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I grew up in Maricopa County. Mesa is the home of my youth, where I came of age and into my own from elementary school to college. Naturally, Mesa was also my cradle of political activism and civic involvement, the first place where I voted in a presidential election, and where, through church and school, where I found myself rooted deeply in the far right machine of political activism that swirled around the east valley of Maricopa County in the 90s. From my constitution-loving charter school education to my leadership role in my local college chapter of College Republicans, I…

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It’s So Underground You Haven’t Even Heard Of It

Oh come, all ye faithful, and lend me your ears. There is something very dark, evil and wrong among us, and I need the Christmas-music-loving world to know about it. And that very wrong thing is Christmas Radio.

To listen to a radio station that plays Christmas tunes from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve, you might recognize a few things. Sorry, I mean to say, you might recognize a few songs. …

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From Big City Adventures to Charming Towns That Exude the Magic of the Season, There’s a Reason These Destinations Show Up on Best-Of Lists For Places to Spend the Holidays.

For those who find themselves visiting family and friends for the holiday, or for those stranded or just passing through, these six cities and towns in America are among the best places anywhere to experience the magic of the holiday season.

1. Washington D.C

The nation’s capital is always a hot spot for travelers no matter the season, but unique features like the National Christmas Tree literally in front of the White House, along with a festive stroll down the National Mall make Christmas in D.C. pretty special during the festive time of year. …

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Hunger. It doesn’t matter where you go in any continent, there will always be those who struggle to find a warm meal and proper nutrition. Many think in order to make a difference, they need to be on-site in some foreign country. If you are lucky enough to travel, that’s great, but it’s not required. The hungry are in cities and villages across the world but also in your own town. A more doable method would be to simply lift where you stand, and use the Internet for the rest.

1. Give money

This one is obvious, so let’s get it out of…

In the annals of Christmas music, one song stands out. It is the carol of carols, the benchmark of aspiring vocalists and the be-all, end-all for so many singers.

This Holy Grail of vocal gravitas is usually just about one note. And while listening ears are accustomed to wanting someone who can raise the rafters on the “-vine” of “Oh, night di-,” there are musicians who have found a backdoor via a folksy, more quirky route that is also lovely because it’s unexpected and different.

I listened to more than 100 versions of this song, a mere fraction of what’s…

Finding Love And Unity In The Blissful Irrationality Of Early Marriage Decision-Making

When most couples first get married, it’s typically a season where budgets are small and money is tight. It’s a world filled with “do we really need this?” and ultimatums like “either we can have a garbage can, or we can just continue to use paper grocery bags for another month and reevaluate.”

That is to say, there are priorities and deliberations about almost everything. This can often lead to conflict when it’s a battle of desires and wills. Speaking of garbage cans, my first argument with my wife was over picking one. I couldn’t tell you what the opposing…

Creative Millenial Idealist Seeks Fulfilling Work, Appreciates Consideration

Let me tell you a story.

The moment you see an elderly woman pour a gallon of muddy water into a small plastic bin in which to bathe her grandchildren and do laundry, that moment changes you. The moment you realized she carried that water for five miles, three hours and 47 back aches and two hyena encounters just to get home, that moment changes you. When that one gallon represents a high percentage of the water she has to use for the entire week, and you witness the meticulous way she washes…

How storytelling can change the world, and why we need it to.

The power of storytelling is indisputable. Stories make us laugh, cry, hope, love and feel compassion. Stories can inspire action as they’re shared across dinner tables and computer screens around the world. And particularly in the realm of social enterprise, this sharing of stories is key to any venture’s success.

And yet, the creative and financial effort behind an engaging tale is often stuck in the shadows. As with the tree that falls in a forest, will the next Einstein or Curie be discovered if no one hears about them?

To this end, veteran PBS producer and MIT lecturer, Diane…

Boys playing soccer / joseph peterson

The universal truth of gratitude, hope, and second chances

I hear my name being shouted from every bare-footed child in every unpaved direction. It appears that the neighborhood children seem to think that my name is the easiest name to remember among my travel compatriots, so every time we go out all the kids shout their affectionate nickname for Joseph: Jossi!

It makes me laugh. It makes me cry.

I bought a soccer ball for the neighborhood kids to play with—one ball for the 50-plus kids who live near us on the edge of the burgeoning military town of Debre Zeit, where the city frays into villages and traditions…

On Service and Answering the Call to Volunteer

When I contemplate how my life has pivoted from what was just a comfortable apathy to now a determined activism, it’s hard to pinpoint the singular moments of change. I think for many who are engaged in the culture of service, there is probably some part of them that has always felt curious about the world beyond their own sphere. I can say that for me, that’s how I always was; only I lacked the exposure and knowledge of how to actually go and do something. And I got distracted along the way with social life, school and work.


Joseph Peterson

Curious by nature, writer by trade. Interested in society, pop culture, travel, food, family life, and writing. Twitter: @planetjoseph

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