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Truth to Power club releases new podcast episode

The AHS student club Truth to Power will release its latest podcast episode May 7 with a debut gala celebrating the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The AHS Truth to Power club will release its latest podcast episode May 7 with a debut gala celebrating the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Ashland High School student club Truth to Power has released its latest podcast episode, focused on the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the institution’s nuanced relationship with the community amid ongoing fire impacts and the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, said club adviser and humanities teacher Shane Abrams.

Reflecting on historic reliance on OSF visitor traffic to sustain the local economy, the episode “To Be or Not to Be?,” released Friday, illuminates how OSF leaders are thinking creatively to pivot successfully into a new era of operations and business relationships, Abrams said. The episode features interviews with OSF artistic director Nataki Garrett and local business owners.

"I was happy to speak with these exciting leaders,“ Garrett said. ”Their questions were inspiring and reminded me how important the work we do together now is to building a better foundation for their work in the future.”

“I was so impressed by the streaming quality and the content of the performance,” Abrams said. “I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for people who miss OSF and really want to get connected again.”

The Truth to Power club, composed of about 20 students, dissects issues facing the Rogue Valley through issue-specific podcast episodes and community events — uplifting diverse voices and offering a teen point of view on the podcast channel “Tea, Toast and Truth.”

The club released its first episode — taking a look at homelessness and law enforcement in Ashland — Jan 11. Project suggestions and feedback can be sent to truthtopowerclub@gmail.com.

The club submitted an abridged version of its latest episode to this year’s NPR student podcast challenge, which solicits stories that offer a “flavor of the lived experience of the kids who are making the podcast,” Abrams said. In 2020, founding club members received an honorable mention for their episode.

Since he moved to Ashland in August 2019, Abrams said, students have helped him recognize and better understand a complex symbiotic relationship between OSF and the Ashland community, beyond the apparent connection to tourism dollars that prop up the local economy.

As the school year comes to an end, the Truth to Power club will continue its work through the summer on four podcast episodes in development, and a mural project honoring Aidan Ellison and leaders from Black, Indigenous and other communities of color in the Rogue Valley. The club will present the mural project to the Public Arts Commission for review in June, Abrams said.

Contact Ashland Tidings reporter Allayana Darrow at adarrow@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497.