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Monday, July 27, 2015

CityScience--Turning the City into a Laboratory

July 27, 2015
Episode 5
by Bill Quinn

Want to create civic pride through interactive science?  Need ideas and materials for your science classes?  These are two of the many questions this week's ambitious and unique organization wants to help you answer--the Brooklyn-based  CityScience (one word).  I had a chance to visit the office and speak with Thor Snilsberg, the personable and enthusiastic Director who has helmed the organization through it's very successful first five years and is ready to continue innovating New York City's science education.  In this episode we talk about the ways CityScience will help science teachers as well as all the different ways volunteers can get involved.  If you teach science in New York City definitely listen and check out the links below to learn more.

Download episode here.

UPDATE (12/1/15):  Be sure to click here to check out the extra questions and stories that got cut from this episode.

Check out everything CityScience has to offer by visiting their web site.

And they have a Facebook page here.

Thor mentioned the web site "Catch a Fire" which you can find here.

My thanks to Thor and everyone at CityScience for their time.  And how could I forget NOFX, thanks for the song!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Changes since Rana Plaza? Nazma Akter Part 3

July 22, 2015
NGO Report 1 Part 3
by Bill Quinn

I was so honored to speak with human rights leader Nazma Akter I broke our interview into three with this being that third and final piece.  For this part we spoke  briefly about what has happened in Bangladesh since the Rana Plaza factory collapse that claimed well over a thousand lives.  Before this interview I had always seen the improvement of factory conditions as the focus of human and labor rights in Bangladesh and other countries with a history of sweatshops.  But talking with Nazma encouraged me to think of improving the workers' lives beyond the factory.  Listen to hear Nazma make the argument that even safe and fair factories will not improve living conditions.

Download this episode here.

Listen to part one and part two for more of my discussion with Nazma.

Contact the Awaj Foundation with this email address.

Visit the Awaj Foundation's web site here.

I referred to a couple of articles from The Guardian about few corporations acknowledging problems in the supply chain as well as The Gap's reaction to allegations of sweatshop conditions.

And this concludes my three-part interview with Nazma.  My thanks to her for her time and for  earnestly answering every question I had. I look forward to catching up with her again as they continue to improve the lives of millions in Bangladesh.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nazma Akter and the Awaj Foundation--Helping Hundreds of Thousands of Bangladeshi Workers

July 15, 2015
by Bill Quinn

photo courtesy of GIZ
In part two of my interview with Human Rights advocate Nazma Akter we hear more about the work she and others at the Awaj Foundation are doing to change the lives of hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people in Bangladesh.  We hear how the foundation is not just trying to improve conditions in factories but holistically trying to improve the lives of those factory workers.  From free healthcare to legal support to safety training, the Awaj Foundation is a major force for change throughout the country.  We hear about the successes, challenges and the future for Nazma and the Awaj Foundation in this part of my interview.

Download this episode here.

Be sure to listen to part 1 to learn more about Nazma’s life as a child worker and transition into the labor movement.

Visit the Awaj Foundation’s web site to learn more about the ways they are transforming Bangladesh.

Check out more highlights of the Awaj Foundation’s work.

If you would like to get in contact with Nazma and the Awaj Foundation, contact them here.

Learn more about Nazma and her award here.

Thank you again to Nazma Akter and the Awaj Foundation for their time.  And thank you to Blessings in Brooklyn, NY who let me sit for hours putting all this together and doing a whole bunch of other things.  If you're in looking for a great neighborhood coffee shop with excellent service you could do a lot worse.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Nazma Akter and the Awaj Foundation--From Child Worker to Powerful Activist

July 13, 2015
NGO Report Episode 1, Part 1
by Bill Quinn

Photo from Cornell's "The Worker Institute"

I was very honored to spend some time speaking with Nazma Akter about her life, work and the future for Bangladeshi garment workers--particularly women.  She has dedicated her life to improving the working and living conditions for workers in Bangladesh as a labor organizer and Executive Director of the Awaj Foundation.  In part one of my interview, Nazma talks about what it was like to start working in a factory when she was 11 years old.  We also hear about her experiences protesting for improved working conditions despite being attacked by hired factory "goons" as well as her transition into becoming a labor leader.

Download the podcast here.

Learn more about the Awaj Foundation by visiting their web site here.

Read up on Nazma Akter here.

Keep an eye out for part two and three of our conversation coming out in a few days by subscribing, and liking the podcast on these sites: Twitter  Facebook

Thank you to Nazma for spending some time speaking with me and thoughtfully answering all my questions.

(Opening song for "NGO Report" provided by Tales Of A Dead Fish (The Freak Fandango Orchestra) / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Episode 4.5--Come Out And Play!

Friday, July 10 2015
by Bill Quinn

Come Out And Play 2015 is only a week away!  I'm excited to be going and even more excited that I was able to speak with Greg Trefry, co-founder of the festival.  In episode 4 we spoke about what to expect and how to get involved.  But we also spoke a little bit about the history of the festival and some of the more memorable moments.  And here it is, my extended interview with Greg:

To download the episode click here.

To learn more about the festival visit their web site.

Check out the real world game designer discussion, "Come Out And Say" at the NYU Game Center.

Want to volunteer? Click here.

Don't want to go alone? Hitch up with my meetup group (no need to RSVP).

Thanks again to Greg for being generous with his time and to NOFX for not complaining that I've been ripping off their song from the beginning.

Oh, and I couldn't resist...

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fledgling Podcast Lands Interview With Major Bangladeshi Labor and Human Rights Advocate, Nazma Akter.

July 9, 2015
by Bill Quinn
I was so worried I actually researched and prepared for the interview.  

I'd like to keep the pretension that this is a professional operation.  But I will take a brief moment to let you know that I somehow landed a big get for the podcast here.  Early yesterday morning I spent some time interviewing one of the most important human rights advocates in Bangladesh.  You see, I have been trying to get in contact with NGOs in developing countries in the hopes of passing on their stories to Americans as part of a new project called NGO Report.  When I first contacted the Awaj Foundation I didn't quite know the size and scope of their work.  However after I scheduled an interview with Nazma Akter, the Foundation's Director, I learned that she is one of the most well-known leaders in Bangladesh and her foundation impacts millions of people.

In 2013 Nazma won the ASTRAIA Female Leader of the Year Award. Channel Four in the UK said she was leading a revolution and called her, "the powerful SGSF union leader who has risen to prominence through her defence of [the] country's female workforce."  Naturally, I was so nervous that I had to stop reading about her before I learned anything else that would ratchet up the pressure of the interview. Luckily, through the magic of audio editing, I have been eliminating much of my nervous stuttering and "ums."  And of course, Nazma was very friendly and open to answering all my questions which helped.

We spoke about her life as an exploited child factory worker, her personal story of being attacked by "goons" for protesting missed payments and the amazing organization that she helped build and lead that came out of those experiences.  I even had a chance to speak with her about the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy, the influence of corporations in Bangladesh and why she won't run for Prime Minister.  Stay tuned--next week I will be posting my interview in three parts.  

Follow the podcast on Twitter or Facebook to get notified as episodes are released.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Come Out And Play"--Maybe The Most Fun You'll Have This Summer!

July 6, 2015--Episode 4

Summer festivals regularly feature a few people performing in front of a mass of passive observers.  But Come Out And Play, hitting New York in mid-July, wants festival goers at the center of the games they have to offer.  In this episode I talk with co-founder and organizer Greg Trefry who walks me through this yearly celebration that turns the city streets and parks into playing fields, game boards and video screens.  Games like "Spaghetti Stand-Off," video games like "Churp Club" and sports like "Circle Rules Football" will be taking over DUMBO and Governor's Island on July 17th and 18th as part of this free event.  The festival will kickoff on July 16 at NYU's Game Center with designers talking about their games, giving attendees an inside view of the creative process.

Download the episode here.

I have to admit, I was pretty excited to do an episode about this festival.  Games are in my DNA as anyone who knows me can attest.  But, as Greg has discovered, they are also a great way to bring together a diverse community.  Moreover, throughout its ten-year history the festival has organized several games with a social conscience.  These include games that find ways of improving a neighborhood, reclaiming public space or educating participants.  For organizations looking to advocate and educate people on social causes, you might find this event has some inspirational ideas.

To learn more about the festival visit their web site.

Check out the real world game designer discussion, "Come Out And Say" at the NYU Game Center.

Want to volunteer?  Click here.

Don't want to go alone?  Hitch up with my meetup group (no need to RSVP).

A huge thanks to Greg for taking time out of his holiday weekend to speak with me.  And as always, a tip of my hat to NOFX for the opener.