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We Are Hodgeman Strong

Never before in our lives have we experienced the fear of a pandemic like this.  Social distancing is a new term.  We all need a little boost of hope.  We need to hear stories from others who overcame fear and circumstances—stories of strength and resiliency.  Welcome to “We are Hodgeman Strong.”
-- "We Are Hodgeman Strong" podcast

Lea Ann Seiler is the Director of Hodgeman County Economic Development, Inc., an organization committed to developing and promoting the socioeconomic viability of Hodgeman County, Kansas. This past spring, Seiler had an idea to offset the fear and anxiety that so many in Hodgeman County were experiencing as the pandemic dominated the news and economic instability loomed.  She decided to make a podcast.

“We thought we had neither the expertise nor the equipment to pull it off,” Seiler said, “but with a lot of help and some extra effort we’ve been able to get the podcast started, and we’re learning and getting better all the time.”  Using her cellphone and a homemade sound booth made up of two speaker stands, binder clips, and a piece of eggcrate foam, Seiler has created “We are Hodgeman Strong,” an audio-journal of stories of resiliency from Hodgeman County residents.

Seiler’s podcast first aired on Anchor, a free podcast publishing platform, this past March and quickly had 98 downloads.  Its first episode, hosted, as always, by Seiler herself, features a conversation with Pam Ruff, a Hodgeman County resident and embroidery shop owner who has started diligently sewing masks for those in need during the pandemic.  “Last night, we hit our thousand [mask] mark,” says Ruff.  

“That is a lot of masks!” Seiler laughs.  

“We’ve been going at it for about three-and-a-half weeks,” agrees Ruff. Seiler and Ruff go on to discuss the ways the Hodgeman County community has come together to provide materials for the masks as well as volunteers to help create them.  

The next episode showcases the story of the Hodgeman County blizzard of 1957.  Through a conversation with Hodgeman County resident Marsha Ewy, who lived through the blizzard as a six year-old girl, Seiler reveals the ways in which Hodgeman County residents have overcome crisis many times before through, as Ewy says, “camaraderie and spirit.”  She remembers her mother tying herself with a rope to the front yard light in order to trudge out to the brooder house and save a basket of newborn chicks from the freezing cold.  She came back looking “like a huge snowball,” Ewy remembers, but she did manage to save those baby chicks.

Listen to all the Hodgeman Strong Podcasts

“I’ve really enjoyed doing the interviews for the podcast,” said Seiler over the phone, “because I’ve learned something about people I didn’t really know before, and I’ve found out I have more in common with people in my community than I thought.”

“There are so many great stories out there if you can find the right person to share them with you.” Seiler plans to continue the podcast for the foreseeable future and a new episode will be released soon. “We are Hodgeman Strong” is available, free of charge, on Anchor and Spotify.

“We are Hodgeman Strong” was funded by the Humanities Kansas Quick Grants program, designed to support projects that engage the public with the humanities in innovative ways when gatherings in person are impossible.  Quick Grants in the amounts of $500-$1,000 are available through Humanities Kansas until August 1st.  Click here for more details. 

Rapid Remedies

HK announces a new resource to help cultural non-profits connect with their communities. The Rapid Remedies white paper is designed to assist cultural non-profits in their continued efforts to quickly and affordably create engaging online stories that fulfill their unique missions, like the "Hodgeman Strong" podcast. Rapid Remedies includes project models, examples of digital projects from Kansas cultural nonprofits, and tools for creating your own digital projects. Rapid Remedies was written by Sarah Bishop of Coneflower Consulting.

Download Rapid Remedies




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