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Mary Baker Eddy founded The Christian Science Monitor in 1908 as a public service, establishing a style of journalism that is solution-oriented. Public perception of the press often tends towards the cynical, and yet the media can operate as a powerful force for good, spurring and guiding positive social change. In this panel discussion, two young women, who have initiated public service organizations, described their ventures and how the reach of the media has helped advance their respective missions in providing opportunity and support for disadvantaged populations. Both of their stories reveal how the inspiration and actions of an individual can reshape our world, and how the press can play a pivotal role in this process.
Watch this program online:
As a result of a story that she contributed to The Christian Science Monitor in 2005, Xanthe Ackerman founded the nonprofit organization, Advancing Girls' Education in Africa or AGE. Her charge was to write about what it was like to live on $1.00 per day in rural Malawi, a level of income that the United Nations calls “extreme poverty,” which is prevalent in that region of Africa and the norm for 1.2 billion persons worldwide according to 2005 statistics. Readers of the piece responded with a desire to make a real difference for the community that Ackerman was investigating. She channeled their interest, money, and care into creating AGE, which now sponsors about twenty school-age scholars, one of whom is now attending an elite American prep school. At the same time, actions, such as Ackerman’s, can spark debate as to what are the appropriate boundaries within the realm of journalism between reporting on conditions and direct involvement in providing solutions to them.
Corinne Almquist has been the subject of a Monitor series on “People Making a Difference,” which is dedicated to unheralded philanthropists who are neither celebrities nor wealthy but who through their vision, inventiveness, and drive are making a profound impact on our world for the better. Almquist, a recent graduate of Middlebury College, was inspired to revive the ancient practice of gleaning to provide for the hungry. The history of gleaning goes back at least as far as the Bible’s Old Testament, and involves harvesting leftover crops for the poor. Last fall, her gleaning network in Addison County, Vermont, provided nine thousand pounds of fresh produce to needy families.
This program relates in part to a new exhibit at the Library, entitled “Mary Baker Eddy: A Life of Service,” which opened on April 6th. David Scott, international editor of The Christian Science Monitor, rounded out the panel, commenting on how his news organization has interconnected with Ackerman’s and Almquist’s projects and on his news organization’s vision, as articulated by its former editor, Richard Bergenheim, “to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us.” Library Programs Manager Jonathon Eder moderated.
Admission was be $8 for the general public, $5 for Friends of the Library.