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Ann Medlock
Writer Ann Medlock founded the nonprofit Giraffe Heroes Project to honor people who stick their necks out for the common good and to encourage others to follow their lead. Her driving force is a deep concern for the health of the body politic, which she is certain will die without engaged, courageous citizens.

Giraffe Heroes materials for kids are in kindergarten-through-high-school classes in all 50 states and in American schools abroad.

Medlock blogs at the Project’s website and at her own. She’s been speechwriter to US politicians and to the Aga Khan, and has spoken, written and/or taught in Kobe, Kinshasa, Saigon, Beijing and Moscow as well as in Chicago, Washington DC and New York City.

She now lives, leads the Giraffe team, and writes (heroes’ profiles, blogs, opeds, fiction and poetry) and on an island in the Pacific Northwest.

Entries by Ann Medlock

Vietnam, Then and Now

(289) Comments | Posted April 13, 2015 | 3:49 PM


A few weeks ago I was in Vietnam for the first time in 54 years, seeing Saigon and Hue again, Hanoi and Ha Long Bay for the first time.


It's a country we "lost" 40...

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Cops and Courage

(16) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 2:22 PM

A teen and a child shot by police, riots, marches, a grand jury, a storm of emotional opinions about it all -- are you trying to figure out the whys of this mess?

My own mental filters definitely affect my efforts to understand, so let me make it clear...

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Philomena and Me... and Our Michaels

(33) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 9:51 PM

Now that "Philomena" is going into wide release and has been nominated for four Oscars -- I have a few words to say about the film and about the facts it was based on.

You might say I have standing in the matter.

The movie begins in an Irish convent,...

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Lifestyle? How About Deathstyle?

(53) Comments | Posted April 14, 2013 | 11:35 AM

They've arrived. Six small pots, gifts of art to my family someday -- delivery date to be determined by my life span. I decided to commission them (that sounds awfully grand) after my father died and I discovered that he had not only left directions for what he wanted done...

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The Mayor & Occupy Wall Street

(3) Comments | Posted November 16, 2011 | 3:00 PM

As the world got the news about yesterday's dismantling of Occupy Wall Street, I found my B.S. detector registering off the dial.

In mid-October, I went to Zuccotti to carry out a plan hatched after watching a Jon Stewart show that focused some OWS coverage on potty...

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Witnessing Revolutions

(21) Comments | Posted March 2, 2011 | 11:56 AM

With all the news of uprisings -- Egypt, Tunisia, Libya -- I've been rocketed back in time and space to the Congo, to Vietnam, where I got some first-hand experiences of what it's like when people make such dramatic moves. And what it's like to witness your own government making...

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Meet Three Real Heroes

(17) Comments | Posted June 30, 2010 | 12:30 PM

Yes, the news is awful-to-ghastly almost everywhere you look AND there are people doing great things, sticking their necks out to make things better. Consider three newly commended Giraffe Heroes:

You're a high school senior in Appleton, Wisconsin and you decide to do your...
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In Praise of Silence

(29) Comments | Posted February 2, 2010 | 5:44 PM

In Barbara Kingsolver's fascinating new novel, The Lacuna, the protagonist writes this in a 1946 letter:

"The radio is at the root of the evil, their rule is: No silence, ever. When anything happens, the commentator has to speak without a moment's pause for gathering wisdom. Falsehood...
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A Near TED Experience

(25) Comments | Posted September 23, 2009 | 6:01 PM

I'm a TED addict. Diving into eats untold hours of my life. For a busy, curious human, what's not to like about TED? The talks are 18 minutes max, all of them given by amazing meritocrats. Their subjects range from the incredible data-bubble system of Hans Rosling to...

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Killing "Rebels" in the Niger Delta

(8) Comments | Posted May 21, 2009 | 3:24 PM


The people looking at you in this photo are Job Bebenimibo and his students in the Giraffe Service Club International in Oporoza, Nigeria.

Take a good look. They may all be dead. On May 16 the village of Oporoza was attacked by the...

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Learning the Art of Thrift

(29) Comments | Posted February 15, 2009 | 5:43 PM

It helps to have lived in Vietnam and the Congo. I mean, I've seen poor, really poor. People sleeping in shifts on the dirt floors of scrap-metal shacks. Rice or manioc as the only food at a meal, and everyone thankful to have even that. Students using every square inch,...

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Hearing Ann Dunham

(25) Comments | Posted November 9, 2008 | 7:21 PM

When we're kids, Presidents are our fathers' ages. When we make it to adulthood, Presidents fall into the elder-brother bracket. And then there's the shock of a contemporary taking the office. If the President is your own age, Your Generation has taken charge.

Me, I'm looking for the first time...

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Listen Up, Young'uns

(2) Comments | Posted September 26, 2008 | 5:35 PM

If McCain doesn't stop being a poster boy for senile dementia, I may start dissing seniors myself. And I am one. Sheesh!

Meanwhile, here's one fully cognizant elder with a few things to say about this election:

Point -- I do not want to have a beer with the President...

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What You "Know" About Rabies Shots is Wrong

(7) Comments | Posted May 27, 2008 | 12:29 PM

Setting: a house in the forest on a Puget Sound island, two people sitting on a porch at dusk, lovely dinner before us, good talk, perfect weather. And some flying thing lands fast on my arm and whips back into the forest. "That was weird." And we proceed with the...

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Gifts from the Dalai Lama

(3) Comments | Posted April 17, 2008 | 5:36 PM

The Giraffe Heroes Project sent a team to the five-day Seeds of Compassion conference in Seattle. As a Giraffe staffer, I talked with hundreds of teachers and parents who had assembled there, telling them about Giraffe ways to foster compassion in the young.

After days of giving,...

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Watch Your Language!

(3) Comments | Posted March 6, 2008 | 3:27 PM

I don't know about you but I'm already saturated with campaign news. Given the 24/7 coverage by thousands of voices and keyboards, from here to November is looking like an eternity.

One problem is the teeth-grinding effect of watching and reading too much "news." Because of the writing. I'm...

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Notes from the Washington Caucus

(11) Comments | Posted February 11, 2008 | 11:30 PM

The remote Puget Sound island where I live joined the great Aught Eight election excitement Saturday, the Democratic caucus bringing out so many citizens that cars lined the roads around the high school for a mile.

I can report out that the Maxwelton Valley sector of South Whidbey Island...

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Race, Gender and Class in Twenty Aught Eight

(19) Comments | Posted January 14, 2008 | 9:42 AM

Old feminist here, contemporary of Steinem's,* and one who wishes all young women grokked how different life was for us back in the day, how much they owe the women's movement, how precarious the changes are that make their current opportunities seem givens--and permanent.

*Full disclosure: Steinem wrote a...

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Our Little Lives & the Big Picture

(11) Comments | Posted November 25, 2007 | 8:12 PM

Friend of mine, a fellow writer I'll call "Joe," put the question to his email network last week: Would anyone join him in a hunger strike for the closing of Guantanamo? It would be a real one that wouldn't stop until/unless the prisoners were turned over to the US...

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Chief Seattle's Screenwriter

(1) Comments | Posted November 13, 2007 | 5:47 PM

It isn't what the Chief had in mind, I'm sure, but over the years he's acquired a couple of ghost writers -- one poet/physician and one screenwriter.

The gorgeous environmental speech that is everywhere attributed to the nineteenth-century tribal leader was, in fact, written by screenwriter Ted...

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