Growing Up Without AIDS

What I remember most about AIDS growing up is the silence. In Memphis, where more than one friend actually went to ex-gay camp, I don’t remember hearing much about the disease that has now killed over 30 million people. To be fair, I also don’t remember any hateful statements about how AIDS cures homosexuality. No, … Continue reading

The Normal Heart and Larry Kramer’s Letter

As part of my post today, I’d like to direct you over to We Love DC for my review of The Normal Heart – currently running at Arena Stage here in DC. The director and two leading actors helped this show – an intense drama about the first months and years of the AIDS epidemic … Continue reading

A Zagat for Bleeding Hearts

Next time your waiter brings you that side of fries, how do you know she hasn’t coughed a nasty stomach virus onto it? Who can a busboy talk to about having his wages stolen from him? When a line cook leaves work, does he have a place to call home? Earlier this month, Restaurant Opportunities … Continue reading

We Need Cleaner Air and Cleaner Hearts

Last week NPR featured a series on poisoned places exposing the ways polluted air continues to harm residents all over the US. When I heard this report on All Things Considered, I recognized the place immediately: thick fog, benzene in the air, burning eyes and throats, obscure cancers. Perhaps this was LaBelle, PA – the … Continue reading

Adam and End-of-Life Care for the Homeless

Our Friend Adam Last week I wrote about my husband’s friend “Adam” in reference to the dangers of being homeless during the hottest parts of summer. Adam had disappeared from where Michael normally spends time with him, but now he’s back. Sadly, he is not well. He was in the hospital because of a minor … Continue reading

Thank Mom for Home

I got into forced migration because of my mother. Her commitment (obsession, almost, along with my dad) to giving me a stable home growing up caused me to feel deeply for people who do not have homes and are forced to wander. A lot of people I’ve met who work with refugees and trafficking victims … Continue reading

Death and Displacement in America: the EPA Decision

Paw prints from a cat on a LaBelle, PA windowsill. Tests revealed the dust is 100% coal ash. When Yma Smith first started noticing the discoloration on her home, the damage on her roof, and the dust collecting on her shutters, she had no idea it was coal ash. But many of the coal miners … Continue reading

What’s Poisoning Greene Township?

Barb Reed moved to Greene Township as a teenager in 1975. When she and her husband decided to settle there, they cut their own driveway and built the entire house together, starting with the basement. She was only seventeen years old. “We love where we’re at. We’re in the middle of almost 8 acres. We … Continue reading

Stop Killing LaBelle – Reflections on a Hurting Town

I had trouble finding the town of LaBelle because it is, as mentioned in last week’s article, tiny. But once I did find it and got out of the car, I broke one of the rules I’d already been warned about: I forgot to put on my sunglasses. Within an hour or two my eyes … Continue reading

What’s Killing LaBelle, PA?

  by Joanna Castle Miller When you drive into LaBelle, PA, you might miss it for the view. The steep streets wind around trees turned, this time of year, into bold yellows and oranges. Houses line the Monongahela River on small lots left over from the peak of the town’s coal mining days. A rustic … Continue reading

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