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En Masse

En Masse

By Liz Medina
En Masse is a storytelling podcast about working-class life by oral historian and labor activist, Liz Medina. In each episode, we hear and discuss individual testimonies to the human costs of economic processes as well as working-class resistance. Each season reveals universal aspects of class and work through the personal experiences of the workers interviewed. Member of the Labor Radio Podcast Network.
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Protect the Results!
“The entire history of this country can be understood as a long and arduous struggle to count the votes, and indeed the lives, of working people, women, people of color, immigrants, and native peoples.” - Andrew Tripp, union organizer. Hear more from speakers, representing VPIRG, Rights and Democracy, and the VT AFL-CIO during a “Protect the Results” vigil in front of Vermont’s State House on November 4th. Best of all, hear from Plainfield singer and artist, Heidi Ann Wilson, as she leads us through songs of remembrance and hope. Recording courtesy of Carl Etnier, host of Relocalizing Vermont. Photo courtesy of sister Daphne Kinney-Landis. Stay strong and stay vigilant. Find “Protect the Results” events near you: https://protecttheresults.com/
26:43
November 5, 2020
BONUS: The Story of John Henry, Part 2
In Part Two, Dylan Kelley, friend of the pod and local journalist, and I dive into the hard history embodied in the story of John Henry while exploring the remains of Barre’s railyard. John Henry’s ghost still haunts us, calling us to acknowledge the violence of our past and fight for justice. The revolutionary history and spirit so clearly embodied in the version we feature as our theme song in Season 1 shows us how. We thought the story of John Henry and Eric George’s performance were so important and incredible, that we are making them available to all of our listeners. However, we will continue producing exclusive content for our Patreon members to show our thanks for being a member of our En Masse community. If you haven’t become a member yet, please consider doing so. Go to patreon.com/enmasse
48:07
October 31, 2020
BONUS: The Story of John Henry, Part 1
In Part 1, we hear a live performance of “John Henry” by Eric George, a Vermont-based songwriter, sound engineer, and performer of original music and poetry. Eric also shares his relationship to the song and the repertoire of folk music more generally. We also discuss the role of music and culture in shaping a personal narrative, social consciousness and social movements. Last, we get to hear Eric perform an original song off his album, “Songs of Resistance.” We thought the story of John Henry and Eric George’s performance were so important and incredible, that we are making them available to all of our listeners. However, we will continue producing exclusive content for our Patreon members to show our thanks for being a member of our En Masse community. If you haven’t become a member yet, please consider doing so. Go to patreon.com/enmasse
52:54
October 31, 2020
Bonus (Patreon Members Only): Behind the Scenes Teaser
Hear the full, 53-minute BONUS episode by becoming a Patreon member today: Support En Masse on Patreon. So you’ve finished Season 1 of En Masse. Maybe you’ve noticed En Masse is a bit different than other podcasts you’ve heard. The interviews are not quite interviews; they’re oral histories. And the oral histories are performed by different narrators. Liz Medina and Dylan Kelley take you behind the scenes to share our process and give some tips in doing your own oral history project! Please excuse the decrease in audio quality! We are trying to find creative ways to keep on going with only our smartphones during the pandemic.
01:50
October 10, 2020
Bonus (Patreon Members Only): No Stone Left Unturned Teaser
Hear the full, one-hour BONUS episode by becoming a Patreon member today: Support En Masse on Patreon. There’s a huge pile of rocks near each quarry pit. Large enough to make a person stop their car to look, or for the neighborhood kids to get scraped and bruised to claim kingship over them. They are made of granite waste rock -- the bits and pieces considered invaluable and left behind. In the field of oral history, all stories are valuable. Oral historians care about people not profit. No stone is left unturned. In this bonus episode, we present to you fragments of working life in Barre, Vermont from the rest of Liz Medina’s Barre Oral History Project (2017).  MUSIC CREDITS: "Amber Haze" by Daniel Birch "Sun comes up, I come down" by Silicon Transmitter
04:01
August 31, 2020
A message from En Masse: You got something ahead of you
Those of you who’ve made it to the end of Season 1 may be wondering, “What’s next? When will Season 2 come out?” Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. MUSIC CREDITS "Call me" by Daniel Birch. From Free Music Archive. CC BY "Recalling" by Blear Moon. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC
08:39
August 3, 2020
11) “You got something behind you.”
Denise is one of the few women working in what remains of Barre’s granite industry. She worked as a sandblaster for many years. A lot of experienced workers like her are leaving the industry...and the younger generations are not coming in to take their place. Her workplace now has a CNC machine; it can carve a memorial all on its own. She manages paperwork now as an expediter, but she misses the sandblasting room. As president of her trade union, the Granite Cutters Association, she would like to see more people get into the good union jobs available in the granite industry and join the labor movement. Oral history transcript to be performed: Denise Guilmette, Granite Expediter, former Sandblaster (2017, original) Guest performer: Sharon (Skye) Forest This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon.
40:47
July 3, 2020
10) “The days can become very long.”
Randy has worked his way up from driving a milk truck to working for the City of Barre. He has worked in both the Water Department and the Cemetery Department. The Cemetery Department covers Hope Cemetery in Barre, which is home to some of Barre’s finest granite memorials. Despite Barre’s multicultural past, some tension arose in the Cemetery Department when the cemetery held a Muslim funeral. Randy’s back in the Water Department, nearing retirement, but, not all is fine and placid: Providing essential services and being a union leader is always hard work. Oral history transcript to be performed: Randy Edmunds, Work Leader for City of Barre’s Water Department and President of AFSCME Council 93 (2017, original) Guest performer: Carl Etnier This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon.
43:38
June 26, 2020
9) “History is very personal.”
Christine is a true Vermonter in every way: she is part Abenaki, and her entire family has been here for generations. Growing up working-class in a working-class town, she knows what it feels like to be disregarded. When she finally gets the chance to go to college as a working mother, she is awakened to her own intelligence. She decides to teach history, focusing on the history of women and Native Americans. She believes history is very personal, and her students learn history by making it personal. She makes a decent living, but it is only because her union has fought hard for it -- and they have to keep on fighting for it. Oral history transcript to be performed: Christine Smith, Librarian at Spaulding, former History Teacher at Spaulding HS (2017, original) Narrator: Sb Sowbel This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. SOUND & MUSIC CREDITS Music: "Cascade" by Parallel Park. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-SA Music: "Coming Round" by Parallel Park. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-SA Sound Effect: "ambience house with tv" by H0ugH. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "atm money bank machine" by Nkzdra. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Ambience, Seaside Waves, Close, A" by InspectorJ. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Cafe busy with children" by Stevious42. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Classroom" by sarcasticbracket. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "College library ambience" by Hourofmidnight. From freesound.org. CC  BY-NC Sound Effect: "GroupOfCollegeStudentsInClassroom" by adamlhumphreys. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "Library sounds" by artemis_ch. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Paintings at the exhibition » Lecture01" by LG. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Prinknash Abbey Ground (Graveyard) at Dusk" by kernowrules. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "Sad or Happy Movie Scene" by Soundscapes55. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Wall Clock Ticking" by straget. From freesound.org. CC BY
45:48
June 19, 2020
8) “In this area, I was stuck.”
Many people did struggle during the Recession, and some never fully recovered. Paul dedicated his life to the liberal arts, helping students achieve their dreams, including a young poet with a speech impediment. When the cumulative effects of the 2008 crisis kicked in, however, Paul was laid off. He found work as a Retail Merchandiser, but it paid less than $15 an hour. Oral history transcript to be performed: Paul Cook, former Retail Merchandiser and Academic Advisor (2017, original) Guest performer: Reverend Earl Kooperkamp This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. VOICE CREDITS Storyteller: Paul Cook Narrator: Reverend Earl Kooperkamp SOUND & MUSIC CREDITS Music: "Burbujas de agua" by Circus Marcus. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC Music: "intro_outro" by Circus Marcus. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC Music: "La penúltima del jueves" by Circus Marcus. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "00588 paperwork 1" by Robinhood76. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "Applause 4" by VlatkoBlazek. From freesound.org. CC BY
38:16
June 12, 2020
7) “Is this my life?”
Fast forward about 80 years to about a decade after America’s second-biggest economic contraction, the Great Recession. The granite industry is still dying, but it’s not wholly dead. The industry is also much safer than it used to be, thanks to workers fighting for better working conditions in the first half of the 20th century. For more highly skilled workers, there are still jobs. Gampo left the building trades to become a granite carver. He is one of about a half a dozen stone carvers left in Barre. He is an artist. Oral history transcript to be performed: Gampo Wickenheiser, Stone Carver (2017, original) Guest performer: George Brin This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon.
39:38
June 5, 2020
6) “Poor Devil”
Outside of the sheds, work was still dangerous. Workers were crushed, injured, and combusted. Jack gives us a tour of the abandoned quarries, which he punctuates with bittersweet memories and reflections. He tells a joke about a trick laid-off workers used to get a meal. In the end, Jack just wants to be able to get by. Oral history transcript to be performed: Jack Gills, Derrick Operator (1930s, Federal Writers’ Project interview) Guest performer: Richard Gaiotti This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. SOUND & MUSIC CREDITS Music: "Unidentified Cajun harmonica tune (II)" by Unidentified [harmonica]. From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Sound Effect: "Bar Crowd - Logans Pub - Feb 2007" by lonemonk. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Cableway » Cableway_03" by alessandro.gargiulo. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Flamenquillo_PlazadelSol" by tallers. From freesound.org.  CC BY Sound Effect: "Hail, Interior, Light, A" by InspectorJ. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Kuppi rikki / Porcelain cup falls and breaks on the floor" by YleArkisto. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Old train » Train 06 (two trains)" by Glaneur de sons. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Railway station crowd" by arnaud coutancier. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "Rain on a construction site" by oloyolol. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "voices » 20070916.yell" by dobroide. From freesound.org. CC BY
40:33
May 29, 2020
5) “Everybody’s got to live.”
If work couldn’t be found in the formal job market, people would find or make work for themselves in the informal market, which is often criminalized. During the heydays of the granite industry, widows of deceased workers supported themselves and their families by running boarding houses or making and selling food, wine, and spirits. Melicenda makes Italian dinners for the wealthier residents of Montpelier, but she does so at great risk. She lives in constant fear of the police raiding her home. Oral history transcript to be performed: Melicenda Bartoletti, Cook and Caterer (1930s, Federal Writers’ Project interview) Guest performer: Jenny Blair This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. THEME SONG CREDIT The “John Henry” song at the beginning of our show is from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. IMAGE CREDIT "Lady in the Kitchen". Vermont Historical Society. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vermonthistory/5654179468/in/album-72157626574378436/. CC BY-NC-ND SOUND & MUSIC CREDITS Sound Effect: "​60-writing" by Leoctiurs. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Family Ambience, Background Noise" by f-r-a-g-i-l-e. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Party Sounds » Party Crowd 1" by Kolezan. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Weaving mills and factories" by phonoflora. From freesound.org. CC BY
42:57
May 22, 2020
4) “My father swore the kitchen blue.”
Families wanted better, longer lives for their children than what the granite industry could offer. Palmira’s father was furious when she was dating a stone carver. Their family had endured a hard journey to America from Santander, Spain in search of better lives. And it did seem like they were moving up in the world when Palmira landed a job as a switchboard operator. But, Palmira had dreams of becoming a teacher. During the Depression, however, it was hard to see a future beyond being a switchboard operator. Oral history transcript to be performed: Palmira Fernandes, Switchboard Operator (1930s, Federal Writers’ Project interview) Guest performer: Weiwei Wang This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. Part of the Labor Radio Network (laborradionetwork.org) The “John Henry” song at the beginning of our show is from the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Used courtesy of the Association for Cultural Equity. Music: "Ai, ama! Gaztian nintzanian dama". From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Association for Cultural Equity.
22:59
May 15, 2020
3) “There was never trouble getting a job.”
Machines and automation have been putting people out of work for some time, and the Depression is no exception. But, not long ago, there was an industrial boom that required massive amounts of labor - which is why Donegal, a Scottish man, and his family came here. A man could move from job to job as he pleased. But the work wasn’t easy. Working in Barre's granite industry was dangerous. Many workers died before they reached their 40s. Granite carvers had it the worst. The best carvers, the “artists”, died faster than they could be replaced. This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. Oral history transcript to be performed: Donegall, Stone Carver (1930s, Federal Writers’ Project interview) Guest performer: Greg Hooker Sound & Music Credits Music: “Canción de canteros”. From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.  Association for Cultural Equity. Music: "Failte Rudha Bhatairnis​". From the Alan Lomax Collection at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Association for Cultural Equity. Sound Effect: "Ambience, Machine Factory, A." by InspectorJ. From freedsound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Garden Shovel" by Roulaine. Free freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Paper_Shuffling_Crinkling_Crisp" by bewagne. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Wall Clock Ticking" by straget. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Waves » Crowd in a bar (LCR)" by Leandros.Ntounis. From freedsound.org. CC BY
31:43
May 8, 2020
2) "You got to keep up with the times."
Pat used to live in a small Irish village run by one rich man. One day, this rich man stopped giving work to Pat’s father -- and told his rich friends to do the same -- in response to a false, salacious rumor. Without any prospects in their homeland, Pat's family came to the United States when Pat was seven. As a young man, he kept remembering a beautiful silk umbrella owned by the rich man’s wife in Ireland. He wanted to buy one for his own mother. After trying his luck in many different jobs, he ended up repairing umbrellas for a living.  But unlike the rich men, there is no umbrella that can protect Pat from the storms of misfortune. This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. Oral history transcript to be performed: Umbrella Pat, Umbrella mender (1930s, Federal Writers’ Project interview) Guest performer: Noel Reyes Sound & Music Credits Music: "Streetlife Silentfilm” by Lobo Loco. From Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-ND Sound Effect: "Animal world » Day in polish countryside - birds, dog"  by tom_woysky. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "BELLS, BEEPS, SIGNALS recordings » 01112 church bells 3" by Robinhood76. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: "farmland » farmland February NL SHORT 130228_00" by klankbeeld. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Foley » Chains 2" by freemaster2. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Foley » RainUmbrella" by HerbertBoland. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "New Foley Sounds- by Allan K Zepeda » Rocks Falling No-Reverb Edition 16 Bit. Foley Sound" by ALLANZ10D. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Puke/Vomiting" by Joao_de_Deus. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "Rocks » rocks1" by mystiscool. From freesound.org. CC BY Sound Effect: "sound_design_excerpts » Janitor's Bedroom Ambience" : CC BY Sound Effects: "Vehicles » farm sowing machine 2" by soundmary. From freesound.org. CC BY
35:58
April 17, 2020
1) "You're in a different world."
Sarah has found work in Barre, but it’s not originally what she wanted to do with her life. As a diversion caseworker, she has seen people in Barre struggling with poverty, and how our systems and social safety net often fails them. Poverty here is particularly challenging and isolating because it is a rural state. We as a society have failed many individuals. People should not have to struggle and work so hard to survive. This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. Oral history transcript to be performed: Sarah Miller, Diversion Case Manager (2017, original) Guest performer: Jennifer Gagnon Sound & Music Credits Music: “Symphony of Bells” by Abishai. From the Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-ND Sound Effect: "Animal world » Day in polish countryside - birds, dog"  by tom_woysky. From freesound.org. CC BY-NC Sound Effect: “Country Ambience” by CastleofSamples. From freesound.org. CC BY
33:31
April 17, 2020
0) Introduction to Season 1, "Bedrock"
Barre, VT was once called the “Granite Center of the World." Quarries wide and deep gave rise to an industry that promised to bear the task of immortality. Granite of exquisite quality augured not only exceptional monuments and memorials but exceptional lives for generations to come -- free from the privations of the old country -- or so it was thought.  There are hundreds of years worth of granite left in Barre’s quarries, but now they only employ a few people. Today, some refer to the town as “Scary Barre” -- its history as a center of industry and radical labor politics overshadowed by its sinking economy and struggles with poverty. Using performances of oral histories, we will witness how economic crises change a town, how those changes are still unfolding, and how they have affected us all. This is an independently produced show. Please consider supporting En Masse on Patreon. Sound & Music Credits Music: "16/9" by Circus Marcus. From the Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC Music: "Ambient Piece #4 (02-13-2017)" by Abishai. From the Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-ND Music: "Ambient Piece #1 (12-25-2016)" by Abishai. From the Free Music Archive. CC BY-NC-ND Music: "Mε Πιάνουνε Ζαλάδες" by Caligine. From the Free Music Archive.  CC BY-NC-SA
21:15
April 17, 2020
Trailer for Season 1
On May Day (5/1/2020), an oral-history docudrama will be released as an inaugural season of a new podcast called “En Masse.” Season 1 "Bedrock" investigates various experiences of class and capitalism from the WPA-era to the present in the long-time “Granite Center of the World,” Barre, Vermont. Listen starting May 1st. Available wherever you get your podcasts.
01:25
April 15, 2020