tv Washington Journal James and Deborah Fallows CSPAN April 27, 2021 6:56pm-8:01pm EDT
washington d c in an effort to shut down the federal government. >> it's a story about when the people -- does the system deliver justice? do people save other principles or they caught and hide? and it is a story about the embattled president of this case, nixon, just as he is fighting to get really did. what constitutional lines did his restriction cross in an effort to stay in power. >> join us here in washington,
their book our towns, 100 thousand mile journey into the heart of america, a book now turned into an hbo documentary, here is a preview. >> five years ago, we asked people to tell us a story of your town. >> we've been traveling and reporting -- >> he thought there must be something going on in america. people wanted to talk about their town. >> what we saw has a lot to say to our world right now. >> this was a depressed timber town that was grasping for what is next. >> the path that mississippi is driving toward change. >> we need to replace punishment with treatment. >> that is far from the truth.
>> almost if it is west virginia they have had cold problems, mississippi has had other problems. a time when national politics of the united states, has been often polarized or dysfunctional, we found that the same traditional functionality of the u.s. is very much evident at the state and local, sometimes regional level. people are saying we can figure out a way to move forward even though we do not agree on everything under the sun. if you want an example of american minded practicality, it exists in much of america. >> how did you determine which towns and cities to visit? >> it was an evolving process. at first we put a post on his blog at the atlantic asking for
towns where there is a story we might go see. we got thousands, about a thousand replies within a week. they were not just the name of the town, they were stories about the town and long essays. we had a lot to work with. we started in sioux falls, south dakota, where we had a few people we thought could help us. it is all from their that we moved geographically to the northeast, the south, and then this was developing into an interesting project and we should try to cover the whole nation. we went to smaller towns where we felt we could get some traction and -- we look for different kinds of scenes, it might depend on geography or the movements and migrations of people. it was partly hit and miss -- hit or miss targeted.
>> you are also the pilot. >> yes but there is inside movie magic here. the four-seat planes, famous a s the best selling small plane because there is a parachute in times of distress. fortunately we never used that. that was a theme for the movie. they would not allow us professional photographers to go up with an amateur pilot which i am. so the camera work inside the plane is by deborah fallows. >> i will add he was an extremely cautious and considerate pilot.
there was one rule, you never -- there was never any place you had to be. if we were going to be late because of weather, that was ok because we would get there eventually. cracks it is a book, now i documentary, and the newest part to talk about is the city foundation which is what? >> we set up a foundation, ourtownsfoundation.org and the idea is to connect people around the country who are involved in these local renew our dust renewals. maybe with racial and ethnic assimilation, food issues, but they do not know they are doing the same things. we saw too many people were doing one thing, fresno for example, in the same thing would be going on in allentown, pa.
so our goal was to publicize the success of these local renewal efforts. >> our phone lines are regionals of you live in the (202) 748-8000, -- this small community in maine. >> when you tell someone you are from a small town, they look at you like you've never seen the big city. they look at you like this is cell phone, have you seen this before? we are not as metropolitan and savvy as the rest of the world, but i would argue we take more time to focus on it and that makes is more worldly than people believe. that is probably -- if you go to
big cities and tells them from a small town, you is they assume you have not been paying attention. >> when you look at that as a journalist, this is an example that everyone can tell. >> the are so delighted that you that clip. that is with our friend in eastport, maine where we went a lot of times during our journey. if there were a background theme of the book that the movie makes so richly vivid it is that the entire country is filled with interesting people and interesting places, and everybody had a story. the reason that obvious point is worth mentioning is that so much of our political coverage just flattens everything down to is this a red state or a blue state. is this the rust belt or the chrome belt. there are slogans where as each one of them is a novelistic richness and the 1400 characters
in that little town in maine, each one of them is like him as you suggested. host: how do you get around the politics and a time we are so deeply divided? guest: we did not ask about national politics. we asked people to tell us what is on their mind, what are their problems and how are they solving them? furiously, perhaps, the topic of national politics came up very rarely. i can count on one hand the number of time people dust times people wanted to talk politics. he started in 2013 the reporting we ended in 2016, 2017. during that time, there were -- there was the same kind of national issues going on and it
escalated even farther. but certainly from the minds of people, they do not feel compelled to talk about it if you don't start out with those dire questions of who you are going to vote for, how you feel about hillary, what about obama, what about trump? if you start with tell me what is imported about your town, people start with those stories that are in their hearts and minds. host: one of those is the issue of racism. you interviewed an owner of a motel in the south. here is the story. ♪ >> and i moved here from new york, i experienced a little racism. i was managing this hotel and some guests did not understand that i was the manager, that there was not anyone above me. as the town began to grow and i began to meet more people, there is more of an acceptance of african-american people getting
leadership positions, management positions. it takes getting used to and it is not all of the south. the younger generation is very accepting of diversity. they are making that change. the past is the past and mississippi is striving for change. it's ♪ ♪ host: that is from the new hbo documentary. why did you include her story in the program? guest: sharon jones had moved to columbus, mississippi fairly recently so her story was one of growing into the experience, coming from the east coast and going to the deep south as a black woman, taking on a responsibility and authority in the justice she had -- job that
she had. her story was one of how she both recognized the differences of being in the deep south and adjusted to the change -- the existed but changing attitudes of people in the south and how she could look back on mississippi and also try to crush through the stereotypes that people in mississippi must be racist. two found out there was indeed a growing inspect for her in her position in the rural south, the deep south. host: you both have a long history in journalism and politics. give our audience as sarah -- sense of your background, mr. fallows, and turned to deborah. guest: i have been in journalism almost all my life except when i was in my mid-20's by chance i ended up -- working on jimmy
carter's presidential campaign in 1976. for the first two years i was his speech director in the white house. i always say i once worked 40 years ago for a democratic president have not worked in politics since then. but the character of jimmy carter, the strength of that time, and the first hand experience you get in politics you don't get other ways. i worked for the atlantic nearly all the time since then. we lived overseas for 10 or 12 years in japan, china, malaysia, we have been in europe, africa, around the world. seattle, berkeley, texas. you like traveling back and forth from our base in dcaa but mainly a magazine writer, a radio broadcaster. host: and deborah fallows? guest: i grew up in a small town
in the midwest as you can tell for my accent. i was on the edge of lake erie. growing up in small-town midwest america, you have a sense of this is a great place to grow up but there is also a sense of i would like to see some more of the world. when jim and i got married, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to travel around a bit. we still have two boys who are completely grown up now with their own families. and we did move to a number of foreign countries. my role during that time was really making the ship keep running because we went there by ourselves. jim was working but we had to kind of make it on our own. this was pre-internet days so you could not research where you are going and hit the ground running and make everything happen. i am a linguist by background so
those two things in my background, growing up in a small town and being a linguist, made it easy for me to go into small to middle sized towns in america and listen to what people were saying and how they were saying things. and also to have a sense of i think i'm going to understand this town. it is not the town i grew up in but i understand small towns. and so we were comfortable going into that kind of situation. and here we are now. in washington dc. like the rest of the country. host: our first caller from ohio. you are on with deb and james fallows. caller: hello originally from columbus. my 90-year-old father and i watched it together and enjoyed it. we were surprised that one unity
-- community improvement was about -- the credit card companies have the ability when they move there to charge really high interest rates to people who could not pay the cards off. i wondered if you could comment on that and give us more information. guest: thank you for watching, i'm sure she's going to ask your brother-in-law from her town is. but the credit card story, this is part of the origin story of sioux falls, south dakota which is a much more technologically advanced and fast-growing plays than many people on the coast would now. part of its growth was back in the 1980's, there was a contest among a number of states to relax -- the amount that financial institutions could charge. some of those states where south dakota, delaware, nevada, a
couple of others. a lot of big companies ended up settling as sioux falls as a place to do business which was a big part of the financial sector of sioux falls south dakota. over the years, if you sent it back by mail the address was there. sioux falls people are cheerful and adamant that that was only one part of their own regions growth and only one reason that the company's citibank and wells fargo came there. there were also reasons of location, the time zone, mail service were dashed when more quickly in sioux falls and other places, but also of the companies found that people liked the sound of talking with these people who were from eastern south dakota. there was a tone of voice and affability that they were waiting for. that was the credit card story that we mentioned in one story in the film -- sentence in the film. host: the website is "our
towns." we will go to peter in provincetown massachusetts. caller: good morning and thank you for taking my call. i was fortunate enough to spend time this past summer right across the bay from eastport. what was astounding to me as a longtime former resident of maine from 1982 about the mid- 2012. , that there had been progressive move to acquire public land and set it aside for mixed use, way up north or along the coast, especially toward the canadian border. this seems to be more widely accepted because there's a lot
of it now. great hiking trails, open for different things, and it is as if the viewpoint of the people is that what they have is very special. some of that needs to be set aside and needs to be set aside and watch -- watch very closely. i wanted to switch gears here, broadband. broadband is coming slowly and all i can say is that i was involved in the broadband push more than a decade ago in maine. i am astounded that we are still sitting in many places and not seeing the levels of performance that urban america enjoys because when broadband gets to some of these rural areas, it is going to make a whole difference, a really big difference on economic element and other things. i am glad you got a chance to go
to eastport, by the way. it is a great town. guest: -- guest: i'm going to go with the broadband issue. there are still 25 or 30% of americans who do not have fast internet connections in their home and i think it has been brought into sharp contrast by the pandemic because it has hit upon how difficult it is for schools to operate in those communities, for kids to go to school remotely. how can they do it, they don't have internet access? they don't have computers. also for help -- health issues. it is a good side of a bad story -- when you live like we do in washington dc, any major city or small city, you can't absorb the sense of what this means.
we spent many days on sidewalks after the public libraries have closed in these very small towns with our laptops because the wi-fi connections would be kept on and that was the only place in town where you could count on the reliable wi-fi connection. it brought home to us when we were in these small towns how necessary it is. it is a moving issue right now and i think that people are aware of it and the government is acting on it more progressively and it will certainly help in education and health and life in general. host: one thing we found on your website is why some libraries are eliminating those fines, our tines book -- ourtownsbook.com
is the website. for those of you out west, (202) 748-8001, more from the documentary. in west virginia, they view their community as -- >> you find out that people have a certain view of west virginia. they assume certain things about you and assume you have limitations, that you're going to be a certain way and your style is going to be a certain way because that is what people do there. that is not the way it is. people here are like everywhere, their teas are wide, the like a lot of kinds of music. ♪ >> but i think it is going to take a lot of time to reverse some stereotypes that people have. it's going to be a long time before people see west virginia
like vermont even though they have a lot of similarities. host: what are the stereotypes? what did you learn and what surprised you? guest: that was the wonderful larry gross who runs an npr music program and has for many decades now. one of our friends and guides i think the point he was making was not just about west virginia but also as you heard about mississippi, california, the dakotas, etc. is that people -- cosmopolitan people, people in big cities often have simple fine views of how things are and places they have not been. west virginia, people there are very well aware that stories about the state are usually about what is happening in the coal industry, what is happening with the opioid disaster which hit there probably first and hardest among american dates.
we talked with a reporter who won the pulitzer prize for getting to the heart of some of the opioid problems there. but people might also think of west virginia because of its position in national politics as being not a inclusive or tolerant place. but we have lots of scenes of white and black residents of charleston feeling that their identity together is as west virginians who have the state together to build. they have fascinating programs, an innovative drug force. the theme of all of these places is how much more is happening. if you actually look at the tracks of american landscape, -- he was traveling across the country of just seeing how every place you look, there was this
activity and engagement. it was that kind of beehive of activity that we saw, including in west virginia. guest: if i could add one other thing. in many of these small towns, we saw that there were both efforts and there was movement to have young people either see and learn about the sense of hope of why they should stay in their own hometowns, or people moving back, young people moving back to charleston, west virginia to develop a sense -- a part of the west end of the town from a challenged and rough area into a young entrepreneurial area, with everything from book shops to coffee shops and affordable housing. you see the life balance. especially during the pandemic, when young people have had a harder time keeping their jobs.
or, earning a living or making things work out in the big cities like brooklyn and the silicon valley. in big cities. thinking that they were going to go home for a while and see how it was. a number of them maybe i can is shot, maybe i can work remotely now, it is not such an oddball thing to consider. maybe i can help things develop in my hometown. youth movement is something we saw a lot of and continue to. host: this program is carried live on c-span radio. denise is joining us in arlington, virginia. good morning. caller: good morning. my comment was, i wondered if you had done any investigation into homelessness around the country, in that my homelessness started after several failed
jobs, my point is i have been homeless for 30 years. and it was due to identity theft. someone put my name on their records and knows how to manipulate the computer to keep it from changing. and the homeless sector is closing down to a lot of us because of the amount of time we have been homeless. they want us to end our own homelessness. i feel it is due to a problem that started in the country after world war ii and has to do with world war ii and the people that came here after the war and wanted to stay and have taken our identities and using our citizenship.
they like the fact that we are in a situation that is manageable to them and it is easier for them, and a lot of times when we want to change the situation we run into dealing with their people and they are always telling us, no, you can't change the situation. host: who would like to answer that? guest: i will say we are very sorry to hear about two nieces difficulties that have been going on for so long so thank you for sharing that. the film goes into homelessness at some length. one of the first segments which is filmed in the area where i grew up which is inland southern california, not los angeles or beverly hills, but san bernardino, there is a significant homelessness issue there. one of the things the film makes
clear with very human portraits of people who are suffering from this condition is that many, many origins of it. partly, it is housing crisis. partly domestic problems. partly mental problems for some people, bad luck for other people. i don't think anybody can presume to say here is the answer to one of america's major problems. this is one of the four or five major problems america has. we try to acknowledge it as a major issue and show the humanity of people who are involved in it. there are a couple of technical approaches the film illustrates ways in which government is able -- governments are able to get resources more quickly and more precisely to people who need them. i hope that has some bearing on denise's case. host: this is from mark stone, from our twitter page saying traveling from all around america, what surprised you about the 2020 election?
maybe not in the politics but the move of the electorate? guest: that is a challenging question. i guess what impressed us was a connection between what we had been saying was the general mood in most of the communities we saw, which was that it was time to be practical minded and find ways to build a new school for 10 years from now or build a new play area for the kids for 10 years from now or redo the city's power supply. that is a practical minded, further ahead looking outlook. that seemed to be somewhat linked to a national mood of let's move to something that is more practical minded and less emotionally the center of attention. so maybe if there was a national
government moment which was less in the news every second and more saying here are specific we might do, and might be a connection between the local mood and the national moment. host: deb and james fallows, visiting dynamic communities across america. one person says the massachusetts caller is correct. eastport, maine is a lovely town. caller: i was wondering if you could tell us about the larger cities you visited. i worked at the county library. i am a substitute teacher. i had a class that studied topographical maps this week.
anyway, that is my question. we have been very active city and we have a very active recreation and parks district. our school district has 35,000 students that are doing virtual education. my question is, what about the larger cities? guest: i will start with that, we like fremont. we lived in berkeley for a while. initially, we were looking intentionally for smaller places. the reason was we felt that media attention generally did not go to smaller town of america unless there was a hurricane or a drought or a shooting or some other emergency of that sort. we wanted to offset that balance. eventually, we did go to bigger places. places as big as columbus, ohio, which is in the top dozen cities in terms of population, mainly because we wanted to see if the patterns we were observing in
smaller places like columbus, mississippi would have a bearing on columbus, ohio, or pittsburgh , or duluth, or other places. we ended up thinking that yes, there were some real patterns or lessons that you could derive that communities could be functional. we saw them in both columbuses, and greenville, south carolina. we are believers that cities can function at various scales. part of what we are doing with the new foundation is trying to fund ways to connect these lessons. host: as you point out in your documentary, part of that is the role of community colleges, including this in mississippi. let's watch. [video clip] ♪ >> it is a real shock when traditional jobs disappear. >> the future will be working alongside the robots.
>> and the new ones call for skills that local people don't have. as we have seen around the country, community colleges are incredibly important in preparing students for new jobs. and in the bigger picture, biting inequality. this is the communiversity, near columbus, mississippi. >> this is highly technical. it is not the old shock to your vocational school work. sometimes there was a penalty a person paid. we are a second chance university. we give second chances to people to get a job. many individuals in our community are one flat tire away from losing their job or not finishing their education. we help bring partners to removing those barriers. we lift up the community.
as a whole. >> that is the best description of a community college and what you do that i have heard anywhere. >> if it can happen here, in the poorest of all states, then surely the positive things that -- are -- replicable elsewhere. host: why was that part of this program? deborah fallows, we will start with you. guest: the community colleges were one of the most surprising and important lessons that we learned during these travels. we all knew that they were around, but to go from town to town and seeing the kind of impact that a community college can have on its area for people who, as he says, need a second chance, whether it is a high school or a skills level where you have lost your job at all sorts of ages.
we came to linchpin of the future for such a huge swath of the american population now. it was accessible to people, it got not only the individuals going back again to see a different kind of future, but engaging them in the areas where there were certain kinds of skills and technical training was necessary to equip them to get into the new roles that fit into the whole ecology of the region and the area. so i would say one of the main messages we learned was that community colleges are so much at the core of where the country can go now. host: this is a tweet for you, james fallows, from joe, saying can you talk about small-town journalism and weekly newspapers? as a journalist yourself, what
did you see as we have learned so many stories of newspapers that are shrinking or shutting down? guest: i will say one more thing about community colleges, in addition to what deborah said. about the central role of community colleges. part of the joy of traveling over the years is coming across people like him and everyone else you see in these clips. he is someone whose family was from india and grew up in east africa. he was in london and now he is in very small town in mississippi, helping get better career options and family options for people. -- people who have been in mississippi for a long time. the country has lots of people, nobody quite like him but lots of people like him around the country. on local journalism, that is another big theme of the film. we spent time in eastport, maine, with a fascinating paper there.
it is an every other week print paper. it is thick and full of news and advertisements. we asked the editors, and their families, what was the way to keep the paper going? they were making the case that the more news you have, the more standing you have. the situation of local journalism is one of the many first order crises for the country. i was mentioning homelessness before and opioids before and gun violence, etc.. but local journalism is something the normal market forces are not going to allow to survive. it has been the case in other times in american history that people have observed that pattern and found other solutions. museums would never have existed if they were run strictly
to the market, nor public schools, nor parks. central park would not exist if it were left purely to the markets. we are in the middle of a wave of purposeful and important information around the country about new models for local journalism, new models for doing it, new models of financing get -- financing it by aligning universities or nonprofits or local charities. i think this will be an area of ongoing exploration that deb and i will be reporting on more. host: that includes allentown, pennsylvania and burlington, vermont. another 20 minutes, our phone lines continue to be open. we will go to dorothy in madison heights, virginia. good morning. go ahead, dorothy caller: .
caller: i wanted to call and thank mr. fallows for their book. i can hardly wait to read it. i attended college, one of my daughters attended college at the university of new york in albany. we had a class and one of the students, it was wonderful. i commented on what she had said and she said i thought you southerners were ignorant. that was very intelligent, what you said. i just wanted to come and say what a difference living in another state for 15 years makes. thank you so much. my daughter teaches at one of the colleges. it makes a difference in all of the students lives. i want to thank you for sharing with us what you are giving out. thank you very much. host: thanks for the call for
--. we have this from a viewer in texas, saying very interesting documentary. please ask your guests if they came to the deep south, texas. i am referring to the area within 20 miles of the rio grande. guest: i will give a little background. we lived in texas for about four years or so. deborah got a graduate degree at texas austin and i was working at texas monthly. i traveled to almost every county. including down the rio grande valley. just before the pandemic lockdown, we spent a couple of days in brownsville, with mayor garcia, who was the mayor of brownsville. seeing the border and all of the other aspects of life there. life in that part of texas, which we have spent some time in, is of course, connected to mexico and has been from the get-go.
the ways in which the changes in border policy and border dynamics over the past couple of years have transformed, we have -- transformed life there, we have not been able to go there in the past year and a half for obvious reasons but we plan to go again soon. guest: if i can take a minute to speak to the caller about maybe wishing we had gone to texas to film, we were so fortunate to work with these incredible filmmakers who have a company called west city films. they were the filmmakers for the documentary. two things about it. one was we felt that they entirely engaged and embraced the message of the book and they brought so much to it by their artistry and vision of how you translate and boil down the 50 towns we visited and 25 towns we
wrote about in the book, into six or eight towns of filming. they had to do the magic that filmmakers do, where bringing it down to each nano second represented something we could write thousands of words on. i apologize to brownsville, texas and the other 42 towns where we could not film. somehow, steve and jeannie managed to capture the essence of the heart of a lot of these issues, including in brownsville, by representing them in other towns too. host: you traveled to those communities, as your husband was piloting the plane. we have a photograph of the two of you as you were either about to embark or disembark on one of your journeys. loretta is on the phone from saint augustine, texas. good morning. caller: good morning.
i just wanted -- i have two comments. i don't know how you define a small town. i grew up in a town of 900 and now i live in a town of 2000. people say it was a small town of 20,000 where everybody knew everybody. even though i lived 25 years in my town of 900, i never knew anybody. in the town of 2000, i still don't know everybody. but i would just like to say that i moved from a small town -- 900 in the north and came to one in the south. i loved both of them but moving is like having to be accepted into a foster family. it takes so long to get acquainted, to get to know people, to feel like you fit in. small towns are very close-knit communities. it is hard to adjust. i see people like joe biden saying if we shut down the coal mining jobs, we shut down the
pipeline, they can always get jobs in the new energy industry. and it is not as easy. people don't want to move from their hometown. i became a schoolteacher. i really did not want to be a schoolteacher but i thought it was one job where woman can live in a very rural area and have a good paying job. and they get the summers off. so, i became a school teacher and taught for 50 years, simply because i could be in a small town. so when people talk about, just get another job, that is not the point. it is being able to stay where you call home. host: we will get reaction and comments. guest: these are rich topics which we could spend the next three days on. i will briefly respond to three of them.
first, how do we do find -- do we define a small town. usually, we try to say we are looking for smaller places. places that were not normally in the news. places that the media normally would not pay attention to except for unusual circumstances. we went to a place as large as columbus, ohio and as small as eastport, maine. there is no scientific addition. -- scientific definition, there is a range. he you mentioned some of the difficulties of how smaller communities can be closed. they can be suspicious of outsiders. there is a fascinating theme in american literature, through its entire history of the push and pull, the yen and yang of small-town village life versus bigger city life. winesburg, ohio, for example. they were complaining about small-town life. old novels of theodore reiser were talking about getting out of the farms and going to bigger
places. there are drawbacks as well as pluses and that is something i think we noticed, does -- too. on the different lines of work, it certainly is true that countries and economies make transitions over periods of decades and repeatedly do so. but, individuals within their own fixed lifespan, and you can't always change what you personally are doing. economic disruption is always a challenge for people where it happens. a big thing about film is how this has happened in almost every place in the country. and the question is the country is always going through turmoil. with communities and companies and individuals and policies that make it easier for people, rather than harder. but it is always disruptive when it happens. guest:
one thing about hometowns, people have -- we have heard across the country and absorbed the affection people have for the towns where they live. there is one phrase we have heard from people in towns of 1200 or 40,000 or 125,000. people would say i love my town because it is just the right size. it is big enough that there is a lot going on and small enough that i can have some impact on the town. it -- it happened in towns from big to little, people have the same sense that maybe you don't live in washington, d.c. or new york or chicago, that both of these things are going on and that that is one of the reasons that people love their hometown. host: the book and documentary by james and deborah fallows is
titled "our towns: the 100,000 mile journey into the heart of america. " one of those towns is greenville, south carolina. we will look at the photographs from your website as we are joined by roslyn. caller: good morning. host: good morning. if you could turn the television down because we are getting an echo. caller: i want to say i turned on washington journal this morning and i was excited when i saw west virginia. i can't believe it. i got -- from west virginia i , got a congressman, the congressman of the first district of west virginia, that happened in the 1960's. i am an elderly woman and i know darn well that it was in 1960
and they gave me a national courtesy award. that was the industrial region of the united states, the heart of the rich industrial region. congressman art a moore jr. i also got from the governor -- i also got this data west virginia, it was the governor 's--that was in the 1960s also. host: thanks for calling. you can share her excitement for west virginia. guest: people are loyal. in the 1970's and 1980's, jay -- another arch more was
governor. west virginia has had -- has certainly punched above its weight in many parts of american american culture including politics and leaders. it is important that the leaders connect with that young people in their community as those west virginia leaders were doing with you. host: we will go to mike in california. good morning. caller: good morning. i tell you that your work now is especially well-timed. it is my impression that we have increasingly a one world labor market, where americans must compete in this one world labor market. it strikes me that our k-12 system is not up to the grade, up to the job. but our colleges and universities, the best in the world, those americans who are
college educated can compete well. guest: if we think of the american educational system in great tears, there is k-12, that i am not an expert on. even though i am graduate of. there is the research universities and in between there are community colleges. research universities are the crown jewel of the american education system and they have a world market for students and researchers. we have seen that and everything from the virus and vaccine development to going to mars. everything else. i think that community colleges , as deb and i were saying, are a very important institution of this moment to try to bring more of the american workforce, to have it be and take advantage of the opportunities it creates for people with lower paying jobs. it is also a world market in terms of refreshing the american population with ambitious people
from around the world. one of the big themes of the world -- movie, for example in , sioux falls, south dakota, how much of this growth depends on refugees and immigrants coming in, initially working in the meatpacking industry. and then refreshing the communities in other ways. the leaders of sioux falls are welcoming that as their future. guest: we spent a lot of times in schools, k-12 schools, during our travels. usually one of the first things we did when we got to town, we would say which of your schools should we go visit? often there was only one school. so that was an easy answer. but we saw so much experimentation in towns, particularly at the high school level, where educators and school systems were trying to figure out how to get the older kids in k-12 more engaged with education. make it more relevant to them in the places where they are living. if it was in rural california,
the schools were incorporated a lot of agriculture into the curriculum, whether it was the history of agriculture or the new nano tech agriculture to make the aspects of their town a more relevant to the kids but in an educational way, so that they learned about what was going on, besides the core curriculum of what you learn. same thing in southeast georgia, where there was a lot of technical training in construction and building and robotics and automobiles. same thing in a lot of the towns that we saw. host: this is from jodi who said i moved outside of a small town. back in he says i could never go 1983, back even though i am a liberal in a red state.
i love my farm more. we will go to dennis in south dakota. good morning. dennis, good morning. caller: hello? host: go ahead. caller: i am watching your program on c-span. i was a truck driver for 43 years. i traveled in 48 states and three canadian provinces. when i retired at age 67, i had driven 5 million miles. i am married 50 years, will be 50 years in july. i was married to the highway for 43 years and it is a wonder i am still married, by the way. i enjoyed watching, i did not go to the national parks because big rigs were not allowed in the national parks. there are other places they are not allowed because of the weight limit. anyway, it brings back memories. that's all i've got to say. thank you for your program. host: dennis, thank you.
guest: we are fans of rapid city. we wrote about in our book. also, this summer, we also celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. we are doing the air -- airborne version and you are doing the long-haul trucking version. guest: when we were flying everywhere, we would fly at low altitudes and we followed route 80, which i am sure you have driven many times. nonetheless, it was really interesting to get into the trucking culture, which we did. we did that with sirius xm radio. we heard tucker's favorite stories. we felt kinship as we were
flying over the roots they traveled every day. --routes they traveled everyday. host: did you find diversity in these smaller communities? young, old, black, white, ethnic mixes? guest: yes, yes, maybe, no, it is all different. mena, for example, as a state, is unusually white and unusually old. so the diversity in maine was people who are really different in their experiences. a large native popular in -- population in eastport, maine. in mississippi, the black-white interaction is the center of the history and is significant now. but also there is a significant international presence there. the change of the american midwest and plain states is profound.
i think people would be surprised at the diversity in sioux falls, of religions, ages, , races. yes. we saw lots of different kinds of diversity. guest: steve, you know well from your hometown of gary, pennsylvania. host: very diverse. we will go to rory. in new york city, good morning. caller: good morning. i am curious about law enforcement in small towns. did you discover -- i am sure it is not mayberry, but differences or similarities in law enforcement in smaller towns? thank you. host: thank you, caller. guest: that is a hard question and one beyond our scope here.
we did not happen to see any famous episodes of violence during the time, during the years. it just did not happen. in the 50 cities we were in for substantial periods of time, none of them coincided with news in the last year or two. but of course, every town is marked by these episodes through its past. even if they were not happening their direct way. i think in columbus, mississippi, there is a lot of discussion there about the legacy and the present situation of essentially the racial effect of law enforcement in columbus, mississippi. it is on people's minds everywhere as part of the fabric of american life. and i think that we felt in many of these smaller communities, the ones that we visited, they were able -- it did not seem to be a standoff, or a crisis
point. more, it was, how can we figure out to do this in a more sustainable way? host: the website is "ourtownsbook.com." in our remaining minutes to both of you, in a sentence, what surprised you the most? deb, we will begin with you. guest: gosh. one of the things that surprised me the most is what a beautiful country this is. we lived in china for a long time, and the name for america means beautiful country. when i first learned the word, i thought maybe it is silly or superficial, but when you fly over this country at 2500 feet and can see it unfolding below you, it brings back all of those songs that you learned about america the beautiful as a kid. i thought the chinese have nailed that one, they got it
right, they called this country. from all the places that we know about. that really was one of the refreshing surprises to me. host: james, we will conclude with you. guest: i will use the china comparison, too. we always thought that china looked most impressive from a distance and the closer up you got, you saw it's fragility and quirks. it is the opposite with the u.s., the u.s. looks worse at a distance, more reassuring and self renewing the closer you look. host: deborah and james fallows in their new documentary. we thank you both for being with us. guest: it is an honor. >> c-span's washington journal. every day we take your calls live on the air and discuss policy issues that impact you. -- detailing progressive
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