AllTown, USA: Podcast shows life in Riverbend

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  • Stephanie Young created a podcast in All Town, USA, about life in and around Alton. For more information, please visit www.alltownusa.org or the podcast page on Facebook.

    Stephanie Young created a podcast in All Town, USA, about life in and around Alton. For more information, please visit www.alltownusa.org or the podcast page on Facebook.

    Photo: Photo Credit Eric Lines | For the telegraph

Photo: Photo Credit Eric Lines | For the telegraph

Stephanie Young created a podcast in All Town, USA, about life in and around Alton. For more information, please visit www.alltownusa.org or the podcast page on Facebook.

Stephanie Young created a podcast in All Town, USA, about life in and around Alton. For more information, please visit www.alltownusa.org or the podcast page on Facebook.

Photo: Photo Credit Eric Lines | For the telegraph

AllTown, USA: Podcast shows life in Riverbend

ALTON – A love of storytelling and Alton inspired an Ames, Iowa native to adopt the city as her own and learn about the community that makes up the historic destination while sharing stories about her community with fellow Altonians and especially about their community shares people.

Stephanie Young, who graduated from Principia College in Elsah in 2006, came to Riverbend from Iowa school but stayed in Riverbend for her entire life. In May 2018 she started building All Town, USA, a podcast about the history of Alton, but also about current events and the feelings of community members experiencing these events.

“Community is so important,” said Young. “And this great community helps me, and I’m very grateful for that. All episodes in Town, USA, range from Elijah Lovejoy to the Mississippi to the pandemic.

“I’m so proud of the different stories I’ve told,” she said. “I try to cover all kinds of topics in Alton.”

Young plans to release All Town, the US’s eighth episode, this week, which will discuss the race. It will announce its premiere on www.alltownusa.org and social media @alltownusa on Facebook and Instagram.

“It covers some of the hot topics related to the race – 2020 has informed my episodes this year,” she said. “With the pandemic, I knew that I had to have an episode that told how COVID affects Altoners.

“After seeing what happened to George Floyd and hearing discussions within the black community about policing and other social justice issues, I knew this was an important and timely topic. I asked my friend Faye Walker Taylor to help me. I didn’t want this new episode to just come from me because I’ve never experienced these issues. “

The All Town, USA podcast included interviews with 12 people talking about their feelings for the race and the impact it had on them.

“It was a breath of fresh air to work with Stephanie to tell the black side of the story,” said Lee Barham, a black community leader in Alton. “She was very willing to listen to understand that the black community has two sides to the story.”

In an episode about the January 6th Uprising and Siege of the Capitol in All Town, United States, Barham, Walker Taylor, Patricia Ingram and Robert Armstead were guests. All episodes of All Town, USA can be found at www.alltownusa.org.

“The day after the riot, Patricia and Lee called me and said, ‘Hey, we need to talk about this.’ They were just amazing, “said Young.” It was an honest and powerful conversation.

Young studied mass communication and now works full-time at Principia as technical operations and advertising manager in the media services department. She originally lived in Elsah, but she and her husband moved to Alton and bought a house in 2014.

“The podcast is a side appearance,” she said. “That’s why I only put out two or three episodes a year because it takes time, but I love it.”

She relies on and is grateful for the help from family and friends, she noted. The brainstorming for such an endeavor began in 2017, and All Town, the U.S. premiere episode, kicked off the following year. At a very early stage, Young’s friend and co-worker Shannon Briggs helped Els launch the podcast and connected Young with many people who knew what Young wanted to tell others.

“She moved east a few years ago so unfortunately she’s no longer involved, but she played an important role in the beginning,” recalls Young. “She was already connected, very involved in the community, and knew people who knew Alton’s story. She was a wonderful co-producer. “

Young said another great help was Penny Schmidt from Alton, whose father James K. Schmidt began teaching at Principia in 1957 and later became chairman of the studio art department. After his retirement he was a full-time painter and also taught summer art courses for adults at Principia. He died in March 2013 at the age of 87, but his legacy lives on through his extensive work and the James K. Schmidt Gallery in Principia.

“Penny is my goal for everything,” said Young. “She always bounces me off episode topics and when I need to get in touch with someone about an interview, she either has her contact information or she knows someone to do so. Your love for Alton is contagious. “

Another great friend and point of contact is Taylor, she said, whom Young met during an episode in All Town, USA.

“I met Faye by interviewing someone for a story about Elijah Lovejoy just to network,” said Young. “I’m so grateful for how open people have been and how they say, ‘Oh, you need to talk to this person. ‘

“Personally, I’ve always loved podcasts. They are a great way to hear stories, hear different ideas, and get information.

“And I love the art of storytelling. For me, storytelling allows me to go beyond the surface and really get to the core of who a community or an individual is and why they think the way they do. And once that happens, we can start making connections and empathy, which is so important. “

She said her husband, Chris Young, a philosophy teacher at Principia, suggested they speak to Briggs Els, who got her on her podcast path.

“We knew Alton’s story was incredible. We knew there was something really unique there, ”recalled Young. “People who grew up here are still here. We thought we could start telling Alton’s story, telling history.

“In order to invest in a community, you have to know about it,” she said. “The more you know about the community you live in and the more you know about the people who make up that community, the more pride you get.”

Even more intriguing to Young are the details surrounding the larger aspects of Alton’s history, such as Lovejoy, Abraham Lincoln, and the Underground Railroad.

“And the cool thing that happened is that by learning some of the more familiar parts of Alton’s story, I started meeting people and learning the more human stories that revolved around these larger aspects of Alton’s story,” she explained .

One example was when Young in Godfrey filmed an episode in All Town, USA, about Rocky Fork, a refuge on the Underground Railroad, for fugitive slaves who crossed the Mississippi but which in and of themselves became a long-term permanent community.

“When we went to Rocky Fork, we got the human stories you can’t get in a textbook,” she said. “It was really exciting and interesting to see All Town, USA evolve from a platform for gathering facts to an archive of stories and experiences of human interest that reveal and inform that story.”

She met a church family, including Rich Edwards, who lived in Rocky Fork until his family moved to town in the 1950s when he was 15.

“His mother’s family grew up there. He took us down the street where her house used to be, which is no longer there, but we could see the ferns she planted, ”she said. “We thought, ‘Wow, this really was this life,’ something we didn’t expect.

“We learned about this incredible community, which is somewhat unique in that it was a stopover for some who went to other places, but many stayed there and created a real community. Many of these ancestors still exist here in Alton. “

Young described All Town, USA, as a “cool community family affair” with podcasts being proofread and edited by her husband.

“He’s such a good writer,” she said.

Two of her good friends, Will and Janet Buchanan, wrote All Town, the US themed music.

“You have a band, Janet Evra, and I’m so honored that you helped with the music,” she said.

One employee, Darin Pierce, made variations and different versions of the theme song, as did her father, Miles Moore of Ames.

“He loves to write and record music, so he wrote and recorded for me,” she said.

Her friend and co-worker Eric Lines took photos for her website.

All Town, USA podcasts can be found at www.alltownusa.org.