NPT’s ‘Why Don’t We Vote? Town Hall’ is Thursday, Feb. 13, in Studio A

NPT will hold a public forum about voter engagement Thursday, Feb. 13, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., in Studio A (161 Rains Ave., Nashville 37203).

Voting is the most basic level of civic engagement and a principle of American democracy, protected in the Constitution. But Tennessee is near the bottom for voter turnout and voter registration. Why aren’t more Tennesseans voting? Why Don’t We Vote? | NPT Reports Town Hall will be an audience discussion about challenges in getting to the polls or getting the opportunity to vote. Moderated by NPT’s LaTonya Turner, the town hall will also cover what is being done to improve access and awareness so that more Tennesseans vote in the future.

Why Don’t We Vote? | NPT Reports Town Hall will be recorded for later broadcast on NPT. The evening begins with refreshments at 6 p.m., followed promptly by the taping at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but registration is required at The broadcast premiere of this town hall will be Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m.

NPT’s previous town halls on topics ranging from the opioids crisis to issues around education are available for viewing at

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NPT hosts J Schwanke’s ‘Life in Bloom’ floral workshop Saturday, Feb. 8

Flower expert J Schwanke of “Life in Bloom.”

J. Schwanke, host of Life in Bloom, will conduct a floral workshop Saturday, Feb. 8, from 1 to 4 p.m. in NPT’s Studio A (161 Rains Ave., Nashville TN 37203). In this unique workshop, Schwanke will demonstrate tips, tricks and techniques for arranging and enjoying beautiful flowers. The event will include a hands-on lesson on creating a flower crown using simple techniques, foliage and seasonal flowers. This small-group workshop will allow one-on-one support throughout the process.

Schwanke will sign copies of Fun with Flowers – Your Guide to Selecting, Arranging and Enjoying Beautiful Flowers and his latest book, Bloom 365 – The Essential Guide to Arranging Flowers Every Day. Both books will be available for purchase at the event.

Tickets are available at and are $80 per person or $120 for admission and copies of Bloom 365 and Fun with Flowers.

J Schwanke is a fourth-generation florist and a floral expert known for his many guest appearances on P. Allen Smith’s public television shows and his own Life in Bloom show, which airs Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on NPT and at 6:30 a.m. on NPT2. Schwanke is a sought-after public speaker who has given flower demonstrations in all 50 states and has appeared at floral events in Amsterdam and at London’s Kensington Palace. He also runs, a website dedicated to flowers and flower arranging.

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NPT & Tennessee State Museum host free ‘No Passport Required’ event Jan. 16

Nashville Public Television and the Tennessee State Museum will host a free event Thursday, Jan. 16, at the museum (1000 Rosa L Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37208) celebrating food and culture. The evening includes selections from the new season of No Passport Required, the PBS show hosted by renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson.

The evening will also include a panel discussion and a screening of NPT’s Next Door Neighbors: Taste of Home, a survey of culinary traditions of Nashville’s immigrants. Caracasville (Venezuelan food), Ze Spicy Lentil (Ethiopian food), Pita House (Palestinian food) and Casa Segovia Paz (Bolivian and Peruvian desserts) will be on hand with samples. Attendees will be able to view the museum’s Let’s Eat! Origins and Evolution of Tennessee Food exhibition.

The event takes place 5:30 to 8 p.m.

No Passport Required airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on NPT. In the second season, Samuelsson highlights the food and culture of Portuguese-speaking residents of Boston; West African expatriates in Houston; Chinese-Americans in Las Vegas; Los Angeles’ Armenian community (the world’s second-largest); Italian-Americans in Philadelphia; and Seattle’s Filipino American community.

Food and culture are also at the heart of Taste of Home, part of NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series about Middle Tennessee’s immigrant communities. Taste of Home features members of the area’s Ethiopian, Palestinian and Venezuelan communities and shows how food keeps people connected to their home countries, while also helping them form bonds in new locations. The documentary has been nominated for a Midsouth Regional Emmy and will re-air Monday, Jan. 20, at 11:30 p.m. on NPT. All of NPT’s Next Door Neighbors documentaries are available for online viewing at

The Tennessee State Museum’s Let’s Eat! Origins and Evolution of Tennessee Food exhibit explores the rich and diverse history of Tennessee’s food. Let’s Eat begins with Native American origins, then moves to European and African influences. There are also sections about how social factors like Jim Crow and economic hard times affected Tennessee traditions. Finally, the more recent culinary flavors of new arrivals and modern-day food festivals are all part of the story of what and how Tennesseans prepare and enjoy food.

‘Volunteer Gardener’ Winter in the Garden: The Good Enough Garden

By Laura Bigbee-Fott

Winter is a slow time in the garden. While we can’t spend as much time outside as we might like, we can spend some important time taking stock of our successes, failures and hopes for the new year. In our social media obsessed, fast-paced society, it’s hard not to compare ourselves and our accomplishments to unrealistic pictures of perfect gardens. I will tell you honestly, I’ve posted some truly gorgeous photos of the flowers on my farm, but they were very strategically composed. Comparing ourselves to idealized garden images can make our love of gardening a burden we can never live up to.

When my son was small and I was struggling to balance all my obligations, a friend told me about A Good Enough Parent, a wonderful book by Bruno Bettelheim. This was a revelation to me, so much so that I have applied those lessons to other areas in my life, including gardening.

It’s time to embrace the “good enough” garden.

Start by considering why you garden. Is it to draw wildlife into your garden? Is it for food for your family? Is it simply for pleasure? Do you have a cutting garden? Do you have borders out front for curb appeal? Each of these types of gardens has different measures of “success.”

For me, the end product of cut flowers from my 38,000 square feet of cultivated garden beds is absolutely essential. So what if the grass around the perimeter needs cutting, the fence rows need trimming, and the brush piles need burning? I focus only on the planting, tending and harvesting of the cut flowers and branches – everything else goes on the back burner.

If you have a garden out by your mailbox that you want to keep pristine and carefully weeded, go for it, but perhaps you can be a little more relaxed about your kitchen garden out back.

Remember why you started your first garden. I doubt it was to post perfect photos on Instagram. It was most likely because of the innate joy you felt being outside in nature. Concentrate on that joy.

Oh, and consider a heavy mulch for those weedy spots in your garden. Pile the leaves on now to suppress the weeds and feed the soil; you’ll be happy you did. Be kind to yourself – you’re an important part of nature and the ecosystem, too!

Happy Gardening!

Laura Bigbee-Fott is a Davidson County Master Gardener. She owns Whites Creek Flower Farm and runs a floral event and wedding design business called Everything Blooms.

NPT to air London parade featuring Hendersonville High School band

NPT is adding another festive element to a sparkling lineup of holiday programming with London’s New Year’s Day Parade. The 2020 parade will include the Hendersonville High School Band of Gold along with the school’s Select Chamber Choir and will air Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 7 p.m. on NPT2, Nashville’s Public Television’s secondary broadcast channel. NPT2 is available at 8.2 over the air, Comcast 241, Charter 176, Google Fiber 75. In addition, Marching to London: London’s New Year’s Day Parade – The Journey, a companion documentary that also features the Band of Gold, will air Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. on NPT, the main channel.

“NPT is thrilled to be able to provide coverage of London’s New Year’s Parade so local students and families can see these talented young people perform,” said Kevin Crane, NPT’s president and CEO. “Also, it’s great holiday entertainment.”

Hendersonville High School’s marching band will play a number of songs in keeping with the parade theme of “London Loves Life,” according to band director Dr. Jeffrey Phillips. These include “My Favorite Things,” Respect,” “Heal the World” and – in a nod to former Hendersonville High School student Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off.”

“We’re working really hard,” Phillips said of the band. “It’s a great honor to represent Hendersonville.”

Segments of the Marching to London documentary were filmed this past September with scenes at Rock Castle and, of course, Old Hickory Lake and marina. The band was also filmed performing at the mayor’s office. Famous band parents such as Chris Golden and Diamond Rio’s Dana Williams are expected to be part of the documentary; there may also be a segment on Johnny Cash’s involvement with the band.

London’s New Year’s Day Parade was launched in 1987 and the 2020 incarnation will draw an estimated 500,000 spectators along a route of iconic London locations. The 3.5-hour parade will include floats, balloons and more than 8,000 performers from around the world. Of those performers, 20 marching bands and 1,000 cheerleaders will come from U.S. high schools and universities. Hendersonville High School’s Band of Gold will be 19th in the parade order, just behind the London Pearly Kings and Queens Society, a venerable charitable institution whose members are known for their attire covered in pearl buttons.

For more on NPT’s holiday lineup, which includes Christmas at Belmont 2019 – premiering Monday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. – with hosts CeCe Winans and Michael W. Smith, visit

‘Christmas at Belmont 2019’ premieres Dec. 23 on NPT

What does it take to put on a Christmas at Belmont production? For starters, 115 microphones, nine cameras and 50 production crew members from NPT alone. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center was decorated with 182 poinsettias, 20 kinds of evergreen shrubbery, 300 yards of fabric and glittery ribbon, and 150 lights in addition to the room’s own. More than 600 student performers, two special guests and a set list of traditional carols and festive seasonal songs. Christmas as Belmont 2019 premieres Monday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. on NPT and on public television stations around the country.

Grammy-winning musician Michael W. Smith and celebrated gospel artist CeCe Winans host the 2019 Christmas at Belmont holiday concert recorded last month at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Among the groups to be featured in the production are the University Symphony Orchestra, Belmont Chorale, Percussion Ensemble, Musical Theatre, Jazz Ensemble and Bluegrass Ensemble, as well as mass choir.

The performance includes both classic holiday music such as “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” as well as festive seasonal songs like “White Christmas.” Smith performs his song “The Promise” and Winans sings a beautiful rendition of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Later, the hosts perform a duet of Smith’s “Christmas Day” featuring the Nashville Children’s Choir.

The best-selling and most-awarded female gospel artist of all time, CeCe Winans has influenced a generation of gospel and secular vocalists over the course of her astonishing career. She has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Music City Walk of Fame. In addition, she has been named a Trailblazer of Soul by BMI and has garnered multiple NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Awards, Essence Awards and more. Winans has sold more than 5 million albums in the U.S., topping the gospel charts repeatedly while crossing over with hits like “Count On Me,” her duet with Whitney Houston from the multiplatinum Waiting to Exhale soundtrack.

During Michael W. Smith’s storied career, he has been honored with three Grammy Awards, 45 Dove Awards, an American Music Award and has sold more than 15 million albums. Smith has also given back to the global community by raising funds to battle AIDS in Africa alongside longtime friend Bono; starting Rocketown, a safe haven for young people; and helping more than 70,000 children’s lives through Compassion International.

The performance and taping of Christmas at Belmont returns for the sixth and final time to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, one of the few venues in the world featuring natural lighting and state-of-the-art acoustics, including motorized acoustic drapes and an acoustical isolation joint that encircles the entire concert hall and prevents sound waves traveling into or out of the hall. Starting in 2021, Christmas at Belmont will be taped in Belmont’s new world-class Performing Arts Center.

For more on NPT’s holiday lineup, which includes London’s New Year’s Day Parade – with the Hendersonville High School marching band among the performers – Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. on NPT2, visit

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NPT’s ‘Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy’ premieres Dec. 18

Humans are social animals, connected by the relationships we build over a lifetime. But the process of aging can be isolating and put us at risk for loneliness – and that, as NPT explored in a previous Aging Matters documentary – can have negative effects on our health. Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy, the 16th documentary in Nashville Public Television’s NPT Reports: Aging Matters series, considers various kinds of relationships and intimacy issues, including romantic companionship and discussions of sexuality and sexual activity as we age. Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy premieres Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 9 p.m. on NPT and will be followed at 9:30 p.m. by a frank discussion about the sex lives of older adults.

A luncheon and preview screening of Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy will be held Dec. 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at FiftyForward Patricia Hart Building. The event is free, but RSVPs are required at Panelists for the post-screening discussion are retired nurse practitioner and certified sex therapist Ginger Manley (Assisted Loving: The Journey Through Sexuality and Aging); Monet Shell, a therapist at Insight Counseling; and Dan Surface, founder of the “Refired Not Retired” men’s group sponsored by Mental Health America Mid-South and FiftyForward. FiftyForward’s Gretchen Funk will moderate the discussion.



There are many levels of relationships, from deep connections to casual interactions. Research suggests they all matter and they all influence your health and wellbeing. Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy includes commentary from specialists in medicine, psychology and social work, as well as men and women who discuss their own situations and relationships. The participants address adjusting to new surroundings, creating new friendships or finding new love after losing a spouse.

“Finding someone you love when you’re young is very important, very exciting,” says Frances Hahn in the program. “But finding someone you love after you’ve been widowed is really special, and should really be encouraged and fostered,”

Supporting the relationships of older adults may require unlearning accepted beliefs about aging. This includes having conversations that may be challenging, but are essential to living life to the fullest.

“We plan for retirement financially; we need to plan for retirement socially,” says Julianne Holt-Leunstad, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, in the documentary.

Other experts appearing in the documentary are Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and medicine-geriatrics at the University of Chicago; Annamarie Pluhar, president of Sharing Housing Inc.; Carrie Plummer, assistant professor of nursing at Vanderbilt School of Nursing; and Manoj Pardasani, professor of social work at Hunter College/City University of New York.

The panel discussion airing after the documentary is a conversation about sexual drive and activity of older adults, as well as related health indicators and concerns. Taking part in the conversation are Renee Burwell, a certified sex therapist at Pandora’s Awakening and executive director of the Tennessee Alliance for Sexual Health; Dr. David Duong, urologist at Urology Associates in Nashville; Brooke Faught, a women’s health nurse practitioner and director of the Women’s Institute for Sexual Health at Urology Associates; and Ginger Manley, a retired nurse practitioner and certified sex therapist (author of Assisted Loving: The Journey Through Sexuality and Aging).

Additional broadcast times for Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy are below; the documentary will also be available for online viewing at

  • Friday, Dec. 20, at 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on NPT2
  • Monday, Dec. 23, at 2 p.m. on NPT2

Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy was produced by Will Pedigo, whose previous Aging Matters documentaries include Legal Help and Aging & the Workplace. Pedigo also produced NPT’s Emmy-nominated documentary Voyage of Adventure: Retracing John Donelson’s Journey.

The NPT Reports: Aging Matters series is hosted by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Kathy Mattea. Aging Matters: Companionship & Intimacy is made possible by the generous support of the West End Home Foundation, the Jeanette Travis Foundation, The HCA Foundation and Cigna-HealthSpring. Additional support was provided by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

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NPT receives Three Midsouth Regional Emmy Award nominations

NPT received three nominations at the 34th Midsouth Regional Emmy Award announcement party on Nov. 21, 2019, at BMI on Nashville’s Music Row.

The following NPT productions, staff and contributors received nominations:

Soldier & Citizen
Ed Jones

Voyage of Adventure: Retracing Donelson’s Journey
Will Pedigo, Jason Code, Shawn Anfinson, Suzy Hence, John Guider, Shane Burkeen

Next Door Neighbors: Taste of Home
Shawn Anfinson, Jason Code

The 34th Annual Midsouth Regional Emmy Awards will be held Feb. 15, 2020, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

‘Volunteer Gardener’ November in the Garden: Cold-weather Prep

By Laura Bigbee-Fott

Most of you have probably already received a killing frost. Much of the flowers and foliage that looked so jubilant a few weeks ago (think: dahlias!) are now sad and dead-looking. Not to worry, all your perennials are now busy doing very important work underground –some above ground. Roots are growing, new shoots and eyes are forming, and buds are setting for next spring. You can also do your part to get things working toward the next growing season.

Go for the green
The first week of November or so, I give my entire garden a gentle sprinkling of Green Sand. If this is the first time you’ve heard of this wonderful soil amendment, you are in for a treat! It is mined from the shallows of the ocean and is also called “Glauconite.” Green Sand is high in iron, potassium and magnesium, as well as several other important trace minerals. Potassium is the “K” in the NPK ratings of fertilizers and is important in root growth. Green Sand contains a very gentle dose at 0 0 3. So while you’re clearing away the tops of dahlias, peonies and all the annuals that bit the dust with the first hard frost, think about adding a bit of magic green dust to your beds to encourage healthy new growth next season.

If you are going to lift and store your dahlia tubers, make certain to wait two weeks from the time of your first hard frost. This way you won’t inhibit the growth of any eyes forming on the tubers. Meanwhile, other items in the garden might want some extra mulching, like tuberoses, acidanthera, and salvia leucantha. Any perennial that is at the extent of its growing zone will need a little extra warmth for the winter.

Leave it alone
Lots of seeds can be left on the plants to help feed birds that don’t travel south in the winter. If you love goldfinches, for example, do not remove the blackened stems of rudbeckia and echinacea. Instead, leave them and the birds will feast on the seeds all winter long. Also, don’t be in a big hurry to remove fallen leaves, especially from your garden, as they provide extra warmth to roots over the winter. Got a brush pile? Wait till late spring to burn it because many beneficials, small vertebrates and invertebrates over-winter in these piles. Your garden will be healthier next year, so your “laziness” will be rewarded!

One last thing, instead of raking your leaves, consider mowing them. You can either mow them into your yard or you can bag them while you mow. I try to alternate between the two, collecting the mown leaves after the first big drop into piles for use as mulch next season. These may also be used on the compost pile or dumped around woodland plants that love them, such as hydrangeas and azaleas. When the second big leaf shower happens, I mow those leaves into the grass.

Happy Gardening!

Laura Bigbee-Fott is a Davidson County Master Gardener. She owns Whites Creek Flower Farm and runs a floral event and wedding design business called Everything Blooms.

NPT’s ‘By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South’ premieres Thursday, Nov. 21

Nashville Public Television’s By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South, the latest documentary in our Citizenship Project series, premieres on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash narrates this chronicle of events leading to the turbulent, nail-biting showdown that took place Aug. 18, 1920, in the Tennessee General Assembly. By a single legislator’s vote, which was influenced by a note from his mother, Tennessee became the 36th and final state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women in the United States the right to vote.

The U.S. woman’s suffrage movement began in the Northeast as an offshoot of the anti-slavery movement. By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South tells the lesser-known history of the efforts by Southern women to gain the vote in the years following the Civil War through 1920. “It was a different story than what happened in the North and in it was in some ways the least successful part of the movement,” said Mary Makley, the documentary’s producer. “We’re trying to tell how difficult it was to be a Southern suffragist within the broader context of how Tennessee got to be the final state to ratify the 19th Amendment.”

“Women’s legal position was pretty much the same as the legal position of felons,” says Wanda Sobieski, J.D., president of Knoxville’s Suffrage Coalition, in the documentary. Married women had no rights in terms of property, not even to income they might have earned. They did not have child custody rights in cases of divorce.

By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South highlights major figures in Tennessee’s suffrage movement such as Anne Dallas Dudley and Sue Shelton White; as well as anti-suffragist Josephine Pearson and key legislator Harry T. Burn. Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul are among the national activists referenced in the documentary.

In addition to Sobieski, By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South includes appearances by Adele Logan Alexander, Ph.D. (Princess of the Hither Isles: A Black Suffragist Story from the Jim Crow South); Beverly Bond, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Memphis; Carole Bucy, Ph.D., Professor of History, Volunteer State Community College; Mary Evins, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, MTSU; Elna Green, Ph.D., Dean of Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Augusta University; Marjorie Spruill, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of South Carolina; Elaine Weiss (The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote); and Linda Wynn, M.S., Assistant Director for State Programs, Tennessee Historical Commission and Professor of History and Public Administration, Fisk University.

By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South incorporates audio accounts from suffragists Abby Crawford Milton and Dorothy Loomis, as well as 1960s television footage of Rep. Burn. Numerous vintage illustrations, postcards and photographs – including images from Tennessee suffragist parades in 1914 and 1915 – are used throughout the documentary. New illustrations by Holly Carden and original music by Joshua Carter augment this historical program.

After its broadcast premiere, By One Vote: Woman Suffrage in the South will re-air Sunday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. and will be available for streaming and online viewing at Learn more about Women’s Suffrage Centennial commemoration events in Nashville at

NPT’s Citizenship Project is a series of original productions about how different groups have fought for, obtained and maintained the rights and access we commonly associate with American citizenship. These include the right to vote, the right to receive a public education, the right to be considered equal before the law, and the right to worship the religion of one’s choice. More about the series is available at

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