Piedmont Council of the Arts holds Creative Conversation on “Marketing Charlottesville as a Creative Community”

Maggie Guggenheimer (standing) leads the PCA's second Creative Conversation
Source: Piedmont Council of the Arts

Is Charlottesville doing enough to market itself as a regional destination for patrons of the arts? What else can be done to ensure that the visual, performing and literary arts not only survive, but thrive? Those are just a couple of the questions explored during the second Creative Conversation organized by the Piedmont Council of the Arts.

Representatives of various groups were invited to Charlottesville’s CitySpace meeting room on the Downtown Mall to discuss the topic “Marketing Charlottesville as a Creative Community.” The event was held on January 13, 2009 in the City Space Meeting Room at the Charlottesville Community Design Center. We’ve condensed the two hour discussion into a 45 minute podcast.

The participants were:

2004 radio feature on the Cavalier Marching Band

Four years ago, the Cavalier Marching Band made its debut at Scott Stadium thanks to a generous donation from Carl Smith. I was producing a lot of stories for WVTF back in those days, and had a lot fun producing this one which aired shortly before the 2004 season began.

I borrowed the format from a profile of the Norfolk State University Spartan Legion that I had done two years earlier for With Good Reason. In the interest of reviving UVA spirits after Saturday’s game, I thought it might be nice to post this here.

What do you think? Has the Marching Band become part of the Scott Stadium experience?

I would like to do a follow-up on this in the future, but of course, there are very few places to sell a story like this. In a perfect world, the Charlottesville Podcasting Network would have some funding source that could be used to support the production of new programming. Perhaps some of this new programming could find its way to the radio.

Virginia’s eugenics movement: 2001 documentary (part 2)

And now, the second installment of my series on Virginia’s eugenics movement, produced seven years ago with a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The first part can be heard here, and relates a general history of the eugenics movement, and the role Virginia played in legitimizing forced sterilizations.

This second seven and a half minute installment begins with the voice of the late Mitch Van Yahres reading a list of the offenses that could get you a vasectomy or your tubes tied, courtesy of the state. We then hear the voices of two former “patients” of the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and the Feeble-minded, just north of Lynchburg in Madison Heights. Both live in Lynchburg, and I’m not sure what’s happened to them. When I spoke with them, the resolution expressing the state’s “profound regret” had not yet passed.

Since posting the first story last week, I was contacted by Paul Lombardo, the U.Va historian and bioethicist whose scholarship helped revive academic attention into this chapter of American and Virginia history. Paul tells me he’s writing a book on Buck v. Bell, which will come out this summer. He reminded me that then-Governor Mark Warner apologized for the eugenics era on May 2, 2002, the same day that a historic marker commemorating Carrie Buck was unveiled outside Region 10’s headquarters on Preston Avenue. Pictured on the left is Jesse Meadows, and Paul Lombardo is on the right.

Virginia’s eugenics movement: 2001 documentary (part 1)

In 2001, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution expressing the state’s “profound regret” over its role in the eugenics movement. More or less passed over in the history books, Virginia played a pivotal role in government sanction of a policy where the mentally ill and indigent were sterilized so they would not pass their genetic material on to other generations. In 1924, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the practice in Buck v. Bell, in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously wrote: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” As a result of the case, Charlottesville native Carrie Buck was sterilized at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded.

Earlier this year, former Delegate Mitch Van Yahres died. Seven years ago, it was his legislation that helped Virginia kind of apologize. I’m reposting this series I produced in part to honor his legacy, but also because I don’t think it gets mentioned enough. It’s been a while since I’ve heard this, and I’ve come a long way as a producer since then. Still, this series won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for best documentary. I’ll post the other three installments in the days to come.

This project was originally funded by a grant to WVTF Public Radio from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Tracking: The Educator’s Dilemma

For decades, students in the public education system have been given labels: “General,” “Advanced,” “Honors” – and split into classes with others who supposedly have roughly the same intelligence level. This practice is called Tracking, and there’s currently a big push among educational professionals to get rid of it, and stop segregating students based on their IQ.

Chad Prather, a history teacher at Charlottesville High School, is part of the movement to abolish tracking, and has created a “detracked” class for the 2007-2008 school year. The Charlottesville Podcasting Network’s Michael Strickland spoke with Prather about his class, and how students will be affected by this new style of teaching. Also interviewed were Rick Wellbeloved-Stone, an environmental science teacher at CHS who would prefer the tracking system stay put, and Carol Ann Tomlinson, a Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Virginia who is an international advocate for detracking.

Currently a heated and sensitive topic among school administrations, this piece overviews the tracking system as well as the movement towards detracking, and presents the highly varied opinions teachers have on the issue.

Trumpeter John D’earth scores music for First Night celebration

John D'Earth
Trumpeter John D’earthPhoto: U.Va
John D’earth has been a fixture on Charlottesville’s music scene for decades. The trumpeter and his band play a set at Miller’s every Thursday night, and he’s also an instructor at the University of Virginia, playing in the school’s Free Bridge Quintet.

So, when First Night Virginia wanted someone to write to score for a piece commemorating the event’s 25th anniversary, they turned to D’earth. I stopped by his studio to find out more.

Click here to download the file if you’re reading this through an RSS reader or on cvilleblogs.com.

This podcast has two interesting bits of trivia associated with it. The opening music is from the Thompson-D’earth Band’s new album, When the Serpent Flies. This is a track called Second of Many.

The second bit of trivia comes at the end of the piece. Don’t be startled by the sound of my 14-month-old daughter Josephine, who tagged along with me to John D’earth’s studio. She was really quiet for most of the interview, but let out a splendid squeal at the very end of the musical selection I was recording. John insisted I leave it in, so I obliged!

Charlottesville photographer talks about his story of Gunkanjima

This is a first-hand account of an island in Japan called Gunkanjima. In the spring of 2005, I traveled to this island to photograph and explore its history. Gunkanjima was an old coal mining island that holds the highest population density recording in the world. In the 1970’s the island was shut down, leaving behind a ghost town of a once thriving society.