The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

16 March 2007

Become a radio diarist

Radio Diaries is committed to helps people produce their own oral histories. They work with people to document their own lives for public radio: teenagers, seniors, prison inmates and others whose voices are rarely heard. We help people share their stories—and their lives—in their own words, creating documentaries that are powerful, surprising, intimate and timeless.

The project trains diarists to be radio reporters and gives them a tape recorder for between three months to two years. The diarists conduct interviews, keep an audio journal, and record the sounds of daily life. Most will collect over 30 hours of raw tape. The material is then edited to produce a radio documentary for the National Public Radio show “All Things Considered”.

Technical Tips for producing your own radio diary

1. Get comfortable with the equipment
Play around with the recording device (minidisc recorder, DAT machine, tape recorder) on your own until you are very familiar with all the buttons and knobs. It's important to do this before you begin; if you're relaxed with the recorder and the microphone, the people you're interviewing will be too.

2. Get organized
Always make sure you have enough minidiscs, DATs or cassettes and an extra set of batteries. Don't leave long cables hanging out, or you'll have to spend time untangling everything. Get a shoulder bag to hold everything. The more prepared you are, the more you can concentrate on the important things.

3 Do a test
Always do a test before you begin. Record a few seconds, then play it back to make sure the sound is good.

4. Label your tapes and disks
Always label everything before you start. When you're in the field it's easy to forget and tape over something you've just recorded. (It happens.) And after you're done recording, pop out the safety tabs to make sure you don't erase over anything.

5. Always wear your headphones
Recording without headphones is like a photographer taking pictures without looking through the viewfinder. Headphones help you focus on exactly what you're recording. If something sounds weird, stop and check it out.

6. Beware of the pause button
When recording, make sure the tape is rolling and that you're not in pause mode. Don't use the pause button. It's a very tricky little button it can make you think you are recording when you're not.

7. Keep the microphone close
The most important thing of all: keep the microphone close to the sound source (your mouth or the mouth of the person you're interviewing). About 5-6 inches is good, the length of your outstretched hand. If it's any farther away you will still be able to hear what people say, but the recording will lose its power and intimacy. It's also best to keep the microphone a little bit below the mouth to avoid the "popping P" sound.

8. Collect good sounds
Every time you record, collect all the specific sounds you can think of: dogs barking, doors slamming, the radio being turned on, the sound of your blender, or even your mom snoring. Be creative. You will use these sounds later when you produce the story.

9. Record everything
Long pauses are okay. Umms are okay. Saying stupid and embarrassing things is okay. Often the stuff you think is weird, worthless, or that you initially want to edit out, will end up being the best and most surprising parts of the story.

Taken from the oral history guide for young people, the “Teen Reporter Handbook”, published by Radio Diaries and available on its website.
Act now!
1. Listen to Thembi’s story. One of the most successful radio diaries is Thembi’s story. Thembi is a South African teenager. For more than a year, she kept a radio diary capturing the small details of her life that tell a larger story: her first conversation with her mother about AIDS; a visit to the township clinic to apply for life-saving drugs; facing neighbors and friends as they slowly learn her status; a moment of quiet, late-night dancing at home with her boyfriend.

2. Become a radio diarist. Get a recorder and create your own radio diary – of aspects of your life, such as going green, tackling obesity, setting up a band… or of how you are trying to change the world.

11 March 2007

Just Jerusalem: use your imagination to develop a solution for a conflict area

Just Jerusalem is a competition which aims to generate some possible solutions for the many difficult issues and hardships faced by Jerusalemites, regardless of their faith or ethnicity. It is being run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of their Jerusalem 2050 Project.

Why Jerusalem? Jerusalem holds special meaning across the world. It occupies a unique symbolic place in global politics, history, religion, and culture. Yet Jerusalem is also an arena of conflict over space, land, resources and sovereignty. It is probably the most serious and intractable area of conflict of our times. It raises questions such as… Which nation has a right to the land? How many states can claim the same territory as a capital? Can this small space ever be used in a peaceful and humane way?

Many scenarios for a solution have been proposed – a united Jerusalem as the capital of two states; a divided Jerusalem as two capitals for two states; Jerusalem as an international city; a united Jerusalem as the capital of one bi-national state; and a united Jerusalem as the capital of one state for one nation (exclusive of the other). Each solution has its champions, drawbacks and dissenters.

Jerusalem also faces resource scarcity, ecological degradation, deeply flawed urban design and geographically divided populations. Part is under occupation and those citizens face inequality, injustice and violence in their daily lives. Religiously, Jerusalem is central to the three monotheistic religions but is not equally accessible to all of them… and even then, some factions or sects claim preferential treatment over others.

For these reasons it is imperative that new and imaginative “solutions” for Jerusalem are created. And creating a vision for a future Jerusalem can be the first part of this process. And if we can find a solution to the problems of Jerusalem, we should also be able to find ways of resolving the problems of other conflict cities and regions.

What is your vision for a just, peaceful, and sustainable Jerusalem. Think about the following questions:
1. What will Jerusalem be in the future?
2. What is your Jerusalem in spatial, physical, symbolic or other terms?
3. Why is that your vision?
4. Under which political scenario do you see the future of Jerusalem:
  • as capital of two states
  • as capital of one state (which one?)
  • as an international city
  • some other status
The competition has the following tracks: the physical infrastructure; the economic infrastructure; civil society; cultural expression.

The deadline for entries is 31 December 2007.

Vision in its literal sense is the faculty of sight or ability to see. Vision can also be understood to be intelligent foresight. In this competition participants are asked to capture their more creative insights and foresights, and to think about what cold be done to make the city “a just, peaceful and sustainable city defined by universal human values”.

Peace Oil: Hilary Blume has come up with the idea for an olive oil produced by Jews, Arabs, Druze and Bedouin in Israel working together, and sold to generate profits for peace initiatives in the region. The oil is grown in the foothills of the Carmel Mountains. The olives are pressed within hours of picking. This could be the first of a range of “peace products” produced in war zones or by communities in conflict.

Mobile Peace Monument: This is Andrew Gale idea for creating peace. The Mobile Monument will travel around the world, spending a year in a capital city. It will act like a Nobel Peace Prize, but given to countries to celebrate their contribution to peace and civil rights. His inspiration came from the Statue of Liberty, which was given to America by the French. If you would like to help Andrew achieve his vision, then contact him at

Slim Peace: A new film coming to the Jewish Film Festival in London and the Tribeca Festival in New York, which charts the progress of slimmers from the different communities in the Palestine-Israel region. Go see it!