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Can a former urban liberal learn how to appreciate the perspective of rural conservatives?
She lived in liberal Seattle and covered science, climate change, and the environment for NPR for more than a decade. Then in 2018, journalist Ashley Ahearn made a big jump, moving with her husband to one of the most conservative counties in rural Washington State.
In this episode of Let’s Find Common Ground, we hear about the profound rural-urban divide in America, and what Ashley discovered about her new neighbors and herself when she switched from the city to the country, now living on a 20-acre property with a horse and a pickup truck. We also discuss how politics and views of the land and climate differ greatly according to where people live.
Recently, Ashley Ahearn launched her 8-part podcast series, Grouse, which looks at life in rural America through the lens of the most controversial bird in the West — the greater sage-grouse. One of her great passions is storytelling, and helping scientists better communicate their research to the broader public.
Read the Episode Transcript
Ashley Ahearn is an award-winning public media journalist who has covered science and the environment for NPR and member stations for more than a decade. She co-created, hosted, and produced the national climate change podcast, Terrestrial, in partnership with the NPR Story Lab and KUOW in Seattle. Ashley’s stories have appeared on Marketplace, All Things Considered, Here and Now, The World, and other NPR shows.
She has a master’s in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California and has completed reporting fellowships at the Knight Center at MIT, the Vermont Law School, the Metcalf Institute at the University of Rhode Island, and the Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources. A few years ago she moved to rural Washington State and started her own podcasting company, Ahearn Productions, which released an eight-part series about sage grouse in partnership with NPR member stations across the West. Grouse was listed as one of the top 20 podcasts of 2020 by the Atlantic Magazine. In her spare time, Ashley rides motorcycles and moves cows on horseback or plays in the sagebrush with her husband and dog.