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Strange Fruit: Artist Turns Demolished Public Housing into … a Bee Sanctuary?

It's  IdeaFestival time in Louisville, and that means cool people who do cool things descend on our city to talk about the things they're doing. We chatted with one of those folks,  Juan Williams Chávez, this week about his work, and what it means to do social activism through art.

One of Chávez's big projects, the  Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary, takes place on land that was once home to one of the country's most notoriously awful  housing developments. Built in the mid-1950s, the 33-building, high-rise complex fell into almost immediate disrepair, and was described in  a Missouri history book as "something out of a Charles Dickens novel." It was eventually demolished in the mid-1970s. Today, thanks to Chávez, it is home to a bee sanctuary, where members of the community learn about urban agriculture. The decision on how to use the land wasn't incidental. "Bees function as a community," Chávez explains. "Pruitt-Igoe was designed for community. I wanted it to kind of go back to community." In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, we talk about the "angry black woman" stereotype that reared its head in  a New York Times feature this week, pointed at television producer Shonda Rhimes. The  backlash was righteous and overwhelming, and the Times' public editor ended up  issuing an apology (and an acknowledgment of how troubling it is that none of its 20 critics are black). We break down the stereotype and how it does and doesn't play out in pop culture. "And speaking of things that are hard for a lot of folks to understand," as Jaison Gardner says, "it's  Bisexual Awareness Week." We dispel some of the most  common misconceptions about bi people. Strange Fruit can now be heard on 89.3 WFPL in Louisville (and live streaming at  wfpl.org) on Saturday nights at 10 p.m.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.