State of the Re:Union - Travelogue: Volume 1

State of the Re:Union
Travelogue: Volume 1
Host: Al Letson
Producers: Tina Antolini, Delaney Hall, Laura Starecheski, Sara Brooke Curtis

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.

Nick Szuberla hosts a hip hop show on a community radio station that broadcasts around central Appalachia—the only hip hop show for miles in this bluegrass region. And one day, he started getting requests by mail from prisoners. Since the mid-1990s, for-profit prisons have been opening in Appalachia, as local officials have looked for alternatives to coal for economic development. And it turns out a lot of the prisoners filling those new prisons were being shipped in from cities across the country—and they were longing for any taste of home. Nick’s hip hop radio show was that. They started out playing mail chess, but that quickly evolved into the radio show as forum for concerns prisoners had about the way they were being treated… and, as family members began to realize that prisoners were listening to the radio show, they started listening online and calling in to communicate with their loved ones.

Friars in the Boogie Down - from The Bronx: Still Rising from the Ashes
Finding a sanctuary from the noise and people in the Bronx is tough. But there’s a doorway on 156th Street that leads not just into a rare, blissful quiet, but almost seems to lead to another century. Here at St. Crispin Friary, a sect of Franciscan friars have made their home since the 1980s. They wear gray robes, tied with thick rope at the waist, and the tonsured hair that marks them unmistakably as deeply religious men. These friars felt moved to re-engage with their mission to help the poor, and the South Bronx seemed a perfect place to start. We expected this to be a serious story. But as soon as we get on to the block, we find a surprising scene—Father Louis, head of the friary, tying dozens of water balloons at the friars’ annual block party.

Riba DeWilde grew up in a small Native community in rural Alaska. Her family 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.

Dear Vermont - from Vermont: The Small Town State
A letter from musician and author Robin MacArthur, to her state.

The Possibilities of the Stars
Most of State of the Re:Union's reporting is done right here in the United States, but host Al Letson tells us a very personal story about his trip to Malawi.

Al Letson closes out the episode with the vision of State of the Re:Union, then more voices from people we've featured in our episodes.

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