Cooperstown’s Paula DiPerna has been traveling the world since 2016, and almost everywhere she went, she said she heard the same question: Is America all right?

Now back home, she’ll speak at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at The Green Toad in Oneonta and sign copies of her 2018 book, “Travels in the Time of Trump.” 

The book, originally released in the UK, has been released domestically this summer with a new epilogue. 

A filmmaker, activist, novelist and former executive at several philanthropic organizations, DiPerna said she isn’t working for anyone now, except as a consultant. Instead, she has been talking with people worldwide about the American psyche after electing a “reality show host as president.” 

DiPerna begins the book tracing her journey from campaigning for Hillary Clinton in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 2016, to a post-election sabbatical overseas after Donald Trump’s upset win, thanks, in part, to winning Pennsylvania. She said no matter where she traveled, people said the same things to her about America.

“The basic reaction to Donald Trump’s election, in my experience, everywhere, was shock,” she said. DiPerna said the foreign press covered Trump better in the run-up to the election than American media. “You could almost predict everything that has come afterward just by reading their coverage,” she said.

“America, the county was on a pedestal to so many people,” DiPerna continued. “It was a beacon.”

A producer for Jacques Cousteau for about two decades, DiPerna has also become a passionate activist for environmental issues. She has a campaign flyer for a failed congressional run locally in 1992s, and uses it to point out what she calls a frustrating reality. 

“Isn’t interesting,” she said, “it is all the same issues? All the issues I campaigned on then, are issues people are campaigning on now.”

She said, despite her post-election shock, she sees a lot of positives in this era. “In (other eras) things were as bad as they are here, in some ways. In those days, people had no role,” she said. “Whereas, today, we do have a say. The good thing is issues like climate change are recognized and discussed today, where they weren’t before.  

“What is still frustrating is how we still are searching for the answers,” she said. 

DiPerna said she has faith in the American system, but she feels it weakening, and she wanted to convey a worldwide view of the 2016 election to help sound an alarm about how fragile systems are.

“I think what is happening today is not unprecedented in history,” she said, “but what is unprecedented is the context of how these things could be magnified by the system eroding, at the same time this is happening. That is the center of what this book is about, and I think it is why it is important that people should be getting more involved now.”

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