Each year, the Stanford Storytelling Project awards Braden Grants to a small number of students to support the research, writing, and production of audio documentaries. The aim of the program is to help students learn how to tell powerful, research-driven stories based on testimony they gather through interviews, research, or oral history archives. Grantees receive up to $2,500, as well as teaching, training, and mentorship during the period of the grant (March-December). These are the stories that came out of that process.

2023 Braden Grant Stories

2022 Braden Grant Stories

Home of the Hodag

The town of Rhinelander Wisconsin has a curious obsession: the Hodag, a fearsome green beast that a lumberjack allegedly discovered there in 1893. Entranced by the legend, Isabella and Sam travel to Rhinelander to uncover what’s behind the Hodag—and to decide if they should believe, too.

The episode art shows a stained-glass window in Rhinelander constructed in the early 1900s, which portrays the Hodag stabbed by the sword of truth. Will Sam and Isabella come to the same verdict?

Producers: Isabella Saracco and Sam Waddoups

Music in this story is provided by Blue Dot Sessions (An Unknown Visitor, Vernouillet, Color Country, Darn that Weasel, Still Nite, Gamboler, and The Bus at Dawn) as well as Hodag Hunters by Ben Burnell and Andrew Egan. Sound provided by freesound.org.

Off the Beaten Path

After months apart, a mother and daughter pick an unlikely reunion activity: a pilgrimage. Follow them as they take a journey up coastal Scotland and deepen their understanding of themselves and their relationship. 

Producer: Alina Wilson

Music in this story is provided by Blue Dot Sessions and freesound.org.

Home is Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is a small neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles. Since 1905, it has been home to generations of Japanese Americans. Today, gentrification is threatening to destroy everything these families have built. This episode tells the story of one community’s struggle for survival and the ways in which historical development has both fractured and solidified its people. For some, home is a bed one sleeps in. For us, home is Little Tokyo.

Producer: Leah Chase

Soles Returning Home

This is the story of a mother fighting grief after the loss of her daughter, and navigating what it means to be Indigenous within a criminal justice system that tries to take away her voice. These are her words. To learn more about Skye, visit: https://justiceforskyejim.com/ and for resources on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women visit: https://theskyewomanproject.com/ .

Producer: Autumn Parrott

Journey Through Generations

Producer: Arundathi Nair

2020-2021 Braden Grant Stories

Wonder Under Water

Come on a journey to understand our fascination with sea monsters and what they inspire in humans. In particular, hear about the Icelandic Lagarfljótsormur, the water monster that sparked a 13 person commission of the Icelandic government to investigate its existence.

Producer: Gracie Newman

Radical Puppets: Revisiting the 1999 WTO Protests

What does it mean to protest and are there ways to do so that bring creativity to the forefront along with the issues? Listen to how those who were on the front lines of the WTO protests in Seattle used puppetry to get their ideas and demands across to those in power.

Producer: Emily Zhang

Missed Connections

This is “Missed Connections” a story about people experiencing homelessness and their path to reconnection with their loved ones. Listen to learn why no matter where you are and what your journey in life has been, you will always be someone’s somebody.

Producer: Neeharika Bandlapalli

She Was There

Producer: Paloma Moreno

2019 Braden Grant Stories

Weird, F***** Up, Amazing

I grew up in the sprawl of Los Angeles. I grew up on garage shows, Whiskey-A-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard, classmates rapping on SoundCloud, my mom driving me an hour and a half to a venue in Orange County. My experiences with DIY music communities have been among the most important aspects of my life; yet, the deeper I get into this world, the more I hear people tell me that I missed out on “the glory days.” In this story, I travel to Asheville, North Caroline to prove that DIY is, in fact, not dead, but that young people today are making the subculture more accessible and creative.

Producer: Hannah Scott
Featuring: Mark Hosler, Emma Hutchens, Davaion “Spaceman Jones” Bristol

Coming of Age (Online): Imaging Queer Futures

What does it mean to (be queer) and come of age on the internet?
In the past ten years, the queer games movement has exploded. Around the world, more and more people feel like they can make free and simple and strange games — ones that speak to queer stories and experiences. But it wasn’t always this easy.
Some queer games used the earliest, clunkiest internet to find each other in crisis, to find friends, community, and a lifeline support in a time when no one was paying attention. Follow the journeys of queer gamers as they reflect on their earliest experiences online — experiences of freedom and discomfort, of community and isolation. They’ve since become architects of the internet, contributing to online communities as media scholars and game developers, but for these queer gamers, it all started way back.

Producer: Julie Fukunaga
Featuring: Pedro Gallardo (he/him), Teddy Pozo (they/them), Kat Brewster (they/she)

Klezmer for My Grandmother

In the summer of 2019, I fly to Israel with a single goal in mind. I want to play a song. But not just any song. I want to play a Klezmer song. This podcast follows my journey meeting Jewish musicians and dealing with family tragedy to compose a personal song. “Music doesn’t lie.” You’ll agree when you hear how beautiful, haunting, and inspiring Klezmer music can be.

Producer: Daniel Helena Alexander


In her late thirties, Lanie, Sophie’s mom, became a born again Christian. Christianity gave her life meaning and happiness. When Lanie found God, “All the heaviness was just lifted.” Sophie, an atheist, struggles to find purpose in her own life. In this story, Sophie sets out to determine if what saved her mother could save her, too.

Producer: Sophie McNulty

To the Beat of the Drum

When you feel at home thousands of miles away from your birthplace, what choice do you have but to return? I take a return trip to the Festival of the Rosary—an African syncretic festival in the southeast of Brazil. In returning, I learned African diasporic peoples might be connected by more than just African ancestry. Marked by cultural loss from the middle passage, this festival births a culture of its own. Its songs and rituals speak to the suffering of slavery and embrace a remembrance of forgotten homelands. As a black person from the United States, being in the presence of this grieving made room for something else to take root.

Producer: Mylan Gray
Featuring: Ana Luzia Da Silva, Padre Jailson, Rainha Cleusa, Dayonna Tucker, Ramona Greene, Cameron Woods

The Reality Teacher

In the summer of 2019, I took off on a cross-country road trip to discover my father’s mysterious hippie past. Though I grew up with a dad who worked as an accounting professor, all throughout my childhood I heard stories of my dad building log cabins in Washington Woodlands, running a granola coop and my half-sister born on the kitchen table. Join me as I travel across time and space to uncover the truth of it all and learn from “the reality teacher.”

Producer: Elena Press

Swimming in Dreams

What’s the point of all of this? It’s a question we’ve all asked ourselves. For child-refugees who’ve come to America (and their descendants), attempting to answer this question is inevitably tied with wondering why fate, God, or whatever higher power they believe in has given them opportunities that those who came before them did not have.If you’ve ever asked yourself what it is that you need to be doing in life, this story is for you. You don’t have to come from a refugee background to relate. It’s simply the story of a young man who’s beginning to seriously question his lot in life, intertwining it with his family background, and coming to terms with the nature of it all. By exploring the three lives of a now-reintegrated middle-aged man who was sentenced to prison at 15, a college student who once couldn’t dream, and a high school student balancing what she owes to her mother and to herself; Ethan hopes to answer one question: what am I here for, if anything?

Producer: Ethan Lo
Featuring: Choy, Paw, Neesha

2018 Braden Grant Stories

Respite: A journey into foster care

You’re six years old. Child protective services removed you from the only life you’ve ever known and placed you in state custody.

Producer: Rachel Vaughn

you can calmly put this thing together by Junior 85
And So Then by Le Rosevere
Daydreamer by Podington Bear

Seeing with Sound

If sound matters, why? I am not alone in fearing blindness, because we live in a world of visuals. Whether I am reading a book, following street signs, or hopping on a train, I can’t imagine navigating a world without my eyes. I tune out the cacophony of cars, squeaks, barks, and pedestrian crossings on a daily basis. In privileging sight, what am I missing in sound?

“When you close your eyes you begin to feel your body. You become aware of your non-visual abilities,” said Thomas Tajo, a blind echolocator. I speak with human echolocators, eye researchers, and music professors to discover just how much sound has to offer. Close your eyes. Tune in, and listen to what is revealed.

Producer: Chloe Barreau

Veni Creator Spiritus by John Dunstable
Lost and Found by Podington Bear
Three Colors by Podington Bear

Brains and Bronze: How Octavius Catto came back to life

Octavius Catto, a 19th century activist, stands in bronze as the first statue of a black man on Philadelphia public property. And he’s coming back to life in other ways–on a giant mural, and in the art and social justice scenes of the city. What would this statue of an activist from history say to the activists surrounding it now…why is he back, and what’s he trying to tell us?
Produced in memory of Willis “Nomo” Humphrey.

Producer: Melina Walling

Featuring: Melina Walling, Keir Johnston, Shakirah, Eddy, Kim McCleary, Branly Cadet, Dejay Duckett, Paul Farber

Music: sonder, johnny_ripper, epilogue; Everybody Wants Gold and a Mermaid, Tony Higgins, Ray-A Life Underwater; You Can Calmly Put This Thing Together (Piece by Piece), junior85, Upside Down, Left to Right; Flight, Nctrnm, EQUINOX

The taste of war: The Koreans and U.S. combat ration

What does a war taste like? Tracing the history of U.S. military combat ration in Korea, the podcast tells the Koreans’ bittersweet encounters with America.

Producer: Won-Gi Jung

Submerging Blue-Black by Podington Bear
Memory Wing by Podington Bear

A Postcard from Mariana

Hurricane Maria revealed a dependency on the government but there was one community that used it as an opportunity to claim their independence. “There was no government here. And we couldn’t wait for the government. We couldn’t wait for anyone.” In this story I visit of the community of Mariana that has tried to separate themselves from the government.

Producer: Gabriela Nagle Alverio

Puerto Rico by Englewood
Elementary wave by Erokia
Night Cave by Lee Rosevere

My Mexican Dream

I would have been born here, had my parents never left this town for the U.S. In my journey, I retrace my steps back to Malinaltenango, Mexico, the land my parents have always called home and a land I have never really known on my own. During my time here, I struggle with ideas of identity, belonging, family, and trauma. I re-open wounds that have long been sealed to make sense of my life in relation to my grandmothers. “It’s a part of my history that I never like to think about, because it makes me sad, or maybe guilty for being born when I was and where I was. Or maybe I don’t think about it because it makes me fear loneliness. Because what if they pain of loneliness is just as transferable as their love?”

Producer: Andrea Flores

Water on Concrete: An LA River Story

If a river could talk, who’s story would it tell? Running 51 miles through one of the most urbanized landscapes in the world, the Los Angeles River is overflowing with a rich history, a complex present, and a contested future. Travel down its concrete banks with producer Cameron Tenner, as he uncovers a story of power, exploitation, and resilience.

Special thanks to Catherine Gudis, Robert García, Irma Muñoz, Steven Appleton, Johanna Hackett, and all those who spoke with and guided me along the way.

Memory Wind by Podington Bear
Los Angeles New Years by Woody Guthrie

2017 Braden Grant Stories

A Perfect Storm: Broadcasting Rhythms from the South Bronx to the East of Havana

From the rhyming styles of breakbeat poets and Bronx backyard jams of the 1980s, hip-hop sprang forth from the heart of urban black culture to give voice to the silenced narratives of black communities. The rhythm of resistance. Uncontainable, the sound waves traveled much farther than the national border. In the 1990s, young Cubans living in the barrio of Alamar resonated with the rhythms and attitude in the music and adopted the art form as their own. Moving through this rich oral history and into the present, we will hear the way hip-hop brought these two cultures together in a perfect storm.

Thank you to Luna Gallegos, Laura Cantana, Rolando Almirante, Dr. Cecil Brown, Jeff Chang, “The Wizard”/ “El Brujo,” Yulier, La Rafa El Individuo, and Alejandra Zamora for your honesty and warmth throughout the interview process.

Producer: Nya Hughes

The Message – Grandmaster Flash
Get By – Talib Kweli
Latino & Proud – DJ Raff
Tengo – Hermanos De Causa
Mi Raza – El Individuo
The Bronx in The 1980’s PART 1 (Original)
CHUPI CHUPI – Osmani Garcia

Photo by Nya Hughes

Genocide haunts our home: my mom copes life in the U.S. in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge.

How does one build a new home after losing all of one’s family? A son interviews his mother, a Cambodian refugee and genocide survivor, about her experience resettling in the U.S. He learns how her past has shaped his life.

Producer: Bunnard Phan

Featuring: Nickie Phan, Bunnard Phan

Khnom Min Sok Chet Te by Pan Ron
Chnam oun Dop-Pram Muy by Ros Sereysothea
Orchestral version of “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers performed at The (Military) Music Show of Nations 2002 Bremen, Germany (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejm3Q5ZKr28)

Heaven and Hell: Inside the the Maternity Ward of Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, Zanzibar

After delivering one child, the Head Nurse Nassara turns around, changes her gloves, and delivers another. In Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, Zanzibar, 30-50 babies are born a day. Often, in the maternity ward, there are only 3-4 nurses working at a time. As the largest public hospital in Zanzibar, Mnazi Mmoja faces the island’s high rate of maternal mortality head on, yet, the root of the problem is hard to uncover–it’s tangled up in a much larger system.

This piece would not be possible without the Program in Global Health Technologies at Boston University led by Dr. Zaman, the Stanford Storytelling Project, and the kindness of everyone at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital.

Producer: Megan Calfas

Rui — “Caress me to Sleep”, “Selbstheilend”, “No sudden movements”
Johnny Ripper — ”Nicolas”
Orbique — “Simple”
Cuban Cowboys — “Outro”

We are still here – stories of the Tinggian

In Abra, a province of the northern Philippines, members of several indigenous communities – collectively called the Tinggian – are fighting to protect their histories. Listen to the stories of an elder charged with upholding a centuries-old peace pact; a pastor whose ancestors fought as revolutionaries; a mayor who evaded assassination to build a school in his hometown; and a weaver who’s made it her mission to revive a tradition of ritual and weaving.

Producer: Ethan Chua

Elder Bansilan Sawadan
Elder Johnny Guinaban
Pastor Ruben
Elder Norma Mina

With thanks to:
Ate Minda Guinaban
Raffy Tejero
The Center for Community Transformation (CCT)
My parents, Ronald and Anabelle Chua

Podington Bear

Whose Language? Afrikaans in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Explore the ties between language and identity in South Africa with two women who see Afrikaans as the language of reconciliation.

Two women in South Africa are currently challenging the assumption that Afrikaans is solely the language of the oppressor. One is a poet. The other runs a community radio station. Through a retelling of the true history of the language and the people who created the language, words arise that begin to break down the ties between language and identity over 20 years post-apartheid: “you can’t blame a language for what a group of people did with it.”

Producer: Isaac Goldstein

The last offering, Sunhiilow
No sudden movements, Rui
Magic Torquoise, Sunhiilow
Butterfly Lullaby, Possimiste

Una Isu: a Ñuu Savi warrior resisting through hip hop

As indigenous people from Mexico migrate to California, their languages and cultures are threatened. One indigenous trilingual rapper based in Fresno is fighting back.

“We are taught that we’re not valuable, we are taught that we have no history, we are ignorant, we don’t have richness of culture…. I’m trying to turn everything around.”

Miguel Villegas Ventura came to the US at age 7 speaking only Mixteco, an indigenous language spoken by the Ñuu Savi nation in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla. He came of age in Fresno, California, amidst poverty, bullying and the constant pressure to hide his roots.

But when Miguel learned the history of Una Isu, a 12th century Mixteco warrior, everything changed.

Today Miguel demands respect and dignity through trilingual hip hop. Like Una Isu, he seeks to unite indigenous Mexicans who have found a new home in the United States.

Producer: Jackie Botts

Featuring voices of Miguel Villegas, Leoncio Vasquez and Irma Luna

“Mixteco es un Lenguaje” by Una Isu
“Intro [Prod. Esteban]” by Una Isu
“Quisieron [Prod. Esteban]” by Una Isu
“Se que avanzare (Con Mixteko) [Prod. Starbeats]” by Una Isu
“Soñadores [Prod. Fenix]” by Una Isu
“Cinco años (Con Mixteko) [Prod. Guerrero]” by Una Isu
“Asi quiero sanar [Prod. N3w Lment]” by Una Isu
“Pop Song” by Johnny Ripper
“Lamentos en Aula Remix” by Toiletrolltube
“If You Should Lose Me” by Lil Rob
“Summer Nights” by Lil Rob

Una Isu complete music at https://soundcloud.com/miguel-villegas-29

No hay pelo malo

This podcast explores the burgeoning natural hair movement in the Dominican Republic, where the vast majority of women prefer to straighten their hair. In doing so, it explores the intersections of race, gender, and history in the country’s capital.

Producer: Alyssa Vann

Music: All music recorded in the plaza in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo, or in salons.

Sandbranch: A Deep-rooted Community Fights for Water

Sandbranch is a community outside of Dallas that hasn’t had running water or well water for decades, but the residents refuse to leave.

Founded by former slaves, it used to be a thriving town of over 500 people. In the 1980s, its wells were contaminated. The residents have been fighting for running water ever since. Now, led by a pastor, an environmental lawyer, and past and present residents of the community, Sandbranch is on the brink of change.

Producer: Claudia Heymach

Featuring: Eugene Keahey, Mary Nash, John Wiley Price, Mark McPherson, Ivory Hall, Chess Jones, and the choir of Mt Zion baptist church

Special Thanks: Carol Francois, Clay Jenkins, Edward Shore, the residents of Sandbranch, Catherine Girardeau, Jackson Roach, and Jake Warga

Sounds: Slow Sad Tones by TJ Mothy and Wind Howl 2 by swiftoid

Ghost Temples: The Spirit of Taiwan

Some people pray to gods, but other people pray to ghosts. In this story, Katie Lan explores the temples and folk religion in Taiwan, where her parents and the rest of her family is from. Here, she explores ghost temples and even learns to pray to a dog?

Producer: Katie Lan

Music: 晶晶 1969 鄧麗君

2016 Braden Grant Stories

The Disappearing Dhami

In the rural Himalayas healers called dhami have used local plants and mantras to treat the sick for thousands of years. However, westernized medicine is now coming into the area and rendering the traditional ways obsolete. The tension between between the two healing practices plays itself out in a surprising way.

Produced by: Christopher LeBoa

Immigrant Retirement Homes in the U.S.

After I retired I thought… what do I do next?” We all the know the rags to riches story of immigration and the American dream – but what happens next? The East and West have clashing views of what it means to age, and each person has to define for themselves what it means to grow old in a country that’s not their own. This piece tells the stories of immigrants learning to grow old in America, and how they have found their homes in each other during that process.

Produced by: Annabel Chen
Featuring: Tei Decus, Ann Jordan, Nori Kobayakawa, Jean Yih, Gwen Yeo, Ousha Pancholi, Kusam Patel
Music: Fragile, do not drop (Podington Bear, Tender); Gentle Chase (Podington Bear, Background), CSM (Podington Bear, Neoclassical), Triste (Podington Bear, Solo Instruments), Wilt (Podington Bear, Duets)

Iceland’s Concealed Conservationist

Iceland’s Concealed Conservationists is about the elf population in Iceland and how Icelanders’ tradition of hidden creatures living in the landscape encourages a deep respect for nature and a sense of responsibility to preserve the wilderness which is an essential part of Iceland’s culture and identity. But over the past few years the numbers of tourists travelling to Iceland has increased drastically as people from other countries seek these rare and dramatic locations and so Iceland’s untouched wilderness is at risk of losing its essential character. This story is about the landscape of Iceland and the magic and life that it holds, and Icelanders’ efforts to ensure that it is not lost.

Produced by: Michaela Elias
Featuring: Michaela Elias, Steinar Kaldal, Olof Yrr Atladottir, Oddur Sturluson, Ragga Jonsdottir, Terry Gunnel, Gudmundur Ögmundarson

Producer(s): Michaela Elias, storytelling.stanford.edu
Music: Two Stragers, Rachel Mason, Live at WFMU on Scoot Williams show
Song Four, Bridget St John—Live at WFMU’s Monty Hall
Calendula, Ava Zandieh, Patterns and Drones
Henfight, Itasca, Live at WFMU on The Avant Ghetto with Jeff Conklin
Open your eyes, Jarkko Hietanen

Cryonics Interview

Jim Yount is chief operating officer of the American Cryonics Society

Produced by: Nicole Bennett-Fite

Kingdom of Bicycles, Postmortem

Mao Zedong’s 1950s China was the world’s bicycle production capital. In the 90’s, when the economy opened up, bicycle manufacturing was commoditized and anyone could start a bicycle factory, right in their backyards. We immerse ourselves in the rural town of Wangqingtuo, one of the towns that transformed itself from a backwater agricultural village, to a bustling center of bicycle production. What did bicycles do for this town, and the people in it? Listen on for a tale of their hustle, of inspired imitation, and how bikes changed the lives of the people in this town.


Chinese: Yu Heyong, Cao Jianqin, Liu Xinnian, Zhu Shaobo
Voiceover: Jay Huang, Jake Warga, Dennis Chang, Mike D’Andreas, Rachel Ren, Albert Chen, Jackson Roach, Daniel Hu, Claire Schoen

Producer(s): Gloria Chua, Alice Fang


“百花魁~綠萼梅” by 史志有, 楊秀蘭 & 歐陽謙 (YouTube), Standard YouTube License, link here
“Destiny Day” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
“Odyssey” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
“Thinking Music” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
“Fringe” Topher Mohr and Alex Elena (YouTube Free Music), No attribution required

Image: Man riding a bicycle, Photo by Alice Fang

Production date: Dec 12, 2016

Play for the sake of play: end-of-life caregiving

A story about professionals in various fields involved in end-of-life caregiving. As a premedical student, I explored their experiences, both negative and positive, for the purposes of finding purpose and direction through my pre-professional journey (and in life).

Featuring: Torrey Simons, MD, Joshua Fronk, MD, Jo Darius, Heather Shaw, NP, Vilma Buck, Colleen Vega, NP, Lynn Hutton, LCSW, Carol Stasio, LCSW, David Magnus, Ph.D
Producer(s): Lauren Joseph, storytelling.stanford.edu
Music: FreeSound.org, Podington Bear
Production date: Dec. 12, 2016


Two years after the death of one of Canada’s most beloved slam poets, Zaccheus Jackson is remembered for the work he did in mentoring the next generation of poets, showing pride in his Indigenous heritage, and building a vibrant, creative community. A poet, an arts educator, an artist, and a friend offer their thoughts on his legacy, then and now, as a former mentee travels to the places that started it all.

Featuring: Zaccheus Jackson, Johnny Macrae, Marie Wustner, and Jillian Christmas

Producer: Eva Louise Grant (evagrant@stanford.edu)

Music: Dry Air – Poddington Bear
Recorded samples of music (with artist’s permission)
Original compositions
Grandfather Song – Mob Bounce
Peace Era – Mob Bounce

Depression, One-Two-Three

Living with mental illness means living with the mysterious and mundane. Caretakers of loved ones with depression, anxiety or psychosis must come to grips with both sides, and resist the tug of their own demons in the process. This is an ongoing story about a mom, her daughter and the everyday work of love.


Producer(s): Sarah Jiang, Eileen Williams
Music: Podington Bear, “Undersea Garden”, “Love Sprouts”, Live Recording Patti Page “Tennessee Waltz”,
Image: “San Valentin 14”, Milan Rubio, ballpoint pen and ink

Retaining Rondon: Creole Food in a Changing World

What is Rondon? What does it mean to be Creole in Nicaragua? In a world that increasingly seems to strive for uniformity, afro-descendant Creole people on the eastern coast of Nicaragua seek to hold on to their unique culture through their food. Join us as we travel between the farm, the lagoon and the city to explore how Creole food is changing due to outside pressures.

“Why we appreciate Rondon, it is the strongest food in our gastronomy. And it comes from Africa. I have met many Africans and they cook rondon just like us. It’s a cultural thing. That makes me proud to be black. I’m proud of my Rondon.” – Ms. Gay Sterling

Producer: Maria Doerr
Featuring: Connie Tinoko, Kenneth Fox, Edward (Daha) Fox, Gay Sterling
Special Thanks: Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, and Generation Anthropocene
Music: Take Dis Five, Run-Down Orchestra Bluefield Sound System 2009, Zion-O, Run-Down Orchestra, Bluefield Sound System 2009

2015 Braden Grant Stories


Braden Grant Recipient Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which the bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns on her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual. “The scene would be not very nice, when you look at a dog running around with someone’s hand in his mouth.”

Producer: Reade Levinson
Featuring: Ganbat Namjilsangarav, Christine Murphy, Tsogbadrakh and Tuya Banzragch, and Dr. Keith Bildstein
Special Thanks: Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, and Generation Anthropocene
Music: All ambient recorded by Reade Levinson, sound effects downloaded from FreeSound.
Image via thinkstockphotos

Innocence Lost

The stories of Korean comfort women were left untold for decades, until one woman broke the silence in 1995, 50 years after the end of World War II. Since then, several brave women have come forward with their experiences of forced prostitution for the Japanese army. This is the story of one woman, Gil Won-ok, after she was taken at the age of 13. She speaks for the women and girls whose stories were left untold, and the victims of human trafficking today.

Producer: Yegina Whang
Featuring: Gil Won-ok, Claire Schoen
Music: Sound effects and music from freemusicarchive.org, all other ambient recorded by Yegina Whang

No Longer Alone: Life after prison

Carolyn and Corina survived abuse, illness, addiction, crime, and prison. What ways have they found to successfully reintegrate into the world? This is a story of how we heal ourselves against the specters of our pasts.

Producer: Chuong Phan, with help from Will Rogers
Featuring: Corina Shortall, Carolyn Crowley
Image: Meltwater (Flickr)

Sweet Potato Love

In an isolated fishing village in Papua New Guinea, a linguist sets out to write the first dictionary of the Ende language. Not long after she begins, she finds that one word was more difficult to translate: mokwang, Ende’s word for love, which also means survival.

In this story, we’ll hear how Ende women define what it means to love in Limol, Papua New Guinea.

Producers: Kate L. Lindsey, with help from Claire Schoen
Featuring: Grace Maher, Lois Sadua (translator), Musato Giwo (translator), Joshua Dobola, Robai Reend, Donai Kurupel, Manaleato Kolea, Jenny Dobola, Pingam Uziag, Loni Garaiyi, Sandra Dikai, Merol Kwe, Wagiba Geser
Writer: Kate L. Lindsey
Music: Women from Limol
Image: Grace Maher
Image caption: Kate Lindsey listening to Limol women
Production date: April 16th, 2016

A Neglected Story – Hatred in Yemen

“A Neglected Story – Hatred in Yemen” highlights the story of Shoshanna Shechter, a 30-year-old Jewish woman who escaped Yemen at age 14. She speaks of physical abuse, verbal abuse, rape, murder, and kidnapping against herself and all Jews in Yemen. More symbolically, she brings to light the reasoning as to why we never hear about this silent war against Jews occurring in Yemen – escapees fear that if they share their story, the Yemeni government will kill them. As a result, they flee the country, and never look back at their past again. This podcast aims to share this silent story, and to teach us that the anti-semitic war still exists today.

Producers: Ariela Safira and the Braden Storytelling Department
Narrated by Ariela Safira

Promised Lands And The AfroFuture

“For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.” – Audre Lorde

Producers: Natasha Mmonatau and the Braden Storytelling Department
Featuring: Alfalfa Brown, Queens D. Light, Ericka Huggins, narrated by Natasha Mmonatau

2014 Braden Grant Stories


This story traces the origins of “We Shall Overcome” from the eighteenth century to the March on Washington, and to today. It focuses on the development of the song at the Highlander Folk School, a social justice center in Tennessee.

Producer: Beatrix Lockwood
Featuring: Candie Carawan, Clayborne Carson, Pam McMichael
Sounds: Martin Luther King, Workers in Selma, AL, March on Washington
Music: Pete Seeger, Guy Carawan, Charlie Haden & Hank Jones, The Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, Paul Robeson, Rev. Gary Davis, Azuza Pacific Gospel Choir, Zilphia Horton, Dave Van Ronk, Fats Waller, Elizabeth Cotten
Image via Wikimedia

Of Madness and Magic: Shifting the Lens to Understand the Mind

What differentiates what is labeled as mental dysfunction—mania, psychosis, seizures—from what is magic, spirit, or simply … beyond the scientific method? Mischa Shoni embarks on a journey to understand her own brain. On the path, she meets dragons, gryphons, crystal-eyed snakes … and some extraordinary people who see the mind beyond the limited lens of psychiatry.

Producer: Mischa Shoni
Featuring: Anusuya Starbear, Michelle Boyle
Special thanks: Will Rogers
Music: Man of Suit (Echos of Space, Fog Divided by 2, Quiet Mountaintop, Lost in the Forest, Trees of Mystery, Howling Wind, The Dancing Chairs, Wind Chimera, Redwoods & Skyscrapers)
Image via Wikimedia


In the past few decades, orphans in Africa have become defined by snapshots: snapshots of jutting ribs, ragged clothes, hopeless eyes. Those images have become the face of international charity work and have helped drive the idea that we should send resources to help. But there are things that can’t be captured in snapshots. In this story, Christine Chen travels to the West African country of Ghana, to talk with the people directly involved with orphan care there—the social workers, orphanage directors, families, and kids. There, she encounters narratives that put an unexpected twist on our understanding of orphanages—and push us to reconsider our assumptions about the children living inside them.

Producer: Christine Chen
Featuring: Samuel Anaglate, Helena Obeng-Asamoah, Akosua Marfo, Emmanuel, Richmond, Hannah
Special thanks: Christy Hartman
Music: A Smile for Timbuctu, Chris Zabriskie, Lee Rosevere
Image courtesy of Brandee Cooklin


Young Sudanese in the Diaspora often experience a sense of estrangement. They feel caught between the cultures of the countries they live in and Sudan. This story investigates how some of these people have used art to explore the tensions and possibilities within their fraught relationship to the place their parents call home.

Producer: Atheel Elmalik
Featuring: Safia Elhillo, Mo, Alsarah, Dar Al Naim
Music: Alsarah and The Nubatones (نوبة نوتو, Oud Solo, Its Late), Alsarah 5000 (Christina- Jodah), Blood Orange (It is what it is), The Wyld (Odyssey)
Image courtesy of Amir Mohamed

2013 Braden Grant Stories


Birth is celebrated as one of the most profound and joyous moments in life. Yet in the nation of Uganda, delivering a child is an undertaking steeped in danger. The African country faces one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Why are so many Ugandan women dying in childbirth?

In this piece, Charlotte Sagan explores the issues surrounding maternal health in the Southeastern district of Iganga. Conversations with Ugandan mothers, fathers and health care practitioners reveal intimate narratives of health, perseverance and family. The delivery story of a young woman named Miriam, in particular, illustrates the perils and joys of childbirth.

Producer: Charlotte Sagan

Featuring: Nabalumba Miriam, Joshua Moangze, Dr. Charles Waiswa, Kaina Rita, Nampina Ruth
Special thanks: Christy Hartman, John Lee, Victoria Hurst Muirhead, Jacquie Cutts, Nakasango Evelyn, Mukalu Mohamed, Margreth Mpossi
Music: Kevin MacLeodJamal WasswaMohr Productions, Jess, Eddy Kenzo
Image courtesy of Charlotte Sagan

Beyond The Rainbow

This is a tale of the other. Things are changing and the LGBTQ communities that were formerly exiled are now, slowly, being noticed and accepted by the mainstream–whether or not these communities give a hoot about “normal” acceptance. Just because we live in a more open-minded era for gays, gender-benders, and women alike (and there are many who would find this idea contentious) does not mean that the turbulent story of how drag got to the spotlight should be glossed over, nor the deeply transgressive nature of gender-bending forgotten.

Lest the contemporary “it-gets-better” ethos rewrite a subversive history forged outside the norm and by those who have always felt different, Brittany Newell have sought to record the oral history of 7 dazzling American queens and gender-artists working today. What is the trajectory from misfit to show-stopper, fringe to the spotlight, boy to beautiful woman or creature? Is drag the sparkling manifestation of an less-pretty past, the alchemy of the alienated? In documenting their experiences, inspirations, and struggles as The Other, she hopes to pay tribute to the art of transformation, as perfected to an almost mystical degree by these 7 artists, gender-rebels, and visionaries. This is a tale of the other, the queer, the blunt, and the brave. Their stories go against the grain and beyond the rainbow.

Producer: Brittany Newell
Featuring: Macy Rodman, Peaches Christ, Alexis Blair Penney, Heklina, Sissy Spastik, Mathu Andersen, & Cher Noble.
Special thanks: to all the beautiful people and amazing artists who made this possible! The Braden Grant for the Study of Oral Narrative, the Stanford Storytelling Project, Ziva Schatz, and Eric Eich
Image via Ziva Scatz (of drag queen Alaska Thunderf*ck)

I Love You, PACS Me!

In 1999, France created the French equivalent of a civil union. The PACS–an acronym for “pacte civile de solidarité”– was intended as an alternative to marriage for gay couples, but it was open to straight couples as well. And it was used by them–perhaps paradoxically, 94% of PACS couples are straight. With the legalization of gay marriage in May 2013, gay couples who want legal protection are no longer relegated to the PACS. What does the PACS mean to the people who get it, and how is it different from marriage? How can love and commitment be expressed, and how is this changing in modern French society?

Savannah Kopp interviews PACS couples in Paris about their love stories and their PACS stories. This piece explores how a culturally specific label for a relationship comes to have meaning and how, as the cliché goes, maybe the French can teach us about love.

Producer: Savannah Kopp
Featuring: Laura Berrey, Guido Panel, Kelsy Wilson, Suzanne Newman, Sylvia Calle, Valerie Lincy, Anne Bayley, Dana Conley, Channa Galhenege, Coralie Ossant, Diane Bonifaix, Roberto Conradi
Merci à: Estelle Halevi, Wilfried Rault, Natacha Ruck, the Stanford Storytelling Project, the PACS couples, and everyone who helped me realize this project.
Music: Podington Bear, Broke for Free, Kevin MacLeod, Everybody Was In the French Resistance
Image courtesy of Savannah Kopp

Strawberry Blonde Forever

Some 76 million years ago an asteroid smashed into our planet, killing the dinosaurs and three-quarters of the Earth’s plants and animals. Once again our planet is facing a wave of extinctions, this one of man’s making, and more than ever we need to know what it takes for a species to survive a cataclysm. Laura Cussen traces the improbable story of an ancient, venomous mammal of the Caribbean, and of the local people who have unearthed its secret to survival.

Producer: Laura Cussen
Featuring: César Abril, Nicolás Corona, Pedro Martínez, and Alexis Mychajliw
Special thanks: The Last Survivors, Natacha Ruck, Will Rogers, Graham Roth, Weston Gaylord, Professor Elizabeth Hadly, to all the people who have made this project possible, and to the Hispaniolan solenodon.
Music: Sunsearcher, Chris Zabriskie, Nicolás Corona
Image via flickr

“E Ola Pono: Nana I Ke Kumu” (Live Righteously: Look to the Source)

This piece explores traditional healing in Native Hawaiian culture, examining the relevance of ancient values and traditions in today’s society. Nicole details her journey throughout the Hawaiian Islands, presenting stories from Native healers who share their experiences in seeking truth, wisdom, and health. These stories delve into fundamental issues such as identity, balance, and nature, while showing how cultural complexity can be rooted in simple universal truths.

Producer: Nicole Marie Rodriguez
Featuring: Dane Silva, Puahi Chun, Kawika, Helen
Special thanks: Stanford School of Earth Sciences, Prof. Peter Vitousek, Dr. Noa Lincoln, University of Hawaii, Waianae Coast Community Health Center
Image courtesy of Nicole Marie Rodriguez

The Congress Radio Calling: Underground Broadcasts during the Quit India Movement

In Egypt, in Iran, and in Tunisia, we’ve heard a lot about the so-called Twitter and Facebook revolutions. But what about the radio revolution? Working from archives in New Delhi and London, Neel Thakkar resurrects the forgotten story of the Congress Radio —  the secret, underground radio station which, during the Quit India movement of 1942, helped keep the Indian nationalist movement alive during some of its darkest days.

Producer: Neel Thakkar
Featuring: Usha Mehta, C.K. Narayanswami, K.A. Abbas, Anant Kanekar, and J.N. Sahini
Special thanks: Kevin Greenbank at the Cambridge Centre for South Asia, and Kamlesh and Naina Ramani
Image via wikimedia

2012 Braden Grant Stories


Rachel Kelley interviewed over two dozen activists, artists, and their friends as part of her effort to capture an oral history of Greenlands, an intentional community in Nashville, Tennessee. Their reflections ranged from the ethics of air conditioning to Occupy antics to the moral quandaries of gentrification. Here is a snapshot of Rachel’s experience and some of the Greenlanders’ stories.

Producer: Rachel Kelley
Featuring: Karl Meyer, DJ Hudson, Kate Savage, Tristan Call, Jena Robinson, Matt Christy, Keith Caldwell, Trevor Bradshaw, Megan Gilbreth, Rachel Kelley, and the Greenlands community
Special thanks: community members and friends of Nashville Greenlands, Charlie Mintz
Music links: Bluegrass Banjo,”Insomnie“, “Slide Cowboy,”  “Cerises,” “Quasi Motion,” “Hip-Hop 4,” “La Toupie,” “Rae & Christian Remix dub ‘Testify,” “We Shall Overcome,” Broke for Free
Image courtesy of Matt Christy

The Blind Leading the Blind

Understanding someone who experiences the world differently than you can be hard. In fact, it can be downright scary.

In this piece, Austin Meyer, a senior from Stanford University, visits the Earle Baum Center for People With Vision Loss to tell his story of what it’s like to navigate the intimidating space between two opposite ways of experiencing the world… one with vision and one without.

Producer: Austin Meyer
Featuring: Denise Vancil, Scott Murray, and Sharon Brown
Special thanks: Dan Needham and The Earle Baum Center
Image via flickr

Travel: An Australian Anthem

What makes young Australians such eager globe-trotters? Aliza Gazek and Kelly Vicars swung on their packs and set off “down under” to find out. The travelers they met along the way shared stories of their adventures and offered surprising insight into Australia’s history as a nation, providing a trail of clues to why it’s so easy to find an Aussie backpacker in any hostel in the world.

Producers: Aliza Gazek and Kelly Vicars
Featuring: John Grant, Prashan Paramanathan, Ashley Carruthers, Theo Ell, Mel Ronca, Sandra Ronca, Aileen “Nan” Grant
Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter and Jeanne Snider for their guidance, our generous Aussie hosts, and everyone else who shared their stories: Alex Dumbrell, Murray and Rosie Fisher, Robin Grant, and Paul Rowley.
Music: Rusted Root, Men at Work, Grizzly Bear, Norah JonesSydney Children’s Choir, Slightly Stoopid, River Ran, Enya, Lucius
Image via flickr

Improv in the Real World

There’s something special about theatrical improvisation.  There’s a trust, a confidence, and a sense of risk that can help individuals grow and bring groups together.  But what happens when you graduate and your source of improv (mainly, your college improv group) goes away?

In this piece, Mona Thompson, Stanford class of 2013, explores the concept of improvisation in the “real world.”  Would it be possible to create a whole life centered around improv?  And if so, would it be meaningful?

Producer: Mona Thompson
Featuring: William Hall, Dr. Nika Quirk, & Patricia Ryan Madson
Special Thanks: Charlie Mintz, John Lee, and everyone at Stanford Storytelling Project
Image via Flickr

Reimagining the 2002 Gujarat Riots

On February 22nd, 2002 a train carrying 58 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya was attacked by a group of Muslims, resulting in the death of all of its passengers. What followed was a series of violent, retaliatory attacks against Muslims in the state and the death of over 1,000 people.

In this piece, Stanford students Claire Colberg 14’ and Ravi Patel 13’ travel to Anand, India, to understand how these riots have affected Gujarat’s youth. Despite deep-rooted challenges, their conversations with both Hindu and Muslim students reveal the future vision of communal unity shared by Gujarat’s youth.

Producers: Claire Colberg and Ravi Patel
Featuring: The students of D.Z. Patel High School, D.N High School, the Hanifa School, and the Chaortar Institute of Technology – Changa.
Special Thanks: Andrew Todhunter, Kiran Patel, and all the students who shared their stories with us in Gujarat.
Image courtesy of Claire Colberg