‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 8 Episode 8 – Season Finale


The eighth season of Call the Midwife just wrapped so this is the final Vanderbilt University School of Nursing guest blog post of the season. SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers.

By Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM
Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose

With this poignant episode, Season 8 wraps up many emotional storylines and even a few happy romances. The delicate topic of abortion was also again at the forefront. After the shocking revelationl last week that Valerie’s Gran, Elsie (Ann Mitchell), is responsible for the multiple botched illegal procedures throughout the season; Val (Jennifer Kirby) and Trixie (Helen George) are shown dealing with the legal proceedings and aftermath.

Jennifer Kirby’s performance was particularly remarkable, demonstrating pure inner turmoil over doing what she knew was right and preparing to testify against her beloved Gran. The trial highlights the tragic death of Jeannie in Episode 4 and even brings back model Kath from the season opener to share her story. Kath’s appearance spares Val from having to speak out against her Gran, and Elsie is sentenced to six years in prison for her actions.

This social history covered in 1964 Poplar is eerily similar to events happening in the U.S. right now. Abortion became legal in the U.K. following the Abortion Act of 1967, a mere three years after the events portrayed in this season of Call the Midwife. In the past few months, news headlines related to state legislature on abortion bans and public outrage from both sides of the political landscape have left me reeling. As a midwife, I have sat with tearful patients who must make these painful decisions on abortion in extremely difficult and complicated situations. I’ve never witnessed a patient who wasn’t deeply affected by their choice. Pregnancy is life altering and not everyone is able to deal with those alterations; in many cases, it wouldn’t be safe if they did. Through the realistic depictions in this season, the consequences of an abortion ban are clear – it comes at a high cost to women and their lives.

In response to current events, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a position statement strongly opposing the political efforts to limit women’s access to abortion care. “Across the country, legislation is advancing restrictions that would impose professional, civil, and even criminal penalties on physicians for providing safe, high-quality abortion care to their patients… Any of these restrictions would make safe and timely abortion care increasingly unavailable, which increases women’s health risks.” ACOG’s full statement is available here.

One of my favorite characters, Sister Monica Joan, is a constant fount of humor and wisdom. Back in Episode 4, we hear her say “In extremis, necessity finds a way. It has always been thus, it will always be thus.” Criminalizing abortion doesn’t mean women won’t have abortions, it will mean that they won’t have abortions safely or legally. Politics aside, we should take the lessons from history that are so emotionally laid out in this show and learn from them.


Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

‘Volunteer Gardener’ Spring in the Garden: Turning Lawns into Gardens

Volunteer Gardener NPT

By Laura Bigbee-Fott

Are you tired of mowing? Would you rather grow food and flowers than Bermuda grass? Well, you’re not alone! There are lots of folks out there doing just that. In fact, on my farm I have turned previously bulldozed, hard pan clay into lovely, friable, healthy soil.

This time around I’ll cover several ways to turn your lawn into garden beds.

You can rent or buy a rear-tine tiller and till up your soil, but there are two problems with this method. The first is that if you have Bermuda grass in your lawn, every little piece of grass chewed up by the tiller will now form a new grass plant. Bermuda grass is actually an exotic invasive and is the bane of nearly every home gardener’s existence! The second problem is that many healthy soil organisms are killed and their tiny ecosystems destroyed.

Lasagna gardening
Patricia Lanza coined this phrase in her terrific book by the same name. This technique is all about creating layers of everything plants need to grow and thrive right on top of your lawn. First, place cardboard over the grass, then create layers as you would when making a lasagna (hence the name). Layer compost, straw, bone meal, and other soil amendments; then plant directly into the mix. Over time, nature will combine all the elements you’ve laid down to create wonderful garden soil. Purchasing all the amendments can be a little expensive, but if you’re only starting with a small area, this is an extremely fast and ecologically sound way of creating a garden bed.

Building raised wooden beds
Some people like the tidiness of raised beds, which are lovely and orderly and quite easy to weed eat. However, they can be expensive in terms of lumber as well as the soil needed to fill them. If you go this route, make sure you inoculate any purchased soil with compost as well as native soil to entice all the local soil biology to take up residence in your beds. These beds will also need more water and will tend to be drier than planting directly into the ground.

This is the process I use on my farm. It has been used widely in Europe for many years. The term refers to the practice of using heavy tarps to block the sun from reaching the grass underneath. This eventually kills the grass but leaves the soil structure intact. It also requires quite a bit more planning because once the grass is killed, you generally follow up with at least one, if not several rounds of cover cropping to build up the soil and further smother any weed seeds that try to germinate. Each successive cover crop is also tarped to raise the level of organic matter in the soil and feed the microbiology present in it. Once the soil is loose and friable, I plant it out and deeply mulch it with a combination of leaves, straw, spoiled hay, and grass clippings. See “after” photo at right.

Whatever method you choose, have fun ‒ and 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.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 8 Episode 7

By Michelle Collins, Ph.D, CNM, FACNM, FAAN
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Call the Midwife is back for its eighth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 19, then read our blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

I loved the advice Mother Mildred (played by Miriam Margolyes) gave to Sister Frances (Ella Bruccoleri) as she headed out on her first “solo” birth. “Don’t forget your most essential instruments: courage and humility. If you leaven one with the other, you cannot fail.” Sage advice from such a wise mentor.

As midwives, our hands are our most valuable asset. More than any single tool of modern technology could, our hands facilitate us being able to diagnose, comfort, treat, and accept life into them. Yet an individual midwife could be the best diagnostician, the most capable “baby catcher,” but without courage and humility he/she would be a very incapable midwife. Courage is what we draw upon to stand beside women in whatever phase of life they need us. Courage is required to challenge the status quo in advocacy for our clients.

With every baby we catch, humility reminds us that it is not the midwife who causes the healthy birth. Instead, it is the strength of the women we care for, in combination with the innate knowledge that birth is normal, that brings about the healthy birth. Midwives recognize this, which is why we prefer to say that we catch rather than deliver babies. To use “deliver” shifts the credit of the work in birth from the real hero – the momma.

This episode highlighted several key issues. We saw a young husband who, during the course of his wife’s pregnancy, slid back into risky sexual behavior. Why would a man who seemingly has it all (a beautiful, devoted wife; a child on the way) slide into such a destructive pattern of sex addiction? The answer is multifaceted. The prospect of change, in this case that of becoming a parent, can cause a regression of behavior in a recovered/recovering addict. Whatever the addiction, because it brings comfort, the addict may fall back into destructive patterns in times of stress. It’s a timely topic, as the number of those with a sex addiction is currently nearly equal to that of those with cardiovascular disease.1 Thankfully, sex addiction is much more openly discussed now than it was in 1960s London.

The other topic I wanted to mention regarding this week’s Call the Midwife episode concerns the young woman whose birth Sister Frances attended. On a routine postpartum visit, Sister Frances found a party in full bloom in the woman’s flat, arranged by the husband. The new mother was huddled in her room, frazzled by the prospect of having to return to normalcy and act as though she hadn’t just gone through such a powerfully exhausting experience as childbirth.

Midwives like to tell patients that it takes nine months for a woman’s body to get to the point that it is ready for birth – and another nine months to get back to a semblance of a “new” normal. So many women find themselves in the position of having no time to recover after childbirth; out of necessity they must return to work, or to full-time care of their children, sometimes within just days of giving birth.

We spend a great deal of time and effort showering women with gifts during pregnancy. Wouldn’t it be something if we routinely gave new mommas really valuable gifts after babies were born; gifts like time to take a nap, freshly washed laundry, a cleaned house – or even better, adequate follow-up medical care once baby arrives, and appropriate paid leave from work. Now those would be valuable gifts!

  1. Protect Patients First. AARP website. http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/politics/advocacy/2017/06/patients-first-national-fact-sheet-june-12-2017-aarp.pdfPublished June 12, 2017. Accessed May 5, 2019 via https://www.recoveryranch.com/resources/sex-addiction-and-intimacy-disorders/sex-addiction-america-common/


Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

NPT’s ‘Crossroads’ receives 2019 Metro Historical Commission Preservation Award

Tennessee Crossroads, NPT’s long-running magazine show highlighting the state’s places and people, received the Commissioners’ Award during Nashville’s Metropolitan Historical Commission’s 2019 Preservation Awards. The 44th annual event was held on Thursday, May 9, 2019, at the Nashville Public Library downtown, where awards were presented to winning properties in the categories of Residential, Infill, Monuments and Memorials, Educational and Institutional, and Commercial architecture. The Commissioners’ Award recognizes a group, program, or project that enhances Nashville’s history and historic resources and is designed to honor projects that do not fit within the traditional preservation award categories.

The Preservation Awards recognize outstanding efforts to preserve Nashville’s historic architecture. Along with celebrating exceptional preservation projects, the MHC recognized the contributions of Ann Toplovich and Judy and Steve Turner with Achievement Awards.

On the air since 1987, Tennessee Crossroads travels the highways and byways of Tennessee, highlighting the personalities, crafts, places, foods and events that make Tennessee special and its character unique. Joe Elmore has been the host of this Emmy-award winning series since its beginnings.

The Metropolitan Historical Commission’s Preservation Awards program began even earlier than Tennessee Crossroads, in 1973 as an Architectural Awards program. Over the decades more than 400 awards have gone to a broad range of historic structures – dwellings, churches, commercial and industrial buildings, schools, even to bridges and new developments. Nominated by the public, these projects are honored for their sensitivity to the original architecture and the surrounding environment, creativity in adaptation for contemporary use, architectural merit and/or historic interest, long-term maintenance, adherence to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and pioneering spirit.

Meet BBQ’s Steven Raichlen & NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff at NPT events this May

This May NPT is offering two opportunities to meet public media personalities at events that support NPT’s educational, cultural and civic programming.

Steven Raichlen, “the man who reinvented modern barbecue,” will appear at NPT on Thursday, May 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to talk brisket and sign copies of his new cookbook, The Brisket Chronicles. Raichlen will discuss buying, trimming and seasoning brisket, as well as mastering various cooking techniques for indoors and outdoors.

The evening takes place in NPT’s Studio A (161 Rains Ave., Nashville TN 37203) and will include a slider station serving brisket, slaw, baked beans and mac & cheese; a street taco station with mini flour tortillas, brisket queso, rice and beans; and little cupcakes topped with candied bacon  – all from Bacon & Caviar Gourmet Catering. Craft beers and a signature bourbon drink will be provided by Lipman Brothers.

Tickets are available at brisketnpt.eventbrite.com and are $50 per person or $75 for admission and a copy of The Brisket Chronicles: How to Barbecue, Braise, Smoke, and Cure the World’s Most Epic Cut of Meat.

Raichlen is a five-time James Beard Award-winner, winner of three International Association of Culinary Professional Awards and a member of the Barbecue Hall of Fame. His popular public television series include Project Smoke and Project Fire and he is the author of several bestselling cookbooks. Founder of Barbecue University at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, Raichlen has lectured on the history of barbecue at institutions as diverse as Harvard, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. He holds a degree in French literature from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and studied medieval cooking in Europe on a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship. He was also awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

His new cookbook includes an in-depth look at the history and culture of brisket along with an exploration of cooking methods and gear, from Dutch ovens to Kamado-style cookers. And, of course, The Brisket Chronicles includes recipes ‒ starters, mains, sides and a section on seasonings and sauces.

On Friday, May 31, NPT will host a breakfast with special guest Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour, public television’s signature nightly news program. Woodruff will be joined by NPT’s La Tonya Turner to talk about her career in broadcast journalism – and about the NewsHour’s place in an increasingly fractured media landscape. The event will be held in the Pinnacle Learning Center (Pinnacle Financial Partners, 150 3rd Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37201) and will begin promptly at 7 a.m.

Tickets are available at judynpt.eventbrite.com and are $100 per person, which includes parking at the Pinnacle building in downtown Nashville.

Woodruff has covered politics and other news topics for more than four decades at NBC, CNN and PBS. She was the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour from 1983 to 1993. From 1984 to 1990, she also anchored PBS’ award-winning documentary series, Frontline with Judy Woodruff. She moved to CNN in 1993, where her duties included anchoring the weekday program Inside Politics. Woodruff returned to the NewsHour in 2007, and in 2013, she and the late Gwen Ifill were named the first two women to co-anchor a national news broadcast. Woodruff was named sole anchor after Ifill’s death.

Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in journalism and communication industries worldwide. She serves on the boards of trustee of the Freedom Forum, The Duke Endowment and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and is a director of Public Radio International and the National Association to End Homelessness.

Breakfast & Conversation with Judy Woodruff is sponsored by Bacon & Caviar Gourmet Catering & BBQ and Pinnacle Financial Partners.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 8, Episode 6

Call the Midwife is back for its eighth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 19, then read our blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM
Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose

Vanessa Redgrave’s soft, maternal voice-over brings me such comfort and is frequently my favorite part of each Call the Midwife episode. She wraps up this week’s show by talking about having a sense of belonging to our families or to the families we create, saying: “Sometimes simply belonging to each other is enough. And what really matters is not the struggle, but where we find our peace.” This sentiment was really touching after watching the sad and frustrating story of young teenage mother, Elaine (Hannah Rae).

We are introduced to the unmarried 17 year old when she presents to the clinic in labor. Elaine has obviously been concealing her pregnancy very well. I had the same thoughts that Lucille (Leonie Elliott) did, that the teen didn’t look pregnant as all! After a beautiful delivery of baby Sarah, Lucille’s suspicions are confirmed ‒ this is not Elaine’s first baby. It was infuriating to watch Elaine’s parents refuse to help or support her decision to keep the child. And it was heart wrenching to see the pain Elaine had gone through giving up her first baby and her utter determination to have another.

While there is far less negative stigma surrounding teenage pregnancy now than there was in 1964, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. Teenage pregnancy leads to significant long-term social, emotional, health and economic problems not only to the young parents but to their children as well. For this reason, decreasing the rate of teenage pregnancy has long been a national health goal. The U.S. teen birth rate is currently at an all-time low due in large part to better sex education programs and improvements in contraceptive access and use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 194,377 babies were born to teenagers in 2017. Nearly one in five births to teenage mothers is a repeat birth, meaning that when teens have one pregnancy, they are far more likely to give birth again as a teenager. This is exactly what happened to Elaine. She never dealt with the emotional aspect of having a child at such a young age or the trauma of having to give the child away. She didn’t have access to counseling or education on the repercussions of conceiving again, nor did she have the option to talk to a midwife or other health care provider about contraception.

There are so many great resources for teenagers in 2019, but even more can be done to help prevent teenage pregnancy. It is also essential to provide resources to give pregnant teens adequate social, emotional, medical and academic support. Lucille gave Elaine the best resources she could: a safe place to rent, instructions to request government funding and the means to get a typing job. I wanted so badly for the character to get counseling, find a support group of other teen moms, finish school or as Vanessa Redgrave’s voice-over suggested ‒ find belonging and peace.

Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

NPT receives Council on Aging Sage Award for ‘Aging Matters’ project

Bill and Sallie Norton, Thelma Harper, Jackie Cavnar of Mental Health America of the MidSouth, NPT’s Kevin Crane, Julian Bibb. Credit: Mickey Bernal Photography

Nashville Public Television is among the Council on Aging (COA) of Middle Tennessee’s recently announced 28th Annual Sage Awards honorees. NPT is being recognized for its ongoing Aging Matters project.

Presented each year since 1992, the Sage Awards are given to older adults who have made outstanding contributions to Middle Tennessee through a lifelong commitment of working to improve the quality of life in their communities.

The 2019 Sage Awards honorees are: Julian Bibb (Franklin), Thelma Harper (Whites Creek), Bill and Sallie Norton (Nashville) and Gracie Porter (Nashville).

In addition to the individual honorees, COA is also honoring two organizations that have demonstrated a significant impact on the lives of older adults in Middle Tennessee. The 2019 Organization Sage Awards will be presented to NPT and Mental Health America of the MidSouth.

Since 2013, NPT’s Aging Matters project has sought to raise awareness about the critical issues and challenges faced by our growing older population. Through 14 documentaries, short update features, a website and extensive community engagement, the project has informed viewers about how our communities need to change to ensure positive outcomes for all of us as we grow older.

NPT Reports: Aging Matters is hosted by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Kathy Mattea and 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 provided by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

Sage Awardees will be honored at a luncheon held on Oct. 28, 2019, at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. To make a reservation for the luncheon, please visit www.coamidtn.org/sage-awards/.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 8, Episode 5

By Michelle Collins, Ph.D, CNM, FACNM, FAAN
Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

Call the Midwife is back for its eighth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 19, then read our blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

In my post about Episode 8.3, I talked about watching Call the Midwife and thinking about how it seems impossible that things could have been the way they’re portrayed, even if history tells me otherwise. That rang true again in this week’s episode. A young engaged woman had what was then called “testicular feminization syndrome,” now referred to as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome.

Males have an XY chromosomal makeup and females an XX. With complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, XY fetuses (which are genetically “male”) do not respond to male hormones and are born looking female on the outside as a result. On the inside, though, they have a shortened vagina that is more like a pouch and that does not have a cervix (or uterus) at the end of it. These individuals have neither ovaries nor fallopian tubes. They do have testes, which remain undescended, usually in the abdomen. Unfortunately, many times this condition goes undetected until the individual does not begin to menstruate when menarche would be expected.

This brings me back to my opening comments about how things have changed. I was mortified by the way the young woman in this episode was examined by the specialist to whom Dr. Turner referred her. In teaching practices in the past, it was customary for the “sage” (teaching physician) to lead an entourage of medical students on rounds or in office visits particularly to “see” the most unusual of conditions. The teaching physician would then ask questions of the students, in front of the patient, interacting with them in a manner that totally excluded the patient. Patients were treated more as medical specimens than as people deserving empathy. I would like to say that this never happens now; unfortunately, the issue of vaginal examinations being performed on women in surgery and under anesthesia in the name of “education” still pops up in the news today.

Not until the late 1960s did the practice of unauthorized pelvic examinations come under fire. It was then some time before medical organizations began issuing formal statements condemning the practice. Today there are few states that classify these unauthorized procedures as a misdemeanor. (Why not every state?)

In teaching this most delicate of examinations to nurse-midwifery students, we spend as much time on the nuances of how to best perform this delicate exam as we do on the mechanics of the procedure. Those nuances include what the clinician says during the exam. To hear the specialist telling the young woman to “just relax” as he forcibly opened her legs produced in me a visceral response of anger and disgust. “Just relax” ‒ the same words spoken to women when they are being assaulted ‒ are NOT the words that should be used by a professional performing the most intimate of exams.

I wish I could say that women no longer endure exams like this, but I frequently see women in my own practice who have been traumatized by past gynecologic exams. If that woman is you, know that you do not have to tolerate this type of abuse ‒ I cannot even label it as “care.” There are so many options for empathetic gynecologic care; if you currently are not receiving such, I would even highly recommend that you call the midwife!

Michelle Collins Ph.D., CNM, FACNM, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program, at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

‘Call the Midwife’ Recap: Season 8, Episode 4

Call the Midwife
is back for its eighth season and so are the faculty of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing with a weekly guest blog. Watch the show Sundays at 7 p.m. through May 19, then read our blog each Monday morning for historical and contemporary context about the previous night’s episode. SPOILER ALERT: Some posts may contain spoilers.

By Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM
Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose

Call the Midwife never fails to bring tears to my eyes, but this week’s episode left me feeling extra heartbroken. Jeannie (Molly Chesworth) is a vibrant young mother of two in Poplar who struggles with an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Trixie and Dr. Turner both counsel her that she’ll adjust to the idea if she just gives herself time to accept the pregnancy. However, Jeannie is desperate and nothing they say persuades her against what she is determined to do. After an illegal backstreet abortion, Jeannie suffers through a horrible infection that ultimately leads to her death.

Illegal abortion seems to be a recurring theme on Call the Midwife this season. It surprised me to see the show tackle this topic again so soon after seeing Kath suffer consequences of a dangerous procedure in this season’s first episode. It was obviously a serious concern in 1964 England and would be until the Abortion Act of 1967. I have a feeling we will see more on the subject in episodes or seasons to come.

Another storyline that tugged on my heartstrings was that of a mother and daughter, both of whom are pregnant, who are estranged at a time when they need each other most. Enid (Niky Wardley) does not approve of her daughter Cilla’s (Hannah Hutch) marriage to Indian immigrant Pardeep (Omar Malik). Enid wants the best for her daughter, but she is blinded by her prejudice. Mother and daughter are thrown together when they end up in the maternity ward due to pregnancy complications.

To me, this episode isn’t about illegal abortion, family feuds or complicated pregnancies. It is about women needing support in pregnancy; support from family, medical providers and the community. Pregnancy can be the happiest, most meaningful time in a woman’s life; but it is also intense and terrifying if you are alone in your worry or fears. Jeannie, Cilla and Enid are all in serious need of support throughout the episode. Fortunately, Sister Julienne is able to help Cilla and Enid reconcile in the end, but Jeannie never got the understanding she needed, despite the caring efforts that were made.

In my years as a midwife, I have spent a great deal of time listening and being present with my patients. I think one of the greatest strengths of our profession is patience and compassion. I spend a large amount of my time sitting with my patients, listening to their fears, concerns and hopes. I’ve cried with patients and been there when family members couldn’t be. Being present and offering support through the happy, the challenging and the tragic times ‒ these simple acts make such a difference. I love how Call the Midwife demonstrates this support for the families of Poplar.

Hannah Diaz, MSN, CNM, is a member of the Vanderbilt Nurse-Midwives & Primary Care for Women at Melrose, the clinical practice of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

NPT’s ‘Next Door Neighbors: Taste of Home’ premieres Thursday, April 25

Taste of Home, the 12th documentary in NPT’s award-winning Next Door Neighbors series, premieres Thursday, April 25, at 8 p.m. The documentary will also be broadcast on Wednesday, May 29, at 1 a.m. and will be available for online viewing at ndn.wnpt.org/documentaries.

This edition of Next Door Neighbors highlights members of Middle Tennessee’s Ethiopian, Palestinian and Venezuelan communities. But this is a different kind of Next Door Neighbors production; this is a story of the role food plays in keeping people connected to their home countries, while also helping them form bonds in their new locations.

Producer Shawn Anfinson said the idea to use food as an entrée (so to speak) to exploring cultures came up in a conversation of possible documentary topics. “Food is always there. Wherever we’d go to meet someone or attend an event, they’d be eager to feed us,” Anfinson said. “That gave us an opportunity to show gratitude, not just for their hospitality, but also for their stories.” Anfinson’s previous Next Door Neighbors documentary was 2018’s Between Two Worlds, about Middle Tennessee’s Indian, Chinese and Filipino communities.

“The aroma of the kitchen, this is something that brings home to you,” Venezuelan native Ramón Cisneros says in Taste of Home. It is something that you probably want to put in your suitcase when you leave your country and you can’t.”

Fidel Vasquez and Ivon Reyes, owners of Caracasville at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, are among the Venezuelan natives featured in Taste of Home. As they and Cisneros they tell their stories, viewers see them prepare such traditional Venezuelan dishes as pabellón criollo and arepas (sandwiches made with a warm, chewy cornbread).

In a segment of Taste of Home featuring the Ethiopian Community Association, the traditional coffee ceremony is transformed into a cross-cultural event. “One of the reasons I love [the] United States is because anything is possible,” Hillina Feleke, ECAN’s director of communications and public relations, says in the documentary. “However, I still hold on to my Ethiopian roots because I feel like that helped build me into who I am today.”

Nashville’s Faith and Culture Center, also uses food to foster connections between disparate communities through its A Seat at the Table programs. FCC was founded by Daoud Abudiab, a Palestinian American who grew up in Jerusalem, and his late friend Bernard Werthan, a member of Nashville’s Jewish community. “It’s about building a community where everyone is welcome, heard, seen,” Abudiab says in Taste of Home. “Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Christians and Arabs, it’s the same dream, is to be at peace with one another, to respect our differences, to love others, maybe even before we understand them.”

“We can bring people around the table from different backgrounds and we all can agree, you know, on the same values we share here, being neighbors, living in the same community,” says Nadia Owaida Crank, FCC’s program coordinator, near the end of Taste of Home.

NPT’s Next Door Neighbors: Taste of Home is made possible by the generous support of The Nissan Foundation.

NPT’s Next Door Neighbors series looks at Nashville’s status as a destination city for refugees and immigrants and explores the rich diversity of people now calling Nashville home. Through documentaries, extensive outreach and continued relationships with Nashville’s immigrant and refugee communities the Next Door Neighbors project aims to increase understanding of unfamiliar cultures, highlight the experiences and successes of Nashville’s immigrants, and mediate a community-wide conversation about who we are as Nashvillians.