Jim Ruchalski, a pack-a-day guy, has gone to a lot of trouble to clear the stale-smoke scent out of his apartment. That's why the candles are burning and the fans are humming on high.
Five years ago, Dennis officially launched his company with a bold intention: to help people feel better, and combat the fear and division in the world, mostly with the assistance of a big yellow badge boasting the phrase "this is a good sign."
In a meeting in Warsaw in August 2013, Taskin Tankut Soyka and I talked about the diversity of the Muslim communities in East-Central Europe, media representations, cases at the European Court of Human Rights, and the future of Islam and Islamophobia in Europe.
Let's face it -- the news is depressing. This is nothing new, and it isn't likely to change any time soon. Therefore, it's always refreshing to come across a story that manages to uplift, in spite of connections to difficult issues in both our past and present.
Amazing new business models are rare ... even in this time of great 'disruption.' Many start-ups position themselves as disrupting because they feel they have to or die. So they reach.
They walk among us -- those agents of change. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded of who they are. Take note of five luminous entities that strive to make the world a better place.
Poland has one of the stricter laws on abortion in Europe. Abortion is illegal except if the life of the mother is at risk, the fetus has a major defect or the pregnancy is the result of a confirmed rape.
In the 1980s, economist Marcin Swiecicki was at the center of the discussions over the path of economic reform in Poland. We talked about his perspective on the economic changes that took place after 1990, his accomplishments as mayor, and his view of the political situation today in Poland.
In 1940, the Soviet NKVD murdered 22,000 Polish army officers, police, and intellectuals in the Katyn forest and then pinned the blame on the Nazis. In 1990, the Soviet Union finally admitted its guilt in the matter.
Start with a failing economy. Throw in a team of inexperienced politicians, people in fact who had spent their careers deliberately avoiding official politics. Add a population with the highest possible expectations. And, as a wild card, introduce an international community that was not offering very much in the way of financial assistance.
Many Poles dreamed of the day when the Communist regime would fall. But even after the semi-free elections of June 4, 1989, in which Solidarity-affiliated candidates won nearly all the contested seats, few anticipated that their dreams would come true so quickly.
Some of the most powerful critiques of the Communist governments in East-Central Europe were moral. Vaclav Havel, for instance, argued that the regimes, with their propaganda and inequalities and corruption, were built on a foundation of lies. He proposed the alternative of "living in truth."
Amidst all the media frenzy surrounding Putin's nefarious destabilization efforts in Eastern Ukraine, other issues of vital importance have gone ignored.
She grew up during the Great Depression. She recounted times of how being the youngest of five children she would sometimes have to search garbage...
Janusz Reykowski was a key figure in the reform wing of Poland's Communist Party. A psychologist, he was an early proponent of promoting reconciliation between the Party and the Solidarity trade union movement in 1989. In 2013 I interviewed him about what had happened in the intervening years.
Rachel Zacharia always knew she was Jewish. Her father, a Party official, read and wrote in Yiddish, and her parents spoke Yiddish with friends. But she didn't start thinking about her Jewish identify until 1968.