New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Beautiful Hearts

April 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Pat LaMarche

For Half the Cost of War, We Could Educate Instead

by Pat LaMarche

One hot August night in 2008, high school senior Alex Motiuk went to his parents and said, “Mom, Dad, there’s something I want to talk to you about,” Leo Motiuk explained with a smile. “As parents of a young son you just wonder what that’s all going to be about.”

18-year-old Alex was worried about a friend from school. Alex feared that she was in trouble, that her life was about to change forever and not for the better. His Blair Academy schoolmate, Shamila Kohestani, had been sent back to her native Afghanistan and would not be able to return to the United States for college. Kohestani, captain of the Afghan girls’ soccer team, had been offered a scholarship at Blair, but at the end of the school year she went home with no prospects for college. (more…)

Sowing Knowledge

March 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

What I Tell My Students…

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have taught sporadically at several universities. My latest teaching is at Pitzer College that prides itself for its liberal and environmental values.

I focus on the politics of agriculture, shedding light on an invisible giant making America on its image.

This is not the agriculture of Thomas Jefferson with the small family farmer all over the country. Rather this is the agriculture of big business. This is the agriculture that has sent rural America to oblivion, industrializing the countryside and, along with it, farming and food. And, yet, it remains out there, unspoken, beyond the daily discourse. (more…)

Homeless Students

February 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

EPIC Journey Does ‘Reality Check’ with Next Generation of Teachers

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

Austin, Texas (home of the University of Texas) gave us the opportunity to speak to scores of social work students about the rapidly rising number of folks with nowhere to live. Our visit early in the week to New Mexico State University likewise gave us an opportunity to discuss two-on-seven with a handful of education doctoral candidates, the world in which they’ll be teaching.

It’s not that every one of the students in either school was hell bent on working with the homeless. But with the number of homeless school children in the nation at more than a million (according to the U.S. Department of Education) and poverty on the rise, if these scholars want to work in the United States, they’re going to be working with the homeless. (more…)

Incubator for Peace

February 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Gaining a Foothold in the Forgotten Neighborhoods…

by Robert C. Koehler

You’re young and prone to trouble. You get triggered quickly. Someone tells you that you’ve screwed up and you’re about to lash back. Then, instead, you think:

Restorative Justice1. Look at the other person.

2. Say “OK.”

3. Stay calm.

This is what you do. And nothing happens, except that the moment passes and life goes on. Got it?

This column is another dispatch from Chicago, murder capital of America. How many of the murders — 506 of them last year — were committed by people who had no grasp of this particular social skill (accepting criticism or a consequence), or any of the dozen or so others tacked to the bulletin board in the peace room at Fenger High School? (more…)

Lasting Peace

February 15, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Can We Get Our American Violence Under Control?

by Robert C. Koehler

A child is murdered and we thrash about once more in the spectacle of tragedy.

“With outrage over Hadiya Pendleton’s slaying spreading from City Hall to the White House,” the Chicago Tribune reported last week, “the 15-year-old became a symbol Wednesday of escalating violence in Chicago while fueling the national debate over guns and crime.”

The media, trapped in their Chicken Little outfits, report the death in detail, make sure we understand how deeply parents and friends are grieving. They interview the neighbors, kick-start the political debate. They demand some sort of superficial or fragmentary change that will get American violence under control. And then the news cycle moves on.

No one “in charge” has a commitment to actual, holistic change — you know, to the creation of a lasting peace — because, whatever that might mean, it would be asking too much. The best we’re going to get from the political system and the mainstream media — from the heart of the status quo — after every high-profile violent tragedy, is a ritual of impotent outrage followed by a shrug of regret. (more…)

Solstice Manifesto

December 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

On the Importance of Integrating Social and Ecological Perspectives

by the ISEP Class Working Group

{Editor’s Note: This collaborative statement was produced in the context of a college class focusing on the integration of social and ecological perspectives. The depth of critical engagement with the intersecting crises in our midst, coupled with insightful visions for action and change, provide a source of hopefulness in a time of profound challenges.}

I. Why We’re Concerned

Our world’s current dysfunction is a multifaceted crisis, exemplified by a host of social and ecological problems, including racism, violence, water shortages, drought, species extinction, pollution, and many others. Upon closer examination, the roots and solutions of each of these problems have both social and ecological components, which are dependent upon and directly influence each other. (more…)

Shards Two

November 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Mary Sojourner

Ruminations on Memory and Loss, Pleasure and Pain

by Mary Sojourner 

When I was twenty-seven the world broke into particles: the shimmering leaves of the elm became lozenges of gold; the color red leaped out from everything I saw; corners, then curved edges seemed to seize my perception so that I had to lift my thinking above them. I was certain I was going crazy. I was raising three kids on my own and there was no time to go crazy.

Twenty years later, I was reading a novel when I found myself wondering how I knew the meaning of the word “cedar”. Did I see a picture of a tree? Did I sense associations? How did I know what each letter was? For months, I surfed above the ruminations, forced myself to speak and to understand what was said to me. I knew I wasn’t crazy, but I was terrified it was the beginning of dementia.

In late November 2008 I walked with my grown son across a Mojave desert playa. He talked about a friend of his. I had never met the man. Suddenly I wondered how I experienced the man. Did I imagine him visually? How, in fact, did I experience anything someone said to me. Again, I forced myself above the loop delay in my mine and pretended I was listening as I always had. (more…)