A national blind spot toward rural and working-class America is driving misleading headlines, broken politics, and dangerous fissures in our social fabric. The Homecomers with Sarah Smarsh brings you stories of folks who, as residents or advocates, remain committed to their complex, embattled homes. Join Sarah in conversation with six champions of places that society would have them “get out” of—“homecomers” preserving and strengthening the vibrancy of small towns, rural lands, and misunderstood communities that headlines say are dying. Read the release here.
THE PRODUCTION TEAM
Sarah Smarsh, Host and Executive Producer
From: Kingman County, Kansas
Current home: Wichita, Kansas
Sarah Smarsh is a 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 2018 National Book Award. A recent Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Sarah is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality and rural America.
Jesse Brenneman, Audio Editor
From: Kalispell, Montana
Current home: Missoula, Montana
Jesse Brenneman is a radio producer and journalist. After nearly a decade in New York City, where he was a producer for WNYC’s On the Media, he returned home to Montana in 2018, where he has been independently producing audio content. Recent projects include producing the third season of The Atlantic’s Crazy/Genius podcast and scoring three episodes of the Spoke Media podcast Family Ghosts. In June of 2019, Jesse won a Mirror Award for his On the Media episode, “Face the Racist Nation,” produced with The Guardian’s Lois Beckett. He hopes to continue to produce material that challenges the narrow perspective of mainstream media outlets and fosters local media and culture.
Daniel Hart, Composer
From: Emporia, Kansas
Current home: Los Angeles, California
Daniel Hart is a creator and performer of music for both the stage and screen. His band, Dark Rooms, has toured the US and Europe extensively over the past six years, and Daniel has composed the scores for SMILF, S-Town, Old Man & the Gun, Heroin(e), Pete’s Dragon, Netflix’s The Society, and other projects.
Tameika Pittman, Web Designer
From: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Current home: Brooklyn, New York
Tameika Pittman is a web and digital designer who resides in Brooklyn, New York. She believes in simple and effective digital design combined with an easy user experience, and she designed this website with the MESH design studio in collaboration with Shaun Dover as developer, directed by Megan Bullock. Tameika graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a BS in visual communication design and honed her digital design skills working with nonprofits, including Equality AZ and the Arizona Humane Society.
Angie Pickman, Illustrator
From: Atchison, Kansas
Current home: Kansas City, Kansas
Angie Pickman is a nationally recognized cut-paper artist who combines the art of traditional paper cutting with collage to create intricately detailed works of art and animations. Her work is heavily inspired by her love of nature and the tranquility of the terrain of rural Kansas. She has been featured in Martha Stewart Living and Midwest Living magazines, and her animation work premiered on PBS in 2016 in the documentary Daughters of the Forest. Angie has won numerous awards for her work, including an Independent Music Award for album art.
Kendra Bozarth, Communications Manager
From: Lawrence, Kansas
Current home: Jersey City, New Jersey
Kendra Bozarth is the communications director and editor at the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank that promotes progressive economic and political reforms. Previously, she worked on state budget and tax policy in Kansas, where her commitment to equality, justice, and inclusion was strengthened. The daughter of a United States Air Force veteran, Kendra has lived in many places both in the US and abroad—but Kansas is where she claims home.
Brian Flood, Audio Mixer
Paulina Nava, Spanish Translator
The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years, it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 45 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care, and it is the largest philanthropy focused solely on health. The foundation is working alongside others to build a national “culture of health” that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy is a Harvard University research center dedicated to exploring and illuminating the intersection of press, politics, and public policy in theory and practice. The center strives to bridge the gap between journalists and scholars, and between them and the public. Through teaching and research at the Kennedy School of Government and its program of visiting fellows, conferences, and initiatives, the center is at the forefront of its area of inquiry.