From Prison to the Classroom, Former Inmate Serious About Reforming the System


Michael_G._Santos_photo (1)At 49 years of age, Michael Santos is getting his first taste of college. He’s walking through the main quad at San Francisco State, beaming like a kid.

“I always come to soak up the university vibe that I missed when I was a teenager and in my early ‘20s,” he says.

Santos is not a student or a visitor. He’s a lecturer in the Criminal Justice Department, a job he landed in September, just two weeks after his release from 26 years in prison.

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Landfill Expansion Pits Environmentalists Against Largest Waste Disposal Company in U.S.

KALW 91.7 FM

landfill2If you drive north from San Francisco and through most of Marin County, you get to the town of Novato. Turn east from Highway 101 and you run into the San Pablo wetlands, now being restored after more than a century of infill.

Here, egrets, storks, and other birds fly overhead, making the area a popular destination for nature lovers. Nearby, the Petaluma River winds through the hills before connecting to the San Pablo Bay. But just steps away, at the Redwood Landfill, lie mountains of trash that’s trucked in from Marin and southern Sonoma County every single day. About 22 big rigs of trash is dropped off here each day and space is running out.

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Party in a Box: Global Musical Styles Converge at Accordion Fest

KRCB, Rohnert Park, CA

Every August, thousands of people flock to the tiny town of Cotati in North California for a two-day festival celebrating all things accordion. The attendees come from Mexico, Italy, Germany and other countries and play a variety of styles from polkas to cumbias. But they all have one thing in common: a love for the accordion.


After Missing in Action for 60 Years, Soldier Is Laid to Rest

honor_guard5 Private First Class Mervin Sims died in an airplane  crash in the Himalayas in 1943. But it would be more than 60 years before his body was found and returned home. This is a tale of an explorer, a family that had long given up hope of finding out what happened to their son and a community that can now properly mourn.

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Meet Me at the Bowling Alley


To walk into AMF Boulevard Lanes on Petaluma Boulevard South is to be transported to a different era. There’s a vending machine that sells socks for $2 (in case you forgot yours at home) and a little diner straight out of the ’50s that is rumored to have the tastiest burgers in town.

The bowling alley opened in 1958 and has since then attracted generations of Petalumans, with its leagues, classes and more recently, extreme bowling on Friday and Saturday nights.

For many who play in the leagues, the alley is a second home, a chance to reconnect with friends and form community. And if you’re a newcomer, don’t be intimidated. The rules are easy, according to Ray Allena, a veteran bowler.

“Get as many strikes as you can and don’t miss any spares. Have a drink every four or five frames and that’s about it.” All in all, a recipe for a fun night. 

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Cashing In On the Can Economy

For many New Yorkers, cans and bottles are a way to supplement meager incomes. Now the Bigger, Better Bottle Law, which goes into effect June 1, will add water bottles to the list of recyclables. It’s estimated to add more than $200 million to the state budget. But the news haven’t yet trickled down to the streets, where competition is stiff for what most consider trash.




Grameen Bank Opens First U.S. Branch in Queens, NY

Grameen Bank, a Bangladeshi nonprofit lending organization, is opening its first U.S. branch…in Jackson Heights, Queens. After more than two decades of work in developing countries, the bank wants to help small business owners in New York City–nearly all of them immigrant women–be successful.





Forged in the USSR: An Interview With My Father

My father, Gregory, survived anti-Semitism, collective farms, five-year-plans and a system that tried to stifle individual wants and thoughts at every turn. I sat down with him to hear some of his stories as part of StoryCorps, a mobile radio project that has been traveling the country since 2003. The interview was recorded by StoryCorps, but produced and edited by me.

Sing Me a Song, Mariachi

For a group of friends, weekly jam sessions are a way to keep up traditions, thousands of miles from home.

Gauging the Economic Crisis: A Conversation with Moody’s Mark Zandi

The unemployment rate keeps growing, consumers are holding off on making big purchases and banks are hesitant to lend money. Listen to this podcast with Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi on the roots of the recession and what it will take to get out.

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Kids Learn Public Service, One Box at a Time

042509_1860Last week New York City marked National Volunteer Week, created to encourage Americans to serve in their communities. At the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum volunteers, some as young as eight years old, prepared care packages for Marines stationed overseas. Click here to listen to the story.

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