There's been a lot of recent (and not so) media covering the demise, rehabilitation, and community-building in Detroit. What do you see/hear Work in Progress (WiP) adding to the conversation

Detroit is so hot right now, you're right. Fortunately, a lot of the stories, articles, documentaries, etc., have been very good, and often really moving. But just as many have missed the mark. It's almost impossible, it would seem, to NOT start a story about Detroit without mentioning, in the very first part of the story, that we've lost more than half of our population since it peaked in the 1950s. It's true, the depopulation has been staggering, and it's very important to discuss, but when that becomes the lead to every story about our city, it frames the situation in a very specific sort of way. So what I tried to do with WiP is raise up the idea that there's no such thing as seeing a place or a situation with neutral eyes. That the demographics and debt loads and structural deficits and shortfalls of a place don't tell it's story, and that, there's an opportunity to acknowledge that this moment "on the clock of the world," as Grace Boggs often puts it, is packed with so much potential to transform not only our city, but also our relationship with eachother and ourselves. In addition to all the physical and structural rehab/community-building projects, so many people I've been lucky enough to spend time with are doing some hard-core internal work, which can be difficult to capture on tape. So really I was trying to figure out a way to tell the external and internal stories together

WiP shares a tangible story through Gloria, and also broaches more abstract, theoretical ideas ("what is our species' essence?") through Richard and Grace. How did you find a balance and work out a structure for exploring both the micro and the macro

The structure took a while. I started thinking about the story and gathering interviews about nine months before my deadline. At the time, I knew I wanted to do something about what it means to re-imagine Work in Detroit, but that's all I had. And so It wasn't until I met Gloria, after I had already started the piece, that the form began to take shape. Her story is so powerful as a personal, intimate portrait, but also as an instructive metaphor for anyone alive, and so I knew I had an anchor on which to connect the other stuff to

Grace Boggs and Richard Feldman and some of the other theoretical characters heard are heady and philosophical and have helped me to understand the power and importance of ideas, but without Gloria, the piece might have sounded too wordy, without enough forward motion. But with Gloria's concrete metamorphosis, set in and around Rich and Grace's world of ideas and reflections, I thought I had something interesting to build

Music and sound design ("do the job, don't think about the job.") are as important to the production as your subjects' voices. Talk (please!) about the process of selecting songs and emphasizing the WiP narrative through the sound prism

Because I had nine months to make this story, I had plenty of time to get good sound and to think about the design. But the way it finally came together was simply trial and error in Pro Tools

I produced the first two minutes of the piece, the idea montage thing, before I had any of the Gloria stuff. And with that intro, I found that Stars of the Lid track right away, and instantly loved it. To achieve a certain symmetry, I decided to book-end the piece with that same track underneath a similar voice montage

After I had gathered all my tape and roughly assembled my other scenes, I reached out to a Detroit musician, Joel Peterson, to see if he'd be interested in doing some improvisatory scoring for some of the key scenes. Fortunately, he and his very talented, horn-playing collaborator, Marco Novachcoff, were game. So we did about a 3-hour session where I simply talked about Gloria and played them some excerpts for them to perform to. Out of that came a few really nice passages that I used in the story. My favorite sound to come from them was the feedback we hear when the door falls on Gloria's head. That came from me processing the tones from a little, electric thumb piano that Joel made

The other music is just stuff I like that I thought worked with the voices

How does WiP fit into the trajectory of radio stories you've produced, and will continue to produce going forward? Where is the intersection for you between radio, storytelling, and activism

Though I've been producing Detroit stories since 2007, I feel like I've only begun to scratch the surface of what I'd like to continue doing with radio and Detroit. Thankfully, this is going to be a life-long project

As for the intersection question. I'm not really sure. I tried to address it on Transom a few months ago, but essentially, I want to make stories that remind listeners, (and myself), what we're capable of. Or, as Gloria puts it, "We have to be examples of what we know is possible."