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A Year of Hard Choices

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A Year of Hard Choices
North Country people talk about the effects of the economic crisis on ordinary lives. Audio series


From the Patchwork Nation Collaboration



Hard Times All Over
Jul 21, 2010 — The Obama administration has pledged to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015. Millions of kids cannot get enough to eat at home, and that number is going up, not down. NPR's Pam Fessler and Share our Strength founder Bill Shore talk about childhood hunger and the tug of war between nutrition and frugality.
Jul 20, 2010 — The Williamsons of Carlisle, Pa., live well below the poverty line. And in the family's struggle to obtain enough food, nutrition sometimes takes a back seat to necessity. Hunger in America is complicated. It's not just getting enough food, but getting the right food — and making the right choices.
Jul 19, 2010 — President Obama has pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015. But the number of hungry children in America has been rising: In 2008, almost 17 million children lived in households where getting enough food was a challenge. The Williamson family of five in Carlisle, Pa., who make $18,000 a year, highlight this struggle.
May 12, 2010 — This morning The Walmart Foundation announced a plan to donate $2 billion over the next five years in cash and food to food banks around the United States. The move marks an expansion of Walmart's existing partnerships with the organization Feeding America. Guest host Allison Keyes speaks with NPR poverty and philanthropy correspondent Pam Fessler about the donation.
Jan 23, 2010 — Haiti's government says it is ending the search and rescue phase for survivors, following last week's magnitude-7 earthquake. But rescue crews won't be kept from continuing their work. Meanwhile, Haitians are trying to flee their destroyed capital by the tens of thousands, with living conditions in Port-au-Prince now primitive at best. NPR's Jason Beaubien speaks to guest host Audie Cornish from the Caribbean island's docks.

Dairy farmers hang on in lean times

Two year ago, the North Country was one of the most profitable regions in the country to milk cows. A new report in Farm Futures magazine ranks Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties in the top 20% of places to farm in 2007. Times have changed. The price farmers are paid for their milk has tumbled to half what it was last year. Like many people struggling in this economy, the boom-to-bust has put enormous stress on the region's dairy farmers. But few farms are selling out, says Molly Ames. She's a farm business management educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. She told David Sommerstein it's not a sellers' market, so farmers are doing what they can to hang on.  Go to full article

For one non-profit exec, a year of hard (and scary) choices

Non-profits make up one of the biggest chunks of the North Country economy, providing jobs and services to thousands of people. But NGOs have been slammed by the deepening recession, as foundations and governments closed the tap on grants and other funding. Today as part of our Year of Hard Choices series, Brian Mann talks with Michael Washburn. Washburn has led the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks for the last year. But he's engineered a merger of the RCPA with another green group and plans to leave the organization by the end of the summer.  Go to full article

Hard Choices: As lay-offs mount, government jobs could be next

The North Country relies on government jobs, from state prisons to local schools, for much of its vitality. In many towns, those public-sector workers and their paychecks anchor the entire economy. But state tax revenues are plummeting. Despite the Federal stimulus, many state and local agencies are already laying off workers or implementing hiring freezes. As part of our series A Year of Hard Choices, Brian Mann checked in with the region's lawmakers in Albany. They say the pressures on the region's economy are building fast.  Go to full article
Keith Peterson, Massena, behind the wheel of his rig.

Year of Hard Choices: Driving a Semi, Empty

If you want to put your finger on the pulse of the economy, talk to a trucker. Tomorrow's products are hauled in today's 18-wheelers. And many are nearly empty. In our...  Go to full article

Hard Choices: foundation focuses on "basic needs"

Our "A Year of Hard Choices" series continue today. Over the next several months, we'll track the effects of the recession though people and organizations in this region, and...  Go to full article

Planning giving in rural communities

Martha Foley talks with Jeff Yost, president and CEO of the Nebraska Community Foundation. He's in Canton today to speak to St. Lawrence County community leaders as keynote...  Go to full article
Ken and Katrina Hebb, owners of the Blackbird Cafe

A Year of Hard Choices: Bucking the trend, a business built to last

On Monday, SUNY Potsdam economics professor Greg Gardner described a theory of development that he believes may be a good fit for the North Country in today's economy. ...  Go to full article

A Year of Hard Choices: Keeping a small business going in the Adirondacks

Mark Bergman is a realtor with his own agency in North Creek. As part of our series A Year of Hard Choices, he gives us a perspective on the real estate industry and being...  Go to full article
Sandy Maine hopes to break into mass market retail with "Bug Off."

A Year of Hard Choices: SunFeather Soap - tough times, hope for the future

In our Year of Hard Choices series today, we go to a mainstay of the North Country's homegrown business community. You find the SunFeather Soap Company in a tidy, low...  Go to full article

A Year of Hard Choices: Graduating into a receding industry

It's hard for anyone to find a job in today's economy. Recent college graduates with little real-world experience are finding it especially tough. And then there's people...  Go to full article

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