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September 28, 2020
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Thinking of Africa From Far Away

For the past three months, Steve and I have been working remotely from a small house on a dirt road, perched halfway up a very steep hill in Central Vermont. On one of the last warm afternoons of the year, we sat outdoors with two well-traveled neighbors – Elise and Justin, and their newborn daughter Isabelle. Elise is a conflict management specialist; Justin has a fair trade coffee importing business. When COVID broke out, she was working in Ghana, while he was scouting coffee growers in Ethiopia. They made it back to the US just before the borders closed.

A year and a half ago, Steve and I were also in Ethiopia, recording interviews for this week's show. Now the four of us sat in the fading light and wondered how and when any of us would be able to travel again.

How strange and ironic that this global pandemic – one of the first genuinely planet-wide experiences in history – has also isolated us from each other. Like Elise and Justin, all of us at TTBOOK believe in seeing the world through the lens of different cultures. For Elise, it's about helping to solve conflicts; for Justin, it's about bringing small farmers and customers together to help the planet; for TTBOOK, it's about cultivating a wider range of ideas about possible futures. Now the world is on lockdown and travel is impossible – and yet for once, we can truly say that we're all in this together. Will we remember that when things reopen? It would be a nice birthday gift for Isabelle and all the other babies who first opened their eyes in this pandemic year.


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'People As Infrastructure'

Lending a helping hand.
Historian Emily Calacci says the massive migration into African cities isn't following the Western model of urban development. Instead of an infrastructure of roads, railways and electric grids, many African cities rely on "people as infrastructure."
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Decoding Global Capitalism on One African Street

A moment on the street in Addis Ababa.
Ghanaian post-colonial theorist Ato Quayson thinks a lot about globalization, diaspora and transnationalism. Because he’s a literary scholar, he decided to "read" a single street — Oxford Street in Accra — as a study of contemporary urban Africa.
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The Historical Lessons Embedded in Alchemical Recipes

alchemical recipes
Pamela Smith's science history students spend a semester taking medieval alchemical recipes and re-creating them in a lab.
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10/6 @ National Writers Series: Kate Walbert, 'She Was Like That'

Kate Walbert, "She Was Like That"

From Kate Walbert, the highly acclaimed National Book Award nominee, comes "She Was Like That," a dazzling, career-spanning collection of new and selected stories. Shannon will interview Walbert as part of the virtual fall season of the National Writers Series.

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10/17 @ Wisconsin Book Festival: Jennifer Palmieri, 'She Proclaims'

"She Proclaims" by Jennifer Palmieri

Take action and shatter the glass ceiling with this empowering and optimistic feminist guide from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of "Dear Madam President." Jennifer Palmieri will appear live on Crowdcast for her new book, "She Proclaims" in conversation with Shannon Henry Kleiber from Wisconsin Public Radio.

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10/17 @ Wisconsin Book Festival: Paola Ramos, 'Finding Latinx'

"Finding Latinx" by Paola Ramos

Journalist Paola Ramos will appear live on Crowdcast to discuss her new book, "Finding Latinx," in conversation with Angelo Bautista of To The Best of Our Knowledge.

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