San Diego scientist wins Nobel Prize
Speaker 1: (00:01)
Scripts researcher, RDM pet a poutine wins. The Nobel prize for medicine
Speaker 2: (00:06)
Group was able to basically answer a question that hasn't been answered this whole time.
Speaker 1: (00:12)
I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Hyman. This is KPBS midday. Edition Research gets underway at SDSU on why health care is lacking in San Diego's Latin X community.
Speaker 3: (00:31)
Really a golden opportunity to elevate the work that we've already been doing by hiring a group of individuals who will come in and be part of our community,
Speaker 1: (00:44)
Uh, camp Pendleton Marine, struggled to get adequate mental health care and the pushes on to create a black arts district on Imperial avenue. That's ahead on midday edition. This year's Nobel prize for medicine has been awarded to Scripps research scientists. Our Dem pat [inaudible], pat, a poutine and his partner, David Julius at UC San Francisco won the award for their work in discovering how skin receptors allow people to sense temperature and touch. The Nobel committee says pet a poutine and Julius uncovered the pathways that are fundamental to our ability to feel interpret and interact with our environment a Poodie and spoke about his work briefly. Soon after he was notified about the Nobel prize
Speaker 4: (01:38)
Science, many times, it's the things that we take for granted that are of high interest and, um, us being in the field of sensing touch in pain. This was kind of the big elephant in the room.
Speaker 1: (01:52)
The Nobel prize for medicine is widely regarded as the highest prize in science and scripts is planning a celebration for the latest of its researchers to be awarded a Nobel journey may is San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter Jonathan Wilson, and Jonathan. Welcome. Thanks for having me now. Pata poutines research apparently discovered the molecular basis of how we can feel temperature and force through touch. Can you explain that a bit more?
Speaker 2: (02:22)
Sure. So our Adams group, which has been a script for the past 20 years was able to basically answer a question that hasn't been answered this whole time, which is exactly how do we take things like a handshake or a warm cup of coffee or a hug, and turn that into some sort of biological electrical signal that can actually reach the brain and allow us to sense our environment. So he had done some experiments and researchers in his lab had done some experiments, uh, essentially on a line of cells growing in the lab, uh, that would produce little electrical signals in response to little pokes and prods. And so what they started doing was they started disabling genes, one by one by the other, uh, to find which genes were essential for allowing those electrical signals to happen. So they stumbled upon a couple of key genes that code for, or have the instructions to build, uh, to pretty important proteins as part of that process.
Speaker 2: (03:26)
And when we talk about touch, we're actually talking about all different forms of touch from our sense of pressure, to our sense of pain, you know, your, your sense that your stomach is full after a meal that your lungs are full when you've taken in a breath of air. So it's a pretty wide ranging question in biology and the applications for it in terms of, you know, chronic pain in terms of, you know, cells in your heart to have to feel blood pressure. You know, these are all areas where we may be able to unlock some new therapeutics just by understanding the molecules to control this aspect of our lives.
Speaker 1: (04:00)
We're a pat of boudin and Julius expected to win this year's Nobel in medicine, or is this a surprise?
Speaker 2: (04:06)
So they were both definitely in the running. And I can say that because the previous year in 2020, they won another really prestigious prize in science, the Kavli prize, which is announced every two years. And they got that prize for the exact same discovery. That's a prize where the winners are usually acknowledged in person in Oslo, Norway. So they had previously won a pretty significant honor for the same exact discovery. So they were definitely, you know, I think on the docket and the running for the Nobel prize as well,
Speaker 1: (04:38)
It's held a news conference this morning about the award to one of its researchers. What did they have to say?
Speaker 2: (04:44)
So it was interesting Artem introduced himself as a Lebanese immigrant, as someone who grew up in Beirut at a time when there was a civil war, talked about himself being essentially a refugee and coming here and experiencing the American dream, uh, discovering science, know having the sort of financial aid and support of going public universities. He went to UCLA initially, and then from there, went on to do a PhD and get additional training. So he really framed it as an American story. Uh, you know, he was very incredibly grateful that to spend his life as a scientist and to get to pursue curiosity and these fundamental questions of how the human body works, uh, and really just a lot of genuine joy was one funny moment that, uh, he mentioned earlier this morning was that he actually, uh, was, would have missed the phone call from, uh, Stockholm, uh, you know, telling him that he had won the Nobel prize. It was only because his was 94 year old father. Uh, evidently had also been getting phone calls, uh, that he was able to get through to Artem, uh, pretty early in the morning. Otherwise he was, he was sound asleep
Speaker 1: (05:55)
In normal times. Aren't in pet, a poutine would be preparing to travel to Stockholm to accept the Nobel prize, but that's not the case this year, is it
Speaker 2: (06:05)
Right? So this is the second year in a row that, that has been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. So 2020 as well as 21, that moment of celebration has been turned into a sort of virtual, uh, ceremony. And, and the same was true last year when he won the Catholic prize. So, you know, at this rate, we expect that maybe 20, 22 would be the next time that there would be an in-person, uh, ceremony, although that really has yet to be confirmed for sure that at this point in the pandemic, isn't
Speaker 1: (06:35)
There a large cash award that accompanies this prize.
Speaker 2: (06:38)
Yeah. It's about $1 million, a little bit more 1.1, 4 million. So our team will be sharing that with David Julius, his colleague, who was also at, at the university of California, San Francisco. So our team's team is essentially famous for identifying these genes behind how we sense touch and pressure. And David Julius, this group identified a similar protein that controls our sense of heat. And they're able to do that by looking at how cells respond to capsaicin. That's the same chemical and chilies that probably makes you want to grab a glass of cold milk or water when you've had something too spicy, but it also controls responses to high temperatures and low oxygen conditions, as well as inflammation all trigger that same receptor in our bodies
Speaker 1: (07:29)
[inaudible] is the latest script's researcher to win a Nobel who were the other
Speaker 2: (07:35)
Bruce Butler, one Nobel prize for identifying a set of receptors that are really important and immune responses about 20 years ago, very Sharpless when the Nobel prize in chemistry for his work on catalysts, uh, there also a number of other Nobel prize recipients, sort of in San Diego, life sciences, uh, across the other research institutes. You know, Roger Chen comes to mind, uh, he identified the set of molecules that cause certain jellyfish to glow in the dark. And that's actually the genes behind those molecules have become a really important, a really basic tool across all aspects of, uh, biology research. Anytime researchers want to be able to see a certain structure under the microscope, uh, they, they use what's called a fluorescent protein. So, uh, definitely yet another example of a pretty productive life science industry that we have a community that we have here in San Diego.
Speaker 1: (08:35)
And what kind of benefit does script's research get from having a staff scientist win a Nobel?
Speaker 2: (08:41)
Well, it's definitely something that adds to script's researchers, rip reputation as one of the top non-profit research organizations in the country. It's something that you know, is going to attract probably even more talent to that Institute in the future. Uh, you know, as they're bringing in graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, I think it's safe to say there are a lot of people who would love to work at a place that has a number of Nobel prize winners. A lot of people who would love to work in, in those labs. So it it's something that ultimately cements their status. As you know, one of the more high powered, uh, scientific organizations, uh, that that's out there today.
Speaker 5: (09:24)
We've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune, biotech reporter, Jonathan Wilson, Jonathan,
Speaker 3: (09:29)
Speaker 2: (09:30)
That's been fun. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (09:36)
The Latin X community is disproportionately impacted by health disparities from environmental injustice to a lack of healthcare access, longstanding issues have created health challenges like obesity and even cancer for many people. Now a program called SDSU forte has received a $15 million grant from the national institutes of health to research and find solutions to those health disparities. Joining me to talk about the research is Maria Luisa. Sunida a professor at the SDSU school of social work and co-principal investigator of forte Maria.
Speaker 3: (10:13)
Welcome. Thank you very much. So
Speaker 5: (10:16)
Can you tell us more about the SDSU forte program and why the national institutes of health said they selected the program for this grant?
Speaker 3: (10:25)
San Diego state university has a very strong track record in health disparities research to promote Latin X and minority health. So over the course of many years, uh, our researchers have devoted many hours and time to reducing health disparities and really understanding some of the nuances that are are important to Latin X and minority health. So, uh, we're very proud where there, which means strong in Spanish faculty United towards excellence and research and transformational engagement. We were funded by NIH because we're also home to Latin X cancer, disparities researchers, uh, specialists in environmental health, obesity, and addiction and HIV. These are all the types of areas and health problems that deeply impact Latinos, both at regionally and nationwide.
Speaker 5: (11:21)
And the research online next disparities will be conducted by a group of 11 new faculty members. Talk to me about the reasons for recruiting new faculty members to do this research.
Speaker 3: (11:31)
Absolutely. So this is, uh, probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to select and reach out to some of the best researchers across the nation with a passion for Latin X health and their research focus area in the areas of either cancer, uh, environmental nutrition, um, activities and health disparities in Latin X help. So it's really a golden opportunity to elevate the work that we've already been doing by hiring a group of individuals who will come in and be part of our community. My role will be to help provide the support that researchers need, including researchers from underrepresented groups. And there's a tradition and it's unfortunate but many times, uh, because there are fewer researchers from underrepresented groups, Latin X, black, other underrepresented communities. We need to make a stronger effort at supporting these researchers to succeed, especially because of their specialization in minority health and reducing health disparities.
Speaker 5: (12:47)
Three of the faculty members will be working from the universities Imperial valley campus do Imperial valley, Latin X residents face more health disparities than those in other areas,
Speaker 3: (12:59)
The disparities they face are different because of their environment. So environmentally, we, you know, when we should really think about, uh, San Diego state university's program will be across the border, which is very exciting. Imperial valley is an agricultural area and it is next to, uh, the capital of Baja, California, Mexico. So the dynamics and the region itself is different. That exposure as well, the environmental exposures may be different in this area, so that a focus on environment will allow us to really understand better where might be the best places to intervene and support the best health of individuals and communities living in the Imperial valley
Speaker 5: (13:46)
And 85% of Imperial county residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. How big is the community in San Diego county? And is it growing?
Speaker 3: (13:55)
Yeah, so San Diego county is about a third Latino, 34%, according to the last census estimates. And we're just under the California, uh, which is almost 40%. So 39% Latinos in San Diego, we are growing. And also, I think there's an important element of the vibrancy of being a border community. So we have a very vibrant relationship with Tijuana and our institutions to the south and just that cross border mobility is part of who we are as well. So really understanding that not only as Latin X health in the region, uh, impacted by our own our, or the communities, but that our community is really broader.
Speaker 5: (14:43)
What are some of the disparities among Latin X households across both counties that we know exist?
Speaker 3: (14:50)
So we learned if nothing else that COVID exposed the pandemic COVID-19 pandemic exposed, and it sort of took this blanket off of what health disparities is really looking in. And what are some of the issues of health disparities in Latin X communities? So regionally we have high levels of uninsured, uh, nationally about, uh, half of Latin X families have private insurance compared to 75% in Latin X whites. Uh, we have high levels of obesity and low physical activity in both parts of the region. Imperial valley suffers tremendously from, uh, diabetes and other, uh, chronic diseases that can be prevented
Speaker 5: (15:39)
Through better lifestyle, nutrition, and exercise. Um, we also have a disproportionate number of, uh, cancers relating to stomach and liver cancers among Latinas in Latin X women in our region. We also have a high level of, uh, human papilloma virus and cervical cancers. And this is, uh, very concerning because it has to do with a lack of access to care and low participation in screening for cervical cancer. Uh, so this, in addition to asthma, and as you'd mentioned, environmental exposures, these are all areas of incredible need for research and interventions to improve community health. And overall, how do you hope this fund will have an impact on Latin X health disparities, regionally, nationally, and globally?
Speaker 3: (16:36)
Well, this is very exciting because it is an opportunity to bring a group of individuals that in and of themselves have a lifelong passion towards reducing health disparities in the Latin X community. So if we can think about this as energizing and working in synergy with the foundation that San Diego state university already has in addressing health disparities and, and our high level research capacity, this is just an opportunity to really launch and make a significant step towards bolstering our efforts to promote the full health of Latin X and other underserved communities.
Speaker 5: (17:21)
I've been speaking to Maria Luisa soon, yoga, a professor at the SDSU school of social work and co-principal investigator of Fuerte. Maria, thank you so much for joining us today.
Speaker 3: (17:34)
Thank you very much, Jade.
Speaker 6: (17:36)
Speaker 1: (17:49)
This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann the wars are over, but the battle is just started for many troops, dealing with injuries, KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh says one Marine scored a rare win in a system that advocates say invites troops with PTSD to commit more misconduct while the military decides their fate.
Speaker 7: (18:14)
I started working out again. I've gotten healthy. I don't feel I don't have that dark cloud over me
Speaker 8: (18:19)
That I used to have. I met Cooper Williams just as the sun was coming up outside a coffee house, an hour north of San Diego. He sounded up beat last December. He'd been worried about being kicked out of the Marines after 17 years.
Speaker 7: (18:33)
Am I going to lose everything? Is my family. Are we going to be put out after 18 years without any, any insurance, any, uh, assistance based off of everything that I went through and all the mitigating circumstances? Yeah, that was, that was taxing on myself and my family
Speaker 8: (18:50)
He'd been spiraling after multiple deployments, including Iraq in Afghanistan. He was self-medicating a horrific family tragedy had made things worse when his parents were involved in a murder suicide Williams asked for help. He entered a wounded warrior battalion at camp, Pendleton or Marines are treated for mental and physical injuries. But in the space of one month, he racked up two DUIs. He faced dismissal from the core,
Speaker 7: (19:18)
From the time of the incident. Uh, till now it's been about a year and eight months.
Speaker 8: (19:24)
His attorney sent letters to his command to showing Williams wasn't receiving the proper medication, but he still faced being discharged. Then earlier this year, Williams was told one of the generals in charge of his case changed his mind. Lieutenant general, ed Banta now thought Williams should be allowed to retire.
Speaker 7: (19:42)
That was going on at that time. But with medication wise, personal wise, um, dealing with the death of my parents still,
Speaker 8: (19:50)
But it wasn't over Williams was still required to face a board of inquiry. The process hung over him for 20 months until a panel of three officers recently ruled in his favor. So it feels,
Speaker 7: (20:02)
It feels very good to have the weight lifted off of your shoulder in the cloud of the unknown and the fear of the unknown, because that weighing over you within itself is a very, uh, emotionally taxing thing, I guess, even for you and your famous so very glad. And if
Speaker 9: (20:20)
You have someone who suffered with mental health or TBI issues are likely to do
Speaker 8: (20:24)
Esther leave-in Farth is with the national veterans legal services program. She says the military typically doesn't reverse itself. Even in cases where service-related medical conditions play a role in the misconduct. Leaving far says the Marines and other services need a single set of rules. So troops with TBI or traumatic brain injuries or PTSD, don't go through a long process where they risk losing everything.
Speaker 9: (20:51)
This is a symptom of their mental health condition. They're likely to hurt themselves. They're likely to have other adverse effects. If you're two years just waiting to find out what's going to happen to you and without proper treatment, without being able to move on to your life
Speaker 8: (21:05)
In a letter obtained by KPBS, the new commander of wounded warrior battalion west Lieutenant Colonel, Rebecca Harvey says Williams did not receive proper treatment. Initially she revealed that mental health resources have gone down more than 50% at a time when the Marines are seeing more cases like Williams, she added Marines like chief warrant officer Williams have served for many years, often ignoring their injuries to ensure they can deploy. When asked we owe them more between his treatment and the separation process, she says the Marine Corps failed Williams for his part. Williams is ready to move on with his life. It made me better.
Speaker 7: (21:47)
There is a person, it made me dig deep and to find out who I am inside and who I am and how I'm going to respond, because there's two different ways you can respond in those situations. So you can either go darker or you can come into the light.
Speaker 1: (22:04)
Joining me is KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, and Steve, welcome.
Speaker 8: (22:09)
Speaker 1: (22:10)
Why don't military personnel suffering from PTSD and other service related medical problems retire sooner? Why would they stay in the service?
Speaker 8: (22:19)
Um, you know, there are a number of reasons. One, I don't think anybody wants to be forced out of a job and forced into retirement. If they think they can still do the job mainly they want to serve and they're trained to overcome any obstacles so they can continue to serve. The problem is they know if they admit they have an issue, especially a mental health issue, that they may be declared a nondeployable and then they could be forced out of the service. On the flip side, the, the pace of deployment over the last 20 years has been incredibly high, especially for people with certain kinds of skill sets like this, the ones that skills that Cooper Williams has. So Williams was in demand. He became a warrant officer within a few years of arriving at the wounded warrior battalion at Pendleton's. So until recently, you know, he, his career was, uh, was on the upswing until he, he finally had to admit that he had to do something about, you know, his PTSD, you know, they have changed the military retirement system though. So it used to be that you'd have to put in 20 years or you'd really get next to nothing. Uh, now, you know, you CA it's, the system has changed. So you kind of take out what you put in, so somebody can put in 10 years and they still have something, some sort of retirement.
Speaker 1: (23:34)
You say the Marine that you interviewed, chief warrant officer Cooper had been self-medicating while he was involved in the incidents that almost had him dismissed. Do you mean he was drinking too much?
Speaker 8: (23:45)
Drinking is part of it. There were also prescription medications. Um, you know, back in December, when we first covered this story, he told me about going into an ER at a civilian hospital. So he could get medication there and avoid that, having that treatment go on his military record, which from what I hear is not all that uncommon. So when he was at the wounded warrior battalion, he was treated, you know, he was on medication initially, but they didn't seem to recognize the severity of his condition. The meds he was being prescribed were actually seeming to make his symptoms worse. His wife, uh, described, seeing his personality just completely change.
Speaker 1: (24:24)
And tell us more about the wounded warriors battalion. How does it help Marines? Who've been injured mentally and physically.
Speaker 8: (24:31)
So a little bit of history here. They were founded back in 2007, after several years of war and in both in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, there were these horror stories of troops who were left unattended in barracks, and some of them who killed themselves, people were falling through the cracks after leaving Walter Reed and the other facilities. This was designed to be a one-stop shop for people to process their injuries and if possible, return to their home units and go on with their careers,
Speaker 1: (25:02)
The wounded warriors battalion reports that its resources have gone down more than 50%. Who's making the decision to cut those funds.
Speaker 8: (25:11)
W well, that is, that's the big question, Maureen. And the simple answer is, I don't know the answer that letter, that, uh, the comments about the cut of 50%, that was in the letter from Lieutenant Colonel, Rebecca Harvey, she's the new head of wounded warrior battalion west here at camp Pendleton. She wrote that in defense of, uh, Cooper Williams at his board of inquiry. Um, that's where she talked about the, you know, the cuts and mental health services. It admitting that the Marines were slow to treat and diagnose Williams, you know, saying that there were also other troops like him in the pipeline. You know, I filed data requests with the Marines to find out just who are in these battalions now, uh, you know, I'm interested in just how many of these, these Marines inside the wounded warrior battalions are facing in voluntarily being separated, just like Cooper Williams. And right now I just really, haven't seen many answers beyond that really telling letter.
Speaker 1: (26:05)
So it's the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. Why is it now that wounded warriors is seeing more cases like Cooper Williams?
Speaker 8: (26:15)
Again, that was in the letter. And my guess is it's a lagging indicator. People who have seen the most action over the last two decades are now at the back end of their careers. You have people whose entire careers were marked by consistent deployments and, and, and constant combat, uh, something that prior to nine 11, most people would have gone through entire careers without seeing combat now in there at the back half of their careers, they may have a delayed treatment like Williams for more than a decade, just so they can keep deploying. And they were encouraged to do that so that they could have be available to be deployed people, uh, who were cycling through training and deployment are now back at home for longer periods. Their behavior starts to catch up with them. Um, they can become disciplined problems. That's what we saw in the case of Cooper Williams though. Improper diagnosis clearly played a role in his case. He really hadn't seen any major issues on telly came actually to the wounded warrior battalion. And he hadn't seen any issues since those two DUIs.
Speaker 1: (27:19)
Did Cooper Williams share with you any plans he has after the Marines?
Speaker 8: (27:24)
Yeah, he seemed very when I met him the second time after all these months, um, he has a young family he's thinking about going to school. He may be, uh, you know, he's going to do something in the medical field. He's got a lead on a job working for a company in Texas, basically. He's just, he's very upbeat. And now very optimistic about the future. It's a real change from the first time when I talked to him, when he was really in the throws of all of this, and it was looking quite bleak because these cases though, they're common, uh, an actual reversal, like what we've seen in his case is still quite uncommon. He really is, you know, quite unique.
Speaker 1: (28:05)
I've been speaking with KPBS, military reporter, Steve Walsh, and Steve. Thank
Speaker 8: (28:10)
You. Thanks Maureen.
Speaker 6: (28:12)
Speaker 5: (28:21)
California's statewide. Eviction moratorium has expired and now many tenants are looking for rent relief and legal guidance. K Q E D. Housing reporter, Molly Solomon got a firsthand look inside a busy tenant attorney's office.
Speaker 10: (28:37)
The minute you walk into the Oakland offices of the eviction defense center, you see lots and lots of folders piling up on people's desks, overflowing from boxes to these are all the Berkeley open applications that need rental assistance. And Tamika Maura showed me inside. She's the center's executive director. So that's what all of these boxes are everywhere. Yes, it's just so many of them to reach as many people as they can. Her office has been working 11 hour days and on weekends, about half dozen employees sit close together wearing masks. The morning I visit is the first day after the states eviction moratorium expired eviction different center. Mass was called
Speaker 11: (29:23)
Our phones have been going off the charts since this morning. And there's a ton of messages.
Speaker 10: (29:29)
Eric Mcgon yet is a case manager. He's fielding calls and texts, and helps the man who walks into the office, looking for help with rent is going to start closing his documents and stuff so they can upload them into the portal today. The man didn't want to be interviewed, but he was carrying a crumbled list of different age groups. He said, he'd been walking to different places all morning, but this was the first one he found that was open yes.
Speaker 12: (29:52)
Behind on his rent and his utility bills. But he happens to be an Oakland and Oakland happens to be accepting applications starting today. So
Speaker 10: (29:59)
It's perfect timing. Other employees like office manager, Amanda, Laura are calling people back who left voicemail.
Speaker 13: (30:06)
So you were a healthcare worker. What was your income a month rep estimate my dear 4,000 a month. And then you were in school too. Oh, wow. That's great. So full-time student and full-time worker and a single bomb.
Speaker 10: (30:19)
She says they're helping a lot of people with rent relief, but in the last few weeks, the type of calls have been changing. More people are looking for legal advice on evictions.
Speaker 13: (30:28)
I had like 20 voicemails within an hour or two just people asking like, can my landlord evict me? My landlord, Tommy, I go, I just received this type of
Speaker 10: (30:36)
Notice. Tamika Almora expects to get a lot more calls and have to defend a lot of cases in eviction court in the months ahead,
Speaker 12: (30:44)
Notices are getting served today. We're definitely getting the first wave of calls, but, um, I think it's going to say,
Speaker 10: (30:51)
She knows there'll be stretched thin, but worries. If they can't defend people, many of them will end up with an eviction on their record and without a place to live.
Speaker 5: (31:01)
That was KQ EDS, Molly Solomon,
Speaker 5: (31:13)
You're listening to KPBS mid-day edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh, a nondescript stretch of Imperial avenue in San Diego's and Canto neighborhood could host a black arts district to support culture and community in the area. The hope is that the formal establishment of the city's first black arts and culture district could bring resources and revitalization to a long ignored neighborhood. San Diego journalists, Andrea Lopez via Fanya joins us now with more Andrea. Welcome. Hi, how's it going? Good. Good. Thanks. So can you start off by setting the stage for us here? What is it about this part of the city that would make it a good home for a black arts district?
Speaker 14: (31:55)
Yeah, so this area is really interesting. I mean, you have a trolley line that runs right through it. You have a lot of black owned businesses. Um, it has a long history of well-known leaders that kind of, you know, worked or, um, advocated it's in some form there in that neighborhood. It was also home to the Encanto street fair, which brought a lot of black artists, um, musicians, a lot of community resources for the neighborhood. So yeah, it's always been kind of like a central area of that district district for the city of San Diego.
Speaker 5: (32:28)
So who's behind this effort to officially recognize the area as a black arts district.
Speaker 14: (32:33)
Yeah. So a couple of people, a lot of people have been trying to get this area recognized, or least some attention. There's a park in the area that has been neglected a lot of the businesses that used to be they're banded now. So, um, one, one person in particular, that's kind of leading this movement now. Uh, her name is Kimberly Phillips P and she's a local artist. She's with the Southeast art team, a group of artists in Southeastern San Diego. And, uh, she's really pushing for this. She put together an online petition, um, and she's just kind of, you know, advocating, she organized a tour to really bring attention to the area.
Speaker 5: (33:12)
What are people from within the community saying about establishing an official district in the area?
Speaker 14: (33:18)
Yeah, so people are excited. I mean, it's interesting because, you know, often you live in an, in an area and you might not know all the history about it. So, uh, some of the residents actually spoke with who went on the tour were a little surprised by things that they didn't know about their own neighborhood that they grew up there, but, you know, they didn't know so-and-so had come from there or an artist had established something there. And, uh, so I think people are excited. I mean, mainly there's a lot of great community activists that, you know, people know in the neighborhood, but their stories aren't really preserved anywhere. So they're really hoping that through this black arts district, they can preserve the voices of black leaders in that area. And hopefully, you know, bring some more attention to that area. What does
Speaker 5: (34:01)
Official recognition of an area as an arts district entail? Does that unlock certain funds or resources for the area?
Speaker 14: (34:09)
Yeah. So there are different ways to go about it. I mean, one of the most official ways is to become a cultural district with the state. Uh, we have two here in San Diego. Uh, bubble park is one of them and Barrio Logan is also one of them, but that's a really long process. I know, um, city Heights was trying to do one in one section of that neighborhood. Uh, and the other way is for the city council basically to draft a resolution and say, this is, uh, you know, culture arts district, which they've done before. Um, and, and it allows for two things. I mean, it allows for people in that district to market that area that way. Uh, so you can bring more businesses, more attention. Uh, sometimes there are some grants available, but really it's just, you know, a lot of opportunity for marketing and really being able to shape what that area looks like.
Speaker 5: (35:00)
Are there other state designated cultural districts in this?
Speaker 14: (35:04)
There is that boat park and, um, Barrio Logan, but that's it, it's just those two. So, um, it's a big deal to be a cultural district and it's a long process. So, um, I think if, if they went through with something like that, that would be super interesting. None of the state's cultural districts are black, like black arts and cultural districts. So this would have, this would be the first of if they could make it all the way to the state.
Speaker 5: (35:28)
The organizer behind this effort says that in has long been ignored. How so
Speaker 14: (35:34)
Lot of lack of resources, um, a lot of those buildings and businesses there, uh, some properties are owned by the city. Some are not, and they've kind of just, you know, gone to waste. Uh, the best example are these, um, art panels that were installed a long time ago by an artist. And they're kind of just falling apart and, um, you know, the park I mentioned earlier that the bathrooms don't always work and it's just, you know, it's not taking care of. So a lot of community members have just, Kim has led a lot of efforts to paint murals in that area to beautify it. But, but yeah, there's just, there, hasn't been a lot of money going into that area to, to care for it.
Speaker 5: (36:16)
And you mentioned this and write that in past decades, this neighborhood used to be a prominent hub for black arts and culture. What happened?
Speaker 14: (36:24)
Yeah. So there used to be the Encanto street fair and, um, that was organized by a lot of advocates and slowly I think that, you know, they couldn't organize it anymore. I think, uh, the recession had part to do with that and, you know, a group tried to pick it up, but it didn't really get picked up and didn't have the resources that it needed for it to come together. So it just, it just eventually disappeared. And a lot of people really loved that fair. I mean, it was, it was a big fair, and it was, uh, important to, to highlight, um, black residents in San Diego.
Speaker 5: (37:01)
Uh, since then there's been a sort of grassroots effort to beautify the neighborhood with murals, painted utility boxes and other kinds of public art. Can you tell us about this neighborhood as a center for art?
Speaker 14: (37:13)
Mainly it it's, um, the murals, but also there are, um, a couple of centers there, uh, that offer a lot of, uh, community activities like a men's circle, lots of, you know, aside from what you basically think of when you think of an arts and culture district, right. You think like galleries, uh, you think dance. So, um, there are a couple areas and couple of activities there where people organize these kinds of like events focused on arts and focused on music and, and community. So part, part of the arts district would be to draw in maybe like an art gallery or maybe like a center for music for kids.
Speaker 5: (37:54)
And where does official recognition of the neighborhood stand now? Is there any sense that this will be adopted by the city council or maybe the mayor's office?
Speaker 14: (38:02)
So Monica, Montgomery, um, is supportive then the mayor's office also told me that they would be supportive of a district. Uh, so right now the city is basically working on the language for such a resolution, how to describe the area best. And they're really relying on community members to make sure they get that right. Uh, so, so once that's settled, hopefully we can see something come to city council and supported by everyone.
Speaker 5: (38:28)
And is there any timetable for when a formal establishment of this district could be?
Speaker 14: (38:33)
No, not yet, but I know, um, you know, Kimberly's really excited. She has big, big plans for it. I mean, she wants to see something like you could have tours with, with bikes that go through the neighborhood. And, you know, I think the vision for what the area could be as beautiful and very big, but it's going to take some time.
Speaker 5: (38:53)
I've been speaking with San Diego journalists, Andrea Lopez via Fanya, and you can read the story and the San Diego union Tribune. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us.
Speaker 14: (39:04)
Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: (39:13)
If you've lived in California long enough, you'd probably seen one of those iconic yellow bumper stickers that say mystery spot, but do you actually know what the 81 year old roadside attraction called the mystery spot is all about the California reports. Amanda font took a friend to the Redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains to check it out.
Speaker 15: (39:37)
So here we are at the mystery spot. Uh, this is my friend and colleague Chloe Morey Sono. She's here with me as my sort of chief experiencer. Since I've been here so many times before, are you excited? I'm very excited. Prepare to be amazed. I've been to the mystery spot seven times in the last decade. I love bringing friends and despite multiple visits and Googling how it works. I'm still kind of baffled about what's going on here.
Speaker 16: (40:08)
Hi, everybody. Welcome to the mystery spot. How's everybody doing
Speaker 15: (40:13)
Our tour group of about 30 people meets at the bottom of a hill that marks the edge of the spot. Stella is our guide today.
Speaker 16: (40:20)
The mystery in 1939, a man named George right there bought this land from Alemany
Speaker 15: (40:26)
The Prater notice pretty quickly that something was weird.
Speaker 16: (40:29)
So the first thing that Mr breather realized was that this hillside right here is much more difficult to climb up than it should be.
Speaker 15: (40:37)
He reported feeling dizzy and disoriented in an area on the hill, about 150 feet in diameter. Prather also claimed his compass would point in the wrong direction when he was on the hill. That isn't part of today's demonstrations, but other quirks of the hillside are Stella lay some boards on the ground.
Speaker 16: (40:56)
So now this is a totally flat and level service. Do you guys trust me? Yes. Okay. No. What do you not trust someone you met three minutes ago. That's like rule number one. I can prove it though.
Speaker 15: (41:08)
She puts down a level and yep. The bubble is right in the middle totally level. Can I borrow you to a couple of kids volunteer? All right.
Speaker 16: (41:16)
You sir, you're going to stand right over here. Okay. You guys are going to stand on the boards facing each other.
Speaker 15: (41:22)
The kid on the right end of the boards is tolerably about four inches.
Speaker 16: (41:26)
Go ahead and switch places. Oh my God.
Speaker 15: (41:31)
Suddenly they're the same height you guys do
Speaker 17: (41:33)
That different. It's not just me.
Speaker 15: (41:36)
Could it be the mystery spa? Now we trudge up the steep hill. Are you feeling mysterious yet? Okay.
Speaker 17: (41:47)
It does feel mysterious that that little switcheroo definitely got me.
Speaker 15: (41:52)
We meet at the top in front of a very crooked cabin. It's a small wooden structure with two rooms and a couple painless windows. It's leaning sharply downhill, and we're all leaning uphill. Just looking at it makes you dizzy, Standing inside. It is very disorienting. You can't see much through the windows and we're leaning at a 17 degree angle, which appears even greater with the lean of the cabin. We're practically diagonal.
Speaker 17: (42:22)
It's hard to walk.
Speaker 15: (42:24)
It looks like we're about to fall over. Oh my God,
Speaker 17: (42:27)
This is why.
Speaker 15: (42:30)
And then someone does, but don't worry. She's totally fine. The thing that most bewilders Chloe in me is the pendulum in one room, a large led weight is attached to a cable. So it can swing freely.
Speaker 17: (42:42)
Like it's hanging downwards because that's the way that gravity told them.
Speaker 15: (42:47)
Yeah. But when we swing it, it flies way over in one direction. And only about half as far in the other direction.
Speaker 17: (42:55)
Okay. I was like, oh, I'm going to, I'm going to understand what's going on right away. It's all just gravity, but pretty mysterious. A mysterious,
Speaker 15: (43:06)
The mystery spot sits on. What's called a gravity hill. The idea is that an obstructed view of the horizon line throws off people's perception. Yeah, maybe, but can you full gravity? Stella runs through the mystery spots, official theories, maybe a UFO crashed into the hillside long ago. And it's still buried there. Maybe there's a swirling pool of magma creating a magnetic anomaly, or maybe we've been inhaling toxic fumes.
Speaker 16: (43:40)
And over the last 45 minutes, you have all been experiencing a mass group hallucination. Enjoy your stay in Santa Cruz.
Speaker 15: (43:48)
The truth remains a mystery.
Speaker 16: (43:51)
I know you all came here for our world famous.
Speaker 15: (43:58)
So does Chloe now share my love of the mystery spot?
Speaker 17: (44:01)
Definitely. It's worth the $8
Speaker 15: (44:04)
For the California report. I'm Amanda font in Santa Cruz. What are you going to do with your bumper sticker? I don't
Speaker 17: (44:13)
Know. I don't have a car.