World Wide Work - September 2009
This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.
WORLD WIDE WORK
New and worth noting
Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual rodeo in which inmates compete, to the delight of thousands of spectators. Since 2006, female inmates have been allowed to take part. Many of them are young mothers, separated from their families because of drug-related crimes. The rodeo poses the real possibility of lifelong injury, especially for these amateurs with only minimal training, but both women and men participate to relieve the intense boredom of prison life. This two-hour, heartbreaking documentary introduces some of them, and in the process provides a poignant portrait of the inhumanity of the U.S. prison system.
Between the Folds. This unusual 56-minute documentary features stunning art created by folding single sheets of paper; introduces ten artists, some with serious scientific credentials; and shows fascinating links between science and art. Will be shown on PBS' Independent Lens in December, 2009. See the film's web site for other screenings.
Journey of a Red Fridge. More than 60,000 children in Nepal make their living as porters, carrying backpacks and supplies for tourists or transporting goods in a region in which there are few good roads or vehicles. This 54-minute documentary focuses on one of them.
Kick Like a Girl. A soccer team of third-grade girls in Utah can't find adequate competition against other girls' teams and decides to enter the local boys' league instead. The 24-minute film follows their season and the reactions of girls, boys, and parents.
Inventing L.A. By tracing the history of the Chandler family that founded the Los Angeles Times, this 116-minute PBS documentary also tells important parts of the history of southern California, including decades of fierce anti-union campaigns and manipulation of politicians and public resources for personal gain. The film also describes internal battles between ultraconservative and relatively liberal family members that led to the paper's rapid decline.
Howard Dean's Prescription for Real Healthcare Reform (Chelsea Green). The physician and former governor of Vermont makes the case for a public insurance option as a necessary part of real health care reform.
Organizing the Curriculum edited by Rob Linne, Leigh Benin, and Adrienne Sosin (Sense Publishers). 18 essays that include some innovative practical ideas and perspectives for teaching in the public schools about the U.S. labor movement.
Muslim Women Reformers by Ida Lichter (Prometheus). Brief profiles of Muslim feminists around the world who believe that fundamentalist extremists misrepresent the values expressed in the Koran.
Breakthrough Communities edited by M. Paloma Pavel (MIT Press). Activists from around the U.S. have been working on interconnected issues of economy, environment, and equity on a metropolitan basis, seeking new solutions for urban, suburban, and exurban communities on such subjects as housing, transportation, land use, and employment.
Daily Bread by Jennifer Burd with photographs by Lad Strayer (Bottom Dog Press). Prose poems and photos provide touching portraits of homeless men and women in Adrian, Michigan.
Incantations edited by Ambar Past (Cinco Puntos). A beautiful book of poems and graphic images by Mayan women who belong to a cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico.
An Insignificant Family by Da Ngan (Curbstone). A novel that centers on a woman who, like the author, was a guerrilla fighter for the Viet Cong while a young teenager.
The Dog Who Loved Tortillas by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Cinco Puntos). A bilingual children's book about two siblings who learn about sharing their new dog.
Invisible Hands by Kim Phillips-Fein (W.W. Norton). After President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal made historic changes in the American economic and political system, the DuPont family and other businessmen began a counterattack that culminated in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. Such businessmen have been the invisible hands behind what is called the conservative movement.
Woodsburner by John Pipkin (Doubleday). The year before Henry David Thoreau went to live at Walden Pond, he accidentally set fire to 300 acres of privately owned woods near his home town of Concord. This well-written novel creates a variety of engaging characters.
The Thoreau You Don't Know by Robert Sullivan (HarperCollins). Aside from the persona Thoreau created for himself in Walden, who was he, how did he live, and what were the parallels between his era and our own?
Marijuana is Safer by Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert (Chelsea Green). Three leading activists provide in-depth information on the contradictions between public policies on alcohol and marijuana.
Seattle Noir and Portland Noir (Akashic). Two of the latest in a series of dark mystery novels centered in particular cities.
Invisible Hands, Invisible Objectives by Stephen F. Befort and John W. Budd (Stanford University Press). An academic argument that the whole framework of workplace law and public policy in the U.S. must be refocused based on three objectives: equity, efficiency, and workers' voice.
Farmworkermovement.org is an online archive of essays, photos, graphics, and other materials documenting the United Farm Workers movement. Classic works by the artist Susan Due Pearcy are being sold through the site to raise money for the project.
Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House by The Wailin' Jennys (Red House). Features gorgeous harmonies by this three-woman folk group.
Love Don't Make You Juliet by Brandi Shearer (Vinyl Tiger). Low-key, late-night sound from the sultry-voiced jazz singer.
Still Moving Mountains (Aurora Lights and JourneyUpCoalRiver.org). Features coalfield songs and interviews with local residents and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. about the issue of mountaintop removal mining. All proceeds go to organizing on that issue. Includes donated music by such artists as Del McCoury, Blue Highway, Kathy Mattea, and Great American Taxi.
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