Friday, October 11, 2013

Where Is Our Economy Headed?

Given the current government shutdown in the U.S., the question of where our economy is headed is one that is being asked not only in this country but around the world.

A few days before the government shutdown, I had the opportunity to interview Russell Hancock, the president and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley - a well-known think tank located in San Jose, CA. You can view the organization's website here.

Hancock made some insightful remarks about how some of the trends taking place in Silicon Valley are having an impact around the nation and why these trends are being watched around the world. If you haven't seen our discussion you can still view it in its entirety until October 12 on the Media Center's website, where there is a schedule for my shows here.

Here is an excerpt from my discussion with Hancock.  See if you agree with some of his assessments. 

Talking with Henrietta - Where Is Our Economy Headed?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One Program for Prisoners Is Showing Tremendous Results

Are there rehabilitation programs for prisoners in California? There is certainly one rehabilitation program that is making a huge difference right now throughout California.  It’s a rehabilitation program that trains inmates to fight wildfires.

Prisoners are not the first people who ordinarily come to mind when we think of firefighters. But thousands of inmate firefighters have been on the frontlines fighting the wildfires that have been raging in California over the past few weeks. They have been trained through a special rehabilitation program jointly run by the California Department of Corrections, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). These state agencies operate 44 conservation camps that train low-risk inmates to fight fires and take on emergency assignments during floods and earthquakes.

The conservation camps, which grew from the first one that started operating in 1946,  house and train an estimated 4.300 prisoners and wards of the state.  During their firefighting training, these willing and able-bodied inmates get 64 hours of basic firefighting training and work five days a week. They remain on-call 24/7. Their pay? For putting their lives on the line to help with wildfires and other natural emergencies, they are paid $1.00 an hour. On the high side,  the inmates can earn between $1.45 and a little less than $4.00 an hour.

It is estimated that these inmate crews provide nearly 3 million firefighting hours annually. State correction officials say that their work saves California taxpayers about $80 million every year.  

It’s amazing to consider that thousands of firefighters, who are deployed throughout the state to fight the major wildfires that develop in California annually, are on loan from our state prisons. One California fire official called the inmate firefighters “absolutely invaluable.”

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Traveling Down Memory Lane With An Eye On The Future

This photo shows me talking with Jean Byrne during an interview I did while hosting a
 show for WNET TV.  Bryne was at the time the wife of N.J.'s  Gov. Brendan Byrne. 
I mentioned in my previous blog entry that I had an opportunity to travel down memory lane with Doug McConnell during our meeting in Cooley Landing Park this past April.

That meeting with McConnell was just the beginning of my travels down memory lane, because I had to make some introductory remarks about myself for the Palo Alto Rotary Club on May 20 of this year and, then several weeks later, I made a similar presentation on May 29 for the East Palo Alto Rotary Club.

Believe me there is nothing like looking back on various aspects of one’s life and thinking about the people who’ve been a part of one’s past, ranging from classmates like David Bing and Stokely Carmichael (also known as Kwame Ture) to professional associates.

I had the experience, for example, of sharing an elevator at Rockefeller Center with Barbara Walters, when I was a reporter for WNBC TV in New York City and I, later, had a fun encounter with Charlie Rose when he was Bill Moyers’ assistant and I was the host of Dateline: New Jersey at WNET TV, which is the Public Broadcasting Station in New York City. Do you think Rose would remember when he and I first met? Now that’s a question worth asking.

Would David Bing, who is the outgoing mayor of Detroit or Sharon Pratt, the former mayor of Washington, D.C. remember me? For the most part, people remember their classmates and co-workers.

At the top of this post is a photo from my WNET TV experience when I interviewed Jean Byrne, who was, at the time of the interview, the wife of New Jersey’s Governor Brendan Byrne. My co-host was Jerome Wilson, who was a former New Jersey State Senator.

Going down memory lane can be bittersweet, because one has to look back at what one has done, could have done, but didn’t do and, then, compare these three things with what one is doing in the present.

It’s exciting for me to keep in mind that each day brings new experiences full of amazing possibilities.

In the news business there is a saying. “You’re only as good as your last story.” I’d like to add, “Everyone is always as good as or better than what they’re working on now.”  You’re as good in the present as you were in the past with the potential of the future in front of you.

So, isn’t it better to keep striving rather than to rest on anything that one has done in the past? The past is static, but the present is always changing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Morning at Cooley Landing Park with Doug McConnell

                                              Photos courtesy of Shelly Lewis, MROSD
Henrietta J. Burroughs is shown standing with Doug McConnell at Cooley Landing Park on April 19, 2013.


As someone who interviews guests on my show, Talking with Henrietta, and as someone who reports on events that take place in the East Palo Alto and Menlo Park communities for the East Palo Alto Today newspaper, it is always an interesting experience for me when I am interviewed by someone else.

Doug McConnell interviews Henrietta J.Burroughs
Since I have simply spent a good part of my life interviewing other people, I can't convey to you how strange it is for me to be interviewed.  So, it was a fascinating experience being interviewed by Doug McConnell, whom many television viewers might remember as the host of the television show, Bay Area Backroads, which was a television series that was carried on KRON TV for 23 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.

McConnell was the host and senior editor of Bay Area Backroads from 1993 to 2009. He replaced Jerry Graham who started the show in 1985 when Graham retired to live in Santa Cruz with his family. It was certainly a surprise shortly after my interview with McConnell to hear that Graham died on April 29 of this year of a heart attack at his home in Santa Cruz.

McConnell is now the co-founder and managing partner of ConvergenceMedia Productions (CMP) in Sausalito, CA and he focuses a good portion of his time on environmental issues. I met him around 11 a.m. on April 19 to talk about Cooley Landing Park. We could not have had a more beautiful day to stand by the San Francisco Bay to talk.

McConnell is working on a video production for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), which will include Cooley Landing Park and some of the history related to its development. I was invited to talk with him since, as the editor-in-chief of East Palo Alto Today, I could share information about some of the stories EPA Today has run detailing the community visioning process in East Palo Alto that led to Cooley Landing becoming the park that it is today. Earlier this year, I was invited to serve on MROSD's Community Advisory Committee, an invitation I accepted.

I must say speaking, personally, as someone who has interviewed hundreds of people, that McConnell is a superb interviewer.  I walked away from our interview absolutely impressed by his interviewing skills. After seeing many episodes of Bay Area Backroads, it was truly an honor to meet McConnell and an even greater honor to be interviewed by him.

During our time together, we talked about some of the experiences we had during the years that we worked in the media on the East Coast at the beginning of our careers. Going down memory lane was so much fun.

After his interview with me, McConnell went to Mt. Umunhum (Just try saying Mt. Umunhum fast. It's a treat just saying it slowly), to interview Nonette Hanko, one of the founders of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. You can just imagine how much I am looking forward to seeing the video that McConnell produces from all of the aerial footage and interviews he is compiling for his video project. I'll definitely share information in EPA Today when the video is completed.

You can click here (, to see an article, Decide the future of open space reserves, published in the April-May 17, 2013 issue of EPA Today on the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, where you are invited to participate in MROSD's visioning process for the S.F. Bay Area. If you go to the Opinion page on page 7 in this issue, you'll be able to see how Cooley Landing Park is back in the news, again, in a controversial way.

 You can click here ( to read some of the articles that appeared in East Palo Alto Today about Cooley Landing Park before it became a park. Read here ( about the park's opening in the article titled, "A dream come true: Cooley Landing," and here ( to see a video excerpt of an interview titled, Transforming a Dump into a Park, that took place with Meda Okelo and Lily Lee in 2010 on Talking with Henrietta. This video interview is certainly an historic interview for the archives.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Each Day Offers A New Beginning

It's the beginning of February. So, we're still very much at the beginning of a new year, which symbolically, offers us a fresh start. Each new year gives us a chance to set new goals, demand more of ourselves and recommit to life.

There is a lot of drama that is involved with the start of a new year. Of course, each day gives us the same opportunities that we see at the beginning of each new year. But the start of each new day does not seem as dramatic as the start of another year, which begins and ends with fireworks and celebrations.

 How To Be A Better You In 2013
 Talking with Henrietta - January 24, 2013

Sometimes, the bigger the expectations we have, the greater the disappointment we feel when the goals go unmet and the dreams go unfulfilled.

How do we, then, set the new goals, place the demands on ourselves, commit to doing more with our lives - all with the follow through that we need to accomplish the goals that we've set? It's, obviously, a day-by-day process and it's what we do each day that makes the difference.

Whether it's learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, exercising to keep fit, meal planning to eat in a more healthy way or creating and following a budget, achievement in any area entails a step-by-step process in which what is done each day makes the difference in determining whether the big goals are met.

So, what new goals have you set? How have you used today? Have you done anything in any area of your life to have and reach a bigger dream?  Each day is a new day that offers a new beginning.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How News Stories Can Empower Us and Change Our Lives

 Top News Stories and Their Effect On You
Talking with Henrietta - December 20, 2012

Each day or week, there is a news story that invariably captivates us. We're not all affected by the same news story and we're not all affected the same way. But there are news events that grab our attention and many for good reasons.

Some of the headline stories get our sympathy. There are others that stretch our credibility and challenge our imaginations. While there are still others that are so horrendous that they fall into all of the above categories.

The events that pushed Pres. Obama to call for stricter gun control laws fall into the last category. The murders in Newtown, Connecticut; the shootings in Aurora, Colorado; the murders at Virginia Tech and all of the other gun massacres in the U.S. grab the national headlines and the nation's attention.

News headliners like Lance Armstrong leave us questioning the moral fiber of the country and our athletes and calling for a change in other laws or in how various things are done.

Each news story has the potential to move us in some way. We can make the choice to get more information, to take action in direct response to the issue the story presents or to do nothing.

News and information give us choices. Having choices can be empowering.

What if, as we read a news story, we consider how we can potentially use the information it presents. Of course, how we use the information is up to us. If nothing else, each story we read gives us insight into the world around us.

What are we doing with the information we get each day, with the insights we are receiving? How does this information affect our values and our perceptions of the world around us? When looked at from this perspective, news stories aren't just stories that we read, they become catalysts for generating new ideas and wellsprings that motivate us to take personal and collective action.

If this is indeed the case, then take a news story that you read this week or this month and see how you can use it to make a difference in the world around you or in any life that your life touches.