Musician Teodoro Cuevas waits for business in LA's Mariachi Plaza. Photo by Emmanuel Martinez/Neon Tommy.

Musician Teodoro Cuevas waits for business in LA’s Mariachi Plaza. Photo by Emmanuel Martinez/Neon Tommy.

In 24 Hours: A Day in the Working Life, 12 Los Angeles-area workers – including a stripper, deli waitress, bus driver, metal scrapper, and bathroom attendant – take us inside their workplaces to show us what they do and why they do it. 

The Labor Day special aired on public radio stations around the country yesterday. It was reported by graduate students at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC as part of a course taught by Homelands’ Sandy Tolan and Karen Lowe of the web and radio project Bending Borders.

Karen is an old friend of Homelands; as an editor for Marketplace, she worked on many of the profiles in our WORKING series.

24 Hours is a co-production of Homelands Productions, Bending Borders, and the USC Annenberg School. It is distributed by the Public Radio Exchange (PRX).

Homelands producers

Homelands producers Bear Guerra, Ruxandra Guidi, Cecilia Vaisman, Sandy Tolan, Jonathan Miller, and Alan Weisman

Back in the early 1990s, Homelands’ four founder-members lived together in a rented house in Costa Rica while working on the Vanishing Homelands series. But after that we scattered, and for the last 22 years or so we’ve been a pretty virtual crew. It’s a rare treat when we’re all together in one place.

So it was when we gathered for a day and a half in Los Angeles last month, to catch each other up on our comings and goings and hatch plans for the future. It was the first Homelands convergence with Rux and Bear, who were on their way from a fellowship year in Colorado to a new life in Quito, Ecuador. We were also joined by our excellent board member Maria Blanco, who snapped the picture.

We are thrilled to welcome journalist Ruxandra Guidi and photographer Roberto (Bear) Guerra to the Homelands family. As our newest producers and members of our board of directors, they bring a wonderful mix of skills, experiences, and ideas to our cooperative.


Ruxandra Guidi

Ruxandra Guidi, a native of Venezuela, has reported throughout the United States and Latin America, for both magazines and public radio, and in both English and Spanish. She has worked extensively as a freelancer, and recently held staff positions at Southern California Public Radio, where she covered immigration and religion, and at KPBS Public Broadcasting, where she covered the U.S.-Mexico border as part of the Fronteras Desk initiative. Her work has aired on PRI’s The World, NPR, CBC, Marketplace, Deutsche Welle, NPR’s Latino USA, and Radio Ambulante, and has been published by Orion Magazine, National Geographic NewsWatch, The Atlantic, and others.


Bear Guerra

Bear Guerra’s images, photo essays, and multimedia stories have been published by Orion Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Le Monde, On Earth Magazine, NPR, Texas Monthly, and many others; they have also been exhibited widely. In the past few years he has worked on stories in Mexico, Bolivia, Haiti, Brazil, Panama, Peru, Turkey, and Thailand. He was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in Photojournalism in 2010. He’s currently a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

In addition to their individual work, Ruxandra and Bear co-founded Fonografia Collective, a multimedia collaboration that produces stories about human rights, the environment, and social issues. They have also co-produced a daughter, Camila.

Homelands Productions was founded in 1989 by Sandy Tolan, Cecilia Vaisman, Alan Weisman, and Nancy Grey Postero. Rux and Bear are the first new producer-members to join the group since Jonathan Miller signed on in 2005. We look forward to dreaming big and doing great work with them!

The Homelands blog may have been idle, but that doesn’t mean we have been! Clearly, though, it’s time for a quick catching up.

School snack bar in Crete

Many schools in Crete have voluntarily banned soft drinks and sweets from their snack bars. The percentage of overweight children in Greece is higher than in the US. Photo by Jon Miller.

In October, Jon Miller’s feature Greece’s diet crisis aired on Marketplace as part of the “Food for 9 Billion” project. The story looked at the rapid rise of obesity in Crete, home to one of the world’s healthiest traditional diets. In November, Mary Kay Magistad (China correspondent for our new radio partner, PRI’s The World; more about that below) joined forces with Cassandra Herrman and Serene Fang at the Center for Investigative Reporting on China strains to satisfy growing demand for meat, which aired on PBS NewsHour.

Then, just before the holidays in December, Jon’s piece Taking the climate fight to the table aired on Marketplace. That story, which looked at how our own eating decisions might affect the world’s ability to feed itself, wrapped up our fruitful and enjoyable year-long partnership with Marketplace (a shout-out to our excellent editors Ben Adair, George Judson and Sitara Nieves). 

For the last few months we’ve been laying the groundwork for a second phase of Ff9B — a series of ten or more stories for The World, to air in a two- or three-week burst this spring. The topic is much more focused than what we’ve done so far; we sometimes describe it as “the future of food in a climate-changed world.” Jon Miller and Sam Eaton will do most of the reporting; as we write this, they’re madly preparing for trips to Singapore, India, Mexico, Costa Rica, Uganda, The Netherlands and Qatar. We also expect to continue working with CIR on a handful of companion pieces for PBS NewsHour.

Group photo

Homelands producers Alan Weisman, Sandy Tolan, Jonathan Miller, Cecilia Vaisman and Beckie Kravetz (Alan’s wife) in Los Angeles in January.

Finally, in January, Sandy, Cecilia, Alan and Jon descended on Sandy’s place in Los Angeles for a weekend retreat. We are spread around the country (western Massachusetts, upstate New York, Chicago, LA) and rarely find ourselves together in the same place. It was wonderful to talk and plan and recharge each other’s creative batteries. A highlight was a party on Saturday night for a few dozen radio friends in LA. Being radio people, nobody thought to take any pictures.

Sandy Tolan and Charlotte Buchen’s thoughts on Egypt’s food policies are on Al Jazeera’s website. The article grew out of the reporting they did for the “Food for 9 Billion” project.

As Egyptians prepare to vote in the second round of parliamentary elections this week, Sandy Tolan explores the roots of what some have called “the revolution of the hungry.” Listen for his story tonight on American Public Media’s Marketplace.

It’s the latest installment of “Food for 9 Billion,” a collaborative project of Homelands Productions, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Marketplace, and PBS NewsHour.

Take a look at Sandy Tolan and Charlotte Buchen’s report from Egypt for PBS NewsHour. It’s part of the “Food for 9 Billion” project, a collaboration between Homelands Productions, the Center for Investigative Reporting, PBS NewsHour and Marketplace.