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OCT A celebration of the arts

18 2020

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L I B R A Fall is just around the corner. Cool crisp days, trees losing their... wait. Concealment will soon be an issue.


Ruprecht Roosterdamus The Psychic Chicken



S C O R P I O Everyone either wants to date you or be you. A heavy burden, but, shine on sweet Scorpio.

2020 Mr. Roosterdamus, Halloween is just around the corner, sort of. I want to go as Donald Trump this year to make fun of him but I’m afraid everyone will hate me. Any advice? - Making fun of idiots Dearest MFOI Yup. He IS a clown, a buffoon and universally disliked. Making fun of him is almost too easy. However... his complete lack of leadership has killed 10s of thousands of Americans this year. I’d wait until he’s voted out of office this November and (with a little luck) headed to prison soon after. It’ll be a lot funnier then. I’m chuckling just thinking about it. - RR ______________________________ A R I E S TikTok is not some evil super villain out to ruin yer country. The guy trying to block it is. T A U R U S Nudists are peole who like to be naked around strangers. Sadly, I have a full length mirror so... I shall remain not a nudist. Also attractive naked strangers are very rare.


L E O Boycotting Amazon? Again? Here’s what Jeff Bezos says... V I R G O On the market again? Well, it wasn’t like I didn’t warn ya. Still, try to look on the bright side, ya can eBay yer rubber underwear.







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G E M I N I What do firing squads and funerals have in common? Laughing and speed dating are frowned upon. So don’t. C A N C E R Never sneeze while getting a face tatoo.



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"The emotional charging that happens during the creation of a handmade image oozes with our humanity and speaks volumes to the viewer who dares to take the time to really look." - Michelle Leivan COVER ART BY MICHELLE LEIVAN

S A G I T T A R I U S Days are growing shorter, but like yer always saying, the longer the night lasts, the easier the stalking. C A P R I C O R N When yer old and gray and everyone whispers behind yer back, “Oh yeah, the COVID generation are all like that. Count how many toilet paper rolls are left in the house, wash their hands 20-30 times a day, refuse to hug or share an elevator. So sad!” A Q U A R I U S All I can say is, have it looked at. Better safe than whatever the hell that is. P I S C E S The election is coming, Bucko. When ya step into that booth or fill our yer mail-in ballot at home, ask yerself one question, “Am I better off now than I was before there was a moron in the White House tweeting lies every day and refusing to do anything to keep 200,000 American’s from dying from the the pandemic?” Then vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and end this nightmare once and for all. ___________________________ Question for the Blue Guru? Something on yer mind? Looking for an answer to a burning (and itching) personal question? Do not hesitate! Fire up yer email... Ruprecht@PsychicChicken.com ___________________________ Q: Is Donald J. Trump the worst president in modern times? A: Of course not. He’s the worst president of all times. B: Yes. But A is correct, too. C: Duh. See B. D: All of the above and yes. Thanks for playing! – R.R.


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CONTRIBUTORS Alison Beebe @TopCityFlavorista

Teresa Hernandez Writer, Translations

Rebecca Radziejeski Editor + Writer

Liz Bell CPA / Jackson-Hewitt

Martinez Hillard Writer, Ebony Tusks

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Huascar Medina Poet Laureate of KS + Lit Editor

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MICHAELA BUTTERWORTH Mixed-media artist Michaela Butterworth was born in Australia but has called Topeka home for the past decade. She is philanthropic and generous, donating art and time to numerous nonprofits including Sheltered Living's Festival of Trees and is one of seven 2020 Rour + Pour featured artists, a benefit for Topeka Zoo. Michaela also teaches art and is the owner of Teal Hare Creations design studio in NOTO. Learn more at tealharecreations.com

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com


I was taught three things immediately: positional asphyxiation is deadly, music and art heal and to dim the lights if the unit becomes chaotic.

THERAPY + MUSIC HARMONY A MEETING OF KINDRED SPIRITS words by Alison Beebe | photos by Miranda Chavez-Hazim

Episcopalian nuns do not believe in gynecologists.” So began the first day, indeed the first patient interaction, of a 35 year (and counting) career as a psychiatric RN.


he was lanky and brilliant with a crooked mop of curly brown hair. Kathryn held tight to five beanie babies at all times. She was an accomplished college professor suffering her first psychotic break. Except for the aforementioned proclamation, she was quiet and withdrawn -until the music played. It was Boston 1985 and I was working at a state psychiatric hospital- a locked acute unit with a bed capacity of 24. On any given day we had 40 or more patients. Indoor smoking was permitted in 1985. Our snacks were government cheese, a tin of government peanut butter with two inches of oil on top and no-name crackers. Kathryn adored The Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo brought her out of the darkness and helped heal her heart. Who didn't love The Beatles? I loved it. I loved it more than anything I had experienced in my short 20 years. I was taught three things immediately: positional asphyxiation is deadly, music and art heal and to dim the lights if the unit becomes chaotic. That first lesson came rushing back recently in the worst way possible. If I knew at age 20, why didn’t they?

Funds are tight at state run psychiatric hospitals. Most don’t even exist anymore. Massachusetts Mental Health Center was a teaching hospital training residents from nearby Harvard. The collocation of Boston’s upper crust with Boston’s homeless. "Criminally insane” was amusing at times- terrifying at others. Like most nurses, I was physically and verbally assaulted on a fairly regular basis. One of my patients was a suspect in the Boston Strangler case. He was generally pleasant, but I never let him walk behind me. We were lucky to have a full team of experienced professionals, including a music therapist. Carl would play anything: John Denver, Billie Holiday, Pink Floyd, Prince, Grandmaster Flash, Miles Davis, New Edition-we were in Boston after all. Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch wasn’t a thing yet. Carl played most instruments and had a tale to go with every song. His groups were a favorite. Patients and staff relaxed instantly. We didn’t utilize as much medication -fewer sedatives, pain meds, anti-psychotics. Music therapy touches all aspects of the mind, body and soul. It can distract, slow the bodies’ rhythms, alter moods, decrease pain and in turn, influence

behaviors. It’s no wonder those same notes are capable of repairing the psyche, promote healing, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communications, promote physical rehab. My nursing career took me from inner city Boston to Topeka (KAN), home of the world famous psychiatric facility, The Menninger Clinic. I didn’t comprehend how amazing that job offer was until I submitted my notice at the state hospital. “Bullshit,” yelled the program director. I never really knew if she was in disbelief, sad to see me go or C) other. At that point, I was working with children ages five to 13, so I gave a two month notice knowing those would be the most heartbreaking of good-byes. The team allowed individual field trips and each child chose to go with me to Au Bon Pain and The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - some of my most beloved memories and favorite museum. Proof positive that art and music heal. On my last day, I gifted the program director a t-shirt that read, “Bullshit.” I’m fairly certain she was not amused. Nevertheless, I was off to the middle of the country, where there was no ocean. continued >>>

“Music can change the world” Ludwig Van Beethoven (1170-1827)

Arriving at the 300-acre campus on top of the hill was like Dorothy walking into technicolor. They had everything. Every day for the next 20 years, in Topeka then Houston, was a fascinating learning experience, working with the best minds in the field of psychiatry. We offered a wide array of therapeutic activities, including music therapy, wood chopping, gardening, equine therapy, various exercises, weaving, furniture and jewelry making. We utilized the least amount of medication possible, plus talk therapy. We believed that whomever the patient connected with - dining hall staff, gardeners, nurses, art therapists, the CEO - all became part of the team. One of those talented people was RN and music therapist, Mary Noll. The research on music in education and therapy is well documented. Students who participate in music in addition to required general music, perform significantly better on standardized tests as well as core subjects. The use of music between education and therapy is overlapping. Music has emotional, cognitive and neurological benefits. While music therapy as a discipline is a relatively new field of study and research having been utilized in the postwar era, the healing power of music has been testified throughout the ages. Paul Horn (1930-2014), an American flautist and composer wrote: “I’ve approached music with the understanding that knowledge is available regarding tones and their

effect on the body and the mind." The father of that knowledge was the mathematician, Pythagoras (c. 570-c 495 BC).

One of the reasons that music is able to affect the body and the mind is that music “transports” between the left and the right side of the brain. It is able to connect the pathways of the cognitive, motor and emotional parts of the brain. Music is energy, and is able to calm, motivate, energize, manage pain, and to connect neurological patterns that affect memory and movement. Music has a positive effect on our health and recovery by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. In my experiences with students and clients, I have witnessed a complete change in mood and affect in a very short time after music participation. During many of the memory groups that I facilitated with a friend, Jay Clinkinbeard, we witnessed clients who struggled to recognize a family member but were able to sing accurately a song from the Big Band Era with us. In summary, music has brought humankind together and is an antidote to pain and violence. Music unites people regardless of differences, and promotes the common good. Beethoven said “Music can change the world." In truth, it has. Another gem was Dr. William Walter Menningerson of Dr. William C. Menninger, nephew of Dr. Karl Menninger and grandson of C.F. Menninger.

The three elders co-founded The Menninger Foundation in 1925. Known as “Dr. Walt” to his peers, he focused on psychoanalysis and forensic psychiatry. That’s a simple sentence summarizing years of complex, in depth doctoring. Among other things, Dr. Walt conducted research on the morale of volunteers in the Peace Corps, and as a result created the Menninger Morale Curve, which reflects the expected responses of a person facing life changes. The curve identifies four crisis points that must be surmounted when entering a new environment. He served on the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence and was a consultant to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Dr. Walt was also the dean of the Karl Menninger School of Psychiatry and later CEO of The Menninger Clinic. On a pop culture note, Dr Walt was a consultant for the 2013 film adaption of “The Great Gatsby” starring Leo DiCaprio. The film begins and ends at a sanatorium fashioned after The Menninger Clinic. As a nod to Dr. Walt, the psychiatrist in the movie is named Walter Perkins. Having never read the book- he had been rather busy- he read it the day before meeting with director, Baz Luhrmann.

I first learned of SJ Hazim via social media. A true mover and shaker of Topeka. We met in real life (IRL to the kids) last summer at the 65th Anniversary of Brown v Board celebration, “Unfinished Business," an afternoon of music, poetry, good food and dialogue positioned in front of the Brown v Board mural. “This book is still being written right now by us. It’s up to us to grab the baton," said Hazim. This was the first time I heard him rap, but let’s reverse it for a minute. Moving to Topeka at age five, SJ has fond memories of sitting on the stoop with Gertrude and Blanche eating butterscotch candies. The really good kind that older people always seem to have. From kindergarten to about third grade, SJ suffered from a speech impediment. “When Hip Hop came into my life, I taught myself how to break dance and then I taught my cousin. It empowered me. It was the easiest way to bring the inside out.” By 1999, he was performing with the likes of Lil Wayne, Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, Luniz and Tech N9ne. A rap career was not to be, at least not in that arena. SJ is the owner of Clad Astra, a clothing line that donates a portion of proceeds to local charities. He’s on a number of boards including Visit Topeka, SENT Topeka, Topeka PAL and Darting Basketball Academy. Hazim is also the president and founder of Project Forward Top City, an organization building a corps of volunteers. No, before you even ask, he doesn’t sleep.

"Before the words are spoken they are just emotions. It's impossible to heal if you are not being real." - SJ

Earlier this year - which seems like two years ago- SJ announced he’d be creating and performing a one man show titled, “I Pressed On.” “This is an event to welcome people to the world of music as a therapeutic option. I’m saying this can assist in the process of healing. I’ve suffered a lot of losses and fought depression and manic episodes throughout my life. Music has been the one constant that I have been able to turn to for comfort.” Students from Eisenhower and Highland Park were invited to the 1pm show. I decided to invite Dr. Walt. After all, the connection seemed obvious and I knew Dr. Walt loved to learn new things - in this case - RAP. He immediately said, “yes” and a new friendship was born. SJ the rapper, and Dr. Walt, the bass in his church’s choir for the past 52 years. Dr. Walt to SJ “That’s why I find Hip Hop interesting. You’re processing thoughts in an intellectual way that is unique to you. I admire the way you have sorted through your sense of self and pushed through any barriers so people can see you as that wonderful person that we all seek to be.” We were able to have a few evenings together before the pandemic and a socially distanced/masked one since. They both shared their love stories about their wives. Miranda and SJ knew one another in high school, “but she didn’t like me

“I did a lot when I was young trying to belong. I tried to please everyone as they came along. Living for their acceptance had ya boy stressing. I died on the inside when I got rejected.”SJ HAZIM Dr. Walt Menninger + SJ Hazim | photo by Miranda Chavez-Hazim

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“I Pressed On” is my life in Hip Hop form. The goal is to introduce young people to this art form as musical therapy for the mental health aspect. Hip Hop gets a bad rap due to the songs played on the radio that are glorifying sex and violence. So people throw the baby out with the bath water. The truth is in the music. -SJ HAZIM

very much at first.” She loves him now though and together they have created several businesses and taken Topeka by storm. Dr. Walt and Connie met at Stanford. “On our third date, she asked me how many kids I wanted. I thought three was a good number since there were three in my family. She wanted six children. Guess how many children we had?” They both balked when asked their favorite song. Finally, “Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson for SJ // No message could have been any clearer //

If you want to make the world a better place // Take a look at yourself and then make the change // and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Broadway hit "Carousel" for Dr. Walt. // Walk on through the wind // Walk on through the rain // Though your dreams be tossed and blown // Walk on, walk on // With hope in your heart // And you'll never walk alone // Kindred spirits indeed.


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photos by Miranda Chavez-Hazim SOMOS-KS | June 12, 2020

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akland's Santa Fe Park was vandalized in June 2020. Hate and racists words defaced park structures, slamming its community with a reminder of the racism prevalent in Topeka today. SOMOS KS, a youth powered social service, media and marketing collective founded by Luis Estrada joined voices with Huascar Medina, Kansas Poet Laureate, on Saturday, June 13 in the park to listen to the words of Medina and raise community voices and pride, "speaking out against racism and Hate in OUR Capital City." If words were going to linger in Santa Fe Park, they would be ones of inclusion and diversity.

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




Award-winning playwright Marcia Cebulska’s first novel, WATCHING MEN DANCE, was scheduled to debut at the Rita Blitt Gallery but...Covid. “At first, I was disappointed but now I’m in love with the idea of it’s being on Zoom," said Cebulska. Readers from every corner may not experience the multi-media release that will include Cebulska reading from the novel, a conversation with the publisher, an account of the author’s journey illustrated by travel photos and music, plus audience Q + A. WATCHING MEN DANCE provides a good opportunity for armchair travelers who are aching to spread their wings, as its heroine travels to the Pacific Northwest, Chile, Greek Islands, Italy and Wales from her home base in KAN. The main character is a photographer who struggles with her love of adventure versus her need for home and family and deals with issues concerning a cross-cultural relationship with a Native American dancer. The book is published by Flint Hills Publishing and features cover art by Barbara Waterman-Peters. Topekans may be familiar with Cebulska’s plays which have been performed at thousands of venues worldwide and her screenplay which was aired on PBS. NOW LET ME FLY was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision and VISIONS OF RIGHT was written in response to the Westboro Baptist Church. [seveneightfive]





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A review of Huascar Medina's Un Mango Grows in Kansas | by William L. Domme

uascar Medina currently holds the seat of Poet Laureate of Kansas. It means he takes an active role in expanding all aspects of poetry within the state; language, form, function, musicality, and something I enjoy particularly about poetry, blank space. And like Kansas, there can appear at first glance to be an abundance of blank space. This does not mean emptiness. There is life and sustenance in what is called blank space. Not every acre needs to be filled with the machinery of the industrial revolution; a din of jack hammers, train cars, car horns, safety beeping trucks in reverse filling the head like a migraine. A nice 30 mile an hour wind on a hot summer day in the empty spaces of Kansas gives a soul a chance to breathe and imagine and contemplate. An aspect discovered to be endemic in life during the pandemic. In that respect, "Un Mango Grows in Kansas" by Huascar Medina is a nation unto itself, one that is a mirror of modern life in the United States of America. There is the din of modern life and there is the open space to breathe. There are mirrors and interpreters along every road between where this book begins and where it says put me down, I rest now and you take on the road. The poet pulls down the things of space and the heart and plants them in the pages where they grow in the open light. Unlike a watched pot this book begins to boil the more you read it. From Medina’s Per Aspera Ad Astra: We were lost in the plains, beautiful and ordinary, Sunflowers in the fields; seeds of fallen stars, standing tall; deeply rooted in this land.

"Promesas" is a divine pair of poems experienced in full by reading the Spanish and English as one in my opinion. There is something in its structure, set as a pair of inverse translations, different from the rest that makes you spend more time with it though it is swift, taut. An expanse opens in the spaces of Promesas* Any minute now, Plainsmen No nos enjaularán

Ya mero, llaneros They will not encage us

Any minute now, Plainsmen No nos separarán

Ya mero, llaneros We will not be separated

Any minute now, Plainsmen No nos dividirán

Ya mero, llaneros They will not divide us

Any minute now, Plainsmen No nos mandarán de regreso a morir

Ya mero, llaneros They will not send us back to die

Any minute now, Plainsmen La bienvenida no darán

Ya mero, llaneros We will be welcomed

Any minute now, Plainsmen Viviremos en paz

Ya mero, llaneros We will live in peace

The phantasmagoria of poems of yore lap the coastlines of a handful of poems in this volume. The heart is shown to be at once full and looking to be filled. The witness and participant of the world within and without leaves footprints up and down the shore. And whether it be a bucket or a thimble, Medina’s castles are certainly more durable than sand. He’s built worlds of whole cloth here and made something fleeting into something tangible enough to take with you long after you leave the page. She is Not Your Calla Lily: I think her bones would blush if I dug them out


of a grave with a thimble taken from the sewing room in the basement of a nunnery filled with Mother Theresa posters. At 134 pages, "Un Mango Grows in Kansas" is ripe and ready to pick. Take it in your hands. Penetrate its fleshy skin and let the juices run down your chin. It is truly a gift not just to Kansans but to all the world. It addresses the interior and exterior realities of our modern existence and the struggles of people who need to have their grievances resolved. In all that, there is room to breathe. since 2006 | seveneightfive.com


Kevin Young's BROWN

BROWN by Kevin Young is now available in paperback as of March 5, 2020. The work is phenomenal. I would not be much of a Lit Editor/ Poetry Advocate in Topeka, much less Kansas, if I didn’t ensure this was public knowledge. He is, a graduate of Topeka West high school, Harvard College and Brown University with a litany of books and awards. And while I am being candid and openly discussing my admiration for this collection and poet, let me suggest that you follow his podcast as the poetry editor of "The New Yorker." The discussions with fellow poets are full of vulnerability, origin, intent, meaning and craft.


Published by Alfred A. Knopf Copyright © 2018 by Kevin Young Photographs © 2018 Melanie Dunea Cover illustration by Kason Kernevich Cover design by Kelly Blair Endpapers by Mack Young 8 photos 176 pages total 136 pages of poetry 30 poem titles

FAVORITE POEM Ode to Ol Dirty Bastard FAVORITE TITLE Open Letter to Hank Aaron FAVORITE STANZA “I’m not a prayer / I just wish a lot” – Ode to Big Pun FAVORITE LINE “The honey bees’ exile” - Hive FAVORITE WORD headquarterslashbedrooms - Dictation

A TRAIN OF THOUGHT, ARROW OF TIME + PUBLIC TRANSIT OF PERSONAL MEMORY LIT REVIEW: Huascar Medina, literary editor | Poet Laureate of Kansas

BROWN is divided in two parts, Home and Field Recordings. Then divided further into sections: 1) The A Train 2) On The Atchinson, Topeka + The Santa Fe 3) Night Train, and 4) The Crescent Limited. BROWN is Young remembering, notating and sharing personal history. African American history. They are one and the same for him and too often in contrast with the history we are still being taught in America. This collection as a whole is a refutation of erasure. Young combats erasure with the telling of these memories retained alone or en masse. Young does not allow his memories to be condemned. His words are, “…the bucket/ of water tossed / on the cries of the crowd / turns like tears to confetti." The poem “History” is indicative of the spirit/purpose I felt within BROWN- the need to record moments. This memory is set in a high school history class Young attended, in a classroom students are still sitting in, in present day Topeka. In Young’s time, Mr. W taught in that room. He represented a, “Pillar of my high school, Mr. W / made class by seven a.m., filling / his blackboards with white, using notes / decades old…”

Mr. W was a man denied the opportunity to fight in two wars, so he began his own campaign of disinformation, “Listen to what I’m telling you, he’d say, / synthesize, don’t record.” It would be too simple to focus on who Mr. W was, “…Who once / drove 45 on the highway he told us / cause Nixon asked…", but Young’s work speaks on micro and macro levels. Mr. W not being fully identified with a surname can be taken as a slight at his position, an indication of the breakdown or refusal of social contracting implicit in a classroom. The anonymity of Mr. W serves a function. Mr. W could stand for Mr. White, Mr. Warmonger, Mr. Wayback-when, or Mr. Wrong. An exactness of Mr. W would be too specific and deter from the uniformity of teaching practices and curricula experienced in the poem. Mr. W dies before the conclusion of the school year. Aware of his diminishing health and frailty, “Mr. W spent nights transcribing / to transparencies words / water could wipe away,” ensuring his version of history lessons continued to be taught to future generations of students. His return after summer break compared to "Terminator" or General Douglas MacArthur- a victory for some a defeat for others.

Mr. W is humanized when it is revealed through a personal anecdote that his first name is Wayne. Before his death, he addresses his class, “You’re my kids, / he’d tell us, we built or broke / his heart.” I wrongfully took this as a turn in the poem, but the fact of the matter is I am assuming a great deal about the character of Mr. Wayne W and I shouldn’t be. At the time, Mr. W was performing his job as an educator. His race is not explicitly addressed just his disdain for, “the boom / boom boom of the radios black kids wore,” and racist imitation of, “a Chinaman on the rail. / Ah, so”. The reality is, the loss of Mr. W did not stop the erasure Young observed in the classroom that year, “Mr. W’s words, unchanged, awaited / us coloreds & women libbers”. Mr. W was Mr. Whoever. Young’s memory of Mr. W’s history lesson becomes anecdotal and turns allegorical, “We spent the Sixties/ minus Malcolm X, or Watts, / barely a March on Washington— “. As I finished reading the poem, an image of, “… faint bright / of flickering fluorescent lights.” appeared in my mind, and I remember all the schools I attended, the hallways and classrooms full of modern gaslights.

KevinYoungPoetry.com During your virtual visit peruse "African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song" a literary landmark, this single indispensable volume presents the biggest and best anthology of black poetry yet to be published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present. [Library of America | September 2020 | Hardcover]

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




2020 item- facemasks. Laura noted that the flag design lends itself to lots of fun layouts. “We love Topeka as a place to work, play, raise a family and run a small business,” she said. “This community has been very generous to us and we’re thrilled to be able to show our pride.” The momentum of community change that launched the new flag’s design also inspired the creation of Clad Astra, an online clothing and apparel business with community activist S.J. Hazim at the helm. Clad Astra’s hats have been seen on top of some pretty notable figures around town, and in the wake of COVID-19, Clad Astra too has offered their own line of facemasks bearing the flag emblem. According to S.J., Clad Astra is all about “providing products and services that create engaging moments of pride and respect of our community.”



by Angel Romero | photos provided by local business and Angel Romero

rom coffee mugs to face masks, it seems that everywhere you look, Topeka’s new symbol of civic pride is popping up. Unveiled in 2019, Topeka’s new city flag was the result of hundreds of design submissions, and a public vote that saw more than 4,000 votes cast. The new flag is the manifestation of a city that has been on the move. So it’s not surprising that Topekans were quick to adopt the flag, and to begin incorporating it into their merchandise. For Diane Horn, creator of Made Maker, a local handmade pottery business, the flag provided instant inspiration. “When I first saw the newly proposed flag I immediately loved it and thought it would look great on a mug!” Diane’s handmade coffee mugs featuring the flag design became a viral hit on social media. “It has been so exciting to be a very small part of this movement of people who just really love their city and want to support one another." Diane wasn’t the only one eager to capitalize on this new wave of civic pride. Reliant Apparel, a custom clothing store in the heart of downtown, was eager to add flag apparel to its line-up of local apparel. "The Topeka flag has become a beautiful symbol of our community, and we love seeing the happiness on our customers’ faces when they see the fun, stylish and functional ways they can wear the flag and show their pride,” said Chelsea Mann, lead graphic artist for Reliant. Jenny Torrence, owner of Pinkadilly in NOTO, has been a long-time proponent for all things Topeka.

Visitors to her fun and colorful north Topeka shop have long been able to find “I am Topeka” gear (in addition to other whimisical and downright hilarious clothing and apparel items). Items featuring the flag were a natural extension of her product line. “I not only love the excitement and pride that our city has for itself…we have such a fun flag to feature,” noted Torrence. “I am proud of Topeka…and want everyone to share our amazing city whether it be sharing our special highlights or wearing Topeka swag.”

For Michaela Saunders, one of the original organizers behind the flag project, this sense of community pride was the driver behind the flag project. “When you feel pride in your community -- at the neighborhood level, and the city level -- you are more likely to work to make it even better,” she said. “The flag is meant to be a symbol of that pride.” For Michaela, seeing the flag appear in so many places “is like watching hope grow.”

One of the best things about finding flag swag around town is that almost all of it comes from local creators. Prairie Glass Studios, home to Kymm Ledbetter’s homemade glass creations, has been a staple of the Topeka art world for many years. Visitors can now find beautiful ornaments and other creations bearing the flag’s design. “I support Topeka and stand strong in helping to make it a community I want to live in through my art,” Ledbetter noted. “…making Kansas themed ideas and products out of art glass is one way I can do this.” Another local designer using the flag as her way of supporting the community is Laura Burton. Her online store, Meadowlark Graphics, has always featured fun buttons to show off your Topeka pride, in addition to a fair amount of other sassier flair. Laura’s store now not only features buttons but also fabric bearing the new image of the city flag. That fabric has been used to make one essential

One of the reasons the new flag design has been able to spread so quickly was the open source nature of the design. The design is not trademarked or otherwise legally protected. According to coorganizer Brittany Crabtree, this was a conscious choice during the design process. “Early on, when we researched what worked in cities around the country – it was clear we had to make the flag open source. We wanted this to be the people’s flag,” she noted. Brittany wanted to leave the interpretation and distribution of the flag in the hands of creative Topekans around the community, a choice she feels was a good one. “We’ve seen so many creative uses of the flag – no single organization could have created so many interpretations, in so little time!” Whether it’s a small online business or downtown staples, it’s clear the new Topeka flag design has captured imaginations across the community. Handmade ceramic mugs by MakeMaker (etsy.com/MadeMakerPottery) | Table Skirt by Laura Burton, Meadowlark Graphics | CladAstra apparel, hats, keychains and more CladAstra.com | Prairie Glass Studio 110 SE 8th Ave | Pinkadilly 824 N Kansas Ave | Reliant Apparel 631 S Kansas Ave | GTP (the OG of flag swag) at TopekaFlag.com


"Some ideas could be considered strange or unusual, but the images that make you stand out and different will open doors for you and get you noticed."



picture is worth a thousand words unless you are benefiting from the work of a skilled photographer. Then words could flood the page in biblical proportions. What follows is an interview with professional photographer, Justin Lister. Now based in Wichita, KAN, he did spend a few years in Topeka growing up and I was fortunate to have met him and his family. Good people. Justin's photography is impressive because it is clear from the get go that a sharp intellect is at work behind the scenes. Great photography skills can open doors to adventures not readily available to the average person. And in interviewing Justin it was fascinating to discover what he’s accomplished so far. He has provided seveneightfive with samples of his work and the interview explores what he’s learned along the way which is quite a lot. Enough for a book to be sure. What was the impetus that drew you into photography and how long ago? JL: Photography was always a hobby since I was very young, although my passion was drawing and illustrating. I dreamt of being a comic book illustrator when I was a kid. I had a large collection of comic books and I never read one of them. I knew all the artists and would buy them based solely on the art. I think this actually helped me in my work today, because I was able to imagine the story in my mind without reading a word. It helped train me on how to successfully communicate an empathetic story in my own images.

Cosmonaut Rebirth by Justin Lister

After moving to Topeka in high school (Topeka High School), I got an

interview by William L. Domme

internship at Nathan Ham Photography, where I learned everything from business basics to lighting portraits. I really appreciated the time he spent to mentor me. The most important thing I learned is that it is possible to make a living doing this, and it was something I was beginning to fall in love with. You’re based out of Wichita, but your work has taken you far and wide. What are a couple of the most challenging places you’ve shot in? What are a couple of the most transcendent? JL: I have had the opportunity to photograph all around the world; London, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and more. Ironically, always the most challenging locations are the ugliest and most mundane. Those usually are found right here at home, while shooting weddings. Part of my business is photographing weddings, which have the added challenge of limited time. Old basements in churches come to mind as some of the most challenging. I appreciate the challenge and looking back, weddings have made me a much more competent photographer. The weather here in Kansas doesn’t make it easy either. Last year I had a spring wedding with zero windchill, 30 mph winds and sleet. There is no rescheduling and no second chances. My favorite places by far were London and New Zealand for very different reasons. London was a place with massive resources for making projects at a high level. Talented models, stylists, designers, and great locations. I photographed a project in 2013 that

really started to get me noticed in London, in a “Jack the Ripper” like location. There are two city blocks in city center that look unchanged from 19th century London. There is still thick soot on the bricks that line every surface. Layers of peeling paint and a house that is used in many films available for day rental. In New Zealand I photographed a series on a rocky coast that was recently hit by a huge earthquake. I contacted a local girl who was a pro surfer to model for this series and I ended up winning an international all media show with that piece. New Zealand’s beauty and environmental diversity made it a perfect backdrop for the epic feel I wanted. I have never seen so many rainbows in one day as I did in New Zealand. What are the areas/genres you professionally shoot? I know you have special events work but you also have award-winning, compelling scenes that are quite surreal and tilt toward what I would describe as David Lynchian. Do you build and design most of those sets or what does that process look like? JL: Half my income comes from weddings and the other half from commercial work. I would say that I put a lot of my effort into fine art that, as of now, doesn’t generate much income directly. That doesn’t mean my effort is wasted. I am starting to see success in the art world, winning international shows, being featured in fine art magazines, and recently sold a piece for five-figures in Berlin. continued >>>

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com


After Dark Series by Justin Lister [Basement Blue | Basement Yellow | Volatile | Solotude | Control Freak]

JL: In a couple images in my “After Dark” series, the images are made to look like they were shot in a typical 1970s or '80s Kansas basement. There are the stereotypical wood paneling walls, suede chair and knickknacks that cover every surface. I know many people who see these two images see their own childhood Kansas basement or maybe their grandparents’ currently outdated one. This is something everyone in our state, and a few other tornado-prone midwestern states has a connection to in one way or another. What’s on the horizon for your work? This work allows me to be creative, strange, and unique, and I love strange. Because my wedding and fine art work are so different, I work under two different brands. The fine art work does help me get commercial jobs because the clients understand that if I can make an image that makes them feel a certain way and tells a story, then I can do the same for their brand. So a direct line can be drawn from my fine art work and a paying client. For example, in most of my fine art work, I build the sets and environments from scratch. Sometimes it will take two weeks and a couple thousand dollars to source props, build set walls, and light a set in my studio. As a young guy, I used to build houses and barns in Kansas and Colorado. I have leveraged this knowledge. Most of my images start off as sketches. The ability to pre-visualize and see an image in detail in my mind’s eye, guides me in my set building and even the final editing in Photoshop. Color is important in my work, and that is no accident. I’m thinking about the colors like a painter would, and from the very beginning. When I build a set, choose a wardrobe, and direct a subject, I’m always thinking about the emotion I want the audience to feel. I’m thinking about what color represents that emotion.

After Dark Series by Justin Lister [Self Reflection]

JL: This year I’m finishing up my “After Dark” series, and presenting it to galleries for a one-person show. Most of the pieces have been in national and international shows individually and did well, but it’s a whole another accomplishment showing them all together at once. The gallery really needs to be excited about the project to give up so much wall space to one artist. After that, I will continue with developing any new ideas. I’m thinking about expanding an idea of a Science Fiction based series that uses Science Fiction themes to explore ideas about what it means to be human. Who are your top three photographers doing current work other than yourself? JL: Gregory Crewdson, Erwin Olaf, Natalia Evelyn Bencicova

What We Show vs What We Feel

Is there any work you’ve shot in Kansas that you would point to and say, “This is Kansas”?

What advice to the beginner who wants to pursue a professional career in photography? JL: First, if there is anything else you would love to do that has a traditional career path, I would do that. Having a college degree in a profession is invaluable and will give you the freedom to pursue photography and still be able to live comfortably, raise a family, etc. Now on the other hand, if you live and breathe photography, that’s all you can think about, and you can’t live without it, I would say go for it. Contact your favorite photographers and ask if you can assist for them. You will learn more than a year of college in a week assisting for a pro. They usually want to see some of your work before they open the door, so start photographing people close to you in your life, that will put up with your unusual ideas. Push yourself to create work that says something. It’s more than a pretty picture. Study painters and illustrators and how they use visual metaphors and themes in their images so you can do the same. There are Facebook groups of photographers that you can post work to gauge the reaction. I know some ideas you may have could be considered strange or unusual, but the images that make you stand out and different than everyone else will open doors for you and get you noticed. The last piece of advice, photograph a lot, every day. That is the only way to get better. And do it with intention. Know what you want before you start shooting and gauge success by how well you executed your vision.

Alien Death Close Encounters

To see more of Justin Lister’s art follow him online via Instagram at justinlisterphoto. seveneightfive thanks him for taking the time to share his experience thus far and we look forward to seeing what he creates in the future. Safe travels, Justin. since 2006 | seveneightfive.com



REMEMBRANCE by Kristen Shook | photos by Noah Neff

Heart broken by recent national acts of gun violence and personally bearing the loss of numerous children she used to work with, Julie Phillips was compelled to make a difference. Say Their Names Rock Project is a way to memorialize victims of gun violence while providing some solace to families. It also aims to bring awareness and decrease the number of lives lost to gun violence. The worldwide project began in Topeka in June 2020.



osing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences endured throughout this journey called life. During the time of grievance, emotions are unstable and it is challenging to conceptualize what has truly happened. It is nearly impossible to fully acknowledge that an individual you cared for is no longer here. Never being able to reconnect through text, over lunch, or simply just giving them a hug, is truly the most difficult aspect to accept. Taking things one day at a time is the only way to get through the feeling of loss. What is most important, is to cherish the memories made and find a way to honor them that is sufficient enough to bear the passing. One of the most universal ways of memorializing an individual is an item held for keepsake. After bearing the loss of numerous children she used to work with, and being heart broken by the recent events within the nation, Julie Phillips was compelled to make a difference. On June 5, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, those who wanted to raise awareness of gun safety and lives lost due to gun violence, support the cause by wearing orange. After participating in spreading awareness throughout that weekend, Phillips knew it was not enough. “No one was taking it and making it a thing beyond the day [June 5th], so I wanted to make it a forever thing," said Julie. It is impossible to recognize everyone we’ve lost in one

day and we continue to lose people.” Inspired by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, she knew how to commemorate lost lives in a simple but profound way. Phillips created the SAY THEIR NAMES ROCK PROJECT to which she paints rocks orange and dedicates each rock to a victim of gun violence. She utilizes the rocks as a memorial by painting the phrase “End Gun Violence For” the names of individuals, and the age they were when they lost their lives. Not only does she dedicate her time and energy to create these rocks, adding the fine details by hand, she spends a generous amount of time learning about each individual. “I look up and read information about the person before I place the rock. I try to memorize all the names of the rocks I place and get to where I feel like I know them.” Learning about each individual is the most important part of the project to her. Emphasizing the significance of each life lost needing to be remembered equally, she stated, “For the general population you see a name in the article and move on. But it is frustrating because it just gets forgotten. No one deserves to die.” The purpose of the project is to bring awareness in a way that cannot be overlooked. When someone in the community finds a rock, Phillips hopes that it sparks a conversation. She urges people to look

up information about the name on the rock and begin to make a deeper connection, get to know the individual who has passed, and help keep their memory alive. “I just hope that we are saving a life because someone changes their mind about picking up a gun because of seeing this project. I want people to not be able to ignore it,” she said. If there is one life impacted, her mission will feel complete. With the work of love and happiness she began the project with the thought, “Instead of just being mad, I decided to channel my energy into something that would make me happy.” Within a month of beginning the project she has completed nearly 400 rocks to honor lives lost due to gun violence. Although beginning in the city of Topeka, the project has already traveled worldwide, as a photo of one of the rocks was shared from Bangladesh. Phillips has no thought of stopping anytime soon, she knows this is just the beginning of the impact she can have on raising awareness. Already brainstorming on how to allow the project to become more fulfilling to those who have lost family and friends, Phillips now offers an option to have a custom rock made for keepsake in exchange of a donation. If you wish to submit a name to the commemoration list, request a custom rock, or make a donation, please visit the Facebook page Say Their Names Rock Project.

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since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




by Kerrice Mapes | photo by EJ Drake

HEARD." Matt Spezia, award-winning slam poet + program director, Poetry for Personal Power



rt is an important part of total wellness and vital to building healthier communities. Since 2009, Poetry for Personal Power has been connecting arts with the health care sector, providing innovative ways to overcome adversity while increasing artist funding. By using the tools of art, advocacy and social determinant building, P3 believes that individuals and communities will find their personal power. The nonprofit, which currently operates in three states, has one simple focus: use art to show that emotional distress happens, it is temporary and transformative; always asking the question "What helps you overcome adversity?"

P3 strategies in behavioral health care have been effective for over a decade combining evidence-based and community-based programs that help people rebuild themselves. "When people are built up, we are able to build healthy, recovery-oriented communities," states P3's website. "What if we had a world in which artists had greater power and resources for meaningful, sustainable careers?" P3 also believes that performance poetry and arts are revolutionary tools in helping individuals make those sustainable changes in behavior health care. Their approach tackles both ends; providing funding for artists to share

their work and opportunities for the community at large to be impacted by that work. The organization's core is a strong network of artists, advocates and trained peer support specialists / recovery coaches who deliver resilience messaging at any place imaginable; prisons, schools, parks, bars, churches, mental health facilities, even the seveneightfive + ArtsConnect virtual House Concerts. The types of events include workshops, open mics, poetry slams, interactive arts, lectures and more. Learn more and get involved at PoetryForPersonalPower.org

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com


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n the end, “Belligerency would benefit only the class of people who will be made prosperous… who have already made millions of dollars, and who will make hundreds of millions more…” words spoken over 100 years ago by Senator George Norris played as you watch the film in the expansive Kemper Horizon Theater inside the National World War I Museum located in the heart of Kansas City. There are countless axioms and saws to try to convince humans to study the past in order to learn from it and avoid the repetition of mistakes and improve on the positive outcomes but as we career through a global pandemic reminiscent of the 1918 influenza these ring like a bell; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it;" — Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás; also known as George Santayana (1863-1952). At the entrance to the National WWI Museum + Memorial large doors that dwarf any human are now temporarily labeled to guide people on arrival “people with tickets in hand, people who need tickets, etcetera,” in order to facilitate the phrase of the pandemic, “social distancing.” Through the time we spent at the museum it became clear to us that the leadership and staff and volunteers were taking that objective just as serious as their core mission at the National World War I Museum which is quoted here from their website www.theworldwar.org: The National WWI Museum and Memorial is

by Rebecca Radziejeski and William L. Domme | photos provided

America's leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum and Memorial fulfills its mission by: Maintaining the Liberty Memorial as a beacon of freedom and a symbol of the courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and honor of all who served in World War I. Interpreting the history of World War I to encourage public involvement and informed decision-making •

Providing exhibitions and educational programs that engage diverse audiences

Collecting and preserving historical materials with the highest professional standards

And it is that second bullet point that really came into focus once we sat down to discuss what the pandemic’s effect on the museum has been and where they are going. We began that morning in a conference room with Dr. Matthew Naylor, president and CEO of the National WWI Museum. Naylor indicated that tremors of a possible pandemic were surfacing prior to March 2020, when it really gained traction in the USA,and went on to explain how the leadership at the museum were going to ensure the maximum health and safety of all stakeholders while adhering to the aforementioned mission of the museum. And let us just add in here before non-history buffs’ eyes glaze over; this museum is intense. The hairs on the

nape of your neck will cautiously peer around the corner of each new exhibit. From the moment you approach the Assyrian Sphinxes from the depths of the trench- like entrance to the walkway inside over a field of poppies, your mind is challenged in so many ways to understand the big picture of what happened to the world between 1914 and 1918. The big picture is brought to life by the items in the exhibits as big as a biplane or smaller than a thimble; items the museum began collecting 100 years ago when Kansas City determined to build a memorial to all the people who were impacted by “the war to end all wars.” The museum proper sits underneath of two elevated exhibit halls named Exhibit Hall and Memory Hall which feature months’ long exhibitions. Currently Exhibit Hall houses 100 Years of Collecting which explores how the museum and its curators have steadily developed one of the grandest collections of artifacts from, to quote Naylor, “all the belligerents involved in World War I.” Memory Hall is simultaneously focused on an exhibit titled 100 Years of Collecting: Art. The art in this hall is stunning and thought provoking and features artists from many countries involved in that war. Both exhibits run June 2 through March 7, 2021. What we were not expecting was an overview from Naylor of just how similar the decades leading up to and through World War I are to our present day. He is informed by an acute awareness of their unique position in history and the

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com


Doran is the senior curator and has been there 30 years. He is one of only five curators in the world qualified to curate on a world scope. His mannerism is reserved in the conference room where we begin our chat, but as soon as we get to the exhibits and ask questions, he illuminates like a thousand twinkling lights.

profound relevance of their mission today – the parallels not only in public health but inequality, social energy, complex alliances, labor movements, etc. resulting in an “extraordinary moment” when people are “yearning for historic perspective.” A social change is occurring in the here and now, and the museum has prioritized telling the stories of historically marginalized people whenever they can. We could go on for pages about the collection and philosophy of the museum and we may well revisit it in a follow up article but for today we are focused on how 2020 has impacted the museum on the centennial of its existence. The staff dug in and remains steadfast in keeping the museum safely open on its 100 th anniversary. In order to balance responsibility to staff with financial viability, they shifted the staff to a work from home plan in late February, gave everyone VPN access, and divided the staff into five cross-functional teams: building/ operations, finance/ HR, donor relationships (stakeholder engagement) – both financial and temporal donors, online learning digital documents/ translation. Over 50 percent of the museum staff transitioned to new tasks during the shutdown; a plan had been in the works to crowdsource transcription of the archives of historic documents; with the newfound impetus to keep everyone paid but at home, the initiative shifted to staff instead. Together, they logged 1 to 1.5 million minutes per month of digital document work and digitized 5,000 pages of documents through their efforts.

The entire approach to the pandemic being chaotic with political battle lines superseding scientific understanding and learning, Naylor noted some surprise at the American US response to the crisis. In a show of diplomacy Dr. Naylor conceded, “Everyone, on earth, is experiencing something they never have before.” Nonetheless, his surprise remained. But they had a job to do and they adapted and found a way to sustain funding and engagement. They waited until June 2nd, two weeks after the mayor of KCMO lifted the shutdown order, to begin booking limited sessions, either AM or PM, for tours of the museum. They encouraged mask wearing before it was mandated and deployed creative, topical signs encouraging both masks and distancing. 300 volunteers giving 54,000 hours annually offset the cost of considerably more labor. Many of these crucial volunteers are among the high-risk age group, and require special protections. All interactive exhibits are turned off to limit guests touching surfaces, plexiglass shields have been erected at ticket and information desks, the PA plays audible reminders of Covid-19 safety best practices, and the museum instituted primarily online ticketing to reduce queueing onsite. After four weeks of operation, they lifted the AM/ PM access distinction, provided free masks, and found guests were largely receptive to safety measures (indicative of the kind of people who willingly educate themselves about history, no doubt). Their efforts have served them well; attendance has been lower than usual, of course, but in line with similar attractions in the current circumstances.

He describes the exhibit, a “chronology of collecting,” a sort of meta exercise in exploring the art of art, the “museuming” of museums, the practice of collecting itself – the art of curation becoming self-aware. Doran likes an object with an interesting story, and he likes to tell it – artifacts including: Underwear, A uniform donated by the wearer in 1924, Hard tack, which preserves itself, the ideal item for a curator to encounter. We talk about the paintings, how they came to the collection, how the three-dimensional properties of oil paintings bring the experience to the viewer, give it depth and perspective, how the timeconsuming nature of their creation necessitates the painter’s contemplation of the subject they portray. In contrast, the ease of documenting moments/images with technological advancements like cell phones distances us from the practice of both creating and consuming them – perhaps a fitting metaphor for our current situation. We are so detached from the world it is killing us, and so detached from our experiences we are barely having them. Visit the WWI Museum to be immersed in a culture of historic wisdom and perspective, self-awareness, and recognition of responsibility. As the Pirkei Avot reminds us, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” Don your mask and breathe easier knowing there are people dedicated to ensuring the lessons humans have collected along the way will not be for naught, but are available to all of us should we choose to not make the narrative focus on us, but absorb the holistic picture of the realities of the experience should we choose to let go of our ego, and listen. Visit theworldwar.org for info on hours, tickets, and more.

"Uncle Sam" The National WWI Museum and Memorial

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com





ashburn University’s Sociology and Anthropology Department and the Mulvane Art Museum have collaborated to bring Hostile Terrain 94, a global pop-up art exhibit, to Topeka. I had an opportunity to discuss HT94 with Project Leader Jason Miller, assistant professor of Anthropology at Washburn. WHAT WAS YOUR VISION FOR THE ART INSTALLATION? Hostile Terrain 94 is a global, participatory exhibit that draws attention to the thousands who have died along the southern border since the Clinton Administration implemented “Operation Gatekeeper” which relied on the “hostile terrain” of the Sonoran Desert to deter border crossings. The exhibit consists of over 3,200 toe tags, each representing a migrant who has died in the dessert. Over 100 institutions worldwide will host Hostile Terrain 94 between now and 2022. Each institution mobilizes a large team of volunteers to hand write the individuals information on each toe tag. Tags are then assembled using GPS coordinates on a large vinyl map of the border. Some of the tags feature QR codes which, when scanned with a smart phone, take you to short videos about the individuals who died or about the process anthropologists use to identify remains and reunite remains with their loved ones. by Huascar Medina | photos by Jason Miller

There is also an augmented reality app and a website with stories and artifacts left behind in the desert that will be available soon. In addition, each host plans three months of local events and talks surrounding the project. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO DO THIS PROJECT? I wanted to bring this project to Washburn and to Kansas to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis happening at our southern border. Hostile Terrain 94 really viscerally grabs your attention and starts conversations about the human costs of our national immigration policy. Seeing all of those toe tags across an entire wall of the museum—knowing that each one was a human who died trying to find a better life for themselves and their families-- it makes us ask why we continue to engage in policy that we know is killing people. HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HOSTILE TERRAIN 94? WHO DID YOU CONTACT? Hostile Terrain 94 was created by anthropologist Jason De León who also directs the Undocumented Migration Project both now at UCLA. De León and I are both applied, visual anthropologists who study immigration in the United States and I heard about it through, I believe, either his posting about it on Twitter or via the VISANTH listserv. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE AWAY FROM HT94? I want people to have more conversations about immigration. I don’t know of anyone who thinks the current immigration system in the United States is working well, but, of

course, there’s huge disagreement about how we fix that system. I think Hostile Terrain really draws our attention to the human costs of immigration policy through those who have lost their lives and focuses us to have a different kind of conversation, one that is more nuanced and focused on humanizing immigrants. WHO HELPED? HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE INVOLVED? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO INSTALL? HOW DID IT COME TO FRUITION? Beyond what I mentioned before, I think there’s a really powerful participatory aspect to the project. We have a local organizing team of about 25 people from across campus (students, staff, and faculty) and from the local community to help organize the project and plan events. Because each site has to assemble the exhibit themselves and hand write each tag, we sought additional volunteers to

write tags. Originally, we scheduled many public events last spring which had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. Instead, we got the word out on social media and people picked up envelopes of tags to write from my porch starting in March and then brought them back completed in July. We spent about a week assembling the exhibit on the wall of the gallery in the Mulvane Art Museum. Because of social distancing, it took longer than expected and we spent about 90 man-hours to assemble the exhibit. All told, about 50 people volunteered. WHEN DOES IT OPEN? The exhibit is in soft opening now and we hope to have a more official opening as soon as we can safely do so. Events will begin happening in late August and continue through November as we attempt to move them into virtual formats.

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




ay 25, 2020: Ariane Davis posted her outrage on social media after the murder of George Floyd. She was quickly challenged by a respected mentor, Bill Jackson “It’s personal for every decent person! What the hell will you do now?” In the next 48, Davis organized a rally at the State House and hasn't stopped fighting -running -organzing -challenging since. May 30 [Kansas State House] Over 1000 peaceful protestors rallied on the steps of the State House to protest police brutality following the death of George Floyd. This show of support began with prayer. The racially diverse crowd chanted and carried signs with slogans reading “Black Lives Matter” “I Can’t Breathe” “Pro Black Isn’t Anti-White.”


Speaking with her later, Regina admitted she had not planned to speak. “Something told me to speak. I prayed and felt that people needed hope. I prayed to God that what I spoke was what He wanted me to say.” A Blackbelt Speaker who trained with Ruben West, Regina is an activist, mother and works with at-risk juveniles. “What are we waiting for? When you’re the anecdote to someone’s problems. The breakthrough is here. I can’t see it for you. You have to see it for yourself. We are the steadfast innovators. What better time to be the pathfinders? Change is here. Change is right here.”

“God was telling me to do this," said Davis. "I just wanted this to be a platform-not to censor people. Just be an open forum. It was all very organic."

Later that day, Davis posted on social media, this time a message of gratitude and her own challenge: “Thank you Topeka for standing up today. We had over 1,000 people there at the capitol and it was peaceful and nothing but love! Every voice was heard. We rallied for a cause and now the real work begins!!! I’m just getting started!!"

Regina Platte Vasser was at the protest and offered a most powerful impromptu speech:

June 1 - Present: Davis kept her word and got right to work. In the days following:

“We’re tired of sitting down. We’re tired of losing our kids.

Penned a letter to the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield, her employer. In part it read “I’m not okay right now.” In response Matt All wrote individual messages of support to every person of color and created the Diversity + Inclusion department, of which Davis is now directing

Personally registered several hundred people to vote and is now chair of the voter registration committee at Shawnee County Democrats

We’re tired of our women being talked down. I WILL STAND UP.


You came down here for a reason, but what are you going to stand for? Are you going to go home and shut yourselves in your houses and wait for somebody else to do it? Or are you going to stand up?"

“Stand Up” the crowd roared in responce.

Was named to the Advocacy Committee at the YWCA

Joined the Strengthening Police and Community Partnership Committee

Works with “Topeka United” a community based organization working towards full inclusion

Called for a special session with of our city council regarding police reform [scheduled for August 25]

Has worked tirelessly to free several young black men by raising bail money and calling for pardons

Held a “Table Talk” for Women at the YWCA

Participated in the ArtsConnect virtual community reading of Frederick Douglas’ “What to The Slave is the Fourth of July”

"When I asked myself ‘what are you doing to mobilize change,’ I was dissatisfied with myself," said Davis. Now, "all I've seen is the power of the community. I feel like I have a purpose." No longer dissatisfied with herself, but empowered by her own actions, Ariane's work continues.

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




f you’ve watched TV for more than say a minute lately (or quite frankly, scrolled through your social media feeds or tried to watch a Youtube video) you have likely been confronted head on by the fact that this is an Election year. Millions (and I mean MILLIONS) of dollars have already been pouring into this state over the last few months all to convince you to head to the polls and vote for a specific candidate. So what’s the deal? Who’s even running, why is this important, and how do I even vote in the age of Corona? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! WHY THIS ELECTION IS A BFD: If we’re being fair, EVERY election is said to be “THE most important election ever,” and there is some truth that every election is consequential. However, here is what is at stake this year on YOUR ballot in Kansas: U.S. Senate Race: Senator Pat Roberts is retiring this year, which makes this a WIDE-OPEN race. Mind you, Roberts has been in Congress since 1981 (when Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” was atop the billboard charts…good luck getting that out of your head now), so this is a big deal. Both parties see this seat as a critical get- Republicans can’t afford to lose a seat in the Senate. Kansas has not had a Democratic Senator since 1932 (I don’t even know if the Billboard charts existed back then…) 2nd Congressional District: Those of us in Top City, and even our friends in West Lawrence, reside squarely in this hotly contested Congressional district.

by Angel Romero

State Treasurer Jake LaTurner faces Topeka’s own Mayor Michelle De La Isla, the lone Democrat in the race. You can practically hear the cash rolling into this district from both parties eager to swing this seat their way. Local Legislative Races: If this year has taught us anything, it’s that politics truly is local and those folks in the Statehouse can sometimes have a bigger impact on your daily life then the folks in D.C. This year is especially a big dealthe ENTIRE legislature is on the ballotall 40 senators and all 125 members of the House of Representatives. Of the many big issues the legislature will be taking up in 2021, one of the biggest is redistricting- the process of drawing legislative districts based on new data from the 2020 Census. The partisan make-up of the legislature will have a big impact on how districts are drawn. Presidential Election: You didn’t think I forgot about the big kahuna did you?! It is again time to decide which old white guy is going to govern this beautiful hot mess of a country for the next four years. You’ll get to watch these two septuagenarians battle it out over the next few months- we’ve never held a Presidential Election in the midst of a global pandemic so the campaign promises to be even more special than usual. HOW TO GET YOUR VOTE ON: There are some important deadlines to note, and importantly there are several ways to vote to ensure you can stay safe while masking your voice heard!

DEADLINES: Last Day to Register to Vote: Oct 13th Oct 14th : Election offices will begin mailing advance ballots to those who requested them Oct 19th : In-person advance voting begins at County Election Offices Oct 27th : Deadline to receive applications for mail-in advance ballots Nov 2nd : Last day of in-person advance voting (ends at noon) Nov 3rd : ELECTION DAY! VOTING METHODS: Advance by mail: If you really don’t want to bust out the face mask and stand in a socially distant line at your polling place, voting in advance by mail is your best option. You can go to ksvotes.org to fill out an application for an advance ballot. Ballots will be mailed starting on Oct 14th. Advance in-person: Still like the feeling of walking into a polling place, but can’t do it ON Election Day? Then just head to your County Election Office (3420 SW Van Buren for Shawnee County folks). Your county Election Office will have extended hours from 8a to 7p beginning on Oct 19th for you to come and vote in person. In-Person On Election Day: The ‘ol stand by option is still available. Polls will open at 7a on Election Day for you to cast your ballot. Poll workers will be masked up, and the Election Office has assured everyone that extra sanitation procedures and social distancing will be in full effect. Check ksvotes.org to find your polling site.

However you vote, and whoever you vote for, the point is- get out and make your voice heard!

We owe a debt of gratitude to our local restaurant owners who are providing nourishment during this crazy pandemic. Kudos to all. However, there are a few stand-outs who are keeping it extra clean. Here are my top Pandemic Picks for keeping it safe and delectable in Top City. - Flavorista

BREW BANK-perfected the cheeseball and the best margarita in town- fight me. Uber easy online ordering. BURGER STAND- order and pay online- park and they happily deliver the food and to go cocktails to the car. It was so easy and relaxed I accidently wore my slippers. Great patio area, too. BAKING TRADITIONSKeeping it real-I did not have time to bake my own bread so I bought Nancy’s. Holler for Challah.

PARADISE DONUTS-they have bacon on some of their donutsthat’s all you need to know ONYX WELLNESS CAFÉ- buy a coffee, freshly squeezed juice and a protein ball then head down the hallway to Onyx Salon and Wellness Spa for a sauna and massage. You feel better alreadydon’t you? A-HANN THAI-Fresh, madeto-order, authentic. Need just a touch of spice? Ask for “mild plus.”

HUNAM’S CHINESE RESTAURANT- one wordMabel! Alright, two wordsDumplings.

THE WHEEL BARRELGourmet grilled cheese and to go Bloody Marys. You’re welcome! Excellent outdoor patio with live music.

JOSEY’S BAKING CO-naughty and nice, delicious food created with locally sourced ingredients. Buy a salad and a dozen sea salt chocolate chip cookies-it’s called balance .

LUIS PLACE-The place where I did most of my grocery shopping in the past few months. Having a chef as a friend is never a bad thing. Seriously great food-try anything.

TOPEKA PIZZA- perfected the contactless porch drop off and delivered so quickly I wasn’t ready

HANOVER PANCAKE HOUSE-Lemon. Blueberry. Pancakes.

G’S CHEESECAKE AND MORE- simply the world’s best cheesecake

SAIGON RESTAURANT- easy ordering and drive thru- I’d suggest #17, Pho and Vietnamese coffee

None of this would be possible without our local growers. Perhaps they toiled more than anyone- planning, planting, cultivating, watering, harvesting- learn about my favorite growers on the following pages. since 2006 | seveneightfive.com



by Alison Beebe | @TopCityFlavorista


e all know the names - Jolly Green Giant + Little Green Sprout - that jingle is playing in your head right about, now. But who actually grew the food? Who studied weather patterns, soil content and nutritional value? Who moved earth and water in the 105 degree Kansas heat? Why is it that some of us don’t know where our food originates? We know our local bakers, chefs and baristas. Let’s start at the beginning and meet the good folks behind our food: GROWERS. There are a multitude of options. Some growers have stands on their farms. Others sell at our colorful, abundant farmers markets. What if I told you ordering online with home delivery was an option? Welcome to Topeka Growers Group. A legion of local superheroes combining their powers to bring us sustainable, healthy, affordable food while protecting the soil. At this moment, there are three farms participating, with hopes to expand: STIRRING SOIL FARM OF BERRYTON has been owned and operated by Chris Issinghoff and Tanea Bergstrom since 2016. They are an organic, biodynamic practicing farm dedicated to restoring biodiversity in the soil and our diets. They raise heirloom, open-pollinated vegetables, chickens and Missouri Mulefoot/Large Black pigs. Tanea explains “Our farm has always gotten 80 percent of our income from sales to chefs and farmers markets. Having uncertainty around two of our main income streams is hitting us pretty hard and I know we are not alone. As a small sustainable farmer there are a lot of uncertainties around how to respect social distancing while still building a community through food.

watch, educational and he adds peppy music. Check out his drone flying skills.

The restaurant industry has been greatly affected which is shared by the farmers they work with. As farmers we are used to adapting and we will overcome this, but we need the support of our community through online orders, markets and joining CSAs (Community Supported Agriculturebasically subscribing to the harvest of a farm). Connecting community to their food is at the heart of why we farm. We will continue to find ways to ensure our community has access to local, sustainable food”. ARKENBERG FARMS was started in 2015 by Keith and Briana Arkenberg. “We are about growing and producing the finest fruits, vegetables and poultry products this side of the Shunga." They don’t use any chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. In addition, they are a “no-till” farm and recently added two Mulefoot Pigs, “our own recycling center.” Need a garden consult? They offer those. Subscribe to Keith’s YouTube channel, “DIY Farmer Keith;" fun to

LIMESTONE GARDENS KANSAS is owned and operated by Victor and Erica Gruebler. “We are a small farm producing organic vegetables, fruit, eggs and pastured poultry. Founded in 2013 with the goal of growing nutritious food, healing the land and providing food to our community. This farm is also “no-till.” I had to look that one up. Here’s the skinny- tilling destroys fungal networks and the organisms that hold soil together. It also destroys humus, the organic compound of soil that is necessary for plant life. That means their products are nutrient-dense. Fantastic! It also makes total sense, but patience is required as it could take several years to get the soil “just right," Goldilocks. So how do you get this deliciousness to your dining room table? Here's how it works: go to TopekaGrowersGroup. com to pay and pre-order your share box by end of day each Monday. Share boxes are $25 ($30 with eggs). Have your box delivered to your home, or take our advice and pick up at Happy Basset Brewery Co. on Wednesday between 5:30 and 7p. Grab a growler of Happy Basset IPA, perhaps dinner from their weekly food truck offering and pickup your Topeka Growers box. Dinner, drinks and veggies to go. All great stories began over a beer. FUN FACT: Happy Basset provides spent brewers grain to add to some of the animals’ rations. What is not fed to the animals is used to make compost. Mother Nature at her finest. Be a part of the regenerative agriculture movement and support our local farmers. Cue superhero theme music.

since 2006 | seveneightfive.com




by Alison Beebe @TopCityFlavorista

MEDICINE N eed a Vegan chef? How about assistance with identifying healthier options at the grocery store? Organizing your kitchen? Mental and physical exercises?

Enliven is a nutrition and wellness center that focuses on transforming the mind, body and soul using food as medicine. You are what you eat so why not eat well, live well and be well.

Vegan and gluten free chef, Eboni Adwele of Enliven2U, is also a certified nutritionist, earning her culinary arts certificate through HIP. “For my certification in Nutrition, I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I learned innovative coaching methods, practical lifestyle management techniques, and over

100 dietary theories; everything from Ayurveda, gluten-free, and Paleo, to raw, vegan, and macrobiotics and everything in between. My education has equipped me with extensive, cutting-edge knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and prevention. Drawing on my expertise, I work with clients to help make lifestyle changes and choose health-promoting ways that produce real and lasting results. You will develop a deeper understanding of food and lifestyle choices that work best for you, improving your energy, balance, health, and happiness. Each session will leave you feeling inspired and motivated." Eboni works with clients in their home but can also be found Saturday mornings at the farmers market, along with her children Nicearia and Niamke Phillips. “My children have always had jobs. Anything from dog walking to nutritionist and chef." Try one of her fantastic teas and a zucchini brownie.


lind Tiger Brewery + Restaurant celebrated their 25th anniversary last July with retro food items and an anniversary ale, but the celebration lasts all year. If you haven't been to the brewery yet this year, make plans, as it's gotten a facelift with updated carpeting, redecorated restrooms, digital beer menu boards and more. It is the largest locally owned restaurant in Topeka, serving approximately 700 meals a day and providing over 85 jobs. While the food is worth roaring about, "There would be no Blind Tiger if it weren't for John Dean," owner Jay Ives said. John Dean and craft beer are synonymous. "He brews the best beer anywhere. This, by the way, is literally true. Take a look at the list of national and international awards won." It's too many to fit on this page. From 18 steel tanks in 1995 to 45 today, BT has sold 6,500,000 pints of goodness in the past quarter century, 342,000 of those pints were in 2019 alone. BT is the oldest brewery in Topeka, the first to open after prohibition. "We are the most award-winning brewery of any size for hundreds of miles with 22 national and international medals and awards," said Ives. "We have been brewing and selling great local craft beer and serving great food from our scratch kitchen since 1995, and we will kep right on doing so for at least another 25 years."


nfiltered Wheat, the iconic ale by Boulevard Brewing Company, is turning into an 89-proof American malt whiskey this spring. The limited-edition whiskey, created by Foundry Distilling Col based in Des Moines, Iowa, will be Boulevard's first innovative partnerhsip that turn well-known craft beers into limited-edition whiskeys. "Midnight Ritual's spicy sweetness and smoky barrel character make it perfect to sip alongside an Unfiltered Wheat," said Steven Pauwels, Boulevard brewmaster. "We’re having a blast with our friends at Foundry, and look forward to tasting new whiskeys made from other Boulevard beers. Limited quantities of Midnight Ritual will be available in September. aseveneightfive


Love Where You Play The Topeka CounTry Club



P E K A C.C EST. 1905

membership - golf - tennis - health & wellness - swim - dining The Topeka CounTry Club www.topekacc.org 2700 SW buchanan, Topeka, kansas 66611 | (785) 354-8561

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seveneightfive magazine | ISSUE #92