Chris Johnson

No Margaritaville in North Korea

No Margaritaville in North Korea

I wasn’t exactly a world traveler when I joined The Fuller Center for Housing in June of 2011 — unless you count that one night in Windsor, Canada, when I nearly missed the last bus of the night back into Detroit. The bus went through a tunnel under the Detroit River, which I found a wee bit disturbing. But one of my first tasks with The Fuller Center was to get myself a passport. The Fuller Center works all around the world — in faraway places like Nepal, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, India and a few African countries […]

An apolitical look at a hot-button political issue — illegal immigration

An apolitical look at a hot-button political issue — illegal immigration

Whether you chant “Build the wall!,” support sanctuary cities or lie anywhere in between on the issue of illegal immigration, you have to know that there’s no simple fix or magic bullet that solves most problems, especially one this complicated. But no matter where you stand on this issue, here’s something we likely can all agree on: If folks are perfectly happy at home — wherever that may be — they probably will not want to leave. They certainly wouldn’t want to embark upon a treacherous journey full of unknowns to sneak into the United States if their home is safe […]

Twenty-five years ago, the ink got in my veins for real in Valdosta

Twenty-five years ago, the ink got in my veins for real in Valdosta

It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago this month I became a full-time newspaperman, taking an entry-level sportswriting job down in Valdosta, Georgia — the high school football mecca just above the Florida state line. Granted, I’d had part-time newspaper gigs for a couple of years before that as a sportswriter in Americus and Montezuma, but Valdosta was the first real job. It was owned by a company called Thomson Newspapers back then, which had a reputation for being cheap and paying terribly — which I found to be completely, 100 percent true. But those couple of years in Valdosta were […]

Prince: Another legend I’m glad I witnessed

Prince: Another legend I’m glad I witnessed

My parents saw him as the purple pervert. Critics lauded him as a groundbreaking genius. His peers either loved him or were insanely jealous (Rick James). But I just loved the music. I finally got to see Prince live in Atlanta about 10 years ago, and it remains the best concert I’ve ever seen. I figured a legend like that could kinda mail it in, but he went above and beyond with a show that lasted more than two hours. And when the entire band disappeared into the stage for intermission, Prince re-emerged by himself with an acoustic guitar and performed […]

Remembering Merle Haggard and the Silver Moon

Remembering Merle Haggard and the Silver Moon

I’m not a fan of today’s country music — or today’s pop, rap, rock or R&B, for that matter — but I love some old-school country. So I was among the many sad to hear of the passing of the legendary Merle Haggard today on his 79th birthday. I saw Merle Haggard and the Strangers perform live 22 years ago at the perfect venue for such a show — the massive Silver Moon, a huge honky-tonk a few miles south of Buena Vista, Georgia. It truly was the middle of nowhere, but it hosted some big country music acts during […]

Happy 75th birthday, Linda Fuller: There’s an important note about women here

Happy 75th birthday, Linda Fuller: There’s an important note about women here

Linda Fuller might very well be one of the most important women leaders of the last 50 years. If you haven’t heard of her, that’s probably got a lot to do with the fact that she doesn’t seek attention for herself — only for issues about which she cares deeply. One of those issues is simple, decent, affordable housing. You probably have heard of Habitat for Humanity and you should hear about The Fuller Center for Housing. But you wouldn’t have heard of either if it were not for Linda Fuller. They wouldn’t exist. And hundreds of thousands of families […]

Cute kids in Las Peñitas, Nicaragua

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the quaint Nicaraguan fishing village of Las Peñitas on two different weeklong trips. I’ve never been anywhere else that the kids are so poor, yet so happy. They’re happier than our kids here in the United States who have so much more. I was in Nicaragua last month, and you can see more photos I took during that trip here.