Discover more from The Holler
4,000 miles down and a lot of video to go.
A cross country road trip about agriculture and climate change with my chainsmoking, overall-wearing, pulitzer-prize winning friend.
This is where I hastily scribble about what’s going on. May include righteous anger and typos.
Over the last two weeks, I traveled 2,800 miles, from Iowa to California and back, with Art Cullen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and family newspaper man of the Storm Lake Times Pilot in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Art and I met in 2019 when I worked for the Elizabeth Warren campaign as their Rural Outreach Coordinator during the Iowa Caucuses. There’s a handful of small-town people in the journalism/political space willing to buck the corporate Farm Bureau line. We all meet for coffee at an undisclosed grain elevator in fly-over country.
The small rural newspaper game ain’t easy. Art’s paper was winning the Pulitzer at the same time it was struggling to keep the lights on. Such is the news business these days. That dynamic was captured in a documentary about the paper, Storm Lake, that aired on PBS.
The story of a scrappy family paper in farm country speaking up for water quality resonated coast to coast. It gave Art the occasion to travel to California and do a little business. He took me along for the ride and we did a story on our way across the bone-dry plains about having too little water where we grow our food, and too much water in California where all the beautiful people live.
Art wrote a column about it. I’m making a video about it. Y’all will see what we come up with here. I have hours of footage and am going to take a stab at more than a handful of videos about this trip. Stay tuned.
But for now, take a peek at Art’s column (linked below) from our trip, and subscribe to his substack here. If you need a progressive voice from the heartland about food, climate, and politics, Art is your guy. Add fly-over country to your newsfeed and subscribe now.
The fallout from the Norfolk Southern disaster in East Palestine will unfold over decades. It’s the kind of story that will likely end up in some journalism thriller movie in 20 years.
It happened in my home county and I expect to stay on the story for as long as this newsletter is around. I’m taking a long focus. I haven’t posted updates about it in a while but have been working on reporting and developing partnerships (like the collaboration with More Perfect Union on YouTube) for the next installment of the story. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more installments.
Here are a couple of relevant articles ICYMI:
We’re doing more stuff on YouTube
TikTok came a little closer than I was comfortable with to being banned by our gerontocracy while I was away.
Ancient lawmakers, most of whom I’d bet could not turn their iPhones on and off again, formed a united front against TikTok and submitted a stream of the most irrelevant and hilariously uninformed questions about the security of an app used by more than 150 million Americans. Never mind that the security issues of concern are shared by most other social media platforms, or that as this debate was happening, a twenty-something National Guardsman was leaking state secrets on an app popular with gamers.
Behind the scenes, of course, many lawmakers stand to benefit from the app’s demise (see video below). The bill being advanced to end TikTok might as well have turned to the Patriot Act and said “hold my beer”. I’m sure it doesn’t help that ordinary people with cell phones are generating hundreds of millions of views about how fucked up and unnecessarily cruel certain aspects of daily life are in America.
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
I digress. I’ll stay on TikTok as long as it’s around, but I want to do more on YouTube. To really get cooking there we need to cross 1,000 subscribers. I’m currently at 676. Please get me over the line and…
Lastly! Join me on Notes. Twitter is so 2010.
I just published my first note on Substack Notes, and would love for you to join me there!
Notes is a new space on Substack for us to share links, short posts, quotes, photos, and more. I plan to use it for things that don’t fit in the newsletter, like work-in-progress or quick questions.
How to join
You can also share notes of your own. I hope this becomes a space where every reader of The Holler can share thoughts, ideas, and interesting quotes from the things we're reading on Substack and beyond.
If you encounter any issues, you can always refer to the Notes FAQ for assistance. Looking forward to seeing you there!
The Holler is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.