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State of the Re:Union returns in August


This August, Public Radio Presents brings you the spring series of State of the Re:Union with host Al Letson. Every episode is like a love letter to the country -- telling the story of America, one community at a time.

Sunday, August 3 at 7 p.m. -- Hawaii: The Legacy of Sugar

For many Americans, Hawaii is a tropical playground, the place of surf, sun and dream vacations. Behind the tourist façade, though, is one of the most unique multicultural states in the nation, one still dealing with the complicated legacy of the circumstances under which it become part of this country. And so much of how Hawaii is now comes back to one game-changing element: sugar. For decades, long before it was a tourist’s paradise, what Hawaii did was grow sugar. That was not only its economic driver, it was a force that remade the place. In this episode of SOTRU, we’ll explore the way contemporary Hawaii is still navigating the legacy of the sugar plantations now in the 21st century.

Sunday, August 10 at 7 p.m. -- Interior Alaska: Frontier Community

Fairbanks, AK can be a forbidding place. The city sits deep in the Alaska interior, meaning winters are long and dark, and temperatures often plunge to -50F. Because of its isolation and climate, Fairbanks has long attracted people drawn to the challenges and opportunities of a wild, remote place. In this episode of SOTRU, we'll meet a number of Fairbanksians — artists, athletes, journalists, and organizers -- who embody the spirit of the Golden Heart City through their grit, determination, and iconoclasm. We'll also explore how the ethic of "rugged individualism," so mythologized by Alaskans, can complicate community dynamics, making some problems more intractable and difficult to solve.

Sunday, August 17 at 7 p.m. -- Salt Lake City: Updating Tradition

Founded by Mormon pioneers, Salt Lake City remains deeply influenced by its religious roots. But it also defies easy categorization. With a large and politically active gay community, one of biggest Polynesian populations in the country, and a steady stream of new migrants, the city is full of vibrant contradiction -- and sometimes conflict. From Mormons working to heal the rift between the historically anti-gay church and the LGBT community, to young Shoshone computer programmers who've created the first-ever video game in their native language, we'll explore how some of the city's most entrenched institutions are being stretched and adapted to fit the modern moment.

Sunday, August 24 at 7 p.m. -- The Sorting of America

The U.S. has been a country shaped by migration, dating back to the days of the pioneers making their way West. But recently, this country has been seeing a different kind of migration, one motivated not by economic necessity, but lifestyle choices. More and more, people are moving to places where they're surrounded by others like themselves. In this episode of SOTRU, we tell stories of this new kind of migration, of people moving to different corners of the country find (or build) themselves a haven.

Sunday, August 31 at 7 p.m. -- Contested

In partnership with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, host Al Letson and guest producer John Biewen present a collection of sports stories from Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In this hour of SOTRU, we explore ways in which sport helps to heal social divisions within a community – or reproduces, or even exacerbates, those divisions.