National Geographic : 1990 Jun
Giving Hmong Jobs in a California Factory "« unny," says Michal Reed, "that a national magazine could have such a positive effect on such a small, local concern." Reed, a former teacher and writer, was starting to make and sell children's clothes with an educational theme in Porterville, California, when her Octo ber 1988 GEOGRAPHIC arrived. To her surprise she learned that Porterville was home to a largely unemployed group of Hmong refugees from Laos. She contacted Lao Chu Cha, whom the article named as the community's lead er. Reed now employs half a dozen Hmong women in her small factory. "They sew on pockets, they hem ready-made shirts that need to be altered, they change labels, they do some heat transferring-anything that I do," says Reed (below, at right). The women, who receive welfare JAMESA. SUGAR, BLACKSTAR assistance, work fewer than a hundred hours a month so they can retain their medical benefits, and they reimburse the welfare system for the amount of their factory earnings. Husbands, most of whom remain unemployed, take care of the children during working hours. The women are also practicing their English and setting an example: Several other Hmong women, and some husbands and daughters, hope to join them if the clothing line is successful. Insights Into the Origin of the Mediterranean eachgoers look at shifting sands and see a different beach each day. Richard H. Benson looks at shifting continents over millions of years in order to understand how the Mediterranean Sea got to be where it is today. Benson, a Smithsonian Institution geologist, has been studying the sea's origin for more than two decades, directing a project sponsored by the Smithsonian and the National Geo graphic Society. Befitting his subject, he tells the tale in epic terms: Europe and Africa bumped into each other some six million years ago. Huge channels were closed, ocean cur rents reversed themselves, and water poured through a corridor in Morocco to create a vast inland sea. The sea water flowed through the passage with such power that it brought in ocean dwelling organisms that now live 3,000 feet deep. But new continental move ment closed the corridor, and the waters could not be replenished. Some 5.6 million years ago the inland sea Benson calls it the Paleomediter ranean-began to dry up, leaving min eral deposits on the old seafloor for 700,000 years. Then came the deluge. The earth shifted yet again, the dam was broken, a new opening was formed. It is what we who came 4.9 million years later know as the Strait of Gibraltar. Water once more poured in from the ocean, creating the Mediterranean Sea. "Since then," says Benson, "the story isn't nearly as interesting." Happy 60th Birthday, Canadian Colleagues In 1929, when he founded a society devoted to the study of Canadian geography, Charles Camsell, a prominent Canadian geologist and explorer, looked southward for inspi ration: to the National Geographic Society. The result was what is now called the Royal Canadian Geographi cal Society, whose publication, Cana dian Geographic, marked its 60th anniversary in May. Ian Darragh, the current editor of CanadianGeographic, writes that "as the National Geographic Society had done, Camsell announced that the ... CANADIAN GEOGRAPHICAL JOURNAL N "~ Canadian society would be 'open to anyone interested in geographical mat ters.' " It too would publish a popular monthly magazine, a subscription to which would be one of the main bene fits of membership. Darragh says that circulation of Canadian Geographic,now published bimonthly, is 255,000. "Our subject matter is basically Canada," he says. "Ours is such a vast country that we have enough stories to do without going elsewhere." "We appeal to people from all walks of life," he adds. The magazine's role is "to explain what's going on in the world of research to the ordinary, edu cated, intelligent reader who isn't a specialist. Camsell wanted a magazine that would be understood." (11 M IR\I' I( \'N;AI lO AL. 1- )GAPHI NIA ,ALI l .I I I),) -.. ............. C*m ......