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State of the Re:Union

English, Human interest, 1 season, 63 episodes, 1 day, 16 hours, 44 minutes
Free podcast of the award-winning public radio show State of the Re:Union. Each episode of SOTRU, host Al Letson travels to a new community to tell stories about the people who are doing extraordinary work to help each other, to engage their community, and to overcome obstacles. It's a unique way of storytelling that documents the new America. SOTRU is presented by WJCT, co-distributed by PRX and NPR. Because things fall apart, it's our job to bring them back together.
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Travelogue: Volume Two

In the last episode of State of the Re:Union, the team brings you a collection of our favorite stories from the road. Host Al Letson reflects on six years of SOTRU and says goodbye to the show. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
5/26/201550 minutes, 29 seconds
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San Gabriel Valley, CA: Small Town, Global City

The San Gabriel Valley is just like any other suburb in America. Life revolves around family and school; the social fabric is woven over cheap eats at the mall. But unlike most suburbs in America, the San Gabriel Valley is home to the largest Chinese diaspora in the country. In fact, eight of the region’s cities are majority Asian. That makes the “SGV” one of the few places where being Asian American is the norm – but where there is no normal version of being Asian American. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
5/19/201551 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Poems, The Poets, The Power – A National Poetry Month Special

Poetry isn’t just words on a page. Instead it’s a form that lets people express themselves in a way that’s often far more deep, emotional, and complex than other forms of communication. In this year’s National Poetry Month Special, SOTRU explores how people are finding ways to use poetry in surprising ways.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
4/28/201550 minutes, 27 seconds
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Ithaca, NY: Power to the People

The climate is going haywire, and politicians are bickering over what to do about it, or whether to do anything at all. But that’s only part of the story. Around the country, communities are taking matters into their own hands, publicly pledging to shrink their carbon footprints, then setting out to make good on their promises.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
4/21/201550 minutes, 27 seconds
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SOTRU Short: A Couple Twice Born

When someone decides to transition from one gender to another, it’s obviously a big deal in their life. But what’s it like for their spouse?VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
3/3/201512 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Power of African American Art: A Black History Month Special

This year, State of the Re:Union recognizes Black History Month through the lens of African-American art, the role it has played in social movements and everyday life, and why it matters both to the black community and the United States as a whole.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
2/17/201551 minutes, 26 seconds
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SOTRU Short: A New Orleans Church Memorializes Murder Victims

When a city’s murder rate goes up and stays high for years, what do community activists working against violence do? How do they keep from losing hope? Back in 2010, State of the Re:Union visited New Orleans, Louisiana, and reported on community responses to urban violence. Among the places SOTRU visited was St. Anna’s Episcopal Church in the Treme neighborhood, which had come up with a novel way of documenting the city’s violence: something they called the Murder Board. This year, we sent reporter Nina Feldman back to St. Anna’s to see how the project is maintaining, these years later.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
1/13/201512 minutes, 29 seconds
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SOTRU Short: The Whistler

In every community, there are certain characters that are familiar to everybody. They’re not actually famous– they’re just recognizable folks about town because of some quirk or personal characteristic. Producer Gabe Grabin brings us the story of one particular character in his hometown who polarized his community.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
12/2/201414 minutes, 26 seconds
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Travelogue: Volume One

The SOTRU team brings you a collection of stories from the road. Host Al Letson reflects on the show and plays some of his favorite stories mixed with unheard interviews. We’ll also hear a story about a road trip that completely shifted Al’s life.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/21/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Truckers of the High Seas

In our globalized world, it only takes a click to buy something from China and have it delivered right to your doorstep. But that product sailed across the ocean on a cargo ship before it got to you. Over 90 percent of global trade travels across the ocean by ship. In this episode, we’ll step on board some of these ships and meet the sailors who work there. What’s it like to live for months at sea, isolated with only your co-workers? And when a ship stops in the USA, how do sailors spend the few precious hours they have on shore? Tune in to this hour with guest producer Allison Swaim to find out.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/14/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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American Justice

The United States has the world’s largest prison population. In 2012, there were 2.3 million people in American prisons or jails – and even more under some kind of “correctional supervision.” In fact, if you added up all the people in America in prison, on probation, or on parole, it’d total about 6 million – just a little smaller than the population of New York City. The system is vast, but how well is it working? In this episode, we explore how a few communities across the country have responded creatively to problems with police, courts, and prisons.VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/7/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Trans Families

It’s estimated that there are nearly 1.5 million people in the U.S. who identify themselves as transgender. That’s more than a million people with families, communities and stories we are only just starting to hear from. When someone transitions, the impact of that decision ripples beyond them to the people often closest to them: their families. In this hour of radio, we tell stories of trans people and their families at many different moments of life, from childhood to adulthood to elders, as parents, as spouses and as kids, themselves. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
9/30/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Interior Alaska: Frontier Community

Interior Alaska can be a forbidding place. The region is largely wilderness, covered with expansive stretches of tundra and towering mountain ranges. Winters are long and dark, with just a few hours of sunlight on the shortest days and temperatures that often plunge to -50F. Because of its isolation and climate, the region has long attracted people drawn to the challenges and opportunities of a wild, remote place. In this episode of SOTRU, we’ll meet a number of athletes, journalists, scientists, and activists who embody the spirit of Interior Alaska through their grit, determination, and iconoclasm. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
6/10/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Sorting of America

The U.S. has been a country shaped by migration, dating back to the days of the pioneers making their way West. But recently, this country has been seeing a different kind of migration, one motivated not by economic necessity, but lifestyle choices. More and more, people are moving to places where they’re surrounded by others like themselves. In this episode of SOTRU, we tell stories of this new kind of migration, of people moving to different corners of the country find (or build) themselves a haven. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
6/3/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Salt Lake City: Updating Tradition

When Mormon pioneers rolled into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, they brought with them a new theology, a short but intense history of persecution, and dreams of a new kind of society. 166 years later, Salt Lake City remains deeply influenced by Mormon culture, but defies easy categorization. With a large and politically active gay scene, one of the biggest Polynesian populations in the country, and a steady stream of new migrants, the city is full of vibrant contradiction—and sometimes conflict. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
5/27/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Host Al Letson and guest producer John Biewen (of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University) present a collection of stories from Durham, North Carolina. In this hour of SOTRU, we explore the role of sports in the lives of young people, and their families, as the kids pursue success in athletics and in life. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
5/20/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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Hawai'i: The Legacy of Sugar

For many Americans, Hawai’i is a tropical playground, the place of surf, sun and dream vacations. Behind the tourist façade, though, is one of the most unique multicultural states in the nation, one still dealing with the complicated legacy of the circumstances under which it become part of this country. And so much of how Hawai’i is now comes back to one game-changing element: sugar. For decades, long before it was a tourist’s paradise, what Hawai’i did was grow sugar. That was not only its economic driver, it was a force that remade the place. In this episode of SOTRU, we’ll explore the way contemporary Hawai’i is still navigating the legacy of the sugar plantations now in the 21st century. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
5/13/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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SOTRU Short: The Friendship of Ross and Stardust

Even in diverse neighborhoods, it’s easy to go about our lives in a well-established groove, only interacting with the people we already know, the people most like us. But in one neighborhood in San Francisco, the Occupy movement, with its politics of solidarity, shook up those patterns. Occupy may not be making many headlines anymore, but it’s responsible for sparking an unlikely friendship between two very different men. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
4/29/201410 minutes, 18 seconds
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When Words Matter: A National Poetry Month Special

In this National Poetry Month special, SOTRU explores all facets of poetry and its influence in host Al Letson’s life. We talk to poets from all over the country about the craft, the lifestyle, the resurgence of poems, and of course, hear some incredible poetry. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
4/9/201450 minutes, 56 seconds
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SOTRU Short: Thrashing in the Woods

When you picture Vermont, you probably get a mental image of a pastoral scene of fields and mountains, maybe some maple trees. How about… mohawks and mosh pits? SOTRU Producer Tina Antolini dives (stage dives) into the Green Mountain state’s rural– and thriving– hardcore music scene. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
4/1/20149 minutes, 50 seconds
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SOTRU Short: The Life of a Big Idea

When one city in upstate New York was having trouble with its economy, it came up with a big idea to try to solve the problem: making its But can a concept as innovative as that actually stand the test of time? Producer Samuel Whitehead brings us the story of Ithaca Hours. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
3/18/201411 minutes, 43 seconds
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Leadership from the Bottom Up

Usually during Black History month, we remember civil rights icons and reflect on their legacy. But over the past couple years, SOTRU has met a new generation of African-American leaders, people you may not see on TV specials or making nationally acclaimed speeches. Most of these men and women are on the front lines of their communities, rolling up their sleeves and diving in to what can be very unglamorous work. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
2/18/201451 minutes, 30 seconds
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Re:Defining Black History

During a month selected to celebrate “history,” we certainly are treated to a lot of the same familiar stories: the battles won for Civil Rights, the glory of Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, the hardships endured by slaves. And as important as those narratives are for us to collectively remember, many others get lost in trumpeting the same heroic tales. In this hour, State of the Re:Union zeroes in some of those alternate narratives, ones edited out of the mainstream imagining of Black History, deconstructing the popular perception of certain celebrated moments. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
2/4/201451 minutes, 27 seconds
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SOTRU Short: In East Portland, Soccer Helps Make a City Home

What happens if you move to Portland, Oregon and you’re not into bikes or beer? Or if, say, you don’t even speak English? East Portland, a part of the city that looks completely different from the hipster central we’re familiar with from Portlandia, is home to a growing number of immigrants and refugees. Many of them struggle to find work and a sense of connection to their new home in the Pacific Northwest. But some have found that in the effort to integrate, *soccer* can be a useful tool. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
1/21/20148 minutes, 23 seconds
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SOTRU Short: The Possibilities of the Stars

Most of State of the Re:Union’s reporting is done right here in the United States, but today host Al Letson tells us a very personal story about his recent trip to Malawi. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
1/7/201416 minutes, 31 seconds
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SOTRU Short: Soteria

In the 1970s, a prominent schizophrenia researcher named Dr. Loren Mosher noticed that the standard treatment in the hospital– medication, confinement– didn’t have good outcomes. People didn’t get better in the long-term. So he launched an experiment, to try out pretty much the exact opposite of that treatment in the hospital. He called it Soteria. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
12/17/201316 minutes, 4 seconds
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SOTRU Short: Move By Bike

For all you Portlandia fans out there, we hate to break it to you: the city ISN’T actually Portlandia… Except when it is. People there are very serious about recycling and passionate about human-powered transportation. In this story, Julie Sabatier, host of the public radio show and podcast Destination DIY and also a Portland resident tells us about a particular Portland activity that you may think only exists on the TV show. This one involves the very unglamorous job of… moving. Hint: it involves bicycles. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
11/5/20137 minutes, 13 seconds
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SOTRU Short: Dear Tulsa

Last summer, we visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a devastating racial incident in 1921 still divides the city today. That legacy has made it tough for Tulsa to move forward into the future, but in the last decade, it’s tried hard to do just that. The city has a newly revitalized downtown and a growing arts scene, and it wants badly to be known for something more than the hard history that’s shaped it. Writer Russell Cobb used to live in Tulsa and he was never the city’s biggest fan. But he’s watched from a distance as Tulsa has turned a corner, and now… he kind of wants to come back. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
11/5/20135 minutes, 35 seconds
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SOTRU Short: Dear Voices

A twist on SOTRU’s regular Dear City letters feature: for this special podcast, we asked Berta Britz, who has been hearing voices for her entire adult life, to write a Dear Voices letter. This SOTRU short was produced in conjunction with our episode, The Hospital Always Wins. To listen to the entire episode, see pictures and more, visit our episode page. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
11/5/20137 minutes, 56 seconds
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The Southwestern Range

Among the most iconic landscapes in America is the Western Range, a stretch of millions of acres of land, much of it remote and undeveloped. Deep traditions tie people to this land. But in the 21st century, it is also contested ground. Development pressures threaten open space as the Sun Belt becomes an economic powerhouse. Border issues mean life in some of these rural places has been transformed by violence and politics. But new ways are being forged on these fronts, ways that involve collaboration, innovation, and the rediscovery and reimagining of history on the new Southwestern Range. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/22/201351 minutes, 26 seconds
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Tulsa, OK: Reconciliation Way

Tulsa, Oklahoma sits at a crossroads of American identities. In a special episode of SOTRU, we travel to the middle of Middle America to see what happens when these identities collide. We explore one of the country’s deadliest race riots, a story that has been largely suppressed for 90 years; visit a lovingly-crafted museum dedicated to spreading poetry to rural Oklahoma; and — in two special stories produced by This Land Press — visit two churches, one struggling mightily to integrate and another building a shrine for undocumented immigrants in a state with some of the harshest immigration laws in the nation. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/15/201351 minutes, 26 seconds
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Portland, OR: A Tale of Two Cities

Portland is a city that some residents praise as a kind of eden: full of bike paths, independently-owned small businesses, great public transportation and abundant microbreweries and coffeeshops. And then there’s a whole other city. It’s the city where whole stretches of busy road are missing sidewalks, and you can see folks in wheelchairs rolling themselves down the street right next to traffic. It’s the city where some longtime African American residents feel as if decades of institutional racism still have not been fully addressed. In this episode of SOTRU, we spend time in both Portlands: the paradise, and what could be called… the purgatory. VIEW PHOTOS AND MORE
10/7/201351 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Hospital Always Wins

Back in 2004, staff producer Laura Starecheski visited a state mental hospital in Queens, New York, called Creedmoor. She stumbled on to a mystery there that would take almost ten years to unravel. In this special hour, we bring you just this one story: an artist stuck in the catch-22 of a lifetime. VIEW MORE
10/1/201353 minutes, 5 seconds
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Back to Basics: An American Graduate Special

In this American Graduate special, State of the Re:Union takes a closer look at school, community, and the dropout crisis in this country. With reporting from both urban and rural schools, and interviews with education experts, SOTRU goes “back to basics,” looking at strategies that get to the heart of what makes students want to learn. VIEW MORE
9/17/201351 minutes, 29 seconds
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Dropouts to Graduates: The Story of the Care Center

In this episode, SOTRU travels to Holyoke, Massachusetts, home of the Care Center. an alternative school just for pregnant and parenting teen… READ MORE
6/27/201351 minutes, 26 seconds
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Coming Home: Stories of Veterans Returning from War

More than two million veterans have come home so far from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For returning veterans, reintegrating into society c… READ MORE
6/7/201351 minutes, 29 seconds
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Pike County, Ohio: As Black as We Wish to Be

In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents h… READ MORE
11/28/201251 minutes, 32 seconds
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Internet Communities: Virtual Reality

At this point in the 21st century, it’s kind of impossible to talk about community-building without, at some point, talking about the internet… READ MORE
11/24/201251 minutes, 27 seconds
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Jacksonville: Grinding the Gears

Jacksonville, Florida is a lot of things: a military town. A church town. A beach town. And it can be all those things because Jacksonville is the… READ MORE
11/1/201251 minutes, 29 seconds
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Tucson: Borderlands

Tucson sits in the borderlands, the desert landscape where America and Mexico meet. This place is crisscrossed by boundaries, visible and inv… READ MORE
10/29/201251 minutes, 29 seconds
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Summer in Sanctuary – An American Graduate Special

Every day in America, more than 7,000 students drop out of school. In a State of the Re:Union first, this episode combines radio drama and docum… READ MORE
10/29/201252 minutes, 53 seconds
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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The Community of Comics Episode In this episode we explore a community where when evil rears its head, someone finds a way to set things right, ev… READ MORE
6/5/201251 minutes, 44 seconds
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Ozarks: Full Circle

The Ozarks have long been an isolated part of the country. Steep mountains break up the landscape into hills and hollows, making each little to… READ MORE
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Baltimore: Outsiders In

Baltimore is a city of many neighborhoods, of intense divides—racial, class, and otherwise– not easily overcome. It’s a city bogged do… READ MORE
6/3/201251 minutes, 24 seconds
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Vermont: The Small Town State

Quaint storefronts along Main streets, covered bridges over clear streams, cows from dairy farms dotting green valleys: across the state, th… READ MORE
6/2/201251 minutes, 46 seconds
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Southeastern Washington: The Unlikely Perfect Place

The Tri-Cities are Richland, Pasco and Kennewick—3 cities clustered near one another in the vast plains and deserts of Washington state, to th… READ MORE
6/1/201251 minutes, 47 seconds
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Sacramento, CA: All Hands on Deck

There’s been a lot of bad news coming out of Sacramento lately: homelessness, the foreclosure rate, unemployment, political gridlock in a sta… READ MORE
9/10/201151 minutes, 29 seconds
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Cleveland, OH: Entrepreneurs at Work

Cleveland, Ohio is a city that was made by entrepreneurs, but for decades, it’s been known as a city that’s a shell of its former manufactu… READ MORE
8/20/201151 minutes, 29 seconds
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Wyoming: The New Old West

People are few and far between in Wyoming. Those that do live here prize tradition, self-reliance, and their connection to the land. So when c… READ MORE
8/19/201151 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Bronx, NY: Still Rising from the Ashes

The Bronx has long been seen as a symbol of America’s failings. For many people here, ‘making it’ means escaping the crime and poverty of their b… READ MORE
8/18/201151 minutes, 29 seconds
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Mississippi Gulf Coast: Defending the Gulf

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the area, Mississippi Gulf Coast residents were forced to come together to deal with the aftermath. Then, jus… READ MORE
8/17/201151 minutes, 28 seconds
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Oakland: The Self-Made City

Refugees, entrepreneurs, visionaries—these are the historic roots of Oakland, California. The city has long been home for people building n… READ MORE
5/1/201150 minutes, 1 second
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Las Vegas – Bright Lights, Big City, Small Town

These days, two versions of Las Vegas occupy the public imagination. One is of Sin City, home to The Strip, to glitter and entertainment. The oth… READ MORE
5/1/201151 minutes, 55 seconds
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Miami: Bridging the Divide

Famous for its beaches and clubs, Miami is also the 3rd poorest city in the nation. If you own a store in South Beach, your customers are equally li… READ MORE
5/1/201151 minutes, 27 seconds
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Utica: City with a Warm Heart

A couple of decades ago, Utica, New York, was dying, by even its residents diagnosis: a popular bumper sticker in the ‘90s read “Last One Out of Ut… READ MORE
5/1/201150 minutes, 51 seconds
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Birmingham: Long Story Short

Birmingham is a place that can’t escape its history—especially the painful parts. Almost fifty years later after the tragedies and triumphs o… READ MORE
5/1/201150 minutes, 51 seconds
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Bayard Rustin – Who Is This Man?

August 28th, 1963 will forever be tied to Martin Luther King Jr.’s hallowed “I Have a Dream Speech.” This historic moment would probably have never…
12/3/201052 minutes, 53 seconds
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Appalachia Rising

Rural Appalachia has long been portrayed in the media as a place of victims: people at the mercy of the region’s poverty or bigotry. In this episo… READ MORE
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Austin, TX: Growing Pains

Unlike places that have been thrown into a state of crisis by a disaster, Austin, Texas, has been thrown into crisis by success. Its population h… READ MORE
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Los Angeles: Home, Sweet Home

Los Angeles, Lala land, often thought of as the city of movies and money and fame. But that characterization doesn’t get at the heart and soul of t… READ MORE
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Twin Cities: World Within Two Cities

It isn’t exactly Lake Wobegon anymore… Once known as the home of Midwestern Lutherans and Scandanavian farmers, the cities of Minneapolis and… READ MORE
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Española: The Land Remembers

We are excited to announce the release of our Española episode: The Land Remembers. Al Letson and team explore this incredible area to examine t… READ MORE
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New Orleans, LA – The Big Easy

Listen to the episode and check out our video documentary, podcasts, images and articles on New Orleans! If you’ve listened to our NOLA e… READ MORE
5/4/201051 minutes, 28 seconds