Vicky Collins Online

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30 Minute Seder

I love Passover.  The Jewish holiday is meaningful, joyous and delicious.  I look forward all year long to the celebration around the table with friends and family.  What’s not to love about a dinner that lasts all evening and ends with the poignant words “next year in Jerusalem.”  It is always a memorable night.  So imagine my surprise when I saw the advertisement in the New York Times Magazine for “Passover redefined… for today’s Jewish Family!  For $5.95 you can purchase the 30 minute seder, a Haggadah that blends brevity with tradition.  “You Saved Our Seder!” shouts Beth C. of NYC.   A little frog on the ad says it’s all about “making Passover fun” and best of all, it’s rabbinically approved.  Perfect for the family on the go!! 

Have we become so busy that we can no longer spend a few hours at a special meal?  Are we so consumed with our Blackberry’s, IPhones and multitasking that we can’t sit still and enjoy our friends, families and faith?  The ad says it keeps the high points intact, but what about the nuance.  Shouldn’t there also be time for reflection on relieving suffering and working against injustice and leaving a trail of goodness in the world?  Shouldn’t we contemplate the bitterness of oppression that the Jews experienced and that still lingers in the world today?  Is there even time to welcome Elijah and find the afikomen?  My late Nana would say “oy vey.”

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://www.teletrendstv.com

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Slum Tourism

Check out Ode Magazine for my story on slum tourism or “poorism” as it is sometimes called.  This is my first magazine article and it came as a result of stories I introduced on my blog.  Thanks to all for reading. 

http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/62/slum-tours/

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://www.teletrendstv.com


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Columbine Revisited

Has it been 10 years already?  The anniversary of the deadly shooting at Columbine High School is less than a month away and as I dive back in to the story I’m flooded with memories of that Tuesday.  I haven’t really thought about Columbine much over the last few years, except on the painful occasions when another disturbed youth goes ballistic and takes it out on his classmates.  It happened just recently in Germany.  Virginia Tech was another shocking reminder of how helpless we can be when a motivated killer has fellow students in his sight.  Now it’s time to revisit Columbine again.  With the 10th anniversary upon us I can’t help but remember that day and the many days that followed as we covered the story for NBC News. 

I was up in Boulder working on another story when all hell broke loose and we were told to get to Littleton fast.  I remember driving, writing, talking on the phone all at the same time, trying not to collide in traffic.  I didn’t know where the school was.  The roads were closed.  I parked my car a distance away and hitched a ride to where the media was gathered.  I was one of the first on the scene and we started doing live shots.  I don’t think I returned to my car for two days.  The names of the fallen still ring in my ears.  Dave Sanders, Lauren Townsend, Rachel Scott, Isaiah Schoels, Daniel Mauser, Cassie Bernall, Steve Curnow, Corey DePooter, Kelly Fleming, Matt Kechter, Daniel Rohrbough, John Tomlin, Kyle Velasquez.     

We were there with the first responders and in the early chaos it was a blur.  It wasn’t until the reinforcements arrived from NBC News (and there were so many of them who came from all over the country) that I really had time to absorb the incredible scope of the story.  For three weeks we were booking, producing, doing live reports, talking to families and friends of victims, talking to survivors of the horror, attending funerals.  Finally that first weekend I was able to breathe and took a walk at Clement Park along the memorial fence and completely fell apart.  I brought my children.  We read the notes, saw the candles, stuffed animals and flowers.  The whole world was grieving.  There was an aftermath of confusion and compassion. 

Ten years later, what have we learned?  We still hold our guns as dear as we hold our children.  Perhaps we’re better at preventing massacres but now and again some troubled teen like Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold bursts through our defenses and there is carnage again.  Andrew Robinson, a senior at Columbine on April 20, 1999, has created a movie called “April Showers.”  It is not a documentary but rather a theatrical piece about a school shooting “based on actual facts.”  You see where he got his inspiration.  So much of Columbine is recognizable.  At the end of the movie there is a scroll of all the people who have died during school shootings in the U.S.  The list is so long.  Kent State, Virginia Tech, Columbine, on and on.  Viewers watch silently.  Taking it in.

As the anniversary approaches, we are hooking up again with those we met 10 years ago.  They have all kept on going.  Pushing through the pain.  Remembering their loved ones in positive ways.  They have also done remarkable things during the journey to turn a horrible day into a teaching moment.  Darrell and Craig Scott take Rachel’s Challenge into schools so kids will learn to love each other.  Schools have worked hard to teach tolerance, empathy and become safer.  The buildings are not impenetrable but they are better.  Those whose lives were changed forever on that day are coming forward again, perhaps for the last time, to make sure no one ever forgets Columbine.  After all, there are still lessons to learn from that deadly day at school.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Points from Poynter

As a young television producer working at KRON TV in San Francisco I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong seminar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was one of the first times I was able to explore my craft with other like minded professionals and learn from some of the best in the business.  Among them was Rod Prince, one of the brilliant producers of NBC Network News who I eventually had the privilege to work with.  That week fired me up like no other and the skills I developed remain with me to this day.  The Poynter Institute is an amazing place to grow.  With the economy in a meltdown it is getting more difficult for aspiring journalists to get a first break.  A mom on the lacrosse field told me her soon to be college graduate was very discouraged by the prospects and another would be broadcaster decided to abandon television news altogether for a career in public relations.  Here is an article by the Poynter Institute’s Jill Geisler on why people should still hire journalists.  It speaks to the virtues and the myriad of abilities of those who report the news.   

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=34&aid=160112

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Tech Support

It was a daunting problem. How to get the laptop to talk via wireless to the new HP All-In-One printer. It had worked before but suddenly nothing. I spent a couple hours on the problem a week ago. My husband did the same. He told me to return the printer. It didn’t work and was under warranty. It was junk. I decided to give it one more try. I got Nio on the phone. He is in the Philippines, an hour flight from Manila. He was able to take control of my computer to troubleshoot but needed a new encryption key for the router. He asked me to call Qwest. I got Kay on the phone. She was in Manila in the Philippines too. Whodathunkit? With Nio in one ear and Kay on the other we started to tackle the problem. Sometimes it was crazy with them both talking at once. What’s the IP Address? WEP key? Can you go to the set up menu and configure the wireless? It took international cooperation. Then SUCCESS! We solved the problem. The printer works again. There was no war with Hewlett Packard. Diplomacy triumphed in the end.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Pathway to Peace?

As the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians rages on, a small company is presenting a model for peace and productivity. Global Hosted Operating System or G.ho.st is one of the few companies that is a partnership between Israelis and Palestinians. But running the West Bank company is tricky. Imagine being the CEO of a successful company and not being able to visit the headquarters even though its just 10 miles away. That’s the story for CEO Zvi Schreiber who lives on the Israeli side of the West Bank in Modiin but is prohibited by his country from crossing over into Palestine. The 35 software developers who work in Ramallah can enter Israel only if they can get permits from the army and cross through the wall and numerous checkpoints. When they need to meet they video conference or rendezvous in a forest near Jerusalem or in a rundown coffee shop on a desert road frequented by camels and Bedouin shepherds near Jericho, which is open to both. It is a determined workforce.

The founders of G.ho.st, Israeli Zvi Schrieber and Palestinian Murad Tahboub, are creating a free, web-based virtual computer that lets people access their desktop and files from any computer with an internet connection. The software is getting lots of attention in the computer world. Along the way they have carved out a model of cooperation that is combining business with peacemaking and is also helping boost the job picture for Palestinians. It’s good for business. Salaries for Palestinian engineers are about a third the prevailing rate that they are in Israel and Palestinian unemployment is 21%. It’s a win-win for everyone. But the cross border company with a headquarters in Palestine and an office in Israel is unprecedented. The scenario has been working for two and a half years although it was difficult to work together during the recent fighting in Gaza. Everyone had to struggle hard to stay on task while they scrambled about worried for family and friends and even attending funerals for the fallen.

Now the would be adversaries are suiting up for a conflict with an enemy far from the Middle East. The scrappy little G.ho.st is fighting a trademark fight over it’s phrase “no walls” with software giant, Microsoft. But Israelis and Palestinians are on the same side in the upcoming battle. Besides merging technological and commercial ambitions with social ones, G.ho.st also has a philanthropic foundation that is establishing community computer centers in Ramallah and mixed Jewish-Arab towns in Israel. The foundation is headed by Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter, Noa Rothman, who hails G.ho.st for getting things done on a people to people level and is impressed by how easily folks get along. Israelis and Palestinians are on the same team with equity and a stake in the company. Politics is taking a back seat to business and the employees have found a solution across cultures and two sides of a tough conflict. A few other high tech companies are starting to follow the example. Ghosts go through walls. Could this be a pathway to peace?

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com


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Grateful Traveler

I recently got to know a fabulous freelance writer named Jamie Simons who writes the Grateful Traveler article for Peter Greenberg’s blog. Peter Greenberg is the travel expert who is a frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show. I met him a couple years ago when I was producing for him at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic. If you haven’t read his blog you should check it out. It’s full of travel tips and articles and destinations. Grateful Traveler is a compilation of inspiring stories about people who travel the world and come home transformed from the experience. A new story is posted every Wednesday and Jamie really spends time with her subjects. This week Jamie featured me and BeadforLife and I am so, well, grateful. Thanks Peter and especially, Jamie.

http://www.petergreenberg.com/2009/03/04/from-tourist-to-traveler-on-a-journey-to-uganda/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com