JB: What a great question, Meryl Ann! I feel like a kid in a candy store; I don't know where to begin.
Let me first say that because I get to choose whom I interview, it's never a chore. And more often than not, we forge a lovely bond. These are opportunities to collaborate. No matter how much homework I've done, my interviewee knows far better than I do what's important. So, by working together, we're able to present the story most effectively. Apparently, this is not done that often because I receive many comments on how pleasant the experience was and how much they like the way the interview came out. That's very gratifying. If I'm doing my job properly, you'll hardly sense my presence. It's between you, the reader, and the subject of the piece.
Let's see: back to your question. I love focusing on activists who are working hard to bring about change, in whatever area that might be.
I have a particular soft spot for whistleblowers, many of whom would not see themselves as heroes, or even activists. And, of course, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for my many election integrity colleagues working tirelessly for clean and transparent elections. And there are rare members of the press who actually do their job, bringing the news to the people and being fierce watchdogs for democracy. All of these individuals are more at risk now than at many other times in our recent history. It is most disappointing that our current president has gone after whistleblowers to an unprecedented extent.
But, putting that aside, I love "=""> YES! , an amazing solution-based magazine. And the "=""> Giraffe Project , which celebrates individuals sticking their necks out for the common good. I've interviewed folks at both places numerous times.
MAB: Can you mention a few other specific interviews that
stand out for their positivity? I realize with over 650 articles,
you might have a tough time choosing! But go ahead, give it a
JB: How about these?
I loved How A High School Jazz Band Brought Prom Dresses, Musical Instruments and Hope to NOLA . I've done a lot of coverage on post-Katrina, traveling down on volunteer missions twice in the last several years. I particularly liked this project because it was instituted by a music teacher at New Trier (my alma mater) and involved students in an active and meaningful way.
B Lab: Helping Companies Not Only Be the Best in the World, But the Best FOR the World is my interview with Jay Coen Gilbert, a successful entrepreneur who co-founded B Lab, which is changing the way corporations do business. Says Gilbert: "(W)e are supporting what the Delaware Bar have called a "seismic shift in corporate law", passing benefit corporation legislation in 20 states. As of July, these states include Delaware, the legal home of most venture-backed businesses, the majority of publicly-traded companies, and nearly two-thirds of the Fortune 500 and therefore the most important state for businesses that seek access to venture capital, private equity, and public capital markets. Benefit corporations enjoy legal protection to create value for society, not just for shareholders, while meeting higher standards of accountability and transparency." They have around 800 B Corps so far in 27 countries and 60 industries. Very, very exciting.
I think my favorite is actually a trio of interviews on
Odyssey of the Mind, (
here , and
here ) a fabulous annual student-driven, problem-solving
competition involving teams ranging from kindergarten through
college and more recently including senior citizens as well. It
takes place every May at one of four college campuses. I was lucky
enough to stumble upon this mental Olympics while visiting my son
Michael at the University of Maryland in the spring of 2011. That
year, there were 856 teams, literally thousands of participants of
all ages, coaches, chaperones, parents from all over the country
and foreign teams as well. Can you imagine?!
Odyssey of the MInd Mascots by Benjamin D. Esham, (cc license)
I spent many hours in wonder, watching the various competitions and talking with participants, parents, coaches , judges, alumni and finally Dr. Sam Miklus , the co-founder and mastermind behind the event. NASA's been a sponsor for around 15 years. And parents report that college interviewers offer instant acceptance to students who have participated in Odyssey of the Mind. Aren't those ringing endorsements?
And it's legit: kids learn such incredible skills in problem-solving and working as a team, they can go anywhere and do anything. If more students were involved in this program, I bet you wouldn't hear all the complaints about the lack of homegrown engineers!
MAB: Thanks Joan. One of my boys was involved in Odyssey of the Mind and I agree it is a fantastic program! I am always happy to see positive stories and solution journalism on OpEdnews, thanks so much for your contribution to that! Is there anything we missed, or that you want to add?
JB: I'm so grateful to Rob for making me stretch. And
for connecting me with you, Meryl Ann! At first I was supposed to
be mentoring you, but I've probably learned far more from you than
the other way around!