COMMENTARIES

Life And Death On The Farm

Aug 15, 2017
A heifer named Bernie.
Courtesy / Aurora Rainette

Commentator Aurora Rainette says one of the things she loves about working on farms is watching life take hold and transform. But sometimes crops fail or animals are lost before their time. And for Rainette, that can really sting.

When an animal dies, farmers are left with a body. Sometimes, that body can become food. Often, it's full of medicine or too weathered.

Mount Greylock from Herman Melville's study.
Courtesy of Martha Ackmann

Friends tell commentator Martha Ackmann that she has odd pastimes. One of them is participating in literary marathons. That's when great literary works are read out-loud communally all the way through --from first line to last -- and sometimes around-the-clock.

The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst hosts a marathon reading of her 1,789 poems. I especially like taking the night shift. There’s something deliciously eerie about being in the poet’s house after-hours, sitting with a clutch of other enthusiasts, and reciting poems written over 150 years ago. 

Grace Lin

A few years ago, commentator Grace Lin joined the Diversity Committee of her child's preschool in western Massachusetts . When one of the members asked dubiously whether race really needed to be addressed with young children, Lin knew the answer instantly.

When I was a child, the way adults dealt with race in my community was by not talking about it.

I remember in fifth grade, after I'd answered a question correctly, a boy burst in saying, “She just knows that because she’s Chin—,” only to be cut off by our teacher.

Settling In -- Not For -- Downtown Springfield

Jul 17, 2017
Steve Shultis, in downtown Springfield.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

After living both in the Mountain West and Europe, commentator Steve Shultis, came back home to settle in his native Springfield. Out West, Shultis says, he observed a sprawling, suburbanizing, car-dependent way of life. He far preferred what he experienced in Europe -- walk-able, bike-able cities. So he and his then-wife put down stakes in the Springfield's downtown. He's had no regrets.

Training wheels.
Emma Craig / Creative Commons

A three-year old doesn't realize it, of course, but at that age every day is a rite of passage, says commentator Robert Chipkin. And surely few can compare with the day that child leaves the tricycle behind and heads down the driveway on his very first bicycle.

"Kite Fying" is a 2002 release from Grace Lin.
Courtesy / Grace Lin

Commentator and author Grace Lin recently heard her 4 year old daughter announce matter-of-factly, “I know a lot of things. I’m very smart.”

Lin agreed. But immediately added a word about the value hard work and compassion. Her daughter's response was not what Lin was expecting. 

A Six-Year-Old Encounters Greatness

Jun 13, 2017
Robert Floyd, holding the ball signed by Jimmy Piersall.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

Legendary Red Sox center fielder Jim Piersall died earlier this month at the age of 87. Commentator Robert Floyd had an encounter with the heralded player he'll never forget. 

Pondering A Country Without Libraries

Jun 8, 2017
Booth and Dimock Memorial Library, in Coventry, Conn.
Courtesy / Neal Hughlett

In President Donald Trump's proposed budget, he eliminates federal support for public libraries throughout the country. The White House has said these cuts -- and others -- are about fiscal responsibility, and an effort to "redefine the proper role of the federal government." But the move has commentator Erin Valentino thinking about what she sees as the crucially important places that libraries take us.

Hannah Tran-Trinh is a 2017 graduate of UMass Amherst.
Joyce Skowyra / NEPR

Commentator Hannah Tran-Trinh graduated last week from UMass Amherst. She says she learned a lot there, but the best lessons were hard-won.

I grew up in Boston. My friends were quite the colorful bunch, but I never thought twice about the fact that we were a diverse group of kids. I just loved feeling comfortable. Being a part of something I felt I belonged to.

But then I showed up in western Mass. and it was the whitest place I'd ever seen.

A Sunoco road map of Boston, Mass.
photolibrarian / Creative Commons

For many drivers, GPS is the greatest thing since unleaded gas, anti-lock brakes and cup holders. But for commentator Martha Ackmann, not so much.

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