Tag Archives: Stephan Faris

Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration

10 Aug


In June, I wrote about the launch of Deca, a cooperative of award-winning journalists, and their extraordinary online success with a Kickstarter campaign that, in less than one month, raised more than double their original funding goal (a grand total of $32,627 against the original $15,000 goal).

I highlighted Deca not only because it’s an innovative model to showcase world-class writers at the top of their game, writing long form journalism that delves into the heart of important stories, but also because one of their members, Stephan Faris, is a local friend of mine. I can’t say enough about his writing talents, but I try here.

Deca’s second story and Stephen’s first piece with the cooperative came out on July 25 and is titled Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration.

Reading this piece did what I think really great journalism should do: it opened my mind, expanded my horizons, and inspired me to learn more, think more, and want to do more.

Honestly, have you ever considered the radical-sounding idea of a world where borders didn’t exist? A world without restrictions on immigration, where people wouldn’t be deported simply for trying to change countries, where people could freely choose the country that they wanted to be a citizen of, rather than it being a chance “fluke” of birth or happenstance?

These are questions and issues that are more than timely right now, and Stephan brings forth well-constructed arguments for the case, by skillfully weaving together his sources, which range from diplomats to families, politicians to philosophers, and of course, the immigrants themselves, including children.

In June, UK’s The Guardian reported on the refugee crisis in Italy in their piece Europe faces ‘colossal humanitarian crisis’ of refugees dying at sea.

Also in June, President Obama declared the surge of immigrants arriving at US borders a “humanitarian crisis.” More than 57,000 children have fled Central American countries and arrived at the US southern border since last October, according to this article in The Guardian.

The interest that was sparked by reading Stephan’s article led to me picking up a copy of the book The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging the Narcos on the Migrant Trail, which details the treacherous trip north through Mexico that Central American immigrants go through, including riding on top of a freight train known as the “train of death,” The Beast, La Bestia.

This is the power of journalism, especially when it is given free reign to delve deep into timely topics. It opens minds, educates, builds a case for revolutionary new ideas. I can’t speak highly enough about Stephan and the contribution that his reporting makes to this very relevant world issue.

To order Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration, click here (Kindle Single, $2.99).

From the Amazon page:

“As a child, Stephan Faris nearly failed to qualify for any country’s passport. Now, in a story that moves from South Africa to Italy to the United States, he looks at the arbitrariness of nationality. Framed by Faris’s meeting with a young orphan as a reporter in Liberia and their reencounter years later in Minnesota, Homelands makes the case for a complete rethinking of immigration policy. In a world where we’ve globalized capital, culture, and communications, are restrictions on the movement of people still morally tenable?

At a time when the immigration debate dominates the headlines, Homelands follows in the tradition of George Orwell’s “Marrakech” and, more recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s case for reparations in The Atlantic. Drawing on more than a decade of international reporting for magazines such as Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Atlantic, Faris takes readers on a ten-year journey along the borders separating war from peace in Liberia, opportunity from deprivation in Kenya, and safety from disaster today in the deadly waters off Lampedusa, an Italian holiday island that has become the scene of a refugee crisis. On the way, he uncovers a series of unsettling but ultimately redeeming parallels between modern immigration practices and the policies of South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Could we really have a world without borders? What would that look like? Based on dozens of interviews with philosophers and diplomats, aid workers and small-town mayors, and a cabinet member of South Africa’s last apartheid government, Faris’s work of fearless frontline journalism also functions as a kind of futurism. Confronting questions inflaming borders in California and Texas, France and Greece, Morocco and Spain, he takes us into the depths of one of the modern world’s most complex moral dilemmas—and returns with an answer.”


Deca: A writer’s cooperative with one of Rome’s own

18 Jun

I am very, very excited to share this with you. Honored to have as one of my readers and friends the exceptionally great journalist Stephan Faris, who, by way of introduction in his own words: “Since April 2001, I have written from Africa, the Middle East, China and Europe for publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Time Magazine, and The Atlantic Magazine. I have written about war in Iraq, refugees in Darfur, and Internet censorship in China, and the Eurozone crisis across the continent.” Currently we are lucky to have him based in Rome as a contributor to a variety of world-class publications.

Seriously, folks, Stephan’s reporting and writing is amazing. Literally the only reason I have a subscription to TIME is because I wanted to finish reading one of his pieces there (they only let you get so far without a subscription, just when you’re hooked). And, trust me when I say that I was totally unbiased at the time, because it was even before he and I met through mutual acquaintances and realized that we appreciated each other’s writing. But hell, don’t take my word for it; check out some of my favorites and judge for yourself:

And now, drumroll please…

Stephan and eight of his award-winning journalist colleagues have banded together to form Deca, a global writer’s cooperative, as a vehicle for reporting and writing long-form stories. Long-form, sometimes known as creative nonfiction or narrative journalism, brings forth in-depth stories that are longer than a traditional article but shorter than a full-length book.

Check out their introductory video:

Introducing Deca from Deca on Vimeo.

The exciting news is that in LESS THAN FOUR DAYS, the group reached their initial Kickstarter goal of raising $15,000 to cover the costs of reporting and producing their monthly stories.

The even more exciting news is that they still have over twenty days to continue gathering contributions to fund their project, bringing us examples of what high caliber writers can do when they’re working at the very top of their game from an innovative, collaborative model.

Just $10 gets you a subscription to their first three stories, while a contribution of $350+ is like purchasing a master class in journalism, where you can edit and work side-by-side with the writers. Aspiring journalists and accomplished writers alike should jump at this chance. The campaign is receiving such a warm reception that some of the incentives to work with the writers have “sold out,” which prompted them to add additional spots.

Understandably, Deca is getting a lot of press:

Together with Marc Herman, another Deca co-founder, Stephan spoke at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy, last month. You can view their talk here:

The only question I still have is whether or not long-form is hyphenated? (Clearly, my intuitive choice favors the hyphen. But, you see, personally I’d even hyphenate non-fiction if I could get away with it.)

I should just sign up for an editing gig with the Deca team to get the insider’s guide on journalistic style.

Actually, if we want to use most venerable The New York Times as our guide, we can go with Jonathan Mahler’s style in When Long-Form is Bad Form (hyphen!), where he finishes by saying:

What, then, is the function — the purpose — of “long-form”? To allow a writer to delve into the true complexities of a story, and also to bring readers closer to the experience of other people. Whether a long-form story is published in a magazine or on the web, its goal should be to understand and illuminate its subject, and maybe even use that subject to (subtly) explore some larger, more universal truths. Above all, that requires empathy, the real hallmark of great immersive journalism.

So now, please: run—don’t walk—to subscribe. Incredible, mind-blowing, memorable storytelling awaits. And, as Stephan recently noted, “I defy you to find a cuter editorial process than how we do things at Deca.”


Unlisted 3 Conference in Rome Next Thursday

10 Apr
Professional photographer Nicolee Drake and archaeologist Darius Arya, two of the presenters in next week's Unlisted 3 Conference

Professional photographer Nicolee Drake and archaeologist Darius Arya, two of the presenters in next week’s Unlisted 3 Conference

Also known as: meet and mingle with famous people, learn about how The American Institute for Roman Culture is actively working to conserve archeological cultural heritage in Rome, find out how digital technology and social media tools are breaking new ground in helping save important treasures from the past, and, get a lovely little free aperitivo to boot!

What: Unlisted 3 Conference
When: Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 4 pm to 7 pm
Where: Via Vittoria Colonna 11, Rome

Link to Facebook event page – Please share on your Facebook page!

Honestly, people, what more do you need for the perfect Thursday afternoon? Cultural enrichment and education, activism, big names, creative ideas, networking possibilities, no cost, open to the public, and in the spectacular venue of Marconi University’s Sala Vittoria Colonna, which isn’t open to the public but on this date will be for our special event!

Yes, I say “our” because, out of psuedo-journalistic disclosure, I should let you know that I am totally biased in favor of this event, because it’s being organized by the organization I work for. Which, if you know nothing about, you should remedy that problem, like, right now.

Ok, ok, I know you’re dying to know who all those famous people are. Well, I don’t know how you define famous, but in my world, they are:

people who appear on the History Channel to talk about Ancients Behaving Badly (“mess with Hannibal and there will be blood”)

and who take up the fight to save the Tomb of the Gladiator collecting over 5,000 online signatures, and even get featured on CNN for it and even get to chat with GB of The Italian Notebook about it;

and people, professional photographer people, who have over 225,000 followers on Instagram gazing in on their spectacular photos from Rome and beyond;

and people, more professional photographer people, who have over 230,000 followers on Instagram gazing in on their spectacular photos from NYC and beyond;

and people who get a massive fundraiser supported for a documentary about the race to save a 2,600-year-old Buddhist city from imminent destruction by a Chinese copper mine in Afghanistan;

and people who write brilliantly about everything and everyone from political activist/comic Beppe Grillo in TIME Magazine to the famous chef who crafted gourmet hamburgers for McDonald’s Italy in The Atlantic Monthly.

Those kind of people, insomma.

All of them, and others, coming together to discuss the primary objective of AIRC’s 3rd Annual Unlisted Conference for Archaeological Cultural Heritage:

To help “unlisted” ailing monuments and archaeological sites get the attention and funding they need through engaging and interacting with the public at large (and not just the usual academics and insider people) by successfully utilizing modern tools of digital technology and social media.

Here’s your chance to learn the latest about how today’s social media and digital technology (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Kickstarter, digital photography and video) are being powerfully employed in the mission to save and conserve ancient culture for future generations.

Please join us here in Rome next Thursday, April 18, from 4 pm to 7 pm in Sala Vittoria Colonna (Prati) on Via Vittoria Colonna 11. Reservations are not required, and simultaneous English-Italian interpretation will be available.

If you can’t make it to Rome, you can join us in a live webstreaming broadcast from this link.

Share this information with everyone you know! The power of crowdsourcing is what will help make a real and lasting impact in this field. By sharing this information, you become an active part of the mission to save important archaeological cultural heritage. Good for you! Go ahead and give yourself a little pat on the back for that. Thanks.

Link to Facebook event page – Please share on your Facebook page!

Print a flyer, click here!