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Good News From the Heartland

Ralph talks to Atlantic magazine writer and former protégé, James Fallows, about the trip he took with his wife, Deborah, that resulted in their book, “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America.” Plus, wunderkind, Felix Finkbeiner, joins us to report on his mission to plant a trillion trees around the world.


James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic” and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter’s chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows,  are the authors of the new book “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,”which has been a New York Times best-seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.

“At a terrible time for the nation, city by city and region by region, Americans are inventing a new future.  And if more people were aware of that, the chance of its success would go up.” James Fallows, co-author of “Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America.”

When Felix Finkbeiner was a nine year old, fourth grader living near Munich, Germany, he did a school report about trees and climate change. In doing that report, he came to the conclusion that if kids could plant one million trees in every country in the world, that would go a long way toward combating greenhouse gasses. Four years later, this remarkable young man was addressing the United Nations General Assembly .  What started with a lonely crab apple tree he planted on his school’s grounds has led to a worldwide movement and an organization called Plant for the Planet ). Felix is now twenty years old and a student at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

“Globally, we have the potential of planting up to another one trillion trees.  And if we manage to plant these trees, they would capture about a quarter of all human-made greenhouse gasses.”  Felix Finkbeiner, Founder of Plant for the Planet


  1. Bruce K. says:

    Where can I buy the “Change Chocolate” in the USA ???

  2. Marc says:

    Every so often Ralph hammers on young people who are addicted to their devices. I am in full agreement, my niece can’t seem to pry her nose out of her iPhone, and when she’s not Facebooking or Instawhatevering, she’s full-on into Netflix. My wife and I are trying to get her into a community college (she’s applied and been accepted) and that’s like pulling teeth. I also listen to Robert Scheer’s podcast (who Ralph should consider having on his show, and vice-versa for Scheer) and every so often he talks about the hope he has when he sees young people, millennials and so forth. All I can say is I’m seeing an opposite stock of young people, those who Ralph talks about. Down here in the south, if they’re not disconnected-from-reality social media addicts they’re young Republicans in training. Just sad.

    That said about youngsters, it’s not just them. I see full-grown adults who have their faces buried in their devices also. All the time. I know adults who are more outgoing and “extroverted” on social media and yet introverted or outright reclusive in face-to-face settings. Again, I’m talking adults here. So this social media addiction has gripped far more than just young people. I don’t know what’s the bigger addiction epidemic – social media or opioids. I say this as someone who doesn’t have FB or Twitter, all I have is LinkedIn and that’s about as useful as a condom with a hole in it. I do fear the day that I’ll have to get FB just because at some point my young son, who will be 9 soon, will get it. My wife already has it, and most everyone else in my family has it (except me, my father, stepfather and father-in-law), so it’s just a matter of when and not if my son, who already signed up for a kids version of social media, gets Facebook.

    Great show, Ralph, David and Steve. Keep up the great work. And consider having Robert Scheer, Noam Chomsky or Richard D. Wolff on your show.

  3. ESRIuser says:

    Good grief, I hope you guys are getting some kick back from ESRI/Jack after the huge tangent halfway through Fallows’ section.

  4. David Faubion says:

    More and more kids are revealing earlier and earlier their survival, salvation and restorative genetic coding in their heroic transformative actions. Planet Earth desperately needs it now. And it’s good to juxtapose the coming Children’s Crusade for Tomorrow with longtime angels like the Fallows hovering across the nation on their historicraft

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