The Fairbanks Four

On the night of October 11, 1997, a teenager was found, badly beaten, on a street corner in downtown Fairbanks, AK. Nobody saw what happened to 15-year-old John Hartman, but he died the next day from his injuries. Seventeen years later, the investigation into who murdered him continues to divide the city.

This story aired on SOTRU’s Alaska episode. Hear the whole hour here.

Lights Out

lights out

Back in the summer of 1977, two young DJs named Disco Wiz and Grandmaster Casanova Fly were spinning records for a growing crowd on a busy street corner in the Bronx.

Around 9:30 that night — July 13th — the city experienced a massive blackout, with power failing in all five boroughs. Looting, arson, and rioting happened across the city, but Disco Wiz and Grandmaster Casanova Fly have their own theories about how the blackout influenced the creative life of the Bronx and the birth of hip hop.

Lights Out explores what happened that night.

This story was produced with a grant from In the Dark, a UK-based radio organization. It has since aired on Re:sound, RTE Radio 1, and BBC Radio 4, and was written up by the Guardian’s radio critic.

 

Snowflake

snowflake-sign

Well before the early 1500s, when Sir Thomas Moore first coined the term “Utopia,” people have been thinking about how to design their ideal community. Maybe it’s one that doesn’t use money, or one that drops traditional family structures and raises children collectively.

For a community of people on the outskirts of the small Arizona town of Snowflake, “utopia” is just a place where they won’t be physically sick. That’s because everyone in this community is suffering from a controversial medical condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or MCS.

Most scientific studies have not shown a connection between chemical exposures and symptoms, and the American Medical Association does not recognize the illness as an organic, chemical-caused disease.  There is a subset of doctors who believe in MCS and treat it, but most mainstream physicians avoid the diagnosis and may recommend therapy to treat the symptoms, which they believe to be largely psychological. A lot of people with the illness take matters into their own hands, designing their diets, habits, and environments to make themselves feel better.

This MCS utopia in Snowflake is a complicated place. Some doctors would argue it isolates people, pushing them deeper into their illness. But Susan Molloy, the unofficial Mayor of the community, claims that Snowflake is a necessary refuge, and she guards the place fiercely. “All it takes is one family building a gas station out there on the road, and a lot of us would have to move.”

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, an incident that the city spent a long time trying to forget; 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.

Every Little Thing

Riba DeWilde grew up in a small Native community in Alaska. They hunted, trapped, and lived almost entirely off the land. Now, as an artist, Riba draws on those skills, but she takes them even further. She hunts for her food, then uses the bones of animals she’s killed to create jewelry and sculptures that have been featured in museums across the state and country. She’s rooted in Native Athabascan traditions. But as a woman carver, she breaks them too.

This story aired on SOTRU’s Alaska episode. Hear the whole hour here.

The Austin Music Map

From 2012 to 2013, I was the lead producer of the Austin Music Map, created in collaboration with KUTX, Zeega, AIR, and Public School. The project is an interactive, audiovisual portrait of the city’s evolving music scene. Check out our website, which was nominated for a Webby Award.

Here’s a snapshot of all ten Localore projects, including the Austin Music Map. These projects unfolded across the country over the course of twelve months, and each one experimented with new methods of digital storytelling.

The project was covered in Current, NPR’s Tell Me More, the Columbia Journalism Review, The National Center for Media Engagement, the Austin Chronicle, and Tribeza.

No more posts.