Tag Archives: Weekend Edition

A Place at the Table: A Documentary that Provides Food for Thought

It’s Saturday morning, time to listen to The Weekend Edition and to think about what’s happening in the world.  This week there’s talk about the Oscars, of course, about Chuck Hagel’s confirmation, baseball, sequestration and then, a feature that I hope everyone caught.  It’s a piece about the forthcoming documentary, A Place at the Table, set to open in theaters around the nation on March 1.  (I have tried with no avail to track down local options)    Please take a few minutes to listen to the interview with the producers, the experts, and, most of all, the voices of real people struggle with  “food insecurity.”

Take time, too, to read the early comments to the brief interview – enlightening…..

In past posts I’ve written about the big picture of hunger – the right to food as a human right, the need to rethink agricultural policy and U.S. investments in research, hunger as an education issue and the need to move from stopgap to holistic policy to cope with what is, after all, a solvable human condition.

A Place at the Table presents the “why” of the dilemma.  It tells the real-life stories of children and families trapped in the poverty cycle, mainstream Americans trying to earn a living and to learn.  These are good hard-working people who are the collateral damage of a broken system.

The documentary includes the voices of and views of experts, including a sociologist, a nutrition policy leaders and an author, along with the experiences of a pastor, teachers and activists. Food insecurity is a huge problem that has an impact on everyone because the social, economic, economic and education implications are profound throughout society.

As most Minnesotans know by now, March is Minnesota FoodShare Month.  We work together to support the immediate needs of people who depend on the agencies, from major state institutions to local places of worship.  We share food and funds as well as awareness campaigns focus on the tragic fact that families in our community are going hungry through no fault of their own – and that we can help.

We also need to face the fact that we as a nation have within our purview the resources to solve this problem.  It’s complicated.  It will take collaboration among players with adversarial agendas.  It will take time.  It will mean that we will have to reexamine our basic belief in the right to food.  It will mean deconstructing a complex system that meets the voracious wants of some at the expense of the basic needs of others.  It may require retooling processing, shifting the research agenda, thinking in global as well as local terms.

A Place at the Table may possibly get the conversation started, especially if people of good will take time to listen to the preview and see the film.  Though its first run is in the theaters, the film will  no doubt travel a mix of digital routes in short order.

 

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Kee Malesky, a Librarian’s Librarian on NPR

Whenever I hear the credit to “librarian Kee Malesky” on National Public Radio I give a nod to that unknown librarian for her professionalism –  and to NPR for overtly acknowledging that librarian’s role.  Though librarians always get sometimes condescending mention in prefaces to historical tomes and doctoral dissertations, NPR puts it right out there.  Kee Malesky, who I always assumed was a male librarian, has become somewhat of a hero to me over the years.  I knew instinctively that she – or he – has to be good to get public appreciation.  I think I even took a little professional credit for our collective contribution to combating ignorance.

 

Now I know, Kee is a woman, a delightful, vivacious, vociferous, dedicated and determined woman who keeps the information wheels greased at NPR.  I know because Kee has just published All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge (Wiley 2010),  a catalog of some of the facts that she has researched over the years as NPR’s longest-searching librarian.  From what I heard in her conversation with Weekend Edition host Scott Simon, the book is a lovely read, especially for anyone who savors the quest for good information – anyone who understands that the joy is not so much in the fact as in the thrill of the quest.

 

Good librarians have that thrill of the quest in their DNA – time on task just sharpens the skills and expands the possibilities.  Kee’s librarian DNA comes to the fore most prominently in her affirmative drive to get ahead of the questions reporters may initiate.  “We (librarians) read all the time,” she says.  “We’re constantly looking at new sources, at websites, at all kinds of things that are happening in the world….We’re all very proactive. It’s really a part of the proper job of a librarian.”   In spite of a hint of hyperbole in her description the “proper job of the librarian” she describes is as it should be in the best of all information age worlds.

 

Kee’s work makes a difference.  For one, the NPR reporters, editors and hosts have ready access to the facts, even before they need them.  For another, she deserves and probably demands credit for her work.  She’s also created a template that other high test librarians might emulate – the compilation of the searches, whether proactive or reactive, of any good librarian offes not just a reflection of a profession but a small glimmer of the many information paths being explored within any community of ideas, whether it’s a small town, an elementary school, a corporation or a university.

 

Fun staff, particularly since in today’s technology the information barriers are minimized and the quest is of the mind.