In the late 19th century, insane asylums were built across the country in response to a national outcry over the treatment of the mentally ill. More than 75 asylums were designed using Dr. Thomas Kirkbride’s Moral Treatment Plan, which claimed mental ailments could be alleviated with beautiful architecture and serene landscaping. The former State Hospital in Fergus Falls, Minnesota is one of the few remaining intact Kirkbride hospitals in the country. Susan Gray spoke with preservation supporters to learn about the building’s historical significance to Fergus Falls, and the treatment of people with mental illness. When this story first aired early in 2013, the building was destined for the wrecking ball. In June of 2013 the city accepted a proposal to begin a renovation project with Historic Properties, Inc., a Georgia based Real Estate Development Company. The plan, Historic Kirkbride, includes an upscale hotel, spa, apartments, shops and a makerspace.
Amateur radio, also known as “ham” radio, is a hobby and a public service that allows licensed participants to operate communications equipment. It started in the late 1800s with the experimentation and development of wireless transmission. No one is exactly sure where the term “ham” comes from. Minnesota has about 12,000 amateur radio operators and more than 50 radio clubs. One of the oldest clubs is the St. Paul Radio Club founded in 1931. Hams welcome and prepare new enthusiasts for the air, and their involvement varies from public service and emergency work, to building equipment and hosting events. Amateur radio operators heard in this piece: Ralph & Janet Bierbaum, Emanuel “Manny” Block, Twila Greenheck, Henry Kinane, Allan Klein, Orcena “Orcy” Lyle, Keith Miller, George Power, Janet & Janice Robidoux, Mike Stapp. This audio documentary was produced by Dixie Treichel.
Tonight’s program features a performance by the Poor Nobodys —a group that tells stories through its orchestral arrangements. The band also works as a scoring ensemble for film and theater productions. This program was recorded live at the Cedar Cultural Center, and produced for KFAI by Daniel Zamzow.
Inspired by Sarah M. Greer’s trip to the Canary Islands, “Between: a Journey through the Middle” is a singing conversation that celebrates individual journeys. Tonight’s program features vocalists Sarah M. Greer, Aimee K. Bryant, Bruce A. Henry, Libby Turner Opanga and drummer Nathan J. Greer. It was recorded live at the Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis, and produced for KFAI by Tom Garneau.
“Over the new year in 2010, I traveled to Tenerife one of the Canary Islands. I found myself on this island between Africa and North America and I felt very connected and disconnected to this place at the same time. I was interested in that tension, what was going on between those two emotions. I realized this sensation was familiar, yet unexamined. I began to envision a piece created with other singers where I could reflect on that experience,” says Sarah M. Greer.
Three years later, Sarah developed BETWEEN: A Journey Through the Middle. All of the movements in BETWEEN are improvised in some way; some pieces use a set text or recurring melody, but in all of them, the ensemble discovers and develops the “final” pieces on stage in front of the audience.
“I wanted this to be a work about celebrating tensions and transitions and about how to move forward when we cannot always see the road ahead. And, I wanted to study how we move forward with others who are also navigating their own edges and traveling through their own changes. These are the gifts of improvisation.”
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