This week we bring you three pieces on recurring topics of interest here at New City Commons. However, instead of written articles, this week we offer two podcasts and a TED talk.
First, in an extended conversation for a Richmond-based podcast called “Two People,” sociologist Josh Yates describes the ecological model of civic life at the heart of the Thriving Cities Project he directs at the University of Virginia. While the podcast focuses a good bit on Richmond’s local context, Yates’ description of the six civic endowments (the Good, the True, the Beautiful, the Just & Well-Ordered, the Sustainable, and the Prosperous) is useful for civic leaders interested in pursuing positive social impact.
Second: in Vol. 36 we featured Kate Bowler’s New York Times piece in a set of articles on the topic of “confronting cancer.” Since then, Bowler has recorded a podcast with her local NPR station, WUNC, addressing both further details regarding her own medical treatment and her academic research into the American Prosperity Gospel. Bowler’s humor is ever-present, even as the discussion veers into deep theological waters regarding her diagnosis and the kinds of religious accounts available to her (and us) as she struggles to find language to describe her current life.
Our final offering is inspired by a lecture our staff attended this week, given by Bryan Stevenson at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. His recent work, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption chronicles Stevenson’s remarkable career advocating for the disenfranchised, impoverished, and wrongly accused. Many of the themes of this book come through in his 2012 TED talk, “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.” In that talk, Stevenson describes the work of the Equal Justice Initiative and the need to address the systemic ways in which our current criminal justice system exploits fellow citizens whom it should protect—namely, the weak and vulnerable. (For more on criminal justice in Culture Briefing, see Vol. 8, Vol. 18, and Vol. 40.)
From its inception Culture Briefing has directed your attention to pieces of online writing. From time to time we’ve included a video or podcast in our weekly briefings, but we’ve always given preference to interesting and compelling writers. This week we’ve decided to include only audio and video sources, and would be happy to have your feedback on the merits of doing so. As ever, feel free to be in touch with the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.