This piece, from interviews on the role of women during my Peace Corps service in Azerbaijan, aired on the Women’s International News Gathering Service (WINGS) in October 2008. The conversations here informed my decision to join the Girls’ Education and Empowerment program in Togo.
I recently revisited a folktale a teacher at the school I taught at in Togo shared with me in 2010. It’s called “Honesty,” or “L’honnêteté,” and highlights the problem of corruption. You can listen to my interpretation/translation from the French here:
When you think of St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns and potatoes may come to mind. But the Irish aren’t the only people to think about the little people. Many cultures have their versions of small, magical folk. And no matter where they live, fairies have to eat, too — right?
This audio piece I produced on “philosoforager” Alan Muskat, founder of No Taste Like Home, will air on APM’s The Splendid Table this weekend. Muskat connects foraging with regaining a sense of home in this life:
“I would like to communicate through wild foods this feeling that the Garden of Eden is real, and it’s a choice we’ve made, we make every day, to take what’s freely given as a gift, or to struggle to do it ourselves to replace it with what we think is better.”
Muskat’s foraging philosophy has prompted me to connect sense of home with my artistic philosophy of bricolage. Learn more in my Earth Flavors profile of lambsquarters, which features Muskat.
On the trail of fairy potatoes, a.k.a. air potatoes, cinnamon vine, shan yao, and Chinese yam, I run into several interesting characters. #EarthFlavor20. Also in Mountain Xpress here as “Fairy food: WNC’s wild air potatoes satisfy appetites, feed imaginations.”
The following audio piece is a fairy potato treasure hunt incorporating elements of Cherokee, Celtic, and Chinese folklore and a bit o’ magic:
An audio piece I produced mixing a traditional milling song from Cameroon with interview from Carolina Ground aired on APM’s The Splendid Table on May 22nd. See Earth Flavor 13 to read more about the women grinding grain at Carolina Ground.
Here is the original piece:
Or listen to the episode on The Splendid Table here. Milling song is from a compilation album called Nord Cameroun. Musique des Ouldémé (2001).
Rebekah Brown “Brownie” Lee talks and reflects on cultural and economic difference, race, colonialism, and the Peace Corps at her home in Ouidah, Benin, February 22, 2012. I am revisiting the interview now in honor of Brownie’s recent passing. As the Francophone African saying goes, “Que la terre lui soit légère.” Friend and mentor, you are missed.
Lee cites materialism and the extended family as two major cultural differences between West Africa and the US. She speaks of her own experience taking in children in the various countries in which she lived and worked, and shares her concern about the practice of psychoanalysis (“I came home from Peace Corps, and people were going to counselors like we used to go the the dentist.”). She concludes the interview with her favorite proverb: “The snake cannot give birth to anything short and fat.”
Brownie Lee joined the Peace Corps as a volunteer in 1962; she was part of the first group to serve in Togo, West Africa. She then served as a volunteer in Guinea (1964-1966) and had a long teaching career that spanned Eastern and Western Africa, the U.S. and Jamaica, before returning to work in varlous supervisory roles and program directorships for the Peace Corps in the 1980s and 90s, and finally serving as Peace Corps Country Director in Togo and Benin (starting in 2007 and 2009, respectively).
Interviewer Carla Seidl served in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan from 2006 to 2008 and in Peace Corps’ Girls Education and Empowerment program (which Brownie was influential in starting) in Togo from 2009 to 2011. At the time of this interview, she was serving as a Peace Corps Response volunteer at the International Center for Art and Music of Ouidah (CIAMO), Benin.
Background noise during the interview is Lee’s adopted teenage girls doing housework and meal preparation.
The fifth episode of Simmer features an interview on the topic of community with community consultant Gaya Erlandson, founder of the Lotus Lodge Community & Learning Center in Candler, NC. For counterpoint, her comments are interspersed with reactions of a fictional Azerbaijani housewife named Gunay Qasimova.
Community consultant Gaya Erlandson shares her perspectives on American culture and the importance of community. Topics include dynamic governance and intentional community. Erlandson is the founder of the Lotus Lodge Community & Learning Center in Candler, NC. For counterpoint, producer Carla Seidl voices reactions from Gunay Qasimova, a fictional Azerbaijani housewife whose perspectives draw from those shared with Seidl by several Azerbaijani women during her Peace Corps service in Azerbaijan from 2006 to 2008.
Carla’s six-part radio series, “Simmer: Bringing the Global Local” begins tonight at 7:30pm on MAIN-FM (Asheville 103.7). Listen to all six episodes on PRX here.
Bringing the global, local, with multidisciplinary artist and returned Peace Corps volunteer Carla Seidl.
“Simmer” is a six-episode experimental series of 30-minute programs produced for Asheville’s MAIN-FM in 2013. Host and producer Carla Seidl returned from teaching abroad in Azerbaijan and West Africa and sought to tie her experiences living in less economically developed regions to issues facing her community of Asheville, North Carolina. The program straddles art and journalism by combining interview with music, collage, and personal reflection. It aims to expand listeners’ awareness and sensitivity to other cultures and perspectives.
Topics are evergreen: education, democracy, health, media, and community.
The series served as Seidl’s practicum toward her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.
The fourth Simmer episode features the second part of the documentary “Telling Our Own Stories: Wally Bowen on Creating a Democratic Media,” plus an original spoken word entitled “Citizen, Not Consumer.”
In the second part of “Telling Our Own Stories: Wally Bowen on Creating a Democratic Media,” Bowen speaks of the importance of an engaged citizenry. He encourages listeners to manifest their own visions and stories. This Simmer episode also features an original song, “Citizen, Not Consumer,” by producer Carla Seidl.