Matt Witt: Blog 2018-02-26T15:49:00Z (C) Matt Witt Matt Witt World Wide Work -- New Books, Films, Music

Green Springs Mountain FogGreen Springs Mountain FogCascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon

Here’s the latest on films, books, and music you may have missed.

When They Call You a Terrorist
by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele (
St. Martin’s). One of the co-founders of Black Lives Matter tells the powerful story of her upbringing in a poor neighborhood, where her family faced police brutality and denial of basic human services, and her development as a movement organizer. The account skillfully weaves together personal experiences with broader analysis and statistics.
Braving It by James Campbell (
Crown). In this nonfiction book that reads like a good novel, a middle-aged writer from Wisconsin provides an intimate account of several challenging trips he took with his 15-year-old daughter to remote Alaskan wilderness areas. The story is as much about their relationship and their respective stages of life as it is about the wild beauty they are experiencing.
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (
Random House). A violent and seemingly inexplicable tragedy is the starting point for this intense novel, leaving each character to pick up the pieces in their own way.
Crow Lake by Mary Lawson (
Dial Press). Written in an unusual conversational style that feels like someone is sitting in your kitchen telling you an engrossing story, this dramatic novel set in an isolated community in northern Ontario explores family relationships from childhood tragedy to surprising revelations in the adult years.
Kids These Days by Malcolm Harris (
Little, Brown). Readers of any generation will benefit from this thorough and well-researched analysis of the ways that millenials have inherited a world in which schools, jobs, and public policies leave them worse off than their predecessors.
On New Terrain by Kim Moody (
Haymarket). Changes in the economy create new challenges and opportunities for worker organizing. Provocative sections look at whether the Democratic Party can be the vehicle for progressive change and whether it was white workers who elected Trump.
What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte (
Belt Publishing). Since the 2016 elections, national media have rediscovered the existence of Appalachia as “Trump Country,” while a Wall Street right-winger named J.D. Vance has made the talk show rounds promoting his book, Hillbilly Elegy, that portrays Appalachians as violent addicts with dysfunctional families. A historian born and educated in the region challenges the stereotypes and recalls a legacy of grassroots organizing against exploitation by coal companies and other outside corporate interests.
Ramp Hollow by Steven Stoll (
Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A more intellectual look at Appalachian history starts with the arrival of agrarian whites and shows how their largely self-sufficient way of life was destroyed by timber and coal companies.
No is Not Enough by Naomi Klein (
Haymarket). Looking back at how Democrats failed to make major changes when they could have during the Great Recession, Klein argues that change comes from big vision and inspiring goals, not tiny increments, and from an intersectional movement, not a collection of separate causes.
Truevine by Beth Macy (
Little, Brown). A white writer researched the history of two albino African American brothers who were put on display for much of their lives as freaks in circus acts. Her book ranges wide, from the story of one brave family to the history of racism in a southern community to the exploitation that was typical of circuses that were a prime form of entertainment in America before movies, television, and the Internet.
Plundertown USA by Al Sandine (Hancock House). A native of the small town of Coos Bay on the Oregon coast recounts how for more than 150 years decisions about how local resources will be used have been made by timber companies and other wealthy interests in distant cities with no stake in the area’s long-term quality of life or economic or social viability. While focused on one community, this history provides valuable perspective on the ways extractive industries operating in rural areas have benefited from public subsidies without having to act in the public interest.
Animal Wise by Virginia Morell (Crown). Fascinating research on the minds and social lives of ants, fish, birds, rats, elephants, dolphins, apes, dogs, and wolves serves as a reminder of how much humans have in common with the rest of the animal world.
Robots by John Jordan (
MIT). A small-format book provides a basic introduction to robots and robotics, with examples such as driverless cars and the impact of robots on jobs. It also identifies economic and social issues that arise as robots are more widely used.

This Netflix original by director Dee Rees is easily the best feature film of 2017, with a compelling story, insightfully drawn characters, and outstanding acting. It focuses on two families – one black, one white – in rural Mississippi around the time of World War II, and in the process it poignantly brings in themes related to race, gender, class, and war.

Keep Talking. Against the odds, women in an Alaskan native community organize to save their language and culture, and in the process to help their young people find strength and hope. This touching documentary shows how their efforts are making a difference in individual people’s lives.
In the Land of Pomegranates. Young Palestinians and Israelis are invited to a retreat in Germany, where they hold blunt conversations about the past and the future. This thought-provoking documentary also is interspersed with stories and interviews that show the human cost of perpetual war. The film could provide a starting point for discussion about ending and repairing the damage done to other groups in other contexts, including African Americans, immigrants, or indigenous peoples, although its length – more than two hours – may often limit that kind of use.
Daughters of Destiny. A four-part series filmed over a seven-year period follows five girls of varying ages who are given the opportunity to attend an alternative school for poor children in India. The school was founded by an Indian-American who made a lot of money during the dot-com boom and believed that a good education could transform families’ lives.
Food for Change. An 82-minute film promotes food co-op stores as an alternative to control of the food industry by Walmart and other giant chains. The co-ops that are featured began as idealistic, mostly white hippie projects and now are multi-million-dollar businesses. The film does not deal with issues such as whether the co-op movement is serving neighborhoods of color or low-income communities, the history of corporate-style tactics by some of the stores to keep workers from organizing in order to negotiate over working conditions, or whether some of the processed food marketed as “health food” is actually any more healthy than what is sold in big chain stores.
The Deep. A documentary-style feature film tells the incredible true story of an Icelandic fisherman who was plunged into the North Atlantic when his fishing boat capsized, three miles from shore.


Awakening Beyond. Tina Turner is one of six women from the U.S., Israel, Syria, Nepal, Switzerland, and India who sing soothing, prayerful music backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra that incorporates traditional instruments from their respective regions.

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2018-01-10T20:45:14Z 2018-01-10T20:45:14Z World Wide Work: Books, Films, Music You May Have Missed

Back to BackBack to BackGoblin Valley, Utah Here’s the latest on films, books, and music you may have missed.

Glass House by Brian Alexander (St. Martin’s). This outstanding piece of reporting should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand what has happened to America’s working class, especially in small industrial towns. The author, a native of Lancaster, Ohio, returned to his hometown to report in detail on how the factories there were looted by Wall Street speculators, leaving families and communities in ruins, contributing to the rapid spread of opioid abuse, and driving voters to support anyone they think might challenge the corporate and political establishment.
Is Everyone Really Equal? by Ozlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo (
Teachers College Press). A useful guide explains concepts such as prejudice, discrimination, oppression, privilege, and white supremacy and answers objections that are often raised when these ideas are discussed.
The Castle Cross The Magnet Carter by Kia Corthron (Seven Stories). A playwright and writer for the TV series “The Wire” has written her first novel, bringing together the lives of two white brothers from a small town in Alabama and two black brothers from small-town Maryland, with a backdrop of American history from World War II through the civil rights movement to the present decade.
The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein (Liveright). Housing segregation by race in America came about not just from actions of banks, real estate companies, and other private interests but also from deliberate policies of the federal, state, and local governments, which now have a responsibility to repair the damage.
Land on Fire by Gary Ferguson (
Timber Press). Major changes in public policy will be needed to deal with the more frequent and more intense wildfires that are now a fact of life in the West due to climate change, decades of fire suppression, and other factors.
Complete Stories by Kurt Vonnegut (
Seven Stories). A complete collection of his 97 short stories includes some that have never been published before.
Our Unions, Our Selves by Anne Zacharias-Walsh (ILR/Cornell). Women workers in Japan and the U.S. met over a period of years to exchange experiences with creating their own organizations to confront work-related issues.
The Package King by Joe Allen. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the historic national strike by 185,000 UPS workers that directly confronted the destruction of good jobs in America by corporate greed. This history by an author who worked at UPS for nearly a decade sheds useful light on the economy as a whole as he traces worker organizing against the giant company’s strategies to squeeze more from its labor forces.
Faster, Smarter, Greener by Venkat Sumantran, Charles Fine, and David Gonsalvez (
MIT). Auto industry insiders give their view of major changes that are coming in how cars and transportation systems operate, driven by corporate profit seeking without public input or policy planning.
A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism by Eric Holt-Gimenez (
Monthly Review Press). Many food activists focus mainly on genetic engineering, pesticide use, and the need for organic farming, but the director of Food First goes further, also looking at issues regarding land control and use; impacts related to race, class, and gender; the role of Wall Street; and much more.
Re-Imagining Change by Patrick Reinsborough and Doyle Canning (PM Press). Successful campaigns for social and economic justice require reframing and countering the stories that corporate forces have told us. This new edition includes updated case studies. As the authors acknowledge, the book contains a lot of jargon, but many of the underlying concepts will prove useful to a variety of activists.


Awake. On-the-scene footage brings alive the native-led resistance to the North Dakota Pipeline at Standing Rock in a way that news coverage never did, contrasting the commitment of the “water protectors” with the government violence against them on behalf of the company. The film is affordable to buy or rent, with all proceeds going to Indigenous Media Fund and the Pipeline Fighters Fund.
Tribal Justice. The Yurok Tribe in northern California has created a successful system of criminal justice focused on healing and on reconnecting both adult and juvenile offenders to community and family support, rather than on punishment and isolation. This documentary focuses on their efforts and on the desire of the Quechan Tribe in southern California to follow their example. In each case, a woman from the tribe has become the chief judge and is working to help undo the legacy of social damage left by the appropriation of tribal lands and the deliberate destruction of traditional culture.
Sacred Cod. As a result of overfishing and climate change, the supply of cod off New England has dropped to less than 4 percent of levels needed for sustainability. Following the apparently successful example of the government of Newfoundland, which banned cod fishing to let the species rebuild, the U.S. government has drastically limited cod quotas. As this hour-long documentary shows, many fishermen facing loss of income and cultural identity have responded by rejecting the scientific data and taking out their anger on “federal regulations,” not on the fossil fuel companies and corporate special interests that have blocked climate action.
The Stopover. An intense feature film, focused on three French women who are completing a tour of duty as soldiers in Afghanistan, shows what war actually involves in a way that few “war movies” ever do.
White Sun. Civil war has done enduring damage to social bonds in the tiny village in Nepal that is the setting for this poignant and expertly crafted feature film. Will the adults be able to learn from their children to transcend the conflict?
Inch’Allah. A Canadian doctor commuting from Jerusalem to serve her Palestinian clinic patients in the West Bank begins to see the world from her patients’ increasingly desperate perspective in this feature film.

Dark Matter
by Randy Newman (Nonesuch). The songwriter who once produced refreshingly quirky albums like Sail Away, Good Old Boys, and Little Criminals is back with songs about Putin, a debate between science and religion, a conversation between Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and more.

If you find this helpful, please share this edition of World Wide Work with others.


Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2017-11-17T23:51:53Z 2017-11-17T23:51:53Z World Wide Work -- Books, Films, Music You May Have Missed

Tidepool GalaxyTidepool GalaxyOna Beach, Oregon New and worth noting…

The Talker
by Mary Sojourner (Torrey House). Touching, down-to-earth short stories feature relationships among working people trying to survive and find human connection in western desert communities.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf). An absorbing historical novel traces many generations from the time in Ghana when people were being sold to Europeans who shipped them as slaves to America to the present day in the U.S.
The Politics of Immigration by Jane Guskin and David L. Wilson (
Monthly Review Press). This useful guide provides readable answers to the most common questions about immigration policy and potential reforms.
White Trash by Nancy Isenberg (Viking). Economic exploitation and cultural discrimination against rural and small-town working class white people have been an important part of American life since the nation’s beginning, according to this revealing and readable history.
Direct Action by L.A. Kauffman (Verso). Disruption to create a crisis that those in power must respond to has been used in a wide variety of movements during the past 40 years, with varying degrees of impact.
The Takeover by Monica R. Gisolfi (University of Georgia). A short book powerfully describes how cotton plantation magnates and others developed today’s southern poultry industry with enormous environmental cost, converting landowners essentially to sharecroppers who assume much of the financial risk, all with massive government subsidies.
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale (Verso). Policing has drastically expanded in America over the past 40 years, but has that improved communities and made them safer? A thorough analysis examines the War on Drugs, criminalization of homelessness, school-to-prison pipeline, gang suppression, anti-immigrant policies, repression against movements for economic and social change, and other issues, and proposes alternatives.
Good Guy Jake by Mark Torres (
Hard Ball Press). A bilingual book for young people tells a story to explain how a union grievance procedure can protect workers from unfair treatment.
Edge of Morning and Red Rock Stories (
Torrey House). Native voices and 35 writers (some of them native as well) talk about the significance of Utah’s redrock wildlands that President Obama designated as Bears Ears National Monument – a modest level of protection that the Trump administration is trying to slash, pending legal challenges.
Requiem for the American Dream by Noam Chomsky (Seven Stories). This resource is focused on how the wealthy have maintained power throughout American history, with useful quotes and excerpts from speeches, documents, and other materials.
A Redder Shade of Green by Ian Angus (Monthly Review Press). Those seeking ecological and climate action and those seeking economic justice must work together as we can’t achieve one without the other.
The Wedding Portrait by Innosanto Nagara (
Seven Stories/Triangle Square). A simple book for secondary school students uses examples to explain basic movement terms such as boycott, direct action, civil disobedience, and more.
Knocking on Labor’s Door by Lane Windham (University of North Carolina). Five million workers tried to form unions during the 1970s, but there was a sharp increase in the percentage of organizing drives that were defeated by corporate threats and pressure. This readable history looks at both the big picture and some particular organizing efforts, often led by women and people of color.


Company Town. A mostly admirable feature-length documentary gives voice to courageous residents of Crossett, Arkansas, who work in and live next to a Georgia-Pacific paper and plywood mill owned by the Koch Brothers. Local people, including children, are suffering high rates of cancer after being exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace and in their air and water. With company officials refusing to be filmed, the visible villains of the story become the hapless EPA and state officials who clearly are not going to do anything about it. Missing from the film is the question of why this level of pollution was tolerated during the supposedly environmentally friendly Obama administration, the Clinton presidency, and the Clinton governorship of Arkansas, as well as under Republican rule.
Whose Streets? This film about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed the police killing of Michael Brown is not a typical documentary with narration to provide facts and context or with talking-head professors telling what they think it all means. Instead, it is a call to action that presents the voices of young black activists who emerged to lead the protest movement, combined with on-the-scene footage of clashes between police and local residents.
Denial. Taking advantage of access to his father, who is the head of a Vermont utility company, a young filmmaker started work on this documentary about the transition we need to make to cleaner energy. While making the film, his father announced a personal transition from man to woman. The two stories run parallel.

The Nashville Sound by
Jason Isbell (Southeastern Records). One of the best songwriters working today continues to present real songs about personal lives and the larger world.
Where the River Meets the Road by
Tim O’Brien. “Guardian Angel” about an older sister who died in childhood is just one of these effective bluegrass songs.
Binary by Ani DiFranco (
Righteous Babe). Words with a beat:
For what it's worth,
Next time I watch a man give birth,
I'll try to picture the creator as a dude with a beard,
'Cause right now I gotta say it's seeming kinda weird.”

Ranky Tanky. Traditional songs from the Gullah culture among African Americans in southeastern U.S., rendered with present-day energy.
Pure Comedy by Father John Misty (
Subpop). Unconventional lyrics and wry humor, with classic titles like “Things It Would Have Been Helpful to Know Before the Revolution.”
The Eternal Getdown by Quetzal (
Folkways). Using indigenous instruments mixed with modern Chicano musical traditions, this politically oriented group tries to look forward as well as protest.
Roll Columbia (
Smithsonian Folkways). 26 songs by Woody Guthrie, some never before recorded, performed by Pacific Northwest artists.  Many have to do with construction of dams along the Columbia River to provide electricity, which at the time was considered progress for working families.
Joy Comes Back by Ruthie Foster (
Blue Corn Music). A mixture of angry political messages and blues, with titles like “Working Woman,” “What Are You Listening To?” and “War Pigs.”
Letters from Iraq by Rahim Alhaj (
Folkways). Eight emotional instrumental pieces by an Iraqi-American composer and oud player with a string quintet blending Iraqi and Western classical styles. Inspired by letters from Iraqis about their war-ravaged country.

All proceeds from photo sales at go to the Rogue Action Center, an independent nonprofit hub for Rogue Valley community organizing for social, economic, racial, and climate justice.

If you find this helpful, please
share this edition of World Wide Work with others.

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2017-09-09T23:25:33Z 2017-09-09T23:25:33Z World Wide Work -- Books, Films, and Music You May Have Missed

Red-Tailed Hawk Near Mt. McLoughlinRed-Tailed Hawk Near Mt. McLoughlinAgate Lake, Oregon New and worth noting…

Land Almost Lost: A Call to Save Our National Monuments. This gorgeous e-book is available for free viewing and download. It contains photographs of the 27 national monuments that the Trump administration is considering abolishing or slashing, including Bears Ears in Utah, Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon, Giant Sequoia in California, Grand Canyon-Parashant, and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine. It also tells how to submit a comment to the U.S. Interior Department to help show massive public support for our monuments. New photographs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, another of the endangered 27, may be found here.
In the Fields of the North by David Bacon (University of California). With more than 300 impactful photographs, informative text and captions, and farm workers’ own moving stories, all in both English and Spanish, a journalist shows the work life, living conditions, and culture of immigrants who produce America’s food supply.
Janesville by Amy Goldstein (
Simon and Schuster). After the 2016 presidential election, many commentators made broad generalizations – often based on little actual knowledge – about why many voters in the heartland either stayed home or switched to Trump. Goldstein, a Washington Post reporter, had been regularly spending time in Paul Ryan’s hometown since 2008, following the lives of working people and the business elite. She provides a readable account of how, more than ever, there are two Janesvilles – one thriving while the dreams of many working people become harder and harder to reach.
The Firebrand and the First Lady by Patricia Bell-Scott (Vintage). Pauli Murray was one of America’s most important civil rights and feminist activists, yet most people have never heard of her. This fascinating account follows her from the 1930s to the 1960s as she challenged North Carolina’s ban on African Americans in its universities, Harvard Law School’s ban on women, sexism in the civil rights movement and the Episcopal Church, and racism in the feminist movement. A particular focus is her long friendship and many frank exchanges with Eleanor Roosevelt.
An Unrestored Woman by Shobha Rao (
FlatIron). Twelve stories share the backdrop of the partition of India and Pakistan as two countries in 1947, triggering traumatic disruption in the lives of millions of people based on their religious and ethnic identity.
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler (
Public Affairs). Corporate advertisers and pop stars are using feminist images and slogans to polish their brands and sell products. This “marketplace feminism” encourages us to focus not on power relations, race, or class but on individual girls who can succeed if they just improve their self-esteem.
Big Hunger by Andrew Fisher (MIT). As workers’ buying power has declined, many communities have started food banks, often with corporate partners. But telling the public that donating a can of food will address the problem is misleading. Anti-hunger groups should be actively supporting movements to raise wages, make housing affordable, promote sustainable development in rural areas, and win other gains from corporate special interests and the top 1%.
We Are Data by John Cheney-Lippold (
NYU). A professor of digital studies delves into the ways big corporations and government agencies use algorithms to monitor and affect individuals’ behavior.
Culture Jamming edited by Marily DeLaure and Mortiz Fink (
NYU). A collection of 24 articles examines efforts to disrupt corporate consumer culture through hoaxes, parodies, flash mobs, street art, and other tactics.
Rules for Revolutionaries by Becky Bond and Zack Exley (
Chelsea Green). Two political consultants for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign say what they learned from the experience about how to combine technology with person-to-person organizing.
The Battle for Veterans’ Healthcare by Suzanne Gordon (
Cornell). Corporate interests are lobbying Trump and Congress to give them control of the Veterans Health Administration. That wouldn’t fix health care problems faced by 8 million veterans – problems faced in many other parts of our health care system as well. Instead, it would destroy a service that in certain ways could be a model for national health care reform.
A Great Vision by Richard March (
Hard Ball Press). For those who like to read history through someone’s personal story, this account follows three generations of the author’s family as they immigrated to the U.S. from Croatia, helped build the union movement, and got involved in the anti-war and anti-racism movements of the 1960s.

The Light of the Moon.
An honest and nuanced feature film starring Stephanie Beatriz reveals the complex impacts of a street rape on a young Latina architect and her psychological well-being, career, and relationship with her long-term boyfriend.
My First Kiss and the People Involved. A unique and powerful feature film focuses on Sam, a girl in a residential group home who does not speak and only rarely engages with other people. She starts to connect with a new female caregiver, but then picks up clues suggesting that the caregiver has met a violent end. The visuals and sound attempt to replicate what Sam sees and hears, creating an intense introduction to her world.
Hearing is Believing. Rachel Flowers lost her eyesight soon after birth, but by two years old she could play Bach fugues by ear. Now a young adult with a ready smile, she is a highly skilled and creative jazz and rock musician who masters virtually any instrument she picks up.

Spettacolo. For 50 years, a small village in Tuscany has put on a new play each summer with townspeople as the actors – usually developing each play through conversation about their own experiences. But, as this documentary shows, the tradition is in jeopardy as young people leave the area or pursue other interests and as gentrification driven by city dwellers wanting summer homes divides the town.
Black Canaries. A stark 19-minute feature evokes the grip coal mining had on the filmmaker’s ancestors as a man continues each day to enter the mine where his father was crippled and his son rendered blind.
Death by Design. Big corporations are producing staggering quantities of electronic devices with little regard for what happens to the waste, how workers are treated, how the environment is damaged, or other concerns. From China to Silicon Valley, this film shows that a technological boom guided only by short-term profits is not socially sustainable.

Small Pieces
by Rakkatak. A Canadian trio shows a variety of musical influences as they combine tabla, sitar, and bass.
Migration Blues by Eric Bibb. A themed album links songs about today’s immigrants and refugees, the black Great Migration from the South, and the Dust Bowl exodus in the 1930s.

Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes. Clean, simple bluegrass duets range from children’s music to traditional mountain home themes to several socially conscious tunes, including fine renditions of “Bread and Roses” and “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew.”

All proceeds from photo sales at go to the Rogue Action Center, an independent nonprofit hub for Rogue Valley community organizing for social, economic, racial, and climate justice.


Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2017-05-27T01:37:06Z 2017-05-27T01:37:06Z World Wide Work -- Films, Books, and Music You May Have Missed

New and worth noting…

In the Radiant City.
How long must people suffer for past mistakes, and how does a family find a pathway to forgiveness? These are some questions at the heart of this thoroughly engaging and flawlessly made drama. Twenty years before the action begins, a 17-year-old boy killed a child by setting fire to a house. He was sent to prison based on the testimony of his younger brother. Now, the older man is up for parole.
Luna and Diego are parking lot security guards, but this delightfully unique, Oscar-nominated, 15-minute feature from Spain shows us that there is much more to these two than their drab uniforms might suggest.
Sing. Faced with an imperious teacher, members of a children’s choir invent a creative way to stand up for each other in this charming 25-minute short feature from Hungary.

4.1 Miles (22 minutes) and Watani: My Homeland (39 minutes) are two powerful short documentaries about what Syrian refugees face.
Ixcanul. In this Guatemalan feature film that gains authenticity from a mostly non-professional cast, a
17-year-old girl in a remote village faces one cultural and economic obstacle after another as she tries to follow her dreams.
The Other Son. Two boys have been raised for their first 18 years on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. Then, their families learn that their sons were born in the same hospital and mistakenly switched.
Graduation. A Romanian doctor has long dreamed that his daughter will go to a university abroad and escape their country’s bleakness and corruption. But in trying to realize that dream, will he become part of the system he wants her to escape?

Acts and Intermissions. An hour-long collage of words and images centered on anarchist Emma Goldman draws on archival footage, reenactment, and current events.
Fatima. A Muslim immigrant to France and her two daughters each follow different paths as they try to build a life in their new home.
The Watermelon Woman. Remastered for its 20th anniversary, this pioneering film follows a young black lesbian filmmaker trying to make a documentary about an elusive African American actress from the 1930s.

Behold the Dreamers
by Imbolo Mbue (
Random House). The lives of two couples intersect in this timely novel – a Lehman Brothers executive and his wife on the eve of the 2008 Wall Street crash, and two hard-working immigrants from Cameroon who end up working for them.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Ballentine). A very readable and suspenseful novel (despite an implausible ending) doubles as a thought-provoking introduction for white readers to issues of racism and implicit bias.
City of Grit and Gold by Maud Macrory Powell (
Allium). This short novel can work for everyone from middle-school students to adults as it recounts from the point of view of a 12-year-old girl how her family becomes divided by a strike for the 8-hour day by mostly immigrant workers in 1886 in Chicago.
From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (
Haymarket). Throughout U.S. history, black activists and their allies have found that confronting issues of race requires also confronting issues of class, gender, and economic justice.
Where the Line is Drawn by Raja Shehadeh (
The New Press). A leading Palestinian writer tells how occupation of his country has affected him personally over the past 40 years and describes the ups and downs of his long friendship with a Jew living in Israel.
The Vanishing Middle Class by Peter Temin
(MIT). Some of the economic, political, and historical roots of the increasing divide between America’s top 1% in wealth and those at the bottom and in the shrinking middle are explored.
All the Real Indians Died Off by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker (
Beacon). Two scholars refute 21 myths about Native Americans commonly taught in U.S. schools, media, and pop culture.
Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins (HarperCollins). Sixteen short stories by the African American director of the 1982 film, Losing Ground, evoke relationships and experiences during the civil rights era and beyond.
Look by Solmaz Sharif (
Graywolf). A poet of Iranian descent writes powerfully about the impacts of war, both in the Middle East and here in the U.S. Some poems are built around phrases in the U.S. military’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Others are in the form of censored letters from military prison, with key words missing.
The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies (
Houghton Mifflin). Chinese-American experiences are explored in this novel through four lives in four time periods – a worker in the California gold rush and building of the railroads; a Hollywood actress in the 1920s; Vincent Chin, killed by Detroit auto workers who thought he was Japanese; and a half- Chinese man who goes with his wife to adopt a baby in China.
In Wild Trust by Jeff Fair, photographs by Larry Aumiller (University of Alaska). Text and photos share the insider experiences of the long-time director of an Alaskan state sanctuary for brown bears.
Red: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau (
Princeton). One in a series of beautifully reproduced art books about individual colors, this one traces the use of red throughout the history of European societies as culture and art trends evolved.
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded by Unite (
Duke University). Back in print with a new foreword, this classic collection of essays describes how foundation and government funding discourages some nonprofits from fighting for fundamental change.
Unmentionables by Laurie Loewenstein (
Akashic). The main character in this romantic tale is a woman who is a traveling speaker for women’s rights before and during World War I and the fight for women’s suffrage.
Hitler’s American Model by James Q. Whitman (
Princeton). In the 1930s, the German Nazis drew on American laws and practices on race as they laid the groundwork for the Holocaust.
Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman (University of Alaska). The writings of a scientist who studied wolves for 43 years shed light on many misconceptions about their social life and hunting habits, and about what humans must do to keep from making them extinct.

Sweet Lorain
The U-Liners. Spirited songs, most with some political angle, performed by a talented band.
The Beautiful Not Yet by
Carrie Newcomer. A CD and accompanying book of lyrics and poems that have spiritual overtones, including “You Can Do This Hard Thing,” “Help in Hard Times,” and “Slender Thread” about staying connected.
Graveyard Whistling by Old 97s (
ATO). Some fresh songwriting, including “She Hates Everybody (But Me).”
Do What Your Heart Say To by
Scott Ramminger. Songs like “Give a Pencil to a Fish” are backed by a lively ensemble that sometimes sounds like The Band or Eric Clapton.


Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2017-04-09T01:14:39Z 2017-04-09T01:14:39Z World Wide Work: Films, Books, Music You May Have Missed

Madrone on the HillMadrone on the HillTalent, Oregon Please share this edition of World Wide Work with others. They can subscribe for free by emailing with the word “subscribe” in the subject line. 

New and worth noting…


Eagle Huntress. This stunning documentary is a must-see not only for adults but for any kids old enough to read subtitles. It shows a 13-year-old girl in a remote, barren Mongolian community where for centuries teenage boys have been taught by their fathers to train eagles to do their hunting for foxes or other game. With her parents’ full support, this girl decides to break tradition and become an eagle hunter herself.
The Salesman. In an intense film from Asghar Farhadi (who also made A Separation and About Elly), a husband and wife are partners in a theater troupe that is currently performing Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, with the two of them in the lead roles. A traumatic event in their personal lives triggers a crisis in their relationship and calls into question Iran’s cultural traditions regarding gender roles and vengeance.
Loving. Little more than 50 years ago, it was illegal in many southern states for a white person and an African American person to marry. Two people in rural Virginia fell in love, only to be rousted out of bed and arrested by the local sheriff. Their case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. This exceptionally well-acted feature film tells their story with a minimum of Hollywood cliches.
Moonlight. A poignant and intimate feature film follows an African American boy through his teenage years and manhood as he comes to grips with being gay in a drug-infested part of Miami.
Union Time. In telling the story of a 16-year struggle to form a union by workers at the Smithfield pork processing plant in North Carolina, this powerful 86-minute documentary provides an excellent overview of what it takes for workers to organize in America today.
Certain Women. Filmmaker Kelly Reichardt has made another subtle and absorbing feature film, this one about three women in a small town in Montana.
Last Cab to Darwin. A 70-year-old cab driver in Australia learns that he has only three months to live, just as it is becoming legal to get medication from a doctor that would allow him to choose the timing of his death. But what does dying on his own terms mean?
Stray Dog. A documentary by the director of Winter’s Bone profiles the everyday life of  a Vietnam veteran and his new Mexican wife as he tries to cope with the psychological wounds of war and the growing poverty of neighbors and family members at the bottom of the economy.
Dukhtar. A mother in the mountains of Pakistan is faced with the imminent gift of her ten-year-old daughter to an aging tribal leader. She decides that they should flee to the city, despite the potentially violent consequences if they are caught.
After the Spill. An hour-long documentary interviews commercial fishing operators and others permanently hurt by the BP oil spill in the Gulf and looks at how the oil and gas industry’s practices are rapidly eroding Louisiana’s coastline.

The Year of Needy Girls by Patricia A. Smith (Akashic). This well crafted novel stands out for a number of reasons – the nuanced descriptions of the characters’ complex feelings, the realistic portrayal of how quickly a person’s life and a community can fall into crisis, and the focus on two lesbians and the challenges they face.

Refinery Town by Steve Early (Beacon). At a time when many progressives are recognizing a need to emphasize local organizing on issues of economic, racial, and environmental justice, a veteran organizer describes a growing movement in the working class community of Richmond, California, site of a major Chevron refinery. A broad coalition of labor, community organizations, environmentalists, and gay rights advocates has grappled with many of the challenges being faced in most local organizing, including how to work through differences in order to find common ground; how to ensure a leadership role for younger activists, people of color, workers, and women; and how to connect electoral work with year-round organizing on local issues like living wages, affordable housing, community policing, immigrant rights, and access to health care.
Journey by Beckie Elgin (Inkwater Press). With engaging text and photos, this tells the true story of a wolf that traveled from the northeast corner of Oregon to make a new home near the California border and how it eventually found a mate and started a new family. Well-told stories about the wolf’s experiences make the book ideal for everyone from kids to adults.
The Cabbage That Came Back by Stephen Pearl and Rafael Pearl (Hard Ball Press). A cute bilingual children’s book tells a story that celebrates sharing and generosity.
Writing to Save a Life by John Edgar Wideman (Simon & Schuster). Ten years before 14-year-old Emmett Till was killed by white terrorists in Mississippi in 1955, his father was hanged by the U.S. Army. Wideman revisits that case, and in the process brings up memories of his own as an African American boy growing up in Pittsburgh.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (Knopf). This honest and entertaining book has many elements that work together to make a unique whole: a memoir of what a girl had to overcome to become a successful scientist, the story of her unusual bond with her eccentric scientific partner, and accessible short insights into the lives of plants.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday). A novel vividly recreates the violence of slavery and the repression faced by the few who tried to escape.
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild (The New Press). Over a five-year period, a liberal sociologist spent time in Louisiana’s bayou region, listening to white working class people whose communities have been devastated by corporate environmental atrocities, who suffer the effects of poverty as inequality of wealth grows, and who support Republican politicians. She reports that the main message they hear from liberals is mockery and contempt, and that they do not see government improving their lives. Interesting companion reading is an article by public opinion researcher Guy Molyneux who presents evidence that white working class voters for Trump are not a monolithic group.
Educational Justice by Howard Ryan (Monthly Review Press). As the Trump administration prepares to speed up school “reforms” that big corporations and Wall Street are pushing, this book explains their agenda and showcases examples of teachers organizing for alternative ways to improve education.
Jimmy’s Carwash Adventure by Victor Narro and Yana Murashko (Hard Ball Press). In this bilingual children’s book, a young white boy gets to know a Latino man who works at a carwash, as well as the man’s son. When the boy learns that the carwash workers are striking for fair pay, he decides to take action.
The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (Picador). A mystery novel takes us to a small Canadian village that is home to immigrants from Iceland, and then to the home country where they came from, as a young woman tries to sort out her past.
Frederick Douglass in Brooklyn edited by Theodore Hamm (Akashic). A collection of eight speeches by the abolitionist leader of the 1800s still provides interesting reading more than a century later.
And Then We Became by Devorah Major (City Lights). Poignant poems by a leading California writer explore her experience as a woman, an African American, and a granddaughter of immigrants.
The Fire Truck Who Got Lost by Colin Eldred-Cohen (Art of Autism). In this brightly illustrated children’s book, a young fire truck goes with the grown-up trucks to the scene of a fire, but then gets separated and can’t find his way back.
Bluebonnets, Firewheels, and Brown-Eyed Susans by David Lee (Wings Press). A poet humorously remembers the women he knew in the rural Texas community where he grew up in the 1950s.
Frozen Assets by Quentin Bates (Soho). A plot-driven mystery stars a female police officer in small-town Iceland whose investigation of a murder leads her to uncover high-level corporate and government corruption.

Lonesome Prison Blues
Jerry Garcia. A raw, intimate acoustic set with only his guitar and bass accompaniment in a 1982 concert at Oregon State Penitentiary.

Big Day in a Small Town by Brandy Clark (Warner Bros). Good storytelling in the mainstream country music genre.

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2017-01-06T17:08:54Z 2017-01-06T17:08:54Z World Wide Work -- the latest books, films, music

Please share this edition of World Wide Work with others. They can subscribe for free by emailing For more photos, see and Bisti SunsetBisti SunsetBisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico

Alibi Creek by Bev Magennis (Torrey House Press). In this exceptionally well written novel, a New Mexican ranch woman’s life is turned upside down when her brother returns from prison, the county commissioners she works for order her to facilitate corrupt financial practices, her husband leaves her, and she begins to see her Christian faith in a new light.
Cold Blood, Hot Sea by Charlene D’Avanzo (
Torrey House Press). A plot-driven mystery novel follows a young climate scientist on the Maine coast whose life is in danger because she is investigating big energy companies.
The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash (
Seven Stories). Three innovative novellas cast a light on class in today’s India. A janitor stumbles on a cache of money. An untouchable has his identity stolen by an upper-caste thief. A slum family faces a crisis when their baby keeps getting smarter by leaps and bounds.
Pale Harvest by Braden Hepner (
Torrey House Press). The young men in a western dairy community who are at the center of this touching novel struggle to understand faith, hope, and fate as they cope with poverty, isolation, and lack of power in the face of larger economic forces.
The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea by Rosemary McGuire (
University of Alaska). A woman who worked for years in commercial fishing gives an insider view of that life in this collection of short stories.
Woman Missing by Linda Nordquist (
Hard Ball Press). In this novel written by a former steelworker, a worker disappeared 20 years ago while challenging a mill closure, and the authorities had no interest in investigating. Now, her daughter returns to her hometown to discover what happened, putting herself in danger.
Dirt Work by Christine Byl (Beacon). A woman who has spent much of her adult life on trail crews in the western states provides an entertaining memoir of her experiences.
The Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg (New Society). An extremely useful 350-page guide describes specific activities and games to engage young people in the natural world, have fun, and develop skills.
The God of the Whole Animal by Lewis Mundt (
Beard Poetry). This collection of highly original and personal poems comes from Beard Poetry, an independent publisher based in Minneapolis.
Tomlinson Hill by Chris Tomlinson (
St. Martin’s). A journalist who is the great-great-grandson of slave owners returns to his roots in a small town in Texas to tell the unvarnished story of the relationship over many generations between his family and black residents, including retired NFL star LaDainian Tomlinson. One striking aspect of the story is the similarity between what the white elite did to maintain political and economic power and cheap labor after the Civil War and the tactics being used today.
Environmentalism of the Rich by Peter Dauvergne (
MIT). A professor argues that an environmental movement focused on recycling, energy efficiency, and wilderness preservation is not making change fast enough because it does not challenge the root issues of overconsumption, extreme inequality, destructive growth, and excessive corporate power over decision making.
Secrets of a Successful Organizer by Alexandra Bradbury, Mark Brenner, and Jane Slaughter (
Labor Notes). While designed for use in a workplace context, this guide contains useful tips for any kind of organizing.
Among Wolves by Gordon Haber and Marybeth Holleman (
University of Alaska). A compilation of the writings of a scientist who studied wolves in Alaska for 43 years provides comprehensive information about how these animals live, the important role they play in their ecosystem, and what it will take to allow them to thrive rather than disappearing.
Listen, Liberal by Thomas Frank (Metropolitan). The Democratic Party presents itself as the party of working people, yet at the top it is run by a corporate and cultural elite whose economic and foreign policy positions benefit Wall Street and global companies at everyone else’s expense. The history of how that transformation has taken place is essential reading for all Americans, including those who may choose to vote Democratic anyway for tactical reasons.
The American War in Vietnam by John Marciano (Monthly Review Press). The U.S. government has launched a multi-year project to “commemorate” its war in Vietnam, framing that invasion as a patriotic effort to promote democracy around the world. A retired professor reviews the actual history of the war and debunks the myths being created by those who seek to build support for similar military interventions today.
The Drone Eats With Me by Atef Abu Saif (Beacon). A Palestinian writer describes how he and his young family and neighbors tried to maintain some normalcy in their lives during a nearly two-month conflict with Israel on the Gaza Strip in 2014.
Black Power 50 edited by Sylviane A. Diouf and Komozi Woodard (The New Press). Anniversaries of major events in the civil rights movement of the 1960s get far more attention than the 50th anniversary in 2016 of the emergence of the Black Power movement that was more militant, more critical of capitalism, and more concerned with local black empowerment than with racial integration. This collection of essays is accompanied by personal accounts by participants and more than a hundred dramatic photographs and other images.
Achieving Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy edited by Richard P. Appelbaum and Nelson Lichtenstein (Cornell University Press). A collection of essays by activists and academics examines how giant retail supply chains controlled by companies like Walmart, Apple, and Nike hold working people in poverty around the world. Includes discussion about possible reforms.

The Measure of a Man. This highly unusual French feature film focuses on an unemployed man put through absurd and humiliating “retraining,” “coaching,” and interviews for jobs he won’t get, until he finally accepts a position as part of the surveillance staff in a big box store.
Lamb. A beautiful Ethiopian feature film tells the story of two characters who don’t fit into traditional rural life in that country. One is a young boy more adept at cooking than typically male tasks. The other is an outspoken teenage girl who is being drawn into local radical political debates.
When Two Worlds Collide. Backed by a “free trade” agreement with the U.S., the president of Peru launched a plan to turn over indigenous Amazonian land to big corporations for mining and oil and gas extraction. Indigenous communities fought back. The filmmakers immersed themselves in this drama and produced incredible footage showing the courage and sacrifice of the native people, juxtaposed with the familiar invoking of “progress” and “the rule of the law” by the corporations’ allies in government.
Deepwater Horizon. A Hollywood thriller recreates the 2010 disaster in which a BP oil rig caught on fire and exploded, killing 11 people and releasing tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. High-level acting and special effects help tell the story of BP’s greed that led to the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
The Ruins of Lifta. A Jewish filmmaker whose family was devastated by the Holocaust has made a film about a Palestinian village whose inhabitants lost their homes when Israel was established. Survivors of both experiences meet at the present-day village site, now a battleground among developers, the Israeli government, and Palestinians.

War Surplus
by Becky Warren. This 12-song album by a country rocker now touring with the Indigo Girls tells a continuous story about a soldier who was sent to Iraq and his girlfriend, following each of them from the time they meet to his return with PTSD.
Haas, Marshall, Walsh and Borderland by Joe Walsh. Two new albums of tuneful roots music, some original, some traditional, some instrumental, with innovations like a rendition of Phil Ochs’ “There But for Fortune” or a Yeats poem put to music.
American Band by
Drive-By Truckers. The dynamic white southern rockers have been touring with a Black Lives Matter sign on stage, and sing about a school massacre in Oregon, religious hypocrites, the Confederate flag, and police shootings of black men:

“If you say it wasn’t racial when they shot him in his tracks,
Well, I guess that means that you ain’t black,
I mean Barack Obama won and you can choose where to eat,
But you don’t see too many white kids lying bleeding on the street.”

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2016-10-27T21:15:49Z 2016-10-27T21:15:49Z Mileage

This poem was first published along with the photo in the Summer 2016 edition of Cirque.


By Matt Witt


A long-haul trucker’s got his shiny red rig parked

on an early Wednesday morning

off Highway 395 in remote eastern Oregon

at a wildlife area at the edge of Lake Abert

where the few tourists that pass by

might stop to snap a scenic picture with their phones

and move on.


Ever since GPS technology came in,

the company knows where he is

every minute of every trip –

exactly where he stopped

and for how long

(after all, how long does a person need

to eat breakfast or make a bathroom stop?)


But GPS doesn’t know everything,

and neither does the company.


They know that he stopped

a regulation amount of time to sleep

in that cramped compartment behind the cab.


They don’t know that he walked

along the curving shore

in his t-shirt that used to be white

and watched the young sun light up

the ridges in the salt-covered mud.


They don’t know that he saw

silver bands of seepage

trying to snake their way

from the bottom of the hill

out to the little bit of actual water

way out in the middle

of the mostly dried-up lakebed.


They don’t know that he thought,

despite himself,

about all the climate change

he wishes he did not see

everywhere he drives.


They don’t know that he climbed

a little ways up the hill behind

so he could see how the water appeared

out of focus and dreamy

with reds, oranges, and yellows

as the fast-moving clouds

kept changing the light.


They don’t know that he sat

for a few minutes

in the silence

doing absolutely nothing

except watching the geese

waddle away from him

like they used to do

at the marsh outside of town

when he was a boy.


In a few days

he will pull that shiny red rig

into the company terminal

and the records will show

that he got as much mileage

out of this trip

as he could,

and that he never wasted

even a single moment.


Low Water, No BirdsLow Water, No BirdsLake Abert, Oregon








Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2016-07-21T21:41:49Z 2016-07-21T21:41:49Z World Wide Work -- new books, films, music

Gray Crowned Rosy FinchGray Crowned Rosy FinchCrater Lake, Oregon World Wide Work is a free bulletin about new books, films, and music published six times per year. Please share with others. This photo of a gray crowned rosy finch was taken at Crater Lake National Park.


Istanbul Istanbul by Burhan Sonmez (OR Books). Four Turkish political prisoners are being held underground. To pass the time before interrogation, they tell each other stories, parables, and riddles which as a whole provide the reader with a deeply engaging novel about life above ground.

And West is West by Ron Childress (Algonquin). A plot driven novel features two characters who don’t know each other – a woman who launches drone missiles on Afghanistan from a desk in Las Vegas and a young Wall Street whiz kid who creates algorithms to profit from the timing of those launches.

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond (Simon and Schuster). Two researchers who met in Antarctica while studying penguins and fell in love are back for a new season, but it does not go the way they imagined.

Hogs Wild by Ian Frazier (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A collection of reporting pieces from the New Yorker and other publications shows Frazier’s range, from profiles of quirky people and odd situations to in-depth stories about projects grappling with social problems like homelessness.

Kingdom of the Unjust by Medea Benjamin (OR Books). At a time when the U.S. government fights to cover up the connection between the Saudi government and the men who carried out 9/11, a leading peace activist investigates the close relationship under Democrats and Republicans alike between the U.S. and the repressive dictatorship that is the largest customer for the American weapons industry.

Chain of Title by David Dayen (The New Press). In this dramatic true story, a nurse, a car dealership worker, and an insurance specialist in Florida during the Great Recession slowly uncovered massive foreclosure fraud carried out by banking executives across the U.S. This account masterfully mixes their personal experiences with the broader context, while revealing how the Obama administration has continued to turn its back on one of the biggest crimes in American history.

Blackballed by Lawrence Ross (St. Martin’s). An activist looks at the history and current state of racism in U.S. colleges.

Charleston Syllabus edited by Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain (University of Georgia). For those who want readings to provide context for the murder of nine African Americans at a church in South Carolina, this collection includes new essays plus excerpts from scholarly books and general-interest articles.

The South Side by Natalie Y. Moore (St. Martin’s). Police profiling is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to policies that promote racial segregation, discrimination, and inequality of wealth. A journalist explains how institutional racism works in her hometown of Chicago, drawing in part on her own family’s experiences.

Caught by Marie Gottschalk (Princeton). A comprehensive study of the explosion of the number of people incarcerated in America persuasively challenges reformers to be bolder both in proposed solutions and in strategies to win.

Prelude to Prison by Marsha Weissman (Syracuse University). The director of the Center for Community Alternatives gives voice to poor young people of color who have been suspended from school as society starts them in the school-to-prison pipeline.

Tomas Young’s War by Mark Wilkerson (Haymarket). A no-holds-barred biography reveals the personal life of a paralyzed Iraq War veteran who spoke out against the war during his final years.

How the World Breaks by Stan Cox and Paul Cox (The New Press). In reporting on the victims of disasters caused by man-made climate change and fossil fuel extraction, the authors question the goal of “resilience,” which they see as temporary adaptation to destructive trends rather than establishing true sustainability.

China on Strike edited by Hao Ren (Haymarket). Dozens of interviews document the experiences of Chinese workers protesting exploitation in factories that supply Apple, Nike, and other global corporations.

See You in the Streets by Ruth Sergel (University of Iowa). An artist and organizer who led a major coalition marking the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle factory fire in New York explores a variety of interesting issues that come up in using art and history to advance the progressive movement.

Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). In the late 1930s, about 2,800 idealistic Americans volunteered to go to Spain to join the first military battle of what would become World War II. Spanish citizens were fighting fascist forces, armed by Hitler and Mussolini, for control of their country. While the U.S. government refused to help, Texaco provided oil on credit to the fascists. The story makes particularly interesting reading as corporate-funded fascists appear to be on the rise in a number of countries today.

Sing It! By Meryl Danziger (Seven Stories). A music teacher has created an easy-to-understand biography of Pete Seeger for young people.

Mycelial Mayhem by David and Kristin Sewak (New Society). You, too, can grow mushrooms at home.


Klamath. Independent filmmaker Aaron Moffatt spent three years capturing gorgeous footage in remote areas of the Klamath-Siskiyou Mountains along the border of Oregon and California. This 55-minute documentary shows the importance of interconnection and balance in an ecosystem like this.

When Justice Isn’t Just. Black people are shot by police and incarcerated at rates far higher than their white counterparts. This documentary shows the movement to change that and includes interviews with Black Lives Matter activists, police officials, civil rights and criminal defense attorneys, and more.

East of Salinas. A 53-minute documentary profiles a 3rd grader from a migrant farm worker family who, with support from his teacher, dreams of going to college someday – except that he is undocumented. Viewers learn in human terms about the obstacles faced by one of the two million undocumented children in the U.S.

Indian Point. The Indian Point nuclear power plant is just 35 miles from New York City and is up for re-licensing for the next 20 years with the strong support of federal regulators. The filmmaker got amazing access to the plant’s personnel to get their perspective, while showing the strong community movement pushing to shut the operation down.

Sworn Virgin. This most unusual feature film is about a girl in a remote village in Albania who resists limitations put on her because of her gender. In keeping with local custom, she agrees to live as a man and take an oath of eternal virginity. As she gets older, she begins to question her situation.


Alegria Da Casa by Anat Cohen & Trio Brasileiro (Anzic Records). Virtuoso musicians playing clarinet, bandolim, 7 string guitar, and percussion clearly are having fun as they play lively tunes in a variety of Brazilian musical traditions.

Still the Birds by Darryl Purpose (Blue Rock). Original songs delivered with a voice like James Taylor’s, including a love song duet in which the two singers each affectionately chronicle the other person’s flaws, a haunting story of a Vietnam draft dodger seeking revenge, and an ode to an old girlfriend’s dog.

Colvin & Earle. Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle sing about Ferguson, admitting you are wrong, the golden rule, and more.

Case/Lang/Veirs. Three alt-country women – Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs – join forces to produce a smooth sound and a variety of relationship stories.


Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2016-07-21T21:38:05Z 2016-07-21T21:38:05Z World Wide Work -- films, books, music you may have missed

Green-Winged Teal FeathersGreen-Winged Teal FeathersLost Creek Lake, Oregon

World Wide Work is a free bulletin about new books, films, and music published online six times per year. Please share this edition with others. They can subscribe by emailing (There is no cost for subscribing, and we never share our email list with anyone.)


Runaway Inequality by Les Leopold (Labor Institute Press). This highly useful guide to economic justice explains with helpful facts and graphics that the wealth and power gap between the richest 1% and the rest of us is not a “single issue” but is closely tied to issues such as racism, immigration, equality for women, incarceration, climate change, health care, education, housing, trade policy, tax fairness, and military spending.

The Book of Harlan by Bernice L. McFadden (Akashic). Hidden history comes alive in this novel about an African American man from Georgia who became a musician in Harlem, played in Paris, lived through the horrors of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and spent his final years in the turmoil of the 1960s.

South Haven by Hirsh Sawhney (Akashic). A son of Hindu immigrants from India grows up in a New England suburb, where he struggles to find his way after his mother dies, while his father becomes immersed in anti-Muslim fundamentalism.

Rant, Chant, Chisme by Amalia Ortiz (Wings Press). An outstanding collection by a feminist Chicana performance poet from Texas artfully connects the personal and the political.

Someone Has to Die by Timothy Sheard (Hard Ball Press). In this mystery novel, a hospital nurse is wrongfully accused in the death of a patient. Meanwhile, the hospital’s new corporate owner is threatening to stop contributing to the workers’ health and pension fund. Our hero, a union steward and amateur detective, brings workers together to take on these challenges.

The Lamentations of Zeno by Ilija Trojanow (Verso). An irreverent scientist working as a travel guide on a cruise ship in Antarctica contemplates dramatic action as the intensity of his feelings about climate change increasingly clashes with the complacency of the passengers.

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar (Little, Brown). This novelist, who was raised in a Muslim family in Wisconsin, explores the many different ways that Muslims in America face tensions between outside cultural pressures and their faith.

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Knopf). A love story between two teenagers anchors this novel about the experience of immigrants to the U.S. from Mexico and Panama.

Energy Revolution by Howard Johns (Permanent Publications). A British engineer and activist provides positive news from around the world about the shift to renewable energy sources and gives advice about how to help speed the transition.

The Hope in Leaving by Barbara Williams (Seven Stories). A successful actress and musical performer has written a memoir of her childhood that reads like a vivid novel about survival in poor logging towns, a dysfunctional family, and a close relationship with a brother suffering from mental illness.

Being in Pictures by Joanne Leonard (University of Michigan). A beautiful large format book presents nearly 200 creative photographs and collages produced over more than 40 years, together with succinct, revealing text about Leonard’s journey as a person and an artist. Themes include the end of a marriage, a miscarriage, single motherhood, the experience of being an identical twin, the decline of her parents, maleness seen from a woman’s point of view, and much more.

Pushout by Monique W. Morris (The New Press). Many black girls are criminalized by school systems, facing the dual threat of racism and sexism.

Incarceration Nations by Baz Dreisinger (Other Press). The founder of the Prison-to-College Pipeline program spent two years visiting and sometimes working in prisons in nine countries, including South Africa, Thailand, Brazil, Australia, and Norway. Prisons are a mirror of each society’s culture, she writes, but her experiences also suggested some universal truths about incarceration, prevention, intervention, and reintegration.

GMO Myths and Truths by Claire Robinson, Michael Antoniou, and John Fagan (Earth Open Source). A detailed guide to the evidence and arguments about genetically modified crops and foods has been updated and condensed in this third edition.  

Unequal Time by Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel (Russell Sage). Our laws and employment relationships don’t take into account continual disruptions of work and family schedules by illness and family responsibilities. The impacts fall disproportionately on women and on people without wealth.

We Don’t Quit by Don Stillman (Chelsea Green). The former director of international affairs for the United Auto Workers describes that union’s efforts to support workers’ struggles in other countries, as well as support by unions from Brazil, South Africa, and Germany for auto worker organizing campaigns in the U.S.

Far Out edited by Wendy Barker and Dave Parsons (Wings Press). In this collection, poets writing now remember their experiences in the 1960s.


The Second Mother. A Brazilian woman left her daughter in her home village in order to find work in the city to support them both. For years, she has been a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy family and has internalized attitudes about class and her subservient place in the world. A crisis develops when her daughter, aspiring to go to college, comes to see her.

A Borrowed Identity. A brilliant Palestinian teenager is sent by his family to a top Israeli boarding school where he develops several close relationships and has to make choices about who he is.

Neptune. A 14-year-old orphan girl raised by a priest on an island off the coast of Maine is prompted by a tragic incident to start grappling with her own identity in this engaging feature film.

In The Game. This moving documentary focuses on the girl’s soccer team at a poor, mostly Latino public high school in Chicago, so underfunded that students have to bring toilet paper to school. Contrary to what Hollywood might have done with this subject, it shows not only the girls’ admirable determination and dedicated coach but also the ongoing consequences of denying them the resources that more privileged kids are given.

Boone. Beautiful footage, unusual editing, and the absence of narration or talking head interviews help this documentary convey the hard work and idealism of three young farmers trying to make a go of it in southern Oregon.

Invisible Scars. A filmmaker who was sexually abused by her father decided to talk openly about how that affected her life, to interview other victims of abuse, to show how widespread the problem is, and to explore how survivors are overcoming those experiences.


Cass County by Don Henley. The former member of the Eagles has written some good country songs. Praying for Rain is about climate change: “I ain’t no wise man, but I ain’t no fool, and I believe that Mother Nature is taking us to school. Maybe we just took too much, and put too little back. It isn’t knowledge, it’s humility we lack.” Waiting Tables is about a single-mom waitress. No Thank You is about not being fooled by corporate and political sales pitches at a time when we have “Space Age machinery (but) Stone Age emotions.”

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2016-04-13T00:53:14Z 2016-04-13T00:53:14Z World Wide Work -- new films, books, music

Sapling with Snow HatSapling with Snow HatPilot Rock, Oregon

Please share this edition of World Wide Work with others. They can subscribe by emailing (There is no cost for subscribing, and we never share our email list with anyone.)

New and worth noting…


A War. A challenging feature film focuses on a Danish army officer who commands a small unit on the front lines in Afghanistan while his wife cares for their three children back home. The war puts him and his fellow troops in an impossible situation for which the higher-ups then try to hold him accountable.
Freeheld. Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star in a very moving film about a longtime New Jersey policewoman and the much younger woman she loved. When the policewoman learned she was dying of cancer, the county initially refused to pass on her pension to her partner even though it would to a male officer’s wife. The film closely follows a true story, including the community movement that tried to force county officials to change their mind. It serves as a poignant reminder of what was at stake in the fight for marriage equality. One glaring inaccuracy is that the film makes it seem that only one male officer supported her and omits the fact that it was originally her union that asked the county on her behalf to treat her and her domestic partner the same as a married couple.
The Overnighters. A powerful documentary follows a pastor in a small North Dakota town who uses the church to provide overnight shelter to desperate people who have come from out of state in hopes of finding work in the booming oil and gas industry. Local church members resist, sparking tension over what it means to be a Christian community.
1000 Times Good Night. A top war-zone photojournalist who brings the world’s attention to otherwise ignored suffering faces tough questions about her motivation and the impact of her job on her family.
Jimmy’s Hall. In the latest film from director Ken Loach, an Irish socialist creates a community center in a rural area where young people can gain skills and knowledge and enjoy themselves. The local political and economic elite and the Catholic Church are threatened as the center helps galvanize community organizing.
Embrace of the Serpent. The obliteration of Amazonian communities and cultures by rubber barons’ greed is the backdrop for this visually striking feature film based on the actual diaries of two scientists who traveled in the rain forest some 40 years apart.
Rams. Two brothers who live next door to each other on remote sheep farming ranches in Iceland have not spoken to each other in 40 years. A deadly disease spreading from outside the country infects the sheep, triggering intense human drama.
About Elly. A joyous group of Iranian friends arrives on the Caspian Sea coast to frolic for a few days, bringing with them a young schoolteacher as part of a matchmaking scheme. An unexpected turn of events severely tests each of the characters and the relationships among them.
The Seagull’s Laughter. A glamorous and mysterious woman returns home from America to a small town in Iceland where she provokes admiration, envy, and suspicion.
Four Minutes. A young German woman full of rage is sent to prison where she clashes with and learns from a bitter elderly piano teacher who recognizes her special talent.
Court. In this feature film from India, a 65-year-old rapper and political agitator who performs in slum neighborhoods faces Kafkaesque repression from the government.
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. A documentary that blends talking heads with archival footage traces the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s as it took on issues including access to jobs, equal pay, reproductive freedom, sexual liberation, lesbian rights, rape and domestic violence, and affordable day care.
The Looking Glass. A touching if imperfect story centers on the relationship between a troubled teenager and her grandmother, with many unusual features including an edgy production of Alice in Wonderland that takes place within the film.

Happy Valley
by Anne Shannon Monroe (
Oregon State University). A romantic novel published 100 years ago makes particularly interesting reading in view of the recent armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.  It was written by a woman who homesteaded in that part of the state and who fondly describes a variety of characters who were doing the same. The land was given to them by the federal government, yet already they were resentful of limitations on hunting and federal interference with a proposed project to drain wetlands and cut down forests to facilitate development.
The Spirit Bird by Kent Nelson (
University of Pittsburgh). These engaging short stories take place in many different kinds of places with a common theme of characters who are searching for something in their life.
Ladies Night at the Dreamland by Sonja Livingston (
University of Georgia). In 21 literary nonfiction essays, the author speculates about the lives of a wide variety of mostly little known women throughout U.S. history whose unusual circumstances caught her attention.
Daring to Write edited by Erika M. Martinez (
University of Georgia). Two dozen highly personal pieces of fiction or nonfiction by Dominican women and women of Dominican descent in the U.S. give voice to a range of experiences.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (
Little, Brown). This compelling historical novel is based on the case of an Icelandic farmer’s servant in the 1820s who was convicted of participating in the murder of her master. While waiting to be beheaded, she was sent to be supervised by a magistrate’s wife on an isolated farm from which she wouldn’t be able to escape. Little by little, her story unfolds.
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (
HarperCollins). A 12-year-old daughter of Vietnamese refugees grew up in California and now visits Vietnam for the first time with her grandmother. This lively novel sees Vietnamese culture from a teenage perspective.
Calle Florista by Connie Voisine (
University of Chicago). Many of these unpredictable poems by a woman who teaches in southern New Mexico have themes related to the U.S.-Mexico border region.
Greening the Global Economy by Robert Pollin (
MIT). An economist makes the case that a faster transition to renewable energy and greater energy efficiency is not only the right path for confronting climate change but is the best way to create jobs, save money, and improve living standards around the world.
Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality and Rhythm and Resistance: Teaching Poetry for Social Justice (
Rethinking Schools). These two books are exceptionally useful collections by schoolteachers about ways they have found to explore social justice issues with children. Each one combines practical experience with actual materials and lesson plans.
Just a Teacher by David Tourzan. A teacher who has worked in both rural and urban settings provides a candid inside view of the challenges he and his colleagues have faced as many of society’s problems are laid at their doorstep while corporate and political opportunists use them as scapegoats.
Integration Nation edited by Susan E. Eaton (
The New Press). Even as some politicians whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, many communities in both red and blue states are helping recent immigrants to integrate into civic life without having to shed their own culture. This collection reports on a dozen examples.
Wall Street’s Think Tank by Laurence H. Shoup (
Monthly Review). Nothing better exemplifies America’s foreign policy establishment than the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a group of politicians from both major parties, corporate CEOs, active and retired military leaders, and other elites. Membership is by invitation only. Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton are each members. According to this detailed analysis, the Council promotes foreign policies that benefit global corporations and the 1% by producing studies, sponsoring strategy meetings, and providing a pool of people that fill key foreign policy positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Hell is a Very Small Place edited by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd (
The New Press). An estimated 80,000 U.S. prisoners are being held in solitary confinement on any given day. In this collection, current and former prisoners describe this appallingly inhumane and counterproductive practice from their own experience.
The War on Leakers by Lloyd C. Gardner (
The New Press). Over the past century the U.S. government has steadily increased repression against whistleblowers who leak information the public has a right to know. President Obama has invoked the Espionage Act more than any previous president, including the Edward Snowden case that is a major focus of this book.


3 by HoneyHoney. Strong songwriting about a variety of relationships, including a song called Marry Rich about a woman who didn’t marry at all (“Money don't come quick, unless your born with it, thumb in your mouth and gold in your spit.”)
The Monsanto Years by
Neil Young. Mostly unlistenable rants but one gem – People Want to Hear About Love – that is Young’s ironic response to music industry execs telling him not to try to sing about political subjects.

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2016-02-21T21:12:34Z 2016-02-21T21:12:34Z Photography: Learning and Inspiration

Eagle RockEagle RockSmith River, California

As a photographer based in Oregon's Rogue Valley, I have been lucky to be part of a vibrant and supportive photography community that encourages learning and development of the art.

David Lorenz Winston is not only a very special photographer but an excellent source for one-on-one critiquing and mentoring.

Sean Bagshaw is an outstanding teacher and gives workshops throughout the year, primarily in the western states.

Mac Holbert is a nationally recognized authority on photo processing and printing and gives frequent workshops in various parts of the country. He also operates The Image Collective, a source for the highest quality professional prints.

I've drawn knowledge and inspiration from them and other members of a group of Rogue Valley photographers whose work you might want to check out. They include, in no particular order, Lewis Anderson, Darcie Sternenberg, Bobbi Murphy, Julie Bonney, Tom Glassman, Jim Chamberlain, Julie Young, Len Lea, Tina Blum, Vitaly Geyman, Diana Standing, Kate Geary, Geri Mathewson, Teri Dixon, and Doug Smith. Take a look at their work!

Matt Witt (C) Matt Witt 2015-05-28T18:48:30Z 2015-05-28T18:48:30Z