Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I Took A Break From Posting On This Blog: Death & Near-Death

I haven't posted on this blog for awhile, not since mid-April. It wasn't because I was lazy. It was because, to paraphrase John Lennon, Life had other plans. My mother died and my leg was broken when I was hit by pick-up truck while on my bike (that's in order of importance, but not chronological.)

Frances Alenikoff at age 62
On June 23, my mother passed away at the age of 91. Her last months followed the trajectory of so many of the old-old in this country: increasing longevity of age with no accompanying increase in the longevity of health.

Illusions of Immortality

My mother, Frances Alenikoff, was a modern dancer, choreographer and multimedia artist (here's the wonderful obit from the New York Times), who inspired many, among them current editor of Dance Magazine Wendy Perron, who wrote this moving In Memorium.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ilie Wacs and Deborah Strobin, AN UNCOMMON JOURNEY & Eyal Press, BEAUTIFUL SOULS

Painting by Ilie Wacs
It's Holocaust Remembrance Day (U.S.) -- a good day to think about what it takes to rescue the persecuted. Eyal Press' book, Beautiful Souls, is the best exploration of that I've ever read. It explained to me why my father, an unpolitical bon vivant, chose to shelter a Jewish refugee in his Amsterdam apartment for 3 years, build hiding places for others, and bring Jews into hiding from Amsterdam to eastern Holland


On this week's Writer's Voice, I speak with Eyal Press and with two siblings who fled Nazi Europe to find refuge in China, Ilie Wacs and Deborah Strobin. Their book is Uncommon Journey. 

The Story of The Century: A Conversation with Alex Prud’homme about The Ripple Effect


You can live without oil but you can't live without water. Alex Prud’homme on taking water for granted -- and why water is (or should be) the headlining story of our age.

By Francesca Rheannon

Author and journalist Alex Prud’homme’s 2011 book The Ripple Effect: the Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century, inspired the making of the forthcoming film, Last Call At The Oasis. I sat down with Prud’homme to talk about the book.


Francesca Rheannon: You're well known for the book that you wrote with Julia Child. How did you go from that to looking at this issue of water?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amy Seidl, FINDING HIGHER GROUND & Matthew Stein, WHEN DISASTER STRIKES

This week on Writers Voice: Ecologist Amy Seidl talks about FINDING HIGHER GROUND: Adaptation in a Warming World. And survival expert Matthew Stein talks about WHEN DISASTER STRIKES: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The CSR Case For Covering Contraception

Making contraception freely accessible to employees is good for the Triple Bottom Line.
By Francesca Rheannon [This posted originally on CSRwire.]

The Assault on Women’s Health

Rush Limbaugh is in trouble. Advertisers are fleeing his show in response to a social media conflagration over the shock jock’s misogynist attack on women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke.

So far, 20 companies have decided to pull their ads. And perhaps even more worrying to the Master of Bile and Bombast is that two radio stations have decided to drop him from their broadcast schedule.

More may follow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Remembering Fukushima, Hot Authors, & Murdoch Despondent

This Week on Writers Voice: Elmer Luke, MARCH WAS MADE OF YARN; Steven Pearson & Rich Benjamin, CANTEEN; Marvin Kitman on Rupert Murdoch

Elmer Luke talks about MARCH WAS MADE OF YARN: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown; Marvin Kitman on Rupert Murdoch; and publisher Steven Pearson & contributor Rich Benjamin talk about the literary magazine Canteen.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Electric Car Revolution & Exposing Climate Cover-ups


This Week on Writers Voice: Jim Motavalli, HIGH VOLTAGE & James Hoggan, CLIMATE COVER-UP
Journalist Jim Motavalli talks about the electric car revolution. His new book is HIGH VOLTAGE: The Fast Track to Plug In the Auto Industry. And WV airs a 2010 interview with James Hoggan of DeSmogBlog about his book, CLIMATE COVER-UP.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Whole Foods & Wholly Conscious Capitalism

by Francesca Rheannon
[This originally posted at CSRwire]
What does it take for a company to follow Conscious Capitalism?

As I discussed in my previous post "Does Conscious Capitalism Leave Retail Workers Behind?" the National Retail Association's Big Show held in New York City last week was thought provoking in more ways than one.

With Alan's comments fresh in my mind, I headed to Whole Foods' Co-CEO's panel on conscious capitalism: Where does consciousness fit in the cutthroat retail industry?

Now, Whole Foods presents an interesting case of the promise and pitfalls of the “conscious capitalism” Robb asserted is at the heart of the company’s mission and practices. While he was joined by The Container Store's CEO Kip Tindall and private equity firm Leonard Green and Partners' Managing Partner Jonathan Sokoloff, Robb's comments intrigued me in the background of the company's rollercoaster existence.

Does Conscious Capitalism Leave Retail Workers Behind?

[This post originally published on CSRwire]
By Francesca Rheannon
The National Retail Association had its annual Big Show in mid-January in New York. Last year’s event saw 22,000 attendees, and from the crowds streaming around me through the giant halls and corridors this year, 2012’s attendance wasn’t any smaller.

A panel on “Conscious Capitalism,” featuring, among others, the co-CEO of Whole Foods, Walter Robb had been my original motivation to attend the event [More on that in Part 2]. However, before I could make much headway into the crowds, two individuals standing outside the convention's entrance caught my eye.

Standing on the sidewalk with several dozen retail workers and supporters in tow holding signs, this small crowd was giving testimony about the conditions retail workers face in one of the hottest shopping towns in the country – New York City.

I invited the two inside the lobby – and out of the pouring rain – to chat.

The Benefit Corporation: Transforming Corporations from Psychopaths to Good Citizens

A new corporate form could revolutionize the fundamental rules of business and foster the mainstreaming of the Triple Bottom Line.
By Francesca Rheannon

[Part One of a Two Part Series. Posted originally on CSRwire.]

The 2003 documentary, The Corporation, characterizes the modern corporation as suffering from psychopathic personality disorder. From “callous unconcern for the feelings of others” to “failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors,” the film lists the features of the disorder and applies them to the typical behavior of large corporations.

Margot Livesy, THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY


LISTEN TO THIS WRITERS VOICE EPISODE

Margot Livesy talks about her new novel, THE FLIGHT OF GEMMA HARDY in the first half of the show. Later, WV airs our 2008 interview with her about an earlier novel, The House on Fortune Street.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cooperative Capitalism: Can Coops Rejuvenate the American Economy?


German newspaper cooperative

By Francesca Rheannon
(Part One of a 2012 Monthly Series For the International Year of Cooperatives)


Whether producer or consumer owned, coops are not only here to stay, they might just be the next big thing.

Capitalism needs an extreme makeover. An economic system that is blithely destroying the habitat for humans and other living things is clearly crazy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

From Corporate Empire to Compassionate Capitalism: A Conversation With John Perkins

John Perkins
In his books and articles, John Perkins has outlined the predations of what he calls the corporatocracy, including the impoverishment of Third World nations and the financial implosions in the mature industrial economies. His latest book, Hoodwinked (now out in an updated paperback edition) explores the workings of the corporatocracy, but also advances a prescription for a new “compassionate capitalism.” I sat down with him recently to talk about the book.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Citizen Power Goes Solar


In the U.S. and abroad, citizens are banding together to provide clean energy for themselves and their neighbors.

In 2011, we saw a burgeoning movement of protest spread around the world. But protest is only one side of the coin – and maybe not even the most important side. That's because ordinary citizens around the world are not just demanding change, they are making it. And they’re not waiting for governments to step up to the plate.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Euro Year: Part Three And a Recipe


January 3, 2002 La Saumane, Haute Provence, France
(An excerpt from my book-in-progress, Province of the Heart)

Well, I have won the gastronomic hearts of the French, trumping the best their cuisine has to offer—and that with one of the humblest dishes of American fare: the apple crisp. Not only that, rather than burrowing for the recipe through a raft of august tomes like a proper French pastry chef, I took it off the Internet like any other tech-savvy Amercan. (This was 2002, when dial-up was the only option and few in rural Provence went online regularly.) And with American brashness, I modified it—“invented”, as my friend the chef Michel might sniff. (Read my story about him here.) And they gobbled it up, with several helpings apiece. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Euro Year: Part Deux


January 2, 2002 La Saumane, Haute Provence, France
(An excerpt from my book-in-progress, Province of the Heart)


Today is really the first day of the euro, since yesterday, the day of its formal introduction to the eurozone, everything was closed.  It is marvelous to watch an entire society wrenched into the sudden confrontation with a new means of doing something they have been taking for granted their entire lives: exchanging money.

Change (pun intended) does not come easy—the oldsters around here still reckon in the former French franc, which was retired soon after World War II.  But for me, the international traveler, using a new currency brings only a blasé yawn. Francs, pesetas, euros: it’s all the same. In fact, the euro is the easiest of them all, since it is roughly equal to the dollar, at least for now. Pesetas are (oops! were) 185 to the dollar, francs about 7.4 to the dollar, so for the mathematically challenged like myself, it was always a matter of either groping for the calculator or rounding up or down with careless abandon in multiples of ten and hoping I wasn’t risking the poorhouse with my purchases. And the numbers were always a bit of a shock: 1000 (pesetas) for lunch, 100 (francs) for a pre-paid phone card. I say, bring on the euro!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The New Euro Year: Part One


Tired of the inner turmoil... I took up my walking stick. That act alone was magic. -- Jean Giono, Serpent of Stars

January 1, 2002 La Saumane, Haute Provence, France

(An excerpt from my book-in-progress, Province of the Heart)

Mme. Pascal
My fingers are tapping away at the keys of my laptop when suddenly outside my little window a little creature appears on the windowsill: a Provençal squirrel, with tawny red-golden fur, delicate tufted ears, and pale pink fingers from which protrude pale pink claws. His tail describes a frothy curve along his back. The windowsill is a splendid perch from which to survey the world and he remains there for a long time, peering down with great interest over the pale stone edge or craning his neck to look up and about. He quivers with the intensity of his gaze.

After many hours at the keyboard a stretch turns into the realization that I must take a walk, move, breathe the bright cold air of the day. Outside it is not as cold as I had thought; the air has that limpid purity that I love so well here and the sun takes the edge off the chill. Walking up the long path through the village, I pass Mme. Pascal’s—closed, but not shuttered. I have the feeling that if I knock on the door, she would come, slowly as always, ducking through the narrow passage that leads from her home to the interior of the store, with a little dip to her walk, thrusting her hands deep into the pockets of her blue cardigan and say, “Bonjour, madame.” And, as today is New Year’s, she would add, “Bonne année”.