Cuban Man Breaks Silence *New Feature Video

On January 4, 2018, Cuban man Juan Menendez sat down with me in a Havana park and did what Cubans are taught never to do: speak openly and critically about their government. Juan was so plain-spoken about poverty, censorship, intimidation, and general mismanagement of his country, it was easy to forget we were in Cuba–and…
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A Night Connecting With Cuba

Last night in Minneapolis I co-hosted an evening sharing Cuba with Minnesotans. There was a salsa dance performance, a silent auction & giveaway of Cuba-related prizes, and then I offered a presentation about my recent two weeks traveling this enigmatic nation. Cuba is a coin with two very different sides: expressive and positive on one…
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Cuba Movie #1: Making A Living

My first full video from Cuba! From December 27 to January 10, I explored this provocative nation. In this first video of this series, my guide William shares how everyday people in Cuba makes a living. (Hint: it doesn’t involve the free college.) We filmed in the historic, tourist city Trinidad on the island’s south…
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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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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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Growing Up Poor And Black In The South: Interview With Chattanooga Ruth

They say there are two Americas today. Go back in time and we find more–but not too far back, mind you. Try 1950s Tennessee in the neighborhood Ruth Stewart grew up in. Poverty without food programs, addiction without treatment options, segregated schools: Ruth opens up about these realities just some decades ago. But she also shares…
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Facing The Biggest Problem In America Today

When I was a substitute teacher in Minneapolis a handful of years ago, I was blown away by the behavior of some of the students. I expected some unruliness in the rougher schools, but I didn’t anticipate crying, screaming, and desks strewn about. For the toughest classes, stages of shock and frustration were followed by…
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A Single Mother Of Twelve: A Story Of Family And Community

In response to my story in the Star Tribune about fatherless youth in Minneapolis, a reader sent me her own story of growing up in a single-parent home. Teresa was one of nine kids who her mom cared for in the 1950s and 60s.  Combined from two letters Teresa wrote to me, please enjoy her touching story of…
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My Article About Black Struggle Will Be Featured In This Sunday’s Star Tribune

Last winter I observed the actions and heard the message of Black Lives Matter (pictured above at the Mall of America December 2014). They said we need to work the top of the system to improve the conditions of the inner-city. In response, I asked, “But where are the leaders working the ground level of these communities,…
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Arriving In Port-au-Prince (from A Croatian Woman Visiting Haiti)

We continue our series of travel stories sent in from friends and readers of The Periphery. We’re seeing the world through many people’s eyes and giving anyone the chance to share their adventure! This week’s story was sent in from fellow writer Visnja Murgic. Visnja is a Croatian woman living in Canada, who now shares with…
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