Sports in Society — Featured Episode

Deconstructing superstitions and rituals in sports

Athletes and fans have an affinity for participating in rituals in sports where strange habits can be the difference between success and failure.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 4 mins
Don't turn away the goat

Throwing powder towards the sky, kissing a necklace, wearing a favorite jersey — these are just a few of the superstitions or rituals athletes, coaches and fans incorporate on game days.

Read 4 mins
How the strangest sport superstitions propel great athletes—and fans

Superstitions in sports are vital aspects of athletic rituals and can often provide a mental edge in terms of wins and losses.

Listen 8 mins
A two-time Olympic skier’s search for the smell of success

Many athletes have tried to invoke “the zone,” but when former freestyle mogul skier Michelle Roark was training for the Olympics, she turned visualization into a science. Roark concocted an original fragrance to wear and refocus her energy on the slopes, which would become her signature ski scent.

The Workplace — Featured Episode

Chief change-makers

The role of chief diversity officer is becoming the latest addition to the C-suite. How does this change lead to more diversity in corporate America?

In this episode 3 stories

Read 5 mins
Chief diversity officers are facing the challenge of shifting corporate culture

More corporations are hiring chief diversity officers to increase diversity and inclusion efforts. Experts weigh in on what it takes for long-term success.

Watch 7 mins
Racial awakening leads to organizational introspection, action

University of Maryland-Baltimore’s Chief Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer and Vice President Diane Forbes Berthoud sees her job as one that fosters strategies to generate empathy for others and benefits students, faculty and the surrounding community.

Listen 8 mins
Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just about counting numbers

After racial uprisings last May, companies rushed to hire chief of diversity officers, making it one of the fastest-growing positions in the previous year. So how does this change lead to even more diversity from the executive level to the front lines?

Dimensions of Health — Featured Episode

Defying age and staying active

Physical activity over the age of 50 can be challenging to most. But some continue to compete well after their prime years to maintain health and accomplish life-long goals.

In this episode 4 stories

Read 10 mins
'A terrible idea'

A Colorado photojournalist’s birthday celebration plan required rehabilitating a torn rotator cuff to navigate 100 miles of unforgiving backcountry trails with no support. What could go wrong?

Read 6 mins
At 50, she tackled a lifelong dream of hiking more than 2,000 miles

After surviving two life-threatening accidents, Gwen Buchanan completed the Appalachian Trail.

Read 5 mins
Fast and fit after 50

Growing older can lead to limitations on the field of play, but more people are embracing the physical challenges and competing at 50 and beyond.

Listen 6 mins
The bond of cha-cha, dip and twisting together

Before the pandemic, a group of older Nashvillians founded a free line dancing class at the Hadley Park Community Center. The bonds they’ve formed there have helped them overcome the health issues and isolation that many seniors experience. And now, support from this community is giving the dancers strength to face the uncertainty of this year.

Identity — Featured Episode

Challenging beauty standards

The body-positivity movement champions acceptance by promoting self-confidence and eschewing stigma.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 8 mins
Spreading acceptance, positivity on social media

A California businesswoman, Reagan Campbell, uses her @reaganbaylee TikTok and Instagram accounts to challenge assumptions about appearances and advocate for people with facial birthmarks.

Read 4 mins
Acceptance of all sizes has become a rallying cry

Evolving body-positivity movement champions appreciation of people’s bodies, regardless of how much they weigh. Grassroots efforts are playing a crucial role.

Listen 9 mins
Representation in plus-size modeling

Steven Green became the center of attention when a photo of him modeling for Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty went viral. Steven talks about being in the spotlight and the importance of body inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry.

Identity — Featured Episode

Signing while Black

Efforts to preserve and bring attention to the richness of Black American Sign Language — and Black culture and identity — is gaining more traction.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 2 mins
Differences big and small in BASL reflect Black culture, history

Languages reflect the groups that use them — sign language is no different. While some elements of Black American Sign Language adhere more closely to traditional American Sign Language, others arose from historical and cultural influences.

Read 8 mins
Strong but not silent: Black Deaf culture stakes its claim

Intersectional discrimination necessitated the birth of Black American Sign Language. But the vibrant culture that sprang forth from it continues to sustain a new generation of scholars, influencers and everyday people.

Listen 7 mins
Sign language with swagger

Casandra Xavier, who is deaf-blind, turned her frustrations around being marginalized into advocacy. She shares the nuances of Black American Sign Language and disability legislation she’s fighting for in Massachusetts.

The Great Rural — Featured Episode

America's sanitation problem

Poor sanitation affects thousands — a growing number of people are dedicated to fixing the issue.

In this episode 3 stories

View
Clean water and sanitation problems plague Native and rural U.S. communities

Lack of access to clean water and proper waste management have spiked in the past decade, especially in rural areas of the U.S.

Read 6 mins
Cows — yes, cows — could help protect the water we drink

In Wisconsin’s farming communities, agriculture and septic systems are contaminating drinking water. Conservation farmers are demonstrating that agriculture can help protect the environment.

Listen 7 mins
Small town battles 50 years of unchecked flooding issues

Every time it rains in Centreville, Illinois, it floods. Residents’ yards fill with stormwater, toilet paper, and even raw sewage. Meet some of the people who are trying to do something about this recurring public health and human rights disaster — just a 15-minute drive outside St. Louis.

The Great Rural — Featured Episode

Made by hand

Precision and pride are reflected in artisans’ handcrafted objects.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 6 mins
Unbridled passions infuse crafters' works of art

Production of Western-influenced items — from bits and spurs to textiles — keep artisans busy and content.

Watch 3 mins
The shepherd's crook

George MacDonald has been hand-making shepherd’s crooks at his farm, Ewesfull Acres, for the last 30 years using unique material like Scottish blackface ram’s horns, water buffalo horn, and hazelnut branches harvested on his farm.

Listen 12 mins
More women are carving out a space in woodworking

Custom furniture maker and instructor Larissa Huff believes it’s a good time for women in the field. ‘The internet has brought us together in a way that I don’t think anybody’s ever seen,’ she says.

The Workplace — Featured Episode

Women in gaming

After years of exclusion from the male-dominated gaming industry, women are proving why representation matters.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 3 mins
Who plays video games vs. who's in them

Almost half of all gamers today are female, but the protagonists in most games don’t reflect that demographic.

Read 9 mins
Bringing a woman's perspective to gaming

Women are disrupting the traditional boys’ club of the video game industry and pushing for more diverse voices in creative design and in the boardroom.

Listen 7 mins
Designing games with equality and impartiality

Amanda Kirk is a game designer with over a decade of experience in the industry. She’s seen firsthand what it means to be underrepresented in her career.

Sports in Society — Featured Episode

Passing it down

Parents use outdoor sports to guide their children in learning about the world and aid in their growth.

In this episode 4 stories

Read 5 mins
Strengthening family bonds through the love of trail riding

For some families, trail riding has become a tradition that’s beneficial to maintaining health and familial connections.

Read 4 mins
Why surfing is ritualistic for one California family

A mother of four teaches her kids life lessons through the family tradition of surfing.

Listen 7 mins
On the hunt for the perfect 300

Tim Eaton and his son love bowling — and they are regularly on a quest for the “perfect game,” or the highest possible score, in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

Watch 6 mins
Life and the art of fly fishing

For Mindy Blair, sharing her passion for fly fishing with her kids provides wisdom on staying present and overcoming obstacles.

Dimensions of Health — Featured Episode

Fighting period poverty

For homeless and poverty-stricken people, tending to menstrual health and hygiene is rife with challenges.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 6 mins
Challenging the crisis of menstrual equity

Inadequate access to hygiene products force millions of American people to suffer during their menstrual cycle. The Chicago Period Project raises awareness to eliminate period poverty.

Listen 8 mins
Ending period poverty, one stall at a time

More than 4 in 5 teens have either missed class time or know a classmate who missed class time because they did not have access to period products. Two high school students were on a mission to change that.

Watch 5 mins
How one nonprofit battles period poverty

No More Secrets, an organization in Philadelphia, delivers three to five months’ worth of menstrual hygiene products to those who can’t afford them, including local residents and beyond.
Video courtesy of “You Oughta Know” from WHYY-TV.

Sports in Society — Featured Episode

The costs to play

Economic inequality and the costs of playing sports are affecting low- and middle-income families.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 4 mins
Paying by the costly rules of youth sports

Growing economic inequality and dwindling school budgets are creating barriers for kids who want to participate in organized sports. A school in Houston is aiming to narrow the gap and give their kids a shot on the field.

Watch 9 mins
Golfer works to broaden her sport’s reach

Mackenzie Mack is bringing golf to a wider range of youth, particularly those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Listen 11 mins
Free sports equipment helps low-income kids get in the game

A Maryland physical education teacher was struggling with a bare-bones equipment budget, and a college equipment manager based in New York saw extra gear collecting dust. Problem, meet solution.

Identity — Featured Episode

Redefining Asian representation in comedy

Asian comedians are finding their voices, attracting wide audiences, and breaking new ground.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 8 mins
How one artist confronts racial slurs with humor

Kazua Melissa Vang talks about why community building is important to her as a filmmaker, photographer and artist and how she uses her alter ego to tackle Asian hate.

Read 6 mins
Unapologetic, brazen and funny: Esther Ku's path to comedy success

An emerging comedian thrives on pushing boundaries while addressing Asian stereotypes.

Listen 10 mins
Prioritizing joy, humor, laughter — and badassery

Members of the Twin Cities-based comedy group FAWK (Funny Asian Women Kollective) Saymoukda Vongsay and May Lee-Yang, along with Chicago-based comedian Elizabeth Gomez, share how they created a space for Asian women comedians free of censorship and reflect on the recent anti-Asian violence.

The Workplace — Featured Episode

Holidays revisited

Public support for more culturally and religiously inclusive holidays has been gaining ground in the workplace and beyond.

In this episode 3 stories

View
Capturing American holidays

In her long-term project, documentary photographer Julia Gillard explores what American holidays tell us about ourselves as a country.

Read 7 mins
How inclusive holidays strengthen the workplace

A diversity, equity and inclusion expert weighs in on how learning and celebrating diverse holidays can bring us closer to our friends, family and colleagues.

Listen 11 mins
Annette Gordon-Reed on the meaning of Juneteenth

This summer, Juneteenth became a national holiday. Harvard professor Annette Gordon-Reed’s recent memoir ‘On Juneteenth’ explores the holiday’s significance and her own childhood memories celebrating Juneteenth in Texas.

Dimensions of Health — Featured Episode

Plenty of room for improvement

Diagnoses, whether determined by patients or medical practitioners, are subject to error.

In this episode 3 stories

Listen 15 mins
Woman suffers 13 years without a diagnosis, only to find out she’s a ‘textbook case’

Talia El-Zaatari was told her pain was ‘all in her head’ until surgery revealed a disease common for 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.

Read 1 mins
3 sites for self-diagnosing medical ills

Symptom checkers can arm people with information before a doctor’s visit, but experts point to a downside: a high probability for misdiagnosis. Here are the highest-ranked online tools for finding out what ails you.

Read 4 mins
Swipe, tap and diagnose. Simple as that, right?

Alone and afraid, an American college student studying abroad turned to the internet for answers about a host of increasingly painful and alarming symptoms. At first, she concluded it was Covid-19. More searches, and a doctor’s visit, revealed the truth.

Identity — Featured Episode

Reframing Black fatherhood

The complex journey of challenging assumptions and revealing the truth about Black fatherhood

In this episode 2 stories

Watch 11 mins
Fatherly life lessons

From time spent with offspring to using individual approaches to raising each child, four Black fathers discuss and reflect the lessons they received and have learned while raising their children.

Listen 13 mins
On listening: A father’s lesson in storytelling

iPondr contributor Courtney Scott honors her late father, William Barry Scott Sr., with an intergenerational story of deep listening.

Identity — Featured Episode

Places that play well with others

More communities are creating inclusive playgrounds — places where children of different abilities can interact on a level playing field.

In this episode 3 stories

Watch 4 mins
Advocating for inclusive playgrounds in Alabama

Even after the death in 2017 of her daughter, Braelynn, who had special needs, Veronica Thompson-Ware continues to advocate for inclusive park space in her Birmingham, Ala., community.

Read 9 mins
One mother’s quest to unite a community

When a playground divided her family, this mom designed one herself, with kindness and inclusion in mind. In the process, she addressed the real needs of kids and parents striving to create a society that wants to play together.

Listen 11 mins
A playground for Dorian - and everyone

In an isolated world, Dustin Willis’ family found connection, visibility, and belonging at an inclusive park in Los Angeles.

Sports in Society — Featured Episode

Abandoning offensive mascots

Getting rid of Native-themed team names and promotional images in sports has been an uphill battle but decades of sustained efforts are paying off.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 8 mins
Efforts to halt Native-themed names, imagery gain traction

The use of Native American names and imagery is under national debate. Many educational institutions and some professional sports franchises have abandoned offensive mascots, while some colleges retain official partnerships with tribes.

Listen 9 mins
Ban opens door to education, conversation and healing

Washington state Rep. Debra Lekanoff talks about banning Native mascots in schools, the importance of bringing Native and American communities together, and educating others about Native American culture.

View
Highlights of the progress to rid sports of hurtful images

Decades of protest against racist stereotypes have led to mascot changes in high school, college and professional sports. In 2020, the Washington Football Team finally succumbed to the pressure to drop its controversial team name, in use since 1933.

Identity — Featured Episode

Abiding Faith

More than a year after the start of the global pandemic, believers reflect on the power of prayer.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 5 mins
Religious invocations render aid and comfort amid crisis

With public worship curtailed, personal devotions strengthen believers’ faith in the power of prayer to help them through these anxious times. ‘I’ve seen people’s spiritual lives deepen’ during the pandemic, noted one high-profile Christian author.

Watch 6 mins
In this 'new normal,' these prayers encourage and uplift

During the pandemic, religious scholars and authors from myriad denominations provided words of prayer ranging from entreaties for overall well-being to specific themes, such as intercessions for nursing home residents and ‘the new normal to come.’

Listen 8 mins
Man’s faith sustained him through dad’s Covid-19 battle

When Faran Ahmad’s father was hospitalized with the coronavirus, he turned to prayer for comfort, finding peace in his connection to Allah, and ultimately, to extended family members living in Pakistan.

The Great Rural — Featured Episode

Activism in Rural America

When the fight for racial equality intensified, activists in small towns let their voices be heard.

In this episode 3 stories

Read 7 mins
The big impact of small-town activism

Activists in rural America take part in the movement for justice and equality.

View
Protests aren’t an urban occurrence only

Rural areas were part of a year that saw widespread protests and demonstrations across the U.S.

Listen 8 mins
'We protest with love'

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Bridgette Craighead of Rocky Mount, Virginia, started organizing protests in her small town.

Points of View — Featured Episode

A portrait of George Floyd Square

Local photographers reflect on a year of George Floyd Square.

In this episode 4 stories

View
Memorial becomes space for activism, healing and hope

In the past year, George Floyd Square has become the heart center of a movement, and a community. Local Black photographers have been documenting what the space has meant, and continues to mean.

Read 3 mins
'This isn’t a sprint. We’re in a marathon'

Irna Landrum, who lives near George Floyd Square, shares with photographer Nina Robinson how she is living through this historic moment.

Read 1 mins
Tender moment disrupts Black fatherhood narrative

Photographer Patience Zalanga describes what she saw in this quiet moment in George Floyd Square, and what it can teach us.

Read 1 mins
My son wonders if George Floyd memorial will live on

Photographer Kyndell Harkness reflects on bringing her son, William, to George Floyd Square in June 2020.

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