GOOD

Meet the Newest Class of MacArthur Geniuses Making the World a Better Place

Journalists, economists, and even a puppeteer are among those being honored for their ability to create and inspire.

image via (cc) John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Since 1981, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded their highly coveted “genuis” fellowship grants to nearly eight hundred recipients in total, each of whom receives $625,000 (raised from $500,000 in 2007) over the course of five years. The criteria for being named a fellow are surprisingly simple. One must possess:​


1) Exceptional creativity.
2) Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment.
3) Potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

In the past, the fellowship has been extended to include artists, academics, scientists, and even a clown. Billing itself as a “no strings attached” institution, the award is given not on the merit of past accomplishments, but as “an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential.” While grantees’ prior work is part of the foundation’s selection process, the groups website makes it clear: “the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.” As such, the grant is muck more akin to patronage for a recipient’s potential future accomplishments, rather than a reward for their past ones.

Late Monday evening, the MacArthur Foundation released the highly-anticipated names of this year’s fellows. Like in fellowships past, recipients come from a wide variety of disciplines, and fields. The 2015 class of “geniuses” (a term the foundation avoids for its connotation of “a singular characteristic of intellectual prowess”) contains familiar names and faces, as well as less well-known individuals, thrust suddenly into a much brighter spotlight as a result of their having being included in the fellowship’s illustrious roster. Among them are:

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose writings about racial politics and the African American experience have propelled him to the forefront of a new generation of cultural critics and social justice advocates.

Composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the hit musicals In the Heights, and Hamilton, which have helped infuse musical theater with the contemporary vitality of hip hop, R&B, and pop music.

Basil Twist, a master puppeteer responsible for groundbreaking advances in both the artistic and mechanical potential of his chosen medium.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Heidi Williams, who focuses on exploring the market conditions that feed into, and result from, innovations in health care.

LaToya Ruby Frazier, whose photography and visual art focuses on topics of race, inequality, family, and identity in the postindustrial age.

Historian Marina Rustow whose work with centuries-old texts is helping uncover new details about how Jewish and Muslim communities lived with one another in the medieval middle east.

The full list of this year’s twenty four fellows can be found on the MacArthur Foundation’s website. As Foundation president Julia Stasch put it simply: “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us.”

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health