An apparel company does (mostly) non-racist for a change

After countless racist incidents from clothing companies raising hackles (see: Abercrombie & Fitch racist t-shirt fiasco or Urban Outfitters’ Navajo fashion debacle), it looks like one big retailer has finally done some bit of good. The Gap stepped up.

This Huffington Post piece breaks down what happened.

The quick and dirty:

  1. Gap puts up billboard of this ad featuring Waris Ahluwalia, a Sikh man, who also happens to be a man about town in NYC. Pretty cool. (Here’s more of Gap’s series of #makelove ads, which actually features a healthy diversity of faces.)
  2. Muslim journalist Arsalan Iftikhar tweets photo showing one of said billboards defaced with all kinds of racist nonsense. (Here’s his account of the incident on The Daily Beast.)
  3. Gap replies to Iftikhar’s tweet to find out where the defaced ad is, and to stay tuned.
  4. Gap then makes the billboard art their Twitter background.
  5. Lots of people are psyched to learn how Gap responds.

Gap FTW? Not quite. While many laud Gap for the ad and for their response to the vandalized billboard,  some Sikh’s find the ad offensive for the way the woman is lustfully touching Ahluwalia’s turban and chest.

The rosiest open adoption ever

November is actually National Adoption Month.

To kick of the month, the Today Show shared this open adoption story. It’s a very heartwarming story depicting a family who seem to be in the dream open adoption: adoptive family wants complete transparency, birth families are very involved, loving, child feels close to birth mom, everyone adores and respects each other, etc., etc.

I certainly don’t begrudge the family. But it does paint a rosy, idealistic and almost simplistic picture of open adoption which I would expect very few families to be able to fully achieve.

As I wrote about a few days ago, we have a very good relationship with our birth mom. Yet it’s terribly complicated and always evolving. I certainly hope we could evolve to something as seemingly effortless as shown in this Today Show segment. But, at four and a half minutes long, the tv segment can hardly go deeply enough to show any kind of complexity.

Despite my concern that the segment is simplistic, I appreciate that it went out there and that it was shared on such a mainstream program as the Today Show. There are two takeaways I think are most powerful and encouraging:

  1. The adoptive mom in the story says they were, “very hesitant with the idea of having secrets in a family.” I myself would flip that and say that what we do want in our family and in our open adoption is transparency and honesty. That is a very big reason we chose to do an open adoption.
  2. The family in the clip is portrayed as just that, a family, including the birth family. This is how we’re trying to approach our still evolving relationships with the birth mom and her family. Not that we’re Lilli’s adoptive family and they are Lilli’s birth family, but that we are all part of one family connected by this beautiful child.

Would love to hear other thoughts about the Today Show segment. Does this help or hurt the movement toward openness in adoption?

 

My new favorite super hero: Sikh Captain America

The hilarious, whip smart comedian Hari Kondabolu caught up with ‘Captain Sikh America’ for Totally Biased on FX. (HT Colorlines.)

Sikhtoons editorial cartoonist Vishavjit Singh dons the cape to ‘fight hate crimes,’ he says. They wander around New York to see if folks are ready for this new superhero. It’s a funny bit, but always a little sad to see how ignorant some can be when you do these person-on-the-street types of segments.

If you’re not familiar with Hari Kondabolu you should definitely check him out. This is the first thing I saw of Hari’s a few years ago, a brilliant short film about an Indian American on the rise (who looks an awful like comedian Hari):

NPR did a good piece on Hari for their ongoing series on race ‘Code Switch.’

And listen here to an interview my pal Sarika did with Hari for APA Compass on KBOO Community Radio in Portland.

Good read: NY Times Magazine’s ‘A Game of Shark and Minnow’

The New York Times has set the bar for digital storytelling with their brilliant, award-winning Snow Fall piece. (At OPB we certainly took some inspiration from their work for our excellent THIN ICE multi-platform project.)

Screen shot: A Game of Shark and Minnow'

Now they’ve gone and ‘snow-falled’ a fascinating political drama taking place in a remote area of the South China Sea. Here’s how the story opens:

Ayungin Shoal lies 105 nautical miles from the Philippines. There’s little to commend the spot, apart from its plentiful fish and safe harbor — except that Ayungin sits at the southwestern edge of an area called Reed Bank, which is rumored to contain vast reserves of oil and natural gas. And also that it is home to a World War II-era ship called the Sierra Madre, which the Philippine government ran aground on the reef in 1999 and has since maintained as a kind of post-apocalyptic military garrison, the small detachment of Filipino troops stationed there struggling to survive extreme mental and physical desolation. Of all places, the scorched shell of the Sierra Madre has become an unlikely battleground in a geopolitical struggle that will shape the future of the South China Sea and, to some extent, the rest of the world.

The story of isolated Filipino crewmen on a dilapidated military vessel weaves in and out of the wider context of a geopolitical dance. It’s a visually rich longread – including photos, video, maps – worth taking the 20 or so minutes to dive into.

And if you haven’t checked out those other two I mentioned above, do it. Consider all this screen time a respectable media binge.

Hating on daylight savings

This morning all of us in the U.S just put our clocks back an hour. Daylight Savings Time.

Okay, I haven’t done any research on Daylight Savings Time except read articles like the two Atlantic ones I’m writing about in this post. But yet, experience has told me that DST pretty much stinks. Aside from the obvious complaints about losing an hour and the darkness (oh the terrible morning darkness!) here are a couple of annoyances I’ve experienced of late:

1) To PDT or PST, that is the question. For work when I’m creating events I hate having to figure out whether it’s Pacific Daylight Time or Pacific Standard Time. And even when it’s Pacific Daylight Time, I just kinda resent using PDT.

My alarm clock includes a 'smart' feature automatically adjusting for DST. It was purchased pre-2007, pre- George W. Bush era DST changes.

Dumb ‘smart’ clock automatically adjusts to pre-2007 DST.

2) I have an alarm clock I bought in the 1990s some time. At the time it was oh-so-smart because it automatically adjusted for DST. But when George W. changed the dates for Daylight Savings starting in 2007, my smart clock became a hazard to prompt arrivals. Now on random days in April and October, I wake up to the wrong time. I’m pretty sure this is the year Matt’s going to chuck that alarm clock.

3) This morning, my toddler was up at 5am, formerly known as 6am. We’ll be paying for that all day.

4) As I age, these things hit me harder: hangovers, jet lag and Daylight freaking Standard Time.

The Atlantic is hating on Daylight Savings with two, count ’em, two posts on the topic.

For The Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos is so p.o.’d about Daylight Savings Time he’s calling it ‘America’s Greatest Shame.’ DST’s biggest benefit is supposed to be energy savings and he’s calling b.s.:

A large push for DST has always been the idea that this time warp saved money and helped conserve energy. In the 1970s the energy crisis helped further this notion along. This is all a myth — the energy saving are tiny. First off, did you notice any change in your energy bills between 2006-2008? I know that recalling electricity bills is asking a lot, but the reason I ask is that we actually extended DST by a month in 2007. The thought was that a month of DST would bring more savings.

That was wrong. The great energy-sucking state of California actually studied the impact of that extension and found it wanting. “Formally, weather- and lighting-corrected savings from DST were estimated at 0.18%,”reported the California Energy Commission.

He also says that it’s bad for our health and for the economy.

For Quartz, Allison Shrager strongly protests DST (for all the same reasons Abed-Santos does) and goes even further with a bold suggestion. Not only do away with DST, but do away with two of the four U.S. (mainland) timezones:

It sounds radical, but it really isn’t. The purpose of uniform time measures is coordination. How we measure time has always evolved with the needs of commerce. According to Time and Date, a Norwegian Newsletter dedicated to time zone information, America started using four time zones in 1883. Before that, each city had its own time standard based on its calculation of apparent solar time (when the sun is directly over-head at noon) using sundials. That led to more than 300 different American time zones. This made operations very difficult for the telegraph and burgeoning railroad industry. Railroads operated with 100 different time zones before America moved to four, which was consistent with Britain’s push for a global time standard. The following year, at the International Meridian Conference, it was decided that the entire world could coordinate time keeping based on the British Prime Meridian (except for France, which claimed the Prime Median ran through Paris until 1911). There are now 24 (or 25, depending on your existential view of the international date line) time zones, each taking about 15 degrees of longitude. Now the world has evolved further—we are even more integrated and mobile, suggesting we’d benefit from fewer, more stable time zones. Why stick with a system designed for commerce in 1883?

I admit, I kind of adore that idea as a West Coaster with family in the East. Shall we start a movement?

Coal coming through the Northwest + multimedia storytelling

The environmental news team I work with, EarthFix, won a bunch of awards for this year’s SPJ Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest. Yay us! We even took the top two spots for our special/enterprise online reporting on the proposed Northwest export projects and the anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Though it wasn’t part of our 2012 Northwest coal coverage (we’ll submit the ongoing series again for 2013), our multimedia special Voice of Coal came directly out of the traditional news reporting the team had done. If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, let me tell you – these coal proposals are very controversial, pitting environmentalists against labor unions, public health officials and politicians against job creators, and folks on all ends of the spectrum. ‘Voices’ was our effort to bring real people’s voices and first-hand experience to the forefront, but always with the backdrop of well-reported journalism on the topic.

Though I don’t often have time to create content for EarthFix myself (I mostly do community engagement, events and social media), I had the opportunity to pitch in for this. Here are two audio slideshows I produced as part of the ‘Voices of Coal’ project:

It’s a pretty exciting time to be doing digital media and storytelling. We were very inspired by the Climate Wisconsin project for Voices of Coal. I’ve since seen some great interactive multimedia/transmedia projects (using video, audio, photos, text) including Black Gold Boom, about the big oil boom in North Dakota, and Reinvention Stories, looking at the identity crisis and ultimate efforts to reinvent the city of Dayton Ohio. Both those projects were part of some public media experiments called Localore. And of course there’s the epic, sublime experience of consuming Snow Fall: The Avalanche At Tunnel Creek. There you go. Now you’ve got several sittings worth of excellent transmedia storytelling to geek out on.

Matt’s new commercial

[I missed posting yesterday, so I’ll be trying to do another make-up-cheat-double-posting-day for my NaBloPoMo effort this month.]

My hub Matt is in a new commercial for Napa Auto Part and their commemorative football for the “civil war” rivalry between OSU and U of O (Hate the civil war reference, but oh well, it’s not my game).

Here’s a link to last year’s:

2009 Napa Commercial

how did I become such a dance geek?

Doh. I did not get to post yesterday. So, I’m going to have to cheat a bit on my NaBloPoMo and post twice today….

I, myself, do love to dance. What’s more I’ve been thrilled with the extreme success of dance in pop culture today. It’s one of the “hot” things right now that I actually think is worthy, recognizing dancers as the incredible artists and talents that they are and bringing them to the forefront when they are most traditionally relegated as a backdrop.

Anyhoo, my current dance phenomenon obsession is The LXD – Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. It’s a web-only series on hulu, the most successful one existing. The story is somewhat simplistic: dancers as superheroes and super villains whose power is the dance itself; good vs. evil; recruiting and training of new team members. What makes the series super freaking awesome is the dance. The LXD includes so many genres of dance, from krumping to poi to popping to contemporary to tap. The other thing I love about it is that the series is filled with people of color, both in front of and behind the scenes. I think it could use more women. Regardless, it’s a hip hop ballet circus that kicks ass. I can’t wait for the next episode!

Here’s Season 1, Episode 1 (they are currently in the midst of Season 2, with new episodes released on Wednesdays):

Tina and Twain

Thanks to my pal Sarika for pointing me to this! (She’s part of the APA Compass crew and also writes for Hot House.)

Last week, Tina Fey received the venerable Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Whoohoo! Though, I’ve been rather disappointed with 30 Rock of late, I still do ♥ Tina Fey, a most righteous and deserving recipient for this stuffy (Kennedy Center/PBS, represent!), yet impressive award.

A little background on the Mark Twain Prize : The Kennedy Center established the award “to recognize those who create humor from their uniquely American experiences.” Past honorees the prize, which was first awarded in 1998 to Richard Pryor, include other amazing comics, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin.

On a side, statistical note: 3 of the 12 awardees have been African American, and 3 have been women. Not, too shabby. However, only 2 prize winners were given the award when they were age 50 or under, Tina being the youngest at age 40. Due to the “American” nature of the prize, I’m guessing it will be a long time before we see anyone of any other ethnicity honored with this prize (Margaret Cho? Cheech Marin? Mindy Kaling?), especially given the current climate towards immigrants in this country.

Back to the brighter note of Tina Fey’s awesome achievement, here’s her spot-on acceptance speech from this year’s presentation:

Watch the full episode. See more Mark Twain Prize.

The full program:

Watch the full episode. See more Mark Twain Prize.

Friday’s A to Z

Building on yesterday’s post, here are some things I ♥ right now:


A – APA Compass. We did a show this morning. We’ll have archives up in the next couple of days.
B – Boots.
C – Community. One of my favorite TV shows right now with one of my favorite characters on TV right now Abed. One of the best episodes of TV ever is Modern Warfare from Season 1, Episode 23, directed by Justin Lin.
D – Danny’s Auto on Halsey and 60th.
E – Energy.
F – Farmers Market. Only 2 more weeks!
G – Gabriel’s Bakery’s herb cheese bagels.
H – Harry Potter. I know, I’m a late bloomer.
I – Improv Theater. Shameless promo: We’re doing a show next week Small Space, Big Stories.
J – Jackets.
K – Kissing hubby.
L – The Library.
M – Milani Nail Lacquer “Cappucino” – described “Light Coffee with Gold Shimmer”
N – The Great Northwest.
O – Owls.
P – Piano. I feel very blessed to have one of my very own. I recently learned how to play “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Here Comes the Sun” on YouTube. Amazing.
Q – Maggie Q, star of Nikita. I watched the show as homework for our APA Compass radio discussion about APAs on TV, and now am fully sucked in.
R – Rest.
S – Slings and Arrows. More on this next week.
T – Time Traveler’s Wife.
U – Upper Horsetail and Triple Falls at the Columbia River Gorge.
V – Vodka Martini. A little dirty.
W – White Tea. Specifically Vanilla Apricot White Tea by Tazo.
X – Extracurriculars. (Close enough to X!) My life is all extracurricular it seems right now.
Y – Soft Yolks. I had my eggs over easy this morning and it was yum.
Z – Portland Zombie Walk.

“A” image is by me.
“Z” image found on Wikimedia Commons: Route sign for Missouri Supplemental Route Z. Based on Image:MO-supp-K.svg by User:PHenry.