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August, 2011

  1. A few good interns?

    August 30, 2011 by Kaitlin

    I can’t believe I didn’t link to this sooner.

    Before I left Cape Town, Mike Rahfaldt, the executive director of the Children’s Radio Foundation, asked me to write a little bit about my experience as an intern at CRF.

    The piece ended up getting posted on, which is super cool because Transom is the place to go to find out what’s new in public radio and also to read priceless bits of radio storytelling advice from industry veterans like Chris Brooks and Alex Blumberg.

    I understand if you don’t want to read the whole sidebar—it’s a little on the long side (Me? Wordy? Never!)–but I’ll issue the same plea here that I did there. If you’re at all interested in youth radio, Africa or experimental storytelling, please shoot an email to Mike or me. Even if you’re not in a situation where you could go to Cape Town right now, CRF has a great radio family around the world, and they’re always looking to add members.

  2. Signs and sprawl: Back in Los Angeles

    August 30, 2011 by Kaitlin

    Welp, a couple plane rides and a 1,400 mile road trip later, I’m back in LA. To prove it, here’s the Hollywood sign as seen (OK, there’s some zoom involved here) from our Echo Park porch. Granted, me saying I can see Hollywood is a little like Sarah Palin saying she can see Russia. Yeah, it’s there, but that realm of LA is pretty far-removed from where I function.

    Mmm, Hollywood and smog

    Reporting in LA, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on unique parts of the city, and every so often I’ll stumble across something in the periphery of working on a story that makes me think, “Now there’s a good insider tip!” But then I remember that knowing which kind of burrito to order from the Compton Courthouse cafeteria (one of them is actually good, I promise!) is not the kind of info most Angelinos or visitors seek. But I’m alright with that.

    I was reminded of the scope of LA sprawl and the diversity it creates while visiting former Cape Town roommate Mary Beth in Marina del Ray, 20 miles across town. Even with no traffic, it’s a bit of a trek. She lives in this great community right by the water that has this whole nautical resort theme going on—very different than the hipster/taco truck/discount store mash-up that pervades Echo Park. Funny that now that we’re back in the States but no longer living together, it feels like we’re functioning on separate continents.


  3. Lion’s Head Hike…now with a slideshow!

    August 15, 2011 by Kaitlin

    When I mentioned the full moon hike on Lion’s Head in an earlier post, it occurred to me that I never wrote about my own experience hiking Lion’s Head.

    No one really wants to read about a hike unless we’re talking “Into Thin Air,” and since nothing went disastrously wrong (although there was that potential—those chains are intense!), I’ll spare you the words and present you with a slideshow.

    *This slideshow is a blatant rip-off of Sarah Golden’s Grahamstown roadtrip slideshow. Please take a moment and check out the source of my inspiration.

  4. Three pieces of media worth sharing

    August 13, 2011 by Kaitlin

    My last two weeks in Africa were spent tackling the road trip of a lifetime. But more on that later.

    While I was traipsing around Mozambique and Kruger National Park, two jaw-dropping places with a blessed lack of internet connectivity, a couple of radio pieces I had a hand in finally made their ways to the airwaves.

    The first is a piece I worked on for Sandy Tolan’s radio documentary class. It’s a short journey into the life of Mina Kamath, an extraordinary woman who trained and worked as a dentist in India and California, and now runs one of Southern California’s premier metalworking shops. I had so much fun making trips to her art studio and iron workshop, as well as sitting down with her and her husband for interviews in their warm and welcoming West Hills home. I finalized the piece with KQED back in May, and I’m so glad to finally be able to share it with Mina and her family and others in Berkeley who may have been listening.

    The second is in collaboration with the new website Bending Borders. Launched by radio guru Karen Lowe, the site collects experiences from around the world that represent some shared and relatable aspect of human existence, even if it’s happening far away in a culture you may know nothing about. This bit is based on an interview conducted by CRF executive producer Nina Callaghan and originally aired on the Father’s Day Radio Workshop episode. I did some editing and recorded an intro—it’s great to see some CRF work in another context.

    Fatherhood in South Africa by efrost1

    Finally, here’s a video that takes this entry full circle. While we were on our road trip, the talented Andrew Crawford took video footage on his iPod Touch. Granted, the final product pretty much ended up being an homage to his girlfriend, PR extraordinaire Sarah Kane, which is understandable, because shoot, who doesn’t want to do a video homage to Sarah Kane? But it’s still a pretty masterful piece of editing, considering it was done on the fly, and it gives you a good idea of the kinds of people and places we encountered along the way. And don’t skip out on the first three seconds, that’s me blowing out candles on sweet, sweet, on-the-road birthday cupcakes.

  5. The blog post I didn’t want to write

    August 13, 2011 by Kaitlin

    But I knew I would have to eventually.

    I have only good things to report. After three ridiculous plane rides (Joburg to Dubai: 8 hours, Dubai to Los Angeles: 16 hours, Los Angeles to Montreal: 6 hours), I’m safely settled with my family on the lovely Lake Titus in upstate New York.

    The only bad news of course is that Africa is over.

    I’m in that weird post-fantastic adventure phase where all these little occurrences—songs, foods, a glance at the Mozambican bracelets still adorning my wrists—remind me of the past three months. The recent memories surge forward only to hit a wall. I’m in a completely different place with different people dealing with different concerns, about to start another semester that demands all energies and attentions be focused towards the here and now in Los Angeles. There is seemingly no place for South Africa.

    But I know the people I met and the experiences I had in and around Cape Town have changed me, shaped me, in some ways subtly, in other ways more obvious. In the words of Cynthia from Dazed and Confused, “I’d like to quit thinking of the present, like right now, as some minor, insignificant preamble to somethin’ else.” Africa wasn’t a preamble to something else, it was my life for three months, and it didn’t happen in a vacuum.

    I’m more patient now. Arriving in the Montreal airport and being greeted with the longest customs line I’ve ever seen, I could feel the anger and the impatience of the people around me building. The woman behind me in line kept physically pushing on my backpack, as if propelling me into the people in front of me would make the line move faster. I stood my ground, turned around, and gave her the most saccharine smile I could muster. I know I’ll eventually transition out of “Africa time,” but for the moment, I’m still OK with being slow.

    I can’t click fast enough to keep up with American internet. Pictures load faster than my brain can process the images. I finally have the unlimited access to the web I had been craving, but it’s a paltry prize I’d trade in an instant for one more leisurely afternoon in Cape Town. Social media is a bore (no offense pregnant friends, I LOVE reading about the details of your morning sickness). News sites are frustrating. London is burning and it’s an epic task to find any coverage on the reasons why, Rick Perry, the man who fast tracked horribly debasing abortion laws in Texas announced his presidential run to no apparent signs of outrage, and the only clear explanation I’ve come across of the debt ceiling fiasco is one that hardly anyone will read because it requires, well, a good five whole minutes of uninterrupted reading.

    In frustration, I closed my laptop and picked up a book. The relief was instant. I could never had predicted that re-falling in love with novels would be a consequence of going to Africa, but it’s one of the many I’m happy to embrace and hope continues.

    And I’m blessed to have a couple days surrounded by the protective layers of the Adirondack mountains. Lake Titus is a place that moves on it’s own time table, a sense of urgency almost entirely absent. This is good. I need a few more days before LA where the biggest decision of the day is whether we should cook green beans or asparagus for dinner, or whether we’ll hike Mt. Immortelle or Elephant’s Head (epic sounding names for mountains that are little more than glorified hills). There’s a full moon tonight, and people are meeting on the lake at 9pm for a moonlight canoe. I think I’ll join them. And paddling around, making small talk and trying not to spill a thermos of buchu tea with lemon and brown sugar, my thoughts will be with my Capetonian friends who hours earlier, no doubt made the full moon hike up Lion’s Head.