Peter R. LeGrand makes toys. Lots of toys. Two hundred, usually, every year: Cradles, cars, airplanes, other things that go — all made of wood. He’s motivated by his passion to build, by the needs he sees in his home town of Chicago and — this year — by the memory of a dear departed friend.  Read the story he told us here: http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/?p=7185

Peter R. LeGrand makes toys. Lots of toys. Two hundred, usually, every year: Cradles, cars, airplanes, other things that go — all made of wood.

He’s motivated by his passion to build, by the needs he sees in his home town of Chicago and — this year — by the memory of a dear departed friend.

Read the story he told us here: http://www.publicinsightnetwork.org/?p=7185

"Veterans try to go to civilian providers but often the providers just don’t get it. My fear is that people aren’t connecting on that first meeting. The first five minutes are all-important. If a veteran feels he’s not understood right away, it can really turn him off."
- Anthony Hassan, of the USC School of Social Work, on why the school created a concentration in Military Social Work. Read our full story: Teaching civilians to care for those who served
Ten things you should be asking the veterans in your life

Life in the military is a different existence from life at home. Bridging those differences, where they can be bridged, begins with conversation. We’re asking veterans about the questions people ask when they learn about their military experience. What do they wish people would ask?

On the list:

  • "How did your military service shape the person you are today?"
  • Are you getting what you need?”

Click the link for the 10 questions we heard most often. Then take a moment to tell us about your own experience.

Title IX at 40: Opening doors to academics, opportunity and … fencing?

[POSTED: JUNE 14, 2012]

Title IX turns 40 next week!

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been asking women about the opportunities they’ve had in their lives as compared to those of their mothers and daughters (Here’s our survey: Are you better off than your mother?). It’s made me keenly aware of two facts: The landmark legislation is the same age as I am, and — embarrassingly — I didn’t know or hear anything about it until I was in graduate school in the mid-1990s.

Undoubtedly, I’ve benefited from Title IX, which mandates that men and women, boys and girls, be given equal opportunities in academic and extracurricular programs (sports, for instance, has become the program that Americans most associate with the legislation) in schools that receive federal funding.

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Weddings: How much is too much to spend?

The cost of an average wedding in the U.S. is reportedly over $27,000, according to an annual survey conducted by popular wedding websites TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com. We wanted to know what’s driving that cost and what impact it’s having, especially on young people who may be carrying heavy debt loads from their education and struggling to find work.

Here’s what sources from the Public Insight Network shared about their own weddings, weddings they’ve attended and what they think motivates couples to spend so much.

 

Katie Moss (above) of Newberg, Ore., got married in September 2011 in Corbett, Ore. As part of the festivities, her brother rowed her across Corbett’s Bridal Veil Lake. She says her wedding cost under $6,000.

We spent the most on the venue ($1,500) and photographer ($1,000) and they were definitely worth every penny! I got the venue at half price because it was late in the season and most everything was booked for the year. My photographer was a friend who gave me a huge discount. We got flowers from Safeway and made our own bouquets, and a baking friend made a small torte and a bunch of amazing cookies.

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Wednesday morning: The Wisconsin elections

[POSTED: JUNE 6, 2012]

It can be hard to tell in an election year, but life isn’t all about politics. In fact, life is very rarely about politics. Throughout this year, we’ll be asking for examples of the everyday things people will do the day after Election Day, on Wednesday morning, regardless of who wins.

We suspect that listening to people’s Wednesday morning routines will go further in identifying what issues Americans are really thinking about – beyond the rhetoric of candidates, campaigns and advertisements.

Here’s what some people in Wisconsin – some of the same people lamenting the incivility and vitriol in their communities leading up to yesterday’s election – are doing on this Wednesday morning.

Elizabeth Kay of Eau Claire:

I will be sending my youngest kid off to his last day of middle school, and my oldest to his last day of his Junior year in high school.

Roy Stacey of Rockland:

I’ll get up, have my coffee, go into the garage for my morning cigarette, turn on the radio, and will not be able to avoid the election coverage!  At least the damn ads and robo-calls will have ceased. Retirement can be trying at times like this.

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"I’m beginning to understand what the Civil War was like": How has Wisconsin changed?

[POSTED: JUNE 5, 2012]

Wisconsin residents are voting today on whether to remove Gov. Scott Walker, the state’s lieutenant governor and three Republican state senators from office. We asked Wisconsinites of all political stripes about the long-term effects the recall process will have on Wisconsin’s identity. Here’s how Public Insight Network sources are describing the atmosphere there.

Mike Kessler of St. Croix Falls:

It’s terrible here in Wisconsin. Family, friends, and neighbors are divided to the point where no discussion - of any type - is happening. It’s a bit unnerving in that one can see how a civil conflict can start. We eye each other with a combination of distrust and cynicism asking the silent question: “How can you possibly be for the ‘other’ candidate?”

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Link: An interactive Timeline of "Conservative Moments"

Timeline: Conservative Moments

[POSTED: MAY 31, 2012]

Today the Public Insight Network introduces a timeline that we need your help to complete. We want to know the key moments that shaped people’s outlook as conservatives. We’re plotting a lot of them on a timeline. Please take a look and then add your own story.

What if it were your kid?

[POSTED: MAY 29, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.

This question from Jennifer in St. Paul, Minn. found some small amount of middle-ground on the issue when answered by people who oppose legalized same-sex marriage: 

If your daughter or son was gay, would you object to their being allowed the rights we confer upon married couples, such as sitting beside their beloved partner’s side at their deathbed?

We put Jennifer’s question back out to our network and here’s what people said:

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What about “marriage” through the ages?

[POSTED: MAY 29, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.

David from Deerword, Minn., takes the long view of “tradition” by posing this question: 

Why are you comfortable ignoring the multi-millennial shared understanding of what constitutes marriage?

We put David’s question to people who support same-sex marriage and here are some of the answers we received:

Laura from Edina, Minn.:

Why did we become comfortable ignoring the multi-millennial shared understanding of the institution of slavery? Our understanding evolves.

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Is same-sex marriage a “slippery slope”?

[POSTED: MAY 29, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.

Stan from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., is looking for answers to a very common question raised by opponents of legalized same-sex marriage: 

If marriage is a “right”, why not extend it to polygamists or incestuous relationships — if such relationships are consensual?

We put Stan’s question to people who support same-sex marriage and here is some of what they said:

Chuck from Milan, Minn.:

The point is abuse and danger. If people are having healthy relationships, not endangering their or others’ health, and being good neighbors, why not?

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How does same-sex marriage affect life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness?

[POSTED: MAY 29, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.

Tiffany from Lakeville, Minn., wanted people opposed to same-sex marriage to tie the issue back to some cherished American freedoms: 

How will a same-sex couple’s ability to marry infringe on your life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness?

Here are some of the answers to Tiffany’s question:

Ron from Littleton, Colo.:

The foundation of our society, indeed of all societies, is the family and same-sex marriage is a distortion of the family.

If we alter the definition of family to equate homosexual parents with heterosexual parents, there’s no longer any reason to deny equality to polygamous parents or any other distortion of the family unit.

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How do non-traditional families have “the talk”?

[POSTED: MAY 25, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do.

Laurie from Fargo, N.D., wants to know how legalized same-sex marriage will change “the talk”.

How would you explain the concept of where babies come from to a child if you were in a same-sex marriage yourself? How would you like to see children taught about sex if same-sex couples are part of their world in any way?

We put Laurie’s question to supporters of same-sex marriage and here is some of what we heard:

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If the sanctity of marriage is paramount, what about divorce?

[POSTED: MAY 25, 2012]

In order to start a civil discussion about same-sex marriage in America, we asked people from our Public Insight Network to tell us the stories behind their thoughts on the matter AND to give us questions they’d ask people who think differently about the issue than they do

One question, posed by Jenny from Excelsior, Minn., drew impassioned responses from many people in the network who said they either did not support same-sex marriage or supported conferring legal rights on same-sex couples without calling it “marriage.” Here’s what Jenny asked: 

If the sanctity of marriage is the rationale for legally banning same-sex marriage, should divorce and adultery also be illegal?

We put Jenny’s question back out to our network. Here’s what people said:

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The brilliant photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar have just started a road trip across Ohio, shooting and writing portraits all along the way.
magnumohio:

GARY behind the wheel of his GMC Starcraft in Fremont, Ohio
So this van is your home?
For the last three years, yeah. This is pretty much what I’ve got left.
Where do you park it?
Here and there. Mostly out at the Speedway parking lot. They know me.
Are you from here?
I’ve lived in Fremont for 61 years. I had my own house, but l learned the hard way that if you aren’t one of these rich guys you don’t own anything in this world. Everything’s borrowed, which means that somebody can take it away from you at any time.
How do you get by?
I do some recycling and occasional repair work, and there are a lot of unemployed and homeless people around here, so there are churches and such that have meals and give away food and clothing. I hang out at the soup kitchens, and I’m one of the lucky ones around those places. I’ve got this van.
What’s with the McDonald’s cups?
I can’t afford the coffee anymore, but I still like the cups. They’re kind of my trademark, I guess.
Is there anything you’re dying to say?
No, not really, just that everything’s too digitized now. The fifties and sixties, that was a good time.

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post included a misspelling of Alec Soth’s name. The story has been updated. June 25, 2012]

The brilliant photographer Alec Soth and writer Brad Zellar have just started a road trip across Ohio, shooting and writing portraits all along the way.

magnumohio:

GARY behind the wheel of his GMC Starcraft in Fremont, Ohio

So this van is your home?

For the last three years, yeah. This is pretty much what I’ve got left.

Where do you park it?

Here and there. Mostly out at the Speedway parking lot. They know me.

Are you from here?

I’ve lived in Fremont for 61 years. I had my own house, but l learned the hard way that if you aren’t one of these rich guys you don’t own anything in this world. Everything’s borrowed, which means that somebody can take it away from you at any time.

How do you get by?

I do some recycling and occasional repair work, and there are a lot of unemployed and homeless people around here, so there are churches and such that have meals and give away food and clothing. I hang out at the soup kitchens, and I’m one of the lucky ones around those places. I’ve got this van.

What’s with the McDonald’s cups?

I can’t afford the coffee anymore, but I still like the cups. They’re kind of my trademark, I guess.

Is there anything you’re dying to say?

No, not really, just that everything’s too digitized now. The fifties and sixties, that was a good time.

[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post included a misspelling of Alec Soth’s name. The story has been updated. June 25, 2012]

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