Katie Schroeer, BMC ‘24

Podcasting with Philly Thrive

Semester: Spring 2024

Praxis Course: SOCL 420 Social Justice and Social Change

Faculty Advisor: David Karen

Field Site: Philly Thrive

Field Supervisors: R Merriman-Goldring and Brooch Solomon

Praxis Poster: 



Further Context:

In my first year at Bryn Mawr, I bought a hand-sewn mask from some classmates who were using their quarantine time to fundraise for a local organization from their dorm rooms. That organization was Philly Thrive, an environmental justice organization based in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly. I read the note attached to the mask and immediately wanted to learn more about this grassroots group going head-to-head with multinational real estate firms. The next spring, I wrote a research paper on Thrive for a political science class, reading up on their past campaigns and interviewing a couple of members. This year – my senior year – I am so lucky to have been able to do a praxis fieldwork placement with Thrive. When I spoke to my supervisor for the first time, I mentioned that I had just taken a class on podcasting, and learned that Thrive members had been tossing around the idea of a podcast for years. I was fresh off my introduction to audio media and eager to do more, and my supervisor loved the idea of a more casual, story-centered project to complement Thrive’s more strategic communications, and so Philly Thrive Live was born.

Philly Thrive Live (the name which won a Facebook poll of Thrivers, despite the fact that the podcast is not, in fact, live) is a product of many conversations with Thrive staff and members, as well as research into how similar organizations make podcasts like this one. I connected with various Thrivers to hear what they had been hoping to see (or rather, hear) in a podcast, and both the overall structure of the show and the topics covered in each episode were based off of those conversations. Once the vision was in place, we turned to production: scheduling, planning, recording, and editing episodes. I worked with my supervisor and Philly Thrive Live’s new host, staff member Chill Hixon, to bring together Thrive members with a wide variety of roles and experiences for informative, entertaining, and occasionally emotional conversations. By far my favorite moments of my praxis work were in these recording sessions: hearing what brought people to Thrive, listening to their favorite memories of marches or Thrive friendships, and laughing a lot. Scheduling sessions with incredibly busy activists was at times very challenging, but it was always worth it once we were sitting around a table together, talking about our favorite songs and what kept us going in difficult political moments.

Many of my lessons week-to-week were small but extremely useful: I learned not to use the office’s squeakiest chairs for recording, how best to share and store the audio, and how podcasts get distributed to different platforms. The knowledge of my supervisors and podcasting teammates was invaluable in helping me connect with people in effective ways and putting together interesting episode plans. One of my biggest takeaways, though, was neither technical nor Thrive-specific: it was that people want to get together and share their stories, and that while it sometimes takes a lot of patience and persistence to make that happen, at least for this listener, it is absolutely worth it.