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, and don't miss this moving conversation. Olive is amazing.
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, and listen to the conversation here.
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, and listen to the conversation here.
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, and listen to the conversation here.
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 about Rabbi Debra, and listen to the conversation here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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 and listen to the podcast here or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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 and listen to the podcast here or wherever you listen to podcasts.