Perspectives

Did you miss an essay from your favorite "Perspectives" writer? Want to hear it again? Scroll down to find a complete archive of our "Perspectives" essays. You'll find the most recent at the top.

To find out more about each writer, click on his or her name at the bottom of each entry.

If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, compose a piece that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 230 to 250 words, as counted by Microsoft Word -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu. Be sure to put "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Northern Public Radio invites you to comment on or respond to any Perspective in the comments section at the bottom of each article, in keeping with our Discussion Policy.

Getting Grounded Through A Cardinal Connection

Aug 30, 2018

 

Driving home from Florida in mid-August we pulled over for gas in Normal, IL. As I pulled up to the gas station I noticed a gentlemen watering flowers in planters by each of the pumps. I stepped out of my truck, stretched, and proceeded to fill my tank.  

 

Enjoying The Fruits Of The Season

Aug 29, 2018

Farm-to-table eating emerged as a trend years ago and remains popular today. It involves locally grown items that are sold to area restaurants or directly to consumers. 

The trend is a bit amusing to me, because I’ve been eating locally grown foods most of my life, and I’m now 56. 

 

Writing Spiders

Aug 28, 2018

 

You know how, when you see a thing you haven’t seen for a long time, suddenly you see it everywhere?  

  

It's 1984 Again

Aug 27, 2018

 

My brother and I had a conversation a few weeks ago that was a telling one. He told me he had started rereading George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, and stopped. It was simply too depressing, because too much of it rang too true in 2018. For reference’s sake, Orwell wrote this novel in response to the state terror that was Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. 

STEM Needs Some LEGS

Aug 24, 2018

For well over a decade now, our education systems have been putting increased emphasis on developing the STEM curriculum. And there has been good reasons for this. Many of the celebrated innovations of the last 50 years are a result of work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — the Apollo moon landing, the personal computer, the Internet, the smartphone.  

Trying To Save Summer Through Procrastination

Aug 23, 2018

 

 

Step Up, Future Leaders!

Aug 22, 2018

In today's world, the ongoing discord in “grown-up” national politics is becoming more pronounced, with an ever-shrinking middle ground and fewer common goals. A fresh point of view can alter the playing field and provide positive change. This is a call to action for all young people to get involved in any capacity.

Tapping The Money To Revitalize Downtown

Aug 21, 2018

 

Small, rural downtowns can grow when a community’s under-served population becomes the focus. Targeting a specific sector of the population is how Downtown Dixon is successfully competing with the big box retailers in the community. 
 

What's Urgent Vs. What's Important

Aug 20, 2018

Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante

Sometimes another language says it best. In Spanish, there is a saying that has no exact equivalent in English: Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante. A possible translation would be "The urgent things leave no time for the important things". How often have I thought that as I go through my daily to-do list?

A Knife Fight In The Band Hall

Aug 17, 2018

When I was in high school I got busted three times: once for having a knife fight in the band hall, once for throwing spitballs at my deadliest enemy Jimmy Green, and once for laughing out loud at a classmate in plane geometry who couldn’t quite grasp a theorem. Each time my Deportment grade was dropped to a D. My parents were frantic and ashamed. The knife fight in the band hall was with rubber knives, but knife fights in the band hall were strictly forbidden even if they only involved butter knives

Little Girl, Big Heart, Bigger Results

Aug 16, 2018

 

A Lincoln Elementary School student recently celebrated her eighth birthday with a party. Addie asked her guests to bring a donation for Barb Food Mart instead of buying gifts for her. The result was $50 for the DeKalb food pantry. What an amazing kid! 

 

Picnic Pleasures

Aug 15, 2018

 

Ants. Mosquitoes. Flies. Oh, My!

 

But other than that, what’s not to like about a picnic? 

Summer Book Report

Aug 14, 2018

As an educator, I love summer reading – the chance to explore different literature. This summer, I read John Krakauer’s Into the Wild, my son’s summer read, and pondered the term adventure. This book chronicles Christopher McCandless’s journey of deserting conventional life to see how wild he could become.  McCandless said, “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure.”  No matter where I went this summer, I connected my activities to this thought. I considered, how do I live into adventure?

The Haves And The Have-Nots

Aug 13, 2018

 

“There are the haves and the have-nots.”

“The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”

These are a few of the sayings I heard from my parents growing up in a small rural farming community. Expressions my working class parents who never finished grade school used to help themselves understand and accept their positions.

 

Willful Ignorance In The Information Age

Aug 10, 2018

 

Opportunities vary, but never has so much information been accessible to so many. Still, otherwise hardworking adults shrink from seeking treasures of knowledge within their grasp. “Just tell me what I need to know for my job,” they say. Natural curiosity burns from birth, but do we extinguish it? 

Why Do We Love Hashtags?

Aug 9, 2018

 

Hash-tagging began eleven years ago when Chris Messina, a SanFran techie and Google developer, tried to find a way to bring focus to topics and connect like-minded individuals through social media. Though he received some initial pushback from friends, his idea caught on -- like “#Wildfire,” right? 

Why Conventional Summer is So Awesome

Aug 8, 2018

 

I was talking the other day with one of my teachers, who told me that she wished school were year round. That way, she explained, students would remember more and the beginning to the year would go a lot smoother, without students having to relearn everything they forgot over the summer. 

The Other Side Of The Blade

Aug 7, 2018

 

Aren’t wind turbines graceful, like gymnasts doing cartwheels? Don’t they make environmental sense, better than smoke stacks burning fossil fuels?  

 

Gerrymandering Ourselves

Aug 6, 2018

Recently the Supreme Court reviewed without rejecting the partisan practice of redistricting -- "Gerrymandering." Critics charged the Court with ignoring a national outrage. This criticism is both dangerous and misguided. 

Then Who Are The Good Guys?

Aug 3, 2018

Shouting in a storm is a waste of time. So much anger. So much hate. I usually don’t want to be part of that noise. But now I need to scream.

Because there’s blood on the newsroom floor.

I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can feel the room aching from the pain. Because this time it’s real. And I’ve been in the room.

I say this time because threats often become a grenade of dark humor that newsrooms kick around between deadlines and headlines. We joke about craziness in the world. Gallows humor. But the mission is always serious. 

Alla Famiglia, Sometimes

Aug 2, 2018

 

I have just returned from the annual family reunion. Gathered from eight states, we played, laughed, told family stories to the youngest members of our tribe and yet something…. 

 

Your Home For Civil Discourse

Aug 1, 2018
Dreibelbis + Fairweather Photography

 

The Summer Sport Of Unlearning Helplessness

Jul 31, 2018

I’m taking solace on my front porch these long summer days. Basking in the semi-outdoors as I view the parade of neighbors led by their canine friends.

The problem though is most of my porch time is consumed by reading the New York Times – usually while listening to NPR (on WNIJ of course).

Digesting the news, I go from feeling aghast, irate, fed up and fearful into a numbing sense of helplessness. And then I get mad all over again when I realize I may be falling prey to “learned helplessness.”

Lessons From Little League

Jul 30, 2018
Carl Nelson / WNIJ

 

All Are Welcome

Jul 27, 2018

 

The dictionary definition of "ordain" is precise: "To invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority." In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that tradition continues to this day. 

 

A Warning From The Past Hits Home Today

Jul 26, 2018

In 1930, Olaf Stapledon wrote Last and First Men, a science fiction classic that is a history of Humanity’s future that takes place over billions of years. 

Written nearly 90 years ago, Stapledon closely imagines our present day reality:

 

Since 1949, America has dedicated one month per year to recognizing mental health, and presidential proclamations about it mostly talk about the same things: 

 

Vampire Fairies Of The North

Jul 24, 2018

My wife Breja and I were walking our black dog Shady down a gravel road near Low Lake, north of Ely, Minnesota. Deer flies swarmed our heads in their hundreds, and mosquitoes and black flies battled for any remaining bare flesh.

I wonder what I’ll write about for my next perspective, I told Breja.

How about mosquitoes? she said.

Mosquitoes? I said. I was thinking of writing about a bog. Something pretty. Lady slippers.

Being Quietly Loud In Today's Culture Battles

Jul 23, 2018

A few weeks ago in a local movie theater, my wife and I took in the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, about a true American hero: Fred Rogers. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend that you do. But, I’ll warn you now, it is shattering in all the right ways.

There's A Lot To Learn From Old-School AI

Jul 20, 2018

Each day it seems we hear news of some remarkable innovation in artificial intelligence. Whether it be something mundane, like a better recommendation algorithm at Netflix or Amazon, or something dramatic, like Uber and Google’s self-driving vehicles that promise (or threaten) to replace human drivers.

But instead of looking forward and worrying about some science fiction future, we might learn a thing or two by looking backwards to our past. Whether we know it or not, we have been involved with a kind of artificial intelligence for quite some time…for well over 500 years.

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