Spring '20 Student Work

Salt’s Spring ‘20 Final Show, “All Things Reconsidered,” was broadcast on WMPG 90.9 radio in Southern Maine. Listen to broadcast recording featuring the Spring 2020 cohort's collection of Final Project work, here.

Project previews and student's bios can be found below.


The Projects:

Back to Pineland, by Alexa Burke

Title: Back to Pineland

Description: Drive about 20 miles north of Portland, Maine and you’ll arrive at Pineland. It looks like a college campus: brick buildings with stately pillars, surrounded by rolling hills. But Pineland’s exterior doesn’t tell you about its history. It opened in 1908 as Maine School for the Feebleminded as an institution for people with disabilities. Alexa Burke spoke with people who lived and worked at Pineland to learn what life for adults with disabilities looked like in Pineland, and the legacies that remain today.

Locations: New Gloucester, Cumberland County, Maine and  Lincoln, Penobscot County, Maine

More info here: https://www.mainememory.net/artifact/25648

Image Credit: Collections of New Gloucester Historical Society.

Death at a Distance, by Elissa Mardiney

Title: Death at a Distance

Description: Most of us avoid talking about death. But for some, these conversations aren’t new. They happen at Death Cafes: gatherings where folks talk about the end of life, sip tea, and eat cake.

But now, because of coronavirus, mortality is on everyone’s mind. Death feels closer than ever, but social distancing keeps loved ones apart as they die and grieve.

In this audio Death Cafe, Elissa Mardiney and a host of death experts explore how the pandemic is changing dying.

We Should Have Them/Portland is Burning, by Livia Brock

Title: We Should Have Them/Portland is Burning

Description: Roland Labbe opened the first gay bar in Portland, Maine, in 1967. At one point,
there were at least 9 queer bars in Portland. Now, there is only left: Blackstones. This story explores the question of why so many gay bars have closed, as well as the need for queer community spaces, and the importance of drag shows.

Location: Portland, Maine.

To Know Full Well, by Kate Manahan

Title: To Know Full Well

Description: Despite her youth, healthy lifestyle, and idyllic setting in rural Maine, Kelsey George feels herself becoming sicker and sicker.  Without the help of doctors, Kelsey figures out the culprit.  She then repairs her health and sets out to protect others from having to go through a frightening health crisis like she experienced.  The personal becomes political.

Odd Bird, by Neroli Price

Artwork by Rachel York.

Title: Odd Bird

Producer: Neroli Price

Description: In late 2018 when a Great Black Hawk turned up in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine, it was the first time one had been spotted in the US. Great Black Hawks usually live in the Amazon jungle and don’t typically migrate. Was it an escaped pet? A climate refugee? Or was it simply lost? As these stories grew, so too did the hawk’s reputation. Crowds began gathering at the park to catch a glimpse of the famous Great Black Hawk. After a snowstorm in early January, the hawk was rescued, but later died of frostbite. Following its death tributes poured out: poems, songs, t-shirts, plans for a statue in the park and an art performance. The body would be taxidermied and put on display in the Maine State Museum. When I first heard about the Great Black Hawk, I didn’t understand how a bird from far away could so quickly become a permanent fixture of the state’s official story. What was I missing? To answer this question, I spoke to scientists and artists; I took a look at the bird for myself and eventually tracked down the secretive Cult of Hawk.

Place: Portland, Cumberland County, Maine

screen_to_face, by Pritha RaySircar

Title: screen_to_face

Description:  We’re saturated with information about what It’s like to be an adult during the pandemic. But what about kiddoes? This a kid’s take on what it means to be alive during COVID-19. Pritha RaySircar takes us into the world of her 10-yr-old nephew. Online learning. Video games. No recess. No soccer practice. Just locked down at home. With his family. We’ll spend some time together. And in the end, we’ll hope to learn what it means to be little. In a crisis so large.

Place: Portland, Maine and Seal Beach, California

Stoop Singing, by Rosie Julin

Title: Stoop Singing

Description: A first person account of self-isolating in 300 square feet. Names and voices have been changed to protect identity. 

Place: Portland, Maine


The Students:

Alexa Burke
Alexa Burke is a radio producer and storyteller. Prior to Salt, she had a career as a teacher for children with autism in New York City. Sometimes she took her class on field trips to Petco, to look at the animals. She loved having a job where she worked on a team and laughed a lot. She likes coming up with stories while taking walks at night, and she recently learned there is research to support this practice.

Elissa Mardiney

Elissa Mardiney grew up in Rosendale, NY. She studied anthropology and sociology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. Over the past three years, she’s worked as an outdoor trip leader, a ski instructor, an environmental educator, a waitress at a place called The Stinky Boot, a dog hiker, and a program facilitator at the Denver Art Museum. Sometimes she feels like a rudderless ship, but she’s excited to keep finding and telling interesting stories, especially if they involve dogs or tall mountains.

Livia Brock

Livia Brock is an audio producer and storyteller from Brooklyn, New York. She has a BA in philosophy and was president of the Scrabble Club in high school. She wants to use her work to make people feel less alone. She likes amusement parks and asking people personal questions.

Kate Manahan

Kate is a natural networker who loves to connect ideas, people and resources. For the last six years she has been the producer and host of New Mainers Speak, an award-winning radio interview program visiting with immigrants about their lives in Maine. Her professional background is as a clinical social worker and educator, which explains her bent for creating work around social justice, health and solution-focused engagement.   Kate is creative and productive in many ways and draws inspiration from the natural world.  When the sun is shining look for her kayaking up the Mousam River.

Neroli Price

Neroli Price is a writer and producer from Cape Town, South Africa. Before coming to SALT, she was the 2019 Conference Production Assistant at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. In Cape Town, Neroli made stories at Sound Africa and worked at the anti-corruption non-profit Open Secrets. She writes a weekly podcast review column for The Daily Maverick. Her audio work has appeared on the Sound Africa and Field Recordings podcasts, as well as KNKX and KEXP in Seattle. She holds an MA in History from the University of Cape Town.

Pritha RaySircar

Hi, I’m Pritha. I’m a radio producer, storyteller, and an AIR New Voices Scholar.  I am also an award-winning social practice and multimedia artist and writer. I’ve done a lot of things for work, all over the world, that inform my curiosity: mopping floors, management consulting, bartending, capacity building for the global sharing economy, gutting fish, starting my own civic engagement lab, cooking in professional kitchens, and being a primary caregiver for my mother. Through it all I’ve been documenting. I like to ask difficult questions, to stay present, and to hold space as answers unfold. I think that the practice of storytelling requires stewardship and accountability. I’m honored to do this work.

Rosie Julin

My background could be summed up as a generalist and professional explainer. I’ve tried out a few different roles – expat, policy wonk, craft cocktailian, and now podcaster - and have been known to geek out over the nitty-gritty that makes each one special. I’m fascinated by how the what and where you live influences the who and why of a person’s life. I seek out stories that celebrate our differences while offering up a glimpse of our shared humanity. Or at least that’s the goal. I’m currently launching Popcuria, a narrative travel podcast where locals tell their story.


Header image: Featured Image of Kelsey’s Maine Odyssey by Kate Manahan (cropped).