NPT’s Indie Lens Pop-Up series concludes April 11 with ‘Charm City’

NPT’s final free Indie Lens Pop-Up event of the season is Thursday, April 11, at Watkins College of Art (2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville TN 37228). Indie Lens Pop-Up, presented by ITVS, Independent Lens, and Nashville Public Television, will present Charm City, a documentary by Marilyn Ness. The event is free, but RSVPs are required at Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the screening begins at 6 p.m. with a discussion to follow the documentary.

Filmed during three years of unparalleled violence in Baltimore, Charm City delivers a powerfully candid portrait of those on the front lines. With grit, fury, and compassion, a group of police, citizens, community leaders, and government officials grapple with the consequences of violence and try to reclaim their city’s future. Former Nashville resident Katy Chevigny is one of the film’s producers.

Independent Lens airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on NPT.

NPT’s ‘Aging Matters: Legal Help’ documentary premieres March 28

Just over half of all older adults have had at least one civil legal problem in the last year and 87 percent of seniors seeking legal assistance had difficulty finding or affording it. Yet benefits and resources available to older adults are underutilized. Aging Matters: Legal Help, the fourteenth documentary in Nashville Public Television’s NPT Reports: Aging Matters series, sheds light on resources and where to turn when legal assistance is needed.

Aging Matters: Legal Help premieres Thursday, March 28, at 8 p.m. on NPT.

A free preview screening of Aging Matters: Legal Help will be held on Wednesday, March 27, at FiftyForward’s Patricia Hart Building in Nashville. The event will include lunch and a panel discussion with Sonya Bellafant, director of the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance/Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands; Stephanie Edwards, attorney with Howard, Mobley, Hayes and Gontarek; and Rhonda Yaeger, advocate from the Jean Crowe Advocacy Center. Ashley Hunter, director of the FiftyForward Victory Over Crime program, will serve as moderator. RSVPs are no longer being accepted for the event, which has reached capacity.

The most common legal issues faced by older adults revolve around access to healthcare, housing, maintaining income and planning for the future. Navigating benefits and eligibility on your own is incredibly complicated and the resources that exist for older adults are often underutilized.

“Unfortunately, most of the ways the seniors enter the legal system is in a crisis. They’re usually not entering the legal system because they’re doing advanced planning or preventative measures,” Fay Gordon, project manager with the National Center on Law & Elder Rights/Justice, says in Aging Matters: Legal Help. “There’s a huge disconnect between the need and people linking up with lawyers.”

Matt Schwimmer, an attorney with West Tennessee Legal Services, agrees. “It gets exponentially more difficult as you get older. The housing issues and the debt issues pile on to what are now healthcare issues and problems with transportation,” he says in the documentary. “Whatever the case may be, there’s tons of stuff they have to deal with, not to mention benefits, which they figure when you retire it’s going to be simple….But the fact is, you have to fight for them a lot of the time.”

Aging Matters: Legal Help offers insights from attorneys, advocates and policy experts ‒ some with personal experience similar to those of their clients ‒ as well as individuals navigating these areas. Appearing in the documentary are representatives from: the American Bar Association; the Center for Medicare Advocacy; Justice in Aging; the National Council on Aging; the National Health Law Program; the Tennessee Justice Center; the Tennessee Senior Law Alliance; the Tennessee State Health Insurance Program (SHIP); Vanderbilt Law School; and West Tennessee Legal Services.

Additional broadcast times for Aging Matters: Legal Help are below; the documentary will also be available for online viewing at

  • Tuesday, April 2, at 12 a.m.
  • Monday, April 8, at 12:30 a.m.
  • Friday, April 19, at 9:30 p.m.
  • Monday, April 29, at 12:30 a.m.

Aging Matters: Legal Help was produced by NPT executive producer Will Pedigo, whose previous projects in the series include Aging & the Workplace and Economics of Aging.

The NPT Reports: Aging Matters series is hosted by Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Kathy Mattea. Funding for Aging Matters: Legal Help was provided through a grant awarded by the Davidson County Chancery Court, Part III from the SeniorTrust/ElderTrust settlement (Case No. 11-1548-III) and through a contract administered by the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability.

NPT Reports: Aging Matters is a major initiative designed to open a community-based conversation about what older citizens in Middle Tennessee need to optimize their quality of life and what the community needs to do to prepare for a coming explosion in our aging population. Over the course of several years, NPT has focused on issues such as caregiving, finances, end-of-life issues, dementia and Alzheimer’s through documentaries, televised town halls or panel discussions, Aging Matters updates, community engagement conversations, a project website, interactive online screenings and DVD distribution.

‘Volunteer Gardener’ March in the Garden: Seed Starting 101

By Laura Bigbee-Fott

A series of guest-written gardening blogs to inspire fans of NPT’s Volunteer Gardener and anyone looking for tips and ideas for happier, healthier gardens.

March is when we start seeing signs that spring is near. It is when gardeners begin champing at the bit to get outside (if they weren’t already) and get their hands dirty! There is good reason for this: the vernal (or spring) equinox, the astrological beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, happens in March. Our part of the earth begins its tilt toward the sun as nature begins to awaken around us with the lengthening days.

In March you can also get a jump on the coming growing season by starting seedlings indoors. Here’s how.

Supply List

  • Seed packets
  • Potting soil (specifically packaged for seed-starting)
  • Seed-starting trays
  • Humidity domes
  • Germination mat (specifically designed for seed-starting)
  • Plant markers
  • Watering can with a very fine rose


How to Begin

  1. Fill your trays with the potting medium. Give them a tap to make certain there are no air pockets. But don’t overstuff them; the tiny roots need room to breathe!
  2. Follow the directions on the seed package for planting depth. Remember that some seeds need light to germinate (surface sown) and others need darkness.
  3. Label the varieties with plant markers.
  4. Water very carefully and gently.
  5. Place the clear plastic humidity dome over your tray.
  6. Place the completed tray on a germination mat near a sunny window or under grow lights.
  7. Check your trays every day and keep them moist.
  8. When the seeds begin to sprout, remove the humidity dome.
  9. When the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, remove from the heat mat and keep watering.
  10. Watch in wonder as your seedlings stretch toward the light and begin the miracle of photosynthesis, growing more each and every day!


You will be tempted to plant out these beauties on the first warm day, but please refrain from doing so! Our last average frost date in Middle Tennessee is April 15, but that is just an average. In this part of the country, the received wisdom of our grandparents is not to plant any tender annuals until after Mother’s Day. If in the interim your seedlings begin to outgrow their seed-starting trays, you can bump them up to slightly larger individual pots. Better a little extra work then a bunch of dead, frozen seedlings!

I find this process endlessly inspiring and I hope you will, too!

Happy seed-starting!

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 annual Big Yellow Bird Bash is March 30, 2019, in a new nest!

NPT’s Big Yellow Bird Bash fundraiser moves to a new location this year! Our eighth annual party for fans of Nashville Public Television and public media takes place Saturday, March 30, from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Bedford, a multi-space event venue located in the Berry Hill area. The Big Yellow Bird Bash includes dancing, light bites and cocktails, photos with Daniel Tiger’s trolley, and a silent auction featuring fitness and other classes, sports and event tickets, and vouchers for services like home organization. Proceeds support NPT’s educational, cultural and civic programming.

The silent auction includes items from these and other providers:

  • America’s Test Kitchen
  • The Centennial
  • Christopher Kimball/Milk Street
  • CMT Crossroads
  • Coco’s Italian Market
  • edie Maney
  • Gayla’s Gifts
  • Genesco
  • Georgia Olive Farms
  • Hillary Howorth
  • Iron Tribe Belle Meade
  • Kevin Wimpy Portraits & Gardens
  • Les Paul Epiphone Guitar
  • Lidia Bastianich
  • L’Occitane en Provence
  • Lush
  • Lyft
  • Nashville Farmers’ Market
  • Nashville Repertory Theatre
  • Nashville Soccer Club
  • Neighborhood Barre
  • Nicky’s Coal Fired
  • Parallel Solutions
  • Select Shades
  • Studio Novo
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Vivian Howard
  • Watkins College of Art

Big Yellow Bird Bash attendees are encouraged to wear yellow – click here for inspirations from last year’s event.

Tickets to the Big Yellow Bird Bash are $60 per person, which includes access to NPT Passport, a member benefit streaming portal. More information about NPT Passport is available at Need a ride to or from the Big Yellow Bird Bash? Get 15 percent off two rides to or from the Big Yellow Bird Bash with code BYBB2019.

This year’s Big Yellow Bird Bash committee is chaired by Brooke Ponder and Zak Kelley. The 2019 committee members are: Sanjana Ballal, Hannah Benjamin, Whitney Braisted, Ryan Ellis, Whitney Fraizer, Sarah Lingo, Krista Nuber, Lawson Patten, Andrea Richardson, Chris Weidel and Peter Westerholm.

Our 2019 Big Yellow Bird Bash sponsors:

‘Volunteer Gardener’ February in the Garden: Tool Roundup

Volunteer Gardener NPT
By Laura Bigbee-Fott

A series of guest-written gardening blogs to inspire fans of NPT’s Volunteer Gardener and anyone looking for tips and ideas for happier, healthier gardens.

February is an in between month: not really spring yet, but also not the depths of winter ‒ at least not here in the South with daffodils coming up and hellebores blooming. While we’re still in these betwixt and between days, let’s take some time to get our favorite hand tools ready for the coming growing season.

Here is a list of my most dearly beloved hand tools that I simply could not be without. With these three simple implements, I can tackle nearly any garden job.

  • Hori hori knife. This is a traditional Japanese gardening knife that cuts, digs, prunes, plants and even measures. (And it looks super cool hanging from your tool belt!)
  • Japanese hand sickle. There is no better tool for dividing perennials in the garden! Even difficult-to-separate grasses are no match for this tool. I’ve also used it for weeding, pruning, and cutting a nice edge along a garden path.
  • The scuffle hoe. This is the most-used implement on my farm. It cuts off weeds just below the soil surface and quickly, too. You will be utterly amazed that you ever lived without it!



If you did not do so last fall, it is now time to clean your hand tools with a mild bleach or vinegar solution. I use Dawn dishwashing detergent and a little drip of bleach in about a gallon of water in the kitchen sink. I then use a double-sided sponge with an abrasive layer on one side to thoroughly clean each tool. Be sure to dry the tools off immediately so they don’t rust. (A note about cleaning: It’s actually a good idea to clean tools after every gardening session to help keep the spread of soil- and plant-borne diseases in check.)

After drying the tools, take a small whetstone and sharpen the edges of both the hori hori knife and the scuffle hoe. The hori hori knife has one flat edge and one serrated edge; use a small file to sharpen the serrated edge. The sickle has a very fine serrated edge that is hard to sharpen, so you will most likely need to replace this tool before the others.

Wipe down the tools using a little 3-in-One oil and your tools will be ready for anything you throw at them in the coming weeks!

Get more ideas on Volunteer Gardener Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on NPT.

Happy gardening and see you next month!

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 ‘Soldier & Citizen’ preview event & broadcast premiere Feb. 23 & 28

Soldier & Citizen, the fourth documentary in Nashville Public Television’s Citizenship series, premieres this month on NPT. The documentary examines how minority groups ‒ African-Americans, immigrants and women ‒ leveraged their “blood debt” of military service to further their cause for full citizenship. Soldier & Citizen premieres Thursday, Feb. 28, at 8 p.m. on NPT and will be available for online viewing at An encore presentation airs Sunday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m., during a marathon of Citizenship Project documentaries on NPT (noon to 3:30 p.m.).

NPT will also host a free preview screening on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Tennessee State Museum (1000 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, 37208). The event will include a panel discussion with four experts featured in the documentary: Dr. Lisa M. Budreau, senior curator of military history at the Tennessee State Museum; Dr. Carole Bucy, professor of history at Volunteer State Community College; Jo Ann McClellan, founder and president of the African American Heritage Society of Maury County; and Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell Jr., professor of history and Dean of the School of Humanities and Behavioral Social Sciences at Fisk University.

Produced by Ed Jones, the documentary covers the Civil War, the two World Wars and the Vietnam War, delving into the heroic efforts of soldiers during wartime ‒ including the Buffalo Soldiers and the Tuskegee Airmen ‒ as well as the often shameful ways they were treated during their service and upon their return to their communities. Women’s service during wartime is paired with a survey of how suffragists hoped the exploits of nurses during the First World War would help convince Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to support their quest for voting rights.

In addition to the panelists, others appearing in the documentary are: Sgt. Charles L. Henson, 598th Field Artillery Battalion, 92nd Infantry Division; Ronald R. Krebs, Ph.D., professor of political science; University of Minnesota; Bobby L. Lovett, Ph.D., professor of history and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Tennessee State University (Retired); Carroll Van West, Ph.D., director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

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. Over the course of the project, the programs will cover Tennessee history from the end of the Civil War through the 1960s, exploring civil rights and women’s suffrage among other topics.

The Citizenship Project is made possible by the support of

See these Oscar-nominated documentaries on NPT

Be sure to include NPT in your plans to binge the 91st annual Academy Awards nominees. Three films nominated in this year’s documentary categories will air on NPT and other PBS stations and/or will be available for streaming via NPT’s video portal at

The critically acclaimed Hale County This Morning, This Evening premieres on NPT on Monday, Feb. 11, at 9 p.m. on Independent Lens. Described as a lyrical and detailed portrait of life in an Alabama country in America’s so-called Black Belt, this documentary is part of NPT’s 2019 Black History Month programming. RaMell Ross’ film has been nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category.

Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap, also nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category, follows three young men in a Rust Belt town. The trio bonds through skateboarding as they navigate volatile family life. This film premieres on NPT on Monday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. on POV.


Finally, A Night At the Garden earned a Best Documentary Short Subject nomination. The short feature uses striking archival fragments recorded from a 1939 Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden to shine a light on the disturbing fallibility of seemingly decent people. This piece by Marshall Curry airs Monday, Feb. 18, at 9:30 p.m. in a POV Shorts episode called “Hindsight is 20/20.”

In addition to broadcasting Independent Lens and POV, Nashville Public Television frequently offers free screenings of independently produced documentaries in the Middle Tennessee area. Join us for Indie Lens Pop-Up screenings this spring, including The Providers, on Thursday, March 7, at Watkins College of Art. Part of the Independent Lens series, this documentary explores the physician shortage and opioid epidemic in rural America. The event is free, but RSVPs are required at

NPT wins 2018 NETA Awards for ‘Aging Matters’ & ‘A Word on Words’

The 2018 NETA Award Winners in Salt Lake City.

NPT received two awards from the National Educational Telecommunications Association on Jan. 21, 2019. NETA honored its members with awards for excellence in community engagement, instructional media, content creation and promotion. The gala evening, sponsored in part by the Contributor Development Partnership (CDP), was the opening event for the 2019 NETA Conference and CPB Public Media Thought Leaders Forum at the Marriott Downtown at City Creek hotel in Salt Lake City.

NPT was nominated for five awards and won in the following categories:

News & Public Affairs
NPT Reports: Aging Matters: Aging & the Workplace

What the judges said: “The show is informative without being boring; it’s personal and warm but never loses track of its purpose….This is a model for what every station can do.”

Short Form
A Word on Words

What the judges said: “Every element of these pieces is done well. The title sequences, audio, and video. Good interviewers. The closing tag is especially engaging.”

The NETA Awards are an annual recognition of public broadcasting’s finest work, a tradition established in the 1960s by the pioneering Southern Educational Communications Association from which NETA was formed. NETA is a professional association organized in 1997 to serve and support public television licensees and affiliated educational organizations. The organization has 101 member stations in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

Fourth season of NPT’s Emmy Award-winning ‘A Word on Words’ begins Jan. 25

‘A Word on Words’ hosts J.T. Ellison and Mary Laura Philpott


The new season of A Word on Words, NPT’s Emmy Award-winning reboot of its classic series, launches Friday, Jan. 25, on Facebook and Sunday, Jan. 27, on-air. Mystery writer J.T. Ellison and essayist Mary Laura Philpott return as hosts and NPT associate producer/senior editor Suzy Hence takes over as series producer.

Fifteen authors will be featured this season, beginning with Rebecca Makkai (The Great Believers). Makkai will be followed by Craig Johnson (the Sheriff Longmire novels, now a Showtime series); Silas House (Southernmost); Tayari Jones (American Marriage); and Alexander Chee (How to Write an Autobiographical Novel). These first installments were filmed at Nashville’s Downtown Public Library; others will be filmed on location around Middle Tennessee. The episodes will air Sundays at 10:26 a.m. on NPT following Tennessee Crossroads.


J.T. Ellison interviews author Tayari Jones.


A Word on Words received a Midsouth Regional Emmy Award in January 2017 and is up for a second Emmy at the Feb. 16, 2019, awards celebration. Segments from last season were used in What Makes a Great Book and Authors and Their Hometowns, companion documentaries to PBS’ Great American Read series. Additionally, A Word on Words’ Philpott moderated “The Great American Read” panel discussion during the 2018 Southern Festival of Books.

Generous support for A Word on Words is provided by Judy and Steve Turner.

Learn more about NPT’s literary series at Keep reading!