Visionaries - Changing the World One Story at a Time

Season 09

Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) International - Building a Better World

Cardboard walls are replaced by concrete in a Mexican home and now a family can protect their children from a dangerously cold winter on the border. For the first time, a poor fisherman is given access to credit. He replaces the broken motor on his boat so that his children can eat and his family can survive a troubled economy in Jordan. Two doctors in Azerbaijan, brothers whose lives have been ripped apart by conflict, are able to finish a medical clinic that is restoring hope and health to a former war zone. Rusted shacks are replaced by a row of colorful new homes in South Africa. They are perhaps as much symbolic as practical, built by communities long denied access to home ownership, finance or choice.

CHF, or the Cooperative Housing Foundation, has discovered a simple formula for progress: faith in people combined with small investments and support. It is producing dividends - personal and financial - in developing countries worldwide.

Our Visionaries crew travels far and wide with CHF to witness its astounding impact among people who have long been ignored. What we uncover are the very human stories behind CHF's diverse programs, which include housing, microfinance, business development and more. Each is an extension of one shared vision: the desire to break down barriers and restore the human spirit. Show 901 and 902.

Coffee Kids - Grounds For Hope

Travel with us as we venture to Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua with Coffee Kids, a New Mexico-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of coffee farmers and their families through the development of sustainable community projects. Founded by coffee roaster Bill Fishbein, Coffee Kids works with local partners in Central America and Mexico to design projects that respect the cultural integrity of the communities, foster independence, and ensure long-term self-sufficiency.

In Costa Rica we meet a high school scholarship recipient overcoming the obstacles to getting an education with the help of Coffee Kids and a local educational foundation. We also visit an isolated community where Coffee Kids is helping to slowly improve the education offered in the area. In Mexico and Nicaragua we talk with women involved in local savings groups that have led to numerous improvements in the lives of the participants and their families. Show 903.

Lorain County Community Action Agency - Communities Come Together

Lorain, Ohio is a community on the brink. Fueled by the steel mills in its heyday, the city has had to grapple with rising unemployment and poverty as the economy has turned away from manufacturing--and this city's very livelihood. The Lorain County Community Action Agency, an anti-poverty group, is actively dealing with the fallout from these changes, helping people find ways out of poverty and the challenges of everyday life. Whether it's their GED program, Head Start, or assisted living, Community Action has a program for every stage of a person's life. On the broader level, their goal is to help Lorain define its future and to find hope and inspiration in its past. Show 904.

Warren/Conner Community Development Coalition - Communities Come Together

Last October, neighbors on Detroit's Eastside celebrated Hutchinson Elementary's 85th anniversary. On the Eastside, where white flight has caused a sharp decline in the population, this was quite an accomplishment-amidst the demolition of many schools like it, Hutchinson was still standing. No small part of the reason why is the Warren/Conner Community Development Coalition, which has helped organize parents into a powerful lobbying group for their children's education. At the most fundamental level, Warren/Conner creates community leaders. Rather than dictating what the Eastside needs, their goal is to inspire residents to create their own agenda-and their own vision for the future. Show 904.

ElderHomes - Communities Come Together

Richmond, Virginia is experiencing a renaissance. Currently in a period of urban renewal, the community has banded together to bring in new business, people and publicity to the city and surrounding areas. Often, when large cities experience urban renewal, property taxes and cost of living increase dramatically. ElderHomes is a small, Richmond-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the housing conditions of the low income and low income elderly and disabled-a community often marginalized in American culture-especially in cities that experience urban renewal. The Visionaries explores the world of this passionate and dedicated nonprofit committed to improving the lives of this disadvantaged community. Show 904.


Join us in the first part of .gov and explore a hydroponic tomato farm located in what was once the 22-acre contaminated site of a steel mill in Buffalo, New York. Started with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields initiative, the tomato farm has provided local residents with 175 new jobs, 40 tons of fresh tomatoes daily, and serves as a national role model for development. Show 905.

The Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program

In the second part of .gov, travel to New York City where The Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program is turning blocks of rundown housing into development opportunities for local entrepreneurs. The city officials work with community leaders, housing programs, businesses and banks to rehabilitate thousands of apartments. The city works to get them back on the tax rolls under private ownership after they've been abandoned by landlords and unsuccessfully managed by the city- without displacing a single tenant. Show 905.

Pueblo of Sandia

In the third part of .gov, we travel to New Mexico. In this show, we meet members of Pueblo of Sandia who have relied on the Rio Grande River for agriculture, recreation and important ceremonies.

Over the past decades, however, rapid industrial growth and lax environmental enforcement turned the Rio Grande into one of the most polluted and endangered rivers in the United States.

Until recently, the Pueblo had no way of protecting its surface waters. But in 1987 Congress passed amendments to the Clean Water Act, allowing American Indian nations to apply for the status needed to monitor their own water quality. The Pueblo became the first tribe in the country to apply-and they are serious about their stewardship of land and water. Show 905.

Boston Gay Men's Chorus - The Boston Gay Men's Chorus: A Revolution in 6-Part Harmony

This is the story of a few men in Boston who started a small singing group for the simple joy of bringing friends together and singing some old familiar songs. They soon realized that they would need to risk their very lives to be allowed to sing together. They would face protests and picketing because, by the simple act of singing, they were breaking rules and breaking stereotypes. They were changing how the world saw them and how they saw themselves. With every new member who joined and with every concert they sang, they were changing more lives.

Twenty years later, that small singing group is now nearly 200 strong and one of the most celebrated group of musicians in Boston-this is the Boston Gay Men's Chorus. Show 906.

Global Education Partnership (GEP) - Shilling for Shilling

Imagine a school where there are no books and no desks and children must sit on the ground. Imagine completing secondary school and having to enter a workplace where 40% unemployment is the norm. Former Peace Corps volunteer, Tony Silard, didn't have to imagine these conditions-he experienced them firsthand during his assignment in Kenya and it moved him to action. At age 26, Tony formed Global Education Partnership to help rural communities in Kenya and other developing nations provide desperately needed resources for their primary schools. Encouraged by the success of his "matching funds" resource development program, Tony launched a second program to assist educated but economically disadvantaged youth to become self-reliant by teaching them job employment skills and training them to start their own small businesses. In this episode of Visionaries, journey with Tony and two GEP Oakland, California students to GEP's programs in Kenya and Tanzania where they interact with current students and graduates as they attend a book receiving ceremony and a new latrine christening. Show 907.

Global Fund for Women - In Women They Trust

If the war in Afghanistan has done anything, it has refocused the nation's attention on the plight of women worldwide. Women make up more than 50 percent of the global population, yet two-thirds of those living in poverty are women. They are also the first targets of abuse for religious extremists and have suffered the worst indignities. But the Global Fund for Women knows that women are the key to overcoming all of this. Resisting the top-down policies of more traditional grant-making organizations, the Global Fund supports women's rights-and their ability-to make their own decisions about how to pursue a different future. They do this by giving seed money to grassroots women's groups all over the world. The Visionaries travels with the Global Fund to Nepal and Mexico, where viewers will meet courageous women willing to take risks-from attempting to end the sex trafficing of young girls in Nepal to promoting self-sufficiency and equality through training and education in Mexico-and advancing human rights for all. Show 908.

Riverbrook - Where Exceptional Women Thrive

Nestled in the Berkshire Mountains, our Visionaries crew finds a remarkable community of women living in a place known simply as Riverbrook. It was once a lavish summer mansion but today Riverbrook is home to a group of women with developmental disabilities - the place where they laugh, love, argue, work, learn, and find spiritual fulfillment. Our cameras capture the small triumphs and great challenges that make up a week in the lives of these exceptional women, both at home and in the town that embraces them.

You'll also meet the force behind Riverbrook, a woman who could no longer bear the appalling treatment received by people with mental retardation that was the standard in the 1970s. She committed herself to ensuring rich and fulfilling lives for the developmentally disabled by shaping Riverbrook into the alternative program it remains today: an intentional community of sharing, support and respect, where individuality and creativity are cherished. Show 909.

Spectrum - Quiet Revolutions

Change is a by-product of altered perspective. Looking at a problem differently reveals new solutions. Some people look at homeless children, runaways, and at-risk kids and see their problems. But when you see their strengths-those traits that allowed them to survive the turmoil in life-incredible potential is revealed.

That is exactly what Spectrum Youth and Family Services has done. Founded thirty years ago as the state's first program for runaways, it has crafted an innovative approach called strength-based youth development. Quietly, without fanfare, it is changing lives-and our view of how to tackle one of the toughest issues of our time. Show 910.

Mon Valley Initiative - Quiet Revolutions

Ghandi, Mandela, Mother Theresa. Their impact is undeniable. But what about the activists who names we don't know? The people who run small nonprofit organizations in your community? Or even the people who simply give up a couple of hours each week to work toward a cause?

In this episode, we're taking a look at two stories about ordinary people working toward positive social change. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, 200 volunteers have been organized into the Mon Valley Initiative. Working under the guidance of a dozen community development corporations, they have rallied together to transform an entire community.

It could have been just another story of how industry exploits an area's resources and then moves on, leaving an economically devastated community. But, here the Mon Valley Initiative has transformed the community by creating new jobs, new homes and new hope. It's a story about the power of community united in common cause. Show 910.

Emergency Medical Aid to Ukraine - Legacy of Liberty

The collapse of the Soviet Union has meant many things to the nation of Ukraine. Independence can be a double-edged sword. In the medial community, it has meant that doctors have had to fight for supplies and proper training, while their patients, particularly young children, have fallen victim to the government's lack of regulations for everyday society. Over the years, too many children have been burned in open fires or electrocuted by exposed live wires. Since 1991 Roman Dashawetz and Emergency Medical Aid to Ukraine have been bringing in doctors and supplies from the United States. Over the years, they have worked to train the medical staff and stock hospitals to the point where the Ukrainian medical community can be independent-in every sense of the word. Show 911.

Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship - Legacy of Liberty

Join us as we explore Zonta International, an organization comprised of professional women whose mission is to advance the status of women worldwide. Amelia Earhart was a member of Zonta International. In 1938, one year after her death, Zonta International created the Amelia Earhart Fellowship in her honor. The purpose of the fellowship is to provide social and financial support to women pursuing graduate education in aerospace sciences and engineering fields. Show 911.

Good Shepherd Communities - Roads Less Traveled

"He wasn't to live," said Norma Yorde. "That's the whole thing, he wasn't to live." When Norma and Paul Yorde's only child was born with severe developmental disabilities, this death sentence from the medical community was all that was needed to motivate the young working class couple into rejecting institutionalization and finding another way to care for their son. Raising money door to door to start a small group home for their son Donnie and children like him, Paul and Norma unwittingly began a program that would serve thousands of people with developmental disabilities for over half a century. Good Shepherd Communities now has two missions: to ensure that people with developmental disabilities live full, productive and fulfilling lives with dignity and to provide hope for parents like the Yorde's who have a child with disabilities and don't know where to turn. Today, Donnie Yorde is 64 years old and living in one of the many Good Shepherd Communities started by his parents. In this episode of Visionaries, viewers will meet Donnie and become a part of these communities that have provided so much hope and fulfillment for so many families. Show 912.

International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality - Roads Less Traveled

There is a group challenging the status quo and seeking answers to the most profound of questions: can spirituality add years to your life? Can people continue to change and grow in substantial ways as they are dying? How do you cope with a traumatic, life-threatening experience?

Once, the consensus within the healthcare community was that spirituality and religion had little to do with clinical research, education or medical care. But Doctor David Larson, a pioneer in the healthcare industry, believes something very different. For him, the question was never whether spirituality and healthcare should be integrated, but rather, how the two had always been connected.

In 1991, Dr. Larson began the National Institute of Health Research. Today, it is called the International Center for the Integration of Health and Spirituality. Its mission? To generate research and answers to some of life's deepest questions. Show 912.

Habitat for Humanity - From the Ground Up

We often explore metaphorical boundaries: man-made walls built and fortified by years of racism, sexism and ignorance. In this episode, we want to show why one group builds real walls - in order to tear down stubborn socio-economic boundaries.

Habitat for Humanity of Bucks County Pennsylvania partners with groups from across the country to work on a common mission: building affordable homes today for better communities tomorrow.

We join staff and volunteers working on the Emerald Hollow Project-which will, for the first time, mix a community socially and economically, in a bold attempt to eliminate the "low-income housing" stigma and desegregate economic boundaries.

A youth campaign is key to this effort, attracting volunteers under the age of 25 in record numbers. Together, they are building the largest townhouse community in the Northeast. And in a county often identified as a habitat for the wealthy-we find people from diverse backgrounds erasing substandard housing from the landscape. Show 913.

Windhorse - Where Recovery from Mental Illness is Possible

According to the Surgeon General, mental illness interrupts the lives of about one in five Americans. The predominant view is that mental illness is a brain disorder and the focus of treatment is to find the right medication and to treat symptoms-not people. Stabilization or maintenance is the goal-not recovery.

Windhorse Associates, a mental health organization based in Northampton, Massachusetts, believes that recovery from mental illness is possible. Windhorse was founded on the belief that all people possess an inner motivation toward wellness. This inner motivation can be strengthened and tapped as a powerful healing resource, and is the key to recovery.

Today, Windhorse offers a model for what is possible and effective in recovery-oriented, client-centered, community-based mental health treatment. They are at the forefront in the evolution of treating those who suffer from mental illness with integrative whole-person care. Show 914.

Community Action Marin - Where Recovery from Mental Illness is Possible

What we all need is a sense of hope - knowing someone cares enough to share the struggle. That kind of caregiver can be found at California's Mental Health Outreach Program. There, services are provided by trained peer counselors. These are people who have journeyed through their own severe mental illness in a quest for a better life for themselves - and others. Show 914.

International House - Battling prejudice and racial profiling one friendship at a time

In times marked by war, racial profiling, stereotyping and rampant prejudice, International House stands out as a pioneer in the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful world. For over 70 years, International House on the University of California Berkeley campus has served as one of the largest, most diverse, residential, global communities in the world. International House was established to foster intercultural understanding, respect and friendship between overseas and American students and scholars who live together under one roof while studying at UC Berkeley. Over 1000 students from 80 countries and 25 U.S. states come to International House each year. In the past seven decades, more than 60,000 students from 100 countries have lived in the House.

Before it was built in 1930, International House was subjected to the irrational, bigoted fears of people living in Berkeley in the late 1920's. The prospect of a cross-cultural, coeducational residential and cultural center being built in the middle of an all white, upper-class neighborhood prompted some 1,000 neighbors to protest International House's creation. It was the first interracial living center west of New York. For over seven decades, it has been a place where students come to grips annually with their stereotypes and biases, often leading to the transformation of strangers and enemies into friends. This successful "experiment in international learning and fellowship," as John D. Rockefeller, Jr. described International House Berkeley in 1930, is one of four, including New York, Chicago and Paris, built with Rockefeller funding. These Houses have helped inspire the creation of similar institutions around the world. Show 915.