On the Record | WYPR

On the Record

A spunky African-American teenager adopted into a Jewish family in Baltimore trying to sort out her identify. That’s the nub of the new young-adult novel "The Length of a String". We ask author Elissa Brent Weissman what inspired the story … and whether she’s the right person to tell it. She’ll be speaking and signing books Sunday at 2 pm at Afters Cafe, 1001 South Charles Street in Baltimore.  

Then, a very different novel by a local author: Michael Downs’ "The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells" -- fiction filling in the story of the 19th-century dentist who first used laughing gas to numb the pain of surgery. He’ll be speaking about it next Thursday, May 10, at the Ivy Bookstore on Falls Road.

What does it take to start over in a new country? Filmmaker Alexandra Shiva explores the obstacles and triumphs of four Syrian families as they rebuild their lives in Baltimore. Her new documentary is titled, ‘This is Home’. You can see the film at the Maryland Film Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the MICA Brown Center. More info here.

And Ruben Chandrasekar, head of the local offices of the International Rescue Committee, describes how the IRC supports refugees during this transition.

Yes, we know it’s Monday. Not our regular day for Stoop. But here’s a Stoop Story about family -- from Martha Weiman about how her family escaped the Holocaust and reunited with her aunt and uncle. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Mural by Joel Bergner. Photo taken by Chuck Patch / Flickr via Creative Commons

The nonprofit Comité Latino connects people in the Hispanic community to resources they can use regardless of their immigration status or their ability to speak English. We hear from three members who came to the United States to work and raise families here.

That was Stoop Story from Josh Fruhlinger, about the highs and lows of competing on Jeopardy. You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Wikimedia Commons

The 100th anniversary of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s birth, coming up this summer, has sparked a global celebration of the revolutionary maestro’s life and career----thousands of performances, symposia and events extolling his contributions to opera, theater, dance, film, and orchestra.

NPR’s Scott Simon will be part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s special “Salute to Bernstein” a week from tomorrow, led by Marin Alsop. She was a student of Bernstein’s, and reflects on what she learned from him.

More information about the May 5th concert at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra here. WYPR is a media partner for this event. 

Ivy Bookshop

We think of species taking a long time to adapt to changes in their surroundings. Not necessarily, says evolutionary biologist and ecologist Menno Schilthuizen. In his new book, "Darwin Comes to Town: How the Urban Jungle Drives Evolution" he asserts we can find evidence right in our own back yard. Schilthuizen says plants and animals can adapt quickly to survive. Things like mating preferences and diet are in flux when it comes to city living.

Don LaVange

Where can pregnant women struggling with addiction to opioids turn for help? How are infants affected by exposure to opioids?

Julia Lurie, a reporter for Mother Jones, set out answer these questions. She tells us about two women in Baltimore who sought treatment at the Johns Hopkins ‘Center for Addiction and Pregnancy’ - known as CAP. Check out her reporting, "Homeless. Addicted to Heroin. About to Give Birth." Julia Lurie has also written about how the opioid epidemic is impacting the foster care system

CAP brings together medical providers of several specialties to care for mothers and infants together. It’s a unique model that Dr. Lauren Jansson, director of pediatrics at CAP, says makes a big difference.

Maryland Legal Aid

Lawyer in the Library, a partnership between Maryland Legal Aid and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, grew out of the civil unrest in Baltimore City after Freddie Gray died from injuries received in police custody. Lawyer in the Library gives convenient access to free legal advice right in the neighborhood. Amy Petkovsek from Maryland Legal Aid and her client Shannon Powell, along with Melanie Townsend Diggs, former manager of the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, talk about the genesis of the free legal assistance program and the difference its made in thousands of people's lives. 

Derek Bruff / Flickr via Creative Commons

The debts attached to nearly five thousand homes in Baltimore are up for tax sale next month as the city moves to recoup unpaid fees, taxes and water charges. While overdue water bills can no longer be only item that sets a property up for a tax sale, they do count toward the overall debt.

Margaret Henn of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland says that’s a problem because of leaks and billing disputes with the Department of Public Works.

The Pro Bono Resource Center's last free legal clinic runs from 2 to 6 pm tomorrow, at the Zeta Center for Healthy and Active Aging on Reisterstown Road. You can register by phone at 443-703-3052. More info here.

Take a listen to this Stoop story from teacher and poet Azya Maxton about the power of poetry. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

How can writing and reading poetry be a lifeline in times of trouble?

Ahead of a visit this weekend to Baltimore, poet and professor Gregory Orr tells us how he came to poetry after the tragic death of his younger brother in a hunting accident. He shares how poetry rescued him from overwhelming guilt and grief, and helped him regain an awareness of life’s beauty.

Gregory Orr will be at the Joshua Ringel Memorial Reading on Sunday, April 22 at Hodson Hall on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus. The event is starts at 5 pm. More information here.

Amazon

She’s known as the ‘First Lady of Song’ and the ‘Queen of Jazz.’ Ella Jane Fitzgerald overcame poverty, abuse and racism to build an international career that spanned seven decades and a charitable foundation in her name. We talk with Geoffrey Mark, performer and author of ‘Ella: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald,’ who walks us through the story behind the music. To purchase tickets for Mr. Mark's performance at Germano's Piattini Cabaret at 6pm on April 25, Ella's 101st birthday, visit this link.

Flyer for the Course/Jessica Marie Johnson

‘Knowledge is Power’ is a familiar adage. In our digital age, perhaps a more relevant aphorism and one exemplified by our guests today is ‘Knowledge is Access.’ Case in point: access to the syllabus for ‘Black Womanhood,’ a graduate course at Johns Hopkins University, has been made available online ... and has spread like wildfire. The course is co-taught by Professor Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor, and Professor of History, at Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and Professor Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor in the Center for Africana Studies and Department of History at Hopkins. They discuss why access to knowledge can be so powerful and how online engagement affects curriculum.

You can access the Black Womanhood course syllabus here.

At the Strong City Baltimore Stoop Storytelling show two months ago, Sophia Garber shared her experience about coming to Baltimore, making friends, and sticking with it against all odds.

Check out the Stoop podcast and info about Stoop events here.

Baltimore Department of Planning

The nonprofit Strong City Baltimore is offering dozens of workshops tomorrow, where hundreds of activists can network and learn skills for a better community. Rev. Eric Lee is the primary organizer of the 11th annual Neighborhood Institute. He tells us about the opportunities for community organizers to build their skills.

Plus, some panels draw on the experience of young leaders. We hear from Mercedes Thompson and Claire Wayner, who co-founded the “Baltimore Beyond Plastics” movement.

Baltimore Department of Planning

Baltimore is pockmarked by thousands of abandoned homes and empty lots. What effect do vacant properties have on health? What can the city do to transform blight into inviting outdoor spaces?

Former state secretary of health, Joshua Sharfstein, points to research that measures how blight raises stress levels.

And Stephanie Smith, Assistant Director for Equity, Engagement, and Communications for the city Planning Department, describes a plan to turn vacant properties into parks, playgrounds, and trails.

City Lit Project

The 15th annual City Lit Festival Saturday, April 14, will include scores of sessions for writers and for readers. City Lit Project director Carla Du Pree gives highlights, which range from stories about motherhood and racial, gender and socioeconomic “passing” to one-on-one editing sessions with established writers and a master class with poet Yrsa Daley-Ward about fearlessly writing your truth.  Then keynote speaker Phillip Gourevitch talks about his upcoming book on what the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide teaches about memory, forgetting and hiding.

Charm City Bluegrass Festival

Bluegrass music is often described as an amalgam of Appalachian mountain music, folk music, country music and even jazz. It turns out that Baltimore’s music scene played prominently in the birth of bluegrass.  We meet Phil Chorney, CEO and Founder of the ‘Charm City Bluegrass Festival’ and Baltimore Management Agency and Adam Kirr, the festival’s chief marketing officer to give us highlights of the event.

Also, Tim Newby, author of the book: “Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin' Sound and Its Legacy” explains bluegrass music's deep roots in Baltimore.

For information about the Charm City Bluegrass Festival, check out this link.

To view the festival documentary, visit this link.

Smythe Richbourg/Creative Commons

The General Assembly has a little more 14 hours to solve some thorny legislative issues that have eluded compromise for months. For example, the crushing wave of homicides in Baltimore, or the new industry being created around medical marijuana. And, is the state legislature going to demand changes in safety features in public schools? We find out how this last day looks to two political analysts who have kept their eyes on the legislature for years. Barry Rascovar writes for the blog Political Maryland. Charles Robinson is a political reporter for State Circle on Maryland Public Television. 

Here’s a Stoop Story from Jen Matsumoto about going hiking after Maryland’s 2010 'snowmaggedon'.

You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Rails to Trails Conservancy Facebook page

Dust off your bicycle, pull on your hiking boots! Tomorrow the nonprofit Rails to Trails Conservancy is hosting its annual ‘Opening Day for Trails,’ a chance for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the Jones Falls trail and celebrate nature.

**Due to weather, the walking and bike tours have been postponed. The gathering at Union Brewery at noon is still on.**

Jim Brown, manager of trail development, tells us about the festivities planned and describes how a coalition of community groups and city agencies are working to create a loop of easily accessible trails around Baltimore. The goal: to bridge the gaps between neighborhoods and to re-purpose abandoned land.

Learn about the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network here.

Elvert Barnes / Flickr via Creative Commons

Fifty million dollars: that’s how much Baltimore will pay police officers this year in overtime. Mark Reutter, reporter for The Baltimore Brew, delved into the records and found that police overtime soared by two-thirds from 2012 to 2017. Examining individual salaries revealed thousands of dollars in overtime pay to officers who do little street patrol or work desk jobs in specialized units.

Read the series, "Overtime Abuse at the BPD" here.

Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report collection at the US Library of Congress

Fifty years ago today the landscape of race relations in America changed in a single tragic instant, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Rev. Stephen Tillett, president of the Anne Arundel branch of the NAACP and pastor at Asbury-Broadneck United Methodist Church and Rev. Lauren Jones of Reid Temple AME Church in Glenn Dale, discuss why Dr. King’s last months focused on economic justice and why his Poor People’s Campaign is still painfully relevant today.

Find information about Tillett's book, "Stop Falling for the Okey Doke" here.

Read Jones' blog Throw Up and Theology, here.

Learn more about today's Poor People's Campaign, here.

Ann Froschauer / US Fish and Wildlife Service

Bats get a bad rap, but they play a pivotal role in nature---they devour insects and their furry bodies can spread pollen. Bats make up one fourth of all mammal species.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources ecologist Daniel Feller tells us about the devastation caused by the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome, which has killed millions of bats in North America. How is this disease spread?

Read more about White Nose Syndrome here:

DNR Bats and Diseases page
M
aryland's Bat Caves

And Dr. Kirsten Bohn, researcher at Johns Hopkins’ “Bat Communication Lab,” decodes the sounds bats make. You can hear more from Dr. Bohn at Bat Night! at Patapsco State Valley Park on April 21st. 

Pixabay MabelAmber/1928 Images

There’s a lot of evidence that social isolation hurts the elderly. Zach Leverenz, vice president of Impact Areas at the AARP Foundation, talks with us about a pilot program using voice-activated technology to combat loneliness for seniors. We also meet Lisa Budlow, vice president of aging in community at The Associated’s Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. CHAI'S clients are testing out the technology, and Weinberg Woods resident Edith Yankelov, 87, talks about her experience taking part in the project.

Here's a Stoop story by Janet Stephens, about how her passion for hair and archeology have come together. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Johns Hopkins University - Sheridan Library website

‘Devouring a book’ takes on new meaning at the International Edible Book Festivals taking place around town. We meet organizers Heidi Herr , a librarian at Johns Hopkins University and Aaron Blickenstaff, Access Services Manager at MICA’s Decker Library. 

You can learn more about MICA's Edible Book Festival here.

Johns Hopkins Edible Book Festival information is here.

Towson University Book Festival information is here.

Johns Hopkins University website

Johns Hopkins University's quest for authority to set up a police force of sworn, armed officers is getting the attention of civic leaders, students and neighbors. JHU president Ronald Daniels tells us why he considers it urgent and  Andrea Fraser, a Hopkins graduate student calls it premature. David Tedjeske, from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and director of public safety at Villanova University in Pennsylvana, weighs in on national campus security trends.

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