MJE and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recognize six courageous community members

Recently, over the summer of 2018, I had the pleasure of interviewing six honorees of Mothers for Justice and Equality (MJE) before they receieved their Courage and Conviction awards, honors given to those who have stood firm in the presence of tragedy and gone on to do extraordinary, inspiring things. Awards were given by MJE President Monalisa Smith aboard The Spirit of Boston ship on a clear, warm summer night that included dinner and dancing. To say that it was an honor to meet these people — most interviews were in person while others took place over the phone and email — is an understatement. Learning about their inspiring work brought me to tears at times. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh recognized the honorees in our press releases: “This year's award winners represent the impact one individual can have in creating a profound and positive change within their communities,” said Walsh. “The Courage and Conviction Award recipients have gone above and beyond, selflessly working to better their neighborhoods. I applaud them for their efforts, and thank Mothers for Justice and Equality for recognizing these individuals for their important contributions to our city.”

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RI Family family farmers prepare for bountiful summer and fall harvests while always remembering the importance of giving back to RI communities

Tyler and Karla Young reflect on the farming industry’s old and new ways

By Andrea Cale, The Good News Experiment

LITTLE COMPTON, RI — Rhode Island farmers Tyler and Karla Young’s roots run deep along Little Compton’s West Main Road, a dreamy street that features patches of fog, picturesque farmhouses and lush, green land until it reaches the ocean’s edge at nearby Sakonnet Point. Birthplace of the first “Rhode Island Red” hen, the town offers a quiet, comforting glimpse at what life may have looked like in an earlier century. And for Tyler, his personal connections to the road date back to his English ancestors who settled there.

“Everyone down the road here is a relative,” he said with a smile. “My grandparents had a farm nearby called Ferolbink Farms raising potatoes, and I farmed with my grandfather and my uncle for years before I started our farm here.”

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I choose forgiveness: A mother’s case for bringing lessons from South African apartheid healing to communities affected by gun violence

Written for The Good News Experiment by Lisa D. Daniels,
Founder and Director of The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices in Chicago

Nominated for The Good News Experiment by Monalisa Smith,
Founder and President of Mothers for Justice and Equality in Boston

“So, your Honor, I ask you to please show this young man leniency as you decide his sentence.”

These were the closing words of my victim impact statement to the judge presiding over the sentencing of the young man who was found guilty of the murder of my youngest son, Darren Easterling.

I wrote them with the heart of a mother who knows that none of us is perfect. I spoke them with an unwavering belief that none of our lives should be defined by our worst mistakes.

That applies to Darren, not only my loving son, but an affectionate father, funny brother, talented athlete, good friend and a 25-year-old who had a drive to be so much more than the headlines that instead emphasized his own poor choices that cost him his life in Park Forest, IL on July 22, 2012. That belief also applies to the young man who was found guilty of Darren’s murder.

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Civic-minded siblings commit to positive, grassroots change by mixing innovative technology with an older form of social networking

In today’s Digital Age, the term “social networking” is likely to conjure up self-promotional images of impressive profile pages, YouTube channels and selfies, but for two young adults of Cambridge, Mass., it also means turning the figurative lens outward, partnering with under-resourced communities and offering a warm, friendly place for people to meet and facilitate change. 

While Eric and Anna Leslie are far too open-minded, grounded and humble to admit that they’ve mastered the art of engaging communities, they created an innovative nonprofit organization almost four years ago that is much more than a start.

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Seeking Nominations

Andrea Cale, author of The Corn Husk Experiment, and Monalisa Smith, Founder and President of Mothers for Justice and Equality, are presently seeking nominations for The Good News Experiment, an initiative to bimonthly recognize neighborhood innovators with feature stories through blog, social media and traditional media formats. 


To nominate an individual or group for the neighborhood innovator recognition, please send ideas to Cale and Smith at andreacalebooks@gmail.com. Please click here for more program details. The first honoree will be announced in January 2018.