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Addressing COVID-19 misinformation in San Diego County

 October 7, 2021 at 3:56 PM PDT

Speaker 1: (00:01)

The county continues to fight against COVID misinformation.

Speaker 2: (00:04)

What we're encountering is people saying things that are just simply not true.

Speaker 1: (00:09)

I am Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid-day edition School safety in light of the Texas high school shooting. Right,

Speaker 3: (00:28)

Right. Now we have about half of our districts have sent teams to our training to address this issue as it relates to not only the school shooting piece, but also what we call the concerning behaviors that lead up to a situation like that happening.

Speaker 1: (00:44)

A new job center brings economic opportunity to Lincoln park. And we'll tell you about one of California's hidden gyms between Fresno and Bakersfield that's ahead on midday edition. As part of the ongoing effort to combat misinformation surrounding COVID-19 a group of medical experts yesterday held a panel debunking a number of widely circulated false claims. Here's Dr. Mark Sawyer of Rady children's hospital.

Speaker 4: (01:17)

You say, we don't know what side effects this vaccine causes or the vaccine hasn't been studied enough are not taking into account that we have given these vaccines to over 200 million people in the United States. So we know exactly what the serious side effects are because we've given enough doses that we can measure that

Speaker 1: (01:37)

The panel was primarily held in response to claim's voice. During the public comment portion of recent county supervisor meetings, someone who has been particularly vocal in the fight against misinformation is county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who in August introduced a resolution to declare COVID misinformation, a public health crisis. He joins the program. Now chair Fletcher, thanks for being here

Speaker 2: (02:00)

Today. Thank you very much for having me on.

Speaker 1: (02:02)

So San Diego county is the first jurisdiction in the nation to declare health misinformation, a public health crisis, and others have since followed. Why do you think a formal declaration will help curb the spread of misinformation?

Speaker 2: (02:16)

Well, healthy disagreements in our society are a wonderful thing. Differences in values, positions, interpretations, but that's not primarily what we're encountering as it relates to COVID in particular, as it relates to vaccines, what we are encountering is people saying things that are just simply not true. And the unfortunate reality is, you know, I never thought listening to your pediatrician or your family physician would become a partisan issue, but that's what's happening with the rise of the anti-vaccine movement and the health misinformation movement. And we can't stop what people say that is first amendment protected speech, even if it's untrue or vulgar or profane, but what we can do. And what I believe we must do is everything possible to inform the public about medically relevant, scientifically founded, to equip people, to, to be able to make better decisions. And so we're doing everything we possibly can to fight back against misinformation, to put the doctors off front and center. And if there's just one person who hears what is actually medically correct and gets a vaccine and it saves their life, then I think it's all worth it.

Speaker 1: (03:16)

And you know, as part of this declaration, what actions in addition to yesterday's panel will be taken to combat misinformation.

Speaker 2: (03:23)

So as a county, we launched a specific website. You know, we realized it isn't enough to proactively tell people what the science says, what the medical community says. Uh, we have to aggressively refute the things that they hear, whether they hear it on Facebook, where they hear it at a board of supervisors meeting. So we coalesced a lot of the most common myths that are out there that are, that are permeating our society and causing people to be hesitant to do the right thing. Uh, we did this panel with the doctors, which we will continue to do again, a first in the nation effort to directly combat when people say, uh, we're pushing all of that out, uh, virtually digitally, uh, working in those ways. And we're looking for other ideas. I heard a great suggestion that perhaps we launch a hotline where people can call in and connected directly to a medical professional to have that conversation. So it's more of a two way dialogue and effort, uh, and we'll continue to explore everything else we can do

Speaker 1: (04:19)

Wider access to the kind of medical expertise that was provided in this panel will sway people to change their views.

Speaker 2: (04:27)

It's not going to change everyone's views. I mean, you see some of the folks who come down to the meeting, it's, it's it, you know, there, there's probably, uh, you know, we'll keep trying hope Springs eternal. You never give up. But I think that there are some folks that are on the, on the fence. And there are some folks that, you know, I mean, what, what, what, what a terrible tragedy, when you read the stories of people who were taking their last breaths on a ventilator, in a ICU staring down death, and they're begging their family members to please get vaccinated, don't believe what I believe. Um, and I don't want that to happen to anyone. And so I do think there is a period of education. There's a period of working through myths misinformation, and, and we can make progress. And we just can't give up because it seems a feudal or frustrating or difficult. We just got to continue fighting for our public health.

Speaker 1: (05:13)

You know, the panel of doctors yesterday worked to address some of the most common claims surrounding COVID-19. Uh, what do you view as some of the most dangerous misinformation that's currently circulating about the pandemic?

Speaker 2: (05:24)

Well, I think a lot of what you hear around the vaccine is really troubling. The vaccine is, is the way out of this. Uh, you know, you hear misinformation about masks and misinformation about test and positive cases and the origins of COVID and, and a lot of that information, but reality is what we face now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We know, we know clearly based on the data, uh, your probability of getting COVID, if you're vaccinated is significantly lower and in particular, the COVID is effective at stopping you from having serious illness, hospitalization, and death at, at exceedingly high numbers. But yet people continue to say these things that more people have died from the vaccine and from COVID and all of these, all of these things that give people concern and, and pause and, and again, you know, an issue, it, it, it's just, you know, I think about it this way.

Speaker 2: (06:12)

You know, I, I hear, you know, veterans will come down to our board meetings and say, it's, it's, it's ridiculous. The military is mandating vaccines. We started mandating vaccines in the military, in the 17 hundreds, George Washington dead, or people get upset. The kids have to get it to go to school, but every single one of us who went to a public school got vaccinated. And so things that historically in America, haven't been partisan. Haven't been ideological, haven't been this divisive. They are in this time. And so, you know, we've just got to do everything. I don't care what your party is or who you're going to vote for. I want everyone to be healthy and safe and listen to their doctors.

Speaker 1: (06:45)

And speaking of parties, I mean, do you see COVID misinformation as a partisan issue? Or are you seeing these claims circulated across party lines?

Speaker 2: (06:53)

Well, it, yeah. I mean, it, it, it's, it, you know, you can't say it's exclusively one party, but it's certainly driven. And, and in large part, uh, by the Republican party, and you can look at the differential, uh, in voter registration and states, vaccine rates, you can look at where you have pockets of the highest number of un-vaccinated. You can look at the vote on health misinformation, combating health misinformation was a partisan vote, three Democrats voting to do it, two voting, not to. When we mandated all new hire county employees must be fully vaccinated. That was a partisan vote. And this is not an issue that ought to be partisan. I respect that the parties disagree on issues and, and, and I can respect people are coming from a place of principle on so many of the areas. We have disagreement listening to your doctor and doing the strategies we've done for decades upon decades, if not centuries ought not be a partisan issue. And so we're really appealing to San Diego to make the decision that's best for you, your health and your family, and listen to your doctor. And it's, it's incredibly frustrating that this has become a part of issue.

Speaker 1: (07:54)

I've been speaking with county supervisor, Nathan Fletcher, cheer Fletcher. Thank you so much for joining

Speaker 2: (07:59)

Us. Appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (08:07)

Most students and educators say they're happy to be back to in-person school again, but COVID-19 precautions are apparently not the only safety measures that need to be in place this past August and September have seen the highest number of gunfire incidents on school grounds. Now that's according to the nonprofit, every town for gun safety group, which began tracking school shootings in 2013, yesterday for students in Arlington, Texas, or hospitalized after being shot by a fellow student. And there was a lockdown at an elementary school in city Heights Wednesday morning because of a shooting nearby KPBS education reporter mg Perez is here to talk about local efforts to keep our schools safe and welcome mg. Good to be here. First of all, what yesterday at the elementary school in city Heights?

Speaker 6: (08:58)

Well, as you mentioned, there was a shooting, a few blocks away from the school at Rosa parks elementary. Uh, so there was never a direct threat to the school, but because of the closeness of the shooting, they locked down the school. Uh, at this point at last report, the suspect is still not been caught by San Diego police. Uh, and a couple of hours later, they were able to, uh, open up the school and release kids. It was early dismissal yesterday.

Speaker 5: (09:24)

So before the pandemic San Diego was working to address the threat of school shootings, can you give us some background on those efforts?

Speaker 6: (09:33)

The San Diego county grand jury that was seated in 2018, took upon itself an investigation, a review of just how prepared, uh, schools and school districts across the county are in the case of an active shooter. Uh, that investigation went on for several months and at the completion of it in 2019, the grand jury had several recommendations that were made for all schools across the county. That would be not only public, but private and charter schools. Uh, and that was kind of the template, if you will, uh, to try to move forward in, uh, in attacking this problem

Speaker 5: (10:12)

And what were some of those recommendations?

Speaker 6: (10:14)

Well, of course it's all about money, Maureen. And the first recommendation was to specifically target money for training, for infrastructure, uh, on school campuses, uh, where there might be doors that needed to be reinforced or locked or, uh, shut down altogether. Those kinds of things. Something else that was very interesting is there was a concerted mention of substitute teachers. Now, uh, substitutes are our student or teachers rather that come on campus at often at last minutes notice, and don't receive the special training that, uh, certified staff do. And so, uh, the recommendation was that, uh, the districts take specific action in training, the substitute teachers that are part of their employment base.

Speaker 5: (11:02)

Now the report also singled out Torrey Pines, high school security efforts. And what has that school been doing,

Speaker 6: (11:10)

Uh, at the time of the investigation or the review in 2019, uh, Torrey Pines was a pilot program where they had installed security cameras throughout the campus. Uh, that was back in 2019. I spoke with a representative from the district yesterday who said it was so successful. They have put the cameras in all of their campuses across that district.

Speaker 5: (11:34)

Now, you talk about this happening in 2019. Is it fair to assume that most or perhaps all of this school safety preparation stopped during the pandemic?

Speaker 6: (11:45)

Surprisingly, no, because of zoom, uh, we all survived on zoom and I spoke with, uh, security experts yesterday who said trainings were able to go on through zoom. So as much information as was possible to, uh, to distribute through a zoom training or a zoom call, uh, that did continue. But obviously there was no in-person training.

Speaker 5: (12:11)

There are some school officials around the country who are concerned about the pandemic's effects on the mental health of troubled students, combined with an increase in gun sales during the pandemic. Can you tell us about those concerns?

Speaker 6: (12:25)

It comes down to good mental health, and there are already people in our community. They're already young people, students who are suffering from mental health issues, but also the pandemic of course amplified all of that. The isolation, the, uh, non connection with, uh, fellow classmates and so forth. So the real concern is that mental health should be the priority in dealing with this problem. Uh, often an active shooter has come to the place that they have come to because of issues, uh, that they were not able to resolve. And, uh, the belief is that with counseling, with, uh, preemptive measures, uh, we can avoid these kinds of incidents from happening on campuses across the county.

Speaker 5: (13:12)

Now that schools are up and running, will we see a return of active shooter drills, or are there other strategies that are less disturbing for students?

Speaker 6: (13:22)

The drills are already in process. Uh, that was something that did not require a lot of money as a former teacher, uh, working at several different campuses. I experienced some of these active shooter drills, and basically what it comes down to is there's an alarm sounded, doors are locked, windows are covered, and students are told to get under their desk and remain quiet. That's the extent of the drills to this point, but of course, as things progress and as, uh, programs and training increase, uh, that could go to a different level. But for now that's the basis of what they're using for something that they call an active shooter drill.

Speaker 5: (14:01)

I've been speaking with KPBS education reporter mg Perez, Andrea, as always. Thank you very much. Thank

Speaker 6: (14:08)

You.

Speaker 5: (14:18)

This is KPBS midday edition. I'm worrying Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman. They oil spill off the coast of Huntington beach has renewed a decades old debate in the state on whether to ban offshore drilling democratic Congressman Mike Levin represents the area where the spill happened before the spill had occurred. Levin introduced legislation to halt offshore drilling the California reports, Sala Gonzalez spoke with Levin. After he had seen the scope of the oil spill from both the shore and a coast guard.

Speaker 7: (14:52)

My reaction was, uh, really being heartbroken because growing up in orange county, we treasure our beaches. We treasure our Pacific ocean and to see the entirety of orange county's coastline, potentially fouled by oil was really quite stunning. And a reminder to me that the only foolproof way to really prevent oil spills from happening is to stop drilling for oil off our Southern California coast. Uh, and that's why I've called for just that. I've called for a ban on all new drilling along Southern California's coastline. Uh, we introduced legislation in the house actually prior to this spill. And, uh, unfortunately this still provided, um, yet another reminder of the necessity to do this. And the good news is that we included the language for this ban, uh, in the house version of the build back better act. I actually checked it's on page 984. I'm happy it's in there. And I'm going to fight like crazy to make sure that when we finally have the house and the Senate come to an agreement, send a bill to the president for signature, this build back better act that it contains among all the other important provisions of this prohibition on new offshore drilling.

Speaker 8: (16:07)

I was in orange county the other day, talking to people around the Huntington area residents who basically said, we want the oil rigs that are, they're gone. How possible? I mean, your legislation is about stopping future drilling. How possible is that? That we could close down the rigs that are there in orange county and off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in a fairly reasonable timeline 3, 5, 10 years, is that even in the cards,

Speaker 7: (16:36)

We're digging into those 23 rigs. So understanding exactly what the useful life is. You know, when you think about this pipeline, for example, it was about 40 years old and everything I've read and heard about the useful life of, of, uh, offshore, uh, oil infrastructure is that it has maybe 25 year shelf life. And, you know, after that, you're looking at the potential for some serious problems. We're going to learn a lot more about the age of our offshore drilling infrastructure, and we'll make some reasonable we'll, we'll read some reasonable conclusions on the basis of that age.

Speaker 8: (17:09)

We meaning the windows at your back then right there should be easy to do. What's the problem.

Speaker 7: (17:15)

The problem I would say is that those fossil fuel executives, they have a lot of political power. Uh, when you look at, for example, the campaign finance system and the way that the oil and gas industry is so, uh, uh, injected itself into our politics and into campaign finance, that's a whole nother series of issues as well. But I would say that the voters and the constituents, the people who are actually showing up at meetings who are talking to me, they don't want to see any more drilling off our coast. They want to see clean beaches. They want to see clean water. It's not a Republican democratic issue at

Speaker 9: (17:49)

All.

Speaker 5: (17:51)

That was Congressman Mike Levin, who represents south orange county and north San Diego county speaking with the California reports sold on Zola's

Speaker 1: (18:04)

A new job placement center in Lincoln park. Just opened up to provide people with a pathway to middle-class careers in construction. It's called construction service workers. It's located at the Jacobs center and offers everything from job placement to training in an area of town that's been underrepresented in economic opportunities. Wanda Rogers is the owner of construction service workers and joins us now to talk about the new center. Wanda, welcome.

Speaker 9: (18:30)

Thank you, Jay.

Speaker 1: (18:32)

And congratulations on opening up the new location.

Speaker 9: (18:35)

Thank you. I really appreciate that, you know, after 12 years or so, our different newer, uh, having missed the opportunity. It's not just huge for the families here and stuff, Eastern San Diego, but also for me, my staff and the Jacobs center,

Speaker 1: (18:54)

You know, construction service workers, job placement center is now at the Jacobs center. As you mentioned, how does moving to the heart of Lincoln park, uh, help create opportunities for people in the community?

Speaker 9: (19:07)

So one, it gives us more visibility with the families, for them to understand that we are here, we're here to fight for their cause to help them with employment on these large contracts that are going on within their city, be a transportation roads, streets, bridges, housing, um, be it the new live well center that's coming. Uh, we're looking to be that, um, open road for the job creation. Um, and so it's a huge opportunity for everyone.

Speaker 1: (19:49)

And your job placement center also runs the so Cal pre-apprenticeship program. How does that program work and how can someone get into it?

Speaker 9: (19:58)

It is a 16 week training program. Um, and what we do in that program is we provide them with soft skills training, which will open the door for them to move right into a trade or a union, uh, for those prevailing wage jobs.

Speaker 1: (20:20)

And, you know, your, your placement center, uh, is a pathway for people to get into the construction industry. What's the demand for a skilled workforce, like in construction, across San Diego. Right now,

Speaker 9: (20:32)

It goes back to SB 6, 9, 6. They are required to have the minimum of a thousand hours to even work on a project or be attached to a union is significant. You

Speaker 1: (20:48)

Know, what trades can people get training in through the so Cal pre-apprenticeship program?

Speaker 9: (20:54)

It could be electrical a can be mechanical operators. Uh, well do, uh, carpentry labor, because we are a pre apprenticeship program where, uh, investing in them with soft skills, which is it equates to English, math, writing abilities, learning how to come in and be efficient. And your time when you come to work communication skills, how to communicate with your employee or how to show up for interview, those types of things are what we're teaching was. So Cal

Speaker 1: (21:37)

And why is this job placement programs so important for the Lincoln park neighborhood?

Speaker 9: (21:43)

The opportunities will be endless once the bill is passed with a president, by that, we'll open it up on a transportation side of the house road street bridges that will require repair, uh, on the housing side of it because of our shortage and housing. Now you see a lot of housing developers, they are also building, so there's another opportunity. And then, uh, that multiple layer, uh, as we bid on contracts, eat, be it federal government, state county, local job creation, uh, for everyone involved.

Speaker 1: (22:31)

And what is your hope for this job placement center?

Speaker 9: (22:35)

My hope is, is that construction firms, public agency families now come and say, you're here. And we want to partner with you and make your business a success because we're no, we know you're not here for selfish, motivated reasons. You're really here to help change the landscape to help others navigate when they thought there was no hope here for them to help move them in a different direction, giving them that the whole V ability that they need to see lesson. I can make the change. If I had the opportunity. Now you have the opportunity take advantage of it. Have the, a Udacity to hope.

Speaker 1: (23:43)

I've been speaking with Wanda owner of construction, service workers, job placement center. Want to thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 5: (24:05)

If it looks and smells like food, a dog will probably eat it, and that's getting more and more canines into trouble with cannabis. The American society for the prevention of cruelty to animals says as marijuana is legalized in more places across the country, more dogs are munching on edibles and it's making them sick. ASP CA poison control calls and California for pets. Who've eaten cannabis have increased by almost 300% in recent years. And what can be a pleasant high for humans can make dogs sick as a dog. Johnnie Mae is Dr. Brianna Sarvis, a veterinarian with the San Diego humane society and Dr. Service. Welcome to the program.

Speaker 10: (24:49)

Hi Maureen. Thanks for having me now, our

Speaker 5: (24:51)

Dogs finding and eating pieces of vegetables off the ground when they're out on walks.

Speaker 10: (24:58)

Yes. So definitely there's more edibles around now that marijuana has been legalized and anything that's around more is going to get picked up by our pets and eaten from time to time, especially with dogs.

Speaker 5: (25:11)

And how often do you see a marijuana toxicity in dogs here in San Diego?

Speaker 10: (25:16)

So in California, it's always been a pretty common emergency and the ER vets are seeing an increase. We're actually at a shelter here. So I don't treat marijuana toxicity that often, but in the emergency room, it's very frequent.

Speaker 5: (25:31)

Are there signs that a dog has gotten hold of some marijuana?

Speaker 10: (25:35)

The most common sign is going to be lethargy or wobbliness? Um, so a lot of times the owner will, uh, especially if they don't know what they may have gotten into, it'll be a very scary experience for them because their dogs suddenly won't be able to walk, um, or they'll be kind of bracing themselves with their front legs. And that's because they're really dizzy or wobbly. Um, but for an owner, it's, it's hard to recognize. Um, other things that they might do is be overly reactive to sounds or sights. So if you're coming at them, they kind of freak out or, um, to have urinary incontinence. So if your dog is just like leaking urine all the time, all of a sudden they're kind of doped up, it is very likely to be a THC toxicity.

Speaker 5: (26:17)

Now, have you seen, or have you heard of cases where dogs have eaten some marijuana that's been laced with other drugs?

Speaker 10: (26:24)

I personally have not, of course that's always a possibility. Um, but I don't know that that's such a big issue with pot as opposed to like other medications or other illicit drugs. A lot of times though, we do deal with, um, concurrent chocolate toxicity. So if they're eating a pot brownie, we're going to have other toxicities to deal with at the same time as the marijuana toxicity. Well,

Speaker 5: (26:48)

Whether it's found on the street or maybe snagged out of an owner's stash of cannabis, what attracts dogs to gobble marijuana,

Speaker 10: (26:57)

It smells good to them and dogs are kind of indiscriminate eaters. Um, so they tend to seek out things that are, uh, odiferous and they'll go for it, even if it's not in the food form. And then of course, if it's made as an edible, then it's going to be tasty. Anything that is tasty to us is probably going to be tasty to your pet as well.

Speaker 5: (27:16)

Is it only edibles or do dogs, you know, actually like eat bugs and plants of marijuana?

Speaker 10: (27:22)

Yes. They definitely get into plant material, edibles, uh, hash, which is like the oil or some people make it in butter for cooking purposes. So they certainly can get into any form that we may have around

Speaker 5: (27:36)

The dogs. Don't get high, as we would understand it, they get sick. My question is how sick do they get?

Speaker 10: (27:43)

So it really depends on the dose and the size of the pet. Um, if you have a really small pet, they're going to be more affected by whatever they've ingested. And if you have a very large pet, uh, you may not even notice anything, but if they get a large enough amount for the size of the pet, they could be very sick and they may even be comatose in very severe cases. And that could last for two or three days.

Speaker 5: (28:06)

Wow. Comatose, could it be fatal

Speaker 10: (28:08)

In rare situations? It has been fatal to some dogs, but the good news is it's very difficult to overdose a dog on marijuana. They'd have to eat a really large amount and especially an accidental overdose or, you know, especially picking up on the street or something. They're probably not going to get that much. And if the owner comes to their veterinarian, gets them treated right away, it's much more likely they're going to do well.

Speaker 5: (28:31)

And how do you treat a dog? That's ingested cannabis. It's okay.

Speaker 10: (28:35)

It's mostly supportive care. So, um, a lot of times we'll give them fluids to kind of help flush it out of their system. And, and a lot of times that's all that's needed. They, they may not even require treatment. If it's very mild. In more severe cases, we have a medication called intralipid, which is a fat that you basically infuse into their blood. And it helps absorb up that THC and get it out of their system quicker. That is a very effective treatment for marijuana toxicity.

Speaker 5: (29:03)

When you do identify that a dog has actually eaten an amount of marijuana and it's made them ill, what kinds of reactions do you get from the owners when you tell them that?

Speaker 10: (29:15)

That's such a great question. So normally the reaction is a denial because oftentimes these are pets that, you know, it's a, it's around the home and the owners know it and they just won't kind of own up to it. Um, and a lot of them will joke like they're, they're wearing sunglasses at 8:00 PM because they don't want you to know that they've been, you know, using, um, however, if the owner no idea, it can be very surprising to them and scary because they don't know what the effects may be, and they're afraid for their pets or pets acting very abnormally. But once you explained to them that in general, the prognosis is very good. Uh, then they tend to feel a lot better, but at first not knowing what's wrong with your animal and seeing them look so abnormal can be super stressful for them.

Speaker 5: (30:07)

So you kind of find that there's a lack of awareness among dog owners on how sick their pets could get from just eating an animal or are a bit of cannabis.

Speaker 10: (30:17)

Yes. Certainly it's not something that's going to be on your radar, especially if it's not something that is around your home. Uh, you're just not going to expect them to get into it, but then just walking by a public park or especially after there's been a community event or somewhere where people may have been discarding bits and pieces of things, um, your pet can certainly seek those out and get into them.

Speaker 5: (30:40)

What advice do you give to dog owners about this potential marijuana menace to their pets?

Speaker 10: (30:46)

Definitely keep your animal on a leash. Um, unless you're in the dog park or somewhere, that's known to be a safe area. Um, that's going to be the first safeguard of not, not allowing them to get into something that you're not expecting. Um, but also if you're in a public area, especially if there's been a big event going on, it's probably a good idea, um, to not just let them sniff around in the bushes or, or, or dally too long, um, because it's definitely possible that, um, marijuana or other substances could be out there.

Speaker 5: (31:18)

And I've been speaking with Dr. Brianna Sarvis, she's a veterinarian with the San Diego humane society. Dr. Service. Thank you so much.

Speaker 10: (31:26)

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Speaker 11: (31:30)

Uh,

Speaker 5: (31:35)

This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm worrying Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann last spring Lux art Institute in Encinitas and San Diego art Institute in Belle boa park announced they would combine to form the Institute of contemporary arts San Diego in late September, the ICA San Diego finally opened its doors with an exhibition of works by Mexicans conceptual artists, Gabriele Rico months before the opening KPBS arts producer and editor, Julia Dixon Evans spoke with Andrew OOT, the executive director of the new ICA San Diego. They talked about the merger, contemporary art and what the future may hold for the arts in San Diego. Here's that interview?

Speaker 12: (32:21)

What is contemporary art and what then is an Institute of contemporary art?

Speaker 13: (32:28)

Contemporary art is it's art. That is cutting edge. It's art that is happening now. It is art that breaks the traditional boundaries of what you might experience. It's not just a painting. It's not just a sculpture. It could be an installation. It could have media, it could have sound, it could even have smells. So that's what contemporary art is for me at least. And then what is an Institute? Well, we might assume or interpret an Institute to be an educational institution. Uh, it is that in fact, uh, for both institutions, the San Diego art Institute and Lux art Institute, we see education as a very high priority in what we do. It means talking about what's happening in the world. It means talking about what art means, how culture can affect us. And so we educate in somewhat non-traditional ways about, uh, what's happening

Speaker 12: (33:26)

And why are these two established museums merging and why now in the middle of a pandemic and all the cultural upheaval of this last year?

Speaker 13: (33:38)

Well, I should almost put the question back to you, which is why not. Now this is a great opportune time to take advantage of the fact that we are coming together as humanity. We're looking towards a future that is positive. And, uh, we resolve many of our, or we're trying to resolve, I should say many of our global issues that we're dealing with, whether that is specifically the pandemic itself, uh, but also looking at more social justice issues or environmental issues, things that we're really trying to resolve in order to make a better world for all of us. So this is that opportune time. It's, it's a time for us to come together as two institutions and ultimately have more impact across our San Diego county. And ultimately, uh, when we become an ICA together, it becomes part of a, a nationally recognized institution.

Speaker 12: (34:32)

And how might this change, how San Diego runs and people in this, this general border region experience art

Speaker 13: (34:41)

Art is traditionally experienced. When you walk into a museum, sometimes you might have it in your home. Sometimes you might see it in a gallery or in a store, some commercial space, or even in someone else's home. We want to challenge the ideas of what it means to experience art. In fact, the mission of the new organization is literally to question everything. So when we question everything, we're also questioning what it means to have a museum space, what it means to have an experience with art. Ultimately, we want to democratize the relationship of experiencing art and to do that. We need to break out of our walls. Uh, so while we will have walls, because it's important to come into a space and experience, uh, that excitement and that joy of being around art and seeing something intriguing and engaging something that you'll walk away from and, and have that knowledge or remembrance of, but also we want to bring it into your home. We want to bring it onto the street onto bus stops onto billboards, uh, onto your screens at home. The pandemic has shown that we can really engage people through virtual means through technology, but how do we expand that into a broader array of, of our spaces, um, both outdoors and indoors.

Speaker 12: (36:02)

And this has been, uh, a volatile year for museum workers and for artists, will things change for the staff of these, these separate institutes?

Speaker 13: (36:14)

Well, we're going to be adding more staff as a result of the merger. Uh, we have done things on a very slim staff. In fact, it's pretty amazing that, uh, for instance, lox, we have been very focused on challenging the preconceptions of how you engage with art, especially in a technological way. And, uh, you may remember Julia, the, the app that we produced for the phone, where you could, uh, use augmented reality to bring artwork inside your home, or even walk through our gallery space, uh, through augmented reality. And those are some of the ways that we want to engage people, certainly with the pandemic. You know, we saw a lot of financial issues, not just with our institution, but across the board with all businesses. Um, we have been lucky enough to be sustainable during this time period. You know, that that's a huge thing to say, to be sustainable during a pandemic, but we, we have been, which is amazing. And in addition to that, uh, we see ourselves flourishing with this new way of thinking about the world and about space.

Speaker 12: (37:22)

The first exhibition you'll hold in the newly inaugurated space will be worked by Mexican artists, Gabrielle Rico. And I spoke to Gabrielle last week about his plans to initially start working with scientific institutions and cultural institutions here to get a sense of the anthropology of this place and the community. And here's what he said.

Speaker 14: (37:45)

Don't just work inside the ICA facilities. I want to cross the limits, the walls and make connections with these kinds of institutions, but make connections with the society, because at the end, the great thing of a show, if you say great show, that's my personal opinion, of course, is when the people, the citizens sense of that precise city start to believe in the museum or in the institution.

Speaker 12: (38:17)

Andrew, what is it about this artist and this approach that is perfect for the ICA San Diego?

Speaker 13: (38:25)

Well, I think Gabrielle just hit it right on the nose there. When he talked about building those connections between institutions and the people who live in the city. And that really is, you know, about how we can really challenge the ideas of what our walls mean. Uh, the other point is that Gabrielle is very contemporary in his work. He's really pushing the boundaries of what we experience and what we understand art to be. Um, he's using sort of non-traditional in the, in the sense of art means of using man-made objects or existing objects like taxidermied objects or Coca-Cola bottles, and then merging those with ceramic creations or, um, other objects that he has created to build these sort of environmental scapes. And we start to think about the environment around us and the objects that we consume and the objects that we dispose of. And so he starts to talk about some environmental impact questions that we have around the world. Uh, he's tackling some of those issues and wants to call attention to what those mean. And also the delicacy of them, what it means to throw, uh, a bottle back into the world and what that can do to the changing ecosystem.

Speaker 5: (39:46)

That was Andrew [inaudible] speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dickson Evans.

Speaker 11: (39:52)

[inaudible]

Speaker 1: (40:03)

The California report magazine visit some of the best secret spots across the state for their yearly hidden gems show. One of this years is in a small town in the states central valley. It's about halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield, just off highway 99. And it's called Goshen. It's mostly known for the trains coming in and out of it's even all plant, but among the warehouses and farm supply stores, there's a jewel of a joint whose popularity goes well beyond this tiny community. Alice Daniel of KV PR takes us to lady chicken and rice.

Speaker 15: (40:41)

The food truck sits in the parking lot of a supply store that sells plastic dinosaurs, stuffed animals and novelty items for vending machines, lady chicken and rice is hand painted in red letters on the front of the truck. Lady chicken is named for the woman who created the deep fried loud chicken recipe. That's so popular here. I

Speaker 16: (41:05)

Called her lady. She was my lady.

Speaker 15: (41:09)

That's boon Tong saying, talking about his wife Boone luck. He didn't give her the nickname though. Fame did well fame among the locals here in Goshen.

Speaker 16: (41:19)

I don't know her name. They call, oh, that's the lady chicken, that lady chicken. After we make business

Speaker 15: (41:29)

A business that serves as many as 500 customers a day lines form by 10:00 AM. Thank you. Have a good day. Boom tongue says he's met travelers from as far away as Virginia and Texas who find rave reviews on Yelp or other food apps, but there are also plenty of regulars who greet him. They know him as Jimmy, Jimmy. Thank you like Tony Soliz, a ups driver who's waving well, picking up a bag of egg rolls in one hand and an iced coffee in the other great food, good price, ready people. Awesome. The friendly people include them. Tongues employees, whom he calls family, even though they're from Mexico. And he's from Laos. Ramona via says they stay busy all day until 5:00 PM.

Speaker 17: (42:18)

I never stopped cooking until it's time to go home.

Speaker 15: (42:23)

She's inside the truck prepping the $3 plates of golden brown chicken and sticky rice. She's got a large colorful tattoo just below her neck that says Roberts, my husband, Robert lady, chicken love is written all around here. Ramona has filled little plastic containers of homemade green jalapeno sauce and is dumping them into a bin so they can easily be sent out to customers. Speaking of love, people return just for the sauce. She says,

Speaker 17: (42:56)

Everybody always comes back over and over. And that's the first thing that we say is

Speaker 15: (43:00)

Chile. Marbella Sotelo takes orders at the track. The marinaded chicken is twice fried the second time at a higher temperature to make it extra crispy. Marbella says they go

Speaker 18: (43:15)

Then the chicken, they, you know, it's a good flavor. And the way that he cooked is crispy and soft inside. So it's really good.

Speaker 15: (43:24)

Fresh spring rolls are also on the menu. Egg rolls too. That's why Aaron Deera Ron's us who comes here more often than I should.

Speaker 18: (43:33)

Very, very good food. You can taste the authenticity of it. And my favorite are there girls at girls by far the best and town, for sure. Hands down,

Speaker 19: (43:41)

Two chicken and rice, two lengths and four sauces.

Speaker 18: (43:46)

Yes.

Speaker 15: (43:49)

A few other customers in line share why they're here. It's close

Speaker 19: (43:52)

By the food is good. And the ladies are

Speaker 20: (43:56)

The authenticity of it. It's not like anything else can't really get this anywhere else. Other than in here,

Speaker 15: (44:03)

Boone Tung knows he's got a good thing going here. Regulars. He greets daily people who come from far away to enjoy the food employees. He views as family and a popular chicken recipe created by the woman he loves.

Speaker 16: (44:19)

Maybe I say, Hey, uh, lady, you know, I left you something like that. Every day we have to

Speaker 15: (44:26)

For the California report, I'm Alice, Daniel in Goshen.