(From Bob Dotson, NBC News National Correspondent)
I wish I could share with you all the story suggestions I get every day. Hundreds of 'em. The best come from viewers who drop them into my mailbox on our TODAY Show webpage. American Story with Bob Dotson mailbox.
Too often on television news programs we content ourselves with reporting a few top stories -- day after day. You tell me how you live. How you cope. What values you have. You also send solutions. Great ideas. Like today's American Story about a man who has found a way to save dying trees. WATCH VIDEO It's the kind of solution that could send all those Washington committees to lunch.
Back in the 1930's when a lot of us storytellers were out of work, the Department of Agriculture sent us through Texas and out west to record the ordinary activities of life. Photographers like Dorothea Lange showed us some memorable images. One day she happened upon a migrant mother who was 29 years old, had five children and was pregnant with another. And her husband had just died. When Dorothea Lange spotted her, she was sitting on the running board of an old Model T. It's right front tire was flat. The woman had sold the other three for food. The photograph that was taken of that migrant mother -- dusty face, children hanging all over her -- does more to help us understand that time than all the film clips of politicians stepping on and off railroad cars.
Fifty years later I, too, found the woman. Her name was Florence Thompson. She was living in a trailer home on the site of that old migrant camp. Her children were making more in one hour than she had made the entire summer that historic picture was taken. During the Great Depression Florence worked in the fields, scrubbed floors, tended bar. Did a bit of everything to take care of her kids. Did she ever lose hope? "Son," she said, "If I'd a lost hope, we never would have made it."
A few years ago, I began to wonder what happens to the Florence Thompson's of the world between tragedies. In disaster, we seek them out. Otherwise, it's easier to go to politicians and analysts, who speak in sound bites, but may not be the ones with the real wisdom.
Television is at its best when it tells your stories. Breaks down some ignorance. Unfortunately, we can't tell enough of them.
But keep those ideas coming. Drop a note in my mailbox, American Story with Bob Dotson
Want more information on the Tree Doctor? Here’s how to contact him:
Ribeiro Plant Lab, Inc. Olaf Ribeiro’s email: www.ribeiroplantlab.com.