To the Art of the Matter at MRHS

I had a grand ‘ol time speaking with students at Marvin Ridge High School today south of Charlotte.

Where Am I Wearing? was selected for their community reading program and a good portion of today was dedicated to exploring the subjects I write about in the book.

They kicked off the day with a screening of the documentary China Blue which follows a few factory girls at a factory in China. The film had some amazing scenes and I’m so jealous of the access the crew got into the factory. The owner of the factory was kind enough to go on camera time and time again and hang himself, saying things like, “The workers are simple-minded farmers, living 20 years behind. They aren’t smart enough to have…

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A (sideways) update on my speaking tour

This is a bit longer than I intended and much more sideways, but the longer I talked the longer my legs got to rest.  It was shot at Morrow Mountain State Park in Biden, NC. I made the mistake of parking my car at the top of the mountain – an easy place to begin a trail run but a not so easy place to end (a trail crawl).

[youtube][/youtube] …

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Where Am I Wearing as a Common Reader

One of my favorite moments to recollect from my “Where Am I Wearing?” trip was when Dewan (worker in Guangzhou) asked if I would write about him in my book. Then thhere was the idea of a book – no contract, no agent, nothing written but for a few month’s worth of blog posts. At the time, the moment, made me a little uneasy. Besides not knowing what to tell Dewan, I wasn’t sure what to tell myself. Was the experience bookworthy? I thought it was, but would agents and publishers agree?

Last year I started to get invites from universities across the country who wanted me to come to speak at/with their students. I had an absolute blast doing it. Usually a few classes had…

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SoleRebels piece on the World Vision Report


Some folks believe that the apparel industry somehow is part of the problem when it comes to global poverty. To me giving someone a job and dignity is one of the best ways to fight poverty. I’ve yet to come across a better example of this than the shoe company SoleRebels in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

SoleRebels’ employees are paid about 300% more than other such workers in Ethiopia. All of the products that go into making a SoleRebels shoe are within a 60 mile radius of the city. As Bethlehem, the founder of SoleRebels, says, “We are green by heritage.”

The piece airs on loads of radio stations across the country this week. It’s my first full…

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What's the cause of your life?

We learn an awful lot about a person reading about their death.

I appreciate a good obituary; one that speaks to a life lived. Unfortunately many of us don’t have the luxury of being eulogized in inch after inch of newspaper type by someone who can adequately navigate the arc of our life. So our families are left with the task.

Usually, it’s a very utilitarian thing, here’s who died, here’s who they were close to (if you know them you should attend), and here’s the where and when. It’s not until the end we learn the most about them.

“Memorial contributions may be made to…”

Sometimes this is where we find what killed the person, which is a shame (unless what causes their death was their cause). But…

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McPhee to writers "You're going to get there."

“When a person is twenty-one or twenty-two years old and facing that great enigma about what to do, envying the law students or medical students who can get on a set of rails and run on it and know where they’re going, the writer doesn’t know. But a writer should also bear in mind there are numerous paths to this goal and they’re all O.K….You’re going to get there. If the person expects the big answer at twenty-one, that’s ridiculous. Everyone’s in the dark.”

(John McPhee quoted in Literary Journalism in an essay by editor Norman Sims)

When I was twenty-two I was a world-traveling SCUBA instructor with a degree in Anthropology hanging on the wall of my vacant bedroom at my parent’s…

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The $10 for Tuesday Project: "Letting my babies down"


My “Free Money” post, part of my $10 for Tuesday Project, has received over 60 comments. Everything from “Give me $10 or I’ll kill you” to, more often, tales that are a sign of these tough times.

It’s become much more of a responsibility than I ever imagined. To think someone was so desperate that they Googled “free money” and took the time to comment or email me their story hoping they might get a measly $10 breaks my heart. I always try to respond.

I received this note a while back:

My name is Michelle I am a 32 yr old single mom of 2. A 12 yr old lil girl and my 7yr old…

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The Poor Give More than the Rich

If you had more, you would give less.

Americans earning less than $25,000 give away 4.2% of their income on average and those earning $75,000+ give away only 2.7% of theirs according to a piece by Judith Warner in the NY Times The Charitable Giving Divide.

Some of the most interesting parts of the story were Warner’s discussions with grad student, Paul Piff, about his research at UC Berkeley:

“…lower-income people were more generous, charitable, trusting and helpful to others than were those with more wealth. They were more attuned to the needs of others and more committed generally to the values of egalitarianism.

“Upper class” people, on the other hand, clung to values that “prioritized their own need.” And, he told me this week, “wealth seems to buffer people from attending…

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He-Man vs. Dora The Explorer

I watch Dora the Explorer, Wonder Pets, Go Diego Go, Ni-Hao Kai Lan. I absorb them by osmosis while my toddler stares mesmerized. I barely watch any ESPN. I should have my man card revoked purely for the reason that I sing this song everyday…

What I’m saying is that I consume as many cartoons now as I did when I was six. And while the cartoons of today teach my little girl how to share and be a good friend and how to say “hi” in Spanish and Chinese, I feel like they are lacking in the imagination department (Backyardagins is a phenomenal exception).


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