Rachel Otwell

Reporter

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community & diverse culture. 

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, and while obtaining that degree she spent a legislative session covering news for Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, D.C. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

Carter Staley

At 6 foot 5 inches, Ian Winterbauer is a tall man. And a witty one too - his poems posted online are often accompanied by the hashtag #tallestpoetonearth. He dresses conventionally - usually in a flannel shirt and jeans. He has golden blonde hair and hip, clear frame glasses. 

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For a true sense of the impact Ken Bradbury has had, his Caring Bridge website lends a clue. It's been visited more than 60,000 times and there are hundreds of comments from those whose lives he’s touched, many of them his former students. 

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Rebetika is a popular and controversial style of music in Greece. It's folk music with deep roots. Some have called it the "blues" music of Greece. 

Haley Scott / @suagrmilkk / haleyscott.com

Mother Nature is Shasta "Klevah" Knox and Tierney Reed aka T.R.U.T.H. We spoke with them about a year ago to learn more about the self-titled debut album and their plans to cause positive change with hip hop.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein's downfall due to sexual assault and harassment claims from numerous women - it's glaringly apparent that the issue is not limited to a certain industry or segment of society. Statehouses across the nation have joined in the #MeToo movement. Some are saying state legislatures harbor environments where such activity is commonplace.

Nearly everyone will visit a cemetery at some point in their life - but most don't realize the rich diversity of history they have to offer. They contain insights about folklore, religion, art and society at large. So postulates Hal Hassen, who has been a cemetery enthusiast since his youth. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he would explore historic cemeteries. 

Sarah Jane Rhee

October 26th is internationally recognized as "Intersex Awareness Day." Intersex is a term used to describe a variety of conditions in which a person has naturally occurring reproductive organs that defy the typical designations of male or female. It's the "I" in the LGBTQIA+ umbrella - and it's not something that is often talked about, even though some studies say it occurs in up to 1.7% of the population.

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The Springfield City Council stalled on considering a resolution that would have declared it a "Welcome City" for immigrants. Seven members voted to table the issue - while only three supported a vote.

Since this past weekend, women and men have been sharing their accounts of sexual violence with the hashtag #MeToo. While many assumed the movement started with actor Alyssa Milano's tweet about Hollywood producer/mogul and alleged sex offender Harvey Weinstein, some are pointing out that a black woman named Tarana Burke used the same terminology for a project also mean to address sexual assault.

Elizabeth Belletire House

A new effort to get kids more active and in touch with their thoughts has come to Springfield's public school district - in the form of yoga classes. It could also have implications for how students are disciplined in the future.

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A measure has been introduced in Illinois as a response to the deadly summer rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville.

UIUC School of Social Work

About a hundred students traveled to Washington D.C. last week to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act. Among them was Bruna Cardoso, a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student,

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Time Stands Still debuted in 2009 and was written by Donald Margulies - it centers on the relationship of two journalists who have covered a modern war. 

Kazuko Golden was raised in Springfield and now lives in Los Angeles where she's an independent filmmaker and producer. Her mother was born in a California internment camp, her grandparents lost their home and business before being sent to what was originally called the "Manzanar War Relocation Center" for four years.

NPR Illinois

Dese'Rae L. Stage is a suicide attempt survivor. She's open about that, and about her struggle with mental illness. She's a Philadelphia-based writer, speaker and photographer. An exhibit of her collected photography and oral history called "Live Through This" is on display at the Visual Arts Gallery at the University of Illinois Springfield campus now thru October 19th. 

Springfield Art Association

A brand new concept for Springfield kicks off in the Enos Park neighborhood. Terrain is a bi-annual art tradition that started in Chicago. 

davedondero.com

I first heard of David Dondero as a teen - nearly 15 years ago. At the time the record label Saddle Creek was getting an increasing amount of recognition, with bands like Cursive and perhaps most notably - Bright Eyes, reaching national audiences. Dondero plays Friday night in Springfield - info here.

NPR Illinois is hosting an art show that offers a unique look into Springfield's and Champaign's punk and D.I.Y scenes, which often merge. The reception is at the NPR Illinois/WUIS station on the UIS campus (the WUIS building is near parking lot B.) It's on Tuesday on Sept. 26th from 5 - 7 pm. The work will remain on display during normal business hours until Nov. 3rd.

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A duo that's performed hundreds of times across the country sharing a unique blend of classical, hip hop and other contemporary music will be in Springfield on Saturday, Sept. 23rd. During performances Black Violin consists of a D.J. and backing band; at its center however are Wil B. who plays viola and Kev Marcus who plays violin. This tour in part is promoting their newest album, called Stereotypes

Rachel Otwell

Members of a unique band based in Poland came to the United States for the first time earlier this month. Their first destination was Springfield.

On Tuesday, September 26th, join artists and public radio listeners at the WUIS/NPR Illinois station in Springfield, on the UIS Campus for an art opening and reception.

B.J. Pearce

The Black Sheep Cafe in Springfield has been serving up arts and cultural events for 12 years now. The venue will be commemorating that with an annual anniversary show this coming Saturday, Sept. 16th. The bill includes a new trio, Bottom Bracket, that's an "emo/indie outfit with strong punk and math rock influences." (Their music is featured in the interview below.) 

Over 200 people rallied outside the state capitol building in Springfield over the weekend to show support for immigrants.

Matthew Penning / NPR Illinois

A new task force has been formed to combat opioid abuse in the state.

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The Demo Project gallery in Springfield is an alternative art space that's been highlighting contemporary work from across the nation for four years now. It's slated to be demolished in 2018, but before that happens there's one more birthday to celebrate.

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Here's rule #3 in a new dress code for Glenwood High School in Chatham: "If wearing leggings or yoga pants, tops must cover the entire buttocks."

Donna Lounsberry

Springfield is knocking it out of the park lately with its musical productions and The Wiz is no exception.

Founding members of the group Laboratorium Piesni aka "Sound Laboratory" will be in Springfield over the weekend.

Rachel Otwell

First thing - the title of this post is not to suggest A.D. Carson won't ever be in Springfield again, but the bulk of this conversation comes from his latest visit, earlier this summer. 

NPR Illinois

Illinois is getting tougher on those convicted of hate crimes. In the wake of Charlottesville, the legislature passed resolutions taking a stand against hate. But resolutions are not legally binding.

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