zocalo

Zocalo Public Square
3:37 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Commentary: Planada Teens Organize For Bike, Pedestrian Safety

file photo
Credit Great Valley Center / Flickr / Creative Commons / http://www.flickr.com/photos/greatvalleycenter/

We live in Planada, California, a small, unincorporated town of 4,500 people nine miles into the croplands outside Merced. In December 2012, we joined a youth group here organized by the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program that meets every Friday after school. Although Jonathan is only 14 and Uriel is 13, we’ve become regulars at county planning meetings: We want to figure out how to make Planada’s streets safe.

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Commentary
9:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Can The Free Market Curb Asthma in Fresno?

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Is there a profit to be found in reducing children’s asthma attacks? A diverse team of public health advocates, asthma care providers, financiers, and foundations has set up a pilot program with the goal of making money for investors while solving a deeply entrenched health crisis in and around Fresno, California.

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Connecting California
6:16 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Commentary: Take A Trip On Amtrak's San Joaquin

The Amtrak San Joaquin line is among the most popular in the state.
Credit Amtrak

I’m not a big fan of trains, but my oldest son, Ben, 4, loves them. He’d been lobbying to go on a “big train trip,” and his school would be closed for a couple days at the end of September, when I had a meeting in Sacramento. Why not take the kid on a train trip from L.A. to the state capital, by Amtrak?

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Commentary
1:07 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

When It Comes to Sustainability, Look to Huron

file photo
Credit Ray Leon / Zocalo Public Square

Rey Leon works on sustainability in the city of Huron, California. Sustainability is a common enough word on the California coast, where hybrid cars, organic food, and solar power are status symbols as green as the money that buys them. But what does sustainability mean in Huron, population 6,733?

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Zocalo Public Square
5:22 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

In Visalia, Pizza and Poetry Mix at Howie & Son's

Howie & Son's Pizza on Mooney Boulevard in Visalia hosts a regular poetry slam
Credit Howie & Son's

If you want to hear poetry on a Friday night in the San Joaquin Valley, stop by Howie & Son’s Pizza Parlor in Visalia.

You’ll find us in the back room, by the video game machines.

This isn’t your standard poetry reading. It’s poetry slam, the competitive art of performance poetry. We write our own verse and then deliver it, forcefully and in our own distinctive style.

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Zocalo Public Square
6:33 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Commentary: Does Teaching Yoga In Schools Promote Religion?

file photo
Credit Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/lyntally/ / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Is teaching yoga to kids a form of religious indoctrination? About a month ago, a California judge ruled that yoga could be taught at the Encinitas Union School District without violating the constitutional separation of church and state.  But the plaintiffs will probably appeal the decision. The story hit home for me, because I’ve been one of those skeptics of yoga—and I’ve also been a yoga instructor.

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Commentary
6:47 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

How A Marine Biologist Learned to Live With Shark Week

David Shiffman is a marine biologist studying shark conservation and a blogger.
Credit David Shiffman / https://twitter.com/WhySharksMatter

When I was a little boy growing up in Pittsburgh, hundreds of miles from the ocean, the only sharks I ever saw were at the aquarium or on my TV. These early images helped inspire me to become a shark biologist. I’ve now interacted with thousands of sharks up close, including a face-to-face with a 12-foot sand tiger shark that formed the basis of my college admission essay.

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Commentary
10:21 am
Thu August 1, 2013

Commentary: Is Juicing an Eating Disorder?

file photo
Credit Flickr user shutterbean / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Los Angeles is the only place I’ve ever been invited to someone’s house for a meal and been served a glass of juice, period. That morning, I sat on my host’s patio, sipping a small, bright glassful of antioxidant-rich juice, listening to the gentle crash of waves, and thinking that surely the plate of bagels must be coming. It never did.

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Connecting California
3:04 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Commentary: Puig & Trout - How California Holds Back the Young

Columnist Joe Mathews says the LA Dodgers decision to start Yasiel Puig's season in the minors reflects a larger societal trend.
Credit Flickr user bob_in_thailand / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

There’s a nasty California disease spreading so fast that even our baseball teams have caught it.

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Connecting California
8:49 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Commentary: California Misses The Connection At the Airport

Los Angeles International Airport's Theme Building (file photo)
Credit Flickr user http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/ / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

A riddle. If you land at a big-city airport and there’s no train there, where are you?

Answer: California.

Yes, San Francisco, I know you’re the exception, with a BART train stop inside San Francisco International Airport (SFO). But the California rule is that we’ll invest billions in our airports and billions in our trains, but we wouldn’t dream of directly connecting the two.

Instead, we taunt those who dare to dream.

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Arts & Culture
5:51 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

How I Started an Opera Company in Visalia

Credit Visalia Opera Company

How did I, of all people, end up starting an opera company? The answer has to do with being willing to forget about credentials and just take that first step. The answer also has to do with the open culture of my hometown.

I grew up in Visalia, singing Gloria Estefan and Selena songs at county fairs. All I wanted to do when I grew up was to be a pop singer—to shake my booty on stage and wear glittery outfits. I didn’t know the first thing about opera.

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Commentary
4:58 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Commentary: To The Class of '13... You Did More With Less

Joe Mathews tells the class of 2013 that most people would have left the state or given up if they had been treated in a similar fashion to those in our public schools.
Credit Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user bredgur / http://www.flickr.com/photos/bredgur/2925876954/sizes/l/

To the distinguished California Public High School Class of 2013.

I’m sorry James Franco canceled at the last minute. I’m even sorrier that you wound up getting me as your substitute commencement speaker, but I was offered gas money plus a free lunch.

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Commentary
11:36 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Commentary: Forget Debates, Here's Five New Ideas For California Candidates

Joe Matthews says future candidates for public office in California should skip the debates, and try a real contest, like mule wrangling
Credit Flickr user etotherock / Creative Commons / http://www.flickr.com/photos/etotherock/4660009137/

Last week, I watched a debate between Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, and a clear winner emerged: Warren Olney, the moderator. I’m not saying that Olney’s fine grilling made the experience worthwhile, though, because nothing could. The California political debate is dead. When was the last time you heard one with an argument that convinced you of anything? Heck, when was the last time you heard an argument made in any political debate anywhere?

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