New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Herculean Efforts

November 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Family, Pat LaMarche

Honoring Commitments to the Homeless, and Ourselves

by Pat LaMarche

I’m not homeless, but every now and then I take to the streets in some far-flung part of the United States and live in a fashion similar to the one lived by many people experiencing homelessness.

Like many folks without a home, sometimes I travel alone, but I’m often with others.  Two weeks ago I shoved off on my latest trip with my dear friend, Diane Nilan.   Nilan’s an advocate for homeless kids and the executive director of Hear Us, a charity she started 9 years ago hoping to shed light on our nation’s greatest shame.

I love Diane Nilan.  She’s selfless and that’s an amazing thing to watch.  She’s held body and soul together — living on the road in an RV all these years — for the same reasons the flight attendant tells you to put the oxygen mask over your own face before you attempt to help somebody else. (more…)

Walls Can Come Down

July 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Matt Meyer, Politics

Report from Palestine Chronicles Sense of Crisis, Hope

by Matt Meyer

We want everything, everything, everything
Other men aspire to.
What another’s entitled to we’re entitled to too.

— excerpt of “Everything,” from The Rothschilds (Brock & Harnick, 1970)

isr-pal3There is an emergency in Palestine right this very moment, but most internationalists are too caught up in our own entitlements, our own misunderstood history based on Broadway mythologies and Western distortion, to act with the intensity that is warranted. Unless solidarity and struggle shifts into high gear fast, there may be no averting the tragedy already in the making — one on a scale which dwarfs what has come before. These are the thoughts that whirl through this author’s head on traveling to the Middle East with my just-turned 13-year-old son, my daughter, and my partner. (more…)


June 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Guest Author

Lessons Learned on Life’s Unfolding Journey

by Shinay Tredeau

A tourist can be spotted in a large crowd. Without saying a word, they boast loud cries of, “Look out world, I’m comin’!” A tourist travels with the intention to shop, eat, sleep late and see the world through a camera lens, or shielded behind dark sunglass shades.

A pilgrim comes humbly barefoot in search of answers to questions much bigger than their personal affairs. A pilgrim’s intention for travelling is to give back to the place that has birthed life, their own or the world’s. A pilgrim seeks refuge in the mundane: their heart is set on the other, not themselves. The pilgrim must lose everything before they can return “home.” A pilgrim is not swayed by the weather, the amount of money or food they have in their pockets; they maintain their journey because ultimately they understand that their journey is selfless. A pilgrim takes nothing in return for their efforts and offer continuous gestures of prayer and praise. (more…)

A World Like That…

March 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Pat LaMarche, Politics

Reflections on Poverty and Possibility from the 2013 EPIC Journey

by Pat LaMarche

When Diane Nilan and I first met several years ago in a campground in South Central Pennsylvania, I had no idea that we’d team up to try and change the hearts and minds of people who don’t know much about homelessness. I sought her out simply because I was writing a weekly column for Maine’s largest daily newspaper, The Bangor Daily News. Tiger Woods had just smashed up his car and blown up his career and I was looking for a real hero — I wanted folks to see the difference.

I stumbled upon this little-known woman who had, at that time, been ramming the roads in an RV for five years. Her mission was to create documentaries that allowed folks to learn the truth about homeless kids and their families. She has many films to her credit; My Own Four Walls is my personal favorite. All you see and hear (with the exception of a few encouraging tones from Diane) are children. Children tell their story. And if you’ve got a dry eye after that movie, it’s time for an EKG. Her second film, a feature-length ditty, tells the story of seven women and their kids. You may not need a hanky at the end of that show, but you’ll definitely know that something’s terribly wrong with the way we treat the poor. (You can get info on Diane’s films and watch trailers, etc. at her website.) (more…)

Babes of Wrath

January 26, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Journey into the Deep-Seated Poverty of America

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche embarks on an epic journey, rekindling the spirit of Steinbeck’s fictional Joad family to explore issues of homelessness and poverty in the U.S. We’ll present Pat’s reflections from the road as she and her intrepid traveling companion continue on the journey…}

This week I started out on a 5000-mile journey through the inner city shelters, backwoods camps, and forgotten hideaways of our nation’s poorest people. I’ll meet babies, toddlers, school kids, drop outs, drug addicts, minimum wage earners, former home owners, veterans, the elderly and more. But I won’t do it alone. I’m traveling from Little Rock, Arkansas to Los Angeles and all the way back to Asheville, North Carolina with a hero friend of mine. This is my third trip traveling through the wealthiest nation and into the world of the homeless, and it’ll last a little more than a month. It’s my friend’s first trip, but she’s been on it for more than eight years. (more…)

Solid Gold Peanuts

October 19, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Mary Sojourner

There’s No Such Thing as a Corporate Courtesy

by Mary Sojourner

“You can’t put a price on sensory experiences. They are so invaluable and so total.” — Hyatt Regency Scottsdale spokeswoman, Arizona Republic, Business, May 31, 2007

Totally. The wordsmith read the article on Hyatt’s plan to use soundtracks in their lobby, bars, restaurants, and spas. Five compilations are available on their website for download. One can download fifteen songs for $22. The first artist named was Thievery Corporation. I did not make that up.

The article pointed out that some properties were also “dabbling in branding tools….” Bend over and pull down your pants, tourist. We gotcha. (more…)

Thinking Small

July 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Family, Nancy Mattina

“Go to the Ant, O Sluggard”

by Nancy Mattina

Thinking small doesn’t come naturally to an American. Even in straightened economic times we urge ourselves incessantly to swing for the bleachers, reach for the stars, be ready for the big break. In the Far West, our daily landscapes conspire with our propensity to dream large. We get ten-gallon-hat ideas about life and liberty whether we are hiking above the clouds in the Rockies or streaking across the limitless deserts in our half-ton trucks.

With just an average amount of human imagination, it is easy to extract a can-do spirit from towering volcanic cones, glaciated valleys, and great canted slabs of the Earth’s crust. Never mind what must be done merely to survive, the preoccupation of all of the non-human species that surround us. We yearn to be so much more than mere survivors. (more…)