Rachel Otwell

Journalist / Illinois Edition Producer / Host: The Scene, Heartland

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community & diverse culture. She reports for and produces NPR Illinois' original program, Illinois Edition. She founded and co-hosts The Scene, which airs on Thursdays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region. Heartland is another podcast she started and co-hosts, which considers spirituality from a variety of perspectives.

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS 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, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

This week Rachel and Scott preview central Illinois' premiere music fest - the Pygmalion Festival which celebrates music, art, technology, literature - and new this year, food. A whole extra weekend has been added to this year's roster, and it runs from the 16th thru the 24th. 

c/o California State University, San Bernardino

Jane Elliott was a teacher in Riceville, Iowa in the late sixties. She says she was disturbed by the way much of white America reacted to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. She had been teaching her third graders about him, presenting him as a hero for his work to end racism. But she didn't think it was enough, and she was afraid of what the parents of her students were saying about race at home.

Rachel Otwell

Lyndon Barrois Jr. is interested in identity, culture and intersection. He's named after his father, who was also an artist. He's lived in Southern Cali and New Orleans and now works as an educator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, where his work has also been displayed.

commons.wikimedia.org / author: Soberconnections

Earlier this month it was announced the state has received two federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to combat the heroin and opioid addiction crisis. Illinois is getting $8 million in all. Money will be used to supply more of the opioid over-dose reversal drug Naloxone to first responders, and  to expand outpatient methadone treatment services.

c/o DEMO

This week we talk with two artists who have concurring shows at the DEMO project this Friday. We also hear from a political satirist who uses music to spread his messages around the country, Roy Zimmerman comes through Springfield next Wednesday. We feature his song of peace, love & understanding, Everybody is Everybody, as our Song of the Week.

flickr.com / msig

This week we learn about the Lost Cross house in Carbondale. Much like the often-covered-by-us Black Sheep, it's a DIY punk venue, but with the unique caveat being it's also a residence. Over the past 30 years its been called home by dozens and hosted hundreds of bands from all over the world. 

CNN / Rachel Otwell

On this episode we speak with Will Allen about the film Holy Hell, a documentary released this year. It chronicles the 22 years he spent in a cult headed by one man, it was called Buddhafield.

When Edgar Lee Masters wrote Spoon River Anthology in the early 1900's, it started as a series of poems printed in succession. They were later put into a collection and to this day, the book is taught in classrooms around the country and lauded for its critical and cutting look into what rural life was really like in Mid-America.

Dave Shaw

This week, we bring you an audio post card from a Godspell rehearsal, it opens this weekend at the Hoogland in Springfield. 

c/o Amanda Walenga

Camden is an 8 year old who lives in Springfield. She just started 3rd grade, likes riding horses and eating tacos, and playing with her younger sister. For the most part, she’s a happy normal kid. But she also happens to be one who was born with health problems like cleft palate, a hole in her heart and scoliosis.

Steve Moses / flickr.com/smoses

A new study done on one mound in particular at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville shows that human remains interred there, which are around 900 years old, belong to both men and women. It was previously thought the mound was for elite warrior men. That means there are new implications to be explored.

c/o Nattalyee Randall

One area performer has gone on to live in NYC and write a musical she says she wants to see on Broadway. 

Last Friday brought a flash flood to central Illinois. In some areas traffic was impossible, as the water was too high - and at the fairgrounds in Springfield, many had to leave the campers and trailers they were staying in after they filled with flood water.

Patti Thompson of the state's emergency management agency, IEMA, joined us to talk more about the flood last weekend, and how to stay safe in extreme weather:

This week Scott and Rachel are joined by Our Lady, one of the most well known and active bands out of Springfield. They are part of the Black Sheep scene and it brought them together. On Friday their new full-length comes out, a release show will go down at Black Sheep.

Earlier this year Illinois Issues reported on the transgender community in Illinois and whether advocates say there are enough anti-discrimination and supportive policies in place.

A study released earlier this month by the National Partnership for Women & Families gave each state a letter grade based on its implementation of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Illinois received a B letter grade, one of 11 states to do so.

The Scene Meets The Absurdist People's Theatre

Aug 12, 2016
Rachel Otwell

This week we head to Black Sheep venue to meet two of the cast members of a play opening Friday and running thru the weekend. We speak with Julia Mitchell & Keegan Otwell (who yea, full disclaimer, is Rachel's brother) and director Alex Martin of Edward Albee's 1962 play 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.' 

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Illinois is already well into its medical marijuana pilot program, and the list of conditions it can prescribed for is being debated, as some wish to add ailments like IBS and migraines. Meanwhile, the governor recently signed a measure that decriminalizes the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana or less.

twitter.com/heldilox

Ryan Held will be competing in Rio for the USA men's swim team, as part of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team. The 21 year old is a Springfield native and both his parents, Randy and Cheryl Held, are longtime employees of St. John's Hospital. 

The Scene Speaks With DEMO Artists

Aug 4, 2016
facebook.com/demoprojectspace

This week Scott and Rachel speak with two artists who will have their work on display at the DEMO Project Gallery this Friday from 5:30 - 8:30. Tune in to hear Bloomington artist Erin Furimsky and Pennsylvania-based Ron Lambert discuss their unique works: 

c/o Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has clinics all over the state that provide services like discounted birth control, STD testing, and abortion medication. Springfield’s facility switched locations this spring, and it was just announced surgical abortions will also be provided there, making it the only Planned Parenthood in

central Illinois to do so – and only the third in the state. 

govst.edu / wiley.com

Today from the Education Desk, we have a book review from the president of Governors State University. Elaine Maimon tells us about "The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most."

hcfta.org

This week Scott and Rachel are joined by the co-stars (John Love & Jim Yale) and the writer (Ken Bradbury) of a new musical called 'The Boys From Nantucket' - which you can see this weekend.

http://www.nikkilane.com/

This week Scott and Rachel talk with Sean Burns. He's been booking roots and Americana music in the area for nearly 20 years and founded the Bedrock 66 Live! concert series which has been sponsored by NPR Illinois. He tells us about the very first Bedrock music festival happening this weekend in conjunction with DSI's Downtown Bacon Throwdown in downtown Springfield.

Black Lives Matter Champaign-Urbana

Black Lives Matter is one of the largest activist movements since the civil rights era of the 1960s. The organization has garnered more attention in recent weeks due to protests over the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Meanwhile, attacks on police and the presidential election have shifted the conversation since Black Lives Matter got its start in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin. 

katebornstein.com/ Santiago Felipe (L) + Rachel Otwell (R)

On today's episode we talk with Sister Simon Campbell, a nun who leads by example when it comes to social justice. She stopped by the statehouse with a bus load of other nuns last week for their 'Mend the Gaps' tour. Also, Kate Bornstein visited Springfield a few years ago and stopped by the NPR Illinois station to discuss her memoir, a Queer & Pleasant Danger. She's on an epic spiritual journey, weaving her way through Judaism, Scientology, Buddhism and Taoism. She talks to us about that, and much, much more. Tune in!

c/o APL

There's good news for shelter dogs in the central Illinois region thanks to the latest trend in virtual gaming. Pokémon Go seems to have become an obsession for thousands of people – regardless of their age or background. It's been downloaded over 7 million times. The game works on smart-phones and users are able to find the colorful, animated figures in actual, real-life locations around the world.

bonesjugs.com

This week Scott and Rachel talk with Betsy Dollar of the Springfield Art Association about the recent change the organization went through when they merged with the former Prairie Art Alliance (now considered the Springfield Art Association Collective.)

Rachel Otwell

Earlier this year, I reported on how Black Lives Matter is "more than just a hash-tag." That is obviously evident across the country as thousands of protestors have engaged in events and rallies meant to further the cause of bringing an end to police brutality and systemic racism in recent days.

c/o Kadeem Fuller

Kadeem Fuller organizes community engagement for the Black Lives Matter chapter located in Champaign-Urbana. He says the time for educating white people on the cause has passed - now is time for action.

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