A profile on the website of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame looks at Bear Guerra‘s career documenting globalization, human rights, social justice, and environmental justice around the world. Bear, a member of the Homelands collective who serves as the photo editor for the publication High Country News, graduated from the Kroc program in 1995.

Bear and his wife, board president Ruxandra Guidi, founded and run the independent multimedia production company Fonografia Collective. Read the entire article here.

In the US, when people hear about squid, they might only think of fried calamari. Elsewhere around the world, though, the species is an important staple, a way to earn a living, and a sign of the health of the ocean.

This summer, Homelands Productions’ producer Ruxandra Guidi teamed up with Foreign Policy to produce and host a new podcast: The Catch. The six-episode series offers a behind-the-scenes look at the current state of global fishing by tracking squid—from the waters off the coast of Peru to the processing plants, the supply chain, the restaurants, and finally our plates.

Follow and listen here. Graphic courtesy of Foreign Policy.

Homelands board members Sandy Tolan, Cecilia Vaisman, Ruxandra Guidi, Alan Weisman, Maria Blanco, and Jonathan Miller in 2014. Photo by Bear Guerra.

In response to alarming increases worldwide in the number of journalists being arrested in the line of duty, the board of Homelands Productions has established the Public Interest Reporting Defense Fund (PIRDF). The fund is intended for journalists who need help paying legal fees and related costs incurred as a consequence of being arrested while doing their jobs, or those who are facing lawsuits filed against them because of their reporting.

The Public Interest Reporting Defense Fund provides a mechanism for donors who may be interested in a particular case, or in First Amendment issues in general, to make tax-deductible donations to help defray journalists’ legal expenses. Although these donors will be contributing to the fund, and not directly to an individual reporter, Homelands’ online donation form allows them to indicate which case or cases they would like to support.

Applications are reviewed by the Homelands board. You may find information on applying and donating here.

See also: Dutton Author Alan Weisman Co-Founds the Public Interest Reporting Defense Fund

Alan Weisman at Great Ziggurat of Ur, Dhi Qar Province, Iraq, in March 2022.

“I’m a nonfiction author whose success owes enormously to fiction,” Alan Weisman writes on the new book recommendation website Shepherd.com. “Reading great novelists has taught me to obsessively seek exactly the right words, to fine-tune the cadence of each sentence, and to heed overall structural rhythm; continually, I return to the fount of fiction for language and inspiration.”

Fiction can also be a source of insight on the most urgent challenges facing the world, he writes. He goes on to describe five “astonishing novels” he turns to “to help grasp the critical times we’re living in.”

Read his recommendations here.

An archaeological dig in Uruk, Iraq, the Sumerian city where writing was invented. The once-great city is now a ruin. Photo by Alan Weisman.

In an op-ed for Salon, Homelands’ Alan Weisman says the US must not be tempted to pump more gas to compensate for supply disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine. The author of the bestselling The World Without Us writes that a recent visit to a polluted, overheated, and dysfunctional Iraq provided yet more evidence of the existential threat posed by fossil fuels.

“We’ve blown so many previous chances” to break our addiction to petroleum, he writes. “We will never have this chance again.”

Read the article here.

Dmitry Bykov: “I write every day because I feel like my writing replaces all these lies, all these wrong words produced by Russian power.” Photo by Jonathan Miller.

As one of Russia’s best-known public intellectuals, the poet, novelist, and literary critic Dmitry Bykov has long been a fixture on television, radio, social media, and in lecture halls around his country. His satirical poems and sharp-edged commentaries have often taken aim at President Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s government has gone to great lengths to silence him. In 2019, Bykov was poisoned on a flight to a speaking engagement and spent five days in a coma. An independent investigation blamed the same security service unit that poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny. More recently, Bykov was banned from appearing on state television or radio and from teaching at state universities. Spies attended his lectures and reported back to their superiors. Officials labeled him an “enemy of the people.” Five of the media outlets with which he has worked have been shut down.

In February, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Bykov secured a U.S. visa and left for Ithaca, New York, where he is an Open Society University Network fellow at Cornell University. His main goal, he says, is to continue to write and speak out.

Bykov is the subject of a profile by Homelands’ Jonathan Miller, who was active in bringing him to Ithaca. He tells Miller that societies need writers to help them imagine the future, but “the future is the most forbidden, the most banned topic in Russia.” You can read the full article here.

Sugar cane cutters on a plantation owned by Central Romana Corporation in the Dominican Republic. Photo by Pedro Farias-Nardi for Mother Jones.

Homelands’ Sandy Tolan, Haitian-Dominican journalist Euclides Cordero Nuel, and Reveal‘s Michael Montgomery have won the Morton Frank Award from the Overseas Press Club of America for their investigative reporting on the treatment of sugar workers on plantations in the Dominican Republic.

The award recognizes the “best international business news reporting in TV, video, radio, audio or podcast.” It was Tolan’s second OPC award.

Tolan and Cordero Nuel collaborated on “The Bitter Work Behind Sugar,” an hour-long episode of Reveal, the podcast and radio show produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The two also co-wrote “The High Human Cost of America’s Sugar Habit” for Mother Jones magazine in September 2021.

The judges wrote: “This comprehensive investigation by Sandy Tolan and Euclides Cordero Nuel took listeners deep into the sugar cane harvesting camps manned by Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The reporting, which has prompted scrutiny from Congress and the Department of Labor, documented workers enduring $4 a day wages, staggering debt, substandard housing and woeful medical care while enhancing Central Romana Corp.’s profitability.”

The OPC announcement is here.

Pedro Molina Inktobers
Nicaraguan cartoonist Pedro X. Molina has continued to work from exile in the United States thanks in part to support from Ithaca City of Asylum.

In the latest episode of the Peace Talks Radio public radio show and podcast, Homelands’ executive director and senior producer Jonathan Miller looks at cities of asylum (also known as cities of refuge), communities that put out the welcome mat for writers, artists, journalists, and human rights defenders whose work puts them at risk in their home countries. 

As guest host, Miller interviews former Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) artist-in-residence Pedro X. MolinaCity of Asylum Pittsburgh co-founder Henry Reese, and International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) program director Elisabeth Dyvik. Miller is a board member and former board chair of the Ithaca group.

You can listen to the hour-long program here.

Molina is a political cartoonist who fled Nicaragua during a violent crackdown on dissent and came to Ithaca with his family with help from ICOA. He spent two years as a visiting scholar at Ithaca College. Today he is an Artist Protection Fund Fellow in residence at Cornell University’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program.

Reese and his wife, Diane Samuels, heard Indian author Salman Rushdie describe the nascent cities of asylum movement in 1997, soon after he had come out of hiding after the 1989 fatwa issued against him by Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran after the publication of the novel The Satanic Verses. They decided to renovate a run-down house they had purchased near their home in Pittsburgh and make it available to an exiled writer. Since then, City of Asylum Pittsburgh has grown into a major cultural institution, with six houses for at-risk writers, an event space and bookstore, and year-round programming that celebrates the freedom to create. 

Based in Stavanger, Norway, ICORN is a network of more than 70 cities worldwide where threatened writers, artists, and journalists can live and work in safety. Elisabeth Dyvik has been involved in artist protection work for more than 25 years.

Ithaca, Pittsburgh, and Detroit are the only U.S. members of the ICORN network. Programs in Las Vegas, Virginia, and Arkansas also provide two-year residencies for writers and artists fleeing persecution.

In addition to his work with Homelands and Ithaca City of Asylum, Miller is founder and co-director of Story House Ithaca, a community arts organization devoted to bringing people together around stories of all kinds.