Teacher of Various Sorts

I haven't been a teacher for all that long. In 2011, my beloved journalism was dying as a profession, so when my wife Neeta and I moved to Washington State that summer, we viewed it as a clean break with our then-current careers. I turned back to teaching - to try to inspire young men and women to a big, broad, adventurous life, the same way my own teachers had inspired me..

High-School English and Social Studies Teacher (Seattle, 2012-).
I began my new career teaching World History and American Literature at Issaquah High School in Issaquah, Washington, and - during the course of that year - also wrote my first scholarly article in education, for the Spring 2013 issue of Curriculum in Context. I currently teach social studies at Garfield High School, the most storied, rigorous (and interesting) public high school in Seattle. | My teacher's portfolio

Teacher of Science Writing, American Museum of Natural History (New York City, 2010).

Dinosaur Docent, American Museum of Natural History (New York City, 1995-96).
I explained cladistics, told adventure stories, speculated about comets and otherwise drew passersby deeper into the story of dinosaurs, of paleontology and of the museum itself. I was one of original team of "explainers" when the museum's dinosaur halls reopened after a long scientific re-evaluation.

Peace Corps Volunteer, Cameroon, West Africa (1981-84).
For two years, I taught math and economics to 13-to-19-year-old students in a small rural town, Nkambe, after which I moved to the nation's capital, Yaounde, to become the leader of all teaching volunteers. In my final year, I directed a trilingual trades-teacher training program involving English, French and German speakers.

 

 Reporter, Editor, Web Journalist, Blogger

I've been a journalist at newspapers, magazines and websites as well as a roving advocate for press reform in the United States and other parts of the world. You can read my personal blogs Unsimplify, Unsimplify and A Journal of the Travel Year on this website.

Webmaster / Blogger,New Jersey Legal Newspapers(2007-2009).
I designed, managed and wrote for the website of the established legal weekly New Jersey Lawyer until its sale in Nov. 2008, then with a handful of colleagues created a new, lively legal newsmagazine, NJEsq, which published from January through June 2009. I built its website, email newsletter and blog "Reckless Place" using open-source software. | Some posts from Reckless Place

Community Activism Reporter, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (2001-02).
I wrote the P-D's "People in Action" column, profiling grassroots and nonprofit groups whose struggles with inexperience, funding shortages, publicity, prejudice, the juggling of paid work and volunteering and other hurdles hold lessons for all people trying to be active citizens in their communities. | Some Writings

Designer / Manager of the Community Web Sites Program, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (1999-2001).
As part of an early effort to bring public (or citizen-centered) journalism to the Web, I designed, managed, edited and recruited for an online town square integrated with the P-D's online news site and involving more than 700 St. Louis-area community groups as of its closing in August 2001. (The paper, perhaps realizing the mistake it made in closing the program, tried to revive it later in the decade.) At the same time I helped develop the newspaper's public journalism-inflected "Imagine St. Louis" section, both in print and online. | Community Web Sites Virtual Tour

Author, Doing Public Journalism (Guilford Press, 1995).
This 187-page handbook explains the concepts behind public (also known as “civic-” or “citizen-centered”) journalism; it has been used as a textbook at the University of Missouri, Stanford University, the University of Utah and several programs in other countries and has been discussed and quoted in many subsequent books on public journalism. | Excerpt

Speaker / Moderator on public journalism (1993-99).
I helped to develop the central concepts of public journalism at seminars of the Project on Public Life and the Press (1993-96). I spoke or appeared as a panelist on public journalism at the University of Missouri, Stanford University, the American Press Institute, l'Ecole superieure de journalisme (Lille, France), the Institute on Governance (Ottawa, Canada) and a seminar on public journalism for Colombian journalists (Bogota); I appeared several times on public radio. My most ambitious project was a three-week-long U.S. Information Agency-sponsored travelling seminar in India and Pakistan for journalists seeking ways to reduce tension between their countries.

Editorial Writer, Ottawa Citizen (1991-92).
I was one of three full-time editorialists for the then-flagship newspaper of the Southam chain. My specialties were economics, environment and international affairs. The Citizen was then and remains, despite new ownership and declining circulation, the major daily of Canada’s national capital. | Some Editorials

Columnist, Ottawa Citizen (1992-94,1996), The Nation (weekly magazine, Tel Aviv, 1988-89), Brooklyn Free Press (biweekly, 1987).
I wrote personal columns for all three publications, and covered the 1992 presidential campaign from New York for the Citizen. | Some Columns

Freelance or Staff Magazine Writer (1987-2002).
My essays, reporting and reviews have appeared in, among other magazines, Columbia Journalism Review, the National Civic Review, the Quill, Nature Canada, Canadian Geographic, New Outlook (Israel), the Israel Economist, Israel Scene, Cahiers de journalisme (France), Span (India). | Some Reviews & Articles

Story Editor, The New Federation (public-affairs quarterly, Ottawa, 1990-92), The Nation (Tel Aviv, 1988-89), Brooklyn Free Press (1987).

Staff Researcher, The Sciences (New York City, 1986-87).
The Sciences was a National Magazine Award-winning bimonthly of literate essays on breakthroughs in science, produced by the New York Academy of Sciences. As sole researcher, my job involved high-octane fact-checking as well as long phone interviews with scientists favoring and opposing new theories, and so required an extensive and deep grounding in science.

 

Fiction Writer

My first novel, "Last Chance on the Desert," was read by two publishers and quite rightly rejected circa 1975. I wrote full-time from 2002 to 2006. A stack full of short stories and a novel-in-progress sit on my hard drive and in a box in the closet waiting - like the finches of the Galapagos and Tutankhamun's tomb - for wise eyes to discover them.

Short Story Writer (2002-).
My story "A Message to Agbor" appeared in the Fall 2005 New York Stories, and I later gave a public reading at South Street Seaport in New York.

 

Computer-phile

Since I stumbled on my high school's terminal for the Loyola-Marymount University mainframe computer, I have been intermittently programming, trying out new software or designing web pages.

Webmaster, NJEsq (2009), New Jersey Lawyer (2007-08), St. Louis Post-Dispatch Community Web Sites program (1999-2001).
I'm proficient in HTML, Joomla (content management), WordPress (blogging), Adobe Photoshop (image processing), MS Office and reasonably competent in Quark Xpress (layout/desktop publishing) and Final Cut Express (audio/video editing). In spring 2010 I am taking courses in Flash (animation/video editing) and PHP (a language used in web design and database management). I have worked in a variety of custom-designed newsroom-software environments - which I have helped to customize further - and graduated in 2001 from a weeklong National Institute for Computer Assisted Reporting bootcamp.

Copy Editor / Layout Editor, AScribe Newswire (1998-99), Ottawa Citizen (1989-92, 1996-98), New Federation (1990-92), The Nation (1988-89).

Programmer, PacTel Properties (San Francisco, 1985).
I took computer science classes at the University of Pennsylvania and became the only authorized programmer for the financial software Sfinx.

 

Education

Masters in Teaching, Seattle Pacific University (2013).

MS Journalism, Columbia University (1986).

MA (1981) and BS (1980, magna cum laude), Economics, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Finance and Commerce.

 

About Me Personally

Vital Statistics
Born in New York City, March 8, 1960. Raised in La Mirada, California. Married to Neeta Moonka, with two children, Jennifer and Alex | Some Pictures

Student of the World
I have lived as an adult in four countries (the U.S., Canada, Israel and Cameroon) and travelled extensively (to 28 countries outside the U.S., and to 48 states within). Most recently, after months of reading history books and maps, my wife and I traveled by plane, rail, boat and bus through seven countries in Asia (Sept-Dec 2011). I speak English and French, and - in rapidly descending order of fluency - have once spoken or seriously studied West African pidgin, Japanese, German, Hebrew, Swahili and Esperanto.

Interests with a pedigree
Science: I have been seriously involved with the sciences since high school, where I won the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Math and Science Medal for 1975. My particular interest is evolutionary biology, although recently I've been reading about string theory (Brian Greene's The Fabric of the Cosmos) and social science (Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers). Civil Society: I attended a year-long rotation with the Kettering Foundation, a civil-society-building organization based in Dayton, Ohio, in the mid-1990s. As part of public-journalism movement, I worked with grassroots democracy-building organizations throughout the United States, and I've read widely on democracy-building and U.S. constitutional history.

Other Interests
Telling stories, embellished from life. Movies, brilliant or at least trashy and vital. Writing essays and fiction. Car trips (including a three-month-long crossing of the United States, Jan-March 1998, and a 47-day trek to 15 western national parks and monuments, June-July 2011). Rummaging around New York City or the American West. Cooking. Playing guitar. Architecture. Archaeology. Utopias, both the fictional kind and experimental communities in the U.S. and abroad. Eastern and Western philosophy. Africa. Reading, all and sundry, but especially biographies, history and sharp essays by the likes of Bernard Shaw, E.B. White, Joan Didion and George Orwell. At 12, a teacher predicted I would spend my life writing how-to books on dozens of different subjects, all in a series entitled Everything I've Always Wanted You to Know About... My interests remain intense, diverse and worn on my sleeve.