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Friday, September 30, 2005

a year for the workers

That's what it needs to be at Harvard. Thousands of Harvard employees are struggling against the Corporation for a living wage, for parity, for full time work and for benefits that will allow them to raise their children above the poverty line. This week, the campaigns to support our workers in their negotiations began in full. Student Labor Action Movement (of which I am a part) held an event on Wednesday night to begin to raise awareness and yesterday, janitors and security guards rallied for the right to a union and fair contracts. Both were well covered in the Crimson.

A little context: Harvard is notoriously anti-labor. Last year, as a part of a long standing trend, they finished outsourcing the security guards, destroying the union they had in order to lower costs from wages and benefits. They also pay most of their basic service employees around $10 an hour (about $20,000 a year), which often requires workers to work 2 or 3 or 4 jobs to have enough to raise a family. (more in expanded post)

Cambridge Common will cover labor issues all year, as it is important to know where our money goes. The way Harvard spends our money (as with divestment issues, etc.) is an expression of our collective morality and if we as students allow the people who make our lives possible to live in poverty, we are complicit in their struggles. For now, the important thing to do is read everything you can about this (hopefully the Crimson will continue to do a great job covering the issue) and talk to the people who work around you about their experience. Talk to the people who run your dining halls and guard your houses, who clean your hallways and fix your broken window. Ask them about what they experience, what they are paid, how and if they struggle. Talk to your friends and make it an issue. Make it an issue because the people we rely on to live our lives are relying on us to help them live theirs.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Don't forget about home...

One of the most amazing, saddening, and intriguing political situations in the world at this time is that of Somalia in East Africa. This is a nation where its political leaders were run out of the country by warlords and they are now scattered throughout the world. Few countries can realistically claim to be anarchic but Somalia is one.

Listen to a rapper named K'naan and learn about his experiences growing up in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu. K'naan spits lyrics like, "I'm sick, as far as lyrics I'm with/as far as gimmicks I spit/barrage and limit the shit/ they talkin, rip it I'm hip/the hop is living/I skip, the obvious women/don't get, what I'm presentin/no rims my mind is spinnin". Whoa. Also, you should watch the movie Black Hawk Down in case you've never seen it. It is excellent historical fiction about a U.S. military plane being downed in the middle of Mogadishu and attempts by the military to extract their personnel with armed Somalians swarming in from all directions. Action-packed and vivid.

recruiting, the Harvard Black community, and everything

A long, fascinating and expansive debate continues after Chimaobi's on post i-banking, economic inequalities in America and abroad, corporate culture and the Harvard (Black and general) Community. A must read.

flippity floppity

Jon Stewart goes to town on this administration's sudden realization that energy conservation is good (video links: WMP and Quicktime).

Chief Justice Roberts

In celebration of John Roberts confirmation as Chief Justice of the United States, a job he will probably hold through a half a dozen Presidents or more, I quote from the New York Review of Books:
The most intriguing question about John Roberts is what led him as a young person whose success in life was virtually assured by family wealth and academic achievement to enlist in a political campaign designed to deny opportunities for success to those who lacked his advantages.
It's a fascinating question, not simply about the morality and wisdom of his political ideology, but also about how ideology is constructed (or deconstructed) by experience. I recommend the whole piece.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

quick note to readers

Cambridge Common has the "comments" feature enabled for a reason. If I am wrong or Chimaobi's wrong, either in your opinion or factually, SAY SO. This blog is an unedited, and fast-paced (you can probably tell because I am an egregious speller), and the community of readers is important because you become a part of helping us sift through ideas and facts to construct our truth. Thank you to the over 700 of you who have read in the last three days, now join the conversations!

note: I highly recommend this thread on Black culture at Harvard and social justice at Harvard in general as a great example of how the community give and take can be amazing and thought-provoking.

and the cards came tumbling down

The conservative movement is imploding. There, I said it. I feel much better now.

The president's popularity is at or just above the lowest of his almost five years, at least partially as a result of rampant cronyism many people are suffering, the Senate Majority Leader is being investigated for insider trading that pocketed him an extra 2 million dollars, in the next few months Rovegate will come to head when the special prosecutor releases his findings, and today, Tom Delay was indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy regarding campaign finance and will step down from his leadership position in the House. Leaders of the Christian right are either comparing American judges to the KKK or calling for the assassination of foreign leaders. Whew, that was tiring: Bush, Rove, Frist, Delay, Dobson and Roberts. I could throw various things Rumsfeld and Cheney should also be in trouble for, but that would just make it obscene (because it is!). If the Democratic Party can't start kicking some ass with this as the political reality, we really need to quit and just let this be the undemocratic one-party state that the GOP wants it to be.

unreality

the world has reached an entirely new level of absurdity. AP Headline: First Lady Makes Her Reality TV Debut. The layers of unreality are really quite astounding if you think about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

did you know?

Did you know that, despite what appears to be a very apathetic and "in the system" student body, Harvard was once a hot bed of radicalism? It's true, "The Kremlin on the Charles" is not referring to John Kerry voters, but to actual communists, socialists, social democrats and radical liberals who once populated this campus. The cold war and the excesses of the late 60s and early 70s left seem to have dampened the dominance of radicals, although the community is strong and growing. In any event, check out this article from Student Underground about Harvard's radical tradition. You might be surprised.

FUN FACT: Did you know that the Independent was actually founded as a conservative counter-balance to the then radical SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) dominated Crimson?

FACT CHECK: I believe the student strike referred to in the article only lasted one week, not three.

Northern Discomfort

Today I began working once again for the Mission Hill After School Program (MHASP), one of PBHA's myriad after school programs that draws its kids almost exclusively from the Alice Taylor and Mission Main public housing developments (pro-jects) in Roxbury's Mission Hill neighborhood. Oh, how I missed the hood. I am there far too rarely. Growing up, besides a week I would spend at a Baptist camp in rural New Jersey (Lebanon, NJ to be exact) every year, I spent no time out of the hood. It was where my house, school, and church were and it was the only environment I felt comfortable in. To a large extent, this persists to this day as I have tried and tried to get used to living at Harvard and socializing with princesses and 20 year-old scholars, but I can't. Last year, the Harvard Black Men's Forum (BMF) invited former Black Panther and convicted terrorist Kazi Toure to come speak to the overwhelmingly middle-class, White suburban dwelling Black men of Harvard. Yo...big shout out to whoever put that together. He shook up the monotony of BMF Meetings and list debates in a meaningful and personally impactful way. One thing he said to me that will forever stick with me is a question that he posed: "Do you all feel more comfortable in Harvard Square or in Roxbury?" Most of the individuals in the room kept quiet but, to no one in particular, I said "Roxbury, of course." Why is this? Why after two years is Harvard still a place that I feel like I'm visiting (as oppose to actually living at and being involved in campus happenings) ? Why? Because too many people here, most angrily minorities, are disappointments to myself and society both individually and collectively. (more in expanded post)

Few things get me angrier than investment bankers. I-banking is the ultimate tool job. Undergrads slice each other's throats to get these positions and are worked to the bone for hours on end. Usually people defend their status as cogs in the wheel of capitalism and global oppression in capitalist terms, "At least they paid me well." Dummy. You're like the dog at the side of the table that is ever thankful for the sloppy, fattening scraps that your master throws to you. No matter how many zeros were at the end of your checks, you were making chump change. You know it and I know it. I say this as a self-identifying public servant who makes even less during my summer's off from school. Nevertheless, I can walk through a community of people of my race such as Mission Hill and not get robbed by my own brothers and sisters. Let me see Goldman Sachs train you on how to stay in touch with the majority of your people. Whoops, only assimilation into greater wealthy White society's taught there. Blackness revoked!

The purpose of I-banking is to increase the ready capital of one's clients and therefore perpetuate the unequal and harmful distribution of wealth currently in existence in the U.S. The overwhelming wealth of America ($12 trillion GDP...over 7.5 times that of the combined GDP of the 54 countries that make up Africa) is sickening at times. Most people at Harvard do not care about these facts because they have little or no personal experience with poverty, racism, or related issues. They have never attended a majority Black public school where you enter with nearly 1,000 peers though graduate with only 350. They have never had to restrain their illiterate grandmother from going outside for a walk around the neighborhood due to excessive violence there. They have never had to wait in large rooms with others on public assistance in the basement of their city hall to receive medical care. Nope. Never.

Whether Blacks in Nigeria or Blacks in Newtowne Courts (one of Cambridge's public housing developments), many are dumbfounded when they hear that Black students attend Harvard University. The combined astonishment, excitement, and inspiration that they feel is remarkable. Just today one of the kids I work with in the aforementioned after school program told me that she wanted to go to Harvard. That's wassup. So many Blacks the world over are depending on individuals such as myself who are Black, from humble beginnings and "down" to show them the way to equality and freedom that it's staggering. Sadly, many of these Blacks the world over falsely feel that all Blacks at Harvard are "down". If they only knew that most Blacks at Harvard are not only complacent in their social and economic positions gained while at (or through) Harvard or innately through parents before coming to this University but many actively seek to enter jobs that will serve to further oppress them, they would cry rivers. Aren't we supposed to be that "Talented Tenth" that Du Bois talked about over a century ago in The Souls of Black Folk? Aren't we supposed to bind with our brothers and sisters at Yale, Princeton, Stanford and the like along with those at Howard, Morehouse, and Hampton and attend to the immense task of the upliftment of our roughly one billion person race? Yeah, but who wants to do this when you can work 80 hours a week for Lehman Brothers (and never make partner), live in Brooklyn Heights (and never have a BBQ), and send your kids to Collegiate (and never place them in an environment where they're remotely accepted)?

Getting back to my original point--my discomfort at Harvard--this discomfort lies in my struggle to find a community I feel fully at home in. The Blacks at Harvard are not like the Blacks that I grew up with in Trenton. These two groups of people have no basis for a present day relationship. Their relationship would be one based on history only ("we've both been categorized as Black"..."we're both derived from Southern slave families"...etc.). At the same time, I'm clearly not comfortable in the greater community at Harvard that is White, grew up with two parents, and from "oh, just twenty minutes outside" some city. For these reasons, I find myself regressing more and more into the social justice community. This community is a rainbow coalition of sorts that draws its members from many different populations on campus, even some previously ridiculed or highlighted in this very blog (paragraph at that). These individuals and I get down on the same issues--the liberation of oppressed groups. Whether this oppressed group be women, homosexuals, the poor, Blacks (oh yeah), or whoever else this is what they ride for. That's why I'm a feminist. That's why you may catch me at a BGLTSA meeting sometime before I graduate (shout out to Mischa). That's why you can catch me in the hood in Mission Hill on a regular chilling with people that, not jokingly, have to work to be considered poor.

I recognize my membership and role in a social and economic group that I MUST work to better. If only more people here did instead of, when soliciting recruiters, bringing I-bankers; financial consultants; and violent, imperialist government-supporting U.S. Department of Defense reps to come and make their PR ratings go up then Harvard and the world would be a much better place for it. I bet you they'll send the Black guy, once again into a social situation at a different institution that he is uncomfortable in. Karma...gotta love it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

WELCOME!

If you are here for the first time, WELCOME!

I encourage you to check out my and Chimaobi's "To Do" lists that highlight a few of the types of conversations we hope to start and comment on. Feel free to leave comments and thoughts and read the explanation of the advertising campaign below.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

end the monopoly.

Welcome to Cambridge Common. In the ads that Chip and I (as well as others hopefully) have sent out, we call for an end to the monopoly on student opinion held by the Crimson. Let me explain.

The Crimson controls student opinion. If the news board doesn't cover something, it's as if it didn't happen (did you know there were over a hundred people in the yard last weekend for a rally for worker's rights?). When the Ed Board makes a decision, about Larry Summers, about the undergraduate council, about whether or not Senior Gift Plus was a worthy pursuit, it defines the campus debate. Why? Because there is no alternative media. The Independent, which is supposed to be our weekly dose of other perspectives, is notoriously under read. The Salient is, well, the conservative paper and so far as I can tell, the Perspective no longer exists. So, when the Crimson makes a decision- on whether or not to run a story or whether or not to endorse a cause- they're the only game in town.(more in expanded post)

Now, to be clear, Cambridge Common has no delusion that it will ever be able to hold the audience that the Crimson has. It's not only impossible, but it is in some ways a bad idea. Having a major newspaper with formal systems of comps and interviews and money and all that jazz is good. What's bad is when half a dozen people decide what the rest of us know and think. What Cambridge Common hopes to do is bug the crap out of them and encourages other people to do the same. A few hundred people read this site last spring before it had any major ambitions. If five hundred read it now, things will start to change: people will start blogs of their own, people will read the Crimson differently, the Crimson will occasionally have to suffer the embarrassment of being incredibly wrong, dishonest and/or stupid. That's why media monopolies are bad: because when the Crimson is wrong, no one is saying so.

And the Crimson is occasionally wrong, biased, dishonest and stupid. They have the dual problems of being disconnected from the politics they're trying to write about (because they rarely have time to do really intense reporting and fact-checking) as well as personally invested in the politics enough to have incredible biases and blind spots (as a result of friends, etc.). Add the fact that there is no building on campus that generates and regenerates the kind of mindless gossip that the Crimson does, and you've got yourself a problem.

For instance, did you know that more than anything, the Crimson Ed Board didn't endorse Senior Gift Plus because it didn't like Matt Mahan? Did you know that it did endorse Ian Nichols in large part because his roommate and best friend was a co-chair who held considerable sway and admitted as much explicitly? Did you know that coverage is increasingly driven by whatever the reporters find interesting because people are so busy and it's hard to motivate them to do real work? Did you know that the Crimson often misses large community events on campus (like ABHW's Celebration of Black Men last year) partially because there aren't that many black people in the building to begin with, so they didn't know it was even happening? Did you know that many staff editorials are essentially written by committee, and that often the last editor who gets their hands on it is able to bias the story in their direction, regardless of how the staff voted? Did you know that often the voting is incredibly contentious divided, but we usually only get one opinion (occassionally they run a dissent). Did you know that often times the Crimson is a major part of the story, i.e. manufacturing news/drama/controversy, but doesn’t write about themselves because they don’t have to. The list goes on, and we hope to document much of it here.

The Crimson is a fundamentally good newspaper. Some of the people I love the most in the world spend a majority of their time there and do great work. The staff of the Crimson works hard, they produce a lot of material in a short period of time, they mostly take their jobs very seriously and hold themselves to a high standard. But not always, and our community deserves to know when that is, why that is, who that is. We deserve more than one opinion and one concept of "news." So, read Cambridge Common. Start your own blog and link up. Comment here on what you think. We don't claim to be the solution, but you've got to start somewhere.

Friday, September 23, 2005

I am Kristen Dahle.

Or so says my facebook profile. Also, she has (or I have) a lot of birthdays!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Military recruitment...of 13 year-olds

Keeping in line with the blog dialogue on military recruitment, here's an article about military recruitment in my home city and state of Trenton, New Jersey. When I was in Trenton's public school system, I was contacted by military recruiters beginning at the age of 13 when recruiters from the Junior ROTC (JROTC) program at my local public high school came to talk to my middle school as part of the program where they tried to get us "oriented" to our future high school. Thankfully, I never joined but my main high school girlfriend did. Around the time when we were graduating from high school, I was looking at going to Ivies and she was looking at going to Iraq (note: I graduated from high school in the first half of 2003 when our current administration's war in Iraq had just begun). Thankfully I was able to convince her not join the military after high school but she felt as if that was her only option despite being a solid student involved in other extracurriculars. There are SO many military recruiters at my predominantly Black, lower-class high school as oppose to, say, the more affluent and White Princeton High School only 20 minutes away? I wonder why this is so. You should too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The price of HLS's principles?

400 million dollars a year. An excellent article by the Crimson about the Law School letting the Pentagon on campus (despite "don't ask, don't tell" violating it's anti-discrimination policy) so that they could keep their yearly grants from the federal government. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Education...Zambia Style

As I type this, a current head of state is speaking relatively informally to students in one of the undergraduate houses here at Harvard. Even for an institution such as Harvard where world political, medical, and financial leaders the world over seem to come and talk on a regular basis (in addition to random celebrity sightings like Val Kilmer in The Kong last week), this is not a normal thing.

As some here on campus have said, current heads of state speaking at the University is usually reserved for either Commencement or the IOP. It usually invovles ticket lotterying as well and undergraduates very rarely get the opportunity to see such an individual, let alone get placed in a position to interact with such an individual. For these reasons, what is happening right now in the Kirkland Junior Common Room (JCR) is amazing on numerous levels concerning class, race, culture, and politics. (more in expanded post)

As I sat eating dinner in Kirkland's dining hall about two hours ago the atmosphere was one ripe with both anticipation and confusion. On the anticipatory side, many in the dining hall were there to catch a quick bite to eat before attempting to huddle into Kirkland's JCR and hear from the President of Zambia. A number of people in the dining hall were middle-aged, wore nice clothing and kept their eyes firmly fixed on the door out of the dining hall facing the JCR in between bites of grilled chicken breast (that was great...compliments to the chef). However, on the confusion side, many Kirkland residents seemed taken aback by the large number of Black students and adults that seemed to be scurrying around their dining hall. I was just waiting for someone to come to me and ask if there was a Black student group meeting in here or something. Grrr...

The range of people that I saw waiting to get into the JCR to hear the President also surprised me. Everyone from African graduate school students of law or government to wealthy, White undergraduates from Andover were eager to listen to this powerful, Black man. Before the event happened, some in the Black community were nervous about turnout and feared that few people would come to see the President of a nation that not many could point to on a map come and speak. However, from the fact that the room was already overflowing with people half an hour before the event was scheduled to begin one can assume that many on campus got the word.

The range of people that I saw waiting to get into the JCR to hear the President also made me think of how rare it is for a largely White, privileged student body to hear from the leader of a country whose per capita GDP is about the price of textbooks for an undergraduate year at Harvard. What type of cross-cultural education is happening right now? Whose eyes are being opened wider? The President of Zambia's who is facing a room with a disproportionate amount of Blacks in it relative to the number of Blacks at the college? Or the White students who are seeing a Black, African male with a third-world education possibly dispense wisdom far beyond that which their White, male, Ec professor with a Ph.D from Oxford? More to come...

Monday, September 19, 2005


FROM THE CURRENT EDITION OF THE INDEPENDENT: The picture, it is important to note, is of the leaders of the Harvard College Republicans. President bottom left, VP top right and others. Harsh Indy, way harsh.  Posted by Picasa

be a witness

Nicholas Kristof published another important column today on the genocide in Darfur and the American President, Media and people's inability to care. His thesis:
It's not that he [President Bush] favors children being tossed onto bonfires or teenage girls being gang-raped and mutilated, but he can't bother himself to try very hard to stop these horrors, either.
Check out Be A Witness and educate yourself on the genocide. After you've done that, check out Darfur Action Group to find out what you can do on campus!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

congrats to the Daily Show

In honor of the Daily Show's two Emmys, a video from last week of Jon Stewart lampooning the Roberts hearings: "One thing is confirmed: Senators likey the blah blah blah."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

where's the vision?

First, a little background: Conrad Harper resigned from the Harvard Corporation because a. he believes Summers has a long pattern of disrespectful remarks toward underrepresented peoples and b. despite this the Corporation raised his pay by over 4%. Two excellent article can be read here and here.

So, the Crimson ran a staff ed on the subject last week basically commending Harper's choice to resign and encouraging the Corporation to pick another "dissenting voice." To be honest, I found the piece completely and utterly baffling, a hedging piece of analysis predicated on saying as little as possible.(more in expanded post)

What was confusing about it for me was that, while the piece did a pretty dance about the processes needed for a secret body to be healthy and reach out to the faculty etc., it said nothing about what actual OPINIONS this individual and body should have. The piece contains no critique of the actual way the Corporation works or the direction it's going. And, for a replacement it outlined this as the ideal candidate:
What the Corporation needs now is not another member who has all the same interests and areas of expertise as the others. It needs a member who can bring wholly new perspectives to old problems, while simultaneously being ready to compromise, acquiesce, and respect the judgment of the majority. He or she must not allow the University's governing body to become complacent.
Does anyone else have no idea what that means? Does this mean that someone who believes that Harvard should conquer Mars, but works well with others and respects majority opinion would fit their ideal candidate? Their point, as in many things, is entirely PROCESS-based. They don't care what happens (or what direction the Corporation steers the school), they just want to make sure that the process works. Blech.

Why not say this: we need someone on the Corporation who believes that a University has more difficult questions to ask itself than "how can we make the most money?" and "how can we keep our reputation and donor-base intact?". In other words, we need an entire Corporation that believes that producing the political, social and economic "elite" of a country and world includes more difficult questions than producing, say, shoes. We need a corporation that believes that Harvard should: 1. be fair with its neighbors, 2. produce students with values that extend beyond making money and having power, 3.treat its workers with the respect they deserve, 4.believe that a university has a leading role in addressing injustice, not just talking about its existence.

I could, and at some point will, go on. But for now can we please have a real discussion about the Corporation and University that goes beyond questions of process?

Friday, September 16, 2005

More on the TO DO List

What does it mean to be of the "right"? Who dictates these definitions on campus and in U.S. society? Who are the chief proponents of the right?

How is political, social, and economic power maintained in the U.S. and at Harvard? How does this power relate to the erection and perpetuation of institutions that are oppressive to those without political, social, and economic power? How can this power be transferred or redistributed throughout the U.S. or Harvard to achieve civil equity or "social justice"? (more in expanded post)

Who is Mike Jones? Who shot Roger Rabbit? Where is the closest Rita's Water Ice (yeah, Mid-Atlantic)? Let a brother know...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

a TO DO list

In the next week or so, readers of Cambridge Common are going to meet a few new writers (see Chimaobi's hello below) and will be therefore introduced to a new CC. If all goes well, I will no longer provide the primary material for the site, and will simply act as editor and equal contributor to three or four other writers (if you are still interested in being one of them, please see this post and email me with thoughts). However, as editor and founder I hope I can still exert some control over content, not by censoring or directing the contributors, but by offering questions and topics that others might share their thoughts on. In the interest of transparency and community, I thought I might make a to do list of topics and issues that I hope we'll be able to discuss/comment on in this space in the future. If I miss any thing you're interested in, on campus especially, feel free to throw out ideas. (to do list in expanded post)

TO DO (Some questions)

What kind of people does Harvard produce? What kind of people does it intend to produce? Is there something wrong with the fact that something like 40% of us go straight into consulting and banking? Is that a reflection of society's values, or values taught/absorbed at Harvard?

What does it mean to be on the left today? Who are our heroes? What do we believe? How does our experience at Harvard affect our beliefs and/or how they are expressed? What is our role in making this country/world a more equal, fair place?

How do issues of class, race, gender and sexuality play out in the context of Harvard? How do they interact? How do the institutions around us (student-run or university-directed) construct how we perceive/address these issues? How can Harvard be a more comfortable/valuable place for people who are not in the position of privilege in these paradigms?

This set of questions is intended to point to my primary interest at understanding/analyzing our role as Harvard students and members of a specific community. As one can tell from reading the blog in the past, all of the contributors will also write on particular issue that interest them outside of the walls of the yard or the specific context of Harvard, whether that be national or international politics or non-political ideas/arguments. What else?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself

Wassup everybody. My name is Chimaobi Amutah and I'm the newest addition to the writing staff here at Cambridge Common. I'm a Class of 2007 African Studies and (soon, hopefully) Government concentrator living in Currier House. I'll be writing about a lot of different things from my personal experiences growing up in Trenton, New Jersey (Southside...what up!), expanding out in Cambridge and Boston, Mass., and delving into issues that effect us all whether we know/like it or not. Due to the fact that I'm BLACK (not African-American...that term is political flagellation and doesn't have any tangible present-day basis in reference to Blacks in America) and my family is Igbo hailing from Nigeria, I'll bring that international focus here as well.

Feel free to get at me if you'd like. My e-mail address is amutah@fas.harvard.edu. I check it habitually. Get ready to get the movement moving. Holler at your boy.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

thank god for comedy

Bill Maher tears W a new one. Jon Stewart smacks the administration around for their incompetence and two faced spin. Thank you Bill. Thank you Jon.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bigger and Better?

Not necessarily bigger and better, but different. As Golis has hinted at, I have indeed moved on to the world beyond Cambridge Common (the location) and Harvard. My lack of posting over the summer was, in fact, due to an intense time commitment to one of the post-college teacher placement programs known to heavily recruit on campus. Having long been concerned with education policy, and also possessed of a strong calling to teach, I decided to take the next few years and dedicate myself to the task of actually doing something rather than just participating in dining hall discussions.

I am currently teaching Government and Economics (two separate classes) in a Title I high school that is entirely on free lunch in one of the poorest communities in the country. Having been "on the job" for several weeks now, I can honestly say that I am in the right place and made the right decision in taking the road less traveled.

But what of my future here on Cambridge Common (the website)? Well, for one thing, it means that the topic of my postings will, come the beginning of the academic year at Harvard (after all, it would be nice to have an audience outside of the two dozen odd souls who daily check this site...), take on a different outlook. My intention is to use this space to periodically report from the "front lines of the classroom," as more than one pundit has called it, and give observations and thoughts about my experience. I will, from time to time, post on other issues as they strike my fancy, but my main focus will be education and teaching. Golis will be bringing in a fresh perspective on campus issues, although I of course reserve the right to chime in about campus politics.

For now, I've got to get back to grading (I have nearly 150 students spread out over five classes), but I do promise to report back soon and, hopefully, more often. Until then, I welcome your comments on what particular areas of my experience that you would like to know about. Hope that those of you preparing to return to Cambridge have had a quasi-relaxing summer.