Free Forum Q&A – (1) ROKO BELIC director, HAPPY documentary (Originally aired January 2012) (2) RAFE ESQUITH American Teacher of the Year 30+ years, 5th grade, Hobart Elementary, LA author, REAL TALK for REAL TEACHERS (Originally aired September 2007)

Written on May 29th, 2015



Do you want to feel better? Listen to this week’s show. In the first half hour, I talk with Academy-Award-nominated filmmakerROKO BELIC about his documentary,HAPPY, and in the second half with award-winning LA school teacher and author,RAFE ESQUITH about his book,TEACH LIKE YOUR HAIR’S ON FIRE. 

Are you happy? How often are you happy? What makes you happy? Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in an environment that values and promotes happiness and well-being? Do you expect you’re going to get happier? How?

ROKO BELIC’S HAPPY, a documentary that I think deserves to widely seen, explores these sorts of questions. It weaves the latest scientific research from the field of “positive psychology” with stories from around the world of people whose lives illustrate what we’re learning.

When the basic approach to the pursuit of happiness that’s been taken by many of us and by society in general isn’t delivering, this is a good time to ask some basic questions. It’s also a good time to do so because we know more than we ever have about what science can tell us about happiness. And we have access to more diverse models and worldviews than ever before.What’s getting lost in your daily shuffle? What toll is stress taking on your body?  How could you lead a fuller, happier life?

Teaching in Los Angeles at one of the nation’s largest inner-city grade schools, Hobart Elementary, RAFE ESQUITH leads fifth graders through an uncompromising curriculum of English, mathematics, geography and literature. At the end of the semester, every student performs in a full-length Shakespeare play. Despite language barriers and poverty, many of these Hobart Shakespeareans move on to attend outstanding colleges.


Free Forum Q&A – (1) BEN SKINNER, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery & (2) GABOR MATE M.D. IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS: Close Encounters With Addiction

Written on April 23rd, 2015







Ben Skinner(Originally aired April 2009)
Gabor Mate (Originally aired May 2011)

These interviews pursue a world that just might work. That pursuit, however, demands looking honestly at the darker aspects of human behavior, and this week’s interviews deal with slavery and addiction. In both cases, my guests draw on years of personal experience to frame their analyses and their proposed solutions.

To those who say society’s not actually making progress, many point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the case. 143 years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any time in human history – 27 million. The new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives, is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely.

During the four years that BEN SKINNER researched modern-day slavery for his book, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident. But SKINNER says he’s most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.

Some might call addiction is a form of slavery. I am a long and consistent opponent of the war on drugs and of US policy toward illegal drugs and illegal drug users. I am also someone who advocates for a holistic view of reality, its challenges, and potential solutions. Holistic healing deals with the whole situation – mind, body, emotions, spirit and environment, treats root causes rather than symptoms, and treats as naturally and safely as possible. GABOR MATE, deals with the issues of drugs and addiction holistically. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts proposes approaching addiction through an understanding of its biological and socio-economic roots.


Written on December 25th, 2014

Aired: 12/23/12

Recorded: 10/17/12

When gas prices were at or near record highs a few months ago in the US, that got people’s attention. What about food prices? Have you noticed them rising? Are you making different choices in the supermarket? If not, it might be because of two things.
One, in America so much of our food is processed, packaged and marketed, that raw commodity prices make up only a fraction of the price of the food we buy. In other countries, especially the less developed ones, an increase in the price of rice or corn can have a major effect on how much a family can afford to eat. Two, Americans spend only 9% percent of their income on food, while millions around the world spend 50-70%. Millions of households now routinely schedule foodless days each week-days when they will not eat at all. A recent survey by Save the Children shows that 14% of families in Peru now have foodless days. India, 24%. Nigeria, 27%.

In his newest book, FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES, LESTER BROWN writes,
“The U.S. Great Drought of 2012 has raised corn prices to the highest level in history. The world price of food, which has already doubled over the last decade, is slated to climb higher, ushering in a new wave of food unrest. This year’s corn crop shortfall will accelerate the transition from the era of abundance and surpluses to an era of chronic scarcity. As food prices climb, the worldwide competition for control of land and water is intensifying. In this new world, access to food is replacing access to oil as an overriding concern of governments. Food is the new oil, land is the new gold. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food.”



Q&A: Connie Rice – author, Power Concedes Nothing

Written on March 2nd, 2014

Originally Aired:  04/01/12

Too often problems are not solved, solutions are not found or implemented, and money, lives and moments of opportunity are wasted.

CONNIE RICE has taken on school and bus systems, Death Row, the states of Mississippi and California, and the LAPD – and won. Not just in court but also on the streets and in prisons, where she has spearheaded campaigns to reduce gang violence. She has long been dedicated, in her words, to finishing what Martin Luther King Jr started, and she pursues that aim with a focused passion, intelligence, and commitment.

Too often we oppose each other rather than looking for every opportunity to align to solve a problem. Rice sues a model of law enforcement that dominated Los Angeles for decades. In response, the model begins to shift. She then works with — and finally — within LA Law Enforcement. The model shifts some more. Such movement calls for the right sequence of opposition and cooperation, the strategic use of the tools available, and the ability of both sides to shift from litigation to collaboration.



Free Forum Q&A- HAZEL HENDERSON, Ethical Markets Can We Still Solve Big Problems?-Part2

Written on January 29th, 2014



Aired: 1/26/14
As we begin a new year, let’s look at where we are in the big picture. What are the most critical issues facing the US and the world? How do you see things moving in those areas? How are things getting worse or better? What should we be keeping our eyes on in the year to come?


My guest this week will be HAZEL HENDERSON, who’s been asking these sorts of questions for at least the last 40 years. We’re going to approach this exploration globally as well as nationally, with a long-term view, and with an eye toward relationships and systems that we often miss in our day-to-day focus on the latest news and events.


If this sounds familiar, it’s because this was my plan a few weeks ago when Hazel was my guest. But we ended up spending so much time on her journey – a remarkable journey it is, a mom in New York who’d never been to college got upset about pollution threatening her young child, became an activist, and developed into a global expert on economics and sustainability.