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June 3, 2021  

Cargo-Sailboats are Back-at-Sea, Creating a Greener Supply Chain


This episode was recorded live on May 26 and includes questions from the audience.

It is part of a series on sustainable initiatives to save our planet. In his latest interviews, host Stan Berteloot spoke with Navi Radjou about the frugal economy and Bruno Sarda about how corporations are experimenting with sustainability. 

Stan’s guest, Stefan Gallard, is a French-American working for Grain de Sail, a company that has built the first modern wind-powered cargo ships. 

Grain de Sail transports wine, coffee beans, and chocolate across the globe in its 80- foot schooner. Its sailboat cargo is an essential part of the company’s green logistics chain.

More information on Grain de Sel at:

May 27, 2021  

Bruno Sarda: “Climate change poses a systemic, existential risk to the future viability of your system”


Subscribe to Back in America, the newsletter

Back in America is a podcast exploring America's culture, values, and identity. This episode is part of a series on positive initiatives to save our planet. In his last interview, Stan Berteloot spoke with Navi Radjou about the frugal economy. Today, he is talking to Bruno Sarda, an internationally renowned expert in sustainability. 

For years, corporations have advertised their green initiatives to reassure both investors and customers about their sustainable practices. Yet as we know, climate change is only getting worse, so we wanted to ask Bruno if this was just “greenwashing.” 

On a personal note: Back in America now boasts more than 50 episodes, and we am very grateful to you, our listeners, for your support during all this time. This summer, Stan will be going back to France for the first time in two years, and he will take a podcast break until September. 

However, Back in America’s interns Josh and Emma will be keeping the lights on by releasing podcast episodes and newsletter articles (subscribe here).

Josh has been working on a series of episodes discussing American music and poetry, which will be released every week in July and August.

So Back in America will be in summer mode, and we know you will love it!


To learn more about Bruno Sarda check out his Linkedin profile.

May 6, 2021  

Students Becoming Pro: the Interns Behind the Mic


Careful listeners of Back in America may have noticed that we have expanded our team and welcomed two interns to research, record and write the podcast alongside me, Stan Berteloot.

In the spirit of transparency, I’d like for you to formally meet my interns Josh Wagner and Emma Myers in true podcast fashion as they interview each other!

They also discuss their own exciting projects coming soon: be on the lookout for Josh’s Poetry and Eugenics series both releasing this summer, and Emma’s deep dive into the history of vaccine hesitancy and medical ethics later this month.

April 29, 2021  

Navi Radjou: Is Frugal Economy a Viable Alternative to Capitalism and Could it Save our Planet?

Navi Radjou podcast frugal economy

In this episode, Back in America’s host, Stan Berteloot speaks with Navi Radjou, internationally renowned Indian-French-American scholar, innovation and leadership advisor, and bestselling author based in New York. Navi’s most recent book, Frugal Innovation: How To Do More With Less, shows how companies can innovate faster, better, and more sustainably. 

The conversation focuses on Navi’s work on developing an alternative to capitalism and concrete actions individuals and businesses are taking to build a better, more sustainable world.

“My job is to introduce Americans to new ways of doing business, new ways of creating economic and social value in a sustainable way,” says Radjou. 

He describes the “frugal economy” as a new economy that is built on business-to-business (b2b) sharing, local production from micro-factories, the notion of regeneration, or how companies can consciously have a positive impact on society and the planet.

Since Navi is multicultural, the episode focuses on the values, culture, and identity of America. Navi comments on an excerpt from a previous Back in America interview with American writer and thinker John Michael Greer. 

In the audio clip, we hear Greer say that America is all about independence and every man for himself, while European countries have a more communal attitude.

In response, Navi asked: “Why do we have to choose? Why can we have both? Why can we go into a kind of the third dimension where we try to integrate the goodness of America, the goodness of Europe? The ideal society,” he says, “is the one that tried to find the sweet spot between maximizing individual expression while contributing to social integration.”

Navi backs up his theories with concrete examples of companies, such as Xometry, People + Work Connect from Accenture, Unilever, Civica RX, or Convoy that are currently working according to the frugal economy precept.

Here are two of Radjou’s articles on Frugal Economy and B2B Sharing :

The Rising Frugal Economy

The sharing economy’s next target: Business-to-business

Navi Radjou’s Movie and Books Selection

The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium Paperback 

by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 

The Life Divine Paperback 

by Sri Aurobindo


Losers on Netflix 


Watch the full, unedited, interview on YouTube

April 15, 2021  

How would you go to Zoom School as a homeless youth? We asked Bridging Tech, a charity devoted to overcoming the digital divide


Bridging COVID-19 Isolation and the Digital Divide with Bridging Tech


In 2021, it is nearly impossible to get anything done without a laptop: apply for a job, go to school, safely connect with friends, or schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Yet, there are fewer laptops in existence than humans on this planet, presenting a unique challenge for unhoused students. Not only are they disadvantaged in terms of their living situation, but also have to deal with this extra technological hurdle known as the digital divide.

Naturalized Americans have a unique set of familial and institutional knowledge about how to navigate the complex and confusing American system: What is an SAT? Who can I ask for help on my math homework? Where can I get free public Wi-Fi? While these questions might seem obvious to a second-generation resident, they are anything but for immigrant and first-generation communities. This week’s episode of Back in America, hosted by Podcast Editor Josh Wagner, highlights Bridging Tech, a charity devoted to providing hardware and other educational resources for unhoused students. Having donated nearly 1,000 laptops nationwide, Bridging Tech is developing infrastructure for companies and individuals to donate disused computers to be wiped/refurbished before being donated to unhoused communities. Founded by rising Stanford seniors, Isabel Wang and Margot Bellon, Bridging Tech is committed to listening to the unhoused community and creating actually helpful resources, rather than assuming what would be best and offering potentially unhelpful solutions. Holly Giang, Bridging Tech’s Foundation Relations Manager, also joins us for the interview.

To find out how unhoused youths can go to online school, what policy measures are holding back their success, and how to get involved with Bridging Tech, listen to our episode!


In the coming weeks, the Back in America team will be launching an eight-part series investigating the relationship between music and poetry, tentatively titled “Rhythmic Verses.” Join Podcast Editor Josh Wagner as he poetically travels around the country, asking the age-old question: What is American to you?

April 8, 2021  

Listen Again: Guns, God & the 2nd Amendment in America - David Treibs Christian & Guns Activist - Prof. Robert Spitzer Constitution and Gun Control Expert, SUNY Cortland



As Biden announces new executive actions on gun control, the Back in America team invites you to re-listen to an episode on guns in America, initially published on Oct. 23, 2020.

In his executive actions today, Biden restricted the sale of “ghost guns,” untraceable guns which are sold in kits.

Today’s announcements are less expansive than the president’s initial campaign promises. Yet, administration officials suggest that these measures are only the first steps of Biden’s plans for addressing gun violence. Further legislation will require Congressional approval and include a nationwide assault weapons ban (something that Australia successfully adopted 25 years ago) and universal background checks.


The following episode is an edited version of live interviews that were recorded on October 20th and 21st. 2020. You can watch the entire broadcast on Back in America’s YouTube channel.  


A few weeks ago Jon, a good college friend, visited us for the weekend. At night, we were joined by a couple living next door and we started to talk about politics as we drank beers by the fire pit in the backyard.


In the backyard were two French nationals (my wife and I) joined by three Americans.


I can't remember exactly how or why Jon started to talk about gun rights, but the conversation became serious when he professed not only his belief in the right to bear arms but also that it was essential to the protection of civilians against the tyranny of the government. Historically, the people most affected by governmental tyranny (forced displacement, slavery) have been denied access to firearms and the ability to use them.


This made me dig further into the American gun debate. I've learned that many citizens support the idea of owning any type of gun and that some believe that it is a God-given right.


What has God got to do with guns? How can a democracy work when its citizens trust their guns more than their votes? And with the recent bankruptcy of the NRA, will gun control actually work?


To try to make sense of all this we are going to hear from three people: first, my friend Jon Phebus will clarify his views; then David Treibs, a Christian and gun activist, will talk about his God-given right to bear arms. Finally, SUNY Cortland’s Professor Robert Spitzer, an expert on constitutional law and gun control, will offer his interpretation of the constitution and bring some historical context to the debate.


Books and Movies Recommendations:


David Treibs

Love Letter to America by Tomas Schuman

The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov 

Marx & Satan by Richard Wurmbrand


Professor Robert Spitzer

The Politics of Gun Control by Robert J. Spitzer

Casablanca (1942)

March 27, 2021  

Derrick Jensen: Are We at the End of the World or just the End of our Civilization?


In this episode, Stan Berteloot continues to explore how leading American collapsologists thinkers conceive of the collapse of our Western civilization.

Since the 1990s, scholars have been predicting that the end of the Cold War and the struggle between capitalism/communism will also bring about “the end of history.” But, are these worries founded? What are we to make of the last 30 years?

After previous episodes with John-Michael Greer and Richard Heinberg, Stan sat down with Derrick Jensen, an American author, ecophilosopherradical environmentalist, and anti-civilization advocate. He once said that “We’re going to watch the end of the world on television until the TVs go out.”

For Jenson, the solution is essentially to return to the Stone Age. You say that’s ridiculous?!

Well, his movement, the Deep Green Resistance (DGR), is gaining international traction in the West. In any case, many people agree that, whether we want it, our civilization is on the brink of extinction.

March 8, 2021  

International Women’s Day - Listen Again - Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: Black Feminism, Civil Rights…


Today is March 8, International Women's Day, and on this day I suggest that we listen to Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and her work for civil justice.

This episode was previously released on Jan. 22, 2021. In this episode of Back in America, I speak with Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, political consultant, and activist. She recently ran to represent Maryland’s 7th District in Congress after undergoing a double mastectomy.

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is the widow of Congressman Elijah Cummings, a good friend of former Congressman John Lewis. When Lewis died in 2020, hundreds of Twitter account accidentally posted memorial photos of Cummings since the two looked so much alike!

On Back in America, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore. Cummings discusses the ongoing fight for civil rights. “I fight for the right to exist. I fight for the right of everyone to be recognized on the level of our common humanity. I fight for the history in this country that has been suppressed. I am the fourth generation from slavery in this country. My parents grew up in the Jim Crow South. My late husband, Elijah Cummings grew up in the Jim Crow South. They were born into a world that denied African Americans the right to exist,” she said.

We also spoke of Black feminism and the importance for Black women to take charge of their struggle against racist and institutionalized patriarchy.

In recent months, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings has been working to publish We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy, her husband’s final, unfinished book. The book came out last September and she talks to me about the importance of getting her husband’s voice out there.

We're Better Than This - My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy


March 4, 2021  

Who should get the vaccine first? We didn’t know so we asked a philosopher


As countries worldwide scramble to vaccinate their citizens against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, governments have to make the uncomfortable calculus of who deserves to get the vaccine right now. The ones who are spreading it the most? The ones in essential high-risk jobs? People over a certain age? That threshold is unclear and hotly contested. With several months to go before vaccines are readily available to any desiring American adult, legislators have to ask The Question: who first? And, as more vaccine becomes available, they will also have to ask whether it is morally justified for the U.S. government to mandate every citizen or every healthcare worker to take the vaccine? If many states mandate every child to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, is COVID-19 significantly different?


In August 2020, Justin Bernstein, a philosopher at Florida Atlantic University, co-authored a paper answering precisely this question. And while the state of the world has changed significantly since then, the core question of how governments value their citizens, when, and why remains constant (if you’re curious, the U.S. government places the monetary value of a human life at roughly $10 million).

Podcast Editor Josh Wagner sat down with Justin to ask precisely these burning questions. For Justin, vaccines are just like any other vital resource that the government needs to allocate. And, in his mind, while our government has been failing in its mandate to protect public health, it is still the best means we have. 


Listen in to find out the answers to these questions and more!


Justin’s website

Alexander Guerrero’s blog post about dividing up the United States

February 27, 2021  

Listen again: Eric Marsh - Being a Black man today in America


First published on November 18, 2019


When a French journalist returns to live in the US 25 years after leaving it as a student, he struggles to recognize the country he loves. He embarks on conversations with Americans of all backgrounds in a quest to understand what America means today.


This was the first installment of Back in America.

The episode is part of a series on masculinity in America.

Here I speak to Eric Marsh a Black activist and a social worker in Philadelphia. 

We speak about being a Black man in America; the impact of slavery. The impact of the Trump election; consumerism.

We discuss an art piece by Hank Willis Thomas, Branded Head, a photo of a Black man’s head with the shape of the Nike swoosh, and what Thomas called commodifiable blackness.

February 11, 2021  

Witchcraft and Feminism: Three American witches share their experiences


Witches are everywhere! Your neighbor might be a witch, you can run into one at the farmer market, the organic food store, the alternative medicine section of your bookstore, and definitely at feminist rallies––you could even be a witch without knowing it!

Since the 1960s, the historical stereotype of the witch has been reclaimed as a feminist icon. 

In their everyday lives, American witches act just the same as anyone else. While it is forbidden for outsiders to enter certain covens, many sell protection spells on Etsy for $15 a pop. They post pictures of Midnight Sabbaths on Instagram and Livestream Tarot readings on YouTube.

Beyond the folklore and the spells, the modern American witch is taking a stand against the patriarchy. 

You will hear from three witches in this episode: Amanda Auchter, an American writer, professor, and editor. Amanda has won several literary awards and is currently working on her third book of poems which focuses on how witchcraft and faith empowered women.

Then, Cabra Woodwell, a witch “dedicated to changing the narratives of magic to decolonize, decarcerate, and liberate” comes in.   

The third witch is Pixie from Salem, Massachusetts. The interview with Pixie was recorded live and can be watched in full on YouTube

If you want to learn more about Amanda, her books and her new witchcraft store, and if you want to explore what Pixie and Cabra are up to, see this episode's note.

To explore even further witchcraft and feminism check out Back in America's Newsletter on Substack!

Amanda Auchter

Amanda is about to open an occult-based shop, Midnight Apothecary, on March 1, with her creative partner, Eddy Roberts. Their information and stories are available on Instagram, here:


Pixie’s Instagram account is

Cabra Woodwell

Cabra Woodwell on Instagram is

Their astrology school can be found on

February 4, 2021  

Tricia Baker: “My Dog Saved My Life” - Inside Dog Therapy and Mental Health Education


This episode was originally recorded live and you can watch the entire interview on our YouTube channel.

Trica Baker was the VP of Marketing Services at Merrill Lynch for 13 years before leaving her job to take care of her teenage son who was struggling with severe depression.

After battling this disease for three long years, her son tragically committed suicide. In the aftermath of those dark days, Tricia fell into a terrible depression and suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress, barely able to leave her bed.

Yet, her dog Miki, guided by a mysterious instinct, helped her deal with her depression and got her out of bed each day. “Miki saved my life,” says Tricia.


In this episode of Back in America, the podcast we hear from Tricia who has since dedicated her life to training dogs to prevent suicide.


You can find Tricia’s suicide prevention organization, Attitudes In Reverse, at

20 Paws is her dog training business:


If you or a loved one is depressed or having suicidal thoughts, the suicide prevention text line can be found by texting ‘AIR’ to 741 741. To speak to a counselor call 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255) or go online:


January 28, 2021  

Zionism, Mysticism, and the Law: Sam Shonkoff and his students on American Judaism today



What is really at question is the American way of life. What is really at question is whether Americans already have an identity or are still sufficiently flexible to achieve one. This is a painfully complicated question, for what now appears to be the American identity is really a bewildering and sometimes demoralizing blend of nostalgia and opportunism. ––James Baldwin

In recent months, shows about Jewish thought and theology (Pretend it’s a City, Unorthodox) have populated Netflix’s “Trending Now” tab. But what does it mean to be an American Jew in 2021? Why are many Jews today turning towards Hasidism and more conservative forms of religion in a time of unprecedented secularism? Are spirituality and personal faith compatible with traditional Jewish precepts? Why is it the case that Jews have both benefited from and been victimized by white nationalism? And how does Zionism, Jewish nationalism, fit into this story?

To think about these questions, Podcast Editor Josh Wagner spoke with Sam Shonkoff, Professor Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California as well as two of his students. Sam’s research delves into the intersection between secular spiritual practices and the contemporary Hasidic movement, especially in the thought of not-quite theologian Martin Buber. For Buber, religion was less about acting according to the letter of the law than cultivating a sense of “embodied theology” in the everyday––faith as less of a regulating authority than source of spiritual transformation (tiqqun). His students, Eva Sturm-Gross and Jonah Gelfand both took Sam’s Jewish Mysticism seminar at Oberlin College and became fascinated with the downright odd and weird mystics in Jewish thought. Eva is a junior from Vermont who works at a bakery and is majoring in Studio Art and Religion with a minor in Jewish Studies. Jonah just graduated from Oberlin last June and has followed Sam to the GTU and hopes to continue his personal and professional engagement with Jewish thought. Both Eva and Jonah grew up as secular Reform Jews, yet have decided to become more seriously devout. 

While their experience cannot speak for all American Jews, Sam, Eva, and Jonah tell a story about their return to a practical faith in a time of uncertainty and doubt.

To find out more, listen to the episode on Podbean, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you usually find your podcasts!



Sam’s latest book on contemporary Hasidism, edited with Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse: Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World


The book on top of Sam’s desk at the time of recording this episode: The Obligated Self

Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought by Mara H. Benjamin


Eva’s art Instagram

Martin Buber’s I and Thou

January 22, 2021  

Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings: On her Late Husband Elijah Cummings, Black Feminism, Civil Rights…


In this episode of Back in America, I speak with Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, political consultant, and activist. She recently ran to represent Maryland’s 7th District in Congress after undergoing a double mastectomy.


Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is the widow of Congressman Elijah Cummings, a good friend of former Congressman John Lewis. When Lewis died in 2020, hundreds of Twitter account accidentally posted memorial photos of Cummings since the two looked so much alike!


On Back in America, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore. Cummings discusses the ongoing fight for civil rights. “I fight for the right to exist. I fight for the right of everyone to be recognized on the level of our common humanity. I fight for the history in this country that has been suppressed. I am the fourth generation from slavery in this country. My parents grew up in the Jim Crow South. My late husband, Elijah Cummings grew up in the Jim Crow South. They were born into a world that denied African Americans the right to exist,” she said.


We also spoke of Black feminism and the importance for Black women to take charge of their struggle against racist and institutionalized patriarchy.

In recent months, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings has been working to publish We're Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy, her husband’s final, unfinished book. The book came out last September and she talks to me about the importance of getting her husband’s voice out there.

We're Better Than This - My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy


January 7, 2021  

The Promise of a Better Human: James Clement on our Transhuman futures


In this week’s episode, Podcast Editor Josh Wagner takes a look at transhumanism, the philosophy, and ideology that the next stage in human evolution will arrive through artificial enhancements. Started in the early 1990s in Silicon Valley, transhumanism has accrued a wide variety of adherents, ranging from Ray Kurzweil and Elon Musk to Jeffrey Epstein, who believe that the human body itself needs to be upgraded. In their minds, such technological enhancements will increase the quality of life and abilities of every human being––“if nature is unjust, change nature!”


But, are such transhumanist dreams even possible, and would such biological enhancements actually help transform the human race rather than reinforcing the social, racial, and economic divides which are tearing at the foundations of our democracy?


Joining us this week is James Clement, director of BetterHumans, the world’s first transhumanist-oriented biomedical research lab. A former international tax lawyer and brewpub founder, Clement now works on the scientific side of anti-aging, often collaborating with Havard geneticist George Church to discover why certain humans are able to live for more than 100 years. At the heart of his transhumanism rests a fundamental belief in human capabilities and their liberation, beliefs which motivate his biological research. For him, transhumanism is a real technology, fundamentally linked to medical vaccines, stitches, and contact lenses. The only difference is that, like any new technology, transhumanism is not fully understood, especially by Americans who are resistant to such changes.


At the core of this interview lies a concern that a so-called transhumanist utopia, while possible, may not be entirely desirable. Like Odysseus’ searching beyond the limits of human cognition in Dante’s Inferno, transhumanism crucially aspires to alter our relationship with our own bodies, potentially increasing carbon emissions, overpopulation, and racial/social inequalities.


James Clement: 


Transhumanist Manifesto: 


Humanist Manifesto: 

December 17, 2020  

Divers from the EPIX/ BBC Docuseries “Enslaved”: Diving on Shipwrecked Slave Ships



In this episode, I interview three crew members of the EPIX / BBC docuseries Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

While 2020 has been a year of intense examination of racism in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Enslaved takes a deep dive at the historical realities of the Middle Passage. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, The Guardian’s Afua Hirsh, and investigative journalist Simcha Jacobovici, the series travels across the globe to sites of slave ships to uncover what these sunken graveyards can reveal about life onboard––lives of which there is little historical record or archive. 

Our first guest is the British marine archaeologist Dr. Sean Kingsley who served as a historical advisor to the series’ diving crew.


Then two of the divers will join me: Kinga Philipps and Kramer Wimberley.  An award-winning journalist, writer, TV host, and esteemed member of the Explorer’s Club, Kinga provided a European perspective to the shoot, and also was one of the few non-Black divers for Enslaved. Next, Kramer will introduce himself as the series’ lead diving instructor who also leads “Diving with a Purpose,” a maritime archaeology program which protects the legacy of the Transatlantic slave trade shipwrecks.

Each of the three interviews was broadcasted live and can be watched in full on the Back in America’s YouTube channel.


As I conducted these interviews, I wanted to understand two things. First, what did diving on the wrecks of slave ships  us about the history of slave trade. Then, I wanted the divers to speak about their own experiences as they dived and explored these sunken mass graves, especially in light of recent activism in America.


Dr Sean Kingsley Wreckwatch Mag 


Kramer Wimberly Diving With a Purpose


Kinga Philipps

This episode was partially edited by Back in America’s Podcast Editor Josh Wagner.


Read the Transcript

December 11, 2020  

Richard Heinberg: Has America Reached Its Limits? Biden, Climate, The End of Fossil Fuel

Richard Heinberg

Richard Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute and is regarded as one of the world’s top advocates for a shift away from our current dependence on fossil fuels. He is also the author of thirteen books on climate and energy.

Today, in this episode I am releasing the complete interview I had with Richard on November 11. This interview was broadcasted live and you can watch it on Youtube

Richard and I talk about the election and what impact the new government might have on the environment.

Richard asks, who's going to cleaning up the fracking mess as the oil and gas companies go bankrupt? 

We wonder if Trump in the time he has left at the White House can do more damages to the climate and Richard warns that Biden will need to prepare Americans for the hard change looming ahead.

If you enjoy this podcast please share it with your friend and leave us a review on Apple podcast.

I would like to wish you all a happy holiday and to thank you for your incredible support in 2020. A big shout out to my top fans: Celine, Missy, Jon, Caroline, Natja, Nicolas, Mark, Aurelia, Ben, Zoe. 

Our Intern is Josh Wagner and he is busy editing the episode on the BBC Series Enslaved: The Lost History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

I hope to be publishing it before the end of the month. make sure you listen to it as we are working on a new no linear format mixing the interviews with great soundtracks. Bye for now and have a great day.   

December 3, 2020  

On the Frontlines of the 2020 Election with Poll-worker Josh Wagner

Joshua Wagner

The 2020 election cycle has been wracked with scandal, accusations of fraud, and uncertainty. Fearing the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans voted by mail, and have little idea what in-person polling looked like in this historic year. Join us this week as Stan sits down with Back in America’s new Podcast Editor and poll worker Josh Wagner. 


A native Los Angeleno, Josh worked the polls in Downtown Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, site of the Los Angeles Opera. Amid a startling amalgamation of modernist and abstracted artworks, voters took to the polls, casting their ballots in the decisive 2020 presidential election. To make sense of the opulence of the polling station alongside the monotony of the democratic process (not to mention the scores of unhoused people living just blocks away), Josh spoke with several of his fellow poll workers––comic Chistine Medrano, high schooler Emilee Salas, and assistant lead Harrell Greene––as well as several voters. 


How were poll workers kept safe? Who voted at The Music Center? Listen to find out what it was really like to vote in the 2020 election downtown!

You can find Josh’s published works here and make sure to look out for future episodes with him.

November 24, 2020  

Listen Again: Sheri Kurdakul CEO of VictimVoice tells her story of abuse that started when she was a toddler (with Nov. 2020 update)



Today is The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

In this episode, first published a year ago, I speak with Sheri Kurdakul the CEO and founder of VictimsVoice an app that provides a legally admissible way for victims to document abuse incidents.


Sheri speaks with Back in America about her father’s abuse that started when she was a toddler, her recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and how she reclaimed her life to become who she is today.

Since I first interviewed Sheri Kurdakul the pandemic has struck and VictimsVoice experienced massive growth.

“The law enforcement officers that I've spoken with have said that while the number of reports has decreased, the severity of the incidents, by the time they do report, they are pretty much at the life or death stage,” says Sheri.


She adds, “You have people who probably have lost their jobs, money is tight, the Feeding America saw a double increased need in food distribution, for people needing food. You have people that normally are being watched all the time when their spouses or significant others are home. And now they're forced to be home all the time. So whereas an abuser may have gone to work, or, left the house for any length of time, that was an opportunity for a victim to be able to talk to a nonprofit and put together a safety plan to get out or be able to just have some downtime, where they're not being controlled and abused. They don't have that anymore. They don't have the luxury of having any downtime at all. And if the victim is also employed, now they must act professionally in a space where they're being abused."

Sheri says, “We saw six states between January and February. And then we compared it to March and April. We had six states in the US that had triple-digit percentage increases, Utah saw a 450% increase in usage. And we had over 30 states that had double-digit percentage increases as well. New Jersey is one of those.”


For more information about Victims Voice

November 12, 2020  

How do you feel about the election? Six Interviews with Democrats and Republicans

election Biden Harris podcast back in america

Twenty-four years ago, I was living in Washington D.C. while studying at the University of Maryland. I came back to America in August of 2016, this time with my family. It was just a few months before Trump's election. As I settled in the US and tried to understand why Trump got elected, I noticed how much the country had changed.

I believe that two major crises have determined the shape of what the country is today: the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the subprime economic crisis in 2008.

Then came Trump. A man loved by half the country for being anti-elite, playing tough, and speaking his mind and hated by the other half for pretty much the same reasons. Trump has polarized America and the world at large, pushing what we thought was politically possible. Lies and mediocrity became the new normal.

For a year now, with this podcast, Back in America, I have been exploring and questioning America's culture, values, and identity. In every episode, I ask my guests “What is America?”. Quite often, they say that America is a story, an idea in the making.

By many standards, the 2020 election is historical and will once again help define what America is. The pandemic, the foreign interferences, the mistrust in the democratic voting process, and now the legal attacks against Biden's victory. 

I have asked Americans what they thought of the outcome of the election.

Here they are: 

Jake Hoffman, the president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans.


Mark Charles, an independent candidate who ran in the 2020 Presidential Election who holds dual citizenship to the United States and the Navajo Nation.

Previous episode and


Richard Heinberg, a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, and one of the world’s foremost advocates for a shift away from our current reliance on fossil fuels.

Live Interview


David Treibs, a Constitutionalist, Christian, and gun-rights activists from Fredericksburg, Texas.

Previous episode

Live Interview


Chivona Renee Newsome, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Greater NY.

Live Interview


Majid Padellan, social justice warrior, social media expert, Twitter celebrity, an author, a digital designer, and a proud father of 5. His Twitter handle is BrooklynDad_Defiant.

Previous episode

Live Interview


Read the Transcript

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