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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘It was a lifetime of stuff that hit me at one time.’

The past year has presented previously unimaginable challenges. While many of us spent last year mostly stunned, Tanika Cherie’s lived life had conditioned her for what 2020 had to deal out.

Here, the social worker, single mother, devoted Christian and motivational speaker explained what helped her live through the toughest years of her life.

This audio is taken from an February 12, 2021 in-person interview at Kansas City’s Black Archives of Mid-America and follow-up e-mail interview.

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Mo-Curious

Mo’ Curious #4: The View from Beacon Hill

Mo’ Curious #4 draws on recent oral histories from a trio of long-time Kansas Citians. The episode is a cultural memory of Beacon Hill, an urban neighborhood in transition.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: Explaining 2020

When you look back on this time in a generation or so, what will you tell those who came of age after the pandemic of 2020-21? How can you describe the fundamental ways that life on Earth changed while humans dealt with the coronavirus?

Through my business, blog and podcast, I capture peoples’ stories. Often the stories from 2020 were not explicitly not about the pandemic (although it comes up every time.)

To write that the past year has been challenging is an understatement. Shutdowns, social distancing and mask-wearing make it hard to feel connected to the rest of the human world. At the same time, I feel truly blessed to be healthy, employed, well-fed and sheltered during this time. The same can not be said of many of my neighbors here in the Kansas City area.

The past year saw several trends play out. First, the virus sent work and meetings and civic life online where much of the world already was. Second, culture continued to splinter where every imaginable show, film or concert can be found available to stream most anywhere, anytime. Third, the look-at-me culture continued to dominate how we talk to and past one another.

In launching my Missouri history podcast, I touched on – for better or worse – each of on those 2020 trends.

Podcasting has certain conventions. The craft – if we can call it that – is aural in nature, not visual. Most podcasts have a recurring theme, bed music and hosts. Many creators edit audio productions that are of a consistent length and on a consistent schedule. I learned all that this year when I started Mo’ Curious.

The podcast and these Field Notes function as a way for me to feed my curiosity about a subject while telling the world “Hey, this is what’s on my mind right now.” As it turns out, doing the work of creating a podcast and audio blog is satisfying during the pandemic. It forces me to call other people and have a focused conversation. It lets me take my study of a topic in whatever direction seems most fitting and useful. I ultimately want that work to prove educational and entertaining for you with each shared post.

Producing a quality podcast deserves real work, so I aim to be honest with myself about my capacity. In 2020, I produced three full podcast episodes and 11 shorter Field Notes interviews all of which live at RecollectionAgency.com. I’ll aim to match that in 2021. No pressure.

A couple of generations from now, when you think back about the pandemic and try to explain it to someone born in, say, 2022, what will you tell them? From what will you draw upon for your memory? All now born digital, our photographs, e-mails and texts are ephemeral mementos.

Consider using this time to journal or record your experience of now. Or you can hire me to capture your story. Either way, these are strange times. Once the virus is gone, we’ll all crawl out of our homes one day blinking at the bright sun. We will be different then compared to how we were before the pandemic. I’ll be glad to tell stories around the real world campfire in 2040 about how it was during 2020.

I can also tell them, “You want to know how it was then? Take a listen to my podcast.”

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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘I wanted my children to know what real food tasted like.’

Mike B. Rollen grows food in the center of Kansas City. His culinary herbs fill a formerly vacant lot. Here, he shares his vision and some of the challenges to providing comestibles for urban residents.

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Mo-Curious

Mo’ Curious #3: The Hawk’s Origin

Mo’ Curious #3 explores the early years of tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins when he lived in and near St. Joseph, Missouri.

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Mo-Curious

Mo’ Curious #2: Start Your Engines

Mo’ Curious #2: Start Your Engines looks at how Interstate 70 through the State of Missouri has impacted three people’s lives and livelihoods.

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Mo-Curious

Mo’ Curious #1: Digging Deep

Mo’ Curious # 1: Digging Deep looks at how it was to mine coal and be married to a miner in Macon County, Missouri.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: “I cleared away a lot of stuff.”

Carol Romano is a long-time Columbia, Missouri resident and my former neighbor. On the eve of her 75th birthday, she talked about running away from home, finding her tribe and the role of contemplation in managing the pandemic.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘The Concept of One God Enthralled Me.’

Growing up in St. Joseph, Ramadhan Washington spent a lot of time at a local Church of God In Christ. Incarcerated as a young man in the Buchanan County, Missouri jail, he met fellow prisoners imported from Kansas City who were practicing Muslims. Over fifty years after his conversion to Islam, Washington is an elder of the Islamic Center of St. Joseph. On a recent balmy summer afternoon, Washington detailed his conversion from the front porch steps of the home he shares with his wife.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: Creating a More Perfect Union

For 20 years, the Troost 39 Thrift Store has provided low-cost clothes, dishes, books and the occasional guillotine to shoppers. When the building was up for sale three years ago, Chuck and Toni Wurth bought it. Today, the couple maintains the space as thrift store with a mission.

Field Notes is an occasional series from the Recollection Agency. Contact us to learn more about the process of preserving your memories and creating shareable content.