Sarah Smarsh is a Kansas-based journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics, and public policy for The Guardian, The New York Times, and many other publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Journalist and former vegetable farmer Debbie Weingarten talks with Sarah Smarsh about the dark side of rural existence for people watching their family’s way of life be turned upside down—and how a society that relies on their labor can begin to value farmers. Weingarten is a writer and fellow with Community Change. A former vegetable farmer, she now works with the Female Farmer Project to document the rise of women in agriculture. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Guernica, The Guardian, Economic Hardship Reporting Project, Longreads, and Vela, among many other outlets, including the Best of Food Writing 2016 and 2017 anthologies. She was a 2019 James Beard Award nominee for her story exposing discrimination against Louisiana’s Black sugar cane farmers. Learn more at TheHomecomers.org and follow the show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius joins Sarah Smarsh to discuss the long fight for universal health care and the particular barriers to access for rural America. Sebelius served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and is now among America’s foremost experts on national and global health issues, human services, and executive leadership. She serves on the boards of several public companies and co-chairs the Aspen Institute Health Strategy Group. Sebelius served as governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009. Learn more at TheHomecomers.org and follow the show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Conservation leader Brett Ramey, member of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, joins Sarah Smarsh to discuss environmental (in)justice and how our identities can shape the preservation of the planet. Ramey is an educator and organizer working at the intersections of environmental, cultural, and community health. His work is grounded in reclaiming and upholding knowledge systems that honor relationships and responsibilities to lands and waters. He serves as director of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at the University of Washington, a community of young people who aim to transform the face, practice, and future of conservation. Learn more at TheHomecomers.org and follow the show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Acclaimed West Virginia documentarian Elaine McMillion Sheldon talks with Sarah Smarsh about getting regional stories right and the universality of addiction. Sheldon is an Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker who explores stories of identity, resilience, and hope. She is the director of two documentaries about America’s opioid crisis, Recovery Boys and the Emmy-winning Heroin(e). Sheldon also received a 2013 Peabody award, a 2014 Emmy nomination, and 3rd prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards for her interactive documentary Hollow, which explores the lives lived in post-industrial, rural Appalachia. Learn more at TheHomecomers.org and follow the show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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Creator Details

Episode Count
7
Podcast Count
1
Total Airtime
4 hours, 2 minutes