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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘In Burma we really need help.’

Soethu Hlamyo is a Columbia resident. With his wife, he owns and operates Shwe Market. Trevor Harris interviewed Soethu about his family, his business and his hopes for a return to democracy in his native Burma.

This is an excerpt of an August 11, 2021 interview.

The nation of Burma – highlighted in red above – sits on the Bay of Bengal and is bordered by Bangladesh to the Wets and Thailand to the East. Photo credit: TUBS/Wikipedia.
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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘Missouri is ready made for dramatic writing’

Steve Wiegenstein draws on real life settings from his native state when crafting his works of historic fiction. The Columbia, Missouri-based writer’s recent work – Scattered Lights – was nominated earlier this year for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Here, Steve shares why ‘Walden’ inspires him, introduces us to a group of 19th century Missouri utopians and makes no promises that you’ll meet anyone famous when you read his stories.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘Charity, like in faith and hope.’

We’ve lost a lot in the pandemic to date. Many Americans have lost their jobs, their health, their loved ones. When the rent came due and her fellow Kansas Citians faced eviction, Diane Charity helped organize tenants to fight from losing their homes, too.

In this Field Notes, Ms. Charity talks about her mother’s influence on her activism, the culture of sharing at Parade Park and why she still fights the good fight.

We talked on March 26, 2021 at Kansas City, Missouri’s Black Archives of Mid-America.

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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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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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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.

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Field Notes

Field Notes: ‘If they want me to give them two, I give them four.’

In each installment of my Field Notes from the Recollection Agency, I talk to someone with an interesting backstory. Here, Scott Lunceford* talks about government cheese, how re-enacting 1855 can be a family activity and why it pays to bring your harmonica to church.

Listen to other Field Notes and learn more about the Recollection Agency at RecollectionAgency.com and on social media.

*Scott says we “are always family”, but our official status is that of ex-step-cousins. -Trevor