This week on Everywhere Radio, we welcome filmmaker, journalist, and philanthropy professional Erickson S. Blakney.
A program officer with the New York-based The Pinkerton Foundation, Blakney’s is also an award-winning writer and reporter having worked for Bloomberg and CBS News. A member of the National Press Club, Blakney is the co-founder, along with author and award-winning filmmaker Dr. Lee Quinby, of the True Delta Project which produces documentaries about the Delta region which air on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Television (MPB) and screen at film festivals around the country. His most recent documentary, Zip Code Matters (2021, produced in partnership with Sena Mourad Friedman and The Fair Housing Center-Toledo, examines racial and socioeconomic inequalities in health.
EB is a board trustee of the DreamYard Project, an arts and social justice organization in the Bronx. He plays a similar role on the board of the Clarksdale Animal Rescue Effort and Shelter (CARES) in Clarksdale, MS. Because of his filmmaking and philanthropic work in the rural Delta, he was invited to serve as a board member for The Center for Rural Strategies in Whitesburg, KY. Blakney also serves on the grant review and finance committees of The Needmor Fund. Founded in 1956 by Duane and Virginia Secor Stranahan, the Perrysburg, Ohio-based philanthropy, supports grass-roots groups organizing to bring about social and economic justice. Blakney is a graduate of Hobart College and Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio.
As we reach the end of a monumental year for reproductive justice, we talk with Rebecca Stern, a student activist and former Rural Assembly intern who spent her summer in Whitesburg, Ky. at The Center for Rural Strategies headquarters. Becca interviewed rural young people about their thoughts and concerns about reproductive justice following the reversal of Roe v. Wade. We talk with Becca about what she heard and we will be sharing those interviews and stories.
Rebecca Stern is a second-year Robertson Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill studying Public Policy and Global Gender Studies. This past summer, she interned at the Center for Rural Strategies, mainly working with the Rural Assembly on rural policy and writing a bit for the Daily Yonder. Her main project was interviewing rural youth about reproductive health and access to contraceptives and sex education following the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. At UNC and Duke, Rebecca is the Campus Outreach Coordinator and Advocate at the Community Empowerment Fund (CEF), a Bryan Fellow, Penny Pilgrim George Women’s Leadership Initiative Cohort Member, and the Tour Manager of the UNC Loreleis.
We talk with Dee Davis, president of the Center for Rural Strategies, about results of the midterm elections and what’s on the minds of rural voters.
Dee Davis is the founder and president of the Center for Rural Strategies. Dee has helped design and lead national public information campaigns on topics as diverse as commercial television programming and federal banking policy.
Dee began his media career in 1973 as a trainee at Appalshop, an arts and cultural center devoted to exploring Appalachian life and social issues in Whitesburg, Kentucky. As Appalshop’s executive producer, the organization created more than 50 public TV documentaries, established a media training program for Appalachian youth, and launched initiatives that use media as a strategic tool in organization and development.
Dee is on the board of the Kentucky Historical Society; he is a member of the Rural Advisory Committee of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Fund for Innovative Television, and Feral Arts of Brisbane, Australia. He is also a member of the Institute for Rural Journalism’s national advisory board. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Work and the Economy. Dee is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. Dee is also the former Chair of the board of directors of Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
We talk with Xandr Brown, producer of the new exhibit “Free Hill: Renewal and Rememory,” about the story of Free Hill, a community founded by free, educated Black Americans in Athens, Tennessee in 1850. It remained the center of commerce and community for Black Americans through the 1960s when families that lived in the Free Hill area were displaced after phases of urban renewal, spearheaded by the City of Athens, demolished their homes to the benefit of Tennessee Wesleyan University. Through video, oral histories, and portraits, the exhibit “explores the relationship between place, personal memory, and identity as a way to challenge collective assumptions about democracy, freedom, and equality.”
The exhibit is hosted by the Athens Area Council for the Arts (AACA) through December 12, 2022. An online multimedia version of the exhibit will be available soon at ruralassembly.org.
Xandr Brown is currently a multimedia producer with the Center for Rural Strategies. In 2018, she graduated from the University of Rochester in upstate New York with a BA in History and Communications with a minor in Environmental Humanities. Before reporting for the Daily Yonder she previously reported with hyperlocal newsrooms in Flint, Michigan.
About the book
Across rural America — in its forested woods, its remote lakes, and its sprawling fields — there is plenty of room for the wild and weird to take root. Just beyond the gaze of “normal” existence, strange sightings and odd encounters have lingered in the minds and memories of many rural communities.
Contrary to what you might think, these stories are not simply silly or scary. Call them foolish or farfetched if you must, but they offer a valuable window into the unique culture and community life of places often unseen and under-appreciated.
Originally published in the Daily Yonder, we invite you to join us in this closer look at the cryptids of rural America. Let your imagination roam, welcome feelings of wonder or dread, and, if only for a moment, ponder the possibilities beyond what’s proven and known.
Rural Monsters, Myths and Legends takes a look at not just the tales from these remotes areas of the country, but what kind of an impact they’ve had on their communities and the people who experienced them. From alien encounters to tales of water dancing nymphs to evil witches set on revenge to beasts hiding in the mountains of Appalachia, walk with us through the farmland, the swamps, the desert roads and the chilly lake waters where the unknown and mysterious lurks just out of sight.
About Liz Carey
Liz Carey is a journalist, author and writing teacher living in Central Kentucky. A graduate of Miami University, she worked as a reporter for 20+ years and earned more than 30 awards for her writing and reporting before setting off on her own as a freelance writer. Currently, she writes about rural health, Appalachian culture, the transportation industry, workers’ compensation and Kentucky arts and entertainment. She started working for the Daily Yonder in 2018 writing a story about cast iron Dutch ovens before convincing them to give her more newsy stuff. Today, she serves as one of the Daily Yonder’s rural health reporters and on the growing rural mental health crisis, the rural opioid crisis, the rural health care system and rural electric vehicle systems.
Jessica Shelton and Katie Myers have been on the frontlines of responding to the flooding disaster in Eastern Kentucky in a variety of roles: Katie as a journalist living in the region experiencing the flood both personally and professionally, and Jessica as the director of the Appalachian Media Institute and a volunteer organizer for EKY Mutual Aid.
We talk with them about their work and the region’s recovery.
About Katie Myers
Katie Myers is the economic transition reporter for the Ohio Valley ReSource and WMMT 88.7 FM in Whitesburg, Kentucky. Her work has also appeared on NPR and Inside Appalachia, and in Belt Magazine, Scalawag Magazine, the Daily Yonder, and others. We talk with Katie about reporting on the flood and her own experience waking up to the disaster.
About Jessica Shelton
Jessica Shelton is the director of the Appalachian Media Institute at Appalshop in Whitesburg, Kentucky. We talk with her about her work as an organizer with the grassroots organization EKY Mutual Aid, which has been helping those directly impacted by the devastating floods that hit southeastern Kentucky in late July by meeting needs in real time and offering direct cash assistance.
When we can work from anywhere, does place matter? That’s the question award-winning writer Melody Warnick poses in her latest book, If You Could Live Anywhere: The Surprising Importance of Place in a Work-from-Anywhere World. We talk with Warnick about the book, her own life in Blacksburg, Virginia, and the questions of how to you choose where to live — and how to make a community feel like home.
More about Melody Warnick
Melody Warnick is the author of This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, a book that explains the concept of place attachment and helps people fall in love with their town. Her second book, If You Could Live Anywhere: The Surprising Importance of Place in a Work-from-Anywhere World, helps location-independent people find the right place to achieve success and happiness.
Warnick has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, Fast Company, The Guardian, Slate, Quartz, CityLab, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, O: The Oprah Magazine, Medium, Livability, and many other publications. Learn more about melodywarnick.com
Our guest on Everywhere Radio is Cynthia McCowan, a community activist and connector. She’s an advocate for black lives in Athens, Tennessee, and is spearheading a project to ensure black histories and experiences are acknowledged in this small rural town.
Cynthia was born and raised in a tiny, rural town in Northwest Mississippi and is an HBCU-proud alum of Alcorn State University. She has two adult daughters, four grandcritters, ranging from 6 to 19 years old, and has lived in Athens, TN for the last 27 years. After retiring from a 22-year career as an Environmental Scientist with the US TVA, she stumbled upon the Athens Area Council for the Arts and the rest is history in the making. With a life-long passion for the arts, Cynthia has been able to immerse herself in all things art through the Arts Center’s broad and diverse array of artistic offerings. She currently serves on the Arts Council’s board and is an active member of Athens City Council’s Council Advisory Committee.
Teri Carter writes about rural politics, and now she’s living them. Carter talks with Everywhere Radio about why she’s a progressive running as a Republican for magistrate in her Kentucky county, how she stays in relationship with neighbors, and how she became a political writer.
Carter lives in Anderson County, Kentucky, where she writes about rural politics. You can find her work at the Lexington Herald-Leader, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Daily Yonder. She has a BA in English from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from San Jose State University. She teaches at The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky, and is working on a book about stepfamilies.
On this episode of Everywhere Radio, we talk with Starre Haas, advocate for women’s leadership and empowerment, mother, wife, and entrepreneur. We talk with Starre about her journey from accounting to women’s empowerment and politics and what it has meant to build a new community and life with her family in Hope, Alaska. Former with VoteRunLead, Starre is the founder and CEO of Community Connections Now, a company that focuses on empowering women through networking and leadership development and of the nonprofit, The Everyday Bold Woman, formed to spotlight and provide leadership training and financial resources to women, particularly mothers and homemakers, women who have been suffering as a result of the pandemic.
Host Whitney Kimball Coe talks with Daily Yonder Editor Tim Marema about the role news journalism plays in a democracy, how the pandemic has affected Daily Yonder coverage, and why Reservation Dogs is one of the best shows, ever.
Tim Marema is editor of the Daily Yonder, a national rural news platform, and is a founding staff member of the Daily Yonder’s publishing organization, the Center for Rural Strategies. Marema grew up in Eastern Kentucky and started his journalism career at his hometown weekly newspaper while a student at Berea College. He served as editor of the daily Chapel Hill (North Carolina) Herald and as zoned-editions editor of the Durham Herald-Sun, 1988-1992. He was the development director of Appalshop, the Appalachian media-arts collective, in the 1990s.
Marema holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree from Berea College. He is married, has two adult children, and lives in Norris, Tennessee.
This week on Everywhere Radio, we’re sharing a special conversation between Tyler Owens, program associate for the Rural Assembly, and author Diane Wilson (Dakota).
Tyler spoke with Diane Wilson during our Rural Women Everywhere virtual conference to talk about Wilson’s most recent book “The Seed Keeper.” During this conversation Owens & Wilson explore where Wilson finds her inspiration, the importance of continuing a tradition of storytelling, and the importance of connection to the earth.
This week on Everywhere Radio, Whitney welcomes Nikiko Masumoto, organic farmer, memory keeper, and artist. She is Yonsei, a fourth generation Japanese American, and works the same soil her great-grandparents worked in California. In an agricultural world where 86% of farmers are men, most landowners are white, and few are queer, she employs art and creativity to access her power as an organic farmer. Whitney and Nikiko discuss making art, family history, farming, and seeking wholeness rather than perfection.
This episode of Everywhere Radio features a conversation between Gladys Godinez and Norma Flores López, Chief Programs Officer for Justice for Migrant Women. From working in the fields at the age of 12 to advocating for Immigrants, Latine/x/os and migrant farmworkers in Washington D.C. today, Norma’s story inspires. This episode, which first aired during Rural Women Everywhere, is brought to you by the Rural Assembly, Justice for Migrant Women, and United by Culture Media. Godinez recorded this interview for both Everywhere Radio and her own podcast, Courageous Mujer.
Bringing high-speed internet to rural America isn’t just about Zoom meetings and remote work. Reliable access can also make or break a farming operation. Just ask Meagan Kaiser of Kaiser Family Farms in Carrolton, Missouri. Meagan farms corn and soybeans along with her husband Marc, and she’s also a soil scientist and chief operating officer at Perry Agricultural Laboratory, Inc. She recently contributed to a comprehensive report that tells the story of broadband as an indispensable tool for farmers and the communities they serve. The report was produced by the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and the United Soybean Board, where Kaiser is a member of the executive committee. This week on Everywhere Radio, Whitney talks to Meagan to learn about her journey into farming and soil science, and to find out what it’s like chatting with Vice President Kamala Harris.
MORE: Episode transcript
On this episode, Whitney talks with journalist Aallyah Wright about her journey to journalism, reporting on issues of labor, race, and equity in her native Mississippi. Wright reports on rural affairs and leads race and equity coverage for Stateline. Previously, Aallyah worked for Mississippi Today, a digital nonprofit newsroom covering K-12 education and government in the Mississippi Delta—her home region. As a member of the Delta Bureau, she investigated Mississippi’s teacher shortage, finding it was six times worse than in 1998 when the Mississippi legislature passed a bill to alleviate the crisis. She is a 2020 Mississippi Humanities Council Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award Recipient, 2019 StoryWorks Theater Fellow, and 2018 Educating Children in Mississippi Fellow at the Hechinger Report. Wright graduated from Delta State University with a bachelor’s in journalism and minors in communication and theater.
MORE: Episode transcript
On this episode of Everywhere Radio, Whitney talks with labor veteran Sandy Pope.
Today, Pope is the Bargaining Director for the Office of Professional Employees International Union or OPEIU, an organization that represents more than 110,000 employees nationwide. With more than three decades of union organizing experience, Pope is perhaps best known for her 2010 campaign for general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, when she ran against a three-term incumbent, who happened to be the son of Jimmy Hoffa. Whitney and Sandy talk about what the future holds for rural workers — whether they’re working in meatpacking, trucking, or manufacturing — as well as the communities that rely upon them.
MORE: Episode transcript
This week on Everywhere Radio, Whitney talks with Sarah and Jan Pytalski, the show’s first rural husband and wife team. Sarah is a senior associate at the global communications firm Burness, where she supports rural health equity work. And Jan is an associate editor at the Daily Yonder, and a colleague of Whitney’s at the Center for Rural Strategies, which publishes the Yonder and produces this podcast. The three talk about building a rural life, honoring connections between people and the land, and much more.
MORE: Episode transcript
This week, guest host Adilia Watson talks with Jazzmine Brooks, founder, owner, and full-spectrum doula of Jai Olive Wellness in Iowa. Known as the “Rural Black Doula”, Brooks talks with us about advocating for patients, how she became a doula, and mental health.
MORE: Episode transcript
This week, guest host Adilia Watson talks with Nelson Brooke, a Riverkeeper from rural Alabama. In that role, Nelson investigates pollution on the Black Warrior River and takes pictures of illegal polluting activity. His work was recognized by the Alabama River Alliance when they named him the 2010 Alabama River Hero. Don’t miss this episode of Everywhere Radio, as we learn about the impressive biodiversity of rural Alabama and the importance of protecting our natural resources.
MORE: Episode transcript
Whitney talks with LB Prevette and Michael Cooper, who are both part of a growing movement of rural homecomers, younger people who are returning to their rural roots and hometowns to build a life and committing to making their communities more inclusive, vibrant places to live.
MORE: Episode transcript
Whitney talks with Stephen Gong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media, about making visible the experiences and contributions of Asian Americans in our rural communities. Gong has been associated with CAAM since its founding in 1980, and has served as Executive Director since 2006.
MORE: Episode transcript
This week on Everywhere Radio: Host Whitney Kimball Coe talks with political scientist and author Hahrie Han about democracy in a changing nation and what the rural “agora” means in the 21st century. As a professor and faculty director at Johns Hopkins University, Han studies civic and political participation, social movements, collective action, and organizing, particularly as it pertains to democratic revitalization.
Han is faculty director of the P3 Research Lab at Johns Hopkins University and is also the inaugural director of the SNF Agora Institute, an academic and public forum focused on strengthening democracy across the world. She specializes in the study of organizing movements, civic engagement, and democracy, and her newest book debuts in July: “Prisons of the People: Power and Organizing in 21st Century America.” She’s also working on her fifth book, about race and faith in America with a particular focus on evangelical megachurches.
MORE: Episode Transcript
This week on Everywhere Radio: Host Whitney Kimball Coe talks with Rev. Claire Brown. Brown is an Episcopal priest, writer, facilitator, wife, and mama living and ministering in rural Tennessee. She talks with Whitney about how rural churches and faith communities are called to show up on the front lines of social healing work in this moment: facing the challenges of the pandemic, responding to calls for social and racial justice, and grappling with how we build more just and inclusive communities.
This week on Everywhere Radio: Host Whitney Kimball Coe checks in with her neighbor Jeff Eastman, who is also CEO of the nonprofit Remote Area Medical (RAM). Whitney and Jeff discuss RAM’s efforts to provide Covid-19 vaccines at its pop-up clinics, and how to overcome vaccine hesitancy in rural areas.
At RAM, Eastman works to deliver free dental, vision and medical services to uninsured people and communities across the country.
This week on Everywhere Radio: Whitney Kimball Coe welcomes Krista Tippett, founder and CEO, The On Being Project and host of On Being. Whitney and Krista discuss the pandemic, the fallacy of blue and red states, developing a moral imagination and creating the creating the conversations you want to be hearing.
Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, a National Humanities Medalist, and a New York Times bestselling author. She grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, attended Brown University, and became a journalist and diplomat in Cold War Berlin before launching On Being in 2003. She is currently at work on a new book about moral imagination and the human challenges and promise of this young century.
This week on Everywhere Radio, Whitney talks with Eliza Blue, a shepherd, writer, and folk singer who lives on a ranch in South Dakota with her husband and two children. The ranch has been in her husband’s family for five generations, but Eliza took a more circuitous route to South Dakota. She is a contributing columnist to our media partner, The Daily Yonder, and calls herself the accidental rancher. Whitney and Eliza talk about the gift of the outsider status and how a sabbatical from city life turned into a life on the prairie.
You’ll find the award-winning writing of Deb and James Fallows in publications across the web, from The Atlantic to National Geographic and more. Together, they are the authors of the bestselling book, “Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America,” now a documentary film on HBO. This week, Deb and James talk with Whitney about showing up and finding hope while telling the complex stories of America’s small towns.
This special episode of Everywhere Radio features two contributors to the upcoming Rural Assembly Everywhere virtual event: Kiran Singh Sirah and Harry Gottlieb. Kiran Singh Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center, and Whitney Kimball Coe talk about the healing power of storytelling, perfecting the practice of the “porch sit,” and Saint Dolly. Harry Gottlieb, founder of JackBox Games and a new organization called Unify America, talks with Whitney about what he believes it will take to move us from a country of politics to a country of problem-solvers.. Read more about the episode and check out the transcript of the podcast.
How did planning for a potential ICE raid lead to a festival to celebrate immigrant communities in rural Nebraska? Hear this and other stories about living as an immigrant in rural America as community organizer Gladys Godinez and host Whitney Kimball Coe discuss the importance of inclusion, welcoming, and being seen. Read more about Godinez and check out the transcript of the podcast.
For the inaugural episode of Everywhere Radio, Whitney interviews Wendy Feliz, the Founding Director of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council. Whitney and Wendy talk about building common purpose between new immigrant communities and long-time rural residents, the prospects for progress on national immigration policy, the importance of welcoming and inclusion, and much more.
Whitney Kimball Coe is the director of National Programs at the Center for Rural Strategies. In that role, she leads the Rural Assembly, a nationwide movement striving to build better policy and more opportunity for rural communities across the country.
As an organizer, speaker, moderator, and writer, Whitney has shared her perspectives on community and civic courage with audiences around the world. She has been featured on stage at the Aspen Ideas Festival and the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, and as a guest on the radio program On Being with Krista Tippett.
She writes a regular column for her local newspaper, the Daily Post Athenian, and has participated in Citizen University’s Civic Saturday Fellowship program. She holds a M.A. in Appalachian studies from Appalachian State University and an undergraduate degree in religion and philosophy from Queens University. She lives in her hometown of Athens, Tennessee with her husband Matt, and daughters, Lucy and Susannah.