An Impeachment Briefing, Meet San Diego’s New Immigration Affairs Manager, Coping With Trauma After Wildfires, Transgender Voting Rights And More
KPBS Midday Edition / November 14, 2019
More public hearings are on tap for Friday in the ongoing impeaching inquiry against President Trump. What did we learn from day one? As the “build the wall” chants continue to rock the president’s rallies, San Diego has chosen a different approach on immigration. The city hired a immigration affairs manager. Wildfire season is year round in California and the trauma these fires cause can linger for a lifetime. With California’s March presidential primary election approaching, a new initiative aims to boost LGBTQ participation in 2020. And, the Christmas Truce of 1914 in “All is Calm" hits the local stage.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of president Trump will continue. Friday. The first day of hearings led to new revelations in the inquiry, but this is just the beginning as house Democrats try to build a case that the president tried to bribe or extort Ukraine here with more about how the impeachment process is playing out is UC San Diego political science professor fad [inaudible]. Professor cow's are welcome. Thanks for having me. What were your major takeaways from the first day of the public impeachment hearings?
Speaker 2: 00:28 Well then day one was a good day for, for Democrats for a couple of reasons. First, they were able to deliver some new news, right? There was, uh, an allegation, uh, that the president who was overheard in this phone call with his, with it, with a loud voice on a cell phone demanding an investigation. And then his ambassador is an picked ambassador, George Sutherland, ambassador Sunderland saying, you know, we think he cares more, uh, repeatedly about the investigation than about the Ukraine that comes close to having presidential intent. That is, and importantly, it was something that didn't surface in the deposition and he saw the Democrats immediately moving to subpoena the witness who heard this firsthand and, and, and we'll, we'll likely hear for them. So I think for the Democrats, they needed to show that they were bringing something new to the game, that this was really an investigation, not just political theater. And I think getting a new fact into the record was an important win for Democrats.
Speaker 1: 01:26 You say this impeachment is looking like that of president bill Clinton. How so?
Speaker 2: 01:30 Well, I think at this stage of the bill Clinton impeachment, we had an agreement on the facts of the matter, right? That what bill Clinton did, that he had this extramarital affair with a white house intern and, and that he wasn't truthful, uh, that he lied about it to Congress. And then the debate became over, well, was that a high crime? Was that an impeachable this, there's an agreement on the set of facts and then a question and debate over interpretation of is this impeachable? And I think where we are now is, you know, ever since, uh, the president, uh, released his transcript to the Ukraine, we know that he invited, he asked as a favor Ukrainian information on his political rival in 2020 and I think the Democrats are trying to build and have our assembling a more and more solid case that the president was making aid to Ukraine and, and a white house visit conditional upon that. But the question that many Americans are still split over, we've seen this in Washington and we see it in polls, is, well, okay, if he did this, is it big enough to impeach? And so in that way, we would have a similar agreement on a pattern of facts. And now the debate is about, is this a, you know, a Cardinal sin or are merely venal.
Speaker 1: 02:38 So what is an impeachable offense? According to the constitution,
Speaker 2: 02:42 it does it in five as [inaudible] high crime or misdemeanor, right? It elevated to the constitutional level. And a lot of the work that has been done that we've seen in, in, in the last few months about what the debate was, uh, in Philadelphia at the constitutional convention, how founders talked about it, it really struck at crimes that were not just, you know, a traffic violation, but ones that strike at the balance of power between the branches or bringing in foreign governments to uh, to have influence over what was then a, you know, a very isolated and, and we country that was, that was open to the whims of, of Europe. And so I think the argument that Democrats are making is that by trading U S policy and for traps betraying its central purposes to solicit a political advantage in the next election and help the damages opponents, what the president was doing was getting in the way of the balance of power, the operation of the democratic system in America. And it was bringing in foreign interference. You know, which even in this day of us as a superpower still can directly contravene us national policy interests.
Speaker 1: 03:47 Now do the Democrats have to lay out a crime in order to make a credible and reasonable case for impeachment?
Speaker 2: 03:52 Yeah, I think Democrats that you know that as prosecutors, uh, at this stage, right, they are going, you know, because even though the house in peaches, the Senate holds a trial and convicts, they're going to have to act like prosecutors here. They're going to have to try to convince the American public of exactly what happened, but also why it's important. And that's why you saw these, these civil servants, bill Taylor and George can't talking about why the Ukraine is so important, why it's important to a stable Europe. Why the U S mission there that they were, they were faithfully representing was so vital to our national security interest in why, uh, they felt certain actions, uh, you know, got us off that miss mission. If Democrats want a swing the public and thus have any chance of swinging Republican senators to impeach, they're going to have to press that case and make it convincing.
Speaker 1: 04:41 Does the fact that the aid eventually went through undermine the Democrats argument at all?
Speaker 2: 04:47 I don't think it did just because if you look at the patterns of the fact, uh, that aid was held up at the time the Trump administration was pressing for this, it seems. And, and w w we'll see public testimony, um, very likely, um, by, by U S diplomats who communicated that message very clearly to, uh, to, to the Ukrainian officials, you know, if you do this, we will do that. And also the fact that the aid went through just after this situation started to blow up and after public reporting on this potential scandal came up, the aide was forced through that makes a, that doesn't make a compelling case, uh, of defense for the administration.
Speaker 1: 05:27 Now, Republicans have said this, impeachment inquiry against the president is politically motivated. Have previous impeachment proceedings ever had bipartisan support.
Speaker 2: 05:36 You know, they have had bipartisan support. And that's what led at the end of the day to, uh, to, to Richard Nixon resigning. Right when he saw after a long, very long process, really after two years after the Watergate crisis broke, public opinion was slow to change, much slower than it has in this impeachment inquiry. But by the time we got to 1974, by the time the advanced to the Senate, he was clearly losing Republican support. That's why he resigned. We're in a very different America today. There aren't liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats anymore. We're in a much more polarized era where, where both parties know that a lot of their policy goals and their electoral fortunes are tied up in the fate of this president. And it makes it much less likely that you'll see the parties split on this. But as more and more facts emerge, some of the senators who are facing tough reelection campaigns and have been silent and on the fence on this, there's some possibility that they may move.
Speaker 1: 06:29 Well, the hearings resume tomorrow. What can we expect then and going forward into next week?
Speaker 2: 06:34 Well, I think we're going to see more partisan sip. We're going to see more calls of a witch hat, more tweets, uh, and the Democrats. Clear playbook is to make this as sober and, and responsible as possible. And at the same time that they are looking alike, sober, responsible people, they want to make it not too boring. They want to keep this being must see TV. They need to keep making sure that there are moments of testimony that crystallized their case and, and can be replayed on the six o'clock news and, and share it on social media that that'll help make their case because most Americans aren't going to have the patience to sit and watch these hearings as we get deeper and deeper into this process.
Speaker 1: 07:17 I have been speaking with that cow's Couser, UC San Diego political science professor, professor [inaudible], thank you very much for joining us. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 1: 00:00 As the build, the wall chance is still rock. The president's rallies. San Diego has chosen a different approach to the subject of immigration. A first ever immigrant affairs manager has been installed at city hall. The new job includes an effort to open up opportunities for immigrant workers and remove barriers often faced by immigrant communities. Journey me is Rita Fernandez. She is San Diego's new immigrant affairs manager and read a welcome to the program. Thank you very much. How was this new position described to you by the city?
Speaker 2: 00:34 Well, this position will be in charge of really creating and guiding policies, uh, to uh, support our immigrant and refugee communities and promote immigrant integration.
Speaker 1: 00:47 What will your main duties be?
Speaker 2: 00:49 So, um, right now as I sort of get started, this is my second week on the job and it's been very exciting. Um, I will be creating new relationships with our immigrant community. I will also be reviewing the welcoming San Diego strategic plan, um, which has a series of very comprehensive recommendations for promoting immigrant integration in the city of San Diego. And I look forward to collaborating with a local cross sector organizations and community leaders to better promote the needs and interests of our community. Uh, in here in San Diego,
Speaker 1: 01:27 you know, San Diego is home to a whole range of different immigrant communities. How do you plan on getting to know the various groups?
Speaker 2: 01:35 Sure. Well that's a great question. Um, San Diego is home to, um, a number of diverse communities. Some of the top, uh, populations in San Diego, um, represented among the immigrant community are from Mexico, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Iraq. So there are really people from all corners of the world that reside here in San Diego. So I will look forward to, um, communicating with various community leaders, um, people who, uh, speak with these communities and represent their interests. Um, very closely. Um, back in, uh, Los Angeles when I was working in the immigrant affairs office there, um, we kept a very, uh, close communication with all the refugee communities and immigrant communities. So I look forward to doing the same here.
Speaker 1: 02:26 Have you had time yet to drop in on various neighborhoods?
Speaker 2: 02:30 So, um, definitely the population of San Diego is varied and we have, um, many experiences among the immigrant integration or the immigrant community here in San Diego. Um, so we do know that to be a fact and, um, part of my role will be really to look to the programs that can lift, um, our immigrant communities, um, of all walks of life and I will be focusing on the various recommendations submitted by stakeholders, um, of the welcoming San Diego steering committee, um, to see how we can apply a lot of those.
Speaker 1: 03:05 You mentioned that you have just been serving as associate director of the office of immigrant affairs for Los Angeles. I'm wondering what experiences did you have up there that you think will help you here? Sure. Well,
Speaker 2: 03:17 there I was able to really see firsthand how a large city can create and implement various programs to support immigrant integration, um, including anything from assistance with naturalization to financial literacy and economic empowerment. And I think all of those experiences will really help me as I'm, uh, putting together an immigrant integration portfolio here in the city of San Diego.
Speaker 1: 03:44 Do you as immigrant affairs manager make a distinction between people who have immigrated legally and people who are living here illegally. When it comes to the city's help in removing barriers,
Speaker 2: 03:57 it's very important that for our immigrant integration work, um, we're looking at the contributions of all of our immigrants. So, um, we have, as I mentioned before, a very diverse population, uh, from people, uh, the representing all corners of the world. Um, so we know that our immigrants are our, um, the neighbors. Um, there are coworkers, they employ people themselves and make vast contributions to our local economy. Um, so I will be, uh, looking forward to, um, serving the best needs of our immigrant and, uh, newly arrived populations and refugees.
Speaker 1: 04:38 So there are many mixed status families in San Diego. Some people who are here illegally, some people who don't have documentation. How will you be approaching that challenge when it comes to city services and outreach? Sure. Well, the
Speaker 2: 04:53 immigrant story is varied. Um, and I've seen in Los Angeles, in my hometown here in San Diego and nationwide, um, you know, the transition to a new country can be very difficult. And this is in part why immigrant integration work is so important, not just to a city like San Diego, but certainly for cities across the country and across the world. We're seeing migrants move to highly urbanized areas. So it's becoming increasingly important for cities to really include an immigrant integration component to their work that can really help, um, lift these immigrants and integrate them to really inform them on what services are available to them and to be able to provide them with new, innovative ways to provide them resources and support them as they're building new lives.
Speaker 1: 05:46 So what I'm hearing you say is they're there in your approach. There isn't much difference between whether somebody is here illegally or not. You are going to be offering welcoming to everyone
Speaker 2: 05:58 who is here. As I review the welcoming San Diego strategic plan. Um, I'm going to look toward the many recommendations that were submitted, many of which would, uh, that also came from members of the public themselves. Um, so some, uh, recommendations for example, are expanding language access in our education system and government agencies, not only for children, but the parents who may also struggle to communicate in parent teacher conferences or when using online tools. Um, other examples might include supporting immigrant owned businesses, um, helping them navigate programs or grants that may be available to them and recredentialing, um, for individuals that may be, for example, doctors or lawyers in their home country, um, who are now transitioning to life in the U S and are highly skilled workers. So we really want them to be included in our workforce to grow our workforce. I've been speaking with Rita Fernandez, she's San Diego's new immigrant affairs manager and Rita, thank you so much. Thank you very much.
Speaker 3: 07:07 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 It's been another bad wildfire season in California. And the trauma these fires inflict on families can linger for a lifetime. KPBS science and technology reporters Shalina Chote Lonnie explores why some psychologists say mental health ought to be part of our wildfire emergency plans.
Speaker 2: 00:19 Megan queen and her husband Joe, were sleeping in their house in Rancho Bernardo. When smoke started to fill the sky, they woke to sirens
Speaker 3: 00:27 the window and it just, there was like a wall of flames just coming down the Hill. And we kind of, I think one of us said, we gotta get outta here.
Speaker 2: 00:39 Well, we woke our kids up and they were one in six or sign who's six, you can get up right away. And we had to like, you know, yell at them again and get up and we need to move. The Queen's arrived in Rancho Bernardo six months before October, 2007 when the witch Creek wildfire ripped through hundreds of thousands of acres of land and destroyed over 1200 homes. Flames were all around the family as they drove to get away. We were so traumatized we didn't, we got lost. We didn't know we were where we're going. The Queens made it to an evacuation center with your kids, but the next day they found out that their rented house had burned down. They've settled in a home close to their old neighborhood. But Megan says the fire still lives with them over a decade later,
Speaker 3: 01:22 beating the drawers and the kitchen cooking and looking for something. And I'm like, where is it? Where is it? I'd be like, Oh, it burned in the fire. And then that would kind of um, kind of sadden, you know, kind of sadness.
Speaker 2: 01:34 People cope with losing personal belongings, homes and pets differently. UC Los Angeles psychologists manual maiden Berg says, well, some recover quickly. Others experienced long lived trauma.
Speaker 4: 01:46 They experienced symptoms as if it was happening again, disciplinary anxiety, not being able to fall asleep, changes in appetite, irritability, um, and feeling as if something terrible may happen at any point.
Speaker 2: 02:01 Megan queen for example, says even the smell of smoke or news of hot and dry Santa Ana winds can put her on high alert. Made Annenberg says those already experiencing stress when a fire breaks out maybe more susceptible to these symptoms over time, and some people are genetically wired to develop posttraumatic stress, more easily
Speaker 4: 02:20 be detected on all levels, behavioral level, emotional level, psychological level and physiological level, including brain.
Speaker 2: 02:28 While posttraumatic stress is common enough. The American psychiatric association also estimates one in 11 us adults will be diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder in their lifetime. Through these experiences, our belief about ourselves and the world around us has been changed. Tina Casola is a licensed mental health counselor. The red cross calls upon during natural disasters. She says people go through a lot when disaster strikes and they need to talk about it. A lot of times it has to do with trust and that's not only trust of others, which is easy to see, but lot of times is trust in ourselves. Did I make the right decision? Should I have done something differently? That type of thinking might happen is displaced families sit in an evacuation center right after fleeing a fire. In our fire situations. There's a lot of, I call it limbo time where we don't have information, we don't know what's happening.
Speaker 2: 03:16 And that can be very distressing on people. Cause Hola says red cross services can help alleviate some pain, but some people may need more help and they may not know they need it before it's too late. That's why Casola says residents should factor mental health into their emergency plans before disaster strikes along with material necessities like food and money. Who do I have to support me? What are the really important things to me? How do I reach out for help? And then even knowing how do I know when I need help, you know, how am I gonna read my body? How am I going to read my mind as fire season continues? One thing the solo recommends is that people know ahead of time who they could go to for support in case of an emergency. In fact, Megan and Joe Queens say they've taken advantage of counseling opportunities through the community so they can be prepared to handle stress and personal loss.
Speaker 2: 04:06 If events like major wildfires happen. Again, it's easy to sit there and focus on, yeah, I lost my yearbook. Yeah, I love when you look at that, you start getting down and go, Oh, it does suck. I don't have this or that anymore. But you know, we have everybody, Megan and Joe also say they're prepared. They now keep a number of sentimental items like family photographs in a box by the door. Joining me is KPBS science and technology reporter Shalina Chot Lonnie Shalina, welcome. Hey, thanks for having me. The witch Creek fire was 12 years ago and still this family is feeling the psychological aftermath. Did you find out how long these traumas can continue to affect people? Yeah, so the tough part is that it entirely depends on the individual. As a manual maiden Berg, the psychologist from UCLA I spoke to in the story explained to me, it really depends on the person's history of trauma.
Speaker 2: 05:02 So if the person has a history of experiencing traumatic events in their lifetime and they have not been able to sort of shake those traumatic events and they might have be more susceptible to, uh, experiencing symptoms of PTSD longer in their lifetime. So it can be weeks or months. But for some folks that are maybe maybe more genetically predisposed to having vulnerabilities, they might be experiencing these symptoms for years and years. I think that the smell of fire and Santa Ana conditions put all of us in Southern California on edge. What are some of the other triggers affecting people who've lost homes or, or their possessions to wildfire? It's a lot of different things for different people who have been experiencing these traumatic events. Um, and one point that may Annenberg made was that we all experienced trauma in some form or the other. When fires happen, they're scary, they're unpredictable.
Speaker 2: 05:55 Um, but then the folks that actually experienced the loss of pets and personal belongings might have that weigh on them for a long time. So the Queen's told me, for example, that they just started putting fires outside. So in their fire pit outside, they may just start doing that, but they never put fire in their fireplace. While those may not seem like triggers, there are certainly long lasting impacts. And you know, ma, Megan queen was telling me that she also sometimes will reach for something and it's not there and realizes that it burned in the fire, which can also trigger those, um, those memories. So it can be anything that's sort of associated with the Trump traumatic event. Now, recently the emotional wounds of fighting wildfire have also been recognized. Isn't there a new emphasis on counseling services for firefighters and first responders? There is, and I should say there's a lot of data out there that shows that firefighting and folks that are first responders such as police officers do have a unfortunately high rate of death by suicide.
Speaker 2: 06:59 Um, there's a lot of data points that point to that. To that point to that. Um, and in September, the San Diego County board of supervisors actually approved a mental health program for first responders that gives them quick and confidential access to mental health professionals. And what kinds of emotional help could these first responders and survivors need after surviving a wildfire? Is it talk therapy or some other kind of PTSD related therapy for folks that are experiencing posttraumatic stress distress? Um, what might be most helpful for them is talk therapy. Uh, being able to just go to their family and friends and having opportunities to vent and process the events that just happen. But if you're experiencing symptoms that lasts six months or longer, that's when clinically, uh, psychological professionals might diagnose you with PTSD, which is the type of disorder which means there's long lasting symptoms, in which case you might want to seek professional help.
Speaker 2: 07:58 So an actual psychologist or therapist that, um, can work through some of the underlying factors behind why the stress continues to linger. Did the people you spoke with tell you that they've actually relived the fire many times in their memories and even in their dreams? Yeah, it, it, it was such an interesting opportunity to speak with the Queens. Um, Megan queen was telling me that she, in the first few weeks of experiencing the fire, because they actually ended up having to drive through free flames to get away from it, would just close her eyes and see the fire happening again and reliving that, you know, she remembers pretty vividly the details of having to like shake their kids away, get them ready to get out of bed. And, and Jo queen had an interesting story too, and this relates to the factors by which you might experience more longterm stress.
Speaker 2: 08:50 He had lost his brother, um, when he was younger and had a lot of from his brother in the house when it burned down. And so he has one Jersey that his brother used to own that was saved in the fire. And he described it as a symbol of the two worst things to happen to me in my life for the rest of us. What are some of the ways that we can make mental health a part of our wildfire emergency plans? So, uh, I spoke to Tina Casola. She is a red cross psychologist, um, who gets called upon with these types of events. And so she's has that, it's really about being strategic. Think about the types of sentimental objects, um, memories, things that you just know that you will regret losing. Um, especially if you live in a high fire prone area and keep them ready to take with you before you leave.
Speaker 2: 09:44 And also know right away who you might go to, uh, in case of, of a fire. And we're not just talking about food and shelter and these sorts of material necessities that you might need as a human being, but someone who you can talk to that, you know, will be able to kind of help you sort through those, um, the sort through the trauma. And so she says it's really just about preparing in those kinds of ways. Like, no, no. Who you can go to. I've been speaking with KPBS, uh, science and technology reporters. Shalina Chut Lani, thank you very much. Thank you.
Speaker 5: 10:29 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 With California's March presidential primary election. Approaching a new initiative aims to boost LGBTQ participation in 2020 secretary of state, Alex Pedea announced a first of its kind partnership with the civil rights organization, equality California to train poll workers to make it easier for transgender and gender nonconforming voters to cast ballots equality. California executive director Rick Zabir joins us now. Rick, welcome. Good afternoon. So Rick, I want to talk about what's included in this partnership that your group will actually help create the training program for. But first I'd like for you to describe to me what some LGBTQ voters have experienced when they arrived to the polls to vote.
Speaker 2: 00:45 Well. Um, you know, especially with transgender and gender nonconforming voters, um, often, um, their appearance, um, doesn't seem to match what it's on the voter rolls. And so, um, you know, we've had reports of, um, individuals being hassled, um, uh, you know, asked lots of questions, uh, being required to show a whole host of different kinds of ID, which is not required in the state of California. Um, and generally made, you know, voting and unpleasant experience. And so, uh, really this program is, you know, intended to make sure that every eligible transgender and gender nonconforming voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot and do so, um, you know, feeling respected and, uh, without, uh, obstacles that, um, you know, that they might otherwise face.
Speaker 1: 01:40 Does that experience suppress the LGBTQ
Speaker 2: 01:43 move out? I think any time you make it harder to vote, uh, or you have an unpleasant experience doing anything, it's just human nature that some people will walk away. And so, um, you know, this program is intended to educate poll workers about, um, how they should, um, you know, treat, uh, transgender people and gender nonconforming people with respect and really follow the rules in California. Um, uh, when, you know, someone shows up to the polls. So what will this program look like? So there will be a training program that the secretary of state's office will, um, put together a to train, you know, all poll workers in California in advance of the March, uh, primary in California and a quality California Institute will be working with, uh, the secretary of state's office on developing the content. Um, really educating poll workers on what sexual orientation is, what gender identity is of why using the appropriate pronouns that a person chooses is important.
Speaker 2: 02:50 But really having, um, I sort of call it LGBTQ one Oh one, the basic information about how you treat members of the LGBTQ and transgender and gender nonconforming people in particular. Respectfully. Is this program being implemented statewide in every County? It is. This is a statewide program. It's being administered by the secretary of state's office. I know that he's actually in discussions now about the details of how that will be implemented, but the intention is that this would be implemented statewide prior to the March primary. And how many voters would this partnership impact? Well, you know, it's hard to say. Um, we know that transgender, uh, that about 0.7, 6%, just under 1% of Californians identify as being transgender. Um, that also doesn't pick up gender nonconforming people, which would make that number higher. Um, we also know from an internal, from a statewide poll that equality California commissioned about three years ago, that LGBTQ people tend to be a registered to vote in higher numbers than the population, um, than our percentage of the population.
Speaker 2: 04:02 Um, a statewide fold that we commissioned indicated that about 12% of California registered voters identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Um, you know, most estimates of our percentage and the general population range from four to 9%. So we know we're registered and, uh, more civically engaged then the general public. What should someone do if they feel they've been disenfranchised? If someone has, has been turned away from the pole or is, you know, uh, is having a problem voting, um, they should ask for a number at the polling site of where they can sort of report that if they're a member of the LGBTQ community, they should, they can call equality California and we will give them information about what they should do to vote. Um, and then, uh, at worst case, I think if you're being, if someone has not, has been turned away, they should ask for a provisional ballot, um, and asked to vote anyway.
Speaker 2: 04:57 And then of course, that information will be tracked and at least their vote will be registered. And California is the first state to provide training materials promoting best practices for poll workers who engage with transgender or non-binary voters. Do you think other States will follow? I hope so. Um, I know that, uh, that the program that secretary Pedea and equality California announced is something that has received a lot of national attention. It is the first, other than the kind, uh, in the country at least, um, you know, being implemented on a statewide basis. We know some other jurisdictions, I think including in California at the local level, have done some education, uh, for their poll workers and some municipal elections. But this is the first time that there's been a statewide program and we're hoping that this will be a model for secretaries of States and other States to follow it. I've been speaking with executive director of equality California, Rick [inaudible]. Rick, thanks so much for joining us. You're welcome. Thank you for covering this important topic.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Bodhi tree concerts, returns to the veterans museum to stage all his comm, which looks to the Christmas truce of 1914 KPBS arts reporter Beth Huck Amando previews the show with Bodhi tree co-founders, Walter and Diana do Mel Diana, to start with, can you give us a little background on what the Christmas truce of 1914 was all about? When we had the allied forces and we had the Germans and there is this plot of land in the middle, no man's land, and it wasn't very far. There was very little distance and the soldiers could actually call over to one another and say hello or you know, joke at one another. They could hear people coughing and laughing and, and so at Christmas time they take it upon themselves to start this unsanctioned truce and it starts with a song. It starts with the Germans singing a song. I'm still an OCT and the British soldiers want to be a part of it. And so they call back. And then ultimately it comes with them coming out of their trenches and singing songs together in different languages and exchanging gifts and even playing a game of soccer. So it's a pretty great story to tell about enemies or sworn enemies or that. And they find that they're so much alike and way more like than they ever thought.
Speaker 2: 01:21 Oh, I have caught the select little potty together led by my eyes and Torian voice. I'm going to take up positions in our trenches where we are closest to the enemy about 80 yards. And from 10:00 PM onwards we are going to give the enemy every conceivable Saul
Speaker 1: 01:42 in Bodhi tree concerts has a unique mission statement. Remind listeners what that is. Um, Bodhi tree concerts performs intentional acts of kindness through music. And what that means is that we hire exclusively local artists, but then we take profits from each concert and donate them to a different charity. And to date we've hired hundreds of local artists and donated a $30,000 to different charities. Walter, this isn't gonna be the first time you're singing a roll in all his calm Bodhi tree concerts partnered with San Diego opera last year to perform the show. So what do you feel the differences between the space you performed in for San Diego opera and now going to the veterans museum?
Speaker 3: 02:20 Uh, well last year with San Diego opera taking the lead of the production, it was at the Balbo theater, which was a lovely theater, um, much smaller than the civic theater, but still a, uh, a theater, um, 1200 seats I think. And so we will be returning to our venue for the first two productions of the veterans museum. Much more intimate space, uh, holds 150 200 people only, uh, the artists will be feet from the first row of audience. So you will be right there in the trenches with the, uh, the soldiers as we perform the piece. So, uh, it's, it's a very immediate performance venue and there's, uh, an emotional connection to the audience, which we as artists also have to be mindful of because we see their reactions literally right in front of us. And for you as a performer, what's it like being that close to the audience?
Speaker 3: 03:11 Does that enhance your performance? Well, when you see a 80 something year old vet start to choke up in the middle of ode Lang zine, you do have to check a certain amount of your, uh, uh, own emotion at the door realizing that it's the piece is serving its purpose. You know, it's, it's, uh, it's working, but you can't go down that rabbit hole or you would have to leave the state yourself. So there's a balance of wanting that to happen and see that emotional journey that the audience is taking, but then stepping out of it enough so that you can stay a controlled actor yourself. And let's hear a little of that song from the production last December.
Speaker 4: 04:00 [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] uh, uh,
Speaker 1: 04:18 Diana, you staged all is calm at the veterans museum a few years ago. What appeals to you about that venue? Well, it's really special museum and if you haven't been there, I highly recommend it. It's lovingly cared for and it also has a local lens. It's the stories and, and pieces of artifacts that come from local families and local veterans and it's lovingly cared for and they're, um, they have changing, changing pieces throughout the years and they should be some world war one artifacts happening and it's also run by veterans and most of them are volunteers and it's really touching to be there and they welcome us with open arms every year. Walter, what can people expect from this? It's not exactly an opera, so what do you call it?
Speaker 3: 05:04 Uh, I think the word that got bandied around was a choral opera. Uh, so it is full of songs. It is full of letters that are read actual speeches and notes and interviews of the day from 1914 a letter sent home from the troops to their loved ones as well as actual news footage and coverage from, from the day. Winston Churchill has a line in their actual military missives that are quoted throughout the play. Um, so it, it swings back and forth from having sung solos and curl numbers with actual, uh, words and stories from that time
Speaker 1: 05:45 and then returning to it in different times in different venues. Do you discover new things?
Speaker 3: 05:49 It's funny that you asked that. Absolutely. I mean, this is the fourth year that we're involved with bringing this really powerful piece to San Diego and every year I feel like we come to it a new and speeches that we have done four times feel so differently because there's a, maybe a slight difference of the other actors you're singing with. Maybe we've decided to change one, um, accent from hybrid dish to a commoner. And so just the subtlest change of the attrical values makes it feel like a very fresh piece every year.
Speaker 1: 06:25 Diana, in bringing it back, do you feel that it plays differently in our current political context? Yes, absolutely. Because the news of the day is pretty rough. And we look to these soldiers who were sworn enemies. They were killing each other and they could find a common humanity. And they found it through singing, through music. And for us as individuals and us as an organization, as Bodhi tree concerts, is what we're founded on, finding enlightenment and understanding through music. And I think it brings some peace to us and hopefully to our audiences and to our artists involved as well, and reminds us that we're not alone, that we, we're alike. We're the same. I want to thank you both for coming into the KPBS studio. Thank you, Beth. Thanks. And let's go out with silent night from the San Diego opera coproduction with Bodhi tree concerts from last year.
Speaker 4: 07:31 [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 07:31 Bodhi tree concerts. All is calm. Opens Friday at the veterans museum and then it moves to the village church on November 23rd for one performance.
Speaker 4: 07:48 [inaudible].