Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives. NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They’re now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited.
Here’s our first installment: Amanda Brand is gay. Her family is conservative Catholic, and when she was a teenager, her parents were convinced she was only going through a phase. Recently, Amanda sat down with her mother and father in Queens, N.Y., in the same house she grew up in, to revisit her tumultuous teen years.
Photo: Radio Diaries (left), David Gilkey/NPR
This biopic of Temple Grandin, illustrates the possibilities of overcoming limitations even autism. Temple did not speak until she was four. She had difficulty with social relationships and emotional regulation through out her childhood. She processed information differently, experiencing things visually, as pictures.Temple’s mother and several teachers supported and nurtured her potential. She developed an interest in cattle while spending time at her Aunt and Uncle’s ranch. This passion ultimately led Temple became an expert in animal husbandry and Professor at Colorado State University. Her humane designs for cattle processing plants has done her awards from PETA. She is an author and tireless advocate for those with autism. She is noted for creating the ‘hug box’, a way of relieving stress.
Learning From Kurt Cobain’s Mistakes
By this time in my life, I was a professional Portlander, desensitized to celebrity. I looked upon my teenage idol-worship with embarrassment. But when Courtney looked up at me from the couch and appraised my outfit for her boyfriend (“nerdy” and “very Olympia”), my heart skipped a beat. I owed it to that awkward, angsty 13-year-old inside of me to be over the moon with excitement. I had arrived to the party 10 years late, but I had arrived.
Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!”
Timeless wisdom from Viktor Frankl
The children were shot at Sandy Hook Elementary and the Kansas City Chiefs player shot his wife and himself - people wanted answers. I found this poem by Mary Oliver in the New York Times.
Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness
Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
So let us go on
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.
Mary Oliver, Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet and recent author of “Swan: Poems and Prose Poems”
Steffanie Alexander - photograph
Going Places Sitting Down - Hiraki Sawa
Achingly beautiful, Hiraki Sawa’s imagination transforms the rooms in his apartment and other domestic spaces into a playground in which extraordinary events unfold. When I first encountered his work, I spent the afternoon watching them loop endlessly. On days when I am home sick, I imagine rocking horses, small planes, etc making their steadfast pilgrimages, while I lie there, waiting for my life to resume. (Dwelling 2002, Migration 2003, Going Places Siting Down 2005).
“Bijoux et Agressions” (“Jewelry and Aggressions”) was the name of the renowned goldsmith Tasso Mattar’s first workshop with the students of the Institut d’Enseignement Socio-Educatif (Institute of Socio-Educational Teaching) in Dreiborn, Luxembourg. Over the span of three days in June 2009, Mattar worked alongside the school’s at-risk teenage students, whose past experiences range from drug use and criminal activity to educational struggles and family problems. Perhaps an atypical jewelry-making workshop, this one merged practical training sessions with explorations of aggression as a form of productive, creative therapy. One student, for example, created a chair-shaped pendant to reflect her childhood experience of being forced to sit in isolation as punishment. The workshop, one of two that Mattar has conducted at the Institute in the past several years, was part of the school’s program-rich, jewelry-focused curriculum, out of which the enterprise, 3bornart, has emerged.
3bornart was born out of a collaboration between three pioneering teachers of the Institut d’Enseignement Socio-Educatif. A 2007 visit to Mallorca, Spain to participate in a jewelry-making workshop in Mattar’s studio inspired Liliana Borges, Pat Zimmer, and Chantal Koelsch to bring their newfound metalsmithing and jewelry-design skills back to their school in Luxembourg. The initial stages of the project were difficult; the tools and materials (they primarily used silver, for example) were expensive, and funds for the project were soon exhausted. The teachers and students thus turned to discarded objects as a source for the jewelry, using old tin cans, vinyl records, fire hoses, billiard balls, and black rubber inner tubes, to name just several examples, for materials and inspiration.
Today, the student-created jewelry has been presented the prestigious “Made in Luxembourg” label by the country’s government, and is sold at Luxembourg’s contemporary art museum, Mudam, as well as Capsule, a concept store in Luxembourg City. For many of the fifty students who have participated in 3bornart since 2009, working with their hands to create the jewelry and watching it be sold outside of the school has been an opportunity to feel a real sense of success and pride for the first time. All profits from the jewelry sales go to the association, Aide aux Jeunes en Détresse (Help to Young People in Distress), which distributes funds to support the Institute’s students in various ways, such as organizing outdoor excursions, paying for cinema tickets, and providing places to stay for students with nowhere else to go during school vacations.
One ring in particular speaks poignantly to the fulfillment that the students have achieved through their work with 3bornart. The band and setting of the ring is crafted from brass, and the central, crowning jewel is a reused, white computer key that exhibits one word, “Home.” For the students of the Institut d’Enseignement Socio-Educatif, the jewelry workshop has become not only a place that can offer pride and self-esteem, but also a haven from which to start anew.
To learn more about 3bornart, please visit www.3bornart.lu. Emma Bowen is an educator, design historian, and social entrepreneur who currently teaches at Parsons The New School for Design. Image courtesy of 3bornart.
You know, I am so not going to Hallmark for my inspiration (not that there is anything wrong with it). Personally, I need a little more grit, a few less flowers and you know, an image that looks like it has some experience some struggle or challenge. One of my favorite pieces in this book is page 33’s, Be a Lamp or a Lifeboat or Ladder by Chris Kenny.The letters are delicately held up by pins. It’s construction is an act of courage. But then I also love pages 58 and 59, where Keetra Dean Dixon has photographed the ubiquitous urban environment and inserted small signs with, you are lovely pass it on or pssst you are lovely. These are very places where I need inspiration, where I would worry “I should have worn the other outfit, you know the one that isn’t so pouchy in the front or why did she say that, was she trying to send me a message or am I over reading the situation… . So these images, this type of inspiration is perfect for me. It’s real! There is encouragement, artwork, affirmation and the words you hope will spontaneous play through your head when you need them the most. So meanwhile buy this book. It features work from a diverse roster of indie artists, designers, and crafters—including beloved figures such as Mike Perry, Marian Bantjes, Marc Johns, Enormous Champion, and Yee-Haw Industries, as well as a host of emerging new talents.
The book’s creator, Chronicle Books, Art & Design Editor Bridget Watson Payne says,”Back in 2009, I started to notice art popping up here and there featuring text that said things that were positive and hopeful. This seemed significant to me, it seemed to say something about the present moment in our culture, something that was going on in the zeitgeist… Was it because collectively we were looking to embrace a discourse of positivity that wasn’t cheesy or corny or saccharine but really authentic and sincere and true?”
God, I hope so! What about you?