Letter From the Publisher
Jun 30, 2016 04:35PM
When I was in graduate school in Ohio some years ago, I had some forward-thinking professors that challenged us to expand our understanding of the world presented through the mainstream media. It has been a few years since I graduated from that program and the media landscape has changed quite a bit since then. Now, anyone with a cellphone can be a reporter to everyday moments of life, which could be seen as a move toward democratizing our public discourse—and it has to some extent. I would argue that acts of racism have been exposed in ways unseen in previous decades because of the capacity to capture them on film and quickly get those images to the world.
At the same time, we have witnessed the conglomeration of media companies to the point that only six corporations, whose names everyone knows, controls the vast majority of what we watch, listen to and read. Natural Awakenings, a fierce member of the self-proclaimed independent media, stands alongside other emerging and vitally important voices that are finding the cracks in the wall established by the dominating media companies.
Our feature this month on the rise and important of independent media shines a spotlight on where we are as an “audience” and suggests where we might want to move our attention. From my grad school reading list, I was introduced to media theorist Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death. He notes that “We in America are the best entertained and least informed society in the world.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
One voice that has been challenging the status quo for decades is State Senator Jamie Raskin, who is now running Congress in Maryland’s 8th District. My interview with him this month is not to support his election bid but to highlight his compelling voice for serious and sustained action to work on the overarching problem of climate change. Beyond an issue to deal with in isolation, climate change impacts so many other issues, such as poverty, trade policy, criminal justice, immigration that we, as a civilization must now face. One could argue that is it precisely the silence of the impenetrable media machine, supported by companies that profit by maintaining the status quo that climate change has gone unchecked (and even denied) for far too long. In my interview with State Senator Raskin, we explore why we face some of the problems that are before us and steps we can take to make the change.
Also highlighted this month is the summer harvest. I met an amazing urban farmer, Zachari Curtis of Good Sense Farms at the Green Festival in May and learned how urban farming is playing an important role in bringing locally produced food and creating a new conversation in what it means to be a community. They also make an amazing mushroom jerky.
Finally, I must mention that I was thrilled to interview Michael Lang, well known for producing Woodstock in 1969. He is working with local producers to bring to the region the Lovelight Yoga and Arts Festival at the end of August. As part of this event, there will be a tribute to the role that yoga played in making Woodstock the event that it was. There is much happening at Lovelight, and we are proud to be media sponsors and plan to be there for the entire festival. We hope that you will too!