Finding Fertile Ground Podcast
I am fascinated by people, specifically stories of grit, resilience, and connection, and I gather those stories on the Finding Fertile Ground Podcast. I'm particularly interested in providing a platform for underrepresented voices...Black or people of color, immigrants, LBGTQIA+, non-Christian, or women...they tend to have the best stories of grit and resilience!
These numbers reflect the interviews I have conducted so far (including interviews that have been recorded but no yet aired). These numbers were last updated on September 27, 2020.
Do you have a grit and resilience story you'd like to share? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll talk!
2 In recovery
2 Outside the U.S.
You can find the Finding Fertile Ground Podcast on all major Podcast channels and also on YouTube (with captions).
1. Meet resilient refugee Olive Bukuru Kaburu, who fled Burundi with her family when she was just six months old.
In the first episode of the Finding Fertile Ground Podcast, I interview Olive Bukuru Kabura, whose family fled from war-torn Burundi when Olive was just 6 months old. She grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania until she was 10, when her family moved to Oregon. We talked about her experiences in Africa, assimilating to the United States, going back to Tanzania and Burundi a few years ago, Black Lives Matter and racism here, Black Panther, and the incredible resilience of immigrants. Read more about Olive.
2. Meet fierce fighter Skye Leybold, who is living with metastatic breast cancer and finding joy in simple things.
Skye Leybold thought she'd tackled cancer until it came back with a vengeance three and a half years later. Her medical team essentially gave up on her when she went into liver failure, but Skye and her husband were not willing to accept that. Fast-forward to a few years later, and she is surviving and thriving. Read more about Skye.
3. Meet Dennett Edwards, who is paying it forward, driven by her passion to help people.
Dennett's parents divorced when she was young, and she didn't have access to a lot of resources. She ended up dropping out of high school, earning her GED by age 16, and then going on to earn nearly three master's degrees. When COVID-19 hit, she fired up her creativity and began a free online professional network: Corona Daze Professional Development. Read more about Dennett.
4. Meet Dr. Daivati Bharadvaj, who overcame bullying in her teen years to reclaim her power and her Indian heritage.
Daivati’s parents left India and arrived in the United States with $24 and four-year-old Daivati. When she was a teenager, Daivati’s family moved to the Jersey Shore, in a much less diverse community. At the tender age of 13, Daivati experienced bullying, name calling, and a racist attack by a gang of boys. It made her question her value and beauty, and it also made her feel embarrassed of her family, brown skin, and Indian heritage. Somehow Daivati found the grit and strength to sign up for her school talent show and perform an Indian dance before the whole school. She reclaimed her Indian identity and became proud of her heritage. We spoke about racism and xenophobia, COVID-19 as a health care provider, her inspirational parents, and being pregnant during a pandemic. Read more about Daivati.
5. Meet Rabbi Debra Kolodny, a spiritual badass who has been fighting for all sorts of social justice causes since 1981
As executive director of Portland United Against Hate, they've been on the streets for the Portland #BlackLivesMatter movement too. Born in New York, Rabbi Debra (D’vorah) Kolodny (they/them) is a veteran of social justice movements, bringing a spiritual perspective and an activist’s passion to racial and economic justice, women’s, environmental, peace, and LGBTQIA+ causes since 1981. We spoke about social justice, the current protests on the Portland streets, their calling to become a rabbi, how we can stamp out hate in public spaces, and what they find inspiring in their own life. Read more about Rabbi Debra.
Three Men of Color, Redefining Fatherhood
6. Meet Ruben Garcia, a Mexican-American man who grew up working in a migrant labor camp and became the father he never had himself
Ruben was born in Texas to a Mexican family with ten children, an abusive and alcoholic father, and an inattentive and dysfunctional mother. When he was nine, his family moved from New Mexico to a migrant labor camp in Oregon, where he had to work from sunup to sundown picking produce. We talked about racism and prejudice, how he used his own traumatic experiences to help other children affected by trauma, and how he overcame his shame and lack of family or societal support to build a positive life for himself and his own family. Read about Ruben here.
7. Meet Charles Jackson II, a Black man from Florida who is a true leader and connector.
I met Charles on LinkedIn, when he asked if he could interview me about my article, "The Weapons of White Women's Tears." That was just the beginning of a whole series of conversations I've had about race and other vulnerable topics. I will always be grateful to Charles for inspiring me to launch my own podcast. Charles and I had a wonderful conversation about his life, racism and George Floyd, parenting, fathers and sons, leadership, basketball, reading and watching, and grit and resilience. Read about Charles here.
8. Meet Ken Harge, a Black man from Connecticut who is here for something great.
In my final "Three Men of Color, Reinventing Fatherhood" series, I interviewed Ken Harge, who says writing saved his life. Although his childhood lacked love and nurturing, he has transformed himself into becoming a highly creative, grounded, and self-aware person who believes his difficult childhood had a reason. Ken knows he is here for something great. He dropped some profound thoughts about #BlackLivesMatter and policing, men and self-esteem, writing, and other topics during our conversation. Read about Ken here.
Four Badass Black Women
9. Meet Badass Lotus Flower Libra Forde, executive, activist, speaker, former pro basketball player, and single mom.
Libra grew up in Harlem as an only child, but now she loves rural living with her three superpower daughters. She's the chief operations officer at Self-Enhancement, Inc. and the chair of the North Clackamas School District. Libra and I spoke about her work and family, leaving her heart in Hawaii, the death of racism, basketball, and losing her voice and finding it again. Read about my discussion with Libra here.
10. Meet Jewels Pedersen, a Badass Black queer writer/performer and mom of three daughters.
Until she reached the age of 30, Jewels always felt something was a little off with her life. Finally, a friend said to her, "You know, you're gay!" She asked her mom to watch her daughters so she could travel from Georgia to Portland to figure out her life and sexuality. Jewels is my second Badass Black Woman in my four-episode series. In addition to her life, love, and career, we talked about Little House on the Prairie, The Color Purple, anti-racism book groups, living as a Black queer woman in Vancouver, and sundown towns. Read about Jewels here.
11. Meet Jackie-Capers Brown, a leadership coach who has risen up from unimaginable griefs and challenges.
I met Jackie in June when she interviewed me for her “Level Up Your Life” podcast. (Her interview of me will air on Friday, September 4.) When she asked me about my theme song, I answered without pausing, “Rise Up” by Andra Day. Jackie excitedly told me it was her theme song too.If anyone has risen up “in spite of the ache” to “move mountains,” it’s Jackie Capers-Brown. Learning of Jackie’s incredible story of grit and resilience and discussing this song with her planted the seed in me to start the Finding Fertile Ground podcast. Read about Jackie here.
12. Meet Raina Casey, death doula and survivor.
Raina has an extensive grit story, but we were barely able to scratch the surface because I wanted to learn about her experience as a death doula. Raina shares an amusing story of how she first got interested in death and dying, along with why she's passionate about her work and her son (who is on the autism spectrum), and how cannabis can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Read about Raina here.
13. Meet Sankar Raman, collector of immigrant stories.
Sankar immigrated to the U.S. from India to attend graduate school. After a successful career in high tech, he founded and leads The Immigrant Story, a nonprofit organization that fosters empathy and builds a more inclusive community by sharing immigrant stories. We had a lively conversation about India, xenophobia, food, photography, and storytelling. Read more about Sankar here.
14. Meet Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame, Reformed Whores and feminist musical comics.
If Dolly Parton & Flight of the Conchords got drunk and had a baby, you'd get the hilariously irreverent NYC-based musical comedy duo Reformed Whores! When they're not sharing their "magnificently bawdy celebration of female sexuality” (Broadway Baby) and empowering women, normalizing the female experience, and busting a few guts, they are cohosting the Difficult Women podcast. The podcast is a fantastic combination of current affairs, feminism, social justice, and funny, irreverent conversation—plus a lovely blend of women’s friendship. Read more about Katy and Marie here. You won't want to miss this one, but it does contain adult content.
15. Meet Farheen Raza, unapologetic modern Muslim woman.
Farheen Raza is host of Authentic & Unfiltered with Farheen. She survived COVID-19 this past spring, although it took three testing attempts (the final, correct one administered by her physician husband) to get the diagnosis. We talked about her bout with COVID, what it's like to be Muslim in America after 9/11, the movie "Cuties," and parenting three boys. Read more about Farheen here.
16. Listen to my own grit and resilience story.
Born with a cleft lip and palate and a club foot, I have continued to face obstacles and embrace challenges in my life. I've had multiple surgeries, endured adolescent bullying and trauma, had a grand adventure by going off to live in Japan and meeting the love of my life there, and traveled through Asia sometimes solo. Then I had my first child born at just 24 weeks and survived a 117-day NICU stay and faced four miscarriages before going on to have two more kids. In 2012 I had a rare growth in my ear called a cholesteatoma and had to have four more surgeries. And then I had my job eliminated two years in a row...which made me realize I was done working in toxic environments and it was time to follow my own dreams! Read more about my story here.
17. Meet Miguel Ochoa Castellanos and April Brenden-Locke, whose lives were both changed through education in Chiapas
It's always so much fun to interview people I have known for years and discover new things about them. April has such a fascinating story about visiting Hogar Infantil when she was 15 and leaving her heart there...and refinding it again there in her 40s. And Miguel is a wonder, having been raised by a single mom who took him to Hogar as a nine-year-old, and turning his life into a great success. They both credit Hogar as changing their lives in big ways. Read more here.
18. Meet Dr. Kris Gowen, who grieved her best friend's death by singing karaoke on a road trip through every U.S. state
Kris is not only on the U.S. national karaoke team, but she is also a sex educator. We talked about friendship, grief, and sex! Kris is cofounder of Beyond the Talk, the sex ed you wish you had. Read more here.