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I’m a freelance multimedia journalist–writer, videographer, audio-doc-maker, blogger… “in all media, existing or to be invented in the future,” as our contracts like to say…

Here’s some of my work.

RECONCILIATION IN RWANDA: 15 YEARS AFTER GENOCIDE

No Small Mercy, the story of a Rwandan genocide survivor, the man who could have killed her, and the friendship that has grown between them. The Walrus, (Canada) May 2009.

Forgive and Forget? Rwanda’s reconciliation dilemma–and what science says about how forgiveness helps us heal. Search Magazine, March/April 2009.

Trauma, Forgiveness, and Memory: A three-part series to mark the 15th anniversary of the genocide. GlobalPost, April 2009.

Rwandans: a reeducation in how to live together (this has much more to do with gacaca than the title indicates) Christian Science Monitor, April 2009.

SOME BREAKING NEWS FROM AFRICA
Rwanda-Congo move isolates UN Christian Science Monitor 24 January 2009
Do Rwanda’s 3,500 troops in Congo make the 17,000 UN peacekeepers there seem superfluous?

Hutu rebels drop guns, return to Rwanda Christian Science Monitor 20 February 2009
“Now, the base has disappeared…. People are fighting as they are moving. We have the guns, and the women have the bags.”

Congo Rebel Leader Seize in Rwanda GlobalPost 23 January 2009
In an unexpected shift of alliances, Rwanda arrests the warlord observers accused it of aiding.

Congo’s risky push to crush rebels Christian Science Monitor 26 January 2009 (with Scott Baldauf)
What’s really behind the erstwhile enemies’ new cooperation?

SELECTED MAGAZINE FEATURES

Reading the Wounds: Doctors who treat torture survivors, and what their work says about the torture debate in America Search Magazine Nov/Dec 2008

To appear in Best American Science Writing 2009

….Torture isn’t unique. There is a set of common practices, and those practices leave distinct interior and exterior scars. Doctors Rajeev Bais and Lars Beattie have taught themselves what those scars might look like, and how to explain torture to judges, who grant the coveted right to remain in America only to refugees who can prove “a well-founded fear of persecution.” The medical affidavits they write are based on a simple idea: that the body tells a story, one that might save a patient’s life. The irony is that this is a modern inversion of precisely the philosophy that brought torture into the world in the first place: that truth can be coaxed from the body.

….But it begins in the exam room, with a simple request: “Mr A., I need you to take off your shirt.”

No Small Mercy, The Walrus, May 2009

CRITICISM
The Antelope’s Strategy Christian Science Monitor 20 April 2009
Jean Hatzfeld gets closer to Rwandans, and stays longer to listen, than any other journalist has. What he reveals is a country of unspoken loss.

All Things Must Fight to Live Christian Science Monitor 9 August 2008

In Congo brutality seems to be everywhere: history, war, politics; in the landscape and the poverty and the desperate chug of locals’ day-to-day lives. It’s difficult to know whether this vision is about the country itself, or the way foreigners have chosen, since Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” to imagine it. In his first book, Bryan Mealer sets himself the impossible task of giving us a different choice.

AFRICA STORIES

Voices of Rwanda: Healing the wounds of genocide Christian Science Monitor 12 December 2008

…Like hundreds of expats here, Taylor Krauss came because of the genocide. The murder 15 years ago of 800,000 Tutsis and the aftermath of the killings have brought attention and aid money to the schools, hospitals, water systems, and economic programs of this tiny country just below the equator.

Krauss is here on a different kind of mission. He wants to help the country heal with history. Two years ago, he founded VOR, an oral history project, hoping to compile the most comprehensive collection of individual stories about the genocide. In the process, he’ll build what may be the world’s most technologically advanced oral history archive – and he’ll do it in the heart of Africa.

For fufu in Freetown, this African diner’s the place Christian Science Monitor 20 October 2008

You might not recognize Sadia Pratt in the early morning. She wears a long house dress and an apron, orange in places where palm oil has soaked in. Her hair is wrapped in a pastel cloth, and her glasses fog up when she stands over the stove just outside her front door. On a Monday morning, she’s stirring ground nut stew in a dimpled metal pot over the hat. A chicken weaves in and out of her legs as she cooks.

Later in the afternoon, she’ll be prim again…

Sierra Leonean designer redefines African couture Christian Science Monitor 8 October 2008

If she were still in New York or Paris – anywhere but here, really – Adama Kargbo would be wearing striped socks that reach her knees, or a blouse in an outrageous color, or a one-of-a-kind couture find.

Not so here, she says, walking the Freetown streets to which she’s been exiled, on a workday, by yet another power cut. “Here, they’d say, ‘She done gone cris’ – that I’d gone crazy, that my head is no longer there.”

Ms. Kargbo came back to her native Sierra Leone about a year ago, to do something that may also seem a little cris. She wants to launch a fashion empire – in a country where tailors still power sewing machines by pedaling and stitch buttonholes by hand.

In Congo, a new twist on ‘blood diamonds’ Christian Science Monitor 27 August 2008

Warring militias are stealing cows to perpetuate a conflict sparked by spillover from the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

In Africa, justice for ‘bush wives’ Christian Science Monitor 10 June 2008

Freetown, Sierra Leone – Fatmata Jalloh was just a kid selling pancakes on a rural road in Sierra Leone when a rebel soldier snatched her and made her his wife.

“I was a child. I didn’t know anything about love at that time … but he said, ‘If you don’t take me [as your husband], I’ll kill you,’ ” she remembers.

For two years, until Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war finally ended, Ms. Jalloh was the domestic and sexual slave of her “husband.” She cooked and cleaned for him; he fed and sheltered her.

“There was no way not to do it,” she says. “If I would leave, I would have no food. He would kill me.”

Forgive. Not Forget: A Three-Part Series from Sierra Leone

Part I: Sierra Leone’s ‘Family Tok’ Heals Scars of War

Part II: Sierra Leonans Look for Peace through Full Truth about War Crime

Part III: A Former Rebel Faces the Sierra Leonean Farmer He Maimed

Wood, Wheels, Workhorse: The chikudu story

Christian Science Monitor 29 August 2008

Kibumba, Democratic Republic of Congo — Emanuel Buke won’t train just anyone. Like a swami on a mountaintop, he is discerning about his disciples. For the past 16 years he has chiseled chikudus, two-wheeled wooden scooters unique to this part of eastern Congo. Here farmers use them to haul loads from the foothills of the Virunga Mountains to Goma, the regional hub. In the city’s hectic streets, thousands of chikudus make their way among motorcycles and the white SUVs owned by aid organizations. Sturdy and effective, if not elegant, the scooters navigate these roads covered with the brittle rocks of solidified lava left from a volcanic eruption six years ago.

Through the River and Over the Falls Christian Science Monitor 7 August 2008

BUJAGALI, UGANDA — Siragi Wasige doesn’t have that many options.

Umwenda, the village along the Nile River where Mr. Wasige was born, is unremarkable, which is to say it has as little as most other villages in rural Uganda. But a guy with a wife and two kids at home has to earn a living, so Wasige spends his days along the river, waiting for tourists to wander by the famous Bujagali Falls. For just a few bucks, he does the trick that draws them to its banks: He hurls himself into a Grade V white-water rapid, wearing only his swimming trunks and holding an empty jerry can.

“You have to make sure the jerry can you use does not have an inlet for water – no cracks, no hole,” he says as he tightens the lid on his five-gallon yellow jug. “If there’s a hole, you sink.”

STORIES FROM THE STATES

The safety geeks who rescue us before disaster happens Christian Science Monitor 17 December 2008

CHICAGO — The best indication that John Drengenberg has been doing his job well, for 40 years, is that you’ve never heard of him. Most of the things he makes his living worrying about have probably never bothered you, either. You’re not, in all likelihood, terrified of being killed by your TV. You’ve probably realized your child’s Easy Bake is unlikely to burn down your house, and you no doubt pour a cup of coffee without wondering whether the handle will fall off in your hands, spilling six cups of hot coffee all over your crème wool pants.

It is equally unlikely that these things, and thousands of other odd-ball possibilities, will happen, thanks in part to Mr. Drengenberg. He’s spent his career testing almost everything in the average home – from the shingles on the roof to the wiring in walls to the microwave in the kitchen – and making sure it won’t short circuit, blow up, or otherwise injure the American consumer. In what amounts to a chess of mortality, Drengenberg has spent his professional life imagining worst-case scenarios for almost every product on the market, and then trying to avoid them.

New Yorkers say the darndest things — and spies await them Christian Science Monitor 25 September 2008

On a scorching September afternoon, Morgan Friedman, semi-professional wanderer, must stop. We’ve been moseying through Brooklyn neighborhoods for nearly two hours, because I wanted to know how Mr. Friedman, who’s achieved mild fame for knowing how to find the pulse of New York City, works. But now he needs a little nourishment – and, he is unashamed to admit, a little A/C.

We duck into a tea house, and Friedman orders a salad. No music is playing. No one is talking to each other. Fourteen people type on laptops; two fill in bubbles in test-prep books; one reads the Sunday New York Times. Only a pair of women sit utterly unoccupied, sipping iced drinks and staring out the window.

“Let’s sit here,” Friedman says, settling into the arm of a couch, where we will be literally surrounded by iBooks and people to spy on. “We need to reduce the human-to-laptop ratio.”

Friedman picks through his salad and watches the crowd. He looks at the pair of women gazing out of the window. “Do you think they’re mother and daughter?” he asks.

“Could be,” I say. He agrees, saying that too many years seem to separate them for the women to be simply friends.

San Quentin’s Self-Rehab: Healing on the inside

San Quentin, Calif. – When he stands, Gerry Harris towers over everyone in the room. He’s bald, with a salt-and-pepper beard that climbs to his temples and big, almost square glasses. His presence is gentle, even when he’s agitated, which he is now. “Three minutes,” he tells the men in the room. “I can’t account for three minutes. I might never get them back.”

Illusions in Vegas

Las Vegas – Hands are a strange thing to dwell on, but Mat Black’s demand notice. He has long, slender fingers with short, well-kept nails. Like a violinist, he spends several hours at a time training them to move: a flick of the wrist here, a tap there. He needs the muscles to remember what to do when he is distracted by the story he’s telling, or by his nerves. One wrong move and he looks like the worst kind of idiot: the guy who interrupted your meal to show you a magic trick only to botch it, dropping coins from all the wrong places or forgetting where the queen of hearts went.


A human rights statistician finds truth in numbers

Palo Alto, Calif. – The tension started in the witness room. “You could feel the stress rolling off the walls in there,” Patrick Ball remembers. “I can remember realizing that this is why lawyers wear sport coats – you can’t see all the sweat on their arms and back.” He was, you could say, a little nervous to be cross-examined by Slobodan Milosevic.

Lee Hamilton: Washington’s bipartisan power broker

Washington – Political crises are supposed to be a thing of the past for Lee Hamilton. Lately – most notably as vice-chair of the 9/11 commission or co-chair of the Iraq Study Group – he has advocated diplomacy. He never expected, after retiring from 34 years in Congress, to make history practicing diplomacy himself.

But last summer, Iran arrested Haleh Esfandiari, who directs the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, which Mr. Hamilton heads. Accused of spying, Ms. Esfandiari was kept under house arrest in her mother’s Tehran home, and then taken to prison. A plea for her freedom had to be made, but Hamilton, who has had the cooperation of presidents and all the power of Congress behind him in the past, didn’t know whom to call.

“It’s a black hole,” he says of Iran. “There’s just no conversation between the United States and Iran.”

Sister in a glass house, a profile of David Sedaris’ sister

Tiffany Sedaris yanks a saucepan out of her freezer and plops it on the floor. Eight ice cubes slosh in a couple quarts of water. She wraps her right hand in a paper towel, reaches into her oven and slowly pulls out a slab of glass. It’s asymmetrical, 8 inches wide at its widest, 2 inches thick, and a foot long, and it’s been baking at about 250 degrees for five minutes. Tiffany slips the glass into the saucepan.

”Now, you get the hell out of the way . . . and watch.”


A subway hero’s year of living famously
, a profile of Wesley Autrey, one year after he saved a man in the NYC subway

New York – Being a hero sometimes means, among other things, that commuting costs less. And so Wesley Autrey Sr. – “Subway Hero,” says his business card – has become accustomed to padding the morning with a little extra time to drive his Jeep Patriot from West to East Harlem, park it, and catch a crosstown bus to work.

Can you spare some change for a flack jacket? (Okay, I changed the title on this one, because the web head isn’t all that snazzy)

Washington – There’s disagreement about how often Mark Hanis wore the powder-blue United Nations peacekeeping beret around campus.

It may have happened, he concedes. But only once or twice.

His colleague and erstwhile Swarthmore College classmate Sam Bell argues differently. Mr. Bell knew about Mr. Hanis – about that hat, really – before the two met. “He’d be riding his bicycle around campus with his peacekeeping beret,” Bell says. “Not, like, on Halloween. Like it’s part of the common American wardrobe.”

Cafe Confessions

When George Washington was 16, he copied out 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” from a list the Jesuits had crafted in the 16th century. Many of the rules are irrelevant or obvious in our modern world, admonishing us not to spit into fires or run around half-naked. But one stands out: “Tell not your dreams but to your intimate friend.”

By this standard, I, as an unintentional eavesdropper, am the intimate friend of dozens of people I have never met. On my commute to work, on my walk from the office to lunch, in the cafe near my apartment, people dish. Girlfriends, husbands, husbands’ girlfriends; contracts, health problems, fights. Public, it seems, is the new private.

…And if that’s not enough…

Glamour Hero: Stephanie Nyombayire

Green Campuses 3.0 Plenty Magazine September 2008

Behind every great fiddler…
Harley guns for the female motorcycle market
Who betrayed Anne Frank?
To shift records, world music artists sell exotic back stories

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 7:44 pm

    thanks very much for posting this!

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