MEND: Life at the Seams

Humboldt’s Living History Podcast


The hills of Humboldt are shifting. As prohibition ends and an era of cannabis regulation begins, the community adapts to a new paradigm and to new neighbors. Stories of families in the Emerald Triangle have been locked away behind closed lips and an aversion to written records (by necessity), allowing the narrative of greed and environmental destruction to dominate much of the conversation for decades.

 

What are the real stories of the farmers, the back-to-the-landers, and the medicine makers? These are the questions the MEND podcast explores in its first season.

 

“MEND: Life at the Seams” is a passion project from two Humboldt-based writers, Amy Day and Anne Fricke. Together, they focused on Northern California’s cannabis culture in their first season of this living history podcast, said Day, because the dominant conversation of destruction didn’t reflect the whole story of the cannabis community.

 

“We’ve raised our families here. We know that is not the only story,” Day said. “We wanted to document the initial intent and the initial ethos.”

 

Day and Fricke interview nationally renowned guests, like small farmer and activist Casey O’Neill, but most episodes feature community members who go by first names only. Take Iris for example, a woman who was raised on a cannabis family farm, or Marie, a long-time trimmer in the hills.

 

The podcasts evolves as Day and Fricke continued to interview more people. Each of the 20 plus episodes features an in-depth conversation with someone with a story to tell. Documenting those stories and telling the other side was how they got started, Fricke said.

 

“That was our initial intent,” Fricke said. “It’s kind of morphed into this. We interviewed a back-to-the-lander and they said ‘just don’t grow pot anymore.’ I understand that sentiment but that isn’t realistically what’s going to happen,” she said. “How do we take these values and intentions of the back-to-the-landers and move forward? That’s going to happen so how do we move forward sustainably and community minded?”

 

Day said that every interview is their best interview, “We love sitting down and hearing these stories that we otherwise wouldn’t be told,” she added. “[…] it’s hard to go to sleep at night after we do one of these interviews because we’re so energized.”

The Women Behind the Podcast

Neither Fricke nor Day were born in Humboldt — both fell in love with the coastline, the community, and the redwoods of this Northern California region as soon as they arrived.

 

Fricke is an Indiana native and has called Humboldt home for the last 16 years. She earned an Anthropology degree from Humboldt State University and published her first book of poetry, “Susurrus: Whispers Behind This Life.” She co-created MEND because she loves where she lives and she is passionate about storytelling. When Fricke’s not recording podcasts, she is writing poetry and fiction in the evenings and early mornings while taking care of her three children during the day.

 

Day moved to Humboldt at the age of 17 and has called it home ever since, aside from what she calls a “brief love affair with the Big Island of Hawaii.” She is a longtime blogger, performer, and teacher, and she graduated from the Dell’Arte International School Of Physical Theatre. She is the author of a one-woman show, “Finding My Feet,” and is currently working on a creative nonfiction piece. Day is passionate about bringing more “imperfect, intrepid beauty to the World” as she raises her kids in the rural landscape of Humboldt.

The Power of Prohibition

There are no shortage of stories to tell in the cannabis community. But Fricke and Day said they found the culture of silence and fear developed under prohibition is still a powerful force. Finding sources that are willing to go on the record is a challenge.

 

“Annie was doing some super sleuthing in the beginning,” Day said of her co-creator. “She did the hard work early to get these people out of the woodwork. Old school method. Now we’re looking more toward people who are putting themselves out there, like Siobhan of the Grow Sisters who is putting herself out there in a big way (Episode 20).”

 

Producing the podcast has also been a healthy challenge. Fricke said they have definitely learned a great deal about production in this first season of making audio podcasts. “For two writers with limited tech experience, the learning curve is huge,” she said. “We learned a few things to make it easier. I think the next season will be a little more polished.”

What’s Next?

They have loved every interview they’ve conducted for the MEND podcast; each story is unique so they can’t pick an absolute favorite. Episode 14, however, was something special. In that episode, Fricke and Day sit down for a conversation with Jesse, a Northern Humboldt resident and founder of the Del Norte Grower’s Association.

 

Fricke noted that when asked about the future, many of their guests would shrug their shoulders and cross their fingers, hoping for the best. But Jesse’s response stood out. “He said that you can hope all you want but you need to be part of the decision making.”

 

That episode was a turning point for the direction of MEND, said Day. “We are watching it pan out and if we want to influence the future and this culture and this bubble we live in, it’s time to step up.”

 

There are still many more stories to tell, but Day said, “we’re kind of ready to move on. By no means have we told the whole narrative. If we felt compelled to, we could continue to get some really juicy stories out of this.” For this unpaid, creative undertaking, however, Day said “the Muse is calling us to something else.”

 

The core of their conversation with Jesse and the thread they saw appear again and again with every interview: accidental activism. To this, Day added, “the ordinary individual choosing to influence with what scope or leverage they have, however limited it may be, to make an impact, to contribute meaningfully in their world.”

 

Once MEND wraps up its final episode of its first season, Day and Fricke intend to put down the microphone until early 2018. Until then, they will be working on their own writing projects. In the meantime, you can listen to the entire first season anywhere, from your living room to the trim room, right on their website or with your favorite podcast app.

 

Breakout box:

Where to Find “MEND: Life at the Seams”

  • iTunes store
  • Stitcher
  • MENDpodcast.com
  • Or our favorite podcast app

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