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VOA Connect Episode 171, Challenging Gender Norms

AIR DATE 04 23 2021

Girls Skater, Olympic Hopeful
((Video Courtesy: Bombette Martin))
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
Because there’s fewer of us, you’ll notice more people are
shocked. I love to see the girls skateboarding community to
grow because it’s becoming more normal.
((Animation Transition))
Men Who Sew
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I'm just a simple old guy. I don't have the so-called American
dream or the Mexican dream or the Russian dream. I kind of
like what happened to me.
Women Who Build
((Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon
A lot of girls and women, even though we're in the 21st
century, are like, ‘Oh, I don't see myself as that.’ So, they
don't think that's an opportunity for them.
((Animation Transition))
((Open Animation))


((TRT: 08:56))
((Topic Banner: Bombette))
((Reporter/Camera: Aaron Fedor))
((2nd Camera: Lachlan McClellan))
((Producer: Kathleen McLaughlin))
((Editor: Kyle Dubiel))
((Map: New York City, New York))
((Main characters: 1 female))
((Sub characters: 2 female; 3 male))
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
My name is Bombette Martin. I'm 14 years old and I'm a
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
My parents do not skate. They cannot stand on a skateboard
for their life. My little brother, he is a really talented
skateboarder. He's 11. His name is Kayo and he also
competes a lot.
((Kayo Martin, Bombette’s Brother))
I'm way better. I’m totally better.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
No, you're not.
((Kayo Martin, Bombette’s Brother))
I'm way better all around.
((Courtesy: Bombette Martin))
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
Well, I was nine years old when I started skateboarding. So,
that was like almost six years ago now. And we're really
lucky to have a world-class skate park right down the street.
So, actually like when we were really little, me and my
brother, we'd go watch the skaters through the fence. And
one day, we decided to go in and I just fell in love with it. So,
here I am.
((Mary Apple, Bombette’s Mother))
Just for your warmup, can you do back and forth on the five-
foot hip? Just, just really work on frontside, backside ollies
on the five-foot hip and then also try to include...just try, try
because you might need to do this in England. Just try to
make it a backside air with a grab.
((Mary Apple, Bombette’s Mother))
You know we live local. So, the kids used to come and like
we would just be playing in that park over there. And we
used to come kind of hang on to this fence and like watch
the guys through and, you know, cheer them on. But it just
looked so intimidating. I don't know about for the kids, but for
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
When I was really little, I used to be like obsessed with
monkey bars [playground climbing frame]. Like I would go
around like to all different parks around the city and just like,
you know, do monkey bars and I would do like all different
like tricks and stuff. And so, I used to think that one day, I'm
going to go to the Olympics for monkey bars, even though
there is no such thing.
((Andrew Gelles, Owner - Substance Skatepark;
Bombette’s first teacher))
When I first saw Bombette and her brother, they were
pushing the wrong way, couldn't go down a three-foot ramp.
I started teaching them because I thought they were
hilarious. They were really funny kids who would like make
weird voices and amp each other up. But after those first six
months had passed between her and Kayo, it was clear that
these people were long-haul kids. They were in it for the
right reasons and they were going to make this work.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
There's like competitions that gain you points, the Olympic
Qualifiers. They were all supposed to be last year for the
2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but obviously that all got postponed
because of COVID. Now it changed from five competitions to
like what, three now. That gains you points and that goes
towards the rankings for the Olympics and I have to be in the
top 20 to go.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
Yeah, style comes into it a lot and the difficulty of tricks. So,
like it’s, I mean, it's really confusing. You have to like really
know skateboarding. Even like I still don't know. We like try
to ask people like oh, what scores better, like this trick or that
trick? And, you know, people, they can't give us a like a
straight answer, but like it’s all based on, a lot of it's based
on opinion, like oh, this judge thinks that looks better than
that or whatever, that's more difficult. But yeah, it’s, you
know, based on difficulty mainly.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
Our lifestyle is pretty much changed so much just because of
skateboarding. And I mean, it's all over the place but it's fun.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
When I first started skateboarding, just something I mean
super simple that would be like such a big accomplishment
for me. But now that I’ve like grown so much, something like,
there’s, I learned a trick like a couple months ago that only a
few girls in the world can do and so that was a very big
breakthrough for me. The big trick was kickflip Indy.
((Courtesy: Bombette Martin))
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
I've been trying it for like a couple of years now, and then the
one day, I just got like super close and I was just going over
and over and over, falling and falling again for about like four
hours and then I finally landed it.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
And it was, it was really cool.
((Jiro Platt, Skater and friend))
I’ve always like skated with her at contests a lot. She’s
always been really good at vert [vertical] skating.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
Well, I actually enjoy being a girl skateboarder because you
honestly, when you're a high-level girl skateboarder, you
tend to get more praise. You’re just, I guess, you're noticed
more because boys, there's just so many of them and there's
fewer of us. So, they’re like, people are shocked, honestly. I
love to see the girl skateboarding community grow because
it's becoming more normal. There's, I mean, so many of my
friends, they've started skateboarding and I mean it's nice to
((Lucinda Jacobson, Skater and friend))
I mean, Bombette's obviously an amazing skater. The first
time that I met her, she did like a kickflip front-rock, which is
like a really hard trick. And, I don't know, seeing another girl
skating at Substance, it was really cool. I think it's cool that
skating is going to be an Olympic sport because I think
people are starting to take it a little bit more seriously. They
don't just think it's like a thing that burnouts do.
((Bombette Martin, Olympic Hopeful))
It's like a drug. It's so addicting. When you're just learning
something new or just accomplishing something that you've
been working so hard for, like that feeling is just the best
feeling ever. And I'm sure it's like that for other sports, but I
just feel that skateboarding, unlike other sports, is just so
welcoming and everyone's so encouraging. You'll rarely
meet someone that's like an ass to you because there’s just,
everyone just loves to see others progress. And that's really
((Popup Banner: On April 11th, Bombette Martin, a dual
US/British citizen, won the UK National Championships,
taking her one step closer to her Olympic dream.))

Coming up
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
To me, God created a most perfect world. All of us, are
different. All my suits are different.



((TRT: 04:37))
((Topic Banner: Rhinestone Rembrandt))
((Reporter: Marsha James))
((Camera/Editor: Kaveh Rezaei))
((Adapted by: Philip Alexiou))
((Map: Nashville, Tennessee))
((Main character: 1 male))
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I'm just a simple old guy. I don't have the so-called American
dream or the Mexican dream or the Russian dream. I kind of
like what happened to me. I decided since I was 12 years old
that I would make dresses for young ladies. That's kind of
the start of a real tailoring career.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
My name is Manuel Cuevas and I am the king of sewing.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
This little town where I was born, Coalcoman, Michoacan in
Mexico, I was born a very alert child and I had a lot of
retention for everything that surrounded me or things that I
talked about. My mom, my dad, my brothers and sisters
would be talking and I would be catching up with the news,
whatever they were talking about. When I was seven, I had
already jumped to 3rd grade, 4th grade, I think.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I had kind of a feeling that they weren’t as advanced as I
was and that was kind of my big secret.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I never had needs of any kind.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
Well, my parents took care of my needs. And then I took
care of my needs when I was eight-and-a-half years old. I
wish that all the kids had parents like mine.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I grew up believing in two books. One was The Iliad and the
other was The Odyssey of Homer. I reconciled with his
stories so much that I thought if a blind man could write this,
then I can be better than him.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
Oh, I love life. Standing up in front of my brother who's
playing with tailoring and I said, “How is that pant-making
business doing?” And he looked at me, “It’ll be doing so well
if you just stop looking pretty standing in front of me. Get on
one sewing machine and help me.” I never felt so much a
challenge, you know. I said, “Why don't I?” So, I sat down
sewing pants. My God, I'm still sitting on that machine today.
((Text over video: Manuel moved to the United States in
((Courtesy: AP))
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I had a beautiful girlfriend, forced me almost to go to the
Pasadena Rose Parade. I saw the parade and I fell in love
with it. People’s dress up. You know, the way they
flamboyance the thing, I said, “I can do better than that.”
To this day actually, I started dressing all the singers, the
models, the governors, mayors, the presidents of this
country. You're fashionably dressed when you're a
soldier. It’s the uniform.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
Whether it's poor or it’s rich or it’s the best, that’s your
style. And to me, that's what I put in people. I put style in
them. I love the French people because they dress first and
they eat later. I mean, come on. I love that. That's the style.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
Make them different. So, my suits are different. All my shirts
are different. People say, “Well, how is that possible?” Well,
it is. I mean, we're all different anyway.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
I'm just a regular human being walking around with a fool’s
flag. To me, God created a most perfect world where
everybody, all of us, are different.
((Manuel Cuevas, Fashion Designer))
All my suits are different.
You know, you got to get to the mountain. The mountain is
never going to get to you. Some of my students, really
with the greatest ambition of becoming designers say, “How
do you get to a place like where you are?” I said, “Well, with
the same ruler that you measure your dream, measure your
working hours. Maybe that will take you somewhere.”

Coming up
On the Job
((Jenna, Construction Worker))
You don't see very many women out there but more women
need to be in the trade for sure.



((TRT: 03:20))
((Filmed before the pandemic))
((Topic Banner: Training for Toolbelts))
((Reporter: Karina Bafradzhian))
((Camera: Artyom Kokhan))
((Adapted by: Martin Secrest))
((Map: Portland, Oregon))
((Main characters: 1 female))
((Sub characters: 1 female))
((Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon
At first, everyone was like, ‘That's crazy. You don't know
anything about construction.’ And it was a whole new world
and it was really, really hard and really physically exhausting
but really interesting and really exciting and I loved it.
((Text over video: Oregon Tradeswomen offers free, 8-
week basic construction training for women.))
((Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon
You know, just helping so many women come through our
program and go out and after, you know, one year, two
years from when they graduated four or five years. They
became an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber, a pipe fitter,
(or) a heavy equipment operator, like myself. They were able
to no longer have to survive on benefits from the government
and they could have pride in a job that was not just a job but
really a career pathway. And they could buy a car. They
were buying their first home and they had economic
((NATS: Construction))
((Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon
In the construction industry, you're making really good
wages and if it's a union job, you're also getting a pension,
you're also getting health care. So, I saw the difference right,
of what was happening and what we also know is that a lot
of girls and women, even though we're in the 21st century,
folks still are like, ‘Oh, I don't see myself as that. I don't see
myself doing that.’ Or you know, they drive down the road
and they just see men working on a highway job. So, they
don't think that's an opportunity for them.
Woman 1: And you take the bottom, so see that here? Take
that and turn this this way.
Woman 2: I was thinking it wouldn’t even be able to reach.))
((Jenna, Construction Worker))
It's definitely an old stereotype that I think we definitely need
to lean away from. It’s, for sure, a very physically demanding
job. You have to be in shape. You have to be willing to work
hard. As long as you're willing to put in the work and to work
for it, I don't see why women can't be in it. I don't see why
the stereotype was made in the first place. So, you don't see
very many women out there but more women need to be in
the trade for sure.
Woman: So now, we’ve got to move this over a way, so we
can afford to…))
((Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director, Oregon
I think the women that come through our doors, some of
them are women who have, you know, a master's degree in
engineering. And they don't want to sit behind a desk all day
anymore, and they want to do something more dynamic, and
they want to be outdoors, and they want to use their bodies
and their brains. Those women come through our doors.
Women in the community who are coming out of
incarceration, so, you know, leaving prison. We are in the
prison system. We talk to women there as well. They say,
‘Have you thought about this pathway?’ So, we work really
hard to make sure that the folks that want to do this, can do
it, and we give them the tools they need, the training they
need and the support they need. And I think that piece is
really important to underscore because while you're also
learning all the skills that you need, we're helping you get rid
of the barriers.

((Previously aired October 2020))
((Banner: Work as Art))
((Reporter/Camera: Gabrielle Weiss))
((Map: Wilmot, New Hampshire))
((Main characters: 1 male))
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
I don’t think there’s any real art without craft and I don’t think
there’s any real craft without art. But I had a debate with an
art professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and
this was a nice guy. I really liked him. I liked his class. He
was a drawing teacher. And I was working on a knife during
the course of a semester, and then he wrapped his hand
around the blade, covering the blade and he looked at the
handle and he goes, “This is really beautiful. I love what
you’ve done with the materials and texture, you know, colors
and all of that. If it didn’t have a blade, then it would be art.
Then it would be beautiful.” And I was like, “Come on”. I just
rolled my eyes at him.
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
My name is Zack Jonas and I’m a Master Bladesmith
working out of New Hampshire. I make custom knives in all
shapes and sizes, anything from hunting knives to cooking
knives to samurai swords.
I studied philosophy and I enjoyed critical thinking and
debating and all of that. So, after college, I went, I got a job
at a corporate law firm in Boston. And the idea of having to
pay your dues for 15 years before life becomes anything
other than a professional misery. You know, you’re a
paralegal, you’re filing, you’re doing whatever you’re doing,
which was a good test for me to realize that that field was
not going to be my passion. Then I found my way into this
class for bladesmithing and fell in love with it. So, nothing
linear about the path but that’s how I ended up here.
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
This is one of my favorite knives I’ve ever made and this
sword is kind of its spiritual big brother. There’s a lot of
similarity to the shape and the flow of it. And this is a really
complicated piece and I got a lot of the ideas from this.
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
In theory, the title of Master Smith means that I have the
skills to do almost literally anything that someone can come
up with or at least to learn how to do it. So, I do a lot of
kitchen knives. I do a lot of hunting knives. Desk knives,
things like that, letter openers. And more elaborate projects,
like swords and daggers and art pieces, you know, pieces
that are built to be functional but have enough time put into
the appearance that they are meant more for a display
((NATS/SOT: Zack Jones
There’s yours coming up.))
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
Once I realized that bladesmithing could be a career, I, that
became very appealing to me pretty quickly. But there’s a
lot more that goes into being a professional knifemaker than
just making the knives. I generally work seven days a week.
I’m usually in the studio by seven o’clock in the morning. I
don’t resent that. I love it. I love doing it and when I’m not in
the studio, I’m usually thinking about the studio. But if you
want to make this a business, well, you have to run it as a
business. Well, I could quite happily be in the shop ten
hours a day, seven days a week. And then, there’s also
paying the bills for the studio and communicating with
customers and keeping my order books, you know, tidy, and
shipping and going to shows and applying to shows and all
of those things that it’s just, there’s so much more to it than
just doing the work.
There was a funny moment early on after I built the studio. I
woke up on a Tuesday or something like that and I just didn’t
feel great. And I said to my wife, “I don’t feel great”. And
she said, “Don’t go to work”. And I said, “What do you
mean, don’t go to work? It’s a Tuesday.” And she looked at
me like I was crazy. She goes, “You work for yourself.” And
I went, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to go to work today.”
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
Obviously, that’s dangerous, that’s a slippery slope and you
can just decide not to go in and then nothing gets done.
((Zack Jonas, Master Bladesmith; Owner, Jonas Blade
and Metalwork))
One of the things that I love about knives is their connection
to the ancient past and I mean truly ancient past. I mean,
just imagine life today, out in the woods. If you had to go out
in the woods and survive for a week and you couldn’t cut
anything, that would be tricky. So, the amount of power that
mankind gained by adding the cutting edge to his, you know,
arsenal is huge. One of the things that appeals to me so
strongly about bladesmithing is that I’m taking these raw
materials, a bar of steel, a block of wood, maybe a sheet of
metal, and you shape those from, you know, essentially
nothing into these objects that are not only beautiful but also
powerful and useful tools and have a deep connection to
history and culture. So, I really enjoy that aspect of it. But
it’s hard, it’s hard work and it’s pretty dangerous. You know,
just about every tool in my studio can hurt me or worse,
quickly or slowly. But I feel really fortunate to be able to do
what I do and to have my life set up the way that it is. I get
to do what I love. I get to do it as much as I want, pretty
much, which is a real, I mean, it’s a good place to be.