Friday, December 13: If you celebrate Christmas, do you put up a tree? Is it real or do you go with the pre-lit variety you can buy in a store? Friday on Focus, we'll talk with a researcher who is working to engineer a fir tree that won't drop it's needles, and we'll hear from a Christmas tree grower about what goes on behind the scenes at a tree farm.
This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the best books to cozy up with inside as the cold marches on outside. Amber Castens and Elaine Bearden of the Urbana Free Library join host Jim Meadows and offer up a few holiday favorites, as well as a few new books out this year.
Read more to find a book list from today's show!
Ken Salo grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and compares living in apartheid era South Africa to what he imagines it would have been like to live in the Jim Crowe era South in the United States. He attended a segregated university there and says what you could do and where you could go was dictated by whether or not you were black, white or colored.
This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Salo about the racial issues that Nelson Mandela spent his life and career confronting and what it was like to be confronted with them as a young man in daily life. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Teresa Barnes, who lived in South Africa for 25 years and studies the country’s political and social history.
Eric Swenson says that when he first enlisted in the US Army, there were several occasions when superior officers would correct his word usage. He gun was a “weapon,” not a firearm, and if something was gone, it wasn’t out, it was “black.” Swenson says that learning to use this sort of lingo was a rite of passage when he first went through basic training, but now that he’s a veteran living stateside, it was just as much of a process to stop speaking military as it was to start.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Swenson and dictionary editor and co-host of public radio’s “A Way with Words,” Grant Barrett about how slang and jargon are vital communication tools even though they work to alienate or include certain groups of people. We’ll learn more about certain words and phrases that are now commonplace in American speech that are relics of military culture, and Swenson will tell us more about some new military slang that’s developed as a product of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Are you from a military family? Are there words from the military that were used in everyday speech? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!
Astrological winter hasn’t made its debut yet, but meteorological winter is here. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with WILL's former meteorologist, Ed Kieser, about the recent weather anomalies we have experienced in the area and how everyone can best prepare for the winter weather. Meadows will also talk to Kieser about the tornadoes that took place in the area last month and what circumstances contributed to that weather event occurring.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Tavares, who for years was the “voice of NPR." Often cited as the most heard voice on public radio, Tavares read the underwriting announcements for the news network. We'll hear from him this hour about his public radio roots in Illinois and his work with the Journal of Radio and Audio Media, an communication journal for which he is a founding editor.
Host Jim Meadows also talks with Tavares about his new fiction book of short stories, "The Man Who Built Boxes."
Farmers have been operating for more than a year now without a farm bill. Since the 2008 bill expired, there’s been an ideological debate surrounding the funding of certain programs in the farm bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are currently two versions of the farm bill stalled in Congress, one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House, and if legislators can’t come to a compromise by January 1, farm policy written in the 1940’s will take effect. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why there’s been such a fight over this year’s farm bill and how that differs from farm bills past.
Jonathan Coppess, a Clinical Professor of Law and Policy in the Department of Agriculture Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former chief of staff to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D) who worked on the Senate version of the bill and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation join us.
Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature approved a history plan to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, and the Senate approved the measure minutes earlier. The bill, however, passed with little support from East Central Illinois lawmakers.
How will it help the state’s budgetary woes and what will it mean for state employees? Does it violate the state’s pension protections spelled out in the Illinois constitution? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former Illinois State Senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what it means.
After he retired from the NBA, urban farmer and author Will Allen returned to his roots. He was born to sharecroppers in South Carolina and grew up on a small vegetable farm. Today, he’s CEO of Milwaukee’s urban farming project, “Growing Power” and is working to help eradicate food deserts, places where it’s hard to find affordable, fresh produce. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Allen about the project and its mission to help more people, especially those living in cities, gain access to healthy food.
Then, during the second half of this hour on Focus, Meadows talks with Sam Wortman, an Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. Wortman studies urban agriculture and says projects like Allen’s are helping accessibility problems but warns that the model for how to create a sustainable urban agriculture system varies from place to place.
The way we power our lives is constantly evolving. Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Scott Tinker about fracking, his documentary "Switch" and his mission to educate the public about where our electricity comes from and the reality when it comes to try and make changes to what fuel keeps the lights on.
Tinker will be showing his film and speaking at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Tuesday, December 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Lincoln Hall Theater and will be giving a seminar on fracking on . Find more information at the link below.