright Spot In A (Sometimes) Dark World: My Experience At The Supermarket

Last week I was in a supermarket checkout line. A middle-aged lady in front of me had the orange glow of excessive tanning. She also had a conveyor belt overflowing with groceries and two kids in her cart. As she bagged and loaded, she spoke aggressively and dismissively to the boy and girl. With her taken…
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“The U.S. Is Like An Old Man”: A Chinese PhD Student Shares Her Thoughts On America–And China

Xi (Cassie) Guo is an international student at the University of Minnesota. In the lab, she studies diseases. Outside of school, she’s made some interesting observations about life in the U.S.–as well as about her home country.  After sharing some of these insights with me, I asked Cassie for an interview. Graciously, she responded to my questions…
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Happy New Year: A Time To Reflect And Look Ahead (In English, Swahili, Spanish, German….)

HAPPY NEW YEAR Or should I say: Heri ya Mwaka Mpya! (Swahili) Godt Nytt år! (Norwegian) 新年快乐! / Xīnnián kuàilè! (Chinese Mandarin) or Feliz Año Nuevo! (Spanish) Not only are these the words to celebrate New Year’s all over the world. They are the words spoken by those I’ve acquainted myself with through my website…
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New Year, New Video: Portraits Of Tanzanian Villagers (And How They Reacted To Photography)

Happy New Year! Two-and-a-half years ago, while working at the school in the village of Magulilwa, Tanzania, a few townspeople warmed to the idea of having their picture taken. A couple of weeks later, I handed them their photographs. Now all of the villagers wanted one. Before I knew it, I became the village photographer,…
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Video: Talking Travel Adventures On 1180 KCKQ Reno, Nevada

Last Monday I was a guest on the “Peel Off Labels” radio program, on air from Reno, Nevada. Host Paul Malikowski interviewed me–I was in St. Paul–about my experiences in China, Tanzania, and the American South. We discussed the origins of these adventures, highlights from them, and the projects I have coming up. Enjoy it below.…
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My Southern Experience: Religion (& Politics) And The South

The South is religious, right? That’s the stereotype. Maybe it’s only in appearance. An attendee at my presentation in Minneapolis theorized that Minnesotans are just as religious. But they’re Lutheran–so are reserved, don’t wear their spirituality on their sleeve, and conduct a drastically different worship style. Short of any research on who is more spiritual, I can…
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