March 2010


After more than four months of reporting, Homelands co-founder Sandy Tolan and his students at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism have launched a powerful (and disturbing) multimedia series about hunger in California. “Hunger in the Golden State” is a collaborative effort of the Annenberg School and California Watch, a project of the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting.

The series will run in California newspapers (including The Los Angeles Times), on radio stations (through KQED’s statewide public broadcast, The California Report), and in online news outlets, such as KPCC.org.

Thirteen Annenberg graduate students interviewed dozens of state and local food bank officials, as well as Californians who struggle with food shortages every day. The reporting unearthed new numbers that show that hunger is rising at an unprecedented rate in the Golden State. Nearly one in eight people in California has asked for food assistance in the last year and food banks and social services are overwhelmed.

The stories explore food waste, nutrition in schools, the fraying food safety net, and ways to help Californians fighting to ward off hunger.

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If you’re interested in the relationship between nature and culture, you’ll want to check out the newly released Biocultural Diversity Conservation: A Global Sourcebook (Earthscan, 2010), compiled by the Canada-based NGO Terralingua with support from the Christensen Fund. Homelands’ Worlds of Difference series is one of the book’s 45 featured projects.

Worlds of Difference explored the responses of societies with strong local traditions to the pressures and opportunities of a globalizing world. The award-winning project produced 40 radio features from 27 countries between 2002 and 2005. Most aired on NPR news programs. We also created six hour-long documentary specials, narrated by María Hinojosa and distributed in the US by NPR. The specials dealt with issues such as language, religion, biodiversity and economy. The project website contains more than 60 pages of text and photos and more than 10 hours of streamable audio.

Founded in 1996, Terralingua “works to sustain the biocultural diversity of life—the world’s invaluable heritage of biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity.” The group has set up a web portal where interested people can discuss biocultural diversity and update each other on their efforts.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know about our outrage at the murder of self-taught Mexican lawyer Marco Antonio Armendáriz Vega, who was shot to death in his home at the age of 56 last October. Marcos represented the poor and powerless against the corrupt and powerful in Mexico’s northern Sonora state. Our hats are off to NPR, who broadcast Peter O’Dowd’s remembrance on All Things Considered on March 8. The story provides some fascinating details about Marcos, who worked mainly for free, and who relished his role as an outsider. We hope the publicity will put pressure on Mexican investigators to identify those responsible for his murder.

O’Dowd is a reporter for public radio station KJZZ in Phoenix. Marcos was featured in a profile of e-waste recycler Vicki Ponce produced by our friend Ingrid Lobet as part of Homelands’ WORKING series on Marketplace.