On Assignment: The Drought Means California Is Getting a Makeover

Phcopyright Lena Nozizwe 2015

Photograph copyright Lena Nozizwe 2015


Virtually every day that I go for a walk in Southern California, I see sprinklers watering the cement and the streets. It makes you wonder how seriously my fellow Californians are taking the news of a historic drought.

Update: They seem to be taking it more seriously than ever.

My assignment for Deutsche Welle’s Living Planet gave me the opportunity to get some answers.

You’ll find my words and pictures and radio report here.


On Assignment: How Her Passion For Hello Kitty Turned into Her Career

My book, “Starring in Your Own Life,” is all about finding a role in life that makes you shine. The proprietor of a shop on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles has managed to turn her love of Hello Kitty into a career. How purrfect.

My story for AJPlus takes you inside her store and inside the Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, exhibition that she helped curate.

Shine on.

Flashback: Memories of The Oklahoma City Bombing



I was staggered to hear that today is the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

I remember it so vividly, well most of it. Not sure if I flew in from Washington on the night of the bombing or the night after.

As I drove into town I was caught in the wake of the entourage of President Clinton so I just stopped at a welcoming restaurant. That I do remember. The waiter was surprised I had come so far and he wondered, “Does the rest of the world care about us?” I assured him they did.

Once at the hotel I shared an elevator ride with CNN’s (not the playwright) Bernard Shaw. He introduced himself. Of course I said. “I know who you are.” He said, “Well I don’t ever assume.” He was a serious newsman to be sure.

When I got to my room there was a bank of phones left behind. from the president’s entourage, I assumed. Housekeeping can’t do everything. But they did move me to a new room. Downstairs, at media central, a local had gone to the trouble to write a list of recommended restaurants. I thought it was really sweet. I did hear a well-known newsman make fun of it. I didn’t get it.

My assignment was to do a story about the victims. I begged off and requested to do a story about the investigation and ended up interviewing the Governor Frank Keating and the trooper who stopped Timothy McVeigh. Why my request to change stories. Well, I didn’t want to cry. non-stop.

On the way home all I could think about was home.

But I did go back the next year. I am pictured above with the crew and a rescue dog.

On Assignment: The Police Body Camera Debate Intensifies in The Wake of Walter Scott’s Death


This past weekend the story about Walter Scott in the Post Courier read:

An officer’s gunfire disrupted a hazy Saturday morning and left a man dead on a North Charleston street.

Police in a matter of hours declared the occurrence at the corner of Remount and Craig roads a traffic stop gone wrong, alleging the dead man fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed.

The headline three days later was:

North Charleston officer faces murder charge after video shows him shooting man in back

What a difference a video makes. Even so, some privacy activists want to push the pause button when it comes to putting cameras on police officers.

Hear my report about the debate  on FSRN.

On Assignment: Vegans Have A Beef With California’s Handling of The Drought


Plant eaters gathered at the World Vegan Summit & Expo in Los Angeles this month say going vegan would go a long way in solving the California drought.

Activists and academics say eschewing animal products would blow water other conservation efforts out of the water as the state enters the fourth straight year of drought.

My report on FSRN.



Lorelei Plotczyk, founder of  the grassroots organization Truth or Drought says“The idea that someone could be fined for watering their lawn on the wrong day, but could then go inside and serve their family a pound of beef at dinner which uses enough water for a year of showers by some estimates is completely and totally insane.”

A 2012 study by the Pacific Institute on California’s water footprint found meat and dairy production accounts for almost half of the water use in the state while household use accounts for only four percent. Find more of my radio reporting here.




On Assignment: Live Tweeting From a Chicken Coop

More than once my mother has referenced tending to chickens when she was a young girl growing up in Malawi, Africa. I have been lucky enough to go back to Africa to see the coops there myself, and we are talking about truly free range chickens. In my imagination that was the way all chickens were raised.

But then I started looking into the new California law that mandates bigger quarters for all the chickens that lay the eggs that are sold in California.

That is what prompted my visit to the backyard chicken coop of Roe and Trish Sie. It is where I discovered just how little I knew about the chicken and the egg.
Learn more in my report for Deutsche Welle.

Listen to more of my stories on my Reporting page.

1st Person: My Almost Interview With Mario Cuomo


I was a freshly-minted, albeit temporary, East Coaster. And one of my first assignments was in the NYC. I was excited as much as I was scared. Which makes sense considering my assignment was to do a story about crime in the Big Apple.

How serious was the crime rate? Forget statistics. One of my cab drivers showed me a small pipe that he had at the ready. It was designed to disabuse anyone who tried to rob him.
“It will hurt them, but not kill them,” he told me earnestly. Exactly how he calibrated that, I will never know. But his comments only added to my fear factor.

Cut to 1PP. Only then I only knew it as the NYPD cop shop. It would be awhile before I learned the nickname for 1 Police Plaza by watching “Law & Order.” So there I was rolling with my clique. A photog. A sound engineer. And a very kindly producer.

On the way in I spotted the gov casually chatting in front on the building with, well I don’t know. But I knew him. Yes, Mario Cuomo. I instantly recognized him. He smiled, benevolently. I smiled, Jimmy Olsenly. He kindly asked, “What are you doing?” “I am here to do a story about crime in New York City.” Of course I was angling to interview him. My answer was not what he expected. He seemed a bit annoyed. Maybe he expected a softer response because l was wearing pink that day. As for any illusion that I had about getting an impromptu interview, well the gov shut it down right quick. There was not a handler in sight and I knew it was a long shot.I returned to 1PP a few times after that. I couldn’t tell you about subsequent interviewees and I don’t remember the color I was wearing.

I will always remember almost getting an interview Mario Cuomo.

Rest in Peace.