Frontline: Fast Times at West Philly High

Frontline documented a Philadelphia class that challenged multimillion dollar backed efforts to compete for an X prize for creating a next generation hybrid. It’s a great one hour documentary that is worth watching and being inspired by.

Related Links:

West Philly Hybrid X Team

Frontline: Fast Times at West Philly High: Can a group of inner-city high school students beat the odds and build the next great super-hybrid car? (transcript)

Frontline: What is Project-Based Learning?

The Sustainability Workshop

Open Source Projects and Poisonous People

Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman, authors of the new O’Reilly book, “Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others”, had a great talk at Google I/O 2008 that is a must watch, Open Source Projects and Poisonous People:

There is great value in taking advice like this and turning it towards myself. By working to not be poisonous, I can encourage, lift up, empower and embolden. It’s a balancing act I’m working on and is reflected in Joe Campbell, a friend and co-worker, recent post “Gentle Strenth – Wizdom Applied”.

I’m looking forward to reading “Team Geek: A Software Developer’s Guide to Working Well with Others”.

(original post about the book is via Boing Boing)

Katherine Goldstein “fell in love with a computer nerd and ended up marrying a rock star”

I loved reading Katherine Goldstein’s story at Salon about her marriage to Travis Morrison, and the surprise different world she became part of:

As a kid, I imagined many things for my life. Marrying a rock star was not one of them. I appreciate and enjoy music, but have no passionate or fanatical interest in it. I don’t know any obscure bands and can’t talk knowledgeably about any artist’s “catalog.” I don’t particularly like going to see live music that much—it’s too loud, and I get too tired….

I started dating Travis Morrison, a computer programmer who worked at my company in early 2010. We got to know each other through chatting at the lunch table. We were the only people in our small office who regularly brought in food from home. I had the vaguest recollection that I had heard from a colleague he had been in some kind of famous band, but I didn’t really know the details..

Make sure to read the rest of the story.

Sister Mary Scullion on the possible ban to end public food giving

Sister Mary Scullion wrote an editorial voicing her opposition to the plan being decided today by US District Judge William H. Yohn Jr..

…as the ban on outdoor feeding has gone into effect, the reality is that the proposed service-enriched dining centers are not in place, and hungry people on the streets do not have appropriate alternatives. And we see no signs of progress in dealing with the underlying realities of hunger and homelessness.

So we are left with nothing but a prohibition on providing meals on the streets — an effective criminalization of charity, a violation of religious liberties for many church groups, and possibly the removal of a vital lifeline for many of those who are on the streets. This is not a step forward, but a lamentable step backward. It is only furthering the injustice and deepening the fracture of the human community. Sister Mary Scullion: Philadelphia’s ban on outdoor feeding is a harmful distraction

Want to help grow empathy and fight self-centeredness?

There have been more than a few reports outlining a decline of empathy, but did you know (or maybe forget that) reading literature can help you experience another person’s life through reading? A recent study found that it is true (wow, I actually wrote that sentence here and probably deserve some shame.. anyways…).

While the story in Psychology Today is centered on business, it must still be true that the stories we tell our children have impact. Read with them, and read them stories that help them see the world for what it is and can be.

If you are in financial distress and can’t see the immediate value, know that in addition, literature can provide a gateway to other humanities, which is leverage that help navigate the world. Earl Shorris, who recently passed away, and whose book, “The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor” will be published in 2013, said the following:

Numerous forces—hunger, isolation, illness, landlords, police, abuse, neighbors, drugs, criminals, and racism, among many others—exert themselves on the poor at all times and enclose them, making up a “surround of force” from which, it seems, they cannot escape. I had come to understand that this was what kept the poor from being political and that the absence of politics in their lives was what kept them poor. I don’t mean “political” in the sense of voting in an election but in the way Thucydides used the word: to mean activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community to the city-state.

Read the whole article: Harpers: Earl Shorris: As a weapon in the hands of the restless poor”

We focus so much on teaching concrete skills in school, as a means to an end, to get a job, but having that as the lone purpose of education is a mistake. I don’t know where I’d be without the books I’d find myself reading way back when. I had thought they were a means to escape whatever was going on my life thru my imagination, and sure, they were, but it turns out they helped me immeasurably in every day life and still do to this day.

Poverty on the rise… in the burbs

Cities, for the first time in 100 years, are growing faster than the suburbs. Meanwhile, poverty has grown everywhere rapidly, even in places not thought possible:

While the overall suburban population grew slightly during the previous decade, the number of people living below the poverty line in the suburbs grew by 66 percent, compared with 47 percent in cities. The trend quickened when the Great Recession hit, as home foreclosures and unemployment surged. In 2010, 18.9 million suburban Americans were living below the poverty line, up from 11.3 million in 2000

Read the rest: NYTimes: Editorial: Struggling in the Suburbs