18-24 Segment 1: Creating Better Teams

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Teamwork makes the dream work. Our culture loves teams, but Shane Snow, entrepreneur and author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart, argues that teams have more potential than we realize. While many think of a successful team as one with peace and harmony, Snow says that signs of disagreement and friction are better indicators of a good team. He explains more about cognitive friction and diversity and their role in making teams live up to their reputation.

Cognitive friction is the first element in Snow’s suggestion for transforming a team. When everyone agrees, the work slows down and often comes to a standstill. Having healthy dissent and discussion encourages growth and change. Snow describes cognitive friction as when “you don’t get along, but you don’t get along well.” One way to get this friction is to pursue cognitive diversity in your team. Different perspectives on the world coming from different experiences and backgrounds bring with them varied strategies for problem solving. With more diversity, a team uncovers more options, leading to healthy discussion and, ultimately, a solution.

Snow gives several examples of how teams with friction have worked well in the past. From improv comedy to the Wu-Tang Clan, entertainers know the benefits that come from disagreement in a team. Snow also brings up the examples of American presidents and their cabinets, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. By harnessing the friction in their teams, these leaders were able to make a difference and produce tangible results. But, the push and pull of this friction only works well when every member is willing to listen and respect the rest of the team. With these kinds of team, Snow says, change can happen.

For more information about teamwork and Snow’s book, see the links below.

Guest:

  • Shane Snow, entrepreneur and author of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart

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18-24 Segment 2: The Value of Our Public Libraries

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With recent governmental budget cuts, many public services are beginning to suffer. Not least among these are public libraries. While some still consider the work of libraries as outdated and unnecessary, Dr. Timothy Crist, president of the Board of Trustees for The Newark Public Library in New Jersey, and Karin Slaughter, author and founder of Save the Libraries, explain why taking funds away from libraries can result in long-term detriments to the community.

Crist argues that libraries are essential because of the work they do in preparing the community for the future. Helping people find jobs, providing Wi-Fi, encouraging family literacy, and much more is part of the everyday responsibilities of many public libraries around the country. The stuffy, quiet library of the past has transformed, in many cases, into a progressive, vibrant resource to help communities in modern society connect to and exchange information.

Save the Libraries, Slaughter’s organization, strives to provide funding for libraries in underprivileged communities. Slaughter speaks of the impact of libraries on her own life, explaining how the institution provided her with the chance to discover new worlds as child. Even now as a successful author, she uses libraries to access research and history records that are often unavailable anywhere else. She encourages individuals to reach out to their local governments and explain the need for libraries in the community, as well as donating to libraries that need it. Slaughter says that one dollar spent in the library returns five dollars to the community.  

To learn more about libraries and our guests, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Dr. Timothy Crist, president of the Board of Trustees for The Newark Public Library (Newark, NJ)
  • Karin Slaughter, author and founder of Save the Libraries

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Culture Crash 18-24: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Since the year 2000, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction has been given to what a panel of literature judges in the UK deem to be the funniest book of the year. The award is a big bottle of champagne, over 50 volumes of comedy writing, and the prestige of having a pig named after your novel. While the prize is silly, the competition is fierce. Since the award’s inception, it has been given to notable titles like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries. Some years, the competition has been incredibly stiff, like in 2003 when Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi was named as a finalist but did not win.

This year, the judges ran into a different problem. According to David Campbell, a publisher and one of the judges for the prize, none of the submissions made the panel laugh. He explained that because none of the books were deemed worthy, he and his fellow judges quote “decided to withhold the prize this year to maintain the extremely high standards of comic fiction.”

While it is seemingly bad news that no books published in a year span were deemed worthy of a comedy prize, there is some good news: The judges announced they will be rolling this year’s prize over to next year. So aspiring comedy writers, take note: You have several months to get a hilarious manuscript published to have a shot at two bottles of champagne and maybe they’ll even agree to name not one but two pigs after your novel.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-24

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Creating Better Teams

Teamwork is seen as a premium in our culture. We believe that two is better than one. But entrepreneur and author Shane Snow says that we often don’t use our groups and teams to their fullest potential. He gives us the science behind why, and how we can improve our communities.

The Value of Our Public Libraries

Public libraries have existed for generations and have long been one of our most cherished community services. But with budget cuts has come a pinch on library staff and technology centers. Our guests discuss the value libraries still bring and why we should support these institutions of our citizenry.

Culture Crash: What’s a comedy award to do when no books are funny?

The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize is given annually to what a panel of judges deem to be the funniest book of the year. But this year, the judges hit a snag: they didn’t think any of them were funny.

18-23 Segment 1: Farming in Cities

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While farming may seem like a rural occupation, urban gardens are starting to infiltrate major cities around the world. Michael Ableman, author of the book Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier, is the co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, British Columbia. And, Deirdre Bradley-Turner is the director of Community Service and Service Learning at Emmanuel College in Boston, which is part of the Mission and Ministry Office at the college. These two guests explain the impact that urban farming can have on a community.

An urban garden, Ableman says, not only provides a city with the chance to grow part of its own produce, but also, it feeds the souls of the people who work the plots. At Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, these people are usually those dealing with long-term addictions, mental illnesses, or living in poverty. By training and employing them, the urban farms give them a chance to do something meaningful in a community. This has the ability to transforms lives, as they discover the untapped creativity and heart of people who often have society prejudiced against them.

Farming in a city often requires some innovation and accommodation. Ableman explains the smart farming that they have developed, using a system of 8,000 movable growing boxes to produce up to 50 different crops for the city’s restaurants and farmer’s markets.

In Boston, Bradley-Turner explains how three programs at Emmanuel College came together to produce an urban garden, with a focus on educating the community and students about food justice and security. She says that food justice is more than just feeding people who don’t have easy access to food. It’s also about teaching them about nutrition and where their food comes from. The food produced on their farm is distributed to the city’s shelters and to the students who live on the campus.

For more information about these two projects and urban farms, visit the links below.

Guests:

  • Michael Ableman, co-founder and director of Sole Food Street Farms in Vancouver, British Columbia, and author of the book Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier
  • Deirdre Bradley-Turner, director of Community Service and Service Learning at Emmanuel College, Boston, which is part of the Mission and Ministry Office at the college

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18-23 Segment 2: Weather: Past and Future

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While weather is often a day-to-day occurrence for many of us, the history of the earth’s climate and humanity’s relationship to it actually creates a fascinating story. Andrew Revkin, weather expert and historian, summarizes 100 key moments of this chronology in his book Weather: An Illustrated History From Cloud Atlases to Climate Change.

The book gives short introductions to big scientific concepts, starting with the distinction between weather and climate. Revkin quotes, climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get. Going back all the way to the beginning of the earth’s atmosphere 4.6 billion years ago, Revkin tracks the changes in climate since then and several of the atmosphere’s reboots over the years, covering periods of ice, heat, and everything in between.

He also focuses on the way humanity has affected the climate in recent years. For the first time in history, climate will be what we make of it, and we’re the first species to be aware of our impact. He also explains the history of the first weather forecasts and how the innovation in technology, such as the telegraph, made it possible.

For more information or to get your own copy of Revkin’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Andrew Revkin, weather expert and historian, author of the bookWeather: An Illustrated History From Cloud Atlases to Climate Change

Links for more information:

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Culture Crash 18-23: 4 Books to Read This Summer

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Summer is finally here, and if you’re like me, that means it’s time to get to business on that reading list. I’ve always found that my favorite entertainment source in the summer is to go read a book in the great outdoors.

Of course, picking the right book can be a challenge, because the last thing any of us want is to be bored by a book. Here are four books I’ve read recently that you may want to seek out this summer.

First up, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Crouch is most famous for his Wayward Pines series, but don’t sleep on his 2016 scifi thriller Dark Matter. The book tells the story of a man who is abducted and wakes up in another reality. Using some fascinating science fiction, the book is a non-stop page turner perfect for fans of Black Mirror.

Another science fiction read is Elan Mastai’s romp All Our Wrong Todays. The book is similar to Dark Matter in that it deals with alternate realities, but Mastai’s book tells the story of a man from a different world who stumbles into our reality…and finds it to be underwhelming. The book is less a thriller a more of a comedy.

If science fiction isn’t your thing, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips tells a heart-pounding story set in a reality all too real. The book centers on a mother and her young child as their afternoon at the zoo becomes a nightmare after they hear gunshots ring out. The reader is swept along as the two of them try to run, hide, and survive. Set all in one day, Fierce Kingdom’s 290 pages can even be read in one sitting.

And finally, if you are interested in history, you may want to check out The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore. The book tells a dramatized version of true story with national significance: the race to illuminate America between Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and the rouge Nikola Tesla. The book paints a wonderful picture of days since past and may just ignite a passion in you to get to the bottom of who really deserves the credit for the incandescent lightbulb.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai, Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips, and The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore are all available now. For links to more information about all three, visit Viewpoints Online dot net… and when you finish them, feel free to let us know your thoughts on Twitter at Viewpoints Radio.

I’m Evan Rook.