Weekly Shabbat Gratitude with Benji & Brendon from the Dignity Sculpture in South Dakota

by | Sep 9, 2022 | Shabbat Gratitude, VLOG | 0 comments

It is important to pause once in a while and think about what you are grateful for.

This week, we spend Shabbat at a South Dakota highway rest stop. Sitting under the powerful Dignity Sculpture, Benji and Brendon share their gratitude for rest stops and public art.

Click to watch the video above. Tell us what you are grateful for in the comments below.

Here is the transcript of our weekly Shabbat Gratitude video on YouTube:

Benji: It’s Friday, Shabbat Shalom.

Brendon: Shabbat Shalom.

Benji: We are at the Dignity Sculpture in South Dakota.

Brendon: The Dignity Sculpture is a 50-foot statue overlooking the Missouri River, which is modeled after four Native American women out of Rapid City, South Dakota.

The statue is meant to honor the heritage and contributions of Native women to the State of South Dakota. And it was a gift for the 125th anniversary of South Dakota receiving its statehood.

Benji: It’s also meant to pay tribute to the fact that this land was taken. We decided to stop here, instead of somewhere like Mount Rushmore, to make sure that we appreciate the fact that, on all of our travels, we are on land that wasn’t originally ours and we are very appreciative, and this land is beautiful.

Making this video does not certainly make up for any of that. We just want to stop and think about it for a second.

Brendon: This week, I am grateful for public art. Oftentimes, art is in a building where A) we can’t take Brutus.

Benji: Yeah.

Brendon: B) during COVID we didn’t want to go.

And C) just inaccessible to a lot of people. For better, or for worse, this is at a rest stop. But I think it’s very accessible to people.

It’s beautiful. It’s overlooking the Missouri River. And this is not the first public art that we’ve stopped at in South Dakota.

What other public art?

I don’t know if it’s public art, but there’s the Walk of Presidents in Rapid City. There’s statues of every single president throughout downtown Rapid City.

Benji: Where we passed Chester Arthur.

Brendon: William McKinley, known for the high school in Glee.

Benji: And they’re in no particular order. They’re just like everywhere. And you keep stumbling upon life-size statues of former presidents.

Brendon: There were the outdoor art installations around the museum in Cheyenne, the Cheyenne Art Museum.

Benji: Oh yeah.

Brendon: Cheyenne Museum of Art

Benji: Yellowstone.

Brendon: No, it wasn’t…

Both: Yellowstone.

Brendon: Yellowstone.

Benji: We weren’t even in Wyoming.

Brendon: We’ve been to Wyoming.

Benji: We were in Wyoming for like eight minutes on this trip cuz it goes through Wyoming and out.

Brendon: I just think it’s, you know, beautiful. Like going back to New York, even.

Benji: Yeah.

Brendon: Walking through Madison Square Park on my way to work and seeing the different art installations. Or Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Benji: City Hall Park down by our apartment.

The one that says YO from Brooklyn,

but OY.

Brendon: Oy

Benji: oy,

Both: oy.

Brendon: Why am I in Brooklyn?

Benji: Oy.

Brendon: But City Hall Park, there’s all the installations.

Benji: There’s that soundscape installation that you can step into and walk around.

Or when we went and saw the Chihuly installations at the Botanic Gardens, but we did have to pay for that one. That one wasn’t free.



Nor was it public.

Brendon: It was free for us because we got our NYC ID and we got a free membership to the Botanic Gardens, with the NYC ID, which was free.

Benji: Right? Yes.

Brendon: So in a roundabout way, it was free.

Benji: Well, that’s very sweet. I too am very appreciative for public art. Thank you for sharing that.

Brendon: And I think more people should be grateful for public art. Like the Nina Totenberg Toten-bag or the Nina Toten bag, which no one in Southern California appreciated.

Benji: Our South Dakota Public Broadcasting thank you gift was the Nina Toten-bag.

Brendon: It’s an Andy Warhol of Nina Totenberg’s face, and I’m carrying it in public spaces. That makes it public art.

Benji: Okay.

Brendon: It’s like when I was on the subway I struck up a conversation with an elderly woman when we had the This American Life tote bag.

Benji: Oh yeah.

Brendon: And she told me how much she loves This American Life. And we talked for like 45 minutes.

Public art inspires conversations.

Benji: Public art and public radio tote bags.

Brendon: Yes.

Benji: Okay.

Brendon: what are you grateful for?

Benji: What am I grateful for? I am grateful for rest stops.

It’s true. One of the biggest surprises on this trip… we stop at a lot of rest stops. We have a bathroom with us, but if the person driving needs to go to, we need to pull off. And pulling off at a junction always takes a long time. You go out and you never know if you’re gonna be able to turn around. So we’ve stopped at a lot of rest stops, and rest stops are this hidden gem of America on the Interstate System. We stayed at that one that had its own private lake.

Brendon: In Southern Illinois

Benji: They all have picnic tables. They’ve all, with rare exception, been really clean.

Brendon: This one has hiking trails.

Benji: Yeah. This one has hiking trails. There’s public sculpture. There’s like a little museum.

There have been dog parks and paths to walk dogs on. Some have dump stations, some have fresh water. A lot of them are just really beautiful. A lot of care has been taken. There’s always really interesting plaques. So, I am very grateful for rest stops.

I encourage you to stop at your local rest stop and you might be very surprised.

That’s lovely. This weekend we are grateful for public art and rest stops. We were talking earlier about… the Dignity sculpture is… many might say too- little too- late to honor the Native Communities. Is it good that it’s at a rest stop? In 2022, where else are you going to go that’s as accessible to everyone. If it’s in a museum, it becomes inaccessible.

Brendon: This is a great rest stop location. It’s on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.

Benji: Yeah. With,

Brendon: with public art.

Benji: This is great.

We should go check out more rest stops.

Brendon: Is that your takeaway?

Benji: That’s my takeaway. More rest stops.

Shabbat Shalom,

Brendon: Shabbat Shalom,

Benji: Shabbat Shalom Brutus.

Brendon: Good shabbas!

Brutus: Shabbat Shalom!

Brendon: Unamused.

Benji: Unamused


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