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Commonplace to Critical: Cork and Soy – podcast

Photo shows audience of men and women seated in the city council chambers before the talk begins, with the book Cork Wars in the foreground.
The hordes crowding into the council chamber before the festival panel discussion, Commonplace to Critical.

The recent Virginia Festival of the Book encompassed dozens of venues across Charlottesville. They ranged from cooking demos on the north side to our panel in the City Council Chambers, on “Commonplace to Critical.” Matthew Roth and I spoke with moderator Nina Earnest about the fates of two everyday items that became sensations, either overnight in wartime, or over the course of a century.

With questions from the group we probed a range of issues. How could a tree or a crop be so important? How does an item from nature–whether cork or a current parallel of rare earth elements (found in most electronics)–get branded a national security risk? How does society respond? Who gets caught in the middle?

Thanks to Charlottesville TV 10, you can watch the discussion here.

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