Programming to Honor Veterans this May on NPT

NPT will present several programs this month that honor the men and women who serve in our country’s armed forces. That programming includes PBS’ 27th annual broadcast of the National Memorial Day Concert live from our national’s capital.

We kick off this month of observance on Sunday, May 15, with a special free screening of Makers: Women in War, a documentary about women in the military from the Vietnam War-era to the present. The film begins at 2 p.m. at the Tennessee State Museum and will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with Dr. Lisa Budreau, the museum’s senior curator of military history; Marjorie K. Eastman, president and COO of the YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee and former U.S. Army intelligence officer and commander; and Mary Ross, U.S. Army (Ret.), National Commander of the Women Veterans of America and former deputy executive director of Operation Stand Down Tennessee.

The Veterans Administration’s Mobile Vet Center — a 40-foot RV equipped with confidential counseling space — will be parked on Deaderick Street between 5th and 6th avenues and will be open for tours and consultations in conjunction with the event.

memorial day 2016Here are our special veterans-themed programs this month:

Monday, May 16, at 11 p.m. In July 1965, U.S. Navy Commander Jeremiah Denton’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire during a mission in Vietnam. For the next eight years, Denton was a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton and managed to send a secret message home. In Jeremiah, family, friends, and fellow POWs help tell the story of this American hero who later became a U.S. senator from Alabama.

Monday, May 23, at 11:30 p.m. At the end of the Civil War, 40 women formed a firing line as their town was invaded by 2,000 Union soldiers, successfully saving their homes and defending their families. Nancy Hart Militia: Women of Uncommon Courage is their story.

Friday, May 27, at 11:30 p.m. Dickey Chapelle’s career as a war correspondent started during World War II and continued through the Vietnam War when she chronicled the daily lives of soldiers and the toll combat took on them. The title of this documentary, Behind the Pearl Earrings: The Story of Dickey Chapelle, Combat Photojournalist, references Chapelle’s “uniform” of harlequin eyeglasses, Leica camera, Australian bush hat ‒ and pearl earrings.

Sunday, May 29, at 7 p.m. Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna are back as hosts of the National Memorial Day Concert. This year’s line-up includes soprano Renée Fleming; The Beach Boys; Grand Ole Opry member Trace Adkins; actors S. Epatha Merkerson (Chicago Med, Law & Order) and Esai Morales (Mozart in the Jungle); the National Symphony Orchestra led by Jack Everly; and Trent Harmon, the final winner of American Idol. The concert will be rebroadcast at 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 29, at 10 p.m. NPT invited veterans and civilians to a town hall last month to find common ground and to recognize veterans and military families for their service. Bridging the Civilian/Military Divide, NPT’s latest production in the Veterans Coming Home public media project, is an edited version of that discussion.

Monday, May 30, at 8 p.m. In TED Talks: War and Peace, actor and Marine Corps veteran Adam Driver, musician Rufus Wainwright, journalist Sebastian Junger, and others deliver passionate talks and performances about the effects of war on individuals. The second of three PBS TED Talks specials, this program includes three short films produced by ITVS.

Monday, May 30, at 9 p.m. Follow Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families at a first-of-its-kind PTSD treatment center in California. The POV documentary Of Men and War shows veterans on their paths to recovery as they attempt to make peace with their pasts, their loved ones and themselves.

Monday, May 30, at 11:30 p.m. Using both current and rare archival footage, Sands of War recounts the forgotten story of the Desert Training Center established by Gen. George Patton in the Mojave Desert to prepare one million soldiers to fight in World War II.

Find our full programming lineup at http://www.wnpt.org/schedule/

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 5 Episode 8

Call the Midwife’s fifth season concluded Sunday, May 22, so this the final recap written by the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing faculty midwives. SPOILER ALERT: This posts contains a spoiler.

L-R: Nurse Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie), Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett). Credit: Courtesy of Sophie Mutevelian

Nurse Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie), Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris), Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett). Credit: Courtesy of Sophie Mutevelian

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

A tribute to Sister Evangelina

Bethany SandersThis week’s episode of Call the Midwife left me stunned and tear-streaked. I’ve always liked that Nonnatus House portrays midwives of different generations who have varying degrees of experience and I felt like Sister Evangelina (portrayed by Pam Ferris) ruled the roost. Despite her sometimes acidic personality, she was also willing to teach the younger midwives and had high expectations of them. In honor of Sister Evangelina, I want to reflect on the lessons she taught me about being a midwife.

Sometimes in teaching it’s best to step back. At the very last birth she attends, Sister Evangelina makes herself scarce just moments before the baby is born. Her experience tells her the birth is imminent and she excuses herself under the pretense of getting some water. In doing so, Sister stays close, but allows Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) to grow in her role and develop confidence in her skills. Teaching midwifery is incredible hard, after all, we all like catching babies, but sometimes stepping back just a little gives the next wave of midwives the opportunity to come into their own.

Silence is golden. Oh how we will miss her wit and sharp tongue! Sister Evangelina had the uncanny knack of being able to put someone in their place with a well-worded quip. Her verbal skills got her into trouble at times and so she sometimes opted for silence. It was during then that others were able to shine a bit brighter. The lesson for me was that sometimes in labor and birth it’s best to be quiet and let others take the main role for labor support. While I enjoy and love being the helpful coach and cheerleader, sometimes it’s better that the father, mother, doula or friend have that role, so I fade into the background. After all, it’s not about me.

“Always been a doer.” Sister Evangelina described herself as such in an early season of Call the Midwife. She was a hard worker, the kind of person who values getting things done and who may not excel at everything, but who can do anything. I’ve learned there is value in being productive. Some days I don’t feel like I connect with every single patient but that doesn’t mean there aren’t appointments to get through, charts to be completed, labs to review and messages to respond to. Sometimes getting it done as effectively and efficiently as possible is good enough.

There will be an empty place in Nonnatus House and a hole in our hearts with the passing of Sister Evangelina. She was the kind of person whom it took some time to warm up to, but for all her faults, she really did love her work and her community. That’s the sort of legacy we can all aspire to. We mourn the death of her character and are grateful for the times each week we spent with her. She will be missed.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

Hurrah! New Episodes of PBS Kids Favorites ‘Arthur’ and ‘Odd Squad’!

School’s almost out and to celebrate, NPT is showing new episodes of PBS Kids shows Arthur and Odd Squad!

Arthur and his fellow Lakewood Elementary students are ready for summer with new end-of-the-year episodes debuting Monday, May 23. In the episodes, the kids vie for a place in the fourth-grade class of their choice, try to figure out whether Mr. Rayburn is a super hero and have other adventures. Arthur airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on NPT.

Arthur The Last Day 2

Find Arthur games, videos, printables and more here.


Odd Squad
fans (and fellow agents) have two special episodes to look forward to this spring. The season finale premieres on Memorial Day (May 30) and ends in a cliffhanger that will be resolved in Agents of Change, an all-new special premiering Monday, June 20. Odd Squad airs weekdays at 3:30 p.m. on NPT.

 

 

Unclassified Odd Squad materials are located here.

Remember NPT’s children’s programming also includes Peg + Cat, Bob the Builder, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Curious George and many other shows. Click here to find put when your children’s favorite shows air on NPT and be sure to check PBS Kids for fun, educational activities and your child can enjoy online or unplugged.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 5 Episode 7

Call the Midwife is back for a fifth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show 7 p.m. Sundays through May 22, then read the blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton) and Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie)

Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton) and Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie)

 

By Michelle Collins
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Collins smThis season’s Call the Midwife episodes have included no shortage of controversial topics, at least what was considered controversial in the late 1950s. This most recent episode was no exception with its focus on various aspects of sexuality, namely the sexual tension between the Rev. Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton) and midwife Barbara Gilbert (Charlotte Ritchie); the hidden romance between midwife Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell) and female partner Nurse Delia (Kate Lamb); and the advent of hormonal contraception – the introduction of “the pill” into British society.

Let’s just walk down memory lane a bit on the topic of contraception…

Ancient Egyptian women used a variety of substances to prevent pregnancy, among them honey and crocodile dung inserted vaginally (perhaps it was merely the odor of crocodile dung that kept suitors away!). Casanova has the historical reputation as a great lover, but having many lovers comes with the caveat of siring many children unless one is savvy in preventing conception. Casanova was noted to have hollowed out lemon halves and placed them inside his lovers’ vaginas, over the cervix, to act as a rudimentary diaphragm. The contraceptive pill was approved by the FDA in 1960 for use as a contraceptive agent, although many women were already using it for “non-contraceptive reasons”.¹

Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) though deeply devout, is also practically minded and empathizes with the women she serves who inarguably have no control over their own fertility. To Dr. Turner’s (Max Macmillan) reference to the pill as a miracle, however, she replies that is “it’s a miracle with moral implications.” For her, the idea that sex for any purpose other than procreation could not only be discussed, but sanctioned, was heresy. The arrival of the pill helped usher in the sexual revolution of the 1960s and afforded women a never before realized “freedom” to explore sexual relationships beyond the boundaries of the marital “contract.”

The march of progress is always a wonderful thing, right? One has to consider, though, whether the paradigm of “sexual freedom” has served women well in every aspect of our lives. The value of women being able to have charge of their own fertility is indisputable. The value of the current societal “norm” of “hooking up,” though, wherein casual sex comes without any commitment, is perhaps not so beneficial if we look at the research. From a purely biologic perspective, a woman’s body releases a hormone called oxytocin when she has a sexual experience (the same hormone a woman releases when in labor, actually). The release of this hormone, in the most basic of descriptions, causes some degree of bonding of the woman to her partner.

Current research has noted that women who have multiple random sexual experiences with “no strings attached” have an increased incidence of depression and anxiety (purportedly due in part to lack of physiologic bonding). College-aged women, in particular, who engage in casual sexual encounters report lower levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with their lives as well as lowered levels of happiness when compared to women who do not engage in these behaviors. 2,3 Recent research even notes higher rates of marital infidelity for millennials who marry after spending time in the hook-up scene. Though many things could purport to explain higher infidelity rates among this group, one cannot help but wonder whether having numerous casual sexual experiences devoid of any emotional connection has a causal relationship. That old adage “freedom isn’t free” comes to mind.

  1. A Brief History of Birth Control May 3, 2010. Time http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983970,00.html
  2. Garcia JR, Reiber C, Massey SG, Merriwether AM. Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review. Review of general psychology : journal of Division 1, of the American Psychological Association. 2012;16(2):161-176. doi:10.1037/a0027911.
  3. Garcia, J., The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Reiber, C., Massey, S., and. Merriwether, A. Sexual hook-up culture, American Psychological Association. February 2013, Vol 44, No. 2.


Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM is a professor of nursing and director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 5 Episode 6

Call the Midwife is back for a fifth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show 7 p.m. Sundays through May 22, then read the blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015

Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015


By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Bethany SandersAnother Sunday night, another gut-wrenching episode of Call the Midwife. When the series first started, I faithfully watched every show, eagerly anticipating the hours I would spend seeing the characters of Poplar come to life. I had read the book upon which the series is based and carefully observed to see what storylines translated from the pages to the screen. But, to be honest, before long it became too much.

Being a midwife can be emotionally draining. The show hit close to home at times and I began to feel like I was bringing work home with me while watching the series. So I stopped watching for a time. Eventually I got pulled back in, but the rawness of episodes like this one is both what I absolutely love about the show and what makes it sometimes so hard to watch.

Violence against women is a topic that doesn’t always garner the attention that it deserves and statistics about the frequency at which it occurs are alarming. The World Health Organization reports that 35 percent of women globally have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence during their lifetime. That’s a staggering number ‒ and, yet, sexual violence is thought to be frequently underreported.

As we saw with Lizzie in this episode, women can be reluctant to come forward out of fear of either judgment or repercussions. Women may blame themselves for the violence, especially if alcohol or drug use was involved. The reality, though, is that no one but the perpetrator is to be blamed. Recent incidences of violence reported in the media have brought some attention to the problem of victim blaming and the importance of consent, but clearly we are just starting the conversation and have a long way to go.

Fortunately, there are some incredibly strong, brave women who have the courage to raise their voices and speak out. I loved the words of Sister Mary Cynthia, “It was only a test of strength. I can bear more than I ever thought I could and I can bear it for others because my strength is a gift…I can tell the truth and not be ashamed. It’s like singing ‒ every voice counts.”

As midwives, we take seriously our responsibility to listen to women. Usually that means encouraging women to speak about their experiences in their own words. Occasionally, though, it means being their advocate and speaking up for them when they aren’t able to do so themselves. It’s a torch we are honored to be entrusted to carry, even though the burden can be heavy at times.

While I know Call the Midwife isn’t reality television, I also know that the fear, pain, trials and tribulations of the characters is representative of what I see as part of my job. After a heavy episode like this one I might be tempted to sit out the next week’s show. What I won’t do is walk away from the women I serve. Instead we can all try to be the voice for those who can’t speak up and to make the world a little bit better and safer for all women.

If you or someone you know is the victim of violence, please know that there are many local resources for help. You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 356-6767 and the number for the Sexual Abuse Center is (800) 879-1999. You can call the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Domestic Violence Division at (615) 880-3000 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ask to speak to a counselor.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 5 Episode 5

Call the Midwife is back for a fifth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show 7 p.m. Sundays through May 22, then read the blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015.

Nurse Phyllis Crane (Linda Bassett). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015.

By Michelle Collins
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Collins smI love Nurse Crain (played by Linda Bassett); she is a bit like day old bread – just a little hard around the edges but nonetheless every bit as delightful on the inside. Her words are sometimes harsh, but more often than not she so clearly hits the mark. Consider her spot-on approach to Roseanne, the young woman whose reaction to her baby’s birth was so desperately opposite what she wanted/expected. When this young mother had difficulty immediately bonding with her baby because she felt undeserving and incapable of being a good mother (in part because of her less than homogenized past), Nurse Crane notes: “We like to think that something magical happens at birth and for some it does. The real magic is keeping on when all you want to do is run.”

This episode of Call the Midwife dealt with an aspect of new motherhood that is rarely spoken about: how the reality and the expectations for motherhood sometimes collide. We have such a romanticized view of what it’s like to be a new mother; think about your own vision of what you thought you’d look like in those first few days after giving birth. There you are, in a flowing frock, poised like the Madonna in a rocking chair with a babe so perfectly positioned and nursing at the breast, while nary a hair is out of place, all the while a heavenly glow subtly shining around your perfectly maternal persona… yeah right. What that picture doesn’t include are bags under your eyes from sleepless nights; your unkempt hair that has not seen a brush in many days; sweatpants worn inside out because they have already been worn for a couple of days right side out; and breast milk leaking through your shirt from engorged and painful breasts. The second vision is much closer to the reality of motherhood.

When we as mothers strive for perfection, nobody wins. Our children tend to follow suit, and as a result end up never achieving a healthy self-esteem because they feel perpetually second-rate. Family strife ensues as we feel guilty that we cannot live up to some superhuman ideal not even Wonder Woman could achieve. We feel like failures when we cannot attend to every family member’s needs, including our own. What started out as a picturesque, albeit unrealistic and unattainable, vision of ourselves crumbles into the reality of new motherhood.

Yet all is not lost; grace is a wonderful thing. Grace allows for our humanity and gives us the room to be, well, human. Accepting the gift of grace is the healthiest thing a new mother can do for herself. Giving ‒ and accepting ‒ grace for ourselves as new mommas means that scrambled eggs may be the dinner entrée five days a week (who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?). It means laundry may be done once a week (on a good week); that others could eat off of our floors (because there are enough fallen scraps of food down there); and that some days our main accomplishment will be getting in a shower. It also means realizing that this, too, shall pass ‒ and all too fast ‒ and we will then long to go back and be that beyond-exhausted, disheveled, unshowered, overworked and under-appreciated-in-society new momma pausing in the moment to savor the sweet breath of the newborn snuggling at our neck. As Nurse Crane aptly notes, hard work makes a mother. In this month in which we honor mothers, that may well be the greatest understatement of the season.

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM is a professor of nursing and director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

NPT’s Children’s Programming Includes Many Favorites

BobBuilderGot little viewers at home? NPT’s children’s programming includes Bob the Builder, Ready Jet Go!, Peg + Cat, Wild Kratts (celebrating its 100th episode this spring) and other favorites. Throughout the year we air shows that are educational and entertaining with PBS Kids theme weeks highlighting holidays, seasonal activities and rites of passage to help kids learn about their world.

There will be no changes to our children’s schedule this spring or summer, so your kids can stick to their viewing routines. And be sure to check the PBS Kids website for fun interactive features and downloadable activity pages to keep young minds occupied!

Here’s our weekday schedule:

6:00 Wild Kratts
6:30 Ready Jet Go!
7:00 Nature Cat
7:30 Curious George
8:00 Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
8:30 Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
9:00 Sesame Street
9:30 Bob the Builder
10:00 Dinosaur Train
10:30 Dinosaur Train
11:00 Super Why!
11:30 Thomas & Friends
12:00 noon Peg + Cat
12:30 pm The Cat in the Hat
1:00 Curious George
1:30 Curious George
2:00 Arthur
2:30 Nature Cat
3:00 Ready Jet Go!
3:30 Odd Squad
4:00 Wild Kratts
4:30 Wild Kratts
5:00 Martha Speaks
5:30 WordGirl

Click here to find your children’s favorite shows on our schedule.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 5 Episode 4

Call the Midwife is back for a fifth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show 7 p.m. Sundays through May 22, then read the blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

Sister Knowles (Teresa Banham), Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), Dot (Samantha Baines). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015

Sister Knowles (Teresa Banham), Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), Dot (Samantha Baines). Credit: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015

By Bethany Domzal Sanders
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Bethany SandersTrust. It’s the cornerstone of the relationship between midwife and mother. In this week’s episode of Call the Midwife, it’s trust in their skills that leads the midwives to transport Ruby to the hospital. It’s what Ruby depends on when she’s tells Sister Julianne she’d be screaming her head off were the sister not there. It’s what’s in her eyes when she asks Sister Julianne to care for her baby while she’s under general anesthesia.

Trust is what Sister Julianne quickly establishes with another mother by showing when she shows compassion by serving her tea during a long labor. And it’s trust in the birth process and trusting the strength of the mother that ultimately proves a midwife wrong when she says “I don’t see that baby being born without forceps.”

Trust is as paramount to labor and birth today as it was in 1961 when this series is set. Obstetric and midwifery care often had a paternalistic nature then, which meant that doctors and midwives made decisions about what was best for women and their babies. Today we seek to empower women to actively participate in their care by providing them with information. But while information is now available everywhere at the touch of our fingertips, quantity isn’t necessarily better and quality can be lacking depending on the source. After all, everyone on the Internet is an “expert,” and it’s sometimes hard to sift through all the opinions to find facts. Midwives today can struggle with establishing the kind of relationship with mothers that allows them to trust midwives’ experience and knowledge over these other voices when things don’t go as planned or desired.

Midwives want to be “with woman.” It’s at the very heart of what we do and it is also the meaning of the word “midwife.” We want to be there through unplanned pregnancies, miscarriage, happy births, surgical births, healthy babies and babies who are only here a short while. We want to earn the trust of the families we serve. In a time when nearly one-third of all babies born in the U.S. are delivered by Cesarean section, we seek to trust women’s bodies and trust birth.

Bethany Domzal Sanders, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing located at West End Women’s Health Center.

Ken Burns’ National Park Series Returns to PBS This April

Dayton Duncan in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Al GOLUB/Golub Photography (2009).

Dayton Duncan in Yosemite National Park. Photo by Al GOLUB/Golub Photography (2009).

Dayton Duncan thinks he has the greatest job in America. The author of 12 books, Duncan is also Ken Burns’ longtime collaborator on numerous documentary series, including The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a celebration of the 59 large natural spaces protected and preserved by the National Park Service.

Duncan discussed The National Parks and other projects during a visit to NPT for a screening and reception earlier this week. The event was part of a celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the nationwide PBS rebroadcast of the 12-hour 2009 series in two-hour blocks April 25 through 30, beginning at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 p.m. Saturday on NPT.

Addressing an audience of NPT viewers, Duncan shared stories from the creation of The National Parks and answered questioned about it and other projects, including Burns’ upcoming country music series. He also showed three clips from The National Parks, among them the introduction segment with sweeping views of parks and narration by Peter Coyote and a clip of a Park Ranger reminiscing poetically about seeing a herd of bison in the snow.

Revisiting the series now is like watching home movies, Duncan said. He was on virtually every trip and every shoot, and related one particularly time-consuming and ultimately dramatic experience waiting for Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, to appear. When it did, the crew — Burns included — watched astonished with eyes and mouths open wide. In the end, they decided to use a time-lapse sequence to share that reveal with viewers. The idea for the series grew out of Duncan’s own experiences in the parks over the years researching his own books and other documentary projects with Burns. “It took me about 45 seconds to convince Ken,” he told the audience at the NPT reception.

Duncan compares his work with Burns and Florentine Films to pursuing “self-directed post-graduate degrees” on topics of his choice, followed by working on films with his best friend, “who happens to be the best documentary filmmaker in America.” Duncan spent 16 years working on The National Parks, including six years of production and editing time to allow for multiple visits to the parks, partly to counter inclement weather and bad shooting conditions, partly to allow for visits to parks in different seasons. Duncan said he hoped this national rebroadcast of the series would do essentially what the first run did seven years ago: encourage people to go to the parks. “They’re beautiful places, they belong to you, you’re a co-owner,” Duncan said. “Go check this property out, do a property inspection of the stuff that belongs to you.”

Duncan has been an avid parks-goer from a young age. “When I was 9 years old, the only real vacation my family took from my small town in Iowa was west to national parks. I can still remember almost the day-by-day itinerary of that,” Duncan said. “I didn’t come back from that trip thinking, I know what I’m going to do now, I’m going to end up being a writer and filmmaker whose focuses are mostly on our land and our landscape and how that intertwines with our history,” he continued. “Now that I look back and see what I became, I realize that seed was planted on that first trip and my affection for the parks and what role they can play in opening up your mind and your horizons was established back then.”

His 9-year-old self probably would be amazed at another development in his life and career: In appreciation of their work on The National Parks, Duncan and Burns were named honorary park rangers, something bestowed on only about 50 people, “most of them dead presidents,” Duncan quipped. And, yes, the filmmakers also received the distinctive flat-brimmed hats worn by rangers.

‘Accidental Courtesy’ Named 2016 NPT Human Spirit Award Winner at NaFF

Accidental Courtesy

NPT’s Human Spirit Award is presented each year to a Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) documentary selection and acknowledges a filmmaker’s work that best explores and captures the human spirit. The film must illuminate in a high artistic manner the important characteristics of what it means to be human: generosity, kindness, mercy, compassion, fortitude and honor. This year’s award went to Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America and was presented to Matt Ornstein, the film’s director and producer, Monday, April 18, during the 47th Nashville Film Festival at the Regal Green Hills 16 Cinema.

Accomplished musician Daryl Davis has played with legendary musicians around the world. But this film is about his hobby of meeting members of hate groups in an attempt to befriend them and change their minds. “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” he asks. The documentary includes interviews between Davis and civil rights activists, academics and with members of the KKK and neo-Nazi organizations.

Davis’ refusal to hate and his relentless pursuit of conversation and understanding where one would least expect to find it embodies the best of what it means to be human. He proves that we can talk and listen to each other and come to mutual understanding and respect without judgement. NPT is proud to honor the Accidental Courtesy filmmakers for introducing audiences to Davis and his life work.

The NPT Human Spirit Award jury consisted of Kevin Crane, vice president of programming and technology; Sheila Fischer, director of development; Justin Harvey, director of content; Jessica Turk, assistant program manager; and videographer/editor Matthew Emigh.