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Opioid Crisis and Creative Artists (VOA Connect Ep 61)


VOA – CONNECT

EPISODE 61
AIR DATE 03 15 2019

TRANSCRIPT

OPEN ((VO/NAT))
((Banner))
Opioids in America

((SOT))
((Animation Transition))
((Banner))

Birds without Borders

((SOT))
((Animation Transition))
((Banner))

African Art Everywhere

((SOT))
((Open Animation))

BLOCK A
((Banner:

Living America’s Opioid Nightmare))
((Popup Banner

More than 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses.
VOA looks at three stories from the epidemic))

((PKG))

ALLISON: PART 5
((Banner: Allison: The Final Chapter))
((Producers:
Chris Simkins, Jeff Swicord, Jacquelyn De Phillips))

((Camera: Jeff Swicord, Chris Simkins, Mike Burke, John Oliva, Marcus Harton))
((Map:
Miami, Florida))

****
((Locator:

Drug Addiction Treatment Center
Miami, Florida))

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
There were five other girls that I lived with. They’ve all relapsed. There’s only one other girl who has graduated and stayed sober that I’m aware of. It’s hard when you see people who you were sober with and had conversations with and really grew with, fall back into that. I mean it’s, it’s sad.
((NATS))

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
Between John and I, there have been about 13 overdoses and deaths that have happened in the two-year period. It really pushes me to maintain where I’m at, because it is so easy to fall back into those kind of excuses. You can come up with any excuse to get high, just like you can come up with any excuse to get sober or to stay sober. So, it’s a big deal to be where we are.
****
((NATS))
((Barbara Norland, Allison’s mother))

I said, you know, I mean, I don’t feel that we’ve had this type of relationship since you were, like, eight or nine.
Allison: Right.

Barbara: And I, you know, I credit you a lot for that in just, again, talking, you know, walking the walk that you really want people to see. And….
((Allison, Recovering Addict))

I hurt my mom a lot. It’s got to be incredibly hard for her to have so much faith and compassion and empathy towards me, and to be working towards building a normalized relationship.
Barbara: There’s a lot of trust that has to be rebuilt. You know, part of my, my anxiety was with Sawyer, because that was a huge responsibility that I took on.
((NATS))
Barbara: Do you want to go show Opa? How tiny that little flower is?
Barbara: Having you take over on that, there was a little bit of, a lot of anxiety, because you were in such a transition yourself, but I actually, looking back, I think it was the best time because you had to step up to the plate. You had no choice.
Allison: Right, right.

((Sawyer, Allison’s and John’s Daughter)): ….a giraffe in there!

Allison: There’s a giraffe in his ear?
((Allison, Recovering Addict))
I think it’s been great getting to know you now, as opposed to harboring resentments for who you were then because I don’t, looking at myself in the mirror and seeing who I am today, I’m definitely not the same person I was last year, or the year before or, you know….
Barbara: I mean even, even two months ago.
Allison: You know, it’s still very new, it’s still very raw, it’s still a growing relationship, and I think that that’s super important and I think to keep up with communications. I mean, I’ve called you more now, that we live a mile and a half away from each other, than I have my entire life.
Barbara: I know, but I do make it a priority to take your call, because that, I think, has really been part of the natural growth that we’ve had in the past couple months is because you are open to talking.
Allison: It’s been putting myself in your shoes, and that’s a huge part of recovery is looking at things from your victim’s standpoint, because I am, you know, I am a perpetrator of a lot of hurt and a lot of pain and a lot of angst and I, you know, I’m sorry for that. I’ve realized that, especially as our relationship has progressed, you know, I’ve done a lot of damage and I’ve done a lot of really nasty things to you and I’ve said a lot of really nasty things to you. And it’s, you know, that’s been my, one of my biggest shames has been all the things that you’ve had to put up with, and it’s not fair to you and I’m, I really am sorry. And I love you very much.
Barbara: You know it goes back to, again, the most important person here is Sawyer.
Allison: Mmm Hmm. I think it’s been great for her, the way that we’ve been communicating. There’s still little parenting things that we have to work out and those are all quirks and I’m still learning.
Barbara: It’s important for you to be the best person that you can be, for her. We’re all in this together. So, we all have to own that. So….
Allison: Right, right.
****
((NATS))
((Allison, Recovering Addict))

Taking the Suboxone for as long as I have, has had some detrimental and adverse side effects. I have a wonderful doctor that I’ve been dealing with. Her feeling is if I’m comfortable with coming off and I feel concrete enough in my recovery, that she’s comfortable with it. It’s more about not wanting to rock the boat with the court system. It has helped me stay clean for longer than I have been since I was 18.
((Locator: Miami-Dade County Courthouse))
Dr. Ares-Romero:
Hi Allison! How are you?
Allison: Good, how are you?
I just want to kind of close this chapter, we’ll say, on the court system and move forward.
((Dr. Patricia Ares-Romero, Chief Medical Officer, Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital))
How are you today?
Allison: Good. Normal stressors, normal life.
((Allison, Recovering Addict))
My mom and I are really working on our relationship and we’re communicating very well. There was so much hurt and so much pain, that there’s a lot of, a lot of bridges to rebuild and I was very….
Dr. Ares-Romero: You were angry, you were angry.
Allison: I was very angry. Grateful but angry, because she was doing all the things I wanted to do with my daughter. And, you know, she calls my mom, ‘mom.’ It hits that, like, nerve….
Dr. Ares-Romero: Yeah, it’s at the core, right? What about your relationship with your daughter?
Allison: It’s, it’s really, I mean, it’s great. I was so scared of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing and then having her taken away. You know, I kind of sat down and thought about it and I’m like, I can’t live my life like that, because then I’m just waiting for the next bad thing to happen.
Dr. Ares-Romero: Instead of enjoying the here and now.
Allison: Right.
Dr. Ares-Romero: So, I wanted to talk a little bit about the upcoming milestone, and so, let’s talk a little bit about that and your feelings around what’s about to happen.
Allison: So, I think there’s a certain amount of anxiety that’s, that’s coming with it, on both my and my husband’s part.
Dr. Ares-Romero: What have been the patterns or behaviors that have changed it within you, that’s going to help you throughout the recovery process once you exit out of court?
Allison: I think a lot of it is just the communication factor. You know, when my husband had his appendix out and they gave him pain medication, which is completely normal. It’s a very painful thing to go through. Just watching the change in his eyes was very triggering, so I made a phone call and I talked it out and, you know, I think that that’s a huge change.
Dr. Ares-Romero: Right.
Allison: I do want to come off the Suboxone. I know it’s a gradual thing. It’s been two years, and like I said, I have a lot of tools and there hasn’t been that urge in the back of my head to, to kind of put that little devil on my shoulder.
Dr. Ares-Romero: I mean, we’re still are going to be seeing you.
Allison: Right.
Dr. Ares-Romero: And get that really good treatment plan going once you are completely off the Suboxone. You know, once you are still, you know, doing therapy and what is the perfect treatment plan for you? Right, it’s different for everyone.
Allison: Absolutely.
Dr. Ares-Romero: And continue on this path, you know, to, to your wonderful life.
Allison: Hmm. I’m all for it.
Dr. Ares-Romero: I know.
Allison: I’m always all for it. It’s always, it’s always a journey.
Dr. Ares-Romero: Yep. That’s life, right?
Allison: That’s always fun.
Dr. Romero: That’s what life is about.
****

((NATS))
((Locator:
Miami-Dade County Courthouse))
((Judge Jeri Cohen, Miami-Dade Family Court))

So, I think you guys are ready to graduate. How do you guys feel about this? You ready?
Allison: Yes.
John: Yes ma’am.
Judge Cohen: More than ready, right?
Allison: Yes, definitely.

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
Clearly, they wanted the best for me. Clearly, they wanted me to change. Clearly, they wanted what was best for Sawyer, and that was apparent from day one.
Judge Cohen: That’s just part of the….
((Allison, Recovering Addict))
They deserve a lot of credit for changing people’s lives that they don’t get.

Judge Cohen: I think they’ve proven they can provide a safe, nurturing environment for their daughter.
((Allison, Recovering Addict))
I don’t think any person who was addicted to any substance wants to admit it. Obviously, there were things we weren’t dealing with and Judge Cohen saw it and really pushed us to be our best.
((Judge Jeri Cohen, Miami-Dade Family Court))

You guys, I know that Sawyer’s doing well and I know she does well in school and she’s healthy and she’s happy, and she’s got a lot of people who love her, and….
John: Without a doubt.
Judge Cohen: We are ready to close the case. I mean, you have the skills to work with the physician and to work with your meetings.
((John Lowe, Allison’s Husband))
I just wanted to thank you. You made me accountable for my actions and, you know, you really made me see what needed to happen and what needed to change and that there was a better future for my wife and for my daughter.

((Judge Jeri Cohen, Miami-Dade Family Court))

That was very emotional, especially because they told me that they really appreciated what we did. I was very heartened to hear Allison’s mother, Barbara, thank us and feel comfortable with where Allison and John are.

Judge Cohen: So, if you’d like to come up, I am going to give you your certificates.

Allison: Perfect.

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
Getting our certificate was a surreal moment. It was one of those moments where it was like is it ever going to happen, like, are we ever going to make it? I sold myself short. I didn’t think I deserved a life like this. Graduating from family court was a huge step forward.

Judge Cohen: Give me a hug.
John: Thank you for everything.

Judge Cohen: Very proud of you.

Allison: Thank you. Thank you so much for everything.
((Judge Jeri Cohen, Miami-Dade Family Court))
That’s what these drug courts are about, you know, helping people reclaim their lives, live healthy lives, be good parents to their children.
Judge Cohen: And by the way, you guys look really good. You’re like a good looking handsome couple there.
Allison: Now.
Judge Cohen: And you’re gorgeous.

John: Yeah, well, I’m putting weight on.

((Judge Jeri Cohen, Miami-Dade Family Court))
I know there’s been a lot of ups and downs, but I’m glad there was a happy ending, because I think it’s important for the community-at-large to see that these are not just lost families or throwaway families or people that can never get well. They are the people in your family, the people that live next door to you, and we have to do everything we can to make sure that they have a chance.

((NATS))
****

((NATS))
Sawyer:
Goodnight moon.

((John Lowe, Allison’s Husband))
And in the great green room, there was a telephone….
((Allison, Recovering Addict))
Sawyer’s really getting used to being around us again, and she’s looking at us as her parents and not my mom and my stepdad.
Sawyer: Are you guys going to give a family hug?

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
Most of the bonding happens in the little moments. All of a sudden, she will turn and say, ‘I love you, Mommy.’

Sawyer: Mommy, I love you.
Allison: I love you.

Sawyer: I love your earrings, I love….

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
And it’s little things like that. It melts me. It’s one of those moments where this whole process and all the negatives and all the changes have been truly worth it. Being normal is what I’ve strived for. You know, picking my daughter up from school and cooking dinner, which I haven’t done yet, but I’m working towards it. Having some semblance of normalcy and stability has been the main focus of what we’ve tried to do here and I think we’ve really achieved it. We’ve got happiness. We have love. We have stability.
((NATS))
Allison:
See the birdies?
Sawyer: Where?
Allison: Over there. Look this way.

((Allison, Recovering Addict))
In the grand scheme of things, two years of getting sober is nothing compared to a lifetime of happiness, of having my child, of having my husband, of having my family.
((NATS))

****
((Banner

This concludes
The series can be seen in its entirety on voanews.com))


TEASE ((VO/NAT))
Coming up
((Banner))
Thriving in New Environments
((SOT))

BREAK ONE
BUMP IN ((ANIM))


BLOCK B

((PKG)) NON-HUMAN IMMIGRANTS

((Banner: Birds without Borders))
((Reporter/Camera:
Elizabeth Lee))

((Map: Los Angeles, California))
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

We have one of at least half a dozen different parrot species that are wild in the L.A. area and that are the descendants of escaped pet birds. In the case of that particular species, it’s the Red-crowned Parrots, Amazona viridigenalis. In Spanish they’re called Loro Tamaulipecos because they come originally from northeastern Mexico from the state of Tamaulipas, where they are now endangered.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

They were poached by the tens of thousands in the 70s and 80s for the pet trade in the U.S. They were just shipped across the border to Florida, to California and sold to people as pets.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

A sufficient number of them got out that they started forming flocks in the East L.A. area starting in the 1980s.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

The population has thrived and it seems to be increasing.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

They are good at making habitat for themselves in major cities and this is what happened in Pasadena and East L.A. so these are birds that live pretty much exclusively off of trees that are also not native to our area.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

Los Angeles is not like their original habitat but they’re one of those species that clearly has that flexibility that they can get used to different kinds of trees. They can get used to a different kinds of food sources

((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

We have put up major buildings. We’ve put up expanses of concrete. We’ve introduced a completely different vegetation, and in many cases, that’s led to a reduction of biodiversity because a lot of our created habitat is not hospitable to the native species. But the other side of that is that we’ve created new ecological niches and new kinds of habitats.
((NATS))
((Ursula Heise, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles))

We could think about introducing endangered species here that no longer can find appropriate conditions in their original habitats but that might thrive here.
((NATS))
((Brad Shaffer, Professor of Conservation, University of California, Los Angeles))

Invasive species in a wild place, in a national park or other pristine areas, we should never encourage endangered species in those habitats. In a city, where everything is artificial anyhow, everything is managed anyhow, it’s a very different story.
((NATS))
((Brad Shaffer, Professor of Conservation, University of California, Los Angeles))

We can be much more creative and much more scientific about managing wildlife that’s in our cities. We do that all the time in zoos and wildlife parks and that sort of thing but, you know, a managed zoo population of a bunch of turtles swimming around in an aquarium, yes, we’ve kept a species from going extinct and that’s a good thing. That’s something positive and something I fully endorse. The best option is to have that species in its native habitat where it should be thriving. An intermediate one is that at least it’s living in the wild. It’s making its own living. It’s having the lifestyle that turtle or that parrot should have. It’s just doing it in a different place.
((NATS))

TEASE ((VO/NAT))
Coming up
((Banner))
Ancient Art Reimagined
((SOT))

BREAK TWO
BUMP IN ((ANIM))


BLOCK C

((PKG)) ANCIENT ART REIMAGINED
((Banner: Ancient Art, Modern Tech))
((Reporter/Camera:
Elizabeth Lee))
((Map:
Los Angeles, California))
((Popup Banner:

An immersive art exhibition fuses philosophies of Chinese landscape art with modern life and technology))
((NATS))

((Justin Hoover, Curator, Chinese American Museum))
In traditional Chinese landscape, you see often mountains in the distance with diaphanous clouds, waterfalls, trees.
((NATS))
((Justin Hoover, Curator, Chinese American Museum))

And it evolved over the years and today, you see it still practiced in the traditional style. However, it’s also evolving today using new technology and contemporary strategies to achieve a new audience.
((NATS))
((Wu Chi-Tsung, Artist))

Back to the old time, it was for all these artists to create a world which they wanted to hide, avoid, escape from the reality. So, they created a mountain, imagined they could live there. You should follow the little path inside and follow the stream, imagine you are inside. The funny thing is for nowadays people hide also, find a way to hide, like, in the digital world, in the cyberspace.
((NATS))
((Wu Chi-Tsung, Artist))

For me, the most important inspiration of my creativity is trying to link this new and old, and Oriental and Western altogether to find a new dialogue. I used Crystal City series to try to describe this relationship.
((NATS))
((Wu Chi-Tsung, Artist))

This is Crystal City 007, a series of installation I started 10 years ago. All based on these simple plastic boxes, plastic material and moving light source on the mechanical structure. Through the lights you see the shadow, the image looks very solid and strong, even stronger than real object. We spend most of the time in our daily life, no matter to work or our social life or our entertainment, all on this cyberspace. It’s a new space we created in this 20 to 30 years but it’s invisible.
((Nick Dong, Artist))
Artists are not just painters, not just craftsmen for sculpture or different medium. It’s a quest for, searching for you true identity, your true aesthetics. I’ve been on this quest of finding myself, as I born, I was born in Taiwan. I was trained traditionally with Chinese calligraphy, ink painting as well as western art like, oil paintings and drawings and sculpture. So, being able to do a lot of different medium made me start wondering, are there Chinese tradition that I carry within me and how do I express that? So, this exhibition allows me to visualize it and actually make it a reality.
In my mind, heaven is a place of selfless. So eventually, once you’ve entered the installation, at first, you’ll see a lot of your reflection, but once you sit down, you trigger the mechanism of the room. The mirror actually starts to reflect and you yourself will disappear within the space. You vanished. All you have is this empty wide open space. For me, it’s the ultimate evolution.
((NATS))


((PKG)) PAN AFRICAN FILM AND ARTS FESTIVAL
((Banner: Pan African Art))
((Reporter/Camera:
Elizabeth Lee))

((Map: Los Angeles, California))
((Henry Baba Osageyfo Colby, Jewelry Artist))

We’re featuring New Guinea boar. We’re featuring amber from North Africa, Tunisia, Moracco and Mali. I never think of us as African American. I think of us as Africans in America.
((NATS))
((Ayuko Babu,
Executive Director, Pan African Film and Arts Festival))
As a result of the slave trade and colonization, African people are spread all over the planet. So, we get a chance through this festival, get a chance to know each other.
((NATS))
((Ayuko Babu,
Executive Director, Pan African Film and Arts Festival))
So, film, sculpture, fine art, jewelry, is all a reflection of the energy that we produce and it stimulates one or the other.
There’s very little public space that explains the Pan African experience. We think it’s important. L.A. is a cosmopolitan international city and in order to have a cosmopolitan international city, you have to have a cosmopolitan international film, especially this is the center of the film business. So, we feel it’s important to have these films here, the art show in the mall once a year to showcase and stimulate folks to come by and experience it.
((Courtesy: Next Page Productions))
((Movie NATS: Ma, I don’t want to marry now.))
((End Courtesy))
((Stephanie Linus, Nigerian Actress / Filmmaker))
So, I use the tool of filmmaking to bring attention to them, to get people to know about their problems, to get people to know the consequences that happen when you make those kinds of decisions and, you know, force them to have conversation about this.
((Courtesy: Next Page Productions))
((Movie NATS: You are too young to understand. You are young and this is the right time.))
((Stephanie Linus, Nigerian Actress / Filmmaker))
I’m happy that people have taken proactive action because we screened the movie in Gambia and a month later, the government banned child marriage in Gambia.
((Movie NAT POP))
((Courtesy: Next Page Productions))
((Ayuko Babu, Executive Director, Pan African Film and Arts Festival))
So, we know there’s profound things happening around the black world and so this is a way to amplify that make people pay attention. So, there’s an important component to educate people so that they will be able to make better choices and
((Courtesy: Next Page Productions))

influence the elected officials to make the decisions that we feel are important.
((Movie NAT POP: I want to be a girl again.))
((End Courtesy))



CLOSING ((ANIM))
voanews.com/connect


BREAK
BUMP IN ((ANIM))



SHOW ENDS

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