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Arts & Culture

Where I'm From 2

Dec 11, 2020
Peiper Bloomquist

This is Bill Thomas, and I have become fascinated by a process, or exercise, called Where I'm From. It's a sort of poetic memory piece, and in North Dakota it's been promulgated by the North Dakota Council On The Arts. Troyd Geist, who works at the council, developed a protocol where a professional writer works with elders, and... You know what, before we get more into explaining it, let's hear one. Here is Matthew Musacchia, one of the writers who went out and worked on these.


Matthew Musacchia : I Am From a Cream Separator, by Gene Zahursky Klein.

Photo courtesy of the Elwyn B. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota.

On September 25, 1963, President John F. Kennedy visited the University of North Dakota as part of a five-day tour across the United States.

The school's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) was in charge of crowd control for the President's visit to campus, linking arms to create a barricade between President Kennedy and the thousands of spectators outside the UND Fieldhouse that day.

Jim Brosseau, an ROTC student of the time, shares his recounting of the event in this essay, read aloud by Glen Phillips.

This is an excerpt from The Great American Folk Show, Episode 8.

Small Town Wisdom

Dec 10, 2020

Residents and visitors to an elder care facility in New Salem, North Dakota opine about small-town life.

Design by DLT

The Great American Folk Show is a little place on the radio where we commune with you to share stories, sing songs, and talk to some good people with great voices.

Episode 8 features writer Gianni Washington; Musician Melissa Mary Ahern; Writers Julie Wolfson and Zoe Howell; a short story by Glen Phillips; Poet laureate of Charleston, South Carolina, Marcus Amaker; Cowboy poet and songster Andy Hedges; North Dakota associate poet laureate Bonnie Larson Staiger; and autoharp player Colin Haines.


Nita Ritzke: Essential Work and the Arts

Dec 4, 2020

I have often heard the arts defined by what they are not.  They are not essential nor lucrative.  One may survive their entire life without hearing a Shakespeare sonnet or a Muddy Water’s riff.  But then we were confined to our homes, away from established routines and distant from in-person community.  To make peace with daily uncertainty, we made art. 
We wrote, composed, designed and invented.  We performed and filmed and edited. We drew on sidewalks, cut shapes out of colored paper, built forts and painted windows. We told stories and listened to those of others. We sewed. We sang and danced and clapped and cheered.

An Accordion, Radio, and a Church

Dec 4, 2020

Bill Thomas: Little Stories. The North Dakota Council On The Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption, so here's a quick quiz question: do you recognize this tune? [organ music] That is the doxology and you may be saying "Of course I recognize it! I have been singing it every Sunday for my whole life!"

Nicole Gagner and Streaming Color Wheels

Dec 4, 2020
Nicole Gagner

Bill Thomas: Little stories. The North Dakota Council on the Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption.

Nicole Gagner: Yeah, a couple of things that came out that I kind of would have never imagined myself doing... Zoom classes. That would have never even entered into my mind as a possibility. But getting really familiar with how to wrangle a couple of different camera angles and do different things to make online classes, both for Zoom and now that school's back in session, for schools. So much of teaching is that person-to-person interaction. So I never really imagined myself doing it online, but now it kind of became a necessity, and it hasn't been a bad thing to... Learning something new is not a bad thing.

Quilted Cards and the Fabric of Community

Dec 4, 2020
North Dakota Council on the Arts

I like to get mail – real, physical mail.  Not junk mail, of course.  Even before the internet and email and social media and text messaging made physical mail more rare, I liked it. I think most people did and do.  Physical mail that is a real communication from one person to another.  Now, imagine it is coming from someone  you don’t know – not spam, not a itscam – a pen pal.  Now imagine further that is not just a sheet of paper or pasteboard, but a little quilt!  Part of a genre known as tactile mail.  I love it.  Leewana Thomas reads for us this report from Nita Ritzke of the University of Mary in Bismarck.

Art for Life Sparks Connection

Dec 4, 2020
Ken Smith

Bill Thomas: Little Stories, the North Dakota Council on the Arts reports on arts groups that pivot in the face of disruption. You may not have heard of the North Dakota Council on the Arts Art For Life program, unless maybe you or someone you know goes to a senior center, or lives in some kind of senior home or facility. Art For Life started more than 20 years ago, and it was a bit of a trailblazer in this kind of work, which work is, to quote the Arts Council, to improve the emotional and physical health and wellness of elders in care facilities, as well as those living independently through intensive art and artist interaction. Now, you may be thinking of a water color class or a musician coming in for a concert. It can be more, quite a bit more. I was talking to Alicia Glynn, who is a manager with senior facilities in Ellendale. I was talking to her about one Art For Life project that they had there, and I asked her if that one was a one-off.

Carol Kapaun Ratchenski - "A Place Made of Space"

Nov 24, 2020

Scroll down for more about Carol Kapaun Ratchenski.

A Place Made of Space

A place made of space
Still so wrong to believe
No mystery here

A poem calls me home where
My secrets are held, buried under
A bed made of fears

Near to wild flowers, and rivers
Your memory will call you
Home to this love poem

A Time made of longing
Of postponed and closed for now
And find us in the clouds

Disembodied voices
Call me away from
Sunset, sunrise, snowy owl dreams

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