Community Media Spotlight: Tea, Toast and Truth

In our second season of RRR, we’re on a mission to explore community-based, intergenerational, collaborative, rural media from across the state. We’ve been calling the episodes “Community Media Spotlights” and showcasing the diversity of rural media around the state. Throughout the season we’ve been on the lookout for other small town and rural podcasts that strive to write, edit and produce collaboratively like we do here at ROP.  So when the Truth to Power club at Ashland High School in Jackson County reached out to us via Instagram, we couldn’t have been more excited! You can listen to the newest episode here or wherever you get your podcasts! 

This month and the following month, we’re introducing you to Truth to Power’s highly collaborative podcast, Tea, Toast, and Truth, an exciting, youth-led example of everyday people using DIY media to drive community-based change. The show is produced collaboratively by a group of fifteen writers and editors, uplifts diverse voices, and offers a teen point of view.

These students are new to podcasting and they’re learning as they go! Supporting youth-led work is essential to thriving communities, so we’re excited to dig deeper, share skills, and learn more with Truth to Power! 

Graphic for Rural Roots Rising with a photo of Truth to Power Club sorting food boxes. The text says

Listen to the episode here! 

Isabel Cantu is one of the producers and club members, and this is how she explains the need for this student-driven podcast:

Ashland is in Southern Oregon. It’s like a quaint little town. I’ve grown up here for like five to six years. I’ve always loved it… people often think of it as like, of course very liberal, like nothing bad happens here, utopia, like no racism. Which is, of course, nice to think about, but not true. And believing something like that can be dangerous. We believe that we can instill that change that we’re working for, and as we say, truth to power, we’re really wanting to use the truth to generate power, and give it to the people and really just show that yes, we’re giving you a platform to speak on, that way you can also have a voice–you can make actions to instill permanent change for the betterment of our community.” 

In this first episode of our two part exploration of Tea, Toast, and Truth, we’ll hear a shortened version of their third collaborative episode, “Seeing Homeless.” They describe the episode as one focusing “on the struggles and biases that surround the homeless crisis.”

To create the podcast, club members interviewed people in the homeless community, home free and homeless right activists, and the Ashland Chief of Police. We want to note that not everyone wanted to have their names used in the podcast, but all interviewees did agree to be interviewed. The various voices woven together touch on the criminalization of the unhoused community and the many barriers to accessing truly useful services in Ashland. In the end, Truth to Power club asks listeners to take on an active role as an ally for the unhoused community.

Next month we’ll go behind the scenes to learn more from these students about how they decided to create both this episode and upcoming episodes, what they’re learning as they go, and how their work is pushing Ashland to greater accountability. 

If you’re interested in listening to more of their work, you can listen to full episodes of Tea, Toast, and Truth via Spotify or on Anchor FM. To get involved in supporting their work in Ashland, including supporting the work of houseless rights activists, get in touch with the club by emailing truthtopowerclub@gmail.com.

If you are interested in sharing stories of your own community-based media work or want to make media but aren’t sure where to begin, please reach out to us at info@ruralrootsrising.org! We’d love to hear more! 

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