Humankind on Public Radio
David Freudberg
Weekly podcast from public radio’s award-winning program Humankind
Step inside the garden of Cathrine Sneed, a prison social worker, who has found that when inmates leave their cells and connect with nature their rate of recidivism drops.

Urban naturalist Mike Houck, based in Portland, Oregon, works to preserve the integrity of green spaces in cities because they provide access to nature “where people live” and also play an important ecological role.

Near Portland, ME, people afflicted with chronic pain from medical conditions support each other in a group where attendees who are discouraged learn to take an active role in their life and to see themselves not as a patient but as a complete person.

The remarkable international effort to build “homes and hope” by marshalling the energies of young people, church communities and others, is described by Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller.

Rev. Chris Antal, a Unitarian Universalist minister in the town of Rock Tavern, New York, was drawn to service in response to the attacks of 9/11. He entered military chaplaincy partially as a way to help soldiers who are prone to harming themselves in the wake of war. He also wanted to bring a “liberal voice into a very conservative chaplaincy,” consistent with the commitment of his tradition of acceptance for people representing different faiths and sexual orientation backgrounds. In this profile, Rev. Antal explores how he was drawn to faith-based engagement with indigenous religious leaders, where he was stationed at Kandahar Air Base.  “I was uniquely equipped to engage in interfaith dialogue” with Muslims. But what’s it like to be a spiritual presence in a war zone? What’s the duty to honor the lives of human beings who die in war, whether from your side or the “enemy”? Rev. Antal grew disenchanted with the U.S. military policy of deploying unmanned aircraft (drones), which are often associated with civilian casualties. In 2016, he resigned in protest from his commission as a chaplain in the Army Reserve and, after a Congressional inquiry, received an honorable discharge. We end this episode with an excerpt of Rev. Antal’s moving sermon about modern war.

We hear from chaplains and students on a college campus (Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennesee) with a long tradition of promoting dialogue among various groups. How can chaplains act as bridges between people of different traditions? What are the teachings of love for neighbor found all great religious philosophies? What can we learn from potentially rich exchanges honoring diversity? How can students be encouraged to ’stretch out’ and discover new truths. How can we face and mitigate the prejudices and preconceptions that most people carry with them? And what role can interfaith service activities play in breaking down barriers?

The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. Federal and state prisons and county jails hold around two million prisoners. Another five or so million people are on probation or parole. Some in this diverse population are dangerous and apparently don’t seek rehabilitation to a more productive life. For many others, though, incarceration is a forced opportunity for self-examination and positive change – a process that can be supported and stimulated by spiritual care providers. In this segment, we explore in-depth the experiences of two chaplains: Paul Shoaf-Kozak, a Christian social justice advocate who oversees the chaplaincy department at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton, Massachusetts, northeast of Boston; and Genko Kathy Blackman, a Buddhist teacher who has long visited jails around the Seattle area. We also hear from two prisoners about their faith journeys while behind bars.

We visit a shelter at Seattle’s Mission for a rich exchange with a formerly homeless man who feels the spiritual care he received from mental health workers helped him develop the ability to transition into housing. We hear from a social worker, Larry Clum, who explores what it means to companion homeless people without an intent to “fix” their problem. Also, several chaplains reflect in-depth on the experience of connecting with people who are facing challenges related to mental health, addiction and homelessness. Included are comments by Kae Eaton of the Mental Health Chaplaincy, Rev. Jonathan Neufeld, community minister at Seattle Mennonite Church, and Rev. Beverly Hartz, with the Veterans Administration Puget Sound Health Care system.

David Freudberg, host of Humankind public radio, announces a new podcast on the fascinating practice of “spiritual care”: stories of caregivers (chaplains, nurses, social workers, etc) who provide nonsectarian support for people in need and sometimes in distress.

The new urban agriculture movement offers a way for us to re-connect our lives to nature

Which foods have the largest global warming footprint—and which are most climate-friendly?

Public school cafeterias are changing! We visit two in New England where recent policies reflect much greater attention to healthy meal options than were typically available in the past.

Hundreds of colleges are now moving toward healthier, more climate-friendly food choices on campus

A simple, 15-minute relaxation exercise.

Most people in metropolitan areas face choices when we travel -- to go by car or to use public transit? These decisions have a huge impact on our wallets, on the environment and on our quality of life. (Part 4)

Most people in metropolitan areas face choices when we travel -- to go by car or to use public transit? These decisions have a huge impact on our wallets, on the environment and on our quality of life. (Part 3)

Most people in metropolitan areas face choices when we travel -- to go by car or to use public transit? These decisions have a huge impact on our wallets, on the environment and on our quality of life. (Part 2)

Most people in metropolitan areas face choices when we travel -- to go by car or to use public transit? These decisions have a huge impact on our wallets, on the environment and on our quality of life. (Part 1)

We hear from veterans who wrestle with healing from “moral injury” which occurs after a violation of conscience, based on events they witnessed or participated in while on military duty.

We examine a fascinating new model of health care: integrative medicine. (Part 4)