Poverty Art
Art is a frequent medium for human expression and resistance, and within that space of creation and possibility is the opportunity to find ways to fight poverty and alleviate the suffering of the global poor.

1. Art can help impoverished children increase their chances of going on to college and obtaining employment by developing fundamental cognitive capacities, critical analytical skills, and providing learning experiences that have a significant impact on children’s educational achievement and social development.

A recent report published last year by the presidentially appointed Committee on the Arts and Humanities showed results stating that low-income students who were highly involved in the arts performed better, stayed in school longer, scored higher in math assessments, and were more likely to graduate high school, attend college, find stable employment, perform volunteer work in their communities, and vote.

2. Art programs can focus on entire communities faced with poverty and provide multiple services and opportunities in terms of gainful employment, a platform of expression for the voiceless, creating beauty and hope amidst poverty and blight, provide awareness to suffering, galvanizing donors and philanthropists, and can allow others to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Programs like the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program target at-risk children, juveniles, and adults and provide them with opportunities and spaces of expression they would not otherwise have access to. The program has even taken a leading role in criminal and restorative justice by offering education programs in prisons and rehabilitation centers, helping to effectively reduce crime, violence, and the poverty and misery associated with it.

3. Art and creative expression can help provide employment and income to those who are impoverished. Having non-profit programs that help develop artists by providing a more equitable share of profits from sold work, and investing in opportunities for those who are poor to create and thrive as artists, means a larger return than one individual’s income and the chance to influence poverty in an entire community or area.

4. Art can advocate for the impoverished, provide visibility to issues of poverty, and be a platform for agency to effect change and eradicate this form of human suffering. Organizations like 2015 use art and creativity to change perceptions about poverty by raising awareness so that greater actions can be taken to fight poverty in the Middle East. By linking an art movement to the United Nations Millennium Goals, the public sphere and shared space of art becomes a political platform to support larger movements, fight poverty locally, and challenge the failings that allow for three billion people to remain trapped in poverty.

5. Art can help fund projects and utilize creativity to find measures to help end the suffering of the billions of the world’s poor. Artistic endeavors and the art community can be organized and motivated to provide fundraising and resources for essential programs and serve as the appropriate community to build connections of supporters. Art naturally involves innovation, and creative minds can be utilized to find solutions to problems like substandard housing or the effective use of public space. Those suffering in poverty need all the resources we have available, and art has the capacity to take its own form and be that of another, so when used to fight poverty, it becomes an instrument of justice.

– Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer 

Sources: Techo, TNW News, MinnPost, Astep, Mural Arts Program

The Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign is in its sixth year this year. The goal of the campaign is to help children in impoverished regions who suffer from hunger and poverty related issues. The campaign was inspired by John Lennon’s vision for a world at peace and without hunger; it teaches children all over the world to recognize their own power in making a difference in their living conditions and food scarcity. The campaign encourages rural families in impoverished communities to grow their own food, offering sustainable agricultural programs and training in 34 grassroots organizations. Spearheaded by Hard Rock International and WhyHunger, the campaign has accomplished huge gains in the war on poverty. This year, Yoko Ono Lennon has teamed up with Hard Rock International and is advocating for widespread support for the campaign.  Thus far, the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign has provided enough food in communities to ensure 5.5 million meals for children in 22 countries.

In the months of November and December, the campaign receives special media attention as they encourage the public to get involved in their mission and make donations to help end world hunger for children. A number of musicians have joined the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign, and participate in fundraising concerts and visits to grassroots organizations. The musicians involved in the campaign use their star power to help bring fans on board with Imagine There’s No Hunger.

By working with grassroots organizations across the world, Imagine There’s No Hunger helps to develop agricultural systems in places that have a weak agricultural condition. The campaign encourages healthy eating and homegrown food; they have helped launch programs that feed children farm-fresh food and teach farmers the proper methods of farming. Imagine There’s No Hunger doesn’t just want to supply a quick order of food for starving countries, but help implement systems and training programs so that countries can subsist on their own and receive income well into the future.

This year, the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign wishes to make a greater impact than ever before on children living in poverty. With the help of teammate Yoko Ono Lennon, the campaign has received an increase in public attention and advocacy. Ono is scheduled to make an appearance in December in Tokyo to continue her goal of rallying support for the campaign.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Imagine Peace, Why Hunger
Photo: Daily Mail

Over the years, several Hollywood stars have made the jump from silver screen celebrities to prominent political figures. Among the influential actors to serve in politics, the five listed below have been recognized as the most impactive, and perhaps the best to have done so.

1. Ronald Reagan: The United States’ 40th president Ronald Reagan landed his first Hollywood acting job in 1937, and went on to appear in numerous box office hits. At one point Reagan even served as the president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He went on to become the Governor of California in 1966 and President of the United States in 1981, where he would remain in office until 1989. In his time in office, Reagan was referred to as “the great communicator,” a title that only he and Bill Clinton have ever held.

2. Fred Grandy: Fred Grandy, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Gopher in the popular television sitcom The Love Boat, was actually a Harvard graduate who was well on his way to a political career long before his years of Hollywood fame. Upon ending his nine-year career on The Love Boat, Grandy decided to run for Congress in Iowa. He served in the House from 1987-1995.

3. Clint Eastwood: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly star Clint Eastwood ran for office in is hometown Carmel, California in 1986 after he was told by authorities that he couldn’t remodel an old office building next door to a restaurant that he owned. This was clearly a huge mistake on the naysayers part, as he won the election by a landslide and then fired planning board members who voted against his proposal. Eastwood only completed one two-year term.

4. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Before he was the Governator, Schwarzenegger had an extensive career as both a body builder and big time Hollywood actor. Despite the many jokes thrown at him during his campaign for governor of California, he won the election and served two terms from 2003-2011.

5. Ben Jones: Famous for his hilarious character portrayal of Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard, Ben Jones went on to serve two terms as congressman of Georgia’s Fourth District, after retiring from his acting career.

– Meagan Hurley

Sources: Time, IMDB
Photo: Ride Apart

With the holiday season approaching, big-ticket items, such as the forthcoming Sony Playstation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One, are being rapidly assembled in Chinese manufacturing plants. The retail values are $399 and $499 respectively, but the cost shows little of the true price one pays.

Sony has come under scrutiny recently for their partnership with Foxconn, the largest electronics manufacturer in the world. At Foxconn’s Yantai plant, students are reportedly being forced to assemble the gaming console, or risk failing their courses.

The students claim they were offered unpaid internships, but were given manual labor instead of tasks related to their field of study. If the students refused, they were threatened with losing six credits.

This is not the first occurrence of unfair labor practices by Foxconn. In January, workers making the Xbox console threatened a mass suicide over staffing assignments. In September of last year, about 2,000 workers rioted over unfair wages and work conditions.

Sony has said in a statement that it “expects its suppliers, including Foxconn, to fully comprehend and comply” with its supplier code of conduct, and they “are in communication with Foxconn and are investigating the matter.”

Microsoft, while not addressing Foxconn directly, has said that their Code of Conduct is enforced by contract, and “If our strict standards are not met, suppliers risk business restrictions or termination of their contract.”

– David Smith

Sources: The Daily Mail, Washington Post
Photo: Japan Focus

It’s interesting to take a look at how television shows are being watched across the world. In America, there are very specific types of TV shows that viewers have grown accustomed to. Can this be said for other parts of the world? Below are the top five TV shows in Africa. Can you see any similarities?

1. Big Brother Africa

This is a reality TV game show that is much like the Big Brother reality show featured in the US. Randomly selected people from fourteen different African countries are chosen to live together under one roof complete with video surveillance. Millions of viewers watch how the contestants behave in the house and vote to evict housemates every week. The last housemate to be evicted wins a cash prize.

2. Mashariki Mix

Filmed in the East African Region, this TV series focuses on lifestyle living, showing viewers the best places to eat, shop, and, play. The TV show also goes behind the scenes at events, interviewing music artists and culinary icons.

3. Studio 53 Extra

Studio 53 Extra provides the latest fashion news and entertainment gossip in Africa. The show stars co-hosts Eku Edewor and Marcy Dolapo Oni, who update viewers on fashion do’s and don’ts, what to watch, and who to look out for on the big screen.

4. Tinsel

A dramatic soap opera featuring a cast from Nigeria, Tinsel follows the lives of a group of adults highlighting romance, betrayal, and passion along the way. This drama has been sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, hooked on the lives of the Tinsel characters.

5. iNkaba

iNkaba is TV series broadcasted in South Africa that explores the region’s social heritage. Depicting the lives of the rich and powerful, the middle class, and the struggling poor, the TV show informs viewers on the often ugly and brutal system of social class, and the factors that bind people to them.

– Chante Owens

Sources: Zen Magazine, Pana Television
Photo: Washington Post

In April 2009, Captain Richard Phillips was kidnapped from his cargo boat by Somali pirates who demanded $2 million for his release. The pirates held Captain Phillips for five days in a small lifeboat, before Navy SEALs stepped in to save the captain, killing three pirates in the process. Tom Hanks immortalized the hardship of the event in a movie entitled Captain Phillips, released October 11.

The film’s director, Paul Greengrass, attempted to depict the pirate captain, Muse, as a dynamic character and to show the viewers the reasons for his actions. Greengrass expands Muse as a character by including the events that lead him to kidnap Captain Phillips in the first place. Not surprisingly, they involve real threats to both Muse and his family. The kidnapping could also lead to something Muse’s poverty-stricken family desperately needed: money.

For about 15 years, Somalia has lacked a stable government. The country has been fighting a civil war, and their resources continue to dwindle. The Somalian economy depends heavily on agriculture and livestock, both ways of living which require significant amounts of land. But without a stable government to provide trusted contracts of land ownership, making an honest living in Somalia is difficult. Furthermore, crops are sensitive to changes in weather and livestock to unchecked disease. Due to these and other factors, at least 43 percent of the Somalian population lives below the poverty line.

The kidnapping of Captain Phillips shows that poverty can push people to crime in order to support themselves and their family. While not all criminals are influenced by poverty, if the U.S. works hard to help those countries most in need then the incidences of crime threatening national security will decrease. As Captain Phillips shows, the U.S. can help increase its national security by investing in international poverty alleviating programs.

– Alessandra Wike

Sources: Foreign Policy, Hollywood Reporter, New York Times

Band Of Brothers Steven Spielberg Conflict Resolution Easy Company
From sci-fi and action thrillers, like E.T. and Jaws, to historical dramas such as AmistadSchindler’s List, and Saving Private Ryan, director and producer Steven Spielberg has done it all – and he’s done it well. Spielberg has produced and directed everything from amateur releases to box office masterpieces and has won multiple Academy Awards in the process.

A common thread in all his works seems to be his detail and interest in conflict resolution. Time and time again, his characters are faced with impossible circumstances; yet through perseverance and determination, a favorable outcome is usually reached on their behalf. Perhaps this is a means of teaching the audience life lessons.

Spielberg movies teach us about conflict resolution. First and foremost, they teach us that giving up is never an option – Spielberg characters never take an easy out.

Take Saving Private Ryan, for example, when Miller and his troop go searching for the paratrooper, Ryan, they easily could have left after the first bump in the road. However, they didn’t. They kept on searching until they found him, thus making the story the epic tale that it is.

Spielberg audiences are also taught that helping others ultimately helps oneself. This is portrayed in several Spielberg movies. In Amistad, freeing the illegally enslaved Africans gives Americans a sense of morale and gives the country a backbone to rely upon. Again, in Saving Private Ryan, helping Army authorities by retrieving Ryan also helps the fellow soldiers get back home faster. In Schindler’s List, Schindler employs numerous Jews, and in return, is able to gain their love and trust.

Audiences are also taught to fight until the finish. Honorable characters in Spielberg movies stay until the conflict at hand is over, thus exemplifying reliability and loyalty. Take any of the Transformers movies for example – Sam always waits to see what happens and shows courage in the face of peril.

Another component of conflict resolution in Spielberg movies is the fact that characters never leave their men behind. They are loyal until their last breaths.

Last but certainly not least, Spielberg movies teach audiences to be kindhearted—to show mercy and humility to those deserving of it. Spielberg movies show that conflict resolution can be obtained by respecting others, by not boasting in times of advantage, and by only using violence when necessary. “I just know that every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel,” Miller said in Saving Private Ryan.

Steven Spielberg has made a name for himself by which movies he chooses to direct and produce. Nearly all movies associated with Spielberg teach some form of conflict resolution to its viewers. The reason for this is not really known, but audiences hear his messages loud and clear. Spielberg’s thoughts and theories on conflict resolution seem to be both rational and reasonable, leaving plenty of food for thought. What if more people adapted to these methods of conflict resolution?

– Meagan Hurley

Sources: IMDb Steven Spielberg, IMDb Saving Private Ryan Quotes, Kottke, Tactical Operations Center
Photo: The Guardian