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Newsom wants mental health court for severe mental illness

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A proposal for mandated care as street homelessness increases in San Diego.
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The homeless residents I’ve been speaking to feel less certain that a solution is coming for them.
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I’m Maureen Cavanaugh.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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A report on kids who give care to their wounded veteran parents will be sometimes I’m sitting there and either I will hear them say , Hey , can I get some help ? Or I’m always listening.
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And coming up on our weekend preview art , dance and a classical concert for Ukraine.
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That’s ahead on midday edition.
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Governor Newsom’s new care court proposal is the latest effort to bring treatment to people living with severe mental illness.
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The plan would allow family members , first responders and others to refer people with debilitating psychosis to be evaluated , treated and housed before they end up in the criminal justice system.
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Mayor Todd Gloria , who joined the governor in announcing the plan yesterday , said care courts could reduce the number of mentally ill and addicted people who end up unsheltered on the street.
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And it seems some kind of solution has never been needed as much as now.
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Numbers from a downtown survey confirm what many San Diegans already know.
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Street homelessness has increased around the city , and as voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halberstam reports , it’s led to more suffering drug abuse and despair.
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And Lisa , welcome to the program.
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Thanks for having me.
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How much has street homelessness increased ? So as many of your listeners probably know , hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the county last week to count people living on the street.
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We won’t have those final results for several weeks.
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But as you said , a downtown business group does do a monthly count and they attract a significant spike in homelessness downtown.
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They counted more than one thousand four hundred forty people living outdoors downtown in some areas just outside it in their latest count.
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And that is a sixty five percent spike from last spring.
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One of the reasons for the increase , Maureen , there’s a lot that we still don’t know about the impacts of COVID on our homeless population , but what we do know is that most city shelters were not taking in newcomers four weeks earlier this year due to a spike in COVID cases at shelters.
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And that meant that more folks who might have otherwise been in shelters were outside.
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There have also been some changes in jail booking policies due to COVID that many folks have theorized could be having an impact on what we’re seeing on the street.
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Also , enforcement patterns can impact what we’re seeing in terms of visibility of homelessness.
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I will say , as I’ve also been hearing personally more anecdotes about people that are becoming homeless or who are on the brink of homelessness.
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And that’s something I really would like to dig into more myself.
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And what have you seen and heard about the type of atmosphere this increase is creating for the homeless ? I have to tell you , Maureen , I’ve been writing about homelessness in San Diego since 2015 , and I am seeing a new level of despair on the street right now.
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The homeless residents I’ve been speaking to feel less certain that a solution is coming for them.
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The drug overdose and fentanyl crisis that has been impacting our entire community is even more dramatically impacting our homeless community.
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There was an 85 percent year over year spike in drug overdose deaths in the city’s homeless population in some county data.
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I recently got that is partial data and just focuses on cases investigated by the medical examiner’s office.
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There also seem to be more people on our streets who are struggling with serious mental illnesses.
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I’m also hearing more about tough interactions between house people and unhoused people , particularly with unhoused people who seem to be struggling with mental illness or drug addiction.
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So it’s really rough right now.
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How has the city responded ? Well , Mayor Todd Gloria teamed up with the county late last year to open a new shelter in the Midway District that specifically focused on serving people with mental health and substance abuse challenges.
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The mayor says he’s also worked to increase homeless outreach and shelter beds.
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And in his state of the city in January , he said he’d be lobbying state leaders to reform the state’s conservatorship process to make it easier to force especially vulnerable homeless residents to get treatment.
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He has argued that it isn’t compassionate to let people languish on the streets , but I would note that he’s faced criticism for advocates for continuing our controversial homeless camp cleanups like the ones we’ve seen recently in Midway and the enforcement that had ramped up under his predecessor’s watch.
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So then what’s your take on the new care court proposal announced yesterday ? The devil really is in the details here , and what Gov. Newsom announced yesterday is really just a framework.
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I should note that the reforms he’s suggesting are not about conservatorship.
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I know that’s been in the news a lot , especially given Britney Spears struggle with one.
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This proposal is really about a new court system that would come with care teams to help coordinate treatment and housing for people that are deemed eligible to be in the system.
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And those who are enrolled will apparently have more of an opportunity just to discuss their care plan than they would under a conservatorship.
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But they could still end up in a conservatorship if they don’t stick to that plan.
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It’s also notable that this framework would create more mandates for counties to provide.
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Is terror and the governor says that billions of dollars that he’s allocated to homelessness and behavioral health services should make this more feasible ? I think it’s really important to note that the governor wants to move forward with this quickly.
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But within a short time after his announcement yesterday , groups like the ACLU and the State Association of Counties were raising some concerns , also heard from a lot of groups who were concerned about the civil liberties of people who might end up enrolled in a program like this.
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And then at the same time , there were some mental health advocacy groups who were cheering this proposal because they do think it would make it easier to connect people with care.
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Do you think the present situation is forcing the hand of city and state leaders to come up with new solutions to help unsheltered people ? Absolutely.
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At the press conference in San Jose yesterday , Governor Newsom was really playing up the $12 billion that he allocated in the state budget for homelessness , and he’s proposed another two billion in spending for this coming year’s budget.
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But as he and Mayor Todd Gloria noted yesterday , Californians are not seeing the result of this money on the streets.
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The mayor told me yesterday that that is a major reason that he’s backing this new court system.
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He noted that the homeless population today really seems to be facing more challenges than ever , and he thinks that a greater capacity for governments to force people to seek care needs to be part of the solution.
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I’ve been speaking with the voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halva stat.
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Thank you so much.
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Thank you for having me.
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More than two million American children and teenagers live with a wounded or ill veteran.
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Many help with the veteran’s care.
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And those young caregivers often suffer with stress , social isolation and less parental involvement in their lives.
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A new study is trying to understand their experiences.
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Carson Frame reports from San Antonio.
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Go on ! The Gary family home outside of Austin , Texas , is a revolving door of medical professionals coming to assist Tom , the patriarch , an Air Force veteran with advanced ALS.
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Every few hours , a respiratory therapist or hospice nurse enters a key code to get into the house and the German Shepherds.
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Lou and Remy go crazy for its life here at the garrison.
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We try to make it like an ICU , but it’s really like a zoo ICU.
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That’s Laura , Tom’s wife and primary caregiver , Thomas Bedbound and paralyzed with a tracheal tube.
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He communicates with the camera that turns his eye movements into strokes on a keyboard.
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Tom Thompson Trey was 13 years old when his dad was diagnosed with service connected ALS.
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He’s 19 now.
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I can pretty much do everything that needs to be done with my dad , like take care , suction stuff like that.
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I run errands to get food for me , my mom or my dad.
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I run and get meds.
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I just pretty much do everything around the house.
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Watching his dad’s disease progress and trying to support his mom have taken a toll on Trey.
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His attention is always split.
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There will be sometimes I’m sitting there and either I will hear them say , Hey , can I get some help ? Or I’m always listening.
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They can say , Come here to the dogs and I will hear Trey come here.
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So I get up and run to.
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The juries have tried to shield Trey from many aspects of his father’s care.
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He sticks closer to home than before.
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Laura says he became less engaged in school after the diagnosis.
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He took a step back and he became more attached to his dad and to me and to our family and what was going on.
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I think early on he kind of thought maybe he should be the man of the house because daddy couldn’t.
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The Elizabeth Dole Foundation recently commissioned a first of its kind study on military caregiver children like Trey.
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It found that they often suffer from stress and anxiety , and many report social isolation.
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Others are hesitant to leave the house or have friends visit , and some say their relationship with their healthy parent has suffered as well.
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Steven Malik is a senior researcher with Mathematica , the firm that carried out the study.
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We have some kids who are making sure that their service member takes their medicine , doesn’t forget to turn off the gas on the stove.
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And then we have some folks who are serving as kind of de facto therapists for an emotional support for their service member.
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Malik says a lot of these kids are parented , meaning they’re taking on developmentally inappropriate responsibilities normally reserved for adults.
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Cleo Jacobs Johnson co-authored the study.
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Kids are having a hard time understanding the experience of being a caregiver , understanding their service members injury or the illness , and the impact it has on them.
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Mathematica also found families often don’t know where to turn for help.
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The Doll Foundation is building a coalition of government agencies , schools , non-profit organizations and medical institutions called Hidden Helpers.
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The idea is to form support groups , offer mental health care and help kids and teens learn how to care for loved ones while still growing themselves.
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Despite the pain points of life in a military caregiving family , there are some upsides.
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Laura Geary , formerly a caregiver fellow with the foundation , says her son Trey cares profoundly for people in ways his peers don’t.
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And so he’s very good about , you know , kind of anticipating my needs as well as Tom’s , which I have to say makes me such a proud mom.
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But then it makes me feel bad that my 19 year old is worried about my well-being.
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On top of his family responsibilities , Trey is going to college hoping to graduate with an engineering degree.
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He’s taking his classes part time online , which allows him to stay close to his dad.
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I’m Carson Freeman , San Antonio.
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This story was produced by the American Home Front Project , a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans.
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Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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This is KPBS midday edition.
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I’m Maureen Cavanaugh in our weekend preview.
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We have some contemporary ballet set to bluegrass visual art from the border to the desert and a chamber concert dedicated to Ukraine.
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Joining me now with all the details is KPBS Arts Editor and producer Julia Dixon , Evans and Julia Welcome.
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Hi , Maureen , thanks for having me.
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Now , contemporary ballet company The Rosin Box will have three performances this weekend , beginning tonight.
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Let’s hear about their March series.
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This is kicking off their new season , and it features two premieres by local women choreographers.
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There is Kalita Pasha’s Don’t Look Down , which is atmospheric and kind of moody.
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And then there is Bethany Green’s Devil Get Behind Me , which is exciting because it’s set to a live score of bluegrass music.
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And from what I’ve seen , it’s playful.
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It’s lively , and then juxtaposed with that ballet is just kind of surprising that will be performed this weekend.
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The music by locals Clinton Davis , Aaron Brownwood and Aaron Bower.
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The rosin box performs tonight , Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at Lightbox Theater , and you have a few visual art recommendations.
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So let’s start in San Ysidro with the front’s 15th annual DIA de la Mujer exhibition , right ? This opens with a reception.
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There will be music spoken word performances , as well as food and beer from Herod’s Brewing Co. and this is their annual celebration of art by women from the border region.
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And it will be on view through May 7th with a bunch of workshops and projects scheduled throughout the next few months as well.
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And there will be 40 artists in the show , so I’ll give you a few on my radar to watch for.
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There’s Angelica , Osmania , Tara R.N.C , Cool , Bridget Rountree , Bhavani Mata and Yvette Roman , and also the youth arts nonprofit A Reason to Survive.
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They’ll have an interactive postcard installation going , so don’t miss taking part in that.
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So that opening reception at the front and st. you see Jro is tomorrow from five to eight p.m..
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Now let’s go to North Park , where a group of artists have been working together all month on a project.
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Tell us about syntax.
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So this is a group of 15 artists , and they began meeting virtually at the beginning of the pandemic.
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And then since early February of this year , they’ve worked together in person.
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They’re collaborating on site at Art Produce in North Park.
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In this evolving project , participating artists Michelle Munjoy she referred to it in one of her Instagram posts as a laboratory rather than an exhibition.
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So at various points throughout the process , you could have looked in these windows and you might see bowls of cereal and glue arranged on the floor.
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Or are these gigantic branch needles suspended from the ceiling , knitting large scale textiles ? There was a human basketball hoop at one point , so it’s pretty remarkable , and the Saturday is your chance to step inside.
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There’s an open house reception and then after that , the works will be on view by appointment for one more week , closing on the 12th right.
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That syntax open house will take place Saturday from five to seven p.m. at art produce a little further away , but still in San Diego , Borrego Springs is host to the third annual Sandalwood Arts Festival.
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Julia , what is that ? So this is the third year they’ve done this.
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It’s all curated by Chris Korematsu , and they selected artists to install site-specific temporary sculptures throughout Borrego Springs.
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And she said that there were several kinds of threads or themes that came up that the artists were drawn to , and it was like the land , labor and also agriculture.
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One of the works that I’m most excited about is Sharon Girgis piece at the Sally Orchard.
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And it will be accompanied by a performance by amateurs Moda Valley , who has done these creative performance responses to Girgis work in the past , including a piece that she installed near the Egyptian pyramids in Giza.
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And that performance is just a one time thing on Saturday at four o’clock and also in Burgos Springs , I really want to check out Noah Élevées installation , which is about service workers in the desert region.
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He interviewed them and captured their stories in these audio recordings that will be playing and also made.
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These gigantic portraits say his name badges like the kind of name badge that you would find on a uniform.
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So in all , there are six visual artists , and they have their work scattered around Brega springs , and you can go and visit those at any point in the month.
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There is also a group exhibition of work by 11 artists from Borrego Springs.
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High school , and they organized that group show themselves , and that is at their candlelit arts festival gallery.
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That exhibition has an opening on Saturday from five to seven.
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This weekend , you can just show up to the Christmas circle in Borrego Springs.
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That’s the unofficial headquarters , or you can find the map of all the works online.
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Candle Wood Arts Festival’s opening weekend kicks off Saturday and Sunday in Borrego Springs.
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But the art will be on view through March 27th.
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Finally , some music.
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San Diego based love Salon de Music is dedicating their Sunday afternoon performance to Ukraine.
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Tell us about that , right ? This is a really intimate chamber music series.
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There is no stage , so the performers are right at your level and there will be an introduction by an experienced musicologist before the show.
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And even as champagne reception and this weekend inspired by that Leonard Bernstein speech that was after the assassination of JFK , where he said this famous line.
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This will be our reply to violins to make music more intensely , more beautifully , more devotedly than ever before.
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So in that spirit , they are playing works by three composers.
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There’s the Hungarian funds list.
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French Kamil Sansone and the Polish composer Frederic Chopin.
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Saint-Saens is a favorite of mine , and they’re playing this one.
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It’s his string quartet , no.
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One in E Minor , which is definitely intense and beautiful , and even a little bit menacing.
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The Salon de Music performs Camille Sands Song and others Sunday at four p.m. at the La Hoya Woman’s Club.
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You can find more information on all these events and more at KPBS Sawgrass Arts , where you can also sign up for Julia’s weekly KPBS Arts newsletter , and I’ve been speaking with KPBS Arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans.
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Julia , thank you.
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Thank you , Maureen.
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Have a good weekend.