Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
Can a little musical theater and some same-sex kissing help stamp out bullying? Earlier this month, students at Hartford Public High in Connecticut attended a production at their school. But this wasn’t some amateur attempt at “Guys and Dolls.” Instead, it was the “musical fairy tale” “Zanna, Don’t!” — a show that’s even gayer than “Cats.”
The action takes place in the imaginary land of Heartsville, U.S.A, where straightness is unusual and heterophobia is common — until an opposite sex-oriented high school couple challenge the gods. The Connecticut production, mounted by the Hartford community leadership group Quest and the LGBT organization True Colors, featured local high school and college students in the cast. And when two of the male leads engaged in a brief liplock during the first show, several dozen audience members – notably a bunch wearing the school’s football jerseys – stormed out in protest. Principal Adam Johnson told CBS that “It was almost a symbolic kind of thing.” And the Hartford Courant noted pointedly that a later girl-on-girl smooch was “cheered among students.” America, we still have work to do.
I’m not convinced that the type of adolescent who might be inclined to bully a gay person would be swayed by a play inspired by a movie that starred Olivia Newton-John, but kudos to Hartford for making the gesture. Of course, the conservative Family Institute of Connecticut couldn’t wait to whip itself up over the supposed “indoctrination” agenda of the show. In response to concerns, the school initially made attendance at the final two performances optional — and freshmen who wanted to attend had to present a signed parental release stating that they were aware of the show’s gay-themed content. But tellingly, Johnson refused to back down on presenting the show altogether or to water down the content. The principal told Playbill, “We have to teach students how to respect and honor each other. [Students] need to learn about the diversity of the world and respecting the rights of all people. [I'm] really glad that we did this program.”
There are always going to be people who are afraid of, uncomfortable with or downright hostile toward gay people and gay-themed works. And it’s always a fine moment when the rest of us stand up and say, “Tough luck.” Because school’s job is to prepare young people for life, and that goes way, way beyond SAT scores.
As Jack Baldermann, the school’s executive principal, told the Courant: “I wish people knew what a great school this is in so many ways and how we’re constantly working to get better. Part of that is talking about tough issues. It’s not just algebra and history and English.” And opening minds isn’t even just about values. Sometimes, it’s just about looking at things differently. It’s about teaching people – whether they’re rowdy teenagers or a group of frightened conservatives — that’s it’s OK to hear different ideas once in a while. It’s not indoctrination. It’s education. That’s why the school’s 15-year-old quarterback, Jordan Spruiell, has a message for his teammates who stormed off. Aside from the fact that “You have to accept people for who they are,” Spruiell says simply, “You guys missed out on a good play.”
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.