1. Matisyahu’s Music:
“Up next, Hasidic reggae pioneer….”
It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke rather than the intro to an upcoming segment of the WNYC radio show, “Soundcheck,” but when Matisyahu started rocking the mic with studio performances of “One Day” and “So Hi So Low,” I was wondering how I hadn’t heard of him before.
Check out these spiritually and socially aware lyrics:
and then go to Matisyahu’s YouTube channel and try to find a single negative comment.
2. Will Allen, Businessman & Urban Farmer Extraordinnaire:
I first learned about Will Allen and the work he’s doing in Milwaukee when he was awarded a 2008 MacArthur (“Genius Grant”) Fellowship, and I was happy to see him profiled in this feature-length article in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine.
Allen seems to have the perfect balance of business smarts and hands-in-the-dirt energy that urban agriculture initiatives need if they’re going to have widespread success.
3. Activist Architecture:
I’ve been interested in the role architecture can play in activism, environmentalism, and social change since reading about the late Sam Mockbee in an article in BOMB Magazine in 2001.
Since then, I’ve come across Architecture for Humanity and the group Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, both of which are fascinating collectives of professionals who are using their skills for socially conscious design and construction.
To really get inspired, check out ADPSR’s Prison Alternatives Initiative, which invites architects, designers, and planners to “not participate in the design, construction, or renovation of prisons.”
4. Farmers’ Markets and “Food, Inc.”
One of my favorite summer pastimes is shopping at my local farmers’ market. This week alone, I’ve come home with bunches of lemon basil, scamps (those are the tops of garlic), lettuce, green beans, sugar snap peas, and peaches–all grown within a 100 mile radius of New York City.
If you’re not near a farmers’ market, though, maybe you’re near a theater showing “Food, Inc.,” a documentary about the production of food in the US. Despite its sobering and seemingly nichy topic, the doc is getting some incredible reviews, praised for helping movie-goers begin to look at their food and their own eating habits more critically.
Here’s the trailer:
5. “Heart of Jenin”:
It’s not easy to watch “Heart of Jenin,” a documentary about a Palestinian man whose son is killed and decides to donate his child’s organs… to Israeli children.
But it’s an important reminder, first of all, to consider organ donation, and, secondly, to try working through our prejudices even in the most extreme and painful circumstances.
You can watch the full video online here.
Need more inspiration? Check out last Friday’s five inspiring stories here!