The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
151 - Pearl Jam: It's a Rock Band, Not The Smithsonian
Sometimes we find the story, sometimes the story finds us. Such is the case with this tale of two Keepers from the Pacific Northwest, the official/unofficial archivists for Pearl Jam. Caroline Losneck, a radio producer in Maine heard our Keepers series about activist archivists and rogue librarians and said to herself, “Hey wait a minute, what about that mythic vault in Seattle I’ve been hearing about for years filled to the brim with 30 years of Pearl Jam, who's keeping that?”
We are especially keen to put Caroline's story out now, as Pearl Jam, a notoriously activist band, has gone all in for registering young voters and getting out the vote since at least 2004 when they took their Vote for Change tour through the swing states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida registering as they went. This 2020 election is no exception.
Today Caroline Losneck and The Kitchen Sisters Present... Pearl Jam: It’s a Rock Band, Not the Smithsonian
Produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell. Mixed by Jim McKee.
Special thanks to John Burton & Kevin Shuss, Jacob McMurray at MoPop, to audio engineer Alice Anderson and to Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Matt Cameron and Eddie Vedder — Pearl Jam.
Like Pearl Jam says, get on out there and vote. Vote like it counts. Vote because you love the music and this messy, precious democracy.
150 — Floating City - The Mirabeau Water Garden, New Orleans
We go to New Orleans for a kind of biblical reckoning. A story of science and prayer, with a cast of improbable partners—environmental architects and nuns—coming together to create a vision forward for living with water in New Orleans. Mirabeau Water Garden, one of the largest urban wetlands in the country designed to educate, inspire and to save its neighborhood from flooding.
New Orleans. Surrounded by The Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, besieged by hurricanes and tropical storms, permeated with man made canals, levees, pumping stations …. Water is a deep and controversial issue in New Orleans. What to do with it. Where to put it. How to get rid of it? How to live with it?
David Waggonner, of Waggonner & Ball Architecture & Environment has been thinking and dreaming about these questions for years. One of the primary architects behind the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan, David envisions floating streets, pervious pavement, planting bioswales—“living with water” rather than pushing it down and pumping it out.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina the Sisters of St. Joseph convent in New Orleans was under 8 feet of water. A year later, on a clear blue day, the building was struck by lightning. The Sisters prayed for a sign. And in walked David Waggonner with a vision.
The Mirabeau Water Garden will become one of the largest urban wetlands in the country and a campus for water research and environmental education, demonstrating best practices for construction and urban water management in the city's lowest-lying and most vulnerable neighborhoods.
The 25-acre parcel was donated to the City of New Orleans by the Sisters of Saint Joseph on condition that it be used to enhance and protect the neighborhood to “evoke a huge systemic shift in the way humans relate with water and land.”
149 - The Sonic Memorial—Remembering 9/11 with host Paul Auster
The Peabody Award winning Sonic Memorial Project, an intimate and historic documentary commemorating the life and history of the World Trade Center and its surrounding neighborhood, through audio artifacts, rare recordings, voicemail messages and interviews.
The Sonic Memorial Project began in October 2001 as part of the Lost & Found Sound series. We came together—radio producers, artists, construction workers, bond traders, secretaries, ironworkers, elevator operators, policemen, widows, firefighters, archivists, public radio stations and listeners to chronicle and commemorate the life and history of the World Trade Center and its neighborhood. We opened a phone line on NPR for listeners to call in with their stories and audio artifacts relating to the September 11 attacks and the history of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of people called with testimonies and remembrances, music and small shards of sounds.
In addition to these personal messages and remembrances you’ll hear interviews with: Guy Tozzoli, Director of the World Trade Center of New York; Minoru Yamasaki, the architect who designed the World Trade Center; Philippe Petit, the aerialist who walked a tightrope between the twin towers; Leslie Robertson, World Trade Tower structural engineer; Herb Ouida, Executive Vice President of the World Trade Centers Association; Professor Kenneth T. Jackson, Director of New York Historical Society; historian Robert Snyder; and sound artists and musicians who recorded and performed at the Trade Center including Stephen Scott, Ben Cheah, Nadine Robinson, Stephen Vitiello and more.
The Sonic Memorial Project was produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with NPR, Ben Shapiro, Jay Allison, Joe Richman and independent radio producers, artists, writers, archivists, historians and public radio listeners throughout the country. Hosted by writer Paul Auster.
148 - The International Congress of Youth Voices
Picture this: 131 young people, 13 to 26 years old, from 37 countries—youth activists from around the globe— students, writers, poets, marchers, community leaders all gathered together in San Juan, Puerto Rico in August 2019, the week after the scandal-ridden government of Governor Ricardo Rosselló fell. A government brought down in large measure because of the resolve and activism of young people across the Hurricane Maria-battered island.
This wasn’t part of the plan for the second meeting of the International Congress of Youth Voices. It was pure coincidence. But here they all are, coming from across the planet—jet lagged and lit from within—to learn from one another and an array of artists, writers and activists, to create a network, to tell their stories, to listen and to understand the forces that led this island to erupt.
Politics of the world affect young people as much as anyone else, and they have little to no voice as major decisions are made. The International Congress of Youth Voices was founded as a means to amplify their ideas and energy and to unite young people for a weekend of collaboration.
The International Congress of Youth Voices, founded by author Dave Eggers (co-founder of 826 National) and nonprofit leader Amanda Uhle, gathers the world's most inspiring teen writers and activists. They come from all over the world, including: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the United States, Colombia, Guatemala, Cuba, Australia, Denmark, Nepal, Russia, England, Thailand, South Africa, Ireland, Canada, Uganda, Pakistan, Burundi, France, India, and Puerto Rico.
Student delegates are chosen based on their commitment to leadership and social justice and their passion and eloquence as writers. The event is designed to provide a path to leadership for all delegates and represents a continuum from students who have exhibited potential in local writing and tutoring programs to writers and activists who have already made notable achievements at a very young age.
Youth on Fire: The International Congress of Youth Voices was produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva) in collaboration with Nathan Dalton, Brandi Howell, Rachel Templeton & Teddy Alexander. Mixed by Jim McKee. Story Intern: Jonathan Hsieh. Special thanks to Dave Eggers & Amanda Uhle and to all the delegates from around the country and around the world who came to Puerto Rico and shared their stories with us. Check out more on our new social media series #YouthOnFire.
This story begins our new series Youth on Fire, stories of young activists and visionaries from around the world. We would love to hear from you if you are or if you know one. Podcasts, social media, poetry, playlists, manifestos… let us know what you’re doing. You can reach us @kitchensisters on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and at kitchensisters.org.
The Kitchen Sisters Present is part of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX. Thanks to Sakara for sponsoring this episode.
Funding for work of The Kitchen Sisters comes from The National Endowment for the Humanities, The Robert Sillins Family Foundation, The TRA Fund supporting our Intern Program, and Listener Contributions to The Kitchen Sisters Productions.
147 - Kamal Mouzawak—A Lebanese Kitchen Vision
On Tuesday August 4th, a massive explosion devastated Beirut, shattering the port and the heart of the city. Over 150 people have lost their lives, some 5000 people have been injured, hundreds of thousands have lost their homes — all while the people of Lebanon are facing catastrophic levels of the coronavirus and devastating economic collapse.
Our love and our sorrow are with the people of Beirut. In 2015 Davia traveled to Lebanon for our Hidden Kitchens series to chronicle the work of the Lebanese kitchen visionary, Kamal Mouzawak — an astounding man who builds community through food throughout the country. His Beirut restaurant, Tawlet, that employs dozens of village women cooking their traditional village dishes, was destroyed in the explosion.
Kamal Mouzawak and his restaurant team have been at the forefront of the Beirut rescue efforts in collaboration with Chef Jose Andres and the World Central Kitchen. Kamal’s kitchen prepared the first fresh meals for local hospitals, isolated seniors, and first responders throughout the city. Hummus sandwiches, kefta sandwiches of yellow onion, sumac, parsley and hummus and molokhia, a traditional Sunday meal of chicken that reminds everyone who knows it of home.
In homage to the people of Lebanon, The Kitchen Sisters Present a journey through the hidden kitchens of Lebanon with kitchen activist and restaurateur Kamal Mouzawak, a man with a vision of re-building and uniting this war-ravaged nation through its traditions, its culture and its food. We visit farmer’s markets, restaurants and guest houses known as Souk el Tayeb that he and his kitchen community have created.
This story, produced by Samuel Shelton Robinson and The Kitchen Sisters, is part of Hidden Kitchens: War and Peace and Food, a series of stories about the role food plays in helping resolve or cause conflict between nations and communities.
146 — French Manicure—Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America
In honor of the many people who work in nail salons across the country who are struggling to keep their businesses from going under during these long closures, The Kitchen Sisters Present French Manicure —Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America, a story produced as part of the Lost and Found Sound series on NPR.
Currently it is estimated that more than 40% of the nail salon technicians in America are Vietnamese women. In California the numbers are estimated at more than 75%. The majority of these women are Vietnamese immigrants. Arriving in this country, Vietnamese immigrants, like those from other countries, have looked for a place to make their own economic niche. Many found one taking care of people’s hands and nails.
The training is short – sometimes as little as three months. They not only acquire a new set of professional skills, but a new identity as well. Sound plays a part in merging into a new life—American TV and radio, language study tapes, naturalization tapes, the soundtrack of new citizenship and a new life. Then there are the lost sounds of home – music cassettes brought from Vietnam, Vietnamese videos from the Saigon bookstore in a San Jose shopping mall. These audio artifacts merge with stories from manicurists in Vietnamese salons. One such story comes from Shirley Nguyen at JT Nails.
Shirley: I came here in 1983. Just by myself at 14. I escaped by boat to Thailand, to Philippines, then came here. Supposed to be a whole family come together but we separate to small boats. Some make it some didn't make it, get caught by the communists. We separate. And I was wondering, I asked "Where's my mom, where's my mom?" The owner say, "She will be here, she will be here." Gone.
As she polishes, she tells her stories - how she got here - what to do about dry cuticles - how she learned her English from tapes - why French Manicure is better than silks - how she lost her family in Vietnam - about the "sad songs" of Vietnam and the sounds of Saigon streets. About how she got her name.
Shirley: [In the U.S.], I lived with a foster parent. I have my own room and a TV she let me have it. Usually I watch a lot of Shirley Temple. I like Shirley Temple a lot. I watch a lot of her movie. She's happy. She's dancin' tap. And she's very pretty lady ... When I become US citizen I change directly to Shirley Nguyen. My Vietnamese name kind of like difficult to pronounce, Hang - H-A-N-G. I changed to Shirley."
Contributors to this program include: Shirley Nguyen, Tina Truong and Jackie LE of JT Nails Salon in San Francisco; Betty Ha, May An Quang, Boi Ha and Tina Nguyen of Fancy Nails in Berkeley, Calif.; Dian Dinh of Cole Valley Nails in San Francisco; Tina Perry, Leonette Motta, Maria Elena Alvarado, Hien Hong and Nancy DeGroat of Hilltop Beauty School in Daily City, Calif.; Sophia Tran, Nhung Tran and Lan Xuan Thi Truong of Evergreen Beauty College in San Jose, Calif.; Alan Cox, Helene Luc Tran, Mrs. Nu and Mrs. Chu La of Hayward Beauty College, Hayward, Calif. Special Thanks also to: Ellen Sebastian Chang, Flawn Williams, Chris Tsakis and Janet Dang.
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