VT Untapped
The Mask Makers: Episode 3 - Masks and Identity

The Mask Makers: Episode 3 - Masks and Identity

February 18, 2022

MEET VERMONT’S MASK MAKERS

In spring of 2020, face masks were one of the few tools we had against covid-19, and you couldn’t buy one. Anywhere

When hospitals started calling for homemade fabric masks amid a world shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), people with sewing skills in Vermont and around the world began to respond. In early April when the CDC changed its guidance and encouraged all Americans to wear a mask in public, sewers quickly expanded to sew for family, friends, and neighbors. At a time when anyone who could was asked to stay home, this work was one of the few active ways for individuals to help keep others safe. 

In this three-part mini-series we’ll explore the pandemic experience through the voices of some of Vermont’s mask makers. You’ll hear how and why they joined the sewing effort, learn about the Great Elastic Shortage of 2020, and explore how they expressed themselves creatively through the masks they made (what, you didn’t have a mask with spikes on it!?). 

The Mask Makers is co-produced and co-hosted by material culturalist and mask maker Eliza West

MASKS AND IDENTITY

Mask wearing is now a part of daily life and it’s easier to get masks. The global supply chain has caught up with the demand for filtered face masks and CDC guidelines encourage the use of N-95/KN-95 masks. But many people still choose to wear a cloth mask over their filtered mask, as a way to share something about themselves. 

In this episode we learn how mask makers began expressing themselves creatively through the masks they made, and how they helped others affirm their identities in the middle of a global crisis. amid the isolation of  the early pandemic.

 

VT Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Click here to learn more. 

The Mask Makers: Episode 2 - Community and Collaboration

The Mask Makers: Episode 2 - Community and Collaboration

February 15, 2022

MEET VERMONT’S MASK MAKERS

In spring of 2020, face masks were one of the few tools we had against covid-19, and you couldn’t buy one. Anywhere

When hospitals started calling for homemade fabric masks amid a worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), people with sewing skills in Vermont and around the world began to respond. In early April when the CDC changed its guidance and encouraged all Americans to wear a mask in public, sewers quickly expanded to sew for family, friends, and neighbors. At a time when anyone who could was asked to stay home, this work was one of the few active ways for individuals to help keep others safe. 

In this three-part mini-series we’ll explore the pandemic experience through the voices of some of Vermont’s mask makers. You’ll hear how and why they joined the sewing effort, learn about the Great Elastic Shortage of 2020, and explore how they expressed themselves creatively through the masks they made (what, you didn’t have a mask with spikes on it!?). 

The Mask Makers is co-produced and co-hosted by material culturalist and mask maker Eliza West

ADAPTATION AND COLLABORATION

You remember the toilet paper shortage, but did you know about the great elastic shortage of 2020? For home sewers, the global state of emergency elicited by the pandemic felt a lot like a war effort. On the “home front” (most often literally inside their homes) mask makers combated shortages of PPE to help those on the front lines of the pandemic as well as their family and friends. 

Like other global crises, the pandemic caused shortages of goods and disrupted supply chains, but makers found countless creative ways around those problems. In this episode, we hear from mask makers who shared resources and solutions when elastic or fabric were hard to find and offered mutual support amid the isolation of the early pandemic.

 

VT Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Click here to learn more.

The Mask Makers: Episode 1 - Sewing in a Crisis

The Mask Makers: Episode 1 - Sewing in a Crisis

February 4, 2022

In spring of 2020, face masks were one of the few tools we had against covid-19, and you couldn’t buy one. Anywhere

When hospitals started calling for homemade fabric masks amid a world shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), people with sewing skills in Vermont and around the world responded. In early April when the CDC changed its guidance and encouraged all Americans to wear a mask in public, sewers quickly expanded to sew for family, friends, and neighbors. At a time when anyone who could was asked to stay home, this work was one of the few active ways for individuals to help keep others safe. 

In this three-part mini-series we’ll explore the pandemic experience through the voices of some of Vermont’s mask makers. You’ll hear how and why they joined the sewing effort, learn about the Great Elastic Shortage of 2020, and explore how they expressed themselves creatively through the masks they made (what, you didn’t have a mask with spikes on it!?). 

The Mask Makers is co-produced and co-hosted by material culturalist and mask maker Eliza West

SEWING IN A CRISIS

In Episode 1 we explore the experiences of a handful of Vermont mask makers, learning about how mask making became an outlet for anxiety, while also forming an essential part of Vermont’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus. We also consider the complexities of mask makers earning money, or not, in exchange for their labor and the pressure some people felt to join the cause. 

 

VT Untapped™ is a production of the Vermont Folklife Center. To learn more click here.

Episode 23: Spooky Halloween Special 2021

Episode 23: Spooky Halloween Special 2021

October 29, 2021

This year for our annual SPOOKY HALLOWEEN SPECIAL We teamed up with our friends at Vermont Public Radio and put out a call to all Vermonters, inviting them to get in touch and tell us their scariest ghostly encounters and supernatural sightings.

We spoke with folks all over the state and we share four of the stories we heard in this episode. You’ll meet a traveling ghost, attend an elegant dinner party, and might think twice about going skiing in the Adirondacks. Thanks to Liz, Susannah, Gerry, and Tony for telling these tales.

And speaking of spooky—did you catch last year’s Spooky Halloween Special featuring Floyd Cowdrey telling a tale of the haunted house he lived in as a boy? If not, hit the link below, turn off the lights and tune in.

And if you’d like to hear Andy’s favorite Halloween song, you can give a listen here: “It’s Halloween!” by The Shaggs.

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Learn more on our website: www.vtfolklife.org/untapped 

Episode 22: Revisiting Irene - Mendon Remembers

Episode 22: Revisiting Irene - Mendon Remembers

October 7, 2021

This episode is the second in a pair of shows in which we reflect on the impact and legacy of Tropical Storm Irene. In Mendon Remembers, we hear from a group of Mendon, VT residents who gathered for a story circle in July, 2021 to share how their perspectives on Irene and its impacts have unfolded over the past ten years. Everyone who participated had also taken part in the story circles recorded by the Vermont Folklife Center immediately after the storm as part of the Irene Storytelling Project.

If you missed it, make sure to listen to the previous episode, Revisiting Irene: “Weathering the Storm.”

THE IRENE STORYTELLING PROJECT

Organizing Story Circles was one part of the Irene Storytelling Project. In addition to recording these events, our engagement was also an effort to support community-initiated documentation projects that explored the impact of Irene, and to maintain Irene Digital Memory, an online repository for media generated about Irene and the human response to the storm. 

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. For more information visit www.vtfolklife.org/untapped

Episode 21: Revisiting Irene: ”Weathering the Storm”

Episode 21: Revisiting Irene: ”Weathering the Storm”

August 27, 2021

Nine years ago the Vermont Folklife Center released Weathering the Storm - an audio documentary created with Vermonters from towns across the state hard hit by tropical storm Irene. In this special episode of VT Untapped we are re-presenting “Weathering the Storm” in its entirety to mark the 10th anniversary of this historic event.

Tropical Storm Irene struck Vermont on August 28, 2011 causing widespread, catastrophic damage. At VFC we struggled with how to respond to the storm - how could we employ our skills in a way that might actually help people in the present?

Through our conversations we developed what we called the Irene Storytelling Project, at the heart of which resided a series of in person story-sharing events across the state we called “Story Circles.” Late VFC folklorist Greg Sharrow and staff member Aylie Baker developed and refined the idea of Story Circles - structured, community storytelling gatherings where people embroiled in the experience of storm recovery could come together and share.

The Folklife Center sponsored Story Circles in Mendon, Stockbridge, and Rochester, Vermont. In partnership with Starting Over Strong Vermont (an emergency response organization that provided free, short-term support communities impacted by flooding from Irene) we worked with residents of Athens, Brattleboro, Ludlow, Plymouth, Waterbury and Wilmington.

These events were as much about being heard as they were about listening to others. As we came to learn, the Story Circles provided people with a way to give collective voice to the shared trauma of natural disaster. A place to reflect, connect with one another and find strength to move through—and beyond—the storm and its impacts. We were honored to be witnesses to the process. In many ways the Irene Storytelling Project was some of the most significant work we have ever done.

VT Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. For more information visit www.vtfolklife.org/untapped

Episode 20: A Year of Listening in Place

Episode 20: A Year of Listening in Place

April 28, 2021

Over a year since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic we take a moment to look back on a year of the Listening in Place project, focusing on submissions to our Sound Archive.

This facet of Listening in Place began with a small collection of audio recordings submitted via a portal on our website in response to an invitation to sit down and interview someone in your household, or remotely, during our first weeks of lockdown. 

We received about 30 recordings from across the state. College students interviewing their classmates or their parents who they were suddenly living with again after campus shut down; a father talking to his two kids; people connecting remotely with friends who were far away or who were quarantining just across town. In this episode of VT Untapped™ we revisit and reflect on these records, which we now think of as the first seeds planted in what has become the Listening in Place collection in our archive, documenting people’s experiences in Vermont during the pandemic.

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Learn more on our website: www.vtfolklife.org/untapped 

 

Episode 19: Sweetest Joys Indeed

Episode 19: Sweetest Joys Indeed

March 18, 2021

Sugaring is a central part of life in Vermont. Anthropologist Marge Bruchac tells us that the Abenaki people, the indigenous group native to Vermont, called the fourth new moon of the year the “maple sugar-making moon.” The Abenaki were the first people in the place we now call Vermont to boil down sap and make syrup, and they taught European settlers this practice--one unique to North America.

Today in Vermont sugaring is an important economic activity and a seasonal milestone that marks the transition from winter to spring--not to mention it’s how we create our best known, homegrown, sweet treat. Along with syrup, candy and other maple products, the seasonal pastime of visiting the sugar house is often evoked as a classic ‘Vermont’ activity for tourists and locals alike. It’s no surprise then that there are songs about sugaring or even that the Vermont Folklife Center might make reference to the activity in the name of its own podcast, VT Untapped! In our case we’re not tapping trees, but our archive, which contains thousands of interviews with Vermonters talking about their everyday lives and experiences. This episode brings you a seasonal selection of audio excerpts from our collection that reflect the sugaring tradition and its prominence in Vermont life across generations. 

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Visit www.vtfolklife.org/untapped to learn more. 

Episode 18: Meet Cute 2021 - Everest and Marjo

Episode 18: Meet Cute 2021 - Everest and Marjo

February 12, 2021

It’s that time of year again! Although our annual “Meet Cute” episode is a bit different this year, isn’t everything?

We’re coming up on one year of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a part of our Listening in Place project, we’ve focused on hearing from Vermonters about their experiences of this tumultuous time, in their own voices.

We know that Vermonters have continued to cultivate new romantic connections during this time but, to be honest, we paused a bit around asking people to tell us their touching stories of new flowering love in the midst of the pandemic. Would anyone really want to put a spotlight on a newly forged connection by sitting down for an interview with us?

So instead, our 2021 Meet Cute focuses on two themes that have consistently emerged through Listening in Place: resilience and human connections. Less of a “meet cute,” this year’s February episode of VT Untapped explores Covid as a catalyst for strengthening an existing relationship—a story about love across distance and across borders. We hope you enjoy!

 

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Learn more on our website: www.vtfolklife.org/untapped 

Episode 17: The Audio Diary of Pete Sutherland

Episode 17: The Audio Diary of Pete Sutherland

December 18, 2020

Back in March 2020, Pete Sutherland opened up the voice memo app on his phone, hit record and said “This is just day-one of one person's journal about isolation in the time of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide.” In the following nine months, Pete continued to hit record and share his thoughts with what he calls “the vault” on his phone. Sometimes he discusses the COVID-19 Pandemic, other times he reflects on walks in the woods, his family, teaching, or the 2020 election. In this episode of VT Untapped™, we bring you excerpts of Pete’s COVID Diary.

Pete is a longtime friend of the VFC and a vastly influential contributor to traditional culture in Vermont. He is prolific as a musician, teacher, visual artist, composer, writer, and storyteller and his way with words comes through in this diary. Beyond the words, the sonic experience of the diary transports us right into Pete’s world; many of his entries are made “on site” as he goes about his daily life. So take a seat and join Pete on his journey through COVID times.

In addition to providing material for this podcast, Pete has donated his diary in its entirety to the VFC archive where it will add to our growing collection of materials documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and our Listening in Place project. We are profoundly grateful to Pete for agreeing to share this personal account with us.

 

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Visit our website for more information.

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