All posts by Amy

Curing Violence Like an Infectious Disease

American communities are still reeling and healing from recent gun violence, including the June mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., and the gang violence that killed 10 people over July 4th weekend in Chicago. But our guests say there is something we can do about gun violence. To get there, we have to stop looking at the problem through a victim/perpetrator lens and begin tackling it at its root, like an infectious disease. Read more…

‘Slingshot’ Takes Aim at Water Crisis, Gains Ground in Cinemas

JULY 7, 2015 UPDATE – The Slingshot documentary is screening in New York and Los Angeles this month. The Huffington Post just came out with a glowing review of the film: “If you want to make an indelible gift impact on your family, your friends, your children and yourself, Slingshot is a certain success.”  Tiny Spark spoke to director Paul Lazarus last year.

July 18, 2014 – Dean Kamen is the subject of Paul Lazarus’ documentary Slingshot. Kamen created the Segway, that impressive but only moderately successful people mover. Kamen’s new invention, called the Slingshot, is a high tech solution that promises to turn even the dirtiest water into clean drinking water. Given the world’s water crisis, you’d think there would be enormous potential for this sort of device. But in Lazarus’ film, Kamen’s technology is repeatedly rejected by potential partners, which include the World Bank and United Nations, according to the film’s director. Frustrated, Kamen ends up turning to Coca Cola. Read more…

Dhatur Sirin Tamang live with their children and relatives in a compound of 12 houses. Only one is livable now. Photo Credit: Emily Troutman

Sparking Our Interest: Nepal Relief, Big Money and Beating Hunger

06/22/2015

We’re planning to regularly share stories with you that pique our interest. Here are a few that stood out to us this week:

Who’s Getting the Aid Money in Nepal?

Journalist Emily Troutman is continuing her work in aid transparency. She recently found that less than one percent of the UN’s Flash Appeal for the Nepal Earthquake went to organizations based in the South Asian country. Read more…

Tiny Spark Assistant Producer and Reporter Stephanie Kuo.

Stephanie Kuo Joins Tiny Spark

We are thrilled to announce that public radio journalist Stephanie Kuo has joined Tiny Spark!

Stephanie’s work has been featured across several NPR stations in her home state of Texas, on subjects ranging from poverty and transportation to urban development. She will be based in Dallas. Read more…

Spring Cleaning? Before You Donate It…


It’s spring here in the US, so for many that means it’s time for the “big clean”. We dig into our closets, find a pile of tired clothes, and dump them at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Maybe Oxfam if you’re in London.

Read more…

Journalist Questions Her Paycheck After Aid Scandal

Update: After we posted this podcast, a Washington Post investigation revealed that International Relief and Development had billed the US government $1.1 million for posh staff parties and retreats. Read more…

Charities: Flattering Reports, Poor Data

Nonprofit advisor Caroline Fiennes has a lot to say about how we assess charities. She used to run one herself. Back then, Fiennes would try to figure out whether her organization was achieving its goals but admits she wasn’t always forthcoming about the findings. “When the results were good, we would share them,” she tells us. “And when they weren’t, we didn’t.” Read more…

syria

In the Face of Violence, a Call for Dignity

“We have run out of words to fully explain the brutality, violence and callous disregard for human life, which is a hallmark of this crisis.”

That’s the United Nations’ Valerie Amos earlier this month describing the situation in Syria. But sadly, Amos’ words describe so many crises today, whether the recent school massacre in Pakistan, the café siege in Sydney or ongoing conflicts across the globe. Read more…

Photo Credit: Amy Ta on the National Mall, collecting interviews for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. Photo by Kemi Aladesuyi.

Meet Our New Producer!

Tiny Spark has doubled in size and now has a West Coast presence!

I am over the moon to welcome Amy Ta to Tiny Spark. Amy comes to us from NPR in Washington DC, where she spent more than four years working on NPR’s Tell Me More, Weekend Edition and NPR Music. Read more…

The Bright Continent: Rethinking Modern Africa


Nigerian-American journalist Dayo Olopade spent two years traveling to seventeen nations across sub-Saharan Africa. In her new book The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa, she comes away with a decidedly promising view of the continent. Read more…