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Showing posts from 2017

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How to Write An Engaging Feature Article

Recently, a magazine I work for changed its format - instead of producing quite a few short articles, it raised the pay on the articles it published and started encouraging long form articles of 1200 words. Especially in our digital age, when people often want information fast and concise, writing an extensive piece that really investigates a subject is a change. What questions should be asked? Who should you talk to?
A feature article is a bit like a smaller version of a non-fiction book and is not far away in the creative process from a short documentary. Examples of just those will help you learn how to write an engaging feature article and fulfill your goal of being a professional writer.
5. Understand Why People Will Want to Read This
We all are passionate about things. However, it will seem awkward and weird to just present those topics on their surface simply because we value them. Why should people care about this subject? In journalism, this is called a "hook," as i…

VIEW FROM SAN FRANCISCO: The quandary of religious nonprofits amid the city housing crisis

This was originally published with the San Francisco Western Edition newspaper. Please donate.

The Bay Area is rife with several nonprofits that exemplify a very contradictory social atmosphere in the region’s major cities. On one hand, cities such as San Francisco or Berkeley demonstrate a dynamic, diverse and largely accepting population that allows all sorts of civil society institutions to flourish. However, because of the high desirability of living here, these nonprofits often are challenged financially simply to survive in such an expensive area, let alone to thrive or flourish. 

Sharing Space

San Francisco’s St. John Coltrane Church — the only house of worship in the country dedicated to the legendary jazz phenom — was forced to relocate last year after being faced with an eviction notice. The church was previously renting a facility with the West Bay Conference Center on Fillmore Street, where they paid $1,600 a month to hold regular Sunday services. The Fillmore area also was a…

Curbing Food Waste: Imperfect Produce and Food Not Bombs Save “Ugly” Food from the Trash and Bring it to Those Who Need It

Hello all - I'm working on a Bay Area themed issue of Radical Second Things - this article will be reprinted there. It was initially written for the newsletter of Tilhas Tizi Gesheften collaborator Eva Gnostiquette. 

Please donate so that I continue writing like this.

America is an extremely wasteful society and its decline has only made it more stark. Just as millions of homes stand empty as millions more are homeless, 20% of food produced is wasted, with much of it never leaving the farm. There are organizations that recognize this problem and have taken steps to effectively curbing it and teaching the public that food can be distributed more equitably.
Food Not Bombs was founded by Keith McHenry in 1980 while he was a produce worker and an art student in Boston. The concept occurred when an associate was arrested after a protest and a bake sale had been held in order to help get him released. During the bake sale, one of the participants remarked that “wouldn’t it be a beautiful …

"Proud Boys" and the Alt Right in the Bay Area

Now that NBC News picked up the Proud Boys story, here is something I wrote for a local Bay Area newspaper about them earlier in the fall. The newspaper was hesitant to write about the subject, as seems to happen when I want to write about the Alt Right. I interviewed Paul Bazille, a member of the Proud Boys group and everything. If the headline on the story seems different than this link, that's because I've changed it from what the newspaper wanted to one more appropriate for the story. Writing about this is frustrating - I'm torn between wanting to accurately portray the source, who put trust in me, and not wanting to seem sympathetic to the Alt Right, which I am certainly not. What that frustration turns in to is just not writing about it at all. The picture I took is from an anti-Alt Right protest in Berkeley.

Could a replay of Charlottesville occur here? The Bay Area has many of its own icons of a racist past that may be ripe for removal. UC Berkeley’s Barrows Hall, …

Intoxicated Moments in History - Nazis on Drugs

Disappointment and Reality at a Bay Area Church

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I'm not sure if I should write about this publicly but I feel as if, if I don't, illusions will just continue.

For the last few years, I've been immersed in liberation theology. For me, the liberation theology material I listened to on podcasts like the Creighton University series weren't even anything theological - what Gustavo Gutierrez was saying was basically Marxist structural analysis taken on a much more intimate, day to day level. He illustrated how structures create poverty in contexts much more institutional than that of nineteenth century Germany. His work with Paul Farmer is an excellent readout of the material realities of our modern world. 

The liberation theology stuff naturally led to an affinity for Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day and the like. I started attending Saint Columba Catholic Church in hopes of finding a community surrounding it. The church literally has portraits of both on it…

Insane Comment About JC Lee

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My interview with JC Lee, Stan Lee's daughter, for the Bay City Beacon illicited an insane comment:
"JC Lee did this interview about her feelings towards Marvel and her father's comic books. It is an odd interview in which she alleges Marvel's movies are gratuitous and violent. Marvel took her own father's comic books and created movies so is she saying her father writes gratuitous and violent comic books?She stated that her father started something and she is going to continue it. Continue what JC? Your father's comic books didn't promote diversity or peace. Those people you are talking about as being greedy must include your father since he is one of the most greedy and dishonest men that I have ever investigated. I hope that one day the truth comes out about your dad. Come on JC, I have spoken to you on the phone many times and I just can't visualize you writing about anything peac…

Fr. Pontifex - Invasion of the Light

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

Coming Soon - Radical Second Things Volume 3

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

I am currently preparing the third issue of Radical Second Things.

Each print issue of this magazine has been a bit of a learning experience. The first was just really about getting my late wife Jennifer Reimer's "Girl X" in to print. The second incorporated my collaborative work with Jordan Denato - "Stars of Courage" - in to print. In addition, I tried out different programs and ways of putting together Radical Second Things with each issue.

The third issue will continue with Jordan's art, although we are going a bit further than just artistic portraits of Daniel Barrigan or Martin Luther King Jr. and diving in to real Catholic material. I am in the process of RCIA initiation at Saint Columba Catholic Church and want to communicate the process effectively to my readers.

Opening for the Bay Area Book Festival, a Berkeley …

Liberating and Re-Branding

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

For the last few years, I have been lethargic. I am just being honest about it. Perhaps not a total bum - I did volunteer work at charities or organizations like Tikkun, intentionally avoiding anything really professional, along with freelance jobs that were irregular in pay. I skated by and even figured out an elaborate system for myself to make it functional. The closest to a regular job I had was doing transcriptions for Rev, an Uber like transcription company based out of San Francisco.

Then over the last year, someone came in to my life that messed that up. Ignoring all excuses, she reminded me repeatedly that I was basically being a bum without using that word and also saying how intelligent I was and how many skills I knew about. I responded very badly when initially met with this and only got worse and worse as it went on - until I couldn'…

Moving Past Rejection

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So today I got this letter:

Dear Michael,
Thank you for your email. The editors have decided that your pitch is not suited to Commonweal at the moment. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider.Peace,Re***
I blurred out the letter writer's name for privacy reasons.
I've been published numerous places and currently have two freelance gigs, including a dream one with the Bay City Beacon, whose editor calls my work "beautiful" and says I "have my shit together." I don't take this personally although I would really like to have contributed to Commonweal. 
When I met the brilliant Catholic artist Stefan Salinas at the Bay Area Book Festival, he told me about how Ignatius Press had rejected, after a long process of having even contributed and created work for their publication, the book that became A Muslim Family's…

My friend Raphael Unpingco's Art!

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

I have been friends with Raph Unpingco, an esteemed carpenter and renovation specialist, manager of a Chamorro Cultural Center and aspiring film set designer for some time now. He has a casual interest in art and art that many people wouldn't appreciate. He regularly posts about archeological finds, including art ranging from sculptures of Ghengis Khan in Mongolia to medieval artwork. Please check out his own recent art creation, the "J. M. Taotaomona tree:"

Stars Of Courage Digest

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

Hello all,

This next month is a month where I'm going to be changing alot within my personal life for the better. As such, cleaning out my desktop is a huge part. I'm clearing out Jordan Denato's Stars of Courage series and putting it on a thumb drive and thought it would be a good excuse to post all the best art in one post so that people could appreciate it alone without going through all the original text. Here goes.

Learn About Guam

Note: I wrote this early in the morning - I am going to update it with links to news stories.

Guam, a small island 2,000 km. from the Phillipines that hosts 160,000 Americans, has been the talk of the world recently. North Korea has repeatedly threatened it with a strike and the threat level is at such a stage that the territory's government has issued a warning to its citizens about what to do in the response of a nuclear blast.

This isn't the first time this has occurred. The same scenario played out and defused early on in Barack Obama's second term. However, the danger is greater with the sort of reckless rhetoric that Trump is known for - with him and his administration threatening North Korea with "fire and fury" and "the destruction of its people." Like with Iraq, it's possible North Korea could be a problem that was simmering during a Democratic presidency and popped during a Republican one.

Guam, in the twenty first century, could have any …

Alienation is the Source of Misery

The worst thing that I know of in this life is alienation. I have experienced in periodically in my life and it is the scariest thing - the feeling that you don't know the people around you but that they nevertheless are calling the shots, that you are stuck, in danger or misunderstood. It puts really strange thoughts in to your head that seem embarrassing to repeat when understanding people are in your life but nevertheless seemed valid when you were alone and scared.
I come from Seattle, Washington - a city known for what is called "the Seattle freeze." The Seattle freeze is a social phenomenon in which Seattle social cliques are notoriously hard to break in to, with much of the population being stand offish and unapproachable. Growing up in a broken family with withdrawn family members compounded things - I really had to figure things out for myself. Often times, my questions literally were not met with answers at all, let alone bad or good ones.
Alienation will straigh…

Radical Second Things Teaming With Revolution Books!

Your donation is encouraged to help keep Radical Second Things going on its mission to spread liberation theology and Franciscan ideas. 

So I checked out of American politics. I went out and voted for Bernie Sanders but, like with George McGovern back in 1972, that hope was ultimately crushed and replaced with the Nixonian nightmare of Trump. I didn't vote in the general election and, given Trump's victory, I honestly thought about not participating for a while. This project was ultimately based on the inspiration of Pope Francis and the Latin American movement that propelled him forward - if it crossed in to US politics, that was coincidental.

Finding out about Saint Columba Catholic Church did get me a bit recharged, however - perhaps there really were people in the country who shared this message? Shortly after attending services there, I literally ran in to Cornel West while on the Berkeley campus. He didn't know me from Adam but after telling him it was very nice to s…

Coltrane - After the Rain

John Coltrane passed away 50 years ago - Dr. Cornel West honored his life by posting this song. I don't think they make music like this much anymore.

"I'm Not Worried About You" - Prepping for the Big Step

A reminder - the unique coverage of liberation theology that you see at Radical Second Things is only possible with your support. Please donate.

In 2011, I experienced a brutal and horrible drug withdrawal. While travelling through southeast Asia, I went without SSRI and benzodiasepenes, which I was taking together in order to alleviate crippling anxiety. The process mentally was indescribable - in no small part because I don't fully remember it all. I remember a decent amount sure, which honestly felt pretty close to dying - whatever these drugs do leads to a very destructive feeling during withdrawal, but I wasn't conscious for all of it - it came to a head with me waking up in a hospital, being told of a fit that I had absolutely zero memory of.

When I woke up, I woke up to a Chamorro nurse telling me my "brother" was there. My brother of course was Erving, who had helped me survive hell by keeping me with him. He brought McDonald's, which I will admit has led…

Portions of Saint Columba's "Justice That Makes Peace Possible" Proposal

Today I attended mass at Saint Columba Catholic Church. For the parishioners, they provide a pamphlet called "The Justice That Makes Peace Possible: An Interfaith Proposal." SCCC seems to be a genuine liberation theology driven Catholic church in the heart of the Bay Area - the sort of congregation that I have hungered for for years.

I want people to see for themselves and to visit their website or, if they are in the area, the church for themselves. However, I really did enjoy parts of the proposal and want to share portions of it here. The text was originally written by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P. with the Interfaith Peace Project. Check it out:

1. We must become what we want the World to be. It is quite normal to have a vision for the World. We are often disappointed with the World around us and the people we meet and encounter. Sometimes we are angered by the misdeeds of others. The World situation can seem overwhelming. I come to realize what disturbs me. This upset can be…

Oakland's Liberation Theology Embracing Saint Columba Church

A reminder - the unique coverage of liberation theology that you see at Radical Second Things is only possible with your support. Please donate.

Today, I actually got out of bed in the middle of the morning, as exhausted as I really was, got on the BART train and made it all the way to San Pablo, in North Oakland, to attend services at Saint Columba church. I found about the church from an online special about it. I would greatly like to interview someone at the church but until then, here is a feature with some of the pictures I took. Saint Columba has portraits of Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero and a number of other radical Catholic figures that you wouldn't typically expect to be prominent in a major church. In addition to that, there is a black Jesus figure - an homage to its largely African American constituency.

Radical religious organizations aimed at African Americans aren't really a new thing but they usually are Baptist, Muslim, even Seventh Day Adventist or…

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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

© 2017 Radical Second Things