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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Video Spoof: “We Didn’t Start the Pledge Drive”

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

NPR Video Spoof with Krista TippettPublic radio has some pretty geeky fans, and they’re enamored with the names of its on-air talent. Nonetheless, you gotta dig the enthusiasm, especially when they’re trying to raise money to support our work. And, this year, even our host Krista Tippett makes the cut with a churchy backdrop infused with heavenly light. Viral madness?

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Ascending Staircases of Sonoma Light

by Susan Leem, associate producer

"I think about that ‘empty’ space a lot. That emptiness is what allows for something to actually evolve in a natural way."
Meredith Monk, from Mountain Record

In the video above, the singer and composer Meredith Monk fills up a magical performance space that reaches 78 feet up from the ground to a ceiling that opens to the blue sky. The musicians, dancers, and singers all harmonize on different stories of the tower, almost calling to each other from level to level.

Designed by artist Ann Hamilton, the concrete tower is 24 feet in diameter with a pool of water at the base. The interior reflects some of the natural light that fills the double helix staircase and passes through rhythmically-placed metal handrails. Unlike a more traditional performance space where an audience might sit full-on facing a filled stage, there are pockets and openings in the tower to allow performers or even the audience to inhabit the walls. Light, song, and beauty naturally evolve into that empty space.

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"Lonely Old Widow" Eloquently Argues on Behalf of Same-Sex Marriage

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

In the state of Washington, a vigorous debate is taking place on the issue of same-sex marriage. A Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Maureen Walsh, offered this humble, passionate speech defending marriage equality on February 8, 2012.

Where she starts begins with the most human of stories: the death and loss of her husband of 23 years: “I’m a lonely old widow right now, looking for a boyfriend. Not having much luck with that. … And I think of all the wonderful years we had and the wonderful fringe benefit of having three children. I don’t miss the sex. You know. And to me that’s what this kind of boils down to.”

She proceeds to tell the story of a proud mother who thought she’d agonize over her daughter being gay, and was surprised she didn’t. She continues, “How could I deny anyone the right to have that incredible bond with another individual in life? To me it seems almost cruel.”

Her speech and her story showcases the best of political discussion and civil debate, no matter what side of the issue you support. If we could all model that civility in our public and private lives.

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St. Petersburg Time-Lapse Symphony with Blazing Violins

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Andrew Efimov’s dramatic time-lapse of the St. Petersburg, Russia is bursting with violins, skylines, fireworks, cargo ships and racing cars. What  way to start the morning!

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Where had I heard the song that threads this video before? I couldn’t put my finger on it until visualizing a water balloon popping in super slow-motion. Ahh, that fantastic Schweppes commercial from several years ago. It seems “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra is a popular one for filmmakers. And rightfully so. It pulls the viewer into a scene so immediately and so intimately. Delightful.

This summary about the video from sniffyjenkins is spot on:

This Is Brighton by Caleb Yule

Last year Caleb was just 13-years old when he shot over 45,000 stills of Brighton over 10 months and put them together into this beautiful, beautiful time-lapse, tilt-shifty film of Brighton. I saw this recently at an exhibition in which a friend had some photographs and there was a queue to put on the headphones and watch (the music is “Home” by Cinematic Orchestra which makes me cry with the happysads every damn time). Watch it. It is amazing, whether or not you know my home town, whether or not you think tilt shift is over or lame or whatever. It’s wonderful and I love it.

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Go big or go home, as they say. And, FreshAir’s Terri Gross appearance on The Colbert Report definitely caught some air once they posted video of the interview:

Colbert Bump: Tumblr traffic yesterday compared to day before. (I don’t think this includes traffic-from-inside-our-Dashboard figures…)

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor
Go big or go home, as they say. And, FreshAir’s Terri Gross appearance on The Colbert Report definitely caught some air once they posted video of the interview:

Colbert Bump: Tumblr traffic yesterday compared to day before. (I don’t think this includes traffic-from-inside-our-Dashboard figures…)

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Go big or go home, as they say. And, FreshAir’s Terri Gross appearance on The Colbert Report definitely caught some air once they posted video of the interview:

Colbert Bump: Tumblr traffic yesterday compared to day before. (I don’t think this includes traffic-from-inside-our-Dashboard figures…)

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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With all the high-tech boards in our recording studios, we still do Beta. Nay, SuperBeta! (Taken with Instagram at Minnesota Public Radio - American Public Media)
With all the high-tech boards in our recording studios, we still do Beta. Nay, SuperBeta! (Taken with Instagram at Minnesota Public Radio - American Public Media)

With all the high-tech boards in our recording studios, we still do Beta. Nay, SuperBeta! (Taken with Instagram at Minnesota Public Radio - American Public Media)

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A Magic Classical Music Roller Coaster Ride (video)

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Isolate the musical notes of the first violin playing the fourth movement of Ferdinand Ries’ second symphony. Then create a visualization that gives the most untrained ear an idea of the sweeping undulations and dynamic energy of the German composer’s piece. What you get is this smart, real-time look at the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (Zürcher Kammer Orchester) in the shape of a roller coaster:

"The camera starts by showing a close-up of the score, then focuses on the notes of the first violin turning the staves into the winding rail tracks of the rollercoaster. The notes and bars were exactly synchronised with the progression in the animation so that the typical movements of a rollercoaster ride match the dramatic composition of the music."

(h/t Julia Schrenkler)

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Jeff Harris: 4,748 Self-Portraits and Counting

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

The trajectory of this man’s story and the scenes shared will leave you simultaneously inspired and devastated. What a life!

(h/t Kate Moos + The Rumpus)

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If you’re a production junkie like me and often wonder how programs wrangle their material and then get it to air, this short film about PRI’s The World will tickle your fancy. The part about how the BBC correspondents shape the agenda is intriguing:

A behind-the-scenes look at how PRI’s global news program, The World, is produced for broadcast. Video journalist and freelance producer Marcus Wraight created this piece.

We are in awe of the talent at The World!

~reblogged by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Mario Savio and “Bodies Upon the Gears”

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Born on this day during World War II, student activist Mario Savio delivered his now-famous "bodies upon the gears" speech on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964. A remembrance of Mario SavioIt was considered a clarion call of the Free Speech Movement:

"We asked the following: if President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone conversation, why didn’t he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received — from a well-meaning liberal — was the following. He said, "Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his board of directors?" That’s the answer!

Now, I ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I’ll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees, and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw material[s] that don’t mean to have any process upon us, don’t mean to be made into any product, don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the university, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

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Johnny Cash and Shel Silverstein Sing Together in 1970 (video)

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

It was inevitable that the “man in black” would come up during our interview with Rosanne Cash the week before Thanksgiving. What didn’t come up in the conversation was talk about Johnny Cash’s many friendships and endeavors, including hosting his own variety show on television from 1969 to 1971.

This delightful duet of “Boy Named Sue” with Shel Silverstein, a prolific songwriter and the man who wrote the song, showcases one of those friendships. The poet and children’s book author (yes, I still get choked up when reading The Giving Tree to my boys) then performs “Daddy, What If,” introducing the children’s song with a touching comment about his relationship with his father. That fondness for his own father was mirrored in the way Rosanne Cash spoke about her daddy too.

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Light Painting the Mines of North Wales

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

If you’re looking for a brief respite between Thanksgiving meals or a brief interlude to the NFL triple play, check out this short film by Andrew Telling and Owen Richards. They shadow photographer Robin Friend as he traverses the foothills of North Wales and descends into an abandoned Victorian mine at Cwmorthin to do a bit of light painting for his Slaughterhouse series:

"Slaughterhouse" by Robin Friend"Although my mind kept wandering and playing tricks, it would always return to the absence of the men that used to work here. Their presence was palpable; this was their mine and I was trespassing. Each cathedral-sized cavern would have been leased and worked by one family. Grandfathers, fathers, sons, uncles, and nephews would have worked side-by-side, day in day out. These dark passages, steep crevasses, and sheer drops would have been their livelihood. This was their world. They would have spent the majority of their lives down here in the dark with nothing but a candle to illuminate the slate and their spirits."

(h/t trishutchinson)

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Anonymous asked:
Have you experienced Joe Hutto's "My Life as a Turkey"? Currently watching a program on PBS Nature. Some fascinating insights into imprinting, presence, and being... Enjoy!

Dear Anonymous—

I had seen previews on PBS for this Nature special several times but never found the time to watch it. Your question was the catalyst. Thank you. What a gorgeous film and what a novel way of seeing the world!

I’m embedding it within this reply so that others may watch it in the days leading up to Thanksgiving in the States. In many ways, characters like Joe Hutto and Alan Rabinowitz, whom we interviewed for “A Voice for the Animals,” are windows for our species. They’re eccentric characters that teach us about ourselves as a species and as a sentient beings through their interactions with wildlife. They also prove that we have a lot to learn when it comes to our sweeping generalizations about other species.

Turkey by Joe HuttoHere are a few of Joe Hutto’s words of wisdom that strike at the core of who this man is and how we can learn from his observations:

"And I realized that my involvement in this experiment was going to be a very personal, very emotional ride for me — and not just a science experiment."

"Each day as I leave the confines of my language and culture, these creatures seem to become in every way my superiors. They are more alert, sensitive, and aware. They’re in many ways, in fact, more intelligent. They’re understanding of the forest is beyond my ability to comprehend."

"Emotions are certainly not peculiar to the human experience. In their observation of death, the death of another turkey that is a member of their group, it’s a very conscious behavior as if they are trying to understand what the meaning of this is."

And, boy, I’d regret not commenting on the ending scene with Turkey Boy. My Life as a Turkey is a brutal reminder that with all of the kindness, the tenderness, and the social interaction between man and bird, nature and creatures desire not only to survive but to dominate and establish dominion.

Thank you so much for the reminder,
Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Waves of Murmuration (video)

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

No, not a line from The Pixies. Liberty Smith and Sophie Windsor Clive will ensnare you in the majesty of this chance encounter with “one of nature’s greatest and most fleeting phenomena” — a collection of starlings rolling over a kayak canoe on a lake.

Editor’s note: In the comments below, Maureen Doallas reminded me of two spots where I first heard about starling murmurations and thought I’d share them with you: Paolo Patrizi’s magnificent photos of murmurations over Rome and a BBC documentary. Both are definitely checking out.

Hat tip to Anne Breckbill for the heads up!

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