Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Walking Past the Future, One Story at a Time

So I was walking my dog in the neighborhood a few weeks ago, past a cool and hip office on a street a few blocks away. As we walked by and I glanced in, I couldn't help but wonder what those folks were working on. A few days later, I was meeting with a friend for breakfast, talking about cool and hip office spaces. We literally got up from the table and hurried around the corner to that first office. That's when I discovered, well, the following story (that ran in today's Salem News). Curiosity sure can introduce you to some fascinating stuff, even in your own neighborhood . . .

December 26, 2012

Exploring the future from a corner in Beverly

Research firm's founder likes city's 'great vibe,' accessibility

The future has come to Beverly, and you can find it in the old taxi dispatch just around the corner from Cityside Diner.
The renovated street-level office on Knowlton Street now houses Latitude Labs, the newest venture for parent company Latitude, a global media and technology research company that has grown from a single employee when it began in 2001 to 16 and serves clients such as ESPN, The New York Times, BBC and Nickelodeon. Founded by CEO Steve Mushkin from a computer in the Beverly Public Library, Latitude’s headquarters now consists of four offices above the diner on Cabot Street. Its location in downtown Beverly is as important to Mushkin as the company’s global reach.
READ the rest of the story here:

Monday, November 26, 2012

When the Parade Comes Marching In

Of all the things that make a small town into a community, a parade tops the list. You see your neighbors, hear their kids' music and learn more about the small businesses that make up downtown. Yesterday, I covered my town's holiday parade for the local paper and discovered more of the spirit of the place. This is the fun stuff of local journalism!

November 26, 2012

'The spirit of Christmas'

Beverly celebrates 65th annual Holiday Parade

Ray Novack has never actually seen the Beverly Holiday Parade. As the former director of the Beverly High School marching band (he retired last year), Novack has marched in 35 consecutive parades. At yesterday’s 65th annual parade, he sat atop a silver Mustang convertible as the grand marshal, waving to the thousands of residents who lined Cabot, Elliott and Rantoul Streets, braving the chilly winds to welcome Beverly’s official start of the giving season.
“Usually we (the BHS marching band) are at the end of the parade,” Novack said. “This year, I’m at the beginning, the first time (in 35 years) I haven’t marched, so it’s nice to ride in such an esteemed place of honor. Maybe next year, I’ll actually watch it from the street.”
Novack was one of several hundred participants in this year’s parade, the biggest ever with 50 entries and floats, according to Wendy Kelley, vice president of the parade committee and assistant vice president of Salem Five Bank.
The Kora Shrine Log Rollers from Maine came again to drive their miniature log trucks and raise money for burn victims. The Girl and Boy Scouts were also on hand, along with librarians, firefighters, dance groups, Little Leaguers, Red Cross representatives, Momball team members, mayors and marching bands. Oh, and that guy with the white beard and red suit.  READ MORE.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hope in the Hard Stuff

Every so often an assignment comes along that at first you don't want to take; it'll be too too emotional, too challenging. But you say yes and when you do, you experience inspiration, courage and service. That's what this story was like for me. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, this story is one of many the local newspaper ran. And I'm glad they did.
Jill Moriello

October 16, 2012

Survivor's recovery a sign of hope

“Not the looks from strangers, I could handle those,” Moriello said. “But the stares from my family members — seeing their concern, that was hard.” 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Finding Courage to Enter the Political Discussion

As it happened, I'd been thinking about the presidential election a lot. Chewing. Brooding. Wondering how I could contribute, knowing if I did I could be opening a can of worms with friends and strangers a like. Then I read about Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban as a result. Her courage far surpassed mine, but it certainly nudged me to at least try.

So I wrote the following column in about 45 minutes, edited it, asked my husband to read it, and then sent it to the religion editor at the Huffington Post, who sent me an email an hour later that it was on the homepage of the HP. No time to back down. And as I think about it, I'm glad I didn't. I've heard from dozens—really—of people I don't know, telling me I'd said what they wanted to, what they were thinking but hadn't been able to articulate. Many called me "courageous" but really, I only wrote a piece for a web site.

I never faced a rifle for my words.

And I wonder still: why are we afraid to talk about the things that matter to us in this election?
Jo Kadlecek

Unapologetic: Evangelical Christian, Pro-Life and Democrat

Posted: 10/10/2012 2:24 pm
I'm in trouble now. Not so much because I work at a Christian college where many of the students (and donors), um, sit across the proverbial aisle. As fellow Christ-followers, they'll give me grace. And not so much because the Democrats I hang out with sit in an altogether different theological pew. As liberals, they'll show me tolerance. Right?
No, I'm in trouble because now I'm putting my religion AND politics out there on the Internet, for all the other crazies to see and comment in nasty one-dimensional diatribes about how wrong and misinformed and ridiculous I am.
Still, some things are worth the risk. And this election has gotten scary. So here goes:
I wasn't always like this. I grew up in a Christmas and Easter Presbyterian suburban home to Republican parents. My dad campaigned for Barry Goldwater and my mom cried when Nixon resigned on national television because he'd been her hero.  READ MORE.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Good Coffee For Business and Community

I've long admired the efforts of small business women, those who work ridiculously hard every day to live out what has become their professional dream. And because everyone loves a good cup of coffee, this was a story with spark, with wisdom, with, well, Gusto. And it landed in the business section of the local paper, helping, I hope, inspire other small business women and men with big dreams that also happen to serve the community.

121003_SN_DLE_GUSTOCAFE2October 10, 2012

Gusto Cafe serves cup of world's hospitality

Call it an American dream with a shot of espresso. The way Albana Meta sees it, there’s enough good will — and coffee — to go around for everyone, if you just work hard enough.
So six months ago, despite an ominous economy, Meta, 39, of Danvers, opened Gusto Cafe at 280 Cabot St. in Beverly and renovated what was formerly the Trevi coffee shop. She’d searched for two years for her own place, all while working two and three jobs, including four years at Starbucks in North Beverly, where she learned much of the coffee business. She was just about to sign a lease for a cafe in Peabody when she learned the Trevi owners were moving on.
Now she has seven part-time employees and a steady stream of customers, many of whom she knows by name, coming for Stumptown direct-trade organic coffee, fresh paninis, and homemade gelato and soup. Business has been so good that Meta — who can’t seem to finish a sentence without a smile or a laugh — says most of her friends are surprised at the early success — especially given the legendary presence of the nearby Atomic Cafe.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Via the Newspaper

Mary Burke
In one of my prouder moments of speaking through the local newspaper, I had the opportunity to wish my 95-year old neighbor a happy birthday through this column in the local newspaper, which came out on her birthday. As friends dropped by to greet her throughout the day, she proudly displayed the newspaper. And even now she says she's heard from people she hadn't talked to in years because they read her 'birthday column'! Who says newspapers are dying?

September 20, 2012

Column: New England neighborliness and the lady at Number Nine

When English is a Gift

This summer, I learned first hand what it meant to be in a culture where I didn't know the language. When I went to Honduras in July, my junior high Spanish just wasn't enough.

So kudos to those folks like Gina Frey, director of adult education at North Shore Community Action Programs in Peabody, MA, for her leadership with ESOL classes. Frey is pictured here with Sander Juste, an immigrant from Haiti, where he taught high school students but is now honing up on his English, knowing the benefits it will provide. Here's another of my local stories for the Salem News:

Gina Frey (l) and Sander Juste (r)
September 21, 2012

Need for English classes growing

They are students like Bao Li, 33, who is originally from China and now lives in Salem; she was on a waiting list for three years before she was able to enroll in the beginning English class at NSCAP. Now she is in an advanced course. Or Sander Juste, 44, who moved from Haiti to Salem nine months ago; he had been on the waiting list since March before Frey had an opening for him.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Today's Civil Rights Issue

I've long been concerned about the language used around immigration issues today. Media and citizens alike toss around terms that too often hijack principles and criminalize neighbors.

So when I came across a group of young immigrant college students recently, I knew their story needed telling. I hope it invites more opportunities for conversation:

September 3, 2012

For immigrant students, college is a step closer

Yonerky Santana has been busy lately. Like most college students, Keky, as her friends call her, is preparing for a new semester of classes, juggling limited finances with family and social life as she prepares for what she hopes will be a career in health services.
But Santana is also one of eight student leaders in the North Shore chapter of the Student Immigrant Movement who are helping other immigrant students take what they see as an important step: applying for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that went into effect Aug. 15. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Good News of Good New Teachers

Erin Sweeney, new third grade teacher at
Cove Elementary School. Go Erin!
Who isn't inspired by the teachers who work and plan and hope to make a difference in the lives of their students? And when asked, who of us could not name that one teacher who had a significant impact on us? Mine was Mrs. Manning, the junior high English teacher who helped me love stories and language and rhythms at a time when, well, I needed to learn to love something other than . . . my own selfish world.

So I hope this story I wrote on good new teachers in the area will remind you of that one (or two or three) who took you in a new direction. Which of course made all the difference:

Fresh faces to greet students:

Several districts report increasing number of new teachers

As third-graders at Cove Elementary School in Beverly start a new year, their teacher Erin Sweeney, 45, will be starting a new career. Her second, as a matter of fact. No, make that her third.
A former project manager for a publishing company (career No. 1) and mother of three (career No. 2), Sweeney says she’s excited to meet her students tomorrow. Armed with a master’s degree in reading from Salem State University and four years’ experience as a paraprofessional at Hannah Elementary School, Sweeney is prepared and nervous all at once.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A New Beat, A Local Story

Enough talking about journalism here—it's time I got back to doing some! Henceforth, I'll be writing (and posting) regular stories I'm submitting to our local community newspaper, The Salem News. Education stories on schools, teachers, parents, trends in the classroom, you name it, these are the articles I'm hoping to provide. Why? So Boston's North Shore might pay a little more attention to the education of our kids, and so I get the privilege of exploring my own backyard a bit more.

First story: August 13, 2012: "Down to the Wire for Required Summer Reading."

Got a good tip or story idea that's local, local, local about schools or education? Email me:  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gold Medal Journalism

New York's Columbus Circle, a few subways
stops away from Columbia University.
Maybe it was the recent inspiration of the Olympics, but lately I've been thinking about the 2012 Pulitzer Prizes awarded last spring. I once worked at NYC's Columbia University where they honor the recipients each year in an elaborate but distinguished ceremony on their City Set On A Hill campus. (Yes, it was first an Episcopalian college.) 

Two underdogs come to mind from this year's winners: Sara Ganim, the 24-year old reporter of
The Patriot-News Staff, in Harrisburg, PA,who broke the Jerry Sandusky story. (See Ganim's thoughts here.) A.M. Sheehan and Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling of the Advertiser Democrat, Norway, Maine, a weekly, who exposed disgraceful conditions in federally-supported housing and within hours, triggered a state investigation.

A few months ago, I heard Ganim's editor speak at a journalism conference along with Sheehan. Both reminded me of the need for tenacity in reporting, vision in editing and commitment to community journalism. So here's to more gold medal stories for our communities!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dangers of Reporting

A guard at a public park in Tegucigalpa.
Talk about perspective: I travelled at the end of June to Honduras. I was asked to cover a conference there on justice. Reporting on corruption in government or education, land or labor issues there can literally be a life or death assignment. One long term Honduran reporter for the Associated Press told me 29 journalists have been killed in the last three years, 36 lawyers and hundreds of workers.

"Are we afraid?" he asked rhetorically. "We just have to turn ourselves over to God and do our job."

I wrote about the conference for the Huffington Post in an article called, "Danger: A Different Kind of Mission Trip."

And responded to the same trip with an editorial for the Center for Public Justice entitled, "A Journalist's Confession: Justice, Honduras and the Surprise of Both."

Statue of Christ at the other end
from the guard at the park.
So far, though, I've received no threats or dangers for having written either article. I wish my colleagues in Honduras were so safe, and am all the more grateful for their work.

Monday, April 9, 2012

National News (Shapers) in One Place

President Obama speaks to the editors
at lunch.
Last week, April 2-4, in Washington D.C., members of the media gathered for the annual conference of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE). The good news about the reporters of news? Integrity still matters. Between discussing innovative leadership, diversity in recruitment (which now includes thinking as well as ethnic differences), and smart phone apps that cover breaking news across platforms, these editors and journalists still seem to care about getting it right. About public service. About coverage that reflects a community, and sources that are verified before publishing. Despite real concerns about economic constraints around the business of news, enterprise reporting and watchdog journalism remain valued priorities for these members of the press. In fact, the general theme of the gathering was this: the industry will be saved by high impact journalism. Meaning, news organizations and readers alike require coverage of, and investment in, the kind of stories that matter everyday, for the everyday people served because of a free press.
Watergate reporters Bob Woodward, 2nd from 
left, and Carl Bernstein, 3rd  from left.
Arianna Huffington, center, and
Jill Abramson, editor of NYTimes, left

PBS Anchor Gwen Iffil and 
yours truly

Friday, March 23, 2012

Labeling the Senator (John Kerry) from Mass: Really?

Senator John Kerry (D-MA) came to speak this past week at the college where I work. It was a nice thing for him to do and a nice invitation for our small Christian college to extend. Everyone should have been happy for the opportunity to hear from one of our country's most senior representatives.

Never mind. As much as it might have enhanced the educational process for students, allowing young people to hear the personal story and religious journey of a long standing public servant, some folks weren't so sure what to make of Kerry At Said-Evangelical College.  Instead of trying to understand it, they resorted to labels.

One media outlet claimed Kerry questioned if "Jesus was a Liberal?" Another headlined his promotion of "Universal Health Care," when neither the article nor Kerry's talk gave it barely a mention. A local reporter lead his page one story with, "The words politics and religion don't normally conjure an image of a left leaning senator from Massachusetts." And don't even get me started about the Facebook page of "evangelicals" commenting on—what else?—the "far left socialist baby killer" who spoke at the college.


Labels are simply easy categories for lazy thinkers. Follow their thread and they lead to the evil of 'isms'—racism, sexism, classism, etc. I mean, who of us is only a Republican? Or a Democrat? Or a Catholic or Christian or Whatever? Aren't we also immigrants and wives, sisters and business execs, athletes and husbands, honest and in debt and artistic? You get the idea. Humans are complicated and complex beings and to report on them only in terms of their labels is short sided, narrow minded and—did I say this already?—lazy. Digging deeper into the mix of stories, or people, is hard work. Those unwilling to do so ought to keep their mouths shut and their computers off.

In fact, I vote we put these labels to rest forever. Kill 'em—as a southern friend once said—'grave-yard dead.' And now's as good a time as any. It's spring, after all, when even trees in New England cemeteries remind us that new things are possible, including how we talk of senators and religion and public life. And each other.