This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish
Old properties and empty lots in cities and towns around the United States are finding new life as urban farms. EcoCity Farms in Edmonston, Maryland, is located near shopping centers, car repair shops and homes. The neighborhood is a working-class community. People do not have very much money, and they have limited access to fresh food in markets. Over the past two years, the farm has attracted volunteers from the community like Marcy Clark. She schools her four children at home. On a recent day she brought them to EcoCity Farms for a lesson. Her children harvested rows of spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, Swiss chard and carrots. "It's important that the children understand the connection between the food that they eat, the soil, the air, the pollution, how all this is connected to their well-being," she says. Her son Alston agrees: "You connect with the earth, where your food comes from. You appreciate the food a little bit more." Margaret Morgan-Hubbard started EcoCity Farms. She thinks of it as a place where people can learn to live healthier lives. "Our view is that what happens in a community, influences the culture of that community. So our idea was growing food in a community and showing that you can have farms even in urban areas, redefines what's possible in that area, in that community and brings people together." "Every piece of what we do here is a demonstration to show people everything about how to have a sustainable community," she says. That means not only farming food and raising chickens and bees, but improving the soil with compost made from food waste. Sixteen wooden bins are filled with worms. Their job is to eat the food waste and help make it into compost. EcoCity Farms is an "off the grid" experimental operation. The farm gets its power not from the local electricity grid but from the sun with solar panels. In winter, the greenhouses are heated using a geothermal system. Buried tubes pump air at underground temperature -- thirteen degrees Celsius -- into the structures. Vegetables can be grown all year. So once a week, all winter long, neighbors can come to the farm and pick up a share of the harvest. For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. You can find two videos about EcoCity Farms -- including one about the composting worms -- at voaspecialenglish.com.
(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 06Mar2012)
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (Motown 25th Anniversary Yesterday Today And Forever)
His 1st Moonwalk Performance
"Billie Jean" is a dance-pop R&B song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was written by Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones for the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Originally disliked by Jones, the track was almost removed from the album after he and Jackson had numerous disagreements. The song's lyrics refer to a real-life experience, in which a mentally ill female fan claimed that Jackson had fathered one of her twins. The song is well known for its distinctive bass line and Jackson's vocal hiccups. The song was mixed 91 times by Bruce Swedien before it was finalized. Following the successful chart performance of "The Girl Is Mine", "Billie Jean" was released on January 2, 1983, as the album's second single. "Billie Jean" was a worldwide commercial and critical success; it became one of the best-selling singles of 1983, and topped both the US and UK charts simultaneously. Cited as one of the most revolutionary songs in history, "Billie Jean" was certified platinum in 1989. Honored numerous times—including two Grammy Awards, one American Music Award and an induction into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame—the song and corresponding music video propelled Thriller into the best-selling album of all time. The song was promoted with a short film that broke down MTV's racial barrier as the first video by a black artist to be played in heavy rotation by the channel, and an Emmy-nominated performance on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, in which Jackson premiered "the moonwalk." The song was also promoted through Jackson's Pepsi commercials; during the filming of one commercial, Jackson's scalp was severely burned. Covered and sampled by modern artists, "Billie Jean" sealed Jackson's status as an international pop icon.
Thriller Album: Thriller is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The album was released on November 30, 1982 by Epic Records as the follow-up to Jackson's critically and commercially successful 1979 album Off the Wall. Thriller explores similar genres to those of Off the Wall, including funk, disco, soul, soft rock, R&B, and pop. Thriller's lyrics deal with themes including paranoia and the supernatural. With a production budget of $750,000, recording sessions took place between April and November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California. Assisted by producer Quincy Jones, Jackson wrote four of Thriller's nine tracks. Following the release of the album's first single "The Girl Is Mine", some observers assumed Thriller would only be a minor hit record. With the release of the second single "Billie Jean", the album topped the charts in many countries. At its peak, the album was selling a million copies a week worldwide. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time. Sales are estimated to be over 110 million copies sold worldwide. Seven of the album's nine songs were released as singles, and all reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards at the 1984 Grammys. Thriller cemented Jackson's status as one of the predominant pop stars of the late 20th century, and enabled him to break down racial barriers via his appearances on MTV and meetings with President Ronald Reagan at the White House. The album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools—the videos for "Thriller", "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" all received regular rotation on MTV. In 2001, a special edition issue of the album was released, which contains additional audio interviews, a demo recording and the song "Someone In the Dark", which was a Grammy-winning track from the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook. In 2008, the album was reissued again as Thriller 25, containing re-mixes that feature contemporary artists, a previously unreleased song and a DVD. Thriller ranked number 20 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003, and was listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers at number three in its Definitive 200 Albums of All Time. Thriller was preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry, as it was deemed "culturally significant".
Welcome to Uzbekistan - an oasis of peace, a land where ancient history and modern culture converge, a country located at the mid-point of the Great Silk Road! It's the oldest land in Central Asia, maintaining a twenty-five century long history, a country with a specific historical and cultural community different from that of other regions. Recently, tourist interest in Uzbekistan has markedly increased and accordingly, the range of travel facilities and the services of local tour operators are being expanded year by year in order to draw more travelers to explore this wonderful place.
On the territory of Uzbekistan there are many cities where hundreds of architectural monuments from different ages are located. Among them are Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrizabs, Termez and Kokand. These cities were centers of science and art. Great architects created palaces, mosques and mausoleums, world famous monuments of ancient architecture memorializing Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan. Many of those masterpieces have not survived to the present; however, from those which have been preserved, it is possible to restore the pages of the distant past. The Great Silk Road, one of the most significant achievements in history of World civilization, also passed through these cities. To enjoy your stay in these historical sites imbued with the atmosphere of ancient times, great efforts have been made to ensure that modern travelers feel comfortable and secure. Therefore, a great number of new hotels and guest houses have appeared, new restaurants and cafes have reached international standards, and modern means of transportation, from cars to tour buses, are available to transport more and more tourists.
The Uzbek national cuisine has a centuries-old history and reflects the diversity of the customs and traditions of the people. The development of the cuisine benefited much from the new crops which had come from the countries of the Great Silk Road. Moreover, the local rulers used to bring the best culinary experts from the conquered lands.
Along with the titbits the guests are treated to the rich mutton soup shurpa, which is spiced with plenty of fennel and parsley.
Yet the main dish of the Uzbek cuisine is pilav(plov). Pilav(plov) is an indispensable part of any festive meal: none of the weddings or any other important occasions, on which guests are ever received, can do without it.
As the legend says, the way of cooking pilav was "invented" during the conquest of Sogdiana by Alexander the Great. Supposedly, during a long mission trip his army ran out of food, except one sack of rice and a wild sheep that they had managed to kill. The cook made a dish from this stuff, spicing it with the seeds of some steppe herbs, and the amount of that "first pilav" turned out to be sufficient to feed the whole army. The respect of the Uzbeks for pilav can be traced in their language: the Uzbek for 'pilav' is 'osh', which literally means 'food'.
In the past pilav was a feast of the poor and everyday meal of the rich. According to historical sources, the emir of Bukhara used to eat pilav three times a day and arranged a sort of cooking contest for the best pilav among his dignitaries.