Al Jazeera America ran my story about the highest election turnout in 50 years. In spite of the large number of voters who did go to the polls, there were fewer voters than in the 2012 recall election. The photo below is from a polling station at the Madison Municipal Building.
I have had the good fortune to do some reporting for The Guardian on the very intense election season here in Wisconsin. Below are links to three stories I wrote last week. Two deal with the state’s new voter ID law and the large numbers of people who will likely be disenfranchised by its implementation so close to the election. The third focuses on a facebook page that received media attention because of its call for an armed poll watcher “militia” to challenge voters who had signed recall petitions and have outstanding warrants. Later the group’s owner said it was a hoax.
After reporting on the BP oil spill and its aftereffects, I became interested in the dynamics of oil production and coastal communities. Suape, a port and industrial complex in Brazil’s northeast gave me an opportunity to do some research into an area with some similarities to coastal Louisiana. What I found is a pattern of development that has received a fair bit of attention in relation to the World Cup: a top-down model that imposes plans on low-income communities, all too often with violent methods.
Many people helped me over the course of this project. I am particularly indebted to Alex Shankland, my professor at the Institute of Development Studies, who first mentioned the Suape complex to me. Alex also connected me with Renato Athias, who provided extensive contacts and support during my first months in the area.
One result of my efforts is this piece published by Pacific Standard Magazine.
“The big frailty today in the electrical system is the national grid system,” he said.
In early March I saw an article about the risk to Brazil’s power supply presented by low reservoir levels. Al Jazeera America agreed to work with me on an article about the way the instabilities in the country’s power system could feed into social tensions leading up to the World Cup. The result is here. I owe a huge thanks to Pedro Telles for connecting me with a key source in this story, as well as Peter Ratcliffe, for the same reason.
Photo from the MadeInBrazil typepad blog:
In January, Brazil was filled with news about “rolezinhos,” little outings. Rolezinhos are get-togethers organized on facebook. Primarily, they have offered way for low-income youth, who are also often people of color, to hang out, flirt, and shop in malls. But in early December roughly 6,000 youth came out to a rolezinho in São Paulo, and the event was accompanied by rumors of theft and mass muggings, although only three people were reportedly arrested. This blog post by Rio Gringa, offers an excellent review of the course of events and the debates around the gatherings. Repression by mall administrators and police, including pre-emptive arrests, led Amnesty International to call the response to the rolezinhos discriminatory and racist. Solidarity rolezinhos were planned and held in different parts of Brazil, including Recife. Public Radio International´s The World gave me an opportunity to cover this phenomenon for them, and to talk about the class and racial tensions that the rolezinhos are revealing as Brazil heads into the final months of preparing to host the World Cup.
On a visit to London this summer, a buddy of mine, Matt Davis, mentioned that London’s Science Museum has a cockroach tour. That is, one can go to the museum and experience something similar to Gregor Samsa’s transformation into a bug by donning a cockroach costume. DW was planning a special edition focusing on climate change education, and they thought the story engaging enough to publish. You can listen to the audio version or read the text one.
Last fall I spent some time at the Tulane Towers Learning Center near the intersection of Tulane Avenue and Broad Street in New Orleans. Jerome Jupiter generously allowed me the freedom to talk to staff and students at his program, New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY). The result is my article on the work they are doing to help people who are not enrolled in traditional schools earn their General Educational Development (GED) certificate. The Crisis, the magazine for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), published the story in its current edition.
Before leaving New Orleans, I produced a radio piece for AARP’s Primetime Postscript. The announcer made the typical mistake with my name, but I still enjoy the story tremendously. The piece features the bluegrass music and voices from a regular Monday night at the Hi-Ho Lounge on St. Claude Avenue, one of my favorite places and events in the city. In an earlier posting on this site, you can see several photos from another bluegrass night, and if you look at those while you listen to the story, you can have a real multi-media experience.
In October, David Baker, my editor at The Louisiana Weekly asked me to cover a story of neglect in a low-income housing development, The Estates, that had been built where the Desire projects used to stand. The Housing Authority of New Orleans, which is in receivership due to mismanagement, had issued a repair deadline of November 30th to the private company managing The Estates. After that piece came out, The Lens asked me if I’d be willing to do a follow-up story for them. After publishing the piece online last Friday, The Advocate picked it up for their Sunday edition.
Late this spring I responded to a call for pitches from a new podcast that examines how the legal system intertwines with our everyday lives. The producer was intrigued by my description of the issues facing the Vietnamese community on the Gulf Coast related to the BP oil spill and its aftermath. This piece is the result. The amazing sound design was done by Kaitlin Prest. Julia Barton offered exquisite editing assistance, and numerous people from the New Orleans area helped me find the interviews for this story. Special thanks go to Daniel Nguyen and Grace Scire.