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From small towns to big cities — Grapple gives voice to people living and working in distressed communities. Through personal narratives and long-form storytelling, you hear conversations that tell the story of America’s profound economic and social changes — including how distressed communities have changed over time, what they’re grappling with today, and how they’re redefining themselves. Grapple’s first season takes you to a series of communities across Pennsylvania that were once vibrant but struggle today. The season also features breakout episodes — to dig deeper into the big issues you’re hearing about — with leading economists, sociologists, writers and more. Grapple is produced by Kouvenda Media and Keystone Crossroads — a public media initiative covering both challenges and solutions for distressed cities. Keystone Crossroads is a collaborative reporting project of partner public media stations: WHYY, WITF, WESA and WPSU.
||Episode 18: Coal Miners, No Relic of the Past||Pennsylvania is the nation’s fifth largest coal producer. Counties in the western, central, and even eastern parts of the state are home to coal mines. But far less coal comes out of the ground than it used to. On this episode, we’ll head to southwestern Pennsylvania where coal mining is a strong part of the area’s identity, and find out what some miners there are grappling with. We’ll hear from our reporter Margaret J. Krauss about a mine rescue team, a retired coal miner worried about his future, and a former miner who had to find new work.||5/31/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 17: Grappling with Racial Tension Part 2||In case you missed Part 1, make sure to go back and listen to it first before playing this episode. On Part 2, we’ll try to understand racial tension in York, Pennsylvania, and explore how the area is unique in some ways – but also reflective of other places. We’ll hear a range of perspectives, including from: a white nationalist group, a retired investigator for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and researchers who’ve looked into York’s civil rights history.||5/24/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 16: Grappling with Racial Tension Part 1||In Pennsylvania’s York County, which borders the Mason-Dixon line, racial tension is nothing new. While some isolated incidents took place around the time of the 2016 election, the area has experienced a long history of problems around race relations. On this episode, we’ll hear how one school in the city of York is trying to deal with racial tension; what the area went through during the tumultuous 1960s; and how a hip-hop artist and a local mayor are trying to raise awareness around the issue.||5/24/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 15: What happens when a public school district is underfunded?||Erie, Pennsylvania has public schools that have been underfunded for years. And today, the school district is in a dire situation. Erie’s story raises broader questions about education equality, and to what extent kids can be successful when they go to schools with limited resources. In this episode, you’ll hear from a range of people — including parents, teachers, students, and school officials — about what the impact has been.||5/3/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 14: Immigration, The Rust Belt and the Rise of Donald Trump||On this episode of Grapple, we’ll hear a range of personal stories that speak to some of the intense and passionate feelings around immigration. First, we’ll bring you stories from the northeastern Pennsylvania city of Hazleton, which made news a decade ago for trying to crack down on unauthorized immigrants. We’ll revisit the city’s history and hear from two longtime residents who feel immigrants have taken over their hometown. Then, we’ll tell you an intriguing economic story that traces some of the intense feelings around immigration to the decline of the Rust Belt and rise of Donald Trump. Lastly, we’ll hear the stories of two undocumented chefs working in Philadelphia and how they feel stuck.||4/12/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Preview of New Grapple Episodes Coming Out April 12||Grapple is back with a new round of episodes! We’ll be covering a range of hot-button issues from immigration reform to public school funding and race relations. Listen to our preview and get ready for Episode 14 coming out on April 12th.||4/5/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Bonus Episode: The Music Behind Grapple||If you love the music on Grapple as much as we do, then don’t miss this bonus episode with musicians Tony Trov and Mike Vivas in their recording studio! They talk about how they composed the music for Grapple, who some of their musical influences are, and the sheer fun they had working on this project, including coming up with ridiculous song titles like Scrapple in the Night. Host Naomi Starobin is also joined by our executive producer Stephanie Marudas to talk about the choices she made around scoring the podcast. Check out more episodes of Grapple.||3/22/2017||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 12: Breaking Down a Changing America with Maria Hinojosa and Dan Hopkins||On this episode of Grapple, we’ll talk about immigration and our country’s changing demographics with journalist Maria Hinojosa. We’ll also hear from University of Pennsylvania political scientist Dan Hopkins about what contributes to the rise of anti-immigration politics and how it played out in the 2016 presidential election.||11/16/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 11: Millbourne, Getting Back on Track||On this episode of Grapple, we head to a tiny inner-ring suburb outside of Philadelphia called Millbourne. It’s home to around 1,200 people. You’ll hear about how the closure of a Sears store in 1988 rocked this borough. Today, nearly three decades later, officials are grappling with what to do about the old Sears lot that’s still vacant. At the same time, immigrants primarily from Southeast Asia have increasingly moved into Millbourne over the years because of its affordable housing and convenient public transportation. Check out the photo essay: http://bit.ly/2fv7eve||11/16/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 10: Breaking Down Gentrification with Jackelyn Hwang||Gentrification is a controversial issue playing out in cities across America. What happens when wealthier residents begin to move into a lower-income neighborhood? Who gets to stay, and who doesn’t? In episode 09 of Grapple, we heard about how the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood is on the cusp of change. Residents there are hopeful about a major new development and the potential job opportunities; but they’re also concerned the development could push them out of their community. On this episode, Jackelyn Hwang joins us to discuss some of the latest trends and research around gentrification. Hwang is a postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University, and will join the faculty of Stanford University as an assistant professor of sociology in the fall of 2017.||11/2/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 09: Hazelwood, A Pittsburgh Neighborhood on the Cusp of Change||Episode 09 of Grapple takes you to Hazelwood. It’s a neighborhood in Southeast Pittsburgh that’s only four miles from downtown but hard to get to by public transportation. Besides feeling physically isolated from the rest of the city, residents in Hazelwood have watched other neighborhoods redevelop and cash in on Pittsburgh’s renaissance. But a big change is finally underway in Hazelwood, where a former coke and steel mill site is being turned into a huge site for tech research, commercial use and housing. Check out the photo essay: http://bit.ly/2f7q7EJ||11/2/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||What Are You Grappling With in Your Community?||We’re taking a short break, but will be back with two new episodes of Grapple on Nov. 2. In the meantime, we want to hear from you. Tell us about what issues your community is grappling with. Tweet us at #Grapple, or record a voice memo and email it to us at email@example.com. You might end up on the show! And help us get better at what we do. We love when you send feedback.||10/19/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 08: How American Cities are Making a Comeback with James and Deborah Fallows||We hear a lot of stories about the challenges people in distressed communities are facing, but we also want to hear stories about what communities are doing to come back. On this episode of Grapple, we discuss these ideas with longtime Atlantic magazine writers Deborah and James Fallows. The couple has been traveling around the Unites States for the last three years on a single-engine propeller plane to find out how American cities and towns have been putting themselves back together. Their project is called American Futures.||10/12/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 07: Clairton, Hometown Pride Still Alive in a Declining Steel Town||On this episode of Grapple, you’ll hear reflections from a steel town in the Pittsburgh region. Back in the 1950s, the city of Clairton was booming with about 20,000 residents. But today there are far fewer people living there and fewer job opportunities than before. You’ll hear from someone who used to work at the mill and also from someone who had to leave Clairton to find work elsewhere. Lastly, you’ll hear about the first settler of Clairton and how the family he was part of was woven into Clairton’s history. Check out the photo essay: http://bit.ly/2diQben||10/12/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 06 : Breaking Down the American Dream with Robert Putnam||Is the American Dream still possible? In this episode, we’ll talk with leading American political scientist Robert Putnam about why he thinks the American Dream is in crisis. In his most recent work, Putnam examines our nation’s growing income inequality and opportunity gap compared to the 1950s when he was a kid in an Ohio town along Lake Erie. Putnam is a political scientist at Harvard University and the author of the best-seller, “Bowling Alone.”||10/5/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 05: Scranton, A City That’s Seen Many Come and Go||On this episode of Grapple, we follow a thread of narratives about leaving and staying in Scranton with one of our reporters who’s got a personal connection to the city. Conversations include the ups and downs of business in the area, whether Scranton’s newest immigrants are fitting in, and how cheap housing and little crime could help Scranton grow again. At its peak, this northeastern Pennsylvania city had 140,000 people. Today there are about half that number of people. Historically, Scranton attracted various waves of European immigrants who came to be coal miners, as well as iron and steel workers. But by the 1930s, Scranton started experiencing major economic decline to the point where many left. Including Jane Jacobs who grew up there and went on to become one of the most influential urbanists ever, as we’ll hear. Check out our photo essay: http://bit.ly/2dCvafG||10/5/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 04: Breaking Down Deindustrialization and Urban Distress with Elijah Anderson and Amy Liu||Last time on Grapple, you heard about Chester: a city near Philadelphia that’s struggling with high crime, failing schools and a poor economy. In this episode, you’ll hear from Yale University sociologist Elijah Anderson about the impact of deindustrialization and racism on cities like Chester. You’ll also hear from Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution about what Chester and other similar cities can do to boost their economic health and move forward.||9/28/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 03: Chester, A City Working on a New Narrative||Episode 03 of Grapple takes you to the southeastern Pennsylvania city of Chester, once a thriving industrial center on the Delaware River. Today this small city — which lost nearly half its population — grapples with poverty, failing schools and crime. You’ll hear stories from people who grew up in Chester about how their city has changed over time; a landlord who’s using bright colors to stabilize a neighborhood once overrun with drug trafficking; and a group of investors bringing one of Chester’s oddest-shaped buildings back to life. Plus, you’ll hear how basketball brings the city together and the Chester roots of a rock and roll legend. Check out our photo essay from Chester: http://bit.ly/2d1GZdN||9/28/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 02: Breaking Down Distress in Coal Country with Adam Davidson and Sheryl Gay Stolberg||In episode 02, we dig deeper into the loss of coal with Planet Money co-founder Adam Davidson and hear how other coal regions are creating new economic opportunities with The New York Times’ Mid Atlantic bureau chief Sheryl Gay Stolberg.||9/21/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
||Episode 01: Mahanoy City, The End of Coal Country||On episode 01 of Grapple, we explore how Mahanoy City transformed from a vibrant coal town into a distressed community struggling with job loss, low home values, blight, and fire. You’ll hear stories about how residents have had to deal with house fires, what’s being done about blight, and poetry that captures the town’s coal mining past. Check out our photo essay from Mahanoy City: http://bit.ly/2cDiLVh||9/21/2016||Free||View in iTunes|
Fascinating, evocative & informative
A perfect balance of on-the-ground/in-it voices and commentary from experts, Grapple explores distressed communities in America.
Different, in a good way
Liked the emphasis on real people instead of civic leaders with an agenda. Good sense of what it's really like to live there like the people in Mahanoy City whose houses keep getting burnt down. Future episodes: continue to profile real people and what they're dealing with
Enlightening! Look forward to hearing more episodes. Thank you for this series Keystone Crossroads.