Archive for January, 2019

Weekly Update: A Closer Look at Arn Chorn Pond

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Happy Wednesday! Today, we’re taking a closer look at Cambodian cultural ambassador/human rights activist Arn Chorn Pond.

Arn Chorn Pond survived the Cambodian “Killing Fields” genocide in the 70’s.  By learning to play an instrument in the concentration camp, Arn was spared execution because he and his fellow musicians played music to mask the sounds of his compatriot’s murders.

 

Quoting Arn: “I was in a temple where they killed three or four times a day. They told us to watch and not to show any emotion at all. They would kill us if we reacted…if we cried or showed that we cared about the victims. They would kill you right away. So I had to shut it all off…I can shut off everything in my body, practically, physically. I saw them killing people right in front of me, the blood was there, but I didn’t smell it. I made myself numb…The killing was unbearable. You go crazy if you smell the blood.”

 

That’s an experience that would be soul-destroying for most people; who could live through such atrocities and not be filled with hate?

 

Arn Chorn Pond, that’s who. Rescued by an American missionary, Arn came to the States, learned English, graduated from Providence College … and with unlimited options for the rest of his life … he went back to Cambodia.

In part, the Cambodian genocide was designed to eliminate the educated; and that included Cambodians who were fluent in music, literature, or any form of uniquely Cambodian artistic expression. Arn has started projects to reclaim this potentially lost heritage by teaching a new generation of Cambodians about their cultural heritage. He’s also worked on several human rights causes, and his work was recognized by Reebok’s Human Rights Award, and Amnesty International’s Human Rights Award.

 

Let Arn’s example be a guide for all of us whose life could be hampered by tragedy; we can choose to rise about it. Hear Arn’s TedX talk here.

 

And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!


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A Closer Look at – Community/Environmental Activist Vien Truong

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

Happy Wednesday! This week, we’re going to take a closer look at environmental activist Vien Truong

Vien Truong learned two things as a child: Climate change affects us all, and some people suffer more than others.

 

When her family arrived in the Bay Area as refugees from war-ravaged Vietnam, her parents didn’t speak English and had 11 kids to feed. Truong soon got a crash course in the ill-fated connection between poverty and environmental toxins. “I spent my childhood working in pesticide-filled strawberry fields in California,” says Truong. “Later, growing up in Oakland, I saw families like mine suffering terrible health conditions from pollution for generations.”

 

(hear Vien discuss her early life in this short video)

 

Now her life’s work is “to solve both poverty and pollution” nationwide. She’s accomplishing that as the CEO of the nonprofit social justice accelerator, The Dream Corps, and as the director of its environmental activism arm, Green For All.

Green For All is an initiative of Dream Corps to build an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Vien Truong serves as CEO of the Dream Corps. They advance solutions that inspire action, serve justice, and improve people’s lives. Their solutions honor life and amplify the voices of those left behind in the current system. By turning to each other, instead of on each other, they act in solidarity, create unlikely partnerships and open unexpected doors.

Their goal is to make sure people of color and working families have a place and a voice in the climate movement. That neighborhoods are strong, resilient, and healthy. That as the clean energy economy grows, it brings jobs and opportunity to communities of color.

 

 

Vien has developed numerous energy, environmental, transportation, and economic policies and programs at the state, federal and local levels. She has advised on billions of dollars in public investments for energy and community development programs – including helping to create the biggest fund in history for low-income communities.

 

Please contact us for more information about having Vien Truong speak at your institution or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!


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Weekly Blog: Taking a closer look at Lateefah Simon

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Happy Wednesday! Today, we’re taking a closer look at civil rights/human rights champion Lateefah Simon!

A nationally recognized advocate for civil rights and racial justice, Lateefah has over 20 years of executive experience advancing opportunities for communities of color and low-income communities. Raised in San Francisco, Lateefah began organizing at age 15 for the Center for Young Women’s Development. At 19-years-old she was appointed Executive Director of CYWD, where she served 11 years and brought the organization to national acclaim. At 26, her work earned her the distinction of the youngest woman ever to receive a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. She went on to lead the creation of San Francisco’s first reentry services division under the leadership of then District Attorney Kamala D. Harris. Lateefah later served as Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Program Director at the Rosenberg Foundation.

 

Currently, Lateefah is President of the Akonadi Foundation, an organization that funds and nurtures racial justice movement building to eliminate structural racism and expand opportunity for youth of color. She is also a California State University Trustee, appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016 to serve the largest public university system in the world.

She was elected to represent the seventh district on the Bay Area Rapid Transit District board of directors in 2016. Her motivations for running included her reliance on BART, as someone legally blind and unable to drive. Her priorities for BART are affordability, accessibility, and accountability for transit-dependent people and working families.

 

Please contact us for more information about having Lateefah Simon speak at your institution or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!


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Take a Closer Look – Steven Strogatz

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

Happy Wednesday! We’re back from holiday break and ready to start a new year. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at mathematician/author/New York Times contributor Dr. Steven Strogatz

Steven Strogatz is an applied mathematician who works in the areas of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, often on topics inspired by the curiosities of everyday life.

 

OK, stop right there … I can hear your brain shutting down when you read ‘nonlinear dynamics’. Take a deep breath, turn off your math anxiety, and continue!

 

He loves finding math in places where you’d least expect it—and then using it to illuminate life’s mysteries, big and small. For example: Why is it so hard to fall asleep a few hours before your regular bedtime? When you start chatting with a stranger on a plane, why is it so common to find that you have a mutual acquaintance? What can twisting a rubber band teach us about our DNA? An award-winning researcher, teacher, and communicator, Strogatz enjoys sharing the beauty of math though his books, essays, public lectures, and radio and television appearances.

In his book Sync, Strogatz tells the story of the dawn of a new science. He explains how enormous systems can synchronize themselves, from the electrons in a superconductor to the pacemaker cells in our hearts. He shows that although these phenomena might seem unrelated on the surface, at a deeper level there is a connection, forged by the unifying power of mathematics.

Each short chapter of his book The Joy of x provides an “Aha!” moment, starting with why numbers are helpful, and moving on to such topics as shapes, calculus, fat tails, and infinity. Strogatz explains the ideas of math gently and clearly, with wit, insight, and brilliant illustrations. Assuming no knowledge, only curiosity, he shows how math connects to literature, philosophy, law, medicine, art, business, even pop culture and current events. For example, did O.J. do it? How should you flip your mattress to get the maximum wear out of it? How does Google search the Internet? How many people should you date before settling down?

 

Strogatz is the math teacher you wish you’d had. Please contact us for more information about having Steven Strogatz speak at your institution or conference!

 

—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!


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