Jonna McKone | WYPR

Jonna McKone

Reporter

Jonna covers education, youth and housing for WYPR.   She's also a documentarian, media artist and educator. Her stories and audio documentaries have been broadcast on All Things Considered, Here and Now, Marketplace, The World, Living on Earth, WAMU and Virginia Public Radio.  In 2014 Jonna was awarded an Equal Voice Journalism Fellowship.  A Maryland native, Jonna is a graduate of Bowdoin College and holds an MFA from Duke University.

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and we’ll use our extra day to ponder how the political divide in America has become so pronounced.  If a series of victories tomorrow establishes Donald Trump as the standard bearer for the Republican Party, does that mean that the political polarity of the Obama years gets even worse?  In his new book, Why the Right Went Wrong, acclaimed political journalist E.J. Dionne contends that reforming American conservatism is one of the most important tasks of our time.  He joins Tom to offer his unique perspective on the body politic in this political high season. 

Then, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck has a review of The Rep Stage (Columbia) production of Antigone Project,  a collection of five plays, all written by women, that presents compellingly updated renditions of Sophocles' ancient tragedy.

And MICA filmmaker Allen Moore and his collaborator, Leo Horrigan, drop by to discuss their new documentary Out of Our Heads: A Male Journey Into the Heartabout a group of men trying to find, heal and re-define themselves.

We start with a conversation with Steve Phillips, the co-founder of PowerPAC.ORG, which has worked to mobilize voters in under-represented communities.  In his new book, Brown is the New White, he argues that people of color and progressive whites constitute a new American majority, and that acting with an understanding of this new reality is key to the future success of the Democratic party. 

Then, the Academy Awards are on Sunday night.  Our fashion guru, Zoey Washington Sheff takes a tour of the Walters Art Museum.  All that jewelry you’ll see on the red carpet?  It’s so 19th century.

One thing you won’t see on the red carpet is any African Americans who’ve been nominated for their work as actors.  April Reign is the creator of the hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite.  We’ll talk about Hollywood’s diversity problem, and Gil Sandler joins us with this week’s Baltimore Story.  First, the news.     

Steve Phillips is the co-founder of a social justice organization called PowerPac, which has mobilized voters in support of political candidates like Barack Obama, Cory Booker, and the Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris.  With the Super Tuesday primary elections around the corner, and the political campaign season in full swing across the nation, candidates of both major parties are hard at work appealing to a wide range of constituencies in their political bases, from Tea Party conservatives and Evangelicals on the right, to progressives and people of color on the left.  In his new book, Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American MajoritySteve Phillips explains just how dramatically the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population has changed over the past 50 years, and argues that this change has given the progressive movement in America a historic opportunity to reshape the political landscape.  Steve Phillips joins Tom on the line from his home in San Francisco.

Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum is known around the world for an eclectic and wide-ranging collection of arts and crafts that spans antiquity to the early 20th century.  

The museum was established by 19th century tycoon William Walters, and later run by his son Henry, to house their personal collection of European art. The two men brought together an impressive collection of "statement" jewelry from such celebrated artisan-entrepreneurs as Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Zoey Washington Sheff, our resident Fashion Guru, and producer Jonna McKone visited the Walters to explore its collection of jewelry and to observe how the ornate, Victorian styles of the past are referenced in today’s styles and especially on the celebrity red carpet.   Zoey spoke with Jo Briggs, Associate Curator of 18th and 19th Century Art at the Walters, and she shares that conversation when she sits down with Tom Hall to describe how old is new again in the world of artisan jewelry.

Getty Images

Last year, when the 2015 Oscar nominations in the acting categories included not a single person of color, April Reign got mad. But the Howard County resident, former attorney and now managing editor of Broadway Black.com, did more than just fume about the Academy Awards' racial shutout.  She created the Twitter hashtag #OscarSoWhite, and tapped into a deep national well of resentment at Hollywood's persistent bias toward white talent.  Many critics expressed dismay, for example, that while the MLK biopic, Selma, was nominated for Best Picture, its African-American director Ava DuVernay and its black lead actor, David Oyelowo, were not recognized. Despite relentless criticism and protests, however, this year’s Oscar nominations were no different. Not a single actor of color was nominated for lead or supporting roles, and one of the year's biggest critical and box office hits, Straight Outta Compton, was also missing from best picture and best director nods.  These latest Oscar snubs have sparked even more buzz around the #OscarSoWhite hashtag, led to plans for a boycott of the February 28th Oscar ceremony, and intensified the national conversation about Hollywood's troubling lack of diversity.  April Reign joins Tom in the studio to discuss her role in that conversation, and the change she hopes it can achieve. 

MD Dept Of Education

 

Nearly 400,000 Maryland students qualify for free or reduced price lunches, about 45 percent of all students. Now schools across the state are trying to expand programs that connect those students with free breakfasts as well.

In today's show, we focus on Baltimore City's ambitious $74 million plan to tear down row homes in derelict and vacant blocks and neighborhoods. It’s estimated the city has upwards of 16,000 vacants. We look for some context for these plans: what policies and practices make eliminating blight successful for city economies and the people who live in them?  And what locks communities out of economic growth and change? Alan Mallach joins Tom in the studio.  He’s a city planner, writer and senior fellow with the Center For Community Progress.

The work that Tom's next guest has done shows why eliminating blight is such an urgent problem.  If you live in an area where blight is prevalent, it doesn’t just have a negative impact on your real estate values.  It can have a very harmful impact on your health.  Dr. Eugenia South has studied how blight impacts health and well-being in Philadelphia, a city with roughly 40,000 vacants.  Dr. South is a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Then, Tom takes a few minutes to talk about voting, and why it's especially important for Baltimorians to use the power of their votes in the April 26 primary election for Mayor to help shape the city's future.

And finally, an upbeat segment on the theme of urban blight:  the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, known as BOPA, and Baltimore City’s Growing Green Initiative have been enlisting artists and activists to help "green" blighted lots with beautiful art installations and engaging, community-affirming activities.  The new program is called Lots Alive.  Joining Tom in the studio to discuss the program is Maggie Villegas, a Public Art Project Specialist at BOPA, and Jenny Guillaume, with the Department of Planning’s Sustainability Office.

Flickr Creative Commons//Dorret

Baltimore City is embarking on an ambitious $74 million plan to tear down row homes in derelict and vacant blocks and neighborhoods. It’s estimated the city has upwards of 16,000 vacants. Today we want to get some context for these plans - what policies and practices make eliminating blight successful for city economies and the people who live in them?  And what locks communities out of economic growth and change? Alan Mallach joins Tom in the studio.  He’s a city planner, writer and senior fellow with the Center For Community Progress. While a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, Mallach wrote a study, Laying The Groundwork For Change: Demolition, Urban Strategy, And Policy Reform which looked at best practices for demolition, examining cities like Philadelphia, Detroit and Cleveland. He was director of housing and economic development in Trenton, New Jersey for 9 years and his most recent book is Rebuilding America’s Legacy Cities: New Directions for the Industrial Heartland,  Mallach is also working with Baltimore City to evaluate the Vacants To Value Program.

Penn Medecine

Earlier in the show we discussed what policies and approaches have been most successful in eliminating blight in cities like Baltimore. The work that Tom's next guest has done shows why eliminating blight is such an urgent problem.  If you live in an area where blight is prevalent, it doesn’t just have a negative impact on your real estate values.  It can have a very harmful impact on your health.  Dr. Eugenia South has studied how blight impacts health and well-being in Philadelphia, a city with roughly 40,000 vacants.  (That’s about 24,000 more vacants than we have in Baltimore.)  Dr. South is a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.    

buildiaf.org

Today we’ll talk about the city-wide voter registration drive that “BUILD” launched last October.  The Rev. Glenna Huber and The Rev. Andrew Foster Connors are the co-chairs of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development; they join Tom in a discussion of how their coalition of clergy and citizens has been working to get people added to the rolls, and-- by promoting a progressive economic and social development agenda --giving Baltimorians more reasons to vote. 

Then, neuroscientist and author David Linden discusses his latest book, Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart and Mind, which explores the surprisingly complex emotional connections we have with our sense of touch.

Plus, Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of Johns Hopkins’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality, describes how a tragic error led to innovative new hospital procedures that are helping to reduce medical mistakes, and save patients' lives.

And our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, has a review of Sweat, the powerful new drama at Washington's Arena Stage.  

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