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It's a Long Story
episode archive

#44 - Marwa al-Sabouni

When the war in Syria was tearing apart their home city of Homs, architect Marwa Al-Sabouni and her husband made the decision to stay there with their two young children, rather than to become refugees. In her memoir, The Battle for Home, she writes about the experience of continuing daily life in a battle zone, and of the importance of architecture in determining the fates of cities. Marwa’s work now is concerned with the impact of conflict on urban environments, and the possibilities that can emerge from rebuilding. She believes architecture can play an essential role in strengthening communities, and in healing her country.

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#43 - Mark Lynas

Back in his student days, science writer and journalist Mark Lynas was one of the first and loudest voices of the anti-GMO movement. He wrote some of the most-read articles about genetically modified organisms, led protests, and may or may not have coined the term “Frankenfood”. But then he really looked into the science of GMO, and did a full 180. In a world-famous speech in 2013, Mark retracted his earlier views, and apologised for having destroyed GM crops. He’s since worked with smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa who, use GMO to better cope with pests, diseases and droughts. He is still an activist, but now he forefronts science in his activism.

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#42 - Raj Patel

What do you do when you decide at the age of seven that the world is an unfair place and you need to try and change it? Raj Patel’s career has been dedicated to ending inequality. From studying philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, London School of Economics and Cornell, to learning about the inner workings of the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank as an intern, Raj was always going to be an activist. His writing about capitalism and contemporary politics is globablly influential, and he continues to look for ways to change the political and economic systems that we live in.

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#41 - Barbara Kingsolver

How might literature change the world? American author Barbara Kingsolver has been asking this question through her best-selling novels and essays for years. After a self-described ‘curious childhood’ split between rural Appalachia and remote global locations where her doctor father was posted, she developed an independent spirit and an unshakeable love for the natural world. This passion manifested as activism during her biology degree, but despite becoming a scientist, it was literature than ultimately won out. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

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#40 - Mandy Len Catron

There’s a widespread assumption that we are all are better off in relationships, and Mandy Len Catron has been aware of the throwaway truisms about love since her childhood in rural Appalachian Virginia. But when the reality of life fell short of these idealised, feminine notions, Mandy turned to science to explore other narratives. Following the research, she wrote 'To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This' for the New York Times, offering the tantalising answer to one of life’s biggest questions: just how do we fall in love? This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

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#39 - CN Lester

There aren’t many places where we aren’t boxed in to strict categories. For English singer-songwriter CN Lester, music has always provided a safe space where these restrictions don’t apply. Raised in London by a family that encouraged them to think outside traditional gender roles, CN, who is gender queer and uses the pronoun they, grew up to be a committed activist. Now, they also run a queer performance night in London that has the salient motto: Don’t make assumptions. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

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#38 - Rebecca Walker

The daughter of Alice Walker, who wrote the African-American classic The Color Purple, and Melvyn Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer, Rebecca Walker’s intersecting and sometimes jarring identities were the foundation of her career. Rebecca’s work has always been a response to her personal situation, be it family, identity, becoming a mother, masculinity, race, Buddhism, or a combination of all of these, and she has developed a strong and compelling ethos about what it means to live a feminist life in an ever-changing world. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Edwina Throsby.

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#37 - Kate Bolick

As a middle-class girl from a happy family, Kate Bolick’s life was on track: go to college, get a job, and then, become a wife. But after losing her mother, Kate began to question this predictable trajectory. In 2011, when she was in her thirties and still unmarried, Kate wrote an article that wove together her personal story with an economic analysis of singledom in the 21st Century. It was called All the Single Ladies and it became an online sensation. It served as the catalyst for Kate’s first book called Spinster: Making a life of one’s own. The memoir reflects on the intergenerational lessons and legacies of feminism, and is a call to arms for autonomous women everywhere.

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#37 - Kate Bolick

As a middle-class girl from a happy family, Kate Bolick’s life was on track: go to college, get a job, and then, become a wife. But after losing her mother, Kate began to question this predictable trajectory. In 2011, when she was in her thirties and still unmarried, Kate wrote an article that wove together her personal story with an economic analysis of singledom in the 21st Century. It was called All the Single Ladies and it became an online sensation. It served as the catalyst for Kate’s first book called Spinster: Making a life of one’s own. The memoir reflects on the intergenerational lessons and legacies of feminism, and is a call to arms for autonomous women everywhere.

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#36 - Fran Lebowitz

Growing up in the small community of Mimili in South Australia, Zaachariaha Fielding always knew he wanted to entertain. Moving to the city as a teenager, he quickly became a part of Adelaide’s music scene, before trying his hand on the reality TV show The Voice. But it’s in the duo Electric Fields where Zaachariaha has really begun to thrive. Crossing genres like soul, pop and electronica, the musical partnership with Michael Ross has led him to massive stages all around Australia and the world, and in 2017 they scored Best New Talent at the NIMA Awards. From intimate soulful odes to uplifting songs in Pitjantjara language, Electric Fields have become an unmissable part of any lineup. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Emily Nicol.

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#35 - Zaachariaha Fielding

Growing up in the small community of Mimili in South Australia, Zaachariaha Fielding always knew he wanted to entertain. Moving to the city as a teenager, he quickly became a part of Adelaide’s music scene, before trying his hand on the reality TV show The Voice. But it’s in the duo Electric Fields where Zaachariaha has really begun to thrive. Crossing genres like soul, pop and electronica, the musical partnership with Michael Ross has led him to massive stages all around Australia and the world, and in 2017 they scored Best New Talent at the NIMA Awards. From intimate soulful odes to uplifting songs in Pitjantjara language, Electric Fields have become an unmissable part of any lineup. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Emily Nicol.

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#34 - Irish Mythen

Irish Mythen has always had a love for the road. Moving as a kid from the south-east coast of Ireland to Africa and the Middle East, the sights, sounds and stories of these places inspired her. Like any good troubadour, she’s since traveled extensively, gathering tales and meeting people. Since then, Irish has built a strong following on the international folk music circuit, opening for the likes of Melissa Etheridge and Rod Stewart and taking the stage at some of Australia’s biggest festivals like Bluesfest and Woodford. .This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Emily Nicol.

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#33 - Airileke Ingram

Raised between Darwin and his ancestral home of Gabagaba in Papua New Guinea, Airileke Ingram was drumming from a young age. His grandfather taught him traditional techniques, igniting a love for percussion that led to a world tour with the Australian Youth Orchestra. Since then, Airileke has played with some of our most prominent Indigenous musicians, soundtracked a Hollywood film and scored an ARIA nomination. But it’s his passion for making community through music that really drives Airileke. This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Emily Nicol.

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#32 - Tamika Mallory

Tamika Mallory has been protesting pretty much her entire life. From joining Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network age 15 to working with the Obama administration on gun control legislation. As the national co-chair of the Women's March on Washington, Tamika proved that women are at the centre of the resistance against the Trump presidency.  This episode of It's a Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#31 - Shashi Tharoor

Born in North Korea in 1993, Yeonmi Park grew up in a society devoted to ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-Il. As a child she regularly came across dead bodies on the street and spent months at a time without electricity. In 2007, Yeonmi and her mother escaped into China, but were captured and sold to human traffickers. This episode of It’s a Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#30 - Inua Ellams

Born in Nigeria to a Muslim father and a Christian mother, Inua Ellems fled with his family at age 12 to the UK. Inua spent his life creating art, writing poetry, and going on long walks through the city. While everyone else was sleeping, he was searching for some sense of identity. This episode of It’s a Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#29 - Yeonmi Park

Born in North Korea in 1993, Yeonmi Park grew up in a society devoted to ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong-Il. As a child she regularly came across dead bodies on the street and spent months at a time without electricity. In 2007, Yeonmi and her mother escaped into China, but were captured and sold to human traffickers. This episode of It’s a Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#28 - Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

Growing up in New Jersey Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was a pretty normal kid. Then 9/11 happened and life changed forever. She spent her teenage years navigating growing racism and Islamophobia in America, and at the age of 17 she founded the blog Muslim Girl. The site gave young Muslim women a platform to discuss everything from periods to politics. This episode is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#27 – Eve Ensler

One evening in 1996, the basement of the Cornelia Street Café in New York’s Greenwich Village came alive when Eve Ensler performed The Vagina Monologues for the very first time. Since then, her play has been translated into 48 languages and presented in over 140 countries. In the 20 years that have passed since the premiere, Eve has gone on to write many more plays and books and started global political movements. This episode is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#26 – Janet Mock

An HBO Documentary, two best-selling memoirs, pop culture cover stories, beauty columns, speaking engagements, essays, social media—Janet Mock is doing it all. And at the same time, she's eager to expand beyond her personal experience and share the platform that she has built with others in her community who may not be as fortunate. Janet is arguably one of the most influential transwomen working in media and is using every tool available to her to tell the stories that shift and challenge preconceived notions about what is possible for transpeople. This episode of It's A Long Story is hosted by Marc Fennell.

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#25 – Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich (Camp Cope)

A kitchen in Melbourne's Footscray provided the humble origins for Camp Cope's Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, Georgia Maq and Sarah Thompson. Since joining forces in 2015, the trio haven't wasted a second of their time in the spotlight, using their newfound influence to launch the #ItTakesOne campaign. Aimed at stopping harassment of women at live music gigs, Hellmrich has said of the project: “We have a platform now where people listen to us so we want to give back to other people who don’t have a stage to speak on.”

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#24 - Izzi Manfredi (The Preatures)

Since she was a kid there never any doubt in Izzi Manfredi's mind that she wanted to make music, a dream that was finally realised when she met Jack Moffitt and Thomas Champion at uni. And together they formed The Preatures. Influenced by The Beatles, Divinyls and The Pretenders, the band achieved international success with their 2013 track ‘Is This How You Feel.’ The band just released Girlhood, a distinctly personal album that draws on stories from Izzi's own childhood and adolescence.

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#23 - Nai Palm

The Hiatus Kaiyote frontwoman has recently been flying solo, with her debut album Needle Paw soon to be released. In spite of a turbulent childhood, she took solace in nature, in animals and in music, growing into the independent spirit and curious soul that has enchanted such artists as Erykah Badu, Animal Collective, Questlove and the late, great Prince.

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#22 - Briggs

Briggs is a rapper, comedian, actor, writer and fearless social critic. A proud Yorta Yorta man from regional Victoria, he took out the Australian Music Prize this year as half of the hip hop duo A.B. Original for their debut album Reclaim Australia, as well as appearing in the ABC's groundbreaking supernatural drama Cleverman and becoming a regular on satirical news programme The Weekly with Charlie Pickering. Pressure of the Hilltop Hoods described him as “the most self-motivated dude I've ever met”.

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#21 - Brian Reed  

S-Town's rich and thoughtful storytelling captured the attention of audiences from around the world. Brian Reed, its host and co-creator, originally set out to find a new story for This American Life. Instead, he spent three years investigating the life and tribulations of small town Alabama resident John B. McLemore. The podcast captured audiences with the twists and turns of life in Bibb County, presenting an audio story akin to great literature.

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#20 - Thordis Elva 

Award-winning writer, journalist and public speaker, Thordis Elva was voted Woman of the Year in her native Iceland for her tireless campaigning for gender equality. She believes in ending the silence that still shrouds sexual violence, of which she is a survivor, and sees dialogue as a means of healing. She has long researched the effect of forgiveness in human relationships, an interest which took her across the globe and into the depths of her own heart, resulting in the book South of Forgiveness which she wrote with Tom Stranger.

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#19 - Mei Fong

Mei Fong is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who covered China for the Wall Street Journal for many years. Her book, "One Child", the story of China's most radical experiment details the repercussions of the one-child policy. Originally implemented to kerb population growth, the one-child policy resulted in immense suffering and hundreds of thousands of infant deaths. By the time the government announced it was ending the policy in 2015, China had a surplus of 33 million men and population numbers that were dropping drastically.

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#18 - Jessa Crispin

Has contemporary feminism grown so tame, cowardly and irrelevant that it barely challenges the status quo? Have feminists traded liberation for acceptance? What will it take to wake the movement up? In a fearless call for revolution, Jessa Crispin demands more of feminism - nothing less than the total dismantling of a system of oppression.

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#17 - Janine Di Giovanni

Janine Di Giovanni is an author, foreign correspondent and the Middle East editor at Newsweek. Di Giovanni has written several books: Ghosts by Daylight: A Memoir of War and LoveThe Place at the End of the World: Essays from the EdgeAgainst the Stranger, about the effect of occupations during the first intifada on both Palestinians and Israelis; The Quick and The Dead, about the siege of Sarajevo, and the introduction to the best-selling Zlata's Diary, about a child growing up in Sarajevo.

She spoke to Ann Mossop at All About Women 2017

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#16 - Giulia Enders

What if the key to living a happier, healthier life is already inside of us?

Inquisitive and talented microbiology student and bestselling author Giulia Enders explores one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy – the gut.

Giulia spoke to the host of Season Three of It’s A Long Story Ann Mossop about how she grew up to be a world expert on poo – and what the relationship is between the digestive system and the brain. 

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#15 - Geena Davis

Geena Davis has a rare insight into Hollywood and the global film industry – and she knows how far we still need to travel before girls can see the variety of women they want to become in the films they watch, the shows they stream and the media they absorb every day.

Recorded at the fifth annual All About Women in March 2017, movie star and gender equality activist Geena Davis spoke to the curator of the festival Ann Mossop about the representation of women and girls in film and television today.

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#14 - Josh Thomas

Josh Thomas was the youngest comedian to win RAW Comedy festival at the age of 17. Since then, he has gone on to become the creator, co-executive producer and star of ABC TV’s hit show Please Like MeIn this last episode of Season Two of It’s A Long Story, Josh spoke to Hamish Macdonald about comedy, undiagnosed ADHD and coming out at the age of 20. 

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#13 - Gretel Killeen

Gretel Killeen is an Australian presenter, comedian and author who is known as the voice of Sydney’s train network Cityrail and as the host of Big Brother Australia.

Gretel spoke to Hamish Macdonald about growing up as a high achiever, her first comedy gig and being a ‘hopeless celebrity’. 

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#12 - Chris Borrelli

Chris Borrelli is the arts critic and features reporter for Chicago Tribune, specialising in serious explorations of pop culture. He once wrote over a thousand words on the mathematical formula behind suspense in horror films, which is why he was the perfect guest to talk television and high culture at BINGEFEST in 2016.

In this episode of It’s A Long Story, Chris Borrelli speaks to host Hamish Macdonald about Netflix, Kanye West and finding the beautiful in the everyday.

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#11 - Julie Snyder

Julie Snyder is the Executive Producer and co-creator of Serial and S-Town. Before that, she spent almost 20 years working with Ira Glass on the much-loved public radio show and podcast, This American Life. Snyder has dedicated herself to developing the craft of modern storytelling, using the tools of journalism to tell personal stories that reflect complexity and nuance. Snyder spoke at the inaugural BingeFest at the Sydney Opera House in 2016 on the topic of “Binge-Worthy Journalism.”

In the second episode of It’s a Long Story Season Two, Snyder speaks to host Hamish Macdonald about the early days of This American Life, storytelling as an empathy machine and why she almost quit radio at the age of 23. 

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#10 - Jad Abumrad

Jad Abumrad is the co-founder of Radiolab – a radio show and podcast credited with creating a new aesthetic for the medium. Abumrad and his co-founder Robert Krulwich discuss everything from the most arcane of topics to some of the biggest questions facing humanity; is it scientifically possible to understand everything? Who has the rights to the images of a dead man? Why is there obscure nihilistic philosophy on the back of Jay Z’s jacket? Abumrad spoke in Australia for the first time at BingeFest at the Sydney Opera House in  December 2016.

In this launch episode of Season Two of It’s a Long Story he talks about growing up in Nashville as an Arab-American, his utterly original approach to story-telling, why Radiolab is anti-soundbite and the importance of journalism in today’s America. 

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#9 - Lionel Shriver

Lionel Shriver came to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in 2016 to posit the provocation: it is good for your health to break a rule a day. The author of international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, as well as The Mandibles, Big Brother, New Republic and Game Control, Shriver’s books have become famous for their dystopian outlook on life and for daring to delve into topics that many find uncomfortable. 

In this final episode of season one, Lionel Shriver speaks about growing up, Brexit, and why young women (and men) should be taught about female pleasure. Changing her name from Margaret to Lionel as a child, Shriver says she learned rebellion from her older brother, Greg – a verified genius who left High School at the age of 14. Shriver opens up about aspects of her life that influenced her work – including her relationship with her brother and her certainty from a young age that she would never have children. 

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#8 - Lev Grossman

Lev Grossman came to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2016 to discuss the perceived social and cultural value of ‘literary’ fiction compared to the ‘genre’ fiction of thrillers, fantasy and sci fi. As a writer, Grossman received critical acclaim for his third novel, The Magicians, which would go on to become the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy of the same name. 

In this episode he explores the loneliness of growing up as the son of two authors, who valued solo time reading and had big expectations for their children. Grossman talks of losing himself in Narnia, becoming addicted to the first video games, and how fantasy and sci fi is more than mere escapism.

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#7 - Priyamvada Gopal

Following a high-level academic spat on live British radio, Priyamvada Gopal was once described as an obscure Cambridge lecturer. In truth she is anything but. There are few public intellectuals who think and write on the subjects of India and colonialism with as much influence and insight.

A reader with the University of Cambridge in Anglophone and related literature she has a Ph.D. from Cornell and specialises in colonial and post-colonial literature. Priya Gopal has said that “since dictators, war criminals and bankers also read Shakespeare we can't claim that literature will inevitably make society more humane and imaginative. But it does engage most people's ethical capacities.”

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#6 - Alok Jha

Alok Jha is a self-described water obsessive, a scientist and communicator; he's made an art form of unpicking and unpacking some of the most complex questions of our age. A fascination with water has taken him literally to the ends of the earth.

A journey to Antarctica in 2013 came close to an unfortunate end. Thankfully, still with us, he joins a long list of remarkable science communicators, who try to make the incomprehensible sound simple. “All of human civilisation is in some sense” he says, “a struggle for the control of water”.

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#5 - Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Sheila Watt-Cloutier is an independent advocate on Inuit human rights.

When she was growing up, she wanted to be a nurse and then a doctor, but that didn't pan out very well because she wasn't very good at chemistry, physics, or mathematics. Watt-Cloutier lives in Iqaluit on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. If the Arctic is the world's barometer, says Sheila, then the Inuit are the mercury, and she has campaigned tirelessly to get this message out, to explain to the world that climate change is not just an environmental concern, but very much a human one too. It is work that has made a mark globally and saw her nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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#4 - Jesse Bering

From a very early age, Jesse Bering has been asking questions of himself. Growing up amid AIDS hysteria in Reagan's America, Bering knew that he was attracted to other boys but was terrified into a guilty silence. In high school he took up wrestling in a bid to fight back sexual desire but found only deeper consciousness of his homosexuality.

As an adult he has continued asking questions with frankness and with humour, handling sensitive topics like sex, evolution, religion, and morality. His books Perv and Why is the Penis Shaped Like That? Have elevated him to cult hero status. “If I had to put a label on myself,”he says, “it would be a sexual libertarian.”

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#3 - Deng Thiak Adut

There are people with interesting life stories, and then there are people whose lives read like a screenplay.

From being conscripted as a child soldier in Sudan to finding a new home in suburban Australia as a refugee where he taught himself to read and to write, Deng Thiak Adut is today a lawyer representing those who, just like him, struggle to find a voice. He's even been at the centre of one of those most modern phenomena, a viral video sensation. Like millions of children who grow up within the geography of conflict his childhood was taken away. “I didn't understand what freedoms I had lost,” he says, “I didn't understand how fearful I should have been.”

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#2 - Alicia Garza

African American activist and co-creator of the#BlackLivesMatter network Alicia Garza opens up about growing up as one of only a few black families in Marin County, San Francisco, being inspired by Prince, and her identity as a queer, black woman.

She discusses the moment that George Zimmerman was acquitted on all charges of the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the responsibility that she felt to act; penning her famous Love Letter to Black People that went on to inspire the #BlackLivesMatter network. 

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#1 - Henry Rollins

In our debut episode, Henry Rollins discusses his tumultuous childhood growing up in Washington DC, and how he transitioned from scooping ice cream at Haagen Dazs to fronting punk rock band Black Flag.

A turning point came for Henry Rollins about a decade ago, marked by a departure from music into activism and spoken word performance, “For me, music was a time and a place. I never really enjoyed being in a band,” says Henry Rollins, “It was in me, and it needed to come out. Like a 25-year exorcism. One day I woke up and I didn't have any more lyrics.”

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