Saturday, March 27, 2010

American Dreaming: Learning to Live Without

Here's an interesting article about how people are changing their lives and expectations. Does any of this sound like something you've done, or that others you know have done?

American Dreaming: The New American Dream

I found an interesting website for an organization called The New American Dream, which emphasizes a more sustainable lifestyle. Check it out here. Tell me what you think about it in the comments.

American Dreaming: 1931 article about James Truslow Adams

The Milwaukee Journal covered the publication of James Truslow Adams' book which coined the term The American Dream. You can read the article from 1931 here.

American Dreaming: Frank Capra

Here's a review of the Capra film we watched.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

American Dreaming: Library of Congress Resources

The Library of Congress has some interesting online resources about The American Dream. Go over and take a look!

America Dreams Through The Decades

American Dreaming: German students look at the topic

As part of my research to present this course, I encountered a number of websites created by students. Here's one put together by some in the Westphalia region of Germany. Take a look and see what you think.

The American Dream

Monday, March 1, 2010

American Dreaming: Hungry Planet

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11
© Peter Menzel from the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

I've also seen another exhibit of Menzel's photographs relating to a comparison of international standards of living. It's entitled Hungry Planet. Here's how his website describes it:

30 Families, 24 Countries, 600 Meals
One Extraordinary Book
In Hungry Planet, Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio present a photographic study of families from around the world, revealing what people eat during the course of one week. Each family's profile includes a detailed description of their weekly food purchases; photographs of the family at home, at market, and in their community; and a portrait of the entire family surrounded by a week's worth of groceries.

To assemble this remarkable comparison, Menzel and D'Aluisio traveled to twenty-four countries and visited thirty families from Bhutan and Bosnia to Mexico and Mongolia. Accompanied by an insightful foreword by Marion Nestle, and provocative essays from Alfred W. Crosby, Francine R. Kaufman, Corby Kummer, Charles C. Mann, Michael Pollan, and Carl Safina, the result of this journey is a 30-course documentary feast: captivating, infuriating, and altogether fascinating.

Michelle Norris of NPR's All Things Considered reports on it here.

Time Magazine offers a slideshow of some of the images. Part 1 is here; 2 is here.

American Dreaming: Material World Photo Exhibit

Economist Scott Bailey mentioned an interesting exhibit of photographs taken of families around the world surrounded by all their earthly possessions. I'd seen it on display a while ago, and was intrigued by the concept.

It's called Material World: A Global Family Portrait.

There is a book available which has reproductions of all the photographs. One review describes it:

In honor of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of the Family in 1994, award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel brought together 16 of the world's leading photographers to create a visual portrait of life in 30 nations. Material World tackles its wide subject by zooming in, allowing one household to represent an entire nation. Photographers spent one week living with a "statistically average" family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a "big picture" shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods.

The book provides sidebars offering statistics and a brief history for each country, as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences. But it is the "big pictures" that tell most of the story. In one, a British family pauses before a meal of tea and crumpets under a cloudy sky. In another, wary Bosnians sit beside mattresses used as sniper barricades. A Malian family composed of a husband, his two wives, and their children rests before a few cooking and washing implements in golden afternoon light. Material World is a lesson in economics and geography, reminding us of the world's inequities, but also of humanity's common threads. An engrossing, enlightening book. --Maria Dolan

American Dreaming: The Honeymooners vs. Father Knows Best

The Vanity Fair article notes that television "reinforced the seductive pull of the new, suburbanized American Dream" and cites the difference between the "grubby, schlubby shows" like The Honeymooners and

I thought it would be fun to look at the difference between the two:


Musical Interpretations of the American Dream: Family Life

Here are a pair songs that relate to our theme. Can you think of others?

American Dreams by Casting Crown (2003) focuses on a man who pursues his career at the cost of spending time with his family.

That reminded me of this song by Harry Chapin, Cat's in the Cradle (1974). Here's a live version preceded by a short interview with his widow, Sandy (who wrote the lyrics) and his son, Josh, reflecting on the impact it made in people's lives.

In fact, Chapin's life reflected his attitude about the American Dream. In the mid-1970s, Chapin focused on his social activism, including raising money to combat hunger in the United States. His daughter Jen said: "He saw hunger and poverty as an insult to America." He co-founded the organization World Hunger Year. Many of Chapin's concerts were benefit performances, and sales of his concert merchandise were used to support World Hunger Year.

American Dreaming: Economics

I was inspired by student George Young to share a few quotes from humorist Will Rogers on this subject:
"The worst thing that happens to you may be the best thing for you if you don't let it get the best of you."

"The nation is prosperous on the whole, but how much prosperity is there in a hole?"

"An economist's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's."

We'll be joined by Washington State Regional Labor Economist Scott Bailey today. I'd say his guess is much better than anyone else's about how our area has fared over the years and where it's likely to go in the future. Here's a link to some of the lively articles he's written over the years at Workforce Explorer.