Skip to main content

Breaking News: WATCH LIVE: County health officials provide an update on the region's response to COVID-19 (Posted 12/2/20 at 2:11 p.m.)

LATEST UPDATES: Election 2020: Live Results | Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice

California Earthquake Alert, Documents Reveal Alleged Abuses Of Minors By Border Patrol Agents, Del Mar Working On Plan To Deal With Rising Sea Level And More

Cover image for podcast episode

California unveiled an early warning system for earthquakes on the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Through the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU obtained a trove of documents that sheds light on years of alleged abuse of detained minors by Border Patrol agents. Plus, managing climate change when the ocean comes knocking, Del Mar is working on a blueprint that may be adopted by other coastal cities. Also, a new Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered multiple instances where companies harvested organs, skin and bones before medical examiners and coroners were able to conduct their autopsies. And, the fourth biennial Without Walls Festival puts a spotlight on local and international artists alike.

Speaker 1: 00:00 California officials launched the nation's first statewide earthquake early warning system. Today, warnings will come to ways through a new cell phone app called my shake and through the wireless emergency system that sends Amber alerts, the system will be able to warn people a couple of seconds to a minute before shaking starts. The rollout of the earthquake warning alerts comes on the 30th anniversary of the destructive 6.9 Loma Prieta quake and the Bay area and the great California shakeout safety drill. But while most California residents are familiar with how to drop, cover and hold, nearly 90% of homeowners lack the insurance coverage to recover from earthquake damage. Joining us is Glenn Pomeroy. He is the CEO of the California earthquake authority, a nonprofit that provides and manages earthquake insurance state wide. Glenn, welcome. Thank you very much, Glen. In California, earthquakes are really part of life and scientists believe the state is overdue for a major quake. Yet the vast majority of homeowners here don't have earthquake insurance. Why is that?

Speaker 2: 01:05 Well, I, you're right, they don't. And it's a scary proposition because, uh, as you also said, the scientists say we're going to get hit again, it's just a matter of when a 99% probability of a 6.7 sometime in the next 30 years and, and, and, and that could be today or tomorrow or years from now. They can't predict that precisely. But a 6.7 is a serious deal. That's the size of the Northridge earthquake 25 years ago that that resulted in billions of dollars of damage and thousands of homes being ran, rendered, but inhabitable. A lot of people don't buy earthquake insurance for a lot of reasons, and a lot of it is just based on misunderstanding. Uh, they may think it's covered in their homeowners policy, but it's specifically excluded. There's no coverage in the homeowners policy of earthquake insurance. You've got to buy a separate earthquake insurance policy.

Speaker 2: 01:49 They may think the federal government's going to bail them out, but that doesn't happen that FEMA does come with emergency assistance, but the maximum FEMA grants $32,000 and it can't be used to rebuild homes. And that's not enough to get even get started on it anyway. So in fact, the matter is most people are putting their life savings or value they have in their home. They're putting it completely at risk of losing it all the minute the ground shakes, which is why California earthquake authority, this is not for profit organization formed after the Northridge earthquake. A is working hard to make sure that the more California is, are, are aware of just how affordable earthquake insurance has become. Uh, and encourage them to seriously consider putting that protection in place for their home. Impossible to predict exactly when or where the next earthquake will occur. We had a big one this summer of 7.1. It just happened to be out in the Mojave desert, uh, in, in a fairly sparsely populated area. But if you take that 7.1 and, and trigger that on the sanitary S, you know, under a densely populated area or if the, if the, if the Rose Canyon fault goes, which bisects San Diego, we'd be looking at really damages in the billions and billions of dollars.

Speaker 1: 02:57 And speaking of the Rose Canyon, what are the earthquake risks right here in San Diego?

Speaker 2: 03:03 Well, what the scientists say is it's an active fault. It's going to rupture. Again, there's a lot of scientific attention being paid to that right now. In fact, next spring there's going to be a big conference in San Diego of of earthquake experts from around the country. Really there's going to be a lot of attention to understanding and articulating exactly what the risk is for that community and what we do know is that the risk is real and insignificant in fortunately for for those listening, that probability of a massive earthquake soon is less in San Diego than it is in certain areas in LA, in San Francisco, but what that means is earthquake insurance costs less in San Diego as well.

Speaker 1: 03:43 With there being such a risk here and in other places in California, do you think having a new warning system could help mitigate some of the damage?

Speaker 2: 03:51 The new warning system is very exciting with the experts talk about is if there's a surgeon who's performing an operation, he's got sharp instruments in a patient, for example, getting 10 seconds worth of warning. It could be life saving in terms of helping that surgeon get the sharp instruments to a safer place, things like that. Um, Gates can be lowered on top of bridges so the cars quit going out on top of a bridge. Obviously 10 seconds worth of warning doesn't allow a homeowner to go out and quickly get the home retrofitted. You know, I mean there's a limit to what the warning will be able to provide and uh, it's fairly new technology, it'll get better over time, but it's a great step in the right direction of just bringing more information to all of us. In California.

Speaker 1: 04:34 As you mentioned, most homeowners insurance does not include coverage for earthquake damage. So what is the price range for them?

Speaker 2: 04:41 Is this a hard question to answer just because it depends so much how much of policy will cost an individual home will depend on how close that home sits in relation to a fault. How probable is it a pro? What is the probability that false going to rupture sometime soon? When was that home built? Because older homes, um, are more likely to be severely damaged because the construction codes weren't as great. Uh, how much, um, that home is valued in terms of its reconstruction costs. Cause the, the, the more we insure, obviously the more the price of the policy will be. And uh, so those are really, there's some other factors too, but those are the main ones. So the price just depends in the San Diego region, uh, what I've been finding is people are really surprised to find out just how affordable it is. And really we're talking about, um, a pretty, um, comprehensive policies someone can put on their home for literally a few hundred dollars a year, uh, between a few hundred and, and you know, six or $700 a year. Again, depending on the, on the home. And how much coverage you want. You really can get a policy in place and, and, and just have that peace of mind, no one that whatever happens whenever that Rose Canyon goes, you'll be able to financially recover without it. It'd be completely on your, so what else

Speaker 1: 05:58 should residents do to prepare for the next quake?

Speaker 2: 06:00 In addition to having that financial protection in place to know you're going to be able to financially survive, it's just very important to know you're going to be able to survive physically when the ground shakes, which is why this, the shakeout drill that we've just done is so important. Uh, um, we need to teach not all the kids in the schools, but, but all of us who live in earthquake country, what to do. The instant every, the world seems to be turning upside down and, and it's really very simple. Dropped to the ground immediately. Just drop to your knees and elbows cover your head. Um, if it's a drop and cover, if you're nearby a table, you know, you get yourself under that table. But if you're not, just use the back of your hands and use your hands and, and wrap them around the back of your head.

Speaker 2: 06:43 And Nick, and think of the flying objects that are coming off the walls and ceilings that are, that are looking for your head and wanna want to hurt you and protect yourself from that by, by covering your head. So drop to the ground, cover your head and hold on. Just stay in that position until the ground quit, shaken, drop, cover and hold. It's a simple drill. Uh, a simple exercise really. But it's so important to think about it and practice it because the instant the ground starts shaking and it's noisy and frightening, it's too late then to start researching what you're going to do. You need that. You need that muscle memory in place to know how to respond immediately. And that's why this, this exercise is so important.

Speaker 1: 07:22 Good word of caution there. I've been speaking with Glen Pomeroy, CEO of the California earthquake authority. Glenn, thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Speaker 1: 00:00 35,000 pages of allegations of abuse by us border patrol agents have now been released. The allegations concern the abuse of minors while in customs and border protection custody. And they cover the years from 2009 to 2014 the alleged abuse ranges from beatings to sexual assault. The American civil liberties union obtained the documents through a freedom of information act request. But the report raises as many questions as it answers joining me as KPBS reporter, max Rivlin, nether and max. Welcome. Hi. So do these documents only concern claims from unaccompanied minors?

Speaker 2: 00:38 Yes. The documents STEM from freedom of information act litigation that originated when the ACLU along with other nonprofits decided in 2014 to look into specific allegations of assault by border patrol agents against minors. So these were allegations that minors were making who were in border patrol custody, who then interacted with these nonprofits when customs and border protection. We're not as forthcoming about the results of those investigations to those organizations as they were, uh, as they would've liked. That's when they began the freedom of information act litigation. And that's why it's specifically dealing with unaccompanied children and minors.

Speaker 1: 01:23 Now, does the timeframe correspond with the surge in unaccompanied minors from central America crossing the border into the U S many claiming asylum that we saw several years ago?

Speaker 2: 01:33 Yes. So this stems from the 2014 surge, which really was a precursor to what we've been seeing over the past two years. This happened during the Obama administration. It was a serious influx of children, especially unaccompanied minors who were showing up along the Southern border and being taken into border patrol custody. Uh, many of the same allegations of abuse that we see now originating around the border patrol, uh, is the same as we were receiving then. Uh, so this is not something that's new and not something that is necessarily confined to, uh, the dates contained in this foyer request.

Speaker 1: 02:09 Tell us some of the claims in these documents that stood out to you.

Speaker 2: 02:13 So these allegations, again, these are just internal documents that either showed investigation by customs and border protection, CBP, DHS, their office of inspector general into allegations made by minors. Right. So again, these haven't been substantiated by DHS in any way. Beyond that. We've written down with the kids who are alleging and we've done some investigation. We've taken some statements. That being said, a lot of what the kids are describing is pretty harrowing. There was one instance where several instances where they've been handcuffed and physically assaulted by officers. There was one in particular where a teenager was handcuffed to a chair and said the border patrol agent tap them or hit them on the head with a flashlight while they said men Theorosa, which means liar, because they didn't believe they were telling the truth about their age and country of origin. There's other instances of children being run over by ATVs while being pursued by border patrol. There's other allegations of sexual assault. There's allegations of children being, uh, stripped of their clothing and, uh, in front of border patrol agents of another gender, there's a allegations, uh, especially one where a teenage boy was stripped down to his boxers, left in a very cold room according to him for several hours. And then after he came out, you know, was complemented by border patrol agents for, you know, showing that he could survive such an ordeal.

Speaker 1: 03:41 And one of the questions raised by the release of these documents is what happened next? What happened after these reports of abuse were made war? Any border patrol agents held accountable. What happened to these investigations?

Speaker 2: 03:54 Right. So the investigations themselves, in the words of a ACLU of San Diego and Imperial County lawyer, Sarah Thompson, is that these happen in a black box. We don't know the results of these investigations because they're being done internally. Unless the border patrol agent is referred for prosecution or disciplined in some very public way, we will never know the outcome of these investigations. The vast majority of them ended in basically the child recanting their story or these being unsubstantiated, the child being removed before an investigation could take place. Oftentimes the investigation solely consisted of interviewing the border patrol agent who the allegations against, along with other border patrol agents. So it is the border patrol and DHS kind of investigating itself. And it rarely rises to the level of, of what we would consider to be independent investigations. So in a lot of these cases, nothing happens. And, and border patrol has said that they have changed their policies since 2014 since the last date of these allegations. But obviously from what we've seen lately and from what we've heard, again, unsubstantiated, these are merely allegations left for DHS to investigate itself. A lot of this pattern of, of abuse remains.

Speaker 1: 05:13 How does the ACL, you a know that, why do they say that this is an ongoing pattern?

Speaker 2: 05:20 Over the past five years since the end of this, uh, litigation, we've seen several of the same allegations, surface kids not having food, kids being left, you know, without medical treatment and kids not being given blankets, things of that nature. Um, especially during the last two years, during this most recent surge of children and families across the border that basically have overwhelmed border patrol stations and, and border patrol will, you know, admit that they do not have the resources to, you know, basically adequately care for as many people who have come across the border in this time. And these are very far out locations in terms of these border patrol stations, oftentimes many, many miles away from reinforcements in terms of personnel or medical assistance. You know, the reason why these border patrol stations are so remote is because they have to be right, cause they're patrolling the border. But more and more families and unaccompanied children are going to these remote stretches of the border because they can no longer claim asylum at ports of entry without being deterred by both Mexican and American immigration officials. I've been speaking with KPBS reporter, a max, Revlon, Nadler, and max. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 3: 06:44 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 The city of Del Mar and the California coastal commission have put off a decision that would have tackled the difficult issue of managing climate change. KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson says coastal regulators and San Diego's smallest coastal city are locked in a battle over how to plan for sea level rise.

Speaker 2: 00:20 Camino Del Mar cuts through the heart of this upscale enclave of about 4,400 residents. He just over two square mile community features of beach that attracts more than 2.7 million visitors a year. Tell them our city council member, Terry Gaster land says the seaside location puts more than a billion dollars worth of homes in the path of a rising ocean.

Speaker 3: 00:44 That's a difficult issue in Del Mar because we have 600 homes that are vulnerable and at risk. If we initiate managed retreat on the beach front, homes,

Speaker 2: 00:55 homes right along the beach are actually in a better spot. Those homes sit about 13 feet above average sea level gastro Lynn says homes behind them are only seven to five feet above. She says, giving that property back to the sea is widely considered a bad idea here. So the city's alternative is to bolster local beaches with sand and protect lower lying homes with a natural berm. Gastro Lynn says that's enough for now and the next few decades

Speaker 3: 01:24 after that 50 year Mark, after 2070 it gets the cone of uncertainty broadens and so to plan for the worst case scenario is to plan for great extremes that we don't know what timeline it's on,

Speaker 2: 01:37 but the California coastal commission is not convinced. Del Mar has done enough staff is recommending rejecting Delmar's new local coastal plan unless the city accepts 25 amendments. The coastal staff praise the city for its near term plan, but found the document lacking when it comes to longterm strategies. Mar Councilman Dwight warden says those changes are just a clever way to introduce managed retreat buried in those 25 changes are what I characters his take backs. It's an undermining of the basic premise that they're letting us go with our plan. A, they're not a, they're trying to undermine that. The surf rider foundation disagrees. Stephanie [inaudible]. Quinn says, the commission changes are practical and help the community drop the longterm plan to cope with a retreating shoreline.

Speaker 3: 02:27 Again, it's the long term proactive planning that Surfrider wants to get out there because again, we owe it to future generations for them to have these tools because when the time comes, they're going to need to have all of these things on the table.

Speaker 2: 02:39 SickKids Quinn says, adjusting the local coastal plan would allow Del Mar to prepare now for changes that are coming. She says she wants the city to review their local coastal plan.

Speaker 3: 02:50 We cannot put our head in the sand and look down the road and pretend like we're not going to have to deal with that. So if we do that now, if we put our head in the sand now and ignore the inevitable parts of climate change, it's just going to get harder in the future.

Speaker 2: 03:05 He is already underway. Scripps institution of oceanography researcher Laura Angerman says the ocean is getting warmer. Ice sheets are melting and the pace of ocean level rise is increasing. She says how fast or how severe that change will be remains undecided. Some of it depends on what people do about carbon emissions and that makes policy decisions different.

Speaker 3: 03:28 We need to think about ways that the science can support those kinds of adaptation pathways, uh, and give a sense for the pace and the acceleration, um, as much as possible. Uh, one thing that we can do is work with our cities to really develop more strategic monitoring so that we're really tracking what's happening in our shoreline.

Speaker 2: 03:48 The coastal commission and Del Mar city staff are continuing to talk about the city's local coastal plan. In an effort to find common ground. A decision on this issue could set a precedent for the rest of the state's coastal communities.

Speaker 1: 04:02 Joining me is KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson. Eric, welcome. Thank you. Why might a decision on Delmar's coastal plan set a precedent for other California coast communities?

Speaker 2: 04:14 Well, Del Mar is going to be one of the first communities along the California coast that's going through this process with an eye on sea level rise. So the coastal plan that Del Mar delivers a could likely be the first that will consider sea level rise and the impacts of climate change. And if that blueprint is out there than other coastal communities will likely follow the example that comes through here.

Speaker 1: 04:39 What is a local coastal plan and why do cities like Del Mar have to have one?

Speaker 2: 04:44 Well, um, that's a good question. And uh, what a local coastal plan is, is really kind of a policy that guides development in the coastal zone. It's something that the California coastal commission asks for. And here's how it would work in a community like Del Mar for example. Del Mar is completely built out. There is no room for any additional development there. But what a local coastal plan will do is, uh, kind of regulate what changes can be made to the properties there. So say for example, um, two houses next to each other are bought up and a company wants to take those two houses out and put in an apartment complex that has multiple units and, and increases the value of that property. Maybe it's a multistory property, the local coastal plan would regulate what could be done, uh, as that land is redeveloped. And one of the things that the coastal commission looks at is armoring against the sea. It's not something that they recommend. Uh, they have restrictions on, um, you know, bluff side homes, uh, that already have armoring there has to get, they have to get special dispensation that's renewed. Um, and so that's the kind of thing that the, a local coastal plan would guide, you know, guiding that redevelopment would, would create limitations. And if you want to do something outside of the limitation of that local coastal plan, you would have to go directly to the coastal commission and make an application to them and get approval.

Speaker 1: 06:08 And when you talk about armoring, are you talking about people building their own seawalls and things like that?

Speaker 2: 06:13 Exactly, yeah. There are homes that sit right on the river that goes, uh, to the lagoon pass the fairgrounds. Uh, there are homes that, uh, are on the, uh, the ocean front on the, you know, right on, on the other side of the beach, uh, away from the ocean. But you know, in the winter time you get a strong storm, you get King tide, some other high tide event and those things combined and it pushes water, you know, over, uh, and into those houses. So, um, you know, if you're a homeowner there and you say, well, what if I built a sea wall or put some rip rap in here, that would do a lot to protect my home. But that's something you need coastal commission approval for.

Speaker 1: 06:51 Now, the disagreement between the commission and Del Mar centers around the concept of managed to retreat. Can you explain that and what it means for beachfront communities?

Speaker 2: 07:01 Yeah. Well, well, we know what we're going to have. Uh, as sea levels rise, we know that sea levels are going to rise. Uh, and we know what we're going to have as sea levels rise. There's going to be more, more coastal erosion on Bluffs. There's going to be a [inaudible] of beaches. Um, those things are going to happen. The shore line is going to retreat. Uh, no question about that. There's no dispute. Um, what managed retreat is, is sort of planning for that event, right? And saying, look, we understand that the ocean levels are going to rise and it's going to put certain properties at risk when the ocean level rises to a specific level. Maybe it's time to take action. Uh, maybe there's a point where we can either do some additional armoring or some other kind of an action or, uh, the, the bad concept that everybody reacts poorly to in Del Mar is the idea that we might abandon some of those properties that are put at risk by the higher level ocean waters. So it's just kind of planning for what might be to come. But again, people are very tied into the property of, uh, the money that they've sunk into those properties. Uh, they're very expensive properties, so 600 homes with an assessed value of more than a billion dollars. So these are very expensive homes. They're, people have invested a lot. They don't want to give that up. So there's a lot of resistance to this idea that, well, it might come to the point at some point where we just have to abandon our property because sea level gets too intense.

Speaker 1: 08:29 Well, since no one is absolutely sure whether these projections will be realized on a specific time frame. What is stopping Delmar from coming up, let's say with a plan like you, like you're describing for the year 2070 and beyond, because really nothing would be effected right now.

Speaker 2: 08:48 Well, I think what the coastal commission is asking the city of Del Mar to do is not so much the timeframe, don't the timeframe so much, but consider the level of sea level rise that you see when you, when you see it reach a certain portion, you know, then look at it. Let's, let's examine it again. Uh, when it reaches another plateau, let's reassess what we have and, and do another local coastal plan. You know, lo, you do some research into it. What Del Mar officials are saying about that approach is they think it's just a backdoor way to get to managed retreat. And they say they would rather spend their time and effort actually doing things to protect their community or to deal with the changing conditions than just being required to study them. Uh, these are some of the differences that both sides are trying to work out in private. Uh, the staff of the coastal commission and the staff of the city of Del Mar are talking and they'll likely bring this local coastal plan, uh, back in front of the coastal commission probably early next year, and hopefully they'll have some of these items resolved. I've been speaking with KPBS environment reporter Eric Anderson. Eric, thank you. You're welcome.

Speaker 1: 00:00 In the landmark investigation. The LA times this week opened a window into the practice of harvesting body parts by tissue procurement companies. Harvesting that in some cases happens before the medical examiner can do an autopsy. This has led to scores of unsolved cases. Some of them here in San Diego, the private for profit companies say they're not doing anything wrong. LA times reporter, melody Peterson broke the story and she joins us now. Melody, welcome.

Speaker 2: 00:28 Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:30 So the headline of this story is in the rush to harvest body parts death investigations have been up ended. So my first question now is how many have been appended and how big of a problem is this?

Speaker 2: 00:42 Well, we actually don't know because, um, our reporting offers just a glimpse of what's going on. The industry has said, um, there has never been a case, um, where procurement has, has, um, appended a death investigation, but we actually found dozens across the country and that some of them have had very serious consequences.

Speaker 1: 01:11 Hmm. You know, is it possible for there to be some organ harvesting and the medical examiners still be able to actually do their job?

Speaker 2: 01:18 Yes. Um, some of these cases, like for instance, if someone dies from a gunshot to the head, um, most medical examiners aren't concerned about an organ donation in those cases. But if someone is beat up or suspected of being up that changed change the way they viewed it.

Speaker 1: 01:41 Mmm. And you know, I know it's a difficult subject to discuss, but you know, why are these companies allowed to take certain body parts before an autopsy is done?

Speaker 2: 01:49 This is has actually been long been legal, um, as long as the corner give permission. Um, but the history here is interesting because the corners have long really, um, said they have done whatever they could to allow organ donation, which obviously organs can extend the lives of those waiting for transplants. But the companies wanted more than that. They also wanted the corners to step aside so that they could harvest, um, bone and skin and other tissues. And the two categories are really very different. The tissues aren't of immediate need. Like the organs are, instead they are processed into medical products, packaged and sold to surgeons.

Speaker 1: 02:47 Mm. I see. You know, I, I want to talk about, uh, the San Diego cases you've uncovered the story of Christy written Monday from 2013 was especially heartbreaking.

Speaker 2: 02:58 Yes. Um,

Speaker 1: 03:00 in Christy's case, actually the hospital called the police when, um, when her, her body was wheeled into the ER, um, her boyfriend told police she fell down the stairs, but just a few weeks before that he had been arrested for domestic violence. And, um, as I was saying, um, when somebody speeding, it's, um, it's much harder to allow organ donation because when you take the internal organ, you're going, you could lose evidence of, of internal injuries. And so in her case, the medical examiner couldn't, couldn't determine if it was a homicide or it was an accident. The police had asked the prosecutors to, um, charge the boyfriend, but, um, because the medical examiner couldn't decide what it was, there was no charges. And this, because the procurement company, um, got two Oregon's, before the medical examiner could do an autopsy.

Speaker 2: 04:12 Well, the medical examiner in San Diego said that he doesn't believe the Oregon precurement harmed his investigation. But I spoke to other forensic experts who say, when you have someone who is suspected of being beeper, um, it's, it's, you shouldn't be allowing organ donation.

Speaker 1: 04:38 So why would the medical examiner in San Diego then allow those organs to be taken before an autopsy could be completed?

Speaker 2: 04:48 Well, so about a decade ago, the company, they, they wanted the ability to, um, to get access to more bodies. So we asked and they got state laws. They helped write the laws and, and their lobbyists pushed to get them passed all across the country that say medical examiners and coroners must cooperate with the companies to maximize these donations. So San Diego medical examiner has this law that he needs to cooperate with these companies and try to allow it in as many cases as he can.

Speaker 1: 05:32 Mm. So for people who have already checked the donor box or are considering it, what should they take away from all this?

Speaker 2: 05:40 Well, there is good news. Um, if you want to be just donate organs to help people and you're uncomfortable with bones and skin, or you can go to, um, it's called donate life And there you can get into your, um, donor file and you can Mark, um, which body parts you're comfortable in giving and so that you can relax.

Speaker 3: 06:15 All right. I'd been speaking with LA times reporter, melody Peterson. Melody. Thank you very much.

Speaker 2: 06:21 Thanks so much for having me.

Speaker 4: 06:28 [inaudible].

Speaker 1: 00:00 LA Jolla Playhouse kicks off. It's without walls or wow festival today at the arts district Liberty station. The festival showcases 22 sites. Specific works from local, national and international artists. KPBS arts reporter Beth hock Amando highlights two companies from New York and lets them describe their shows and the challenges of working outdoors under a flight path.

Speaker 2: 00:27 This is good though. I mean case in point right here.

Speaker 3: 00:35 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 00:35 hi, I'm Tom Pearson. I wanted the artistic directors of third rail projects. We are in New York city based performing arts company and we're excited to be a part of this festival with LA Jolla Playhouse and without walls I think. I think expect diversity if anything like, and a lot of different interpretations about what it means to be out of a proceeding, some sort of relationship, that theater and that can be so many different expressions of you know, immersive theater, site-specific theater, ambulatory theater, experiential theater. It can, it can take a lot of different forms. So I think, I think that the festival does a really good job of actually showing the breadth of work that happens outside of a traditional theater space. And I think see as many things as you can and um, you'll get quite an experience of, of diversity in that. I really love site-specific work, especially because the rules change with every new site. And um, everything you think, you know about theater, you have to relearn it according to where you are. And so like what, you know, what, what is a comfortable sort of relationship to an audience in a theater and an idea about what center stage is or what, um, a fourth wall might be. It's like completely blown apart in a site. That to me is an exciting process of relearning the craft. Every time you, you make a new piece

Speaker 3: 01:49 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 01:49 the site that we're in is a desert walking path on the grounds of Liberty station. It's a great space for us in terms of its location across from the San Diego airport and the story that we're sort of mixing together a tandem tail of, um, a little bit inspired by Amelia Earhart in the myth of Icarus and uh, looking at ideas of flight and failure and these different concepts around that using spoken word poetry mixed with a sound squirt by Shawn Haggardy, sort of framing that as an audio tour for the audience with headsets on these individual playback devices and they all kind of move through together.

Speaker 3: 02:26 [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 02:28 the airplanes that take off overhead is like one of the most emphatic elements of this, this site, you know, it's this constant at its peak, it's a minute and a half apart there. There's an airplane taking off every minute and a half and it's quite a loud sound that, that we pause for. But in this we decided to just embrace that and use that as part of the story and part of the design of the story. So I had been thinking about some concepts involving Icarus and Amelia Earhart and these ideas of flight. And when I saw this space, it was like this is the place to put that. And so all of that kind of came together, um, in relation to it. But also we've been to the without walls festival, um, before, and we're really in love with the work and the way that the festival is curated and, um, have been in conversation with LA Jolla Playhouse for a while about doing something. So the festival itself is very exciting to us and the site is interesting and it's, uh, opportunities and challenges. I think Liberty station as a site is, is full of a lot of different options and a lot of different architectural spaces. And

Speaker 3: 03:31 this is the, this is why it's an audio tour of [inaudible]

Speaker 4: 03:40 the audio, a walking tour component for the audience is for 28 people at a time. And they, they begin at the, we're calling the sort of the labyrinth space. They began at the, uh, the start of this and then they moved through this space with us for about an hour. Icarus is an interesting story because there is a pre Hellenic version and the literal, um, sort of interpretation and, and something that became a concept for us was harness for wind, which is what the wings were called. And originally those were sails. The pre Hellenic version of that story says that dataless invented sales as a way to out run the fleets of minus and then later that got interpreted as wings. So there's two versions of this story and we're invoking kind of both of them. That idea of a harness for when that could be either wings or could be sales is an interesting tie to the space and its relationship to the airport for one, but also its histories, a Naval base. So it sort of, it addresses two different ideas about the space at the same time through this story.

Speaker 3: 04:48 [inaudible]

Speaker 5: 05:00 I am Sami [inaudible]. I'm with the company of allegory. So allegory is a recreation of a 20th century women's suffrage pageant. Uh, it's based on a pageant that was performed in 1913 on the steps of the U S treasury building. And it was created by a woman named Hazel MCI and performed by a thousand women in 1913 and it was about representing the cause of women's suffrage through the form of spectacle and propaganda as a way of trying to push forward the, um, the, the challenge of getting women the right to vote. I'm Emily Maltby and I'm with the company of allegory. I don't know if we've had to make changes to adapt to the space, but I think that we have, you know, as he said, this was originally performed on the steps of the U S treasury building with a thousand women. We have 75. So figuring out what the rules of that on one elevated platform on a field are very, very different.

Speaker 5: 05:54 So we have a chorus that are pro are set on risers on the back of the stage. And then we have a core group of about 25 performers who perform most of the action. And they do that both on the stage and on the grass in front of it. So figuring out how to create our play space, uh, in a, you know, site-specific outdoor environment has been a really exciting challenge. A lot of the work that the two of us do in New York is, is site-specific. And to know that there is a festival of site-specific work is unbelievable. Um, uh, and so of course we are great admirers of the work at LA Hoya and the Playhouse specific and have, have admired the festival from afar. And um, when we got connected with the festival, we're very, very excited about partaking. And I think that for this piece in particular, we're very excited to do it in such a way where we're able to involve the community and also able to involve the community in such a way that it, it's taking place right outside the women's museum of California.

Speaker 5: 06:53 So we're trying to make that connection as well and figuring out all the ways that we can make ties between the community and the piece. And I think also like because we're performing outdoors and it's a free event, there's a, there's a sort of calm as you are feeling to the audience that they can come see part of it, leave our pieces and we hope you stay for the whole thing. But our pieces is in sort of little episodes so you can kind of sample it and stay for as much of it speaks to you. And so it really asks the audience to engage in a way that when you purchase a ticket and sit in a dark theater, uh, the sort of transaction has already occurred. Whereas in this piece, the transaction is happening throughout the piece. It's just going to say in terms of audience expectations, I think just coming with an open mind, and I think a lot of outdoors site specific theater doesn't look necessarily the way that we expect theater too in the sense that we don't have any lighting. We don't have, you know, I mean it's, it's, there's not like certain conventions of theater and yet if you come with an open mind, I think you'll have a great time.

Speaker 1: 07:53 That was New York based artists to Sammy kenneled and co-director, Emily Maltby of allegory. And earlier we heard from Tom Pearson of third rail projects. Their shows are part of LA Jolla play houses without walls or wow festival that begins tonight and runs through on October 20th at arts district Liberty station.

KPBS Midday Edition podcast branding

KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.