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School board threats get Fed’s attention

 October 6, 2021 at 3:25 PM PDT

Speaker 1: (00:01)

The FBI will investigate threats to school board members across the state.

Speaker 2: (00:05)

We've had board meetings disrupted with aggressive harassing, verbally abusive protestors.

Speaker 1: (00:11)

I'm Maureen Cavenaugh with Jade Heinemann. This is KPBS midday edition, San Diego county commits $9 million to combat childhood obesity to address

Speaker 3: (00:30)

I think the problem of childhood obesity, and I think obesity in general, it really takes a whole community approach.

Speaker 1: (00:38)

Efforts are underway to save California's giant sequoias from climate change and wildfire. And another in-person festival is back this time, the San Diego Italian film festival that's ahead on midday edition,

Speaker 1: (01:01)

Uh, school board meeting shut down by protestors in Poway. Another meeting in Vista adjourned because people refuse to wear masks and a school board member in Coronado finds her address published on social media and her car vandalized. Now, the FBI has been tasked to look into incidents like these across the country. Attorney general Merrick Garland announced on Tuesday that federal investigators will work with local officials on what he calls a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school. Administrators. Joining me is Darshan a Patel, a delegate who represents the California school board association and a trustee for Poway unified school district. And Darshana welcome to the program. Thank

Speaker 2: (01:49)

You for having me today, Maureen,

Speaker 1: (01:51)

Can you tell us about your experience with one of these disruptions?

Speaker 2: (01:56)

You know, the power unified school district has been meeting virtually since the beginning of the pandemic, since the governor's order has allowed us to, for the health and safety of both our staff and our public. And on September 9th, we had a regularly scheduled board meeting and it was duly agendized as a virtual meeting, some not open to in-person attendance, but we live stream it. And during that meeting, before we were even able to convene it, protestors push their way into our school district office took over our board room and did not allow us to convene our meeting. It was quite frightening for our staff, very unexpected, and it was a very disturbing situation, aggressive, hostile, and we weren't able to actually even convene our meeting and conduct business that night.

Speaker 1: (02:41)

No, there were police in attendance at the Poway meeting, as far as I've read, what do they do? So please,

Speaker 2: (02:48)

I recalled when the protesters started getting a little aggressive and push their way into the room, it took them some time to arrive on scene. And at that time only one officer showed up and then that officer had to call for backup before entering the room. And even when once three officers were there, they still didn't feel that they had enough force to manage the situation. So it was about 40 minutes from my understanding until, um, officers actually came inside the building to see what was going on. And,

Speaker 1: (03:16)

And what are you hearing from other school boards in San Diego and across the state about what's going on at these meetings?

Speaker 2: (03:23)

So across the state, it's been, you know, we've had board meetings disrupted with aggressive harassing, verbally abusive protestors, Northern California, Southern California, inland coastal mountains, deserts, you name it. It's it's broad across our whole state and across the nation. In fact, what we're hearing is that these meetings are being disrupted and board members are not fully aware of what they're the processes they call the police to help. And in some situations, the police are great. Their local officers work well with their school districts and in several situations, they just haven't been that supportive. So a unifying message from the governor would really be helpful. And that's why CSBA has taken action to write a letter to our governor, urging for leadership to have school boards protected by law enforcement.

Speaker 1: (04:10)

What are the issues that are driving these outbursts?

Speaker 2: (04:13)

Currently, it is across the board. It's the let them breathe movement. So this is this group of individuals who believe that masks are causing harm to children, which we, we know that there's no genuine physical harm. That's caused to children by wearing masks. They believe that it's their individual, right, to not wear a mask, but the situation, the reality is for school districts in California, the governor has issued an indoor mask mandate, and we are complying with the law. What these protesters are doing is they're asking us to break the law and in fact, doing it in an unlawful way by disrupting public meetings.

Speaker 1: (04:49)

And what other issues out there are driving these outbursts? Is it also critical race there?

Speaker 2: (04:54)

Critical race theory is another one. And that one's, it's fueled by a lot of misunderstanding and intentional disinflation being spread around what school districts are doing with critical race theory. And it's actually intended for the college or graduate school level. And it specifically deals with the law. That's not something we're teaching in public education. What we're doing is introducing curriculum through the lens of racial equity, injustice.

Speaker 1: (05:17)

Do you have any sense that these disruptions are coordinated efforts?

Speaker 2: (05:22)

Well, they do really seem to be coordinated because it's essentially it's the same tactics and the same misinformation, the same types of harassment. It does seem very coordinated. And this is why the national school boards association has asked president Biden and Mr. Merritt Garland to take a step in which they have agreed to do. So. Now the department of justice is asking the FBI to investigate these situations. So it is being taken very seriously.

Speaker 1: (05:47)

And what are you hoping the new FBI involvement will do?

Speaker 2: (05:51)

It starts with, um, inquiry. So the FBI will start investigations to determine whether there is a coordinated effort. And if there is, they will take the steps necessary to put a stop to this, this harassment, this verbal abuse, following board members and staff members. It's essentially preventing school boards from doing the work of the public on behalf of our students and children. Now, there are

Speaker 1: (06:14)

Critics who say that, getting the FBI involved in what happens at school board meetings is an overreaction and will have a chilling effect on parents' rights. What do you say to that?

Speaker 2: (06:24)

It's not that this is the first time a school boards across the nation have faced a very passionate public, but what it's escalated into is extreme disruption, California law has penal codes, specifically outlining maintaining the peace of public meetings. And this is more about that. It's not about discouraging public input at meetings. This is about stopping hate, full threatening, violent behavior against elected officials.

Speaker 1: (06:49)

I've been speaking with Darshan, a Patel, a delegate who represents the California school board association and a trustee for Poway unified school district and Darcy. And a thank you so much.

Speaker 2: (07:01)

Thank you.

Speaker 4: (07:07)

The coronavirus pandemic has appended our lives in all kinds of ways. And childhood obesity is no exception. The rates have increased since the start of the pandemic disproportionately impacting communities of color, acknowledging the problem. San Diego county earlier this week announced a $9 million partnership to fight childhood obesity. What impacts will these increased obesity rates have on our community? And what are some ways we should be thinking about tackling this complex issue? Joining me is Dr. Guadalupe. Ialla professor of public health at San Diego state and director of the Institute for behavioral and community health. Dr. ILO. Welcome.

Speaker 3: (07:48)

Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate having a conversation on this topic.

Speaker 4: (07:52)

You recently wrote an opinion piece in the San Diego union Tribune, where you call childhood obesity a threat. What did you mean by that? And why do you choose that word to describe it?

Speaker 3: (08:04)

I describe it as a threat because our ability to be productive, happy, healthy human beings, um, is in part driven by our health status and our wellbeing. And the concern we have is that with increasing rates of childhood obesity, you inevitably have increasing rates of obesity among adolescents and then adults. What does that lead to? Ultimately it could lead to earlier deaths, but maybe even more. So what we care about is just an inability to do the things we want to do in life, because we're either having to address significant health issues like diabetes and heart disease, or we're not able to be physically active with our kids because we don't have the mobility we might be able to have if we were not suffering with this condition. Hmm.

Speaker 4: (08:57)

Give us a sense of where childhood obesity was in San Diego county before the pandemic and where it is today.

Speaker 3: (09:03)

It's actually a little bit hard to speak about that because a lot of the sources of information where we would learn about increasing whether the rates are increasing or decreasing were systems that were not, not necessarily implemented during the pandemic. So let me give you one example is that there's a lot of information about child's health is collected when children are in school and when they are studying remotely, there are less opportunities for us to be able to monitor the health of a child in normal ways. But what I can say is that the conditions that COVID highlighted in terms of lack of access to healthy options in terms of lacks of access to healthcare, those are things that exist and that make our ability to prevent or control childhood obesity really a lot harder.

Speaker 4: (10:01)

Well, let's talk about that a bit more. I mean, what's the link between these rising childhood obesity rates and COVID-19

Speaker 3: (10:08)

What changed. We could even look in our own households, right? We were less likely to go out more likely to sit and entertain ourselves in front of the television. Television itself is not necessarily a culprit, but if you're finding yourself, sitting at home for four or five, six hours in any one evening, when you potentially could have been outside, may be participating in some sort of community recreation or going to your local gym, that's where we start to see the impact. So we've become much more sedentary when we're sedentary in front of the television, what happens? We tend to mindlessly eat and drink, and that then starts to create an internal change in our bodies, where we then start to also crave those unhealthier foods or more foods or the things or the foods that are bringing us comfort.

Speaker 4: (11:03)

Um, and the county's announcement of their childhood obesity initiative earlier this week, they seem to emphasize that the problem is about more than just an individual's choices. Uh, here's how Dr. Kelly Modelle described it.

Speaker 5: (11:17)

When it comes to obesity, we need to consider barriers beyond individual motivation that make it hard to be healthy and active. It's hard to eat a nutritious diet when healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are hard to afford, and it's hard to be active. If your neighborhoods do not have enough sidewalks or parks. And if they do have sidewalks and parks, do you feel safe enough to utilize and explore them? You know,

Speaker 4: (11:41)

Framing it as part of a larger societal issue. It can be hard to identify specific solutions with so many issues involved. Where should we start

Speaker 3: (11:51)

To address? I think the problem of childhood obesity and I think obesity in general, it really takes a whole community approach. And so when it asked where to start, start, where you can, right, because we need the change, we need the individual change. For sure. We need individuals to make healthier choices. There's no question about that, but I could not agree more that in order to support healthy individual choices or healthy family choices, we need a community that makes those choices easily accessible and affordable. And so where do you start with that? So if you are a restaurant owner, do you have child menus, even a child menu options even available on your restaurant menu and are those child menu options healthy? Do they contain any form of fruit or vegetable at minimum instruction?

Speaker 4: (12:51)

Racism creates health disparities that have been made worse by the pandemic. How has that impacted children along racial lines?

Speaker 3: (12:59)

No, one of the things about, um, black lives matter and all of the discussion we're having about structural racism is actually a really good thing for childhood obesity, because it's really highlighting where we have systems, where we have organizations, agencies, uh, both private and public that could be doing more. And so, for example, if a parent does not feel comfortable in a healthcare setting, they're less likely obviously to go seek healthcare, which then may help, um, a parent realize that their child has a health concern with their weight issue. I think one of the, one of the challenges we have is that many individuals in the healthcare system and the educational system, we're also very reluctant, understandably to diagnose a child with a condition that might be maybe lifelong, because you often sort of hold out the hope that this would change, but what's happening by not being clear with parents and by sending inconsistent messages, we're then not really making it clear to parents about the importance of this issue and what it's going to mean. Long-term not only for their child, but the wellbeing of their whole family.

Speaker 4: (14:26)

I've been speaking with San Diego state professor of public health, Dr. Guadalupe. [inaudible] Dr. [inaudible]. Thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 3: (14:34)

Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.

Speaker 4: (14:41)

You're listening to KPBS mid-day edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh, governor Gavin Newsome signed the mommy bus act into law to address racial in maternal and infant health. This week, the new law will put resources behind growing and diversifying the midwifery workforce extend California's Medicaid coverage for doulas and extend Medi-Cal eligibility for mothers up to 12 months after giving birth the new law aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates, particularly among black women and babies who are much more likely to die due to structural racism that causes complications in pregnancy and birth. My Shariki could do move director of maternal and infant health for March of dimes, greater Los Angeles worked on the new legislation and joins us now. Musher Riki.

Speaker 6: (15:29)

Welcome. Thank you so much for having me first.

Speaker 4: (15:33)

Let's talk about the problems this bill is trying to address overall. The us has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world, but for black women, giving birth is even more dangerous. What do statistics in California reveal show?

Speaker 6: (15:48)

We see in California, there was a recent report put out by the California department of public health that shows the pregnancy related mortality ratio for black women is four to six times higher than their counterparts. And so that racial is actually increasing. So we're seeing the disparities gap widen. We used to in California, that black women have a preterm birth rate. That's about 43% higher than their counterparts. And we also see that in San Diego county. So in San Diego county, black women have a higher preterm birth rate. That's higher than the county average, as well as higher than the state average. And we also see that with our native American moms as well, starting native American indigenous moms also have preterm birth rates that are higher than their other counterparts. We also see that the infant mortality rate is higher for black women in California. Um, so for black women, when we see is that these disparities really exist regardless of income, socioeconomic status education. And so that whining really does look at structural racism, some of the structural barriers that black women encounter about other women to not.

Speaker 4: (17:01)

And let's dig into that more. I mean, what do we know about what's causing higher mortality rates for black pregnant women and black and native American infants?

Speaker 6: (17:09)

A couple of things that are happening, it is the, um, lack of reciprocate care. So not having a provider in your community that can take care of you. If you're having a heart condition, if you have a high risk pregnancy in California, there's about nine counties that don't have, um, an obstetric provider, we call them maternity deserts. So they don't have enough obstetric providers or enough, um, hospitals. And so really trying to travel the distance to get to appropriate care, to get to your hospital. And that's one thing that this bill will help do when we look at drawing and diversifying the midwifery workforce and having more midwives and areas where women can have access to more care. Um, so it's also to the experience that black women, um, encounter when they seek medical care. And so, you know, I know from my own experience, um, of being disrespected and not listened to when my baby was in the NICU, I know for my sister's experiences and we all have college degrees, San Diego state do Stanford, Berkeley, um, and we all have basis challenges. And I hear from my friends who are at college educated, who aren't listened to, who are their pains dismissed when they know something is not right, they, um, aren't listened to in the healthcare space. So implicit bias, it really is impacting the care that folks receive and the care that is given. And

Speaker 4: (18:45)

I can relate to everything you just said. Cause I had to share in that experience, um, you know, one way this bill would address those causes is by increasing access to doulas and midwives. What's the impact of having a doula or midwife?

Speaker 6: (19:01)

Sure. So there is research that shows that having a doula and midwife or mid by really reduces some of the adverse outcomes to Loris a C-section rate increases rates of breastfeeding as well as patient satisfaction. And so all those things really point to lower healthcare costs, right? Um, better outcomes and better improve patient experience. And so having that support, having the support of a doula with you, not only during birth, but before to help with some of the prenatal education, you know, afterwards, um, and postpartum to be able to help with some of the maternal warning signs, um, to help him navigate not only the healthcare system, but some of the community resources that you need and move with free care also does the same thing. And so what we see is just a lack of connection. A lot of times between OB providers in the community and OB providers, not always knowing where to send their patients or, you know, help with food or housing or mental health resources and the community doulas and midwives really do have that impact and have those connections. I was on Medi-Cal when I was in graduate school and pregnant, I had midwifery care. Um, I used GSD and I had a doula and all about really did impact my care, increased my satisfaction and just feeling supported through the process

Speaker 4: (20:33)

And increasing access to doulas and midwives. What else would the California Mamanee bus act to do?

Speaker 6: (20:39)

So they'll do a few other things. It will improve data collection with our maternity mortality review committees, as well as our lead on infant mortality review committees as well. We know when there's better data collection about the causes of deaths, when they're preventable, we can make better decisions regarding, um, programs, services, system changes not only in the hospital, but also in the community as well. So having better data collection well, um, improved outcomes will improve programs also to, with a little do. Um, it all will develop a work group for the doula, a Medi-Cal benefit to make sure, um, to help with the state implementing the program. So making sure that everyone who wants to doula can get one, it'll also to reduce some of the cumbersome, um, barriers for CalWORKs, for women who are on pregnant. So women who are pregnant, who are on CalWORKs, there's an increase and the supplement that they'll get, and this is the first increase that's happened in almost 40 years.

Speaker 6: (21:51)

It'll also re remove the, uh, welfare to work requirement for pregnant women who, who are have CalWORKs. So what that really does is it allows women to have more resources that allows them to now have these requirements that really kind of sometimes are burdensome and get in the way, uh, just, um, um, seeking care. And also there's a pilot or a guaranteed basic income that prioritizes pregnant women. And so this is income. That's no string attached, um, that will give families more resources. And so the research shows that there's a couple of different, um, programs that have this guaranteed basic income, one coming out of Stockton, um, that show that this extra money, no strings attached, reduces stress, improves mental health and also improves, um, people's economic opportunities, because then you are able to take time off work, to get childcare, to go to the job. That'll give you benefits, that'll give you full time employment. Um, so it was interesting that it came out that the extra income improves economic opportunities. It reduces stress, which we know increased stress, put some women at more risk for preterm birth. Do you,

Speaker 4: (23:15)

I think, uh, overall that the mom bus act does as much to address structural racism in healthcare as it does to address income inequality.

Speaker 6: (23:27)

It does. I think what it will do is it'll improve access. And when we look at improved access to healthcare, quality of healthcare services and resources, we know that that'll reduce some of, um, the reduced disparities and adverse outcome. So what impacts a woman's health and her birth outcomes is not just her access, you know, whether or not she shows about the doctor, right? It is. Does she live in a safe community? Does she have, um, access to transportation? Does she have access to healthy foods and opportunities to move her body? Is she going to a provider who can address all her issues? So when we talk about women having access to midwives, doulas, extra income with the CalWORKs supplement, extra income with the guaranteed basic income pilot, those will improve healthcare. Um, those will improve outcome. But what we know Jane is that this is just to stop that there is more work that needs to be done. Wyatt asked me 65 does a mom. And the best does bill does is we imagine what pregnancy and birth can look like for our families, but we know that we also have to reimagine systems that are more responsive, that are more respectful, that really do seek to improve patient outcome safety and experience. So while this bill does a lot, we know that there is still more work to be done.

Speaker 4: (25:05)

Speaking with musher rekey could do move director of maternal and infant health for March of dimes, greater Los Angeles, musher Regi, thank you so much for joining us

Speaker 1: (25:21)

A half dozen or so. Wildfires still burning in Northern California are all now at least 75% contained, but through the summer mega fires like the Dixie and Kaldor blazes threatened homes and communities, and even a part of California's heritage, the giant sequoias, which can live for thousands of years, at least 30 of the giant trees and Sequoia national forest were destroyed by fire last month. That's on top of the 10 to 15% of all the state's sequoias that were destroyed by fire. Last year, since wildfire in California is expected to become more frequent and intense experts are struggling to find ways to protect California's great ancient forests and journey me is Kurt peacock. He is an ISA certified arborist with tree San Diego and Kurt. Welcome to the program. Thank

Speaker 7: (26:14)

You for having me

Speaker 1: (26:15)

Tell us about the sequoias. Are they only found here in California?

Speaker 7: (26:20)

Yes. The giant sequoias that we refer to are found only here in California and the giant Sequoia is a separate species from the coast redwoods.

Speaker 1: (26:31)

And how long do the giant sequoias live? How big do they grow?

Speaker 7: (26:35)

The largest living thing on earth is the general sermon giant Sequoia in Kings canyon, national park. And they can grow be well over 200 approaching 300 feet tall and live somewhere between two and as many as four or 5,000 years.

Speaker 1: (26:51)

Do we have many ancient, giant Sequoia groves in California? How many are there?

Speaker 7: (26:58)

We really don't. There are extensive logging in the late 19th century and early 20th century reduced some of the biggest giants and they were taken down before preservation could occur. And that is why the national park service protected them because there were so few after logging was done too much of the big old growth stands.

Speaker 1: (27:20)

And what about in Southern California? Do the giant sequoias only grow in the north?

Speaker 7: (27:25)

Yes. They have a very limited range, at least currently to the higher elevations of the Sierra attempting to grow them here in Southern California just leads to very unhappy trees because we tend to have not enough moisture and not enough humidity for their liking.

Speaker 1: (27:42)

Now these huge wildfires in Northern California this year and last year have raised the alarm about the survival of these trees. How severely do you think they're threatened?

Speaker 7: (27:54)

I would rate it as moderate to severe given the current conditions and the intensities of these recent wildfires.

Speaker 1: (28:01)

Now, recently we heard about a technique of wrapping the bottoms of the trees with foil to try to protect them. Here's Stan hill, he's a us forest service, deputy forest management officer.

Speaker 8: (28:14)

The idea behind the foil is to protect structures and sometimes trees, other things in places that we, where a fire is going to impact.

Speaker 1: (28:26)

Now, have we seen this method work to save these

Speaker 7: (28:30)

In the case of the general Sherman, that was the tree that was wrapped and it was successful at preventing, uh, lower ignition and climbing the ladder as we call it in fire into the canopy of the tree. So it was a very iconic tree and a very special tree. And, uh, the material seemed to protect it. Although they did lose in this last fire, they did lose one of the larger ones in the Grove, not nearly the general sermon size, but they were able to, you know, the forest service and all Cal fire and all they do, we're able to save the majority of those trees,

Speaker 1: (29:05)

No wrapping the foil around the bottom. I I'm confused because don't trees usually catch fire from the top. The thing

Speaker 7: (29:12)

What happens and classic fire scenario is that they have what they call a fuel ladder in most forest rebuilds up on the forest floor that then ignites and then climbs a ladder into the canopies of the trees. And one of the saving graces for the sequoias is that many of them don't begin branching until 60 or more than a hundred feet into the air. So the fuel ladder is a huge leap from the forest floor debris to get to that upper canopy with younger trees and other Pines. That's not the case. And that's why those forests burn much more readily when they ignited.

Speaker 1: (29:50)

Is this foil or some similar structure on the bottom around these trees? Is that a practical idea to try to save the giant Sequoia

Speaker 7: (30:00)

In large scale? I don't think so because of the cost. I mean, it was a great thing to do to that special iconic tree, the largest living thing on earth. Uh, and I think that was definitely warranted, but more has to be done for, you know, fuel management to prevent the fires from reaching the intensity that they have recently.

Speaker 1: (30:21)

Now, other than wildfires, what other environmental challenges are facing these giant sequoias,

Speaker 7: (30:27)

Our changing climate and the intensity of storms. And then of course, especially the lack of snow pack in the Sierras, which is what they count on. And you realize over the last few years, we've had very up and down winters. Um, snowpack 70% below normal, I believe one of the last two years, and that can be devastating for them because without enough moisture and without enough cold, they don't function as properly. And then they sometimes will become like the Pines susceptible to boring beetles.

Speaker 1: (31:01)

And why is saving the giants? Coya so important

Speaker 7: (31:05)

Because there's such a limited range is that they're iconic. There is no other tree that comes close to mass and size. And we know from historic fossil records, even that the Sequoyah giant sequoias used to occupy a huge, huge section of north America historically. And over the hundreds of thousands of years, that range has shrunk down to that last population at the top of the Sierras and, you know, man-made impact and what we do and climate change has, uh, you know, caused them their population did dwindle, but the extinction of any species on this planet is a tragedy, especially something as massive and majestic as those giant sequoias.

Speaker 1: (31:47)

I've been speaking with Kurt peacock. He is an ISA certified arborist with tree San Diego. Kurt, thank you so much.

Speaker 7: (31:56)

You're very welcome.

Speaker 4: (32:09)

You're listening to KPBS day edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh, the California report magazine visits, some of the best secret spots across the state for their yearly hidden gym show. One of this year's is a tiny tree shop in San Jose's Japan town. The [inaudible] was established back in 1953, and the mochi made here by hand is so soft. And so pillowy on Instagram followers. Describe it as baby cheeks. So KQ EDS, Rachel Myra volunteered to sample all the flavors.

Speaker 9: (32:46)

To be honest. Shui is no hidden gem. The word has been out for almost 70 years now, and there's almost always a line at this little shop on Jackson street. The main drag in San Jose is Japan town, Jean Takahashi from the Takahashi market in San Mateo. Another hidden Jim, by the way, drives down twice a week to pick up 40 pieces of mochi on Thursdays, 80 to 90 on Saturdays.

Speaker 10: (33:11)

I have a Legion of addicts that come shopping at my store, looking for

Speaker 9: (33:16)

If DACA, Hershey, miscalculates demand and the treats don't sell out. You'll be unable to resist eating what's left, especially the Conoco. That's the mochi filled with white Lima bean paste covered on the outside with soybean flour.

Speaker 10: (33:31)

The trick to eating. If you have to make sure take a breath first before you bite it. So you don't inhale and sneeze and get brown powder.

Speaker 9: (33:43)

Japanese T times suites are called [inaudible] and there are hundreds of varieties. The owners here specialize in mochi. Those are the suites made with glutinous rice pounded into a paste and steamed then molded into something. The size of a golf ball filled with white Lima or red Zuki bean paste and lightly dusted. So they don't stick to your hand. Also, you've got to try their Chichi. Dango made with rice flour and cut into squares. On the day I visited wildly pink, strawberry Chichi Dango was the featured special, but back in the kitchen, Tom and Judy Kuma Morrow were making the peanut butter mochi, Halloween. Goodness.

Speaker 11: (34:28)

That's what I love. I love it when someone buys into it and they just go, oh, they like it.

Speaker 9: (34:36)

Their kitchen is tiny and packed with ancient copper kettles, giant steaming baskets, a Baker's oven and a simple written table for assembly. The two of them move with steady practice to ease, pinching off the mochi paste, pressing with fingers, to make a space for the fill-in spoon, a little in and close. The confection

Speaker 11: (35:00)

Just goes by

Speaker 9: (35:00)

Feel Tom and Judy didn't start out in sweets. She was a dental technician. He worked for an electronics company. It's so happens. Judy's parents were pals with the original husband and wife team that launched choroidal Manju shop in 1953. So when they were ready to retire in the late 1980s, Judy's parents asked, oh,

Speaker 11: (35:22)

None of your kids want it. Let me know if you want to sell

Speaker 9: (35:25)

And lined up a transfer of ownership. There are machines. Now that can turn out thousands of mochi in an hour, but in a world where many are prettier to look at than tasty to eat, it matters to the Cooma. Morrow's that they're preservative free. Country-style mochi tastes the way they like it. Soft, fresh, not too sweet.

Speaker 11: (35:48)

Sometimes we have people buying and they open the box outside. They put the whole thing in their mouth. They'll eat like three, four of them.

Speaker 9: (35:55)

Somehow 34 years have passed since Tom and Judy started the original owners. The ozawa's lasted 35. So are the Cooma Morrow Kent's going to take over.

Speaker 11: (36:07)

It's hard for just one to take over. You would need a few people in order to get all this done. So it's still up in there. They're still not saying

Speaker 9: (36:20)

Don't wait to pay a visit. There are no wrong choices, but I recommend the peanut butter call ahead and make sure it hasn't sold out for the California report. I'm Rachel Myro in San Jose,

Speaker 1: (36:38)

San Diego Italian film festival returns in person on Thursday at the museum of photographic arts, KPBS arts reporter, Beth Huck Amando gets a preview with the festivals artistic director, Antonio Ionata

Speaker 12: (36:52)

Antonio, the San Diego Italian film festival finally got back to in-person events last month. So how did it feel to finally reconvene with a real audience?

Speaker 13: (37:04)

It was wonderful. It was really amazing. And, uh, and also emotional finally, you know, to use our whole body and not just our heads in a screen, it felt that he felt really good, but you know, being there and exchanging ideas, exchanging conversations that exchanges our presence, laughing together, being terrorized together, crying together is one of the most important things. When we go in a theater and share a story and an emotion, but everybody was happy and everybody had a very, a very good experience. So we look forward to more events in person.

Speaker 12: (37:46)

Well, I think being home alone during this pandemic and watching so many films and events via zoom, I think people may be forgetting the importance of that communal aspect of watching a film,

Speaker 13: (38:01)

Watching a theme or whatever, you know, arts, uh, event that in person, but when they are there, uh, everybody felt something, something different. So I think it's really important. And, uh, um, and it's worth the effort because when we're there, we see that much more than, uh, you know, what we can do via via zoom or via whatever, you know, whatever app on his screen, uh, don't get me wrong. We had a beautiful experience. These last 16, 18 months don't even want to counter because when we had the possibility to engage in conversations and discussions with so many guests from Italy, that for, you know, it's more festival like ours, it's something priceless, but being there with actual human beings and, and share and experience, it's something completely different.

Speaker 12: (38:55)

So last month your monthly film series went back to in-person and this week the actual festival is returning to in-person. So you are opening on Thursday night. And what are you planning for this opening night?

Speaker 13: (39:09)

We were planning something, something special, a an extraordinary movie based on an, an extraordinary novel that is also available in English. Lachy is the title in Italian and in English is the, so it's a movie about, uh, how a family can stick together if love disappears. And, uh, I'm not going to tell more in, in terms of the plot, but in terms of the structure of the movie, it's really interesting because we start in Naples, uh, at the beginning of the eighties and all of a sudden the characters, the father, the mother, and the two kids. So we are, uh, uh, for ward, you know, 30 years from now. So we have these time structures back and forward where it seems that at a certain point, it seems like a science fiction movie, but it's very rooted, you know, in family values and family pressures and how to try not to ruin too much the life of our children.

Speaker 13: (40:15)

Uh, it's a very powerful movie. It's a very strong movie. And, you know, the overall theme for this festival is a, is a resilience. So we have movies that really deal with that. Uh, we couldn't pick another theme for this year, of course, but, you know, we, we are addressing that as the art of resilience, because we really believe that art and film and cinema in this case in particular can, can change our lives. And we can rely on that in moments where, you know, literally the world is falling apart. And so through the cinema, through our movies. So we believe we can not only resist, but even thrive and become hopefully better human being.

Speaker 12: (41:03)

And another thing about the festival that people may not be aware of, if they haven't gone is your focus is on contemporary Italian cinema. And how does this film reflect what's going on in Italian cinema right now? Is it representative of what's going on in Italy?

Speaker 13: (41:19)

Absolutely. It's a, it's a, um, we corroborate the very, you know, attentively what's going on right now in, uh, in, uh, in cinema, in, in Italy, in the theater. So mainstream movies and in festival where you have maybe, you know, movies that don't circulate so much around the, you know, the, the bigger cities, independent movies. So the effort is to have a real, a real window on Italian cinema today as if we were in Italy right now, and in like in Roma as well as at the Venice film festival. So the, the effort is really to, to bring a variety of genre, a variety of approaches, a variety of perspectives on what we consider the best contemporary Italian movies. So we have movies like Lachy, uh, tomorrow night. That was the opening FEMA at the Venice film festival, not this year, last year when we were in the, in the, you know, in the middle of the pandemic.

Speaker 13: (42:25)

And at the same time, we have movies that are very, very small, a low budget, independent that are pretty much impossible to watch if you don't come to our festival like October the eighth, a wonderful documentary about [inaudible] that is enabled in, in Naples, again in Naples. So that tell us an incredible story of resilience around in a church, a priest that put together a bunch of, uh, youth of a Neapolitan, very educated, uh, young boys and girls that were able to transform, uh, some, uh, part of the, uh, arts, uh, patrimony Naples into a business. So it's an incredible story. And the fact that we have two movies about Naples one after the other reflects on the status of the importance of the feed Marta in Naples today,

Speaker 12: (43:27)

The pleasure of serving on the jury for the restreto awards and explain what this is, because in addition to showing feature films, you have a focus on short films.

Speaker 13: (43:36)

Yes, this is the third edition of, of our restraint awards. It's a film festival dedicated to shorter. It's open not only to Italian directors from Italy, but to everybody that can focus on any Italian theme or Italian American theme or something that deals with, uh, our culture or an interpretation of our culture. So during the festival online, this is one of the content that available online. Uh, our audience can watch the 16 shorts that made the into the final and also vote for them. And during our gala, uh, October 23rd, that we will announce the winners of the competition, and we will screen the winners.

Speaker 12: (44:26)

I want to thank you very much for talking about the now back to in-person San

Speaker 1: (44:31)

Italian film festival. Thank you, Beth. We are back. That was Beth Armando speaking with Antonio Ionata San Diego Italian film festival runs tomorrow through October 30th, both online and at the museum of photographic arts.