Populism’s Kansas Roots

The word “populist” appears often in the news these days. Whether their politics are right, left, or center, people complain that the system is rigged against them and that they cannot adequately provide for themselves and their families.

It may surprise you, as it did me, to learn that the word “populist” was coined in the 1890s to describe a political movement begun by farmers. The movement was especially strong in Kansas, where it took hold among farmers plagued by years of drought and low commodity prices.

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Our Turn at this Earth: The Sky Is Not Falling, But Seas Are Melting

“Our Turn at this Earth” airs weekly on High Plains Public Radio.

Last year, I bought a 2012 Subaru Forester with only 30,000 miles on it. A great deal – not exactly what I wanted, but I’d been researching cars for months. I’d given up on the notion that a car existed that could tow a hefty wagon, take me far off-road, and get good gas mileage. So I finally caved on the mileage point.

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Our Turn at this Earth: The Farm in the Girl

“Our Turn at this Earth” airs weekly on High Plains Public Radio.

When I was sixteen, my family left the farm where I grew up and moved into town. The house, along with all of the outbuildings and the corrals and pastures that used to hold a thousand head of ewes, several horses, a few cows, and some chickens and pigs, were eventually torn down.

But that western Kansas farm still lives within me.

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Our Turn at this Earth: The Walls that Shelter Me Still

“Our Turn at this Earth” airs weekly on High Plains Public Radio.

As a child, I lived in a big, old two-story farmhouse that my maternal grandfather had built in 1919, the year my mother was born.  It never occurred to me that my family could exist anywhere else. So it came as quite a shock when I was sixteen and my parents traded that house and farm for land in another part of the county and we moved to town.

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Our Turn at this Earth: The Ogallala Road

“Our Turn at this Earth” airs weekly on High Plains Public Radio.

 

I’m the kind of person who can’t resist a country road. I’ll be zipping down the interstate between somewhere big and somewhere else big, and a narrow track winding between pale buffalo grass pastures will catch my eye. Next thing I know, the interstate is fading into the distance in my rear-view mirror, as I follow my nose into the next county.

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