Take Note

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Listen to conversations about issues that matter. WPSU’s weekly community affairs radio program features in-depth interviews with central Pennsylvania newsmakers.

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Veteran law enforcement officers Damon K. Jones and Cariol Horne are speaking out against police brutality and calling for reform.

They talked with WPSU about the challenges they have faced as minorities in the police force, their thoughts about the Black Lives Matter movement and why change is necessary.

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Take Note: Lacresha Berry On Bringing Vulnerabilities Into Her Art And Her One Woman Show, "Tubman"
Min Xian / WPSU

Ben Wideman is the campus pastor for 3rd Way Collective. He helps Penn State students grapple with big questions that lie at the intersection of faith, peace, and social justice.

Wideman talked with WPSU about his Mennonite background, how he came to do this work, and what it means to find a third way in a country that often wants us to choose sides.

Lacresha Berry talks about her most recent show, "Tubman," with WPSU.
Courtesy of Lacresha Berry

Lacresha Berry is a singer, actor, writer and educator living in Queens, New York. Her work infuses her life experiences into a broader, historical context. She received her BA in Theatre from the University of Kentucky. Her most recent one woman show, "Tubman," reimagines Harriet Tubman, the famous underground railroad conductor, as a 21st century student in Harlem, New York. 

Berry talked with WPSU about why she think Tubman's story still resonates with today's audience and how her career in teaching influence her art work, and vice versa.

Project Drawdown Executive Director Jonathan Foley and Director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at Penn State Tom Richard.
Penn State

We hear a lot about global warming, but not necessarily about how effective different proposed solutions actually are.

We talked with Tom Richard, the director of the Institutes of Energy and the Environment at Penn State, who helped organize the first ever Project Drawdown conference – which looked at the top 100 actions to reverse climate change.

And we talked with Jonathan Foley, the executive director of Project Drawdown, about the conference and the book it’s based on.  

Mike Domitrz is the founder of the Center for Respect.
Min Xian / WPSU

After his sister was sexually assaulted in 1989, Mike Domitrz started teaching in schools about dating and intimacy with the goal of reducing sexual violence. He founded the Center for Respect in 2002, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and travels across the country to give trainings on how to build healthy relationships and support survivors of sexual assault.

Rich Lord, an investigative reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Lillian Thomas, an assistant managing editor there, sitting for an interview
Anne Danahy / WPSU

On Oct. 27, 2018, a man entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and began shooting. In the end, 11 people were killed in a massacre officials have said was a hate crime. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was there to report on the attack, its aftermath and its impact on the community. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Lillian Thomas, an assistant managing editor at the Post-Gazette, and Rich Lord, an investigative reporter, who were part of the team that earned a Pulitzer Prize this year for that coverage. 

Penn State Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Glenn Sterner speaks to the audience at the Share Your Opioid Story event in State College.
Sam Newhouse / WPSU

WPSU has a new podcast: “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania," where we explore evidence-based solutions to the opioid epidemic.

Over seven episodes, WPSU reporters Anne Danahy, Min Xian and Emily Reddy look at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction. Today, you’ll hear two episodes, one on rural opioid care, but first, an episode on stigma.

Author Jamie Ford in Seattle.
Jamie Ford

Author Jamie Ford explores his Chinese heritage and the history of his hometown of Seattle in his novels.

His debut novel, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” tells the story of two young friends during the time of WWII’s Japanese internment camps. It was a New York Times bestseller and won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

His most recent novel, “Love and Other Consolation Prizes,” follows a boy and his two love interests during Seattle’s 1909 and 1962 World Fairs.   

Eva Pell standing in front of tree
Photo provided

After working at Penn State for 36 years and then retiring as undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian Institution, Eva Pell is writing children’s books. Pell was the senior vice president for research at Penn State and dean of the Graduate School, and a professor of plant pathology. Now, she is taking her background in science and bringing it to the first in a series of books focused on 11- and 12-year-old cousins who, along with their grandmother, use their intellect and passion to rescue animals.

Shoba Wadhia
Penn State Law

Enforcing immigration law requires a complicated mix of government agencies whose direction can change from administration to administration.

Our guest this week, Penn State’s Shoba Wadhia, is an expert on immigration law and author of the new book “Banned: Immigration Enforcement in the Time of Trump.” She directs the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and has represented refugees and asylum seekers.

Ken Baxter

Ken Baxter is a Central Pennsylvania singer/songwriter, originally from Boston. He lost his son, Alex, to suicide years ago. On Saturday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m, he’ll play a concert called "The Philosophy of Hope," at the State Theatre in State College to raise funds for the Jana Marie Foundation, a local group that works on suicide prevention.  Joining him on stage for the concert will be his other son, Nick Baxter, who’s a music producer in Hollywood. Ken Baxter talks about suicide, life lessons, and moving forward.

Hands of Pennsylvania state prison inmate discussing peer support program
Min Xian / WPSU

As part of the WPSU project “Overcoming an Epidemic: Opioids in Pennsylvania,” WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with six inmates at Rockview state prison in Centre County. The inmates are participants in the state Department of Corrections Certified Peer Specialist program or CPS, which trains them to provide peer support to other inmates. “Overcoming an Epidemic” is a WPSU multimedia project looking at what researchers, communities and government agencies are doing to try to treat and prevent opioid addiction. 

Penn State professors Esther Obonyo and Erica Smithwick will be speakers at the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State will host the Project Drawdown conference Sept. 16-18. It’s based on a book that outlines the 100 top actions to reverse climate change.

We talked with two conference presenters about “Drawdown” and the research they’re doing into fighting global warming.

Joyce Ladner
Joyce Ladner

Dr. Joyce Ladner was at the forefront of fighting for civil rights in Mississippi. She talked about racial inequality, voter suppression and what she makes of today’s social movements.

This interview is from the Democracy Works podcast, a collaboration between WPSU and the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. Our guest host for today’s interview is the McCourtney Institute's Jenna Spinelle.

Goldie Blumenstyk is a senior writer and editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. She talks to WPSU about how colleges can better serve the growing number of adult learners.
Min Xian / WPSU

Goldie Blumenstyk is a reporter and editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education. She covers a wide range of topics and is known for her expertise on for-profit higher education, college finances and more. Her book, "American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know," talks about changing demographics in colleges and the rising cost of higher education.

Jason Wright headshot
Jody Barshinger

Jason Wright is an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. Wright is also a champion of the search for extraterrestrial life. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with him about whether he thinks there is other life in the universe, how we might go about finding it and why it matters.

Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland's criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look like for lawyers, judges, defendants, police officers, and the countless others who pass through the building's courtrooms each day.

Antoine van Agtmael was the founder and CEO of the investment management firm, Emerging Markets Management, and now serves as a Senior Advisor at the Foreign Policy Group. He and Fred Bakker co-author the book, “The smartest places on Earth: Why rustbelts are the emerging hotspots of global innovation.” 

His work analyses how “emerging markets” across the globe grow and he spoke with WPSU about how the West could respond to the challenges they bring.

 

Clio Andris, assistant professor of geography, leads the Friendly Cities Lab in Penn State's Department of Geography. She and graduate student Xi Liu are in the WPSU studio for an interview.
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Clio Andris, an assistant professor of geography at Penn State, and graduate student Xi Liu are using artificial intelligence to study how people around the world decorate their homes. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with them about that and other research, including what a town needs to support romantic relationships.

Charles Fergus' "A Stranger Here Below" is set in Pennsylvania in the 1830s, but draws from the author's real-world experiences.
Charles Fergus

A writer and native of central Pennsylvania, Charles Fergus is best known for his books and articles about nature and wildlife. But, his latest book is a mystery novel and period piece.

Set in Pennsylvania in the 1830s, “A Stranger Here Below” is the story of Sheriff Gideon Stoltz trying to understand what would lead the local judge to kill himself. The book draws on Fergus’s expertise as a nature writer and his personal experience with murder. 

Carol Thomas Cissel in ministerial robes and stole.
Carol Thomas Cissel

Carol Thomas Cissel is the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County in State College. She served in various roles at Unitarian Universalist congregations in Maryland, California, Washington, Oklahoma and New Jersey for more than 15 years.

She believes that social justice work is at the core of the church. She's passionate about travel, art collecting, family, interfaith activism and building community. 

Marjorie Miller, a two-time cancer survivor, volunteers and speaks about her personal experience to raise awareness for cancer survivors.
Min Xian / WPSU

Marjorie Miller is a writer and editor for Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. A two-time cancer survivor, she was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 12 and with breast cancer at 26. Through genetic testing, she discovered she has Li Fraumeni Syndrome, a mutation that increases her chance of getting cancers.

Rob Rogers was a political cartoonist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years.
Sylvia Rohr

Rob Rogers is an award-winning political cartoonist who was fired after 25 years at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. WPSU's Anne Danahy talked with Rogers about why he lost his job, how he decides who to satirize and his new book.

By now, you've no doubt heard all about the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But, if you only focus on the information about collusion and obstruction in the Trump administration, you are missing a whole other part of the story about Russian interference in democracy leading up to the 2016 election. Laura Rosenberger and her colleagues at the bipartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy have been working to raise awareness about this threat since the 2016 election.

Sixty-five years ago, the Brown v. Board of Education supreme court decision found that separate was not equal. We’ll talk with the organizers of a Penn State conference on the historic case, about school segregation then… and now. 

Crystal Sanders is an associate professor of history and director of the Africana Research Center at Penn State. Erica Frankenberg is associate professor of education and demography and director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights at Penn State.   

Shidan Majidi directed and co-produced the documentary “Me, the ‘Other,’” which has won numerous awards. The film addresses issues of hatred and prejudice, telling the stories of twelve individuals from diverse backgrounds attending colleges and universities in Michigan.

We talked with Majidi about his documentary, how to overcome prejudice and what it means to be the “other.”

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman
Min Xian / WPSU

The lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, John Fetterman, has been crisscrossing the state to hear what people have to say about legalizing recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania. The “listening tour” follows Fetterman’s election as lieutenant governor. Before that, he had begun to serve in his fourth term as mayor of Braddock. Fetterman is known for his unconventional approach to politics, winning his first term as mayor by one vote. WPSU's Anne Danahy spoke with Fetterman about legalizing marijuana, Gov.

Elizabeth Stordeur Pryor is an associate professor of history at Smith College, whose work includes the paper “The Etymology of the N-Word: Resistance, Language, and the Politics of Freedom in the Antebellum North.” She recently visited Penn State Altoona to speak about her research. And, she spoke with WPSU's Anne Danahy about the history of the N-word, how she discusses it with students and what it meant to her father, the comedian Richard Pryor. 

Bryan Stevenson is a renowned lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization that “is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.” The Equal Justice Initiative represents prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted, unfairly sentenced or otherwise mistreated by our criminal justice system.

courtesy of the McCourtney Institute at Penn State / McCourtney Institute

NPR Political Commentator E.J. Dionne is also a Washington Post Columnist, and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.  He is an author of 7 books, and most recently co-author of “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported.”  Dionne says President Trump has flouted the norms of democracy and the presidency.  And he offers ideas about renewing civic engagement, and how the U.S. can move forward after the Trump era.

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