Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tosca in Youngstown

I wish listeners could see David Vosburgh as he talks about Opera Western Reserve.  He describes the incredible amount of work involved in putting on each fall's opera, but instead of looking like he's stressed or anxious, he looks at once determined and like he's having an incredibly good time.  As our interview makes clear, David is responsible for so many aspects of each production, from working with Music Director Susan Davenny Wyner and the Board to select which operas to stage to recruiting singers to designing sets and costumes.  He's all too conscious that he can't keep doing it all forever, but for now, he does an impressive job.  The performances seem to get better each year, and the audiences keep growing. That reflects many things, but at the heart of it all is David Vosburgh's creativity and passion.

This fall's production, Tosca, is coming up in just a couple of weeks.  You can read a synopsis of the opera online, but that doesn't do justice to what it's like to be there.  Opera is excessive --intentionally so.  That's part of the pleasure of it.  Get your tickets now and support one of the most ambitious creative enterprises in Youngstown.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Caring for Those Who Can't Pay

We all know that access to health care is far from guaranteed in this country.  While emergency rooms won't usually turn away an uninsured person with an immediate need, our health care systems could save a lot of money AND people would be healthier if they didn't have to wait for an emergency to get medical care.  At the same time, the number of Americans who have health insurance continues to fall, in part because so many employers are choosing not to offer health insurance as part of employee benefits.  Even those who have insurance often struggle to meet deductibles and put off getting medical attention for fear of racking up significant out-of-pocket costs.

Meanwhile, the economics of providing medical care become increasingly complex, and doctors are having to make tough choices about what kind of care to provide to which patients. Programs that fund care for the poor and elderly are placing tighter limits and controls on what they reimburse, and requirements for malpractice insurance and new technologies create new expenses for medical practices.  It sometimes seems like the only ones benefiting from the system are the insurance companies.

Despite all that, a number of local doctors are doing something remarkable here in Youngstown: they're providing free care to people who need it.  Through the Midlothian Free Health Clinic, Dr. Thomas Albani and his colleagues are providing both basic and specialized care, much of it made possible entirely because medical professionals donate their time.  You can hear all about in this week's interview, and you can help ensure that the clinic continues to operate.  Call the clinic at 330.788.3330 to find out about how to donate and how to participate in their next fundraiser.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Making Sense of Food Policy

"Food policy" was a new phrase to me when I joined the Grow Youngstown board a couple of years ago, and I have to admit that I'm still not entirely clear on the full range of what it might cover.  As MVOC organizer Tammy Thomas and Grow Youngstown director Elsa Higby explain on this week's show, the idea behind the new Mahoning Valley Food Policy Council is to identify existing regulations that get in the way of the production and distribution of locally-grown and healthy food and advocate for new policies that will make it easier for growers, distributors, and consumers to improve the quality of food available in our area.  That might involve everything from zoning to allow urban farms or backyard chicken coops to regulations governing the sales of small-scale locally-produced packaged foods.

You can find out more about this model by visiting the website of the North American Food Policy Council. Along with explaining how such councils work, it has a list of the more than 100 that exist around the US.  You can also read the charter of the Ohio Food Policy Advisory Council, created by Governor Ted Strickland in 2007.

Want to get involved?  Check out the MVOC's Health Equity campaign information or visit the Grow Youngstown website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art Beyond the Museum, the Museum Beyond Art

One of the things I appreciate about this week's guest, Leslie Brothers, director of YSU's McDonough Museum of Art, is that her vision of art itself -- not just the role of a campus art museum, but of the very idea/act/artifact of art -- is so deeply connected with social change and community engagement.  This fall's Dreaming Awake: The Town Hall Project is a good example.  It involves some elements that seem to fit neatly into what most people think of as art -- most notably the project animations from the Vito Acconci Studio.  But it also redefines the museum itself, the place we think of as the location for art, as a place for community gatherings of all kinds, and that, in turn, invites us to think about how such gatherings might be not merely enhanced by art but could be, in themselves, forms of art.  To my mind, thinking in these terms transforms both how I think about art and how I think about community. 

Links within the McDonough's website will take you to a description of the Town Hall project and to a schedule of events.  One of the highlights of this fall's schedule is the Skeggs Lecture by Vito Acconci.  

In our conversation, Leslie mentioned the inspiration of a statement on art and social change by Laurie Anderson.  Here's a link to that piece, definitely worth a look.