This month’s Future Prairie Radio episode features interviews conducted out and about in the streets of Portland, Oregon.
The artists of Future Prairie spent a day interviewing the public in celebration of International PARK(ing) Day, an annual global event that occurs on the third Friday in September and has been taking place in Portland since 2006. PARK(ing) Day supports creative placemaking by allowing people to temporarily convert on-street parking spaces into interactive public spaces. This year, eighteen parking spots around Portland were turned into unique spaces such as a bubble park, a miniature salmon stream, an art studio, a putt-putt golf course, a letter-writing lounge, a bike-fixing station, and more.
We set up a mobile podcasting studio on NW 11th Ave between Couch and Davis right outside the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world, Powell’s Books, and we asked people, “What do you envision for the future of our city?” Produced in collaboration with the City of Portland and the Bureau of Transportation.
Listen to the whole episode here.
Find out more about PARK(ing) Day here.
Our music for this episode is by Maiah Wynne.
This short film is a collaboration between writer Joni Renee, producer Sean Cumming, and director/editor Anna Weltner. Each of the three artists contributed ideas to the filming and post-production process.
The poem in the film, written, read, and sung by Joni Renee is an elegy for her deceased father. The poem and film interpret grief and loss through the lens of the autistic experience, highlighting the sensory and tangible details of memory. The green chair of the poem becomes a green screen onto which memory is projected. This lush account of neurodivergence in loss honors nature, family, and the body.
Author’s Note: My use of the word “Mexicans” seemed an essential contextual choice; the word was used disparagingly by farmer neighbors to dehumanize migrant workers of many different backgrounds and justify unreported employment in the vineyards. To use any other politically-correct term would have been a falsity. In the late ‘90’s, Pacific Northwest vintners demanded long hours into the night for many weeks on end with minimal pay. The practice has declined but still exists. If you are interested in helping, please contact The Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice.
Our September Variety Show was held at Blanc Space, a queer art gallery and community gathering space that regularly hosts poetry readings, photo shoots, and art shows.
Musician Maiah Wynne was back for another rousing set; this time she played a mixture of covers and original songs, and she even tested out some new material with our audience.
Poet Joni Renee shared a poem from her new book "Self Defense".
Artist Jaleesa Johnston shared a new visual poem with elements of performance and dance, and everyone in the audience got to take home a copy of her work.
Artist Amy Subach shared some new music she's been working on, including hilarious songs about raising her children.
Musician Molly Kate shared songs from her new album, St. Rosie.
China scholar Frances Hanna shared her research on the modern cultural changes within queer and trans communities in Shanghai.
Travel Portland came to take pictures for an upcoming article about art in Portland.
Pick up any business forecasting magazine today and you’ll read about how the future of business will be defined by collaboration. For our latest podcast episode, I wanted to get beyond that catchphrase and find out what it looks like to professionally collaborate from someone who’s in the trenches.
Natalie Rose Baldwin is a highly-decorated brewer and a multipotentialite with many interests and pursuits. In her teenage years, she trained to become a professional skiier, then she studied biochemistry at the University of Colorado in Denver before beginning a career in beer making in Portland, Oregon, where she’s become one of our brightest and most collaborative beverage industry leaders. Not only that, but she’s a gender-bending queer woman who mentors members of her communities and co-founded the Lady Brewer Girl Gang, a professional association of women helping to shape the future of the brewing industry.
In today’s episode, she talks about some of her favorite collaborations, how to be a good peer to your collaborators, why the communities pubs create are important, and the history of women making beer.
You can hear our whole conversation here.
You can follow Natalie's adventures in brewing on her Instagram, and you can find out where to taste her beer at breakside.com.
Our music for this episode is by Lenore.
I was thinking of home when I first learned about supercities. What feels like home to you? Do you feel a certain civic pride? In this nebulous landscape of ever-shifting political boundaries, is home a state or a nation, or is a racial or a religious pride, or a regional one, based not on the lines we draw but on a shared natural or cultural beauty? Imagine if a group had the power to take your home and redefine it, to give it a new name, assess its worth and potential, and redesign its map, structure, and systems. In the long dance of history, this has happened many, many times, and it's happening again, now, in China.
The Chinese government recently announced their intention to move forward with a long-term urban development strategy they've been considering for years. The plan will foster the rise of enormous economic regions called supercities, anchored around large central urban cores like Hong Kong; Shanghai; or Beijing, and encompassing a number of surrounding, smaller cities. Kind of like a county, but WAY bigger than any county you've ever seen or heard of. By the year 2030, China's nineteen planned supercities will be connected by 26 high-speed train routes. There's a possibility that governance models would shift to mirror the supercities. Many urban planners and economists predict supercities could transform China into the wealthiest, most productive country in the world. To explore the context of a supercity, I interviewed Vivek Shandas, an urban studies and planning professor, fellow of the Institute for Sustainable Solutions; and founder of the Sustainable Urban Places Research Lab.
“If our intent though is to create identities, cultural identities of people who share a common vision and share a common interest in seeing a place thrive in their own way…a supercity may be difficult. What would it mean for a community to maximize for happiness? What would it mean to really authentically think about people's self-identified state of wellbeing? That would include health, how well your physical body is, how well your mental body is, how well your spiritual body is, your community or family or whatever you identify with as your group, your kin — how intact is that? What if we were to think about happiness indexes that were about our human health and wellbeing, in the broad sense, and maximize towards that?"
You can hear our full conversation here.
Check out Vivek's work here.
Our second variety show was bigger and (arguably) even better than our first! We kicked off the evening with another great set from musician Maiah Wynne.
Filmmaker Anna Weltner showed a moving new short film about a local textile artist who designs erotic quilts to heal herself from trauma.
Dancer Nicole and her troupe of dancing ladies performed a jazz dance number.
Comedian Laura Anne Whitley gave a set of hilarious jokes that had the audience cracking up.
Healer Clara Parnell gave a lecture on how to care for your spine, and she demonstrated exercises and stretches to do to avoid back pain.
Illustrator Mali Fischer showcased the prints, shirts, stickers, and mugs she's been drawing recently.
Poet Ariel Kusby read a few new poems from her upcoming collection.
Personal trainer Beck Beverage gave a lecture about embodiment, movement, and how to feel at home in your own body.
Eco-friendly living coach Chloe Lepeltier gave a lecture about how to reduce waste in your home, create less trash, and use less plastic.
Chef Margaux Muller did a mini live cooking show where she taught everyone how to make raw vegan desserts for the summer. We ate all of her treats, and they were pretty delicious. We might have squabbled over leftovers.
In this episode, we explore how best to live while in a body. It seems we’ve been living with a mind, body, spirit split for a while now. Assuming we are comprised of these three component parts, it’s in our collective interest to learn more about them and how best to navigate our time here.
Brain mapping and new research into AI neural networks promise to deliver a future where we can shed our bodies like a snake shedding skin and step into a house of our own choosing. I wonder though, how we feel ready to go ‘round inserting our consciousness willy-nilly into any old sheath when we have hardly learned to cope with the everyday burdens of existing in our current flesh.
We are gifted or afflicted with bodies that, more often than not, don’t align quite right with our perception of ourselves. This is troublesome because the body is a form of self-expression, a dynamic manifestation of our attitudes, aspirations, our trials, our tone, our choices. If you've been furnished with a body that reflects your innermost workings, I applaud you, but I know that I for one, the I, the me who names myself, would like to find a way to be happier while existing in a body. How should a person be?
Here to help me examine this question is Beck Beverage, an artist, musician, dancer, and certified personal trainer who owns a gym called Sweet Momentum. Beck has a quiet joy about him that draws clients who’ve struggled with illness, chronic pain, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and many other issues I’ll group under the broad umbrella of “Body Feelings” to seek training with him.
I’ve never met someone who explores movement like Beck, who perches on the tip of a rock to find the stillest stillness, lowers himself off limbs of trees to hang in the breeze, and walks barefoot across the forest floor, attending, listening. Or maybe I’ve met hundreds of people like Beck — children — stainless, fresh humans who move with curiosity and ignorance and are happy to report back to you on every feeling they encounter. Beck shares his personal embodiment journey and offers tips for ours.
You can hear our full conversation here.
Check out Beck's gym here.
Our first Rose City Variety Show was a big hit. We were blessed to be welcomed with open arms by the art and music communities in Portland. Our beautiful, light-filled variety show features the queer and multi-disciplinary artists of Future Prairie. The show is inspired by the chautauquas of the 19th and early 20th centuries, where people from all walks of life came together to experience education, entertainment, and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, and entertainers. We have a rotating cast of artists, dancers, teachers, painters, singers, poets, and more. Since 1995, the City of Roses has been known as an artistic hotspot full of feminist activism, innovative community development, and audacious art making. We can't wait to get this series started and introduce you to our city's artists and all they have to offer.
Our first artist of the evening was Daisy Dee, who did live drawing of the show's performers but also the audience members.
Musician Maiah Wynne then shared a set of songs she's been polishing at shows all around town and even got to showcase recently by playing with the Portland Cello Project!
Poet Anna Suarez then shared two new pieces from a series about queer femininity and body positivity.
Singer Joni Renee then sang a cover of "5748 km" by Lisa LeBlanc, accompanied by Sean Cummings on the guitar.
Artist Andi Bixel gave a lecture about her artistic and entrepreneurial journey.
Artist Shen Telles gave a live, You Tube-style makeup tutorial that featured a surprising twist ending!
We closed out the evening with two short films from local screenwriter and director Anna Weltner.
I came upon Jaleesa Johnston’s art while I was studying Afrofuturism, a cultural philosophy and aesthetic that explores the intersection of African culture with modern futurism. Afrofuturism combines elements of science fiction, fantasy, and magic to critique the present-day dilemmas of black people and to interrogate and re-examine historical events. Jaleesa’s art brings a stark, energetic perspective to our cultural conversation about race, and we can’t talk about the future without candidly examining who gets to live in that future.
Jaleesa integrates sculpture, collage, and dance into installations and performances, many of which are Afrofuturist in their exploration of Black women’s bodies. I sat down with Jaleesa to ask her about art and identity, and two specific pieces of hers: a contemporary dance called Rise and Fall, and a photo collage series called Between Contact.
You can hear our full interview here and see more of her work here.