Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Permanent Rose Project
Our Stories, Our Truth
Our Shared and Common Destiny
Hear Our Voices
Listen, Over Here
Congratulations, it's a girl! (Or just: It's a girl!)
Spinning Straw into Gold (Or just: Straw into Gold)
And Jill came tumbling after
Let the girl do it
That's what girls do
The Shape of a Women
the girl nextdoor
The Secret Lives of Babes
The women they became
Dolls, Damsels and Darlings: a journey to becoming a woman.
The Unsilencing of Girl Voices
Girls To Women
Who Are Girls
Spotlight On Girls
The Story of Girls
Time for Girls
In their Words: girls and the women they've become
In our words
From Our Worlds, In Our Words
High Heels to Bare Feet or (Foot) Chronicles
Bare Feet or (Foot) to High Heels Chronicles
Shattered Ceilings or The Shattered Ceiling(s) Stories
This is My Story
Mountain High Valley Low
World Meets Girl
The Global Diaries
The Chatter Bible
The Reflective Raconteur
All Ears Storytelling
Every Girl Has a Story
Now Hear This
Tracking the Truth
Tracking the Truth
Every Life Tells/Has a Story
The Forget-me-knot Chronicles
Our Stories, Ourselves
She, the People
The Bridge to Neverland
Purple Nightshade Diaries
Under the Purple Nightshade
Cherries: Pits and Blossoms
Sugar and Spice
Ain't I a Woman
All about Eve
Just like a Woman
Hear her Sing
Her Secret Story
The Jill Project
In Her Words
The Amiga Project
Inheriting the secrets of women's lives
The inheritance of women's secret lives
The secret inheritance of women's lives
Heirlooms of stories by women and girls
The secret heirlooms of our fair sex (sexist context?)
The secret inheritance of fair young maidens (sexist context?)
Heirlooms of women's secret lives
Hidden heirlooms of women's lives
Heirlooms of Secret Lives:
Heirlooms of women and girls, Lost and Found
Secret heirlooms lost and found: revelations of women and girls
Buried heirlooms of women and girls: found throughout the world
Buried heirlooms unearthed by women and girls around the world
More and more
Beneath the Veil
Turn the Stone
Beneath the Stone
The Quiet & Wild Roads of Girls
Becoming Ourselves: Stories of Trailblazing Ladies
Growing Inside Out
Secrets Out Loud
The Life & Times of Girl Dreams
Growing Up a Girl
Grown-up Girl Stories
The Dreams of Ladies
Trails We Blaze
What girls have to say
Boys Drool and Girls Rule
Queen for a day
The Complexity of Girls
Don't Know Much About Her-story
The Double X Files
The XX Files
The XX Project
XX no Ys
Chewing the Fat
Tales from the Table
From Tale to Table
The Daily Bread
New Wives Tales
Brown Bag Talk
Women Catching Fire
Women Stir the Pots
Wise Maria’s Kitchen Tales
Shall We Gather in the Kitchen?
Cooking Up Her Story
Stirring Up Stories
Women’s Kitchens, Women’s Lives
Growing Up in the Kitchen
In Memory’s Kitchen
Stories from the Soul Kitchen
Rattling Our Pots and Pans
Recipes for Memory
Speaking from the Hearth
Girls in the Mist
The Two Muses
The Muse Project
The Calliope Chronicles
The Hidden Life of Girls
Not So Tall Tales
The Girl Chronicles
Mothers, Daughters, Sisters & Friends
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something You
She said/She said
Speak for Yourself
What You Said
I Have No Country
Untold Story Inside
Sprung From Memory
Thy Name is Woman
All About Eve
Just Like a Woman
Hear Her Song
Her Secret Story
The Jill Project
In Her Words
The Amiga Project
The Girls Network
Being a Girl
The Sister Next Door
Who's That Girl?
On Becoming Women
Finding Her Voice
This One's for the Girl
Let's Hear it for the Girl
Girls, Girls, Girls
Just Like a Woman
1001 Kitchen Secrets
Cook Until Tender
Voices from the Kitchen
The Story Feast
The Story Banquet
Steeped in Story (Stories)
The Kitchen Table Project
1001 Ways to Cook a Secret
Sisters at the Table
Feast of Secrets
Scheherazade Tells All
Every Daughter Has (or Tells) a Story
The Global Muse
Sister to Sister
Sisters of Secrets
The Secret Lives of Global Girls
The Secret Truths of Global Girls
My Name is Scheherazade
What She Said
Girls Gone Candid
Real Girls to Real Women
Girls Just Wanna Grow Up
I Enjoy Being a Girl
Evolution--from Girl to Woman in Non-Easy Steps
Becoming Real--Girls Grow Up
More than Lipgloss--What It Means to Become a Woman in the Twenty-First Century
Womanhood Defined--Girls Coming of Age
The Unveiling Project
The Blossom Project
Life on Venus
she will tell you: stories from girls & women around the world
A Girl’s Story
Women of Influence
She, Me, Her
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Women: Lost & Found
Secrets and Lives: The Incredible True Stories of Women and Girls
The Lost Girls: True Stories of Hidden Heroines and Everyday Warriors
The Secret Society of Hidden Heroines
Forgotten Girls Found
The World Girls Club: The Secret Society of Hidden Heroines and Underground Rituals
Thank you to the following for their submissions: Deborah Pardes, Marsha Weiner, Eve Epstein, David Wilson Burnham, Kate Jessup, Mina Kim, Sara Blumenstein, Eliza Hotchkiss, Venus Brown, Kate Blood, Chris Altwegg, Michelle Ito, Jolene Ketzenberger, Mika Gans, Malaika Horne, Catherine Gund, Sasha Vasilyuk, Brooke Miller, Carla Eckels, Catherine Price, Mark Bell, Sheryl Kraft, Jan Bell, Emelie Gunnison, Liza Mock, Andi McDaniel, Summer Brenner, Julie Bien, Judy O'Shea, Amy Tan, Bettina Birch, Rachel Vandagriff, Catherine Dauer, Lisa Busch, Laurie Fabiano, Catherine Pantsios, Chris Strachwitz, Henry Cordova, Mark Bell, Larry Corwin, Jenny Tonks, Jennifer Morla, Tracy Alverson Euler, Ahri Golden, Catherine Stifter, Susan Freinkel, Allison Barlett, Denise Emanuel Clemen, Carolyn Krause, Karen H. Phillips, Catherine Haley Epstein, Mae Maracek, Robert Seibert, Eloise Melzer, Rae Umsted
If you have a title idea you would like to submit, send it to kitchen [at] kitchensisters.org
A new Hidden Kitchens story airs tonight on KALW 91.7 in San Francisco at 5:00 during Crosscurrents. You can listen live online at kalw.org.
The story, produced with Roman Mars takes a look at F.T. Marinetti's Futurist Cookbook, first published in 1932, and how a group of contemporary chefs and artists are realigning "the movement's arguably fascist palate with a more sustainable approach to life."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
We've always said our microphone is a stethoscope listening to the complicated heart of the nation. Recently, we sent out a call for stories to our email list for our upcoming NPR series about girls and the women they become, and the stories started pouring in:
“I received your email about your new series about girls around the world…who doesn’t have a story to be told? Take my Aunt Sally for example..." “My friend Shakundala is a painter of women. Most of the women she paints are prostitutes in India…” “You need to go to the all-female firehouse inside the California Women’s Prison and talk to the inmate/firefighters…” “I've passed this call on to our 14 year old daughter. Thank you for making this series for her, for all of us.” “My 3 sisters and I each adopted girls from Haiti and have developed a new family with the 22 girls that are their orphanage sisters. We invite you to Haiti to document these girls yourselves…”Our new NPR series goes on air in March 2010 in honor of the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day. We'll be opening up an NPR Phone Line on Morning Edition this January inviting listeners to call in with more stories and ideas.
Donate now to support our new international multimedia collaboration that will be heard by millions.
Your donation will directly support our work for the next year: creating on-air and online stories about women and girls around the world; developing a new series of international stories for Hidden Kitchens World; developing WHER: 1000 Beautiful Watts, the Broadway musical; producing the Cabrillo Music Festival multimedia project based on our women and girls series; teaching audio workshops (over 100 people took part last year) and mentoring young interns and emerging producers.
We are independent producers, not on NPR's payroll. No doubt you have heard of the steep cutbacks and layoffs at NPR. It is even harder to make it as an independent in these tight times. When our community supports us, granting agencies and corporations are far more likely to give significant funds to make our work possible.
In a world that needs education, health care, housing, good food, justice and peace, it's hard to come asking for money for storytelling. But storytelling has the transformative power to illuminate and address serious issues in ways that seep into the soul, that find the common threads of our humanity, that stir people to action. That is our mission, and what we can accomplish with your support.
No amount is too big. No amount is too small. Your donation is tax-deductible.
Thank you for supporting our efforts to chronicle little-known stories of our community, culture and history—stories filled with possibility. Think of all we can do together in the coming year.
We thank you for being part of The Kitchen Sisterhood.
Davia & Nikki
The Kitchen Sisters
To contribute by check please make payable to: The Kitchen Sisters Productions, 916 Kearny St., San Francisco, CA 94113
The Kitchens Sisters Productions is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) media organization. All contributions are tax-deductible
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Aminatou Haidar is a peaceful non-violent activist known as the Saharawi people's Gandhi. She is a former political prisoner, human rights defender and recipient of the 2009 Civil Courage Prize, for championing non-violent resistance and the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Today, November 24th, 2009 marks Aminatou’s 10th day on hunger strike, confined to Lanzarote Airport in Spain’s Canary Islands after Morocco forcefully expelled her from her home in the Western Sahara Occupied Territories on November 14th.
She is in a wheelchair and doctors fear for her health as she suffers a stomach ulcer. Aminatou will not abandon her demonstration until the Moroccan and Spanish Governments allow her to return to her home in El Aaiun, the capital of the Saharawi Territories.
The Western Sahara was the last Spanish colony, under Franco. It was abandoned by Spain in 1975, as the dictator lay dying and simultaneously invaded by Morocco, violating United Nations resolutions and international law.
From that day to this, The Saharawi people have been waiting for a referendum on self-determination. They’ve been waiting for 24 years.
Aminatou has tirelessly, peacefully demonstrated for the return of this land to her people via referendum and the creation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic.
Since 1975, the Saharawi people have lived with terror, torture and kidnappings in the occupied territories. In the 2000’s, secret prisons and torture houses and mass graves were discovered in the occupied territories, including El Aaiun. Hundreds more Saharawis have simply “disappeared.”
When Morocco invaded, Algeria allowed the Saharawis that fled into Tindouf. The Refugee Camp that stands there now is home to 150,000 refugees, separated from their family members by The Moroccan Wall.
This monstrous 2700km structure is the world’s longest wall after the Great Wall of China. It is heavily guarded by Moroccan troops and mines and has divided the Saharawi population for over 30 years. They live in two separate territories, in equally horrific conditions, united by their cause.
So how come we’ve never heard about all this?
Because nobody talks about it.
The Moroccan government is “sensitive” about letting journalists in; The UN has had a “ceasefire”, in effect (ineffectively) since 1991. Not surprisingly there’s been a strategic reluctance from France or Spain to ruffle Morocco’s feathers.
All Amanitou wants to do is go home and continue passively demonstrating for what she believes in. Please help her, and help us to help her by raising awareness and persuading the Spanish and Moroccan governments to let her go home to her family, her people and her cause.
“I am very grateful to all the kindness and affection signs. I am receiving calls and messages from all over the world. I believe firmly that the Saharawi peaceful struggle is a fair cause and, as Gandhi did. I have absolute faith in non-violence for a better world and for a real peace.”
–Aminatou Haidar November 22nd, 2009.
Friday, October 23, 2009
We're launching a new multimedia series on NPR this January, a listener collaboration in the tradition of Hidden Kitchens, Lost & Found Sound, and The Sonic Memorial Project. This one's about girls. Girls and the women they become. Stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secret identities. Of women who crossed a line, broke a trail, changed the tide.
Small everyday stories, dramatic life and death stories. Stories from the middle of the city, to the middle of nowhere.
What women should we know about? What girl's story should we tell? The famous, the infamous, the unknown, the untold. Women with public lives. Women with secret lives.
Call our NPR Storyline at 202-408-9576 and tell us your story, or the story of someone we need to chronicle. Or email us at kitchen [at] kitchensisters.org
And here's The Contest. We want you to help us name this new NPR series. We've called it The Secret Life of Girls Around the World, The Scheherazade Project, 1001 Stories, all names we like but can't go with for one reason or another. So, we turn to you to join our brainstorming sessions. You can call or email us with your suggestions. Whoever picks the title will be featured on our website, get the full line of Kitchen Sisters products and productions, a wild boar dinner with forager, Angelo Garro, and the deep satisfaction of hearing the title you came up with on NPR throughout the year.
This soon-to-be-titled project will be full of richly layered sound and striking images, created by people around the world who help capture these stories of eccentric, trailblazing women and ground-breaking girls.
Join The Kitchen Sisterhood and help launch this new multimedia collaboration.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Operation Frontline (OFL) is a national, volunteer-based program of Share Our Strength, which provides hands-on healthy cooking and nutrition education classes to low-income families. OFL trains and mobilizes local culinary and nutrition professionals to volunteer their time to lead these courses.
Our class kitchen is “mobile” and travels to various cities throughout Lost Angeles—Glendale, Hollywood and Long Beach—offering courses to low-income adults, teens and children. This means that every week, I pack my car with groceries and several crates of cooking supplies and head to various agencies, churches, and clinics to get cooking! It has been a fascinating experience to gather participants from many different cultures and traditions into the same kitchen.
Since our official program launch in May, we have graduated six Operation Frontline classes, four for adults, and two for children ages 8-12. With the help of our team of volunteers, we have directly impacted over 75 families with our hands-on healthy cooking and nutrition classes. Our wonderful volunteers are the heart of our program, and our healthy cooking classes would not be possible without them.
We are always looking for new volunteers! Cooking supplies, groceries and monetary contributions also help in our efforts to reach more families throughout Los Angeles County.
For information, you can visit our website www.ccafs.org/operationfrontline or email Catherine.email@example.com.
Monday, October 12, 2009
We will cover miking techniques, sound gathering, use of archival audio, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame evocative questions that make for compelling storytelling, how to listen (which is harder than it looks), how to use interviews in conjunction with images, field recording techniques, recording equipment and more. The workshops are customized to fit the projects you are working on.
People who attend come from radio, newspapers, photography, oral history, historical societies, farms, music, writing, libraries, web design and beyond. The groups are always lively and good contacts are made.
The fee is $115. Of course, there will be a snack. The workshops are held in Francis Coppola's historic Zoetrope building in North Beach.
If you, or someone you know is interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which of the two workshops you would like to attend.
See you there.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Just returned from Birmingham, Alabama where we presented an oral history and audio production workshop as part of the series Dialogue on Food at Birmingham-Southern College. During this year-long cross-disciplinary discussion, students will be reading, writing, and creating multi-media projects about what we eat and why. Opening the series was Frances Moore Lappe, author of Diet for a Small Planet the book published in 1971 that is considered the "blueprint for eating with a small carbon footprint."
Our visit coincided with an Outstanding in the Field dinner at Jones Valley Urban Farm, an unlikely secret garden tucked into a square city block surrounded by freeways, railroad tracks and public housing in Birmingham. Jones Valley Urban Farm—three acres of arugula, sunflowers, hericot vert, waxy red peppers, sweat and possibility.
The farm grows food enough for an after-work farm stand during the summer, a food box CSA program, and fresh, seasonal vegetables for a handful of local restaurants. It has community garden plots for the neighborhood and a program for school kids to plant, harvest and learn about how gardens can change their community.
The mastermind behind the Jones Valley project is Edwin Marty (left), an Alabama native, who studied organic farming at University of Calfornia Santa Cruz. All roads seem to lead back to UCSC's visionary agroecology program. It’s been going on for 40 years and has graduated an army of disciples who have become the base of today’s organic farming and food movement. Edwin had visions of moving to China to teach organic farming until a friend pointed out that his home state might be a better place to start. Alabama has the second highest rate of obesity in the country. (Luckily, there’s Mississippi who comes in ahead of us, Frank Stitt told us).
Frank Stitt, chef and owner of Birmingham's Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega and Bottega Cafe, and Chez Fonfon, was the chef for our meal in the field. He worked with farmers throughout the region who provided the food.
Here's the menu:
McEwen & Sons deviled eggs (Helen & Frank McEwen)
Jones Valley Urban Farm sweet and spicy peppers, roast eggplant craklin' cornbread & Snow's Bend snap peas
Lady Pea Pilau with Snow's Bend butternut squash, Soul's Food Organic's cherry tomatoes (Linda & Michael Dean), okra & basil (David Snow and Margaret Ann Tooey)
Porchetta with Sequatchie Cove Farms pork (Bill & Miriam Keener), McEwen & Son's stone ground grits & JVUF collard greens & turnips
Petals from the Past apple cake with rum creme angalise
Davia interviews Chef Frank Stitt and Farmer Bill Keener of Sequatchie Cove Organic Farm & Dairy, TN. Bill (far right) and his wife Miriam raised the pig roasted for our meal.
Would love to hear about other urban farm projects and farm to table community dinners. What's happening in your part of the world?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
So much crosses our desks and our microphones. Only so much of it makes it to the air. Here are some collaborations and projects that have recently caught our attention we thought you'd want to know about.
Keep the faith,
The Kitchen Sisters
Archives we're visiting
Free Music Archive. "It's not just free music, it's good music."Books in our pile
Rock'n'Roll Public Library: A five-week free archival "civic endeavor" of The Clash's Mick Jones. "These 10,000 items are relics of the last century. A part of British musical history." London, July 16-August 25
Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl WagnerEvents on our Calendar
Farm City by Novella Carpenter
I-5 by Summer Brenner
Hunger for Freedom: The Story of Food in the Life of Nelson Mandela by Anna Trapido
Elizabeth Street by Laurie Fabiano
How to Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons by Sam Barry
Mirrors by Eduardo Galeano
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
Puckerbrush Potluck, Iowa State Fair, August 19Movies to see
Eat Real Festival in downtown Oakland, August 28-30. A tribal gathering of taco trucks, hot dog stands, and mobile food vendors all using locally sourced sustainable ingredients.
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz, CA, August 2-16. Marin Alsop conducts.
TetroWebsites we're browsing
Corner Store: A work-in-progress documentary feature
Away We Go, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida of 826 Valencia
Obama FoodoramaMusic on our turntable
Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles
Mapping Main Street: A collaborative documentary media project that creates a new map of the country through stories, photos and videos recorded on actual Main Streets.
Yes, We Can: A community canning project
Lura, a singer from Portugal and Cape VerdeOrganizations we're tracking
Orquestra Imperial from Brazil. A Samba big band fronted by Caetano Veloso's son Moreno and his friends Alexandre Kassin and Domênico Lancelotti
High Wide and Handsome. Loudon Wainwright III's tribute to Charlie Poole
Darling Just Walk by Tess Dunn
Dai Lam Linh. Our friend Nguyen Qui Duc sent us this startling new music from Vietnam.
Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline in Los AngelesRest In Peace
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Carecen: Central American Resource Center Cuerpo Sano/Healthy Bodies Program
CCROPP: Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program
Music National Service Initiative, a new social enterprise that supports and expands the use of music to meet important civic and social goals.
Artist, David Ireland"People need stories in hard times. We’ve had an enormous moral, spiritual, and economic collapse. People go to storytellers when times are like that." -Bruce Springsteen
Activist, Luke Cole
Actor, Luis Saguar
"The Kitchen Sisters have done some of the best radio stories ever broadcast" -Ira Glass
Radio producers we hope you'll support
The Kitchen Sisters. Click here to donate.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Kitchen Sisters chronicled this vast archive of American eating in the Hidden Kitchens series, in a story called "America Eats" that includes an interview with Mark Kurlansky, author of the new and fascinating book, "Food of a Younger Land: A Portrait of American Food--before the national highway system, before chain restaurants and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and traditional--from the lost WPA files."
You can listen to our story, "America Eats," here.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
It is intended not just for people in radio, but those interested in oral history and others who would like to learn interviewing skills for the projects that they do. We will cover miking technique, sound gathering, use of archival audio, how to make interviewees comfortable, how to frame your questions, and how to listen (which is harder than it looks).
The fee is $100. Of course, there will be a snack.
If you'd like to attend or would like more information, please send us an email at email@example.com
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Next Thursday is our show of student work, Friday's the "graduation".
I am and will be more so, a zombie-- which is so painfully when it's the most beautiful sunshine summer weather outside.
I will emerge like some mole creature once all this radio work is fully-edited and bounced to an mp3 and done.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Here are some projects and endeavors that have caught our attention and we want to pass along.
Keep it rolling,
The Kitchen Sisters
Archives we're trolling
Prelinger Library: Outsider librarians, Rick & Megan Prelinger have a mission to convene community around a collection. It is a free offering, an installation, a workshop, an extension of their living room, that seeks to foster discovery and serendipity and to experiment with new forms of access to information.Books/Articles we're reading
Southern Folklife Collection & Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Hawaiian Son: The Life and Music of Eddie Kamae by James HoustonManifestos & Presentations
Hillbilly Music: Source and Symbol by Archie Green
West of the West: Dreamers, Believers, Builders and Killers in the Golden State by Mark Arax
The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky. A portrait of American food--before the national highway system, before chain restaurants and before frozen food, when the nation's food was seasonal, regional, and traditional--from the lost WPA files.
Mark Danner's articles on torture in The New York Review of Books and The Washington Post
Hidden Kitchens Texas by The Kitchen Sisters
Peter Sellars: Art in the Age of ObamaMovies we're watching
The Eat-In Manifesto
The Garden. The story of the 14-acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles, started as a form of healing after the 1992 LA riots. An urban farm in one of the country's most blighted neighborhoods. The film chroncles the fight to save this 14-acre community oasis from development.Music on our turntable
Ferlinghetti. A documentary portrait of poet and City Lights co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
A Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes. A newly restored print by the Film Foundation and UCLA has just been completed.
Crude. A new documentary about the shifting course of a lawsuit by 30,000 Ecuadoreans against Chevron over contaminated waters of the Amazon.
The Burka Band. We are chronicling this story for our upcoming series exploring the secret life of girls around the world.Events
Chicano Zen by Charanga Cakewalk
May 8 - The Kitchen Sisters at the Food Matters series of Interdisciplinary Humanitaries Center at UC Santa Barbara. 4 PM.The Kitchen Sisters Manifesto: We are a non-profit, independent, public radio collaboration dedicated to creating documentaries that chronicle the untold stories of American culture and tradition, to keeping the nation's airwaves vibrant, imaginative and accessible, and to training young people and others with a passion to be involved in public radio.. You can help support our work with a tax-deductible contribution: www.kitchensisters.org/support
May 12 - "Who Glues Your Community Together Through Food?" A Night of California Hidden Kitchens. The Kitchen Sisters and guests at the California Endowment in Downtown LA, including food from Homegirl Cafe, Let's Be Frank hot dog cart, and the Kogi Korean BBQ truck. RSVP here.
PART ONE: For me, (re-)reading Telling True Stories has become a part of my night habits—brush teeth, get into bed, open random page in Telling True Stories and feel reassured that I’m not alone in the work I’m doing, that I fit into a line of many, many people that have done this work before me and struggled as I do now. I keep the book on my bedside table (which is actually an old suitcase standing on end). I have sentences throughout the book underlined in a thick blue marker and sometimes, over those underlines, circles around the words: curiosity is the beginning (Gay Talese), warn your subjects of your separateness (Anne Hull), don’t just feel relieved that someone is talking to you (Victor Merina), and especially, to do this work well you must find your own way and make your own mistakes (Adrian Nicole Leblanc).
The beginning of this audio documentary work. It felt like an enormous thing to arrive in a place that you have no ties to and to feel urgency to find a story, though you are a stranger. And you want the story to be really, really good. I think of all the expectations I have carried with me from the very start of what I want(ed) the story to be. How do you go forward when anything and everything is a possible story? I struggled with this a lot in the beginning. Everyone I knew in any way, I asked them for stories. The way other people may ask neighbors to borrow sugar or eggs, I asked for stories. At dinner with new acquaintances, I asked for stories. I collected them. I spent hours on Google and Craigslist and all the Maine newspaper websites and then read those same newspapers in coffee shops, hoping there would be a secret, amazing story that I had missed in the first reading.
PART TWO: I began with three stories in the early weeks. I made interviews and took the time to do careful transcriptions. Each story had its own, very valid reasons for not working out as a radio story. I resisted giving up each story for a long time, probably too long. I had already put so much energy into them, and time, and emotional investment. I got to a point where the thought of starting over completely yet again seemed impossible. And with that, a fear. I was very scared, if I had invested so much (and so many weeks) into these three stories, and they didn’t work out, what guarantee did I have that the next one would.
I’ll say now, how grateful I am that those stories didn’t work out because I have learned so much by those losses. Those three falling through taught me to understand why they wouldn’t be strong stories and the absence of material that would have made for a weak story, had I pursued them anyway. It was very hard for me to give them up, but a very necessary learning.
There I was, about the fifth week into Salt with three stories I had invested in and had to let go of. At that point, I emailed a friend of a friend of a friend, who works with a fishery association. I literally asked her if she knew any stories with interesting characters, perhaps somewhere outside of Portland (I wanted to explore more of Maine), perhaps something to do with the ocean. This is another point to mention, that I have learned, oh the kindness of strangers, to want to help me tell a story for some reason! The friend of a friend of a friend responded about a lady who is a periwinkle harvester. Great! I thought, I don’t even know what that is. So from there, I decided to do a story about a periwinkle harvester, a simple profile story of a person and their work. Oh, little did I know how it would unfold into something so much larger. And little did I know how very far away Lubec is, seemingly the ends of the earth, so very different from Portland, indeed.
PART THREE: The middle of this audio documentary work. Since Lubec is a ten hour round-trip drive, and with the necessity to organize my recording around the people who are part of my story, I’ve gone up to Lubec twice, staying for up to six days at a time. Just as my periwinkle harvester’s work depends on the tides and the weather, my audio recording is now linked to this as well, since, of course, I cannot record her working if she’s not out on the water working. I like thinking that, because of this, my audio recording is, in a small way, linked to the cycles of the moon just as the tides are.
My plan was to tell the story of a periwinkle harvester yet almost immediately from talking with the harvester, I learned that that was only a small part of what was happening. At the moment of writing this paper, I have hours and hours of transcription and only a very rough outline of what the audio story will be. It is a story of a town desperate for jobs, the collapse of the fisheries there, a political battleground that could potentially change Maine’s constitution,and one woman’s fight to protect her bay… and it all started with snails. And it needs to fit into eight minutes.
PART FOUR: What I have learned from this (and again, I’m still just at the beginning of unfolding all the pieces of the story, with still more recording to do, let alone begin a second audio story!) is the immense need for flexibility as one works on their documentary. The story I have now is not the story I thought I would collect.
There are times it is very hard to be doing this—due to the circumstances of distance— without a break. Two days ago, when I returned from the six days in Lubec, I felt raw. I had spent on average ten hours a day, no breaks, recording and talking to people. It’s a great deal of mental work to be constantly anticipating questions and engaging in the most attentive listening. I felt raw and heavy with information and people’s emotions. I went to have dinner with friends in Portland and found I couldn’t engage at all. This has taught me that, at least for myself, when doing documentary work, it is so important to create space to process everything that is gathered and take a break. I also happen to be a “comforter” personality and it is hard for me to maintain a certain, necessary distance when my subject is clearly emotionally upset and feeling hopeless. There’s been a lot of hopelessness and desperation expressed by the people I’ve talked to, and I have often felt overwhelmed by it.
PART FIVE: Some of the many things I have learned so far. I have learned to be more aggressive in guiding interviews. I think it is helpful for the person you're interviewing too, to have a map of where the conversation needs to go. This is one thing I’ve struggled with before in terms of being just so grateful that someone is willing to talk to me, I’ve shied away from asking more directly what I’m seeking to understand. I have greatly appreciated leaving the microphone on even after the official interview is done. I’ve learned to be more discerning with the sounds I collect, in order to anticipate the time I will need on transcription later. There is a fear that you have to collect everything or you might miss something. And of course, there will be things you miss. In a way though, I find this very “Zen”, it’s a good teacher in letting go. I think it’s similar in photography. The moment comes and goes, you might miss it, but you can’t dwell on it, and hopefully you’ll learn to be ready for the next time something comes that you’d like to document.
Coming to Salt, I had worked in producing audio stories before, but I had always gathered stories from people I knew or had connection to. This was my first time, as a total stranger, asking people to tell me their stories. I have learned to be much less afraid of calling strangers. Still, I hate cold calls. I hate them, and though I have more confidence now to do them, I still hate the two minutes you have when you must explain yourself and convince someone to want to talk to you. Several times now, I’ve filled answering machines in explaining myself and have had to call back just to leave my number.
One thing that has been on my mind, in this work, is several times now I’ve been thanked by subjects—thanking me for listening, for showing interest in their lives. And even without this, I feel a certain weight to do justice to their story. To honor their voices and sometimes (all the time), I am terrified I won’t be able to, that it won’t be good enough.
There are two quotes I have copied into my Salt notebook, that I often call upon in this work as inspiration. One, Willa Cather: he had the uneasy manner of a man who is not among his own kind, and who has not seen enough of the world to feel that all people are in some sense his own kind. And the other, Michael Ondaatje: everything is a collage, even genetics. There is a hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.
And so, while I’m still very much in the middle of my work at Salt, with hours and hours and hours of transcription ahead of me, I already know this: that the people I have talked with, I will carry them with me. I hope I am able to honor their stories in this work, in this time, for now.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I felt especially nervous because unlike most all of the radio students, I was behind in my work (thanks to the 20-30 hours of audio I had collected) to the point I had not yet shared any audio version with anybody. So I had not yet had any feedback, whereas most folks had already shared their stories several days earlier to other radio students. The way Salt teaches, you focus first on perfecting your script, your paper version, before you get to work in Protools-- essentially your story's laid out before you and your next steps are to make your audio clips, record narration, and mix it together (oh, so easy-- please read the intense sarcasm)
I started my ProTools session at 8am on Wednesday morning (I had already lined up my audio & made my cuts), so started the piece at 8am and finished (the draft that I shared today) at 3am the next morning.
A word about narration-- a misguided radio class T.A. in 2004 told me I sounded like a British robot (??? I know!) when I did narration. Though five years older (wiser?) now, I still dread, and I mean DREAD narration. (That TA, like a mean boy you once liked-- you never forget what they said and they, to this day, have no idea you still carry those words with you).
Narration: I read my entire narration three times. I put up the photographs of two friends (who are looking at the camera when the photo was taken) at my eye level, so when I read my narration, I was looking at them, to try to help me feel natural, like I was talking to them on the phone. Ira Glass spoke at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland a few days ago and said your narration should sound like you're talking to your best friend late at night in bed on the phone-- that kind of intimacy given to the radio listener. The first time, I just read my words straight through (I had already obsessed on trying to make my word choice sound conversational). The second time, I read "over the top", smiling the whole time, and even outloud pretending to be my friend asking me the question that my narration was trying to answer. And for the third time, the time that would be the most successful (no one called me a British robot, actually I was complemented on my voicing). I listened to my favorite Lil Wayne song and danced and sang it out as loud as I could. As soon as the song finished, I went straight into my third read.
Actually, in one of Davia's workshops she referenced the brilliant Brian Eno http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/57/freestyling/ and his article about the power of singing in our lives. I have a terrible voice (once I was booed while singing kareoke) but Lil Wayne definitely helped with my narration as a radio producer.
And so out of those 20-30 hours of recorded tape, I came in just under 10 minutes (including my host intro)
One of my favorite sounds is my recording of hundreds of periwinkle snails spitting out ocean water (my story has a lot to do with periwinkle snails)
The voice of snails! Who knew!
Tomorrow, early, early morning (Saturday April 25th) to Boston for the Megapolis (Audio) Festival.
with love, Alix
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
We talk about finding and directing the EMOTIONAL CENTER of our story, how is it best if-- instead of in one sentence--you should be able to sum up your story in ONE WORD and most often, that is your emotional center and the direction you should craft your story in.
It looks like one of my two stories for Salt's radio program will take place in Lubec, Maine. It is the eastern most area of the United States and a ten-hour roundtrip drive from Portland! Recently driving the 5 hour return, I had the good fortune to hear Soundprint's Treasure Isle story which I fell in love with.
It's funny & shocking how much finding an audio story is like falling in love. You live it so much in your head before the first meeting. You invent conversations and scenes and expectations. You create the imaginary future and its brilliance. You spend hours fretting over the phone, wondering why they don't call you back. Did you say the wrong thing? Did you scare them away? Finally you meet the real thing.You learn it's not at all what you had in mind, you have to let go of certain preconceived ideas for the story. The story is different than you created. You must be open to all the new things that unfold and yet keep a map of the places you believed in--what brought you originally to the story in the first place.
They are a healthy reminder that there's life outside of hours and hours of transcription!
Here's some of what we're listening to (a mishmash selection of the past several weeks.) We usually start our Tuesday and Friday radio classes with 2-3 listenings and discussion of radio pieces, most often produced by past students. These are some of my favorites.
"No Praise, No Blame, Just So" Jessica Alpert.
Kitchen Sisters Tupperware Party
"Bringing the work into you" Megan Martin.
"Just another fish story" Molly Menschel--this one we listened to as before-Salt "homework." I love this story so much.
"World's Longest Diary" Dave Isay
We're reading Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer's Guide compiled by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call. I love this book. I LOVE THIS BOOK! It is so helpful, such a diversity of voices talking about documentary work. I am inspired by it. I re-read it all the time, certain passages that give me guidance. This book is wonderful.
Here are two quotes I collected that inspire me in this world of radio documentary work. Not related at all to Salt, but I have the quotes on scraps of paper pasted into my Salt notebook:
"He had the uneasy manner of a man who is not among his own kind, and who has not seen enough of the world to feel that all people are in some sense his own kind." Willa Cather
"Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross." Michael Ondaatje.
Monday, March 16, 2009
We are pleased to announce the publication of our new book, HIDDEN KITCHENS TEXAS—Stories, Recipes and More from the Lone Star State.
Blurb, a new print-on-demand publishing company, invited us to create a book based on our Hidden Kitchens Texas radio special narrated by Willie Nelson. The book is a colorful, action-packed road trip exploring Texas through food—told by people who find it, grow it, cook it, eat it, sell it, talk about it, and celebrate with it. It's available now at Blurb.com.
We'd love to see you at the book launch festivities at South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival in Austin this week. Here are the details:
Monday, March 16, 2009, 8PM—The Tap Room/Six Lounge, Austin, TX
Blurb Publishing is hosting a bash as part of the South by Southwest. They'll be featuring their new publishing technology including The Kitchen Sisters' new book Hidden Kitchens Texas.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 5PM—Ranch 616, Austin, TX
Hidden Kitchens Texas Launch Party
Wednesday, March 18, 2009, Noon—BBQ the Texas Way, SXSW panel featuring The Kitchen Sisters, Texas writer Joe Nick Patoski, and Texas cookbook writer and author Robb Walsh.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
My name is Alix Blair. In 2004 I was an intern with The Kitchen Sisters, helping with the Hidden Kitchens Project. When I was growing up, I never thought working in radio was something just anyone could do. I thought it was like farming or lobster-fishing--you were somehow magically born into. In college, thanks to a marvelous teacher (Beth Taylor!) who began to offer a radio nonfiction class, I started learning about radio, hanging out around the student radio station, and my life was transformed the moment Joe Richman and Jay Allison came to speak to the class. It was an email some years later to Jay Allison when I asked if he could point in me in the direction of the Kitchen Sisters.
From the Kitchen Sisters, my radio adoration took me to the Center for Documentary Studies in North Carolina. A most incredible place with incredible week-long summer workshops in audio production for beginners and for advanced radio producers. I had the tremendous privilege and great joy of working with audio guru John Biewen. The last two years I have worked with CDS, most recently in a non-audio role-- as a photographer with the Five Farms Project. But in all this time, and with the audio pieces I've created, I've never had the "luxury" to dedicate for the long-term to a story, to have intense and constant teacher and peer review, to solely commit weeks to audio work and navigate all the amazing and scary places documentary work can take you. Hence I find myself in Maine in the winter at Salt.
We're here in the end of week three at Salt. Portland, Maine is covered in ice and crunchy snow. Last night Rob Rosenthal, one of the two radio teachers and director of the radio program, in collaboration with the photography teacher Kate Philbrick, had the opening of their show, "Malaga Island: A story best left untold." It was incredible how many people came. Salt's main room had every chair taken and people sat on the floor, lining the hallway on either side. I am always so in love with people coming together as a community around sound. We're all so used to watching TV and movies, or going to an art gallery for a photography show, but coming together to sit with strangers to just listen!
Back to Salt... we have a mix of classes, each "track" (writing, photography, radio) meets with its own students twice a week and then we all have a class, on Thursdays, to discuss the general ins and outs of documentary work--the ethics, the challenges, learning to be brave when asking a stranger for their intimate story, making very sure not to fall in love with the person you're documenting and not having them fall for you (it compromises the work!). We are about thirty students, with a mix of ages, though most in their mid-twenties. Some have had radio experience before, some have had none at all. In the radio program, we have two assignments before our feature stories--one is doing a promo for a show of our creation, one is a Vox Pop of a question of our choosing. For my Vox Pop, I want to ask people what is the moment they remember feeling like they were an adult, that invisible line that you cross. (My friend Kavanah says it's when you never run out of toilet paper! that's grown-up responsibleness).
So, the end of week three. On Tuesday we are pitching our first stories (we create two) to Andrea DeLeon, NPR Northeast Bureau Chief. I will be doing my first interview tomorrow for a potential story. I have about five ideas for stories collecting in my head. Not sure where they will lead. It's part of the desperation, adventure, falling in love-ness of this radio documentary work.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
We have 2 openings left in our Recording and Interviewing Workshop next week, Tuesday, February 24 in San Francisco. If you would like attend or be notified when the next workshop is scheduled please send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or subscribe to our email list.
This 3-hour workshop is intended not just for people working in radio, but also for those interested in recording oral histories, web audio, podcasts and others who would like to learn interviewing, documenting, and radio and online broadcasting skills for the projects that they do. In the past we have had a freelance photographer for the New York Times, an archivist from UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, oral historians as well as many independent journalists. The group is kept to a small size so everyone has a chance to be involved. The fee is $100. A snack is provided.
SALT - THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY STORYTELLING
Ruxandra Guidi worked with us in 2002 and then left for Austin, Texas where she did production and reporting work for NPR's weekly show, Latino USA as well as freelancing for other radio programs. She dropped by our office recently on her way through town after living in Bolivia. Awarded a five-week IRP Fellowship from John Hopkins University Ruxandra traveled to Haiti to examine the effects of foreing aid on human rights, violence and poverty. Her piece, “South-South” on the effort to overhaul Haiti's' state trash collection system aired on NPR. Rux has been collaborating with her husband, photographer Roberto "Bear" Guerra, and their latest collaboration is a multimedia story which can be seen and heard on the International Reporting Project website of John Hopkins University.
photo /Roberto Guerra
Alison Budner is producing stories for KPFA in Berkeley after completing an apprenticeship at KPFA's First Voice Media Action Program. Her most recent radio show was focused on the Victory Gardens -- with one piece on the historical gardens from WWI and WWII and another on the present day Victory Gardens program in San Francisco. It is a wonderful piece that goes hand-in-hand with our Hidden Kitchens story - Garden Allotments - A London Kitchen Vision.
Director Scott Hamilton's Oscar nominated documentary The Garden is a portrait of the fourteen-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles - one of the largest of its kind in the United States. Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers have since created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community. Learn more online and spread the word.
Robert Lloyd, LA Times Television critic, writes about another powerful, Oscar-nominated short film premiering tonight on HBO. The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306,” The film is focused mainly on the memories of Memphis preacher Samuel “Billy” Kyles, who was the only other person on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel when King was shot. Read his review here.
Thinking of this period of time again, about the sanitation workers strike that brought King to Memphis and the movement organized around the slogan “I Am a Man” made us think about about some audio clips from our story WHER 1000 Beautiful Watts, a two part story that we produced as part of our NPR series Lost & Found Sound in 1999, about the first all girl radio station. Sam Phillips started the station with his wife Becky Phillips and from 1955 through 1971, a team of women ran the station; working in almost every position from on-air disc jockey to copywriter to sales manager. It was an "easy listening" music format but along with starting the first call-in radio show, they covered the local news as well - including the sanitation workers strike.
It was on the talk show, "Open Mike" that on air host Marge Thrasher announced the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. That was a memorable moment for the women of WHER.
Donna Barlett: "I remember standing at the news machine and watching the news tap out that Martin Luther King had just been shot. Marge was on the air and I took her the paper and I could not talk and tell her what I had in my hands...I couldn't talk."
Our story on WHER is available online - Part 2 which includes the section on King is here lostandfoundsound. Take a listen.