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VOA Connect Episode 140, Ingenuity and COVID

AIR DATE 09 18 2020

((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
It's to remind humanity of our higher natures, that we are the
angels of this earth.
((Animation Transition))
((Dr. Jose Vazquez, Starr County Health Authority))
For us, every patient counts the same. For us, every
patient’s life has the same value. They are all the same.
((Animation Transition))
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
This idea that we have not weapons of mass destruction but
weapons of mass deliciousness, travelling through the city in
this truck, was something that really excited me.
((Open Animation))


((TRT: 05:31))
((Banner: An Angel’s Wings))
((Reporter/Camera: Aaron Fedor))
((Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin))
((Editor: David Pierce))
((Map: New York City, New York))
((Main character: 1 female))
((Sub characters: 1 female; 2 male))
((Courtesy: Ron Lugo))
((Pop up text/ Full Screen:
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.))
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
Hi, I'm Colette Miller and I'm an artist and I'm best known for
the Global Angel Wings Project, these big interactive wings
that people stand in front of and remind themselves that we
are the angels of this earth.
((Courtesy: Colette Miller))
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
I started the project and I had like the idea at the end of
2011, it was like a vision, really. I had been doing a lot of
yoga, meditation and I was thinking about the divine in all
humanity, what connects all humanity. And wings started
coming to my head and I would imagine them on the walls
as I drove through L.A. in the big industrial sections and so I
decided to act on it one day.
((Courtesy: Colette Miller))
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
I started the wings on butch[er] paper that I had primed in my
studio. And then I just started drawing big wings on them
and started painting them and layering. And then I carved
them out and then I'd take them on-site to the location and I
glue them up with see-through paint. And then I'll draw over
them or paint over them or carve them out and sometimes I'll
paint the background around it.
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
It's to remind humanity of our higher natures, that we are the
angels of this earth. It's really about our true selves which
we all have.
((Courtesy: Colette Miller))
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
I have, I think, wings in about five or six continents and
worldwide. Some have been destroyed or some of them are
inside, but I would say, maybe, 200. You can find them in
the tallest building in the world - the Burj Khalifa, and
Skyspace in Los Angeles, and Cuba, and the GRAMMY
((Speaker 1))
Everybody, everybody comes and loves your work.
((Colette Miller))
Oh, thanks.
((Speaker 1))
Everybody loves your work Ma.
((Colette Miller))
((Speaker 1))
That was a good blessing you did for the entire street.
((Colette Miller))
Okay, bye. Thanks.
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
This particular pair of wings is called Humankind and the
reason is the colors of the wings are representative of
humanity’s shades of skin tones. We all come in different
shades and the kind in human is what we should emphasize.
We're all of humankind but we are human, kind. Because
we're in such a urgent time, I just think a lot of artists feel
they need to take to the streets, and especially with this type
of project which is public and it's interactive and it's large
scale and it's meant to be for the people in the world, not to
be, you know, put away in a potential museum or gallery,
which is great too because it preserves things. But street art
is, is of the time. It's the zeitgeist of the time.
((Speaker 2))
Yeah, they gave me a sense of hope and peace.
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
Sometimes, so there's schools, like children will study the
Global Angel Wings Project and study the Colette, Colette
Miller and they'll all do wings of themselves, like in
elementary schools and middle schools, and that always
really charms me.
((Speaker 3))
It's beautiful. It's amazing. I live right here and it just
inspires hope. My friend literally passed away yesterday.
So, coming out here and seeing this right now is incredible.
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
Wings I did in Juárez [Mexico].
((Courtesy: Jose Luis Gonzalez))
After the drug cartel violence, this was like in 2013 or 14
and the photo became photo of the year.
My dream areas are conflict areas and war zones and areas
that need the most hope
((Courtesy: Jose Luis Gonzalez))
((Courtesy: Colette Miller))
and that need the most encouragement and belief that
there's still the human spirit out there. If somebody is
interested in working on the street, you know, there's a lot of,
you know, ideas out there but my real advice to anybody
doing any type of art is to really stay authentic, like really
listen to your voice. And I know they say that in writing and
in acting and in all like types of creativity, but it's really
having the courage to own your own voice.
((Courtesy: Colette Miller))
((Colette Miller, Artist, Global Angel Wings Project))
I believe in angels and the fact that we can be angels ourself
and help to manifest the miracles that are available in this
((Courtesy: Ron Lugo))
((Colette Miller))
And they're done.

((TRT: 04:39))
((Banner: Oasis in a Food Desert))
((Reporter/Camera: Genia Dulot))
((Map: Los Angeles, California))
((Main characters: 2 female; 1 male))
((Sub character: 1 male))
((Taryn Cunnigham, Chef, Grilled Fraiche))
The history of Black cuisine essentially is, it’s food from
slavery, scraps essentially of things that people did not want
to eat. We found beauty in them and we brought them to
life. Things are going to be cooked slow. They're going to
be cooked long. They're going to be cooked till they're
tender. They're going to be seasoned to perfection. They're
going to be spicy. They're going to be sweet. They're going
to be texturally pleasing that has nostalgia when you eat it,
reminds you of home immediately. You know, these are the
things that shape our food.
((Kelly Tailor, Visitor, BlaqHaus))
Our family, we grew up eating bacon, turkey sausage, eggs
and grits, would be kind of the hearty part of the breakfast
that will keep you full for a couple of hours.
((Takela Corbitt, Owner, BlaqHaus))
This is our triple cheese Mac Daddy, which is our take on a
macaroni cheese, which is a traditionally southern dish, is
considered soul food, at its core.
((William Smiley, Visitor, Grilled Fraiche))
I still eat soul food. Are you kidding me? Mac and cheese,
yams, string beans, collard greens. Oh, yeah, but I was
brought up on soul food. I was brought up on soul food.
Welcome, welcome.
((Peace Love Reedburg, Owner, Grilled Fraiche))
It's been a hard journey in educating, as well as educating
myself about food. But then, educating others from
communities like my neighborhoods that I grew up in, being
from South Central, understanding that you have high blood
pressure, diabetes and there are simple things that you can
do to eat healthy. But it's not, it's hard for change because
it’s a mental thing. It’s more mental than anything.
((Taryn Cunnigham, Chef, Grilled Fraiche))
In the midst of survival, we've created this beautiful cuisine,
but also have kind of fallen short on actually giving us the
proper nutrients that we need, which is where I feel like I
come in as a chef. Providing a different perspective of what
our soul food is by simply, instead of fried chicken, giving
fried cauliflower. Something just as simple as that can have
someone thinking, ‘Oh wow, maybe I don't need this
chicken. Maybe I don't need the fat from the chicken.
Maybe I can actually have a vegetable fried.’ It's still fried,
yes, but it's a transition.
So, for this, for this one specifically I substituted meat for
plantain, which is basically a fried banana, which is common
in a lot of cultures around the world. I've decided to put it in
alongside with cabbage and bell pepper because that's what
I think of when I think of home. I'm like, what would I have if
I had it home? I would have cabbage. I would have some
type of pepper. I would have some, something sweet to
balance it out. Plantain, why not. And then I want texture.
So, let's deep fry it. We like our food very hot. We like our
food very spicy. But we also like balance. We also like
sweet. These are micro sprouts which are actually
superfood. They actually hold a lot of nutritional value, even
though they're so small. Now I'm going to add just edible
flowers. People typically like to eat with their eyes.
((Taryn Cunnigham, Chef, Grilled Fraiche))
We try to give people another perspective, another option,
recognizing they don't have to choose what has always been
put in front of them.
((Taryn Cunnigham, Chef, Grilled Fraiche))
In the neighborhoods that we put our restaurants, they’re
food deserts. So, you can't find a salad for miles. But then,
you put our restaurant here and you can get a salad, just
here in the middle of a less fortunate neighborhood. So, it's
really, the mission is to create a food oasis for people to
actually come and enjoy food that tastes like home, but not
necessarily something that is hurting them in the long run,
something that can have them feeling uplifted, vibrant when
they walk out the door, opposed to tired, sleepy, so.

Coming up…..
Escape from COVID
((Tom Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
This is our home away from home or it will be once we get it
filled out. Not a whole lot to see now. It’s just, it's a huge
mess in here. I can show you the corner where we have
some of our equipment set, our electric equipment set up.


Presidential nominating conventions do not date all the way
back to the early days of the United States. Back then,
political parties held caucuses where small groups of party
leaders chose the candidates. It wasn’t until the 12th
presidential election in 1832 that parties held conventions to
select their candidates. There were occasional surprises
over the candidates selected at conventions. Some
conventions took a long time to name a nominee. In 1924,
the Democrats spent 16 days to take 109 votes to nominate
John Davis, who wound up losing the election to Republican
Calvin Coolidge. Modern conventions move quicker than
that. Most of the delegates are awarded to candidates
through state caucuses or primaries and the nominee is
known before the convention begins. Conventions still
deliver an occasional surprise. Nominees often name their
pick for Vice President at a convention. Because they are
televised, they attract the attention of voters trying to decide
how to vote in November. The COVID pandemic has forced
both parties to change plans for 2020 relying more on virtual
settings without large crowds of faithful party in attendance.
Who can vote in the US Presidential Election?
To vote in the US presidential election, a potential voter must
a U.S. citizen,
18 years old on or before Election Day,
And meet residency requirements, which vary from state to
Potential voters must also be registered to vote by their
state’s voter registration deadline.
Non-citizens, even if they are permanent residents, can not
vote in US presidential elections. Some states also restrict
voting for those with felony convictions or people who are
mentally incapacitated.
For the general presidential election, US citizens who reside
in US territories also cannot vote.



((TRT: 03:04))
((Banner: COVID at the Border))
((Adapted by: Zdenko Novacki))
((Map: Roma, Texas))
((Main characters: 1 female; 1 male))
((Dr. Jose Vazquez, Starr County Health Authority))
We are one of the poorest counties in the state of Texas.
Our demographics, we are 98 percent Mexican immigrants
and basically, we are moderate to significant poverty level.
So, we have one of the highest index of diabetes in the
state. We have one of the highest for obesity in the state.
So, all of those conditions put our Starr County citizens at an
especial risk to get significant complications out of this
((Veronica Gonzalez, Flower Shop Owner))
It’s a small town. We're bordering Miguel Aleman. It’s
Mexico. It's about three blocks from here. They don't have
a lot of facilities. They don't have a lot of hospitals. They
don't have a lot of places where they can actually seek
medical help. So, they've done their best not to increase any
of the cases. So, we do have restrictions right now.
((Dr. Jose Vazquez, Starr County Health Authority))
Most of the times when people have got significantly ill
across the border, they have come across the river and we
had to send our ambulance units to the bridges to pick up
those patients and to care for them here with us seeing a
number of those cases now with a COVID-19 infection. But,
I believe, we are providing the service regardless the
situation that the patient have. For us, every patient counts
the same for us. Every patient's life has the same value than
the others. There are days or times during the day, where
our emergency room is full of patients, where we have had
three ambulances or four ambulances waiting for hours to be
able to bring down those patients inside our emergency
((Veronica Gonzalez, Flower Shop Owner))
I think it just exploded after June, after Texas actually
reopened. We did have five cases, seven cases, went back
to three cases, came back to zero, went back to, you know,
less than 10, always. And then June kicked in. Everybody
kind of went free spirit and everybody was tired of being
cooped up, I would imagine. They took their vacations,
came back and then this is what's happening now.
((Dr. Jose Vazquez, Starr County Health Authority))
It was a period of time, from mid-April to May, where we
went for 21 straight days without any single positive case in
this county. Then it came the reopening and soon after, we
saw our numbers started to increase. Following that came
Memorial weekend, Father's Day weekend, July the 4th
weekend etc. All of these family reunions, barbecues
outside, pool parties definitely had a toll.

((TRT: 02:53))
((Banner: Doomsday Bunkers))
((Reporter: Lesia Bakalets))
((Camera: Yuriy Zakrevskiy))
((Adapted by: Martin Secrest))
((Map: Edgemont, South Dakota))
((Main characters: 1 female; 1 male))
((Sub character: 1 male))
A former US Army base has been converted into a private
bunker ‘survival community’
Tom and Mary Soulsbay moved to their ‘Vivos xPoint’
bunker during the pandemic))
((Courtesy: Tom and Mary Soulsbay))
((Tom Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
((Mary Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
We sold our home in July of last year in preparation for a
retirement and moving out here, so we could work on the
bunker to build it out until the virus started spinning up.
Then we realized, because of my age and because of some
health compromises that Mary has, we’re both high risk and
we decided to exchange four million neighbors for, I don't
know, 30 neighbors within the same radius out here.
((Courtesy: Tom and Mary Soulsbay))
((Mary Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
I felt safe when I got here. It's just a peace you don't
understand. It's so quiet and peaceful here and the bunker
is phenomenal. I mean, when you go in there, it's just like
you feel really safe. I do, I feel safe.
((Robert Vicino, Founder and CEO, Vivos xPoint))
So, yeah, these things will withstand just about everything.
The concrete is one to two feet [30cm to 60cm] thick. It
varies depending on the top to the sides and the dirt just is
added protection but the concrete itself is enough.
((Courtesy: Tom and Mary Soulsbay))
((Tom Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
This is our home away from home or it will be once we get it
filled out. Not a whole lot to see now. It’s just it's a huge
mess in here. I can show you the corner where we have
some of our equipment set, our electric equipment set up
and the corner where we have a bunch of tools and some
water treatment equipment.
((Tom Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
Yes, you’d call it ‘under construction.’ It’s a colossal mess
inside. We've just started putting up the first walls. I've been
out here working full time, but then working on the bunker in
the evenings, it requires additional planning, that's for sure.
Because if you realize that you need a box of nails, the very
closest box of nails is an-hour round trip to go get it. And if
you need to do something, get something more, something
bigger or more complex, it's a four-hour round trip to get it,
minimum. And we're both country people, I’ll call us. We
were both raised in the country. We were both in situations
where there weren't a lot of people around, where we had
family nearby. And the hustle and bustle of the city and all of
the complexities of getting to and from work and all that
other stuff you have to do to be a city dweller, are things that
neither of us have really ever been fond of in our lives.
((Tom Soulsbay, Bunker Owner))
We've been camping for years, you know, explicitly to get
away from all of that, to go to places where it's quiet, where
there aren’t a lot of people.

Coming up…..
Helping Hands
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
So, these fists that were holding weapons on the other side
of the world, are now here and they’re making kebab. And
so, you’re taking in that kind of sculptural void as a sort of



((TRT: 4:58))
((Banner: A Creative, Helpful Life))
((Executive Producer: Marsha James))
((Camera: Kaveh Rezaei))
((Editors: Kaveh Rezaei, Philip Alexiou))
((Map: Chicago, Illinois))
((Main characters: 1 male))
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
I was always interested in whether art should do something,
if it should do anything at all. And so, I went to art school to,
more or less, assure myself and my parents that there would
be a living, a kind of profession for me. And so, I did a
residency in Jordan and I spent all my time studying the
tents and the equipment of the Bedouin.
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
The tents were set up differently every night in response to
the way the wind patterns were moving through the
desert. And when I got back to the United States that winter,
back to Boston, I saw a homeless person sleeping
underneath the vent of a building. And vent in French, you’d
pronounce it ‘von’ and it means ‘wind’. I immediately saw
myself harnessing the warm air that was leaving those
buildings to create inflatable shelters for homeless people.
And so, paraSITE is basically this project that’s gone on for
20 years now where I’ve been custom building those
inflatable shelters for homeless people around the
world. And it responds to not only the needs of each
homeless person but the desires.
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
Each time I build the shelter, there’s a relationship that
emerges between me and the different homeless people that
I design for. But then it also becomes a real, sort of, record
of how people end up on the streets and why they end up on
the streets and now I tend to publish this step-by-step
instructions on how to build a shelter. So, it puts the skill
sets into the community that would use the shelter and also
allows for the critical dialogue to not only happen in the art or
the architectural world but to actually happen among the
people that would actually be using it.
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
I grew up on Great Neck, Long Island in my grandparents’
house for the most part with my parents who were living
there as well. And my grandparents were Jews who left Iraq
in 1946 and came to the United States. And so, I grew up in
a community that had a lot of, kind of, diverse representation
of Jewish culture. So, there were a lot of Ashkenazi Jews of
Eastern European descent.
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
But I grew up in this house where all of the Jewish food was
dishes like Aruk and Mhasha, dishes that came from Iraq but
I associated them with a certain kind of Jewish upbringing
that for me was what I would come to know as being very
much a part of Arab culture and not something that was
steeped in, what one would think, is New York Jewish
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
I was 16 years old when Iraq invaded Kuwait. It was on the
evening of the first air strikes when my mother saw my
brothers and I watching the green tinted CNN images. And
she said, “You know, there is no Iraqi restaurants in New
York.” What she was telling me was that there was no Iraqi
culture beyond oil and war that was visible in the United
States. I remember approaching my mother and saying that
we should do something and that something was something
as simple as teaching her Iraqi recipes as a form of
resistance to this culture of war. It started out as workshops
that we taught to different New York City public audiences.
In Chicago, Enemy Kitchen has evolved to become a food
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
This idea that we have, not weapons of mass destruction but
weapons of mass deliciousness, traveling through the city in
this truck, but then the staffing of the truck. There were Iraqi
refugees who were the chief chefs and American combat
veterans who had come back from the war that were the
sous chefs and the servers.
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
So, these fists that were holding weapons on the other side
of the world, are now here and they’re making kebab. And
so, you’re taking in that kind of sculptural void as a sort of
((Michael Rakowitz, Artist, Teacher, Chef))
You know, I think every day the way that my work hasn’t
necessarily been washed away by cynicism yet. I don’t want
to leave that burden only to a younger generation. For as
long as I’m here, I want to believe that there is something
that can be done.

In Coming Weeks…..
I'm deputized to go out and buy land in the city, maybe just
at the city limits in order to construct a trail system, while this
land, this is now the community's forest effectively. We ask,
would you rather the trail be on this side of the hollow or that
side of the hollow or should we build two trails? And the
community is already heavily involved. The trails you see
behind me were built by volunteers.