Knitted faces with masks are displayed on a fence along Palm Drive in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., on April 17, 2020. A Facebook post from the previous day had a photo of the yarn art with a longer banner that read, “WE’LL RISE ABOVE THIS.” (Photo: Taya Gray/The Desert Sun)
Filling in for Arlene Martinez, I’m Kristin Scharkey, features editor at The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Today, we’re switching it up a bit because, sometimes, we all need a break from the news. So, I’ve rounded up some feel-good stories from around the Golden State. Plus, you’re in for a treat — a video playlist that Arlene prepared before she left, all about what it means to be human. (Anyone figure that out, yet?)
This is the only news you need to know from Thursday: Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches to close, after tens of thousands of people flocked to the surf and sand last weekend. While a previous memo indicated Newsom would close all California beaches, his order Thursday is much more narrow.
Stay safe and informed with news and resources from across the USA TODAY Network and beyond: Sign up for In California today (it’s free!).
Stephanie Buriel’s crocheted art piece which reads “We are all in this together” has been installed on a fence outside of Desert Hot Springs High School, April 28, 2020. (Photo: Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun)
Artists continue to create amid the pandemic
Coronavirus crochet art is popping up in the Coachella Valley, and I wanted to find out who was behind it. So, I tracked down Stephanie Buriel. She calls herself a “yarn bomber,” and she’s been tying up her rainbows and inspirational messages to fences in the city of Desert Hot Springs.
But there’s more: When two of her pieces disappeared, members of the community rallied to raise more than $400 for supplies, so Buriel could crochet replacements.
“I thought about all the people that have responded to the art and said, ‘You make me smile every time I pass by,’” Buriel told me. “I thought about those people and said, you know what? I’m just going to keep going.”
Other artists in the desert are getting creative in face of financial hardship.
Ryan “Motel” Campbell, a Palm Springs area artist who paints murals and sells pieces through auctions and galleries, has questioned himself: “Do I buy paint or do I buy dinner?” He spent an entire day this week making handmade paper from recycled materials and thinking of what products from his kitchen could be used as paint.
He’s not alone.
Another artist, Kylie Knight recently released a collaborative zine titled “Quaranzine” with artists from Los Angeles and Oakland. Knight, who was laid off from her job as a screen printer, will give half of the proceeds to organizations assisting farmworkers.
While some artists are responding to the pandemic, others are capturing the effects of coronavirus in real time.
Los Angeles photographer Rafael Cardenas has been documented the city’s residents every day since January. His images look a lot different than they did a few months ago. “I set out to capture everyday life,” he told the Los Angeles Times, “but this is not everyday life.”
Some of the artwork featured in Kylie Knight’s “Quaranzine” (Photo: Courtesy of Kylie Knight)
Lightning round: Acts of kindness
We’re seeing the best (and worst) of humanity throughout this health care crisis. Here’s a few quick hits of kindness that have touched me:
Thousands of people drove by a Simi Valley home to honor a fallen Marine. Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo was killed on March 8 in Iraq during a mission against an Islamic State group stronghold, the Defense Department reported. His family had to delay services because of restrictions on gatherings. Armored vehicles, patrol cars and fire engines streamed through his neighborhood in a surprise parade this week.
A Los Angeles family is posting riddles in their front yard to the delight of their neighbors. “At times like this you are craving the social interaction you are lacking everywhere else,” Kate Larson told the Los Angeles Times. “It is so important to have those distanced relationships that are still meaningful and fun. Something lighthearted.”
Gas prices areway down. Period. End of story.
A teacher is using his 3-D printer to make coronavirus face shields. Idyllwild resident Trever Holmes works with Hollywood costume designer Lauren Oppelt to deliver masks to hospitals around the U.S.
Being who we are, doing what we want
Through its live events across the country, the Storytellers Project has played at least a small role, we hope, in bringing the community together. It’s part of what we try to do as journalists, and a reason Megan Finnerty first started the project.
While the USA TODAY Network’s 20 newsrooms that are part of Storytellers Project can’t put on in-person events just now, each Thursday Arlene is featuring a playlist to help you stay connected.
Week 7 focuses on new beginnings. Enjoy.
Bethany Grace Howe shares her story during The Storytellers Project at the Palm Springs Art Museum on September 5, 2018. (Photo: Omar Ornelas,The Desert Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK, )
‘I couldn’t see it, so I couldn’t be it’
Bethany Grace Howe grows up in Colorado, living a typical boy’s life in the mountains. As an adult, he has a great job, gets married and has a daughter. But in his 50s, he sees his reflection in Caitlyn Jenner’s profile in Vanity Fair and decides to transition. He and his wife divorce. Now transitioned to female, Bethany feels she’s living a life that’s fully hers.
LISTEN TO WEEK 1: Uplifting Stories that restore our faith in humankind.
VIDEO:Watch Bethany Grace Howe as she shares her story on stage in Palm Springs, California.
Carly Davis tells her story at the Storytellers Project at the Phoenix Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona on October 3, 2015. (Photo: Ben Margiott/The Republic)
A new mom learns caring is getting it right
When Carly Davis gets into the messy part of motherhood, she’s seduced by mom blogs and how easy and tidy all their stories are. She vows to change, to stop yelling, pressuring and cajoling. But it’s hard, and she is stuck in some old, hard habits. She doesn’t give and while she’s far from perfect, she never stops trying.
AUDIO:Listen to Carly tell her story in Phoenix, Arizona.
LISTEN TO WEEK 2: Stories about adventures that show us how strong we can be.
Jan Wichayanuparp at the Arizona Storytellers: Food and Family at The Farm at South Mountain in Phoenix on Nov. 16, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Salcedo/The Republic)
A blend of the perfect mix
When Jan Wichayanuparp was a youngster, she would visit her grandma in rural Taiwan and eat eels, steamed fish cheeks and chili-braised pork belly. But in her everyday life, with each new friend came new, weird flavors like PB&J, macaroni and cheese, Olive Garden pastas and Cheesecake Factory desserts. She used all of it, and today blends Taiwanese flavors with traditional American flavors as part of her ice cream business, Sweet Republic.
AUDIO:Listen to Jan tell her story on stage in Phoenix, Arizona.
LISTEN TO WEEK 3: Stories that confirm family is everything.
Lupita Ley Hightower tells her story during Arizona Storytellers Project presents Food and Family at The Farm at South Mountain on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. (Photo: Jeremiah Toller/Special for the Republic)
Family traditions can get new life
Two daughters of a meat-loving family introduce their parents to plant-based diets with “movie nights” featuring documentaries on veganism. After the second movie, and discussing them with her daughters, Lupita Hightower decides to give up meat as well. And the thing is, life went on, cherished traditions and all.
AUDIO:Listen to Lupita’s story.
Liz Warren tells her story during the Arizona Storytellers Project presents the “Holiday Spectacular” at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix on Dec. 19, 2019.. (Photo: Jeremiah Toller/Special for The Republic)
We are all beautiful
One day, young Liz Warren peeks at a letter her revered grandmother had written with the words, “Liz will never be beautiful…” Between that, and an avocado green bridesmaid dress the next year, Liz internalizes this message that she won’t be beautiful. She promises herself that she will be smart, funny, and work hard to make up for what she has taken as a foregone conclusion. As her career takes off, she becomes so focused on work that she is taken aback to be called the “pretty one” in a meeting. She realizes later the definition of beauty and who has a right to it, needs to change.
AUDIO:Listen as Liz shares her story.
Elizabeth Montgomery tells her tale during the Arizona Storytellers Project Holiday Spectacular 2018 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix on Wednesday, Dec 18. (Photo: Jeremiah Toller/The Republic)
Making your own traditions
When Elizabeth Montgomery was a young girl, Christmas was a joyful time in her family’s house. But as she got older, her family stopped celebrating it. At 18, she moved out, forced to sleep in her car in a Publix parking lot. For years, she found community in chat rooms and then moved in with another family. They celebrated Christmas with elaborate decor. When Elizabeth moved to Phoenix, she kept the traditions alive, decorating a TV one year and her very own Christmas tree the next. She realizes that Christmas is about developing your own traditions.
AUDIO:Listen to Elizabeth as she shares her story on stage.
Kristin here, again. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe to In California if you haven’t already.
I will leave you with a podcast that has nothing to do with California but everything to do with delight. One of my favorite authors, Krista Tippett, hosted the poet Ross Gay on her program “The On Being Project” last year, but re-posted the conversation in light of these uncertain times. Gay is the author of a recent collection of essays, “The Book of Delights,” as well as a co-founder of the Tenderness Project.
April is National Poetry Month, so before it’s over, listen to their “On Being” conversation.
Then, take some time to scroll through the archives of Gay’s Tenderness Project, a curated space of “tendernesses” that are bringing me comfort and joy.
In California is a roundup of news from across USA TODAY Network newsrooms. Also contributing: Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, On Being, Tenderness Project
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