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After a devastating fire in March 2016, The Book Thing--a free book depot--is back! Founder Russell Wattenberg tells us about the path to rebuilding and how the community stepped up.

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Not-so handy around tools? No worries: the Station North Tool Library has tools and classes for every level of workshop experience. Co-founder Piper Watson tells about the 3,000 tools the library has on offer and the wide variety of its members. The first-ever Fix It Fair is October 21st from 11 am - 3 pm at 417 E Oliver St.

Photo courtesy Goucher College.

Elizabeth Strout is Tom's guest for this edition of Midday.  She is the author of six novels and many short stories; her most recent book is a series of linked tales called Anything is PossibleLinking stories together was a structural device that Ms. Strout also employed in what is perhaps her most well-known work, Olive KitteridgeThe book earned her the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction , and Frances McDormand starred in an adaptation of the story for HBO that won eight Emmy Awards.

Strout writes about people with big hearts who often live in small towns:  A disgruntled former school teacher, Somali immigrants, a school janitor, a successful writer who returns to rural Illinois to reunite with her estranged siblings.  We meet these and many, many more complicated and brilliant and flawed and eloquent characters who are powerfully and compellingly portrayed by a writer whose tremendous gifts of observation and explication are imbued with great magnanimity and compassion.

Elizabeth Strout is speaking at Goucher College this afternoon and again this evening.  For more information, click here or contact the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at kratz@goucher.edu

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Tony and Chef Wolf give some advice on beef braising, cuts, production, plus what to do drink with red meat. And a Chef's Challenge, of course!

Photo by Zach Gross

Tom spends the hour today with Van Jones, a Yale-educated lawyer, former Obama Administration advisor, founder of several social justice organizations, and a commentator and host on CNN.  He's also an author, whose latest book is called 'Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart – How We Come Together'.

In his new book, Jones asserts that even in our current climate of strident bifurcation in the political arena, there are some issues about which voters and leaders of all political stripes can agree.  “Common pain should lead to common purpose,” he writes.  He criticizes both major political parties for letting down America time and again, and he suggests that a rebellion, like the one we witnessed last November, was justified.  A dedicated Democrat, Van Jones just thinks "the wrong rebel won."

He joins us today from NPR studios in Washington, D.C.

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Five hundred years ago this month, the German monk Martin Luther challenged the practices of the Roman Catholic church, sparking the Protestant Reformation and shaping how Christians think and worship.

Bishop Denis Madden, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, and Rev. Mark Hanson, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, describe the dialogue aimed at reuniting their denominations.

And we speak to Yu Na Han, who curated an exhibit at the Walters Art Museum about Luther’s life as father, friend, and husband.

Jacob Lawrence is one of the most important and renowned artists of the 20th Century. His paintings and prints offer rich portrayals of black life including his famed Migration Series which captured the mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North and Western US after the first World War, and his Toussaint L'Ouverture series about the famed leader of the Haitian Slave Revolt. 

Now, over 50 of Jacob Lawrence’s paintings and prints are on display at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture to celebrate what would have been Lawrence’s 100th birthday.  Charles Bethea, the chief curator and Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Lewis Museum, joins Tom to talk about the Maryland Collects: Jacob Lawrence exhibition.

That was neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa telling his stoop story about a special patient who, facing his fight against brain cancer, taught the doctor a important lesson about life. The story was part of a special stoop event: “Hopkins Medicine, A World Inside a City,” in May 2012. More stories at stoopstorytelling.com.

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More than 300 million people across the globe don’t see the world with what is considered normal color vision. Today we meet glass scientist Dr. Donald McPherson, who accidentally discovered he could help those people. He’s the mind behind Enchroma glasses, designed to unlock color vision for those with color-deficient sight. We also capture the moment when local illustrator and art educator Jonathon Scott Fuqua tries the glasses for the first time. It changed the way he was used to seeing the world.

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