Students playing soccer on Mac Field on a warm December evening

All Things Grinnell

All Things Grinnell logo with headphones on gates tower


“All Things Grinnell,” hosted by Ben Binversie ’17 from 2018 to 2020, featured interviews with students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members, and visiting speakers, about making the world a better place, in Grinnell and around the world.

Season 3

  • Jean Ulrick Desert talking

    Episode 3

    The Artist’s Scalpel

    Artist Jean-Ulrick Désert joins us for a conversation about the power and responsibility of art. How do we confront hatred in the world? Creativity is not the easiest response, but it might be necessary. Searching for justice where there is none can be a daunting endeavor, but what can artists do during these challenging times? Désert uses common and recognizable objects from everyday life but presents them with a poetic twist meant to interrupt expectations — and to create space for dialogue in the place of discomfort. Is he changing the world with his art? He wouldn’t go that far, but he might be planting much-needed seeds of change around the world.

  • Dartanyan Brown plays bass guitar with his eyes closed

    Episode 2

    Music: The Perfect Sport

    Dartanyan Brown has been on a quest “to find sounds and vibrations that are healing to people or motivating to people.” In liberal arts fashion, that quest has meandered with Dartanyan through careers in journalism, music, technology, and education. Listen to this conversation with the Iowa Rock ’n Roll, Blues, and Jazz Hall of Famer to get some musical healing and inspiration. A storyteller from a young age, Dartanyan dreamed of becoming Clark Kent and reporting for the newspaper. He got his shot with the Des Moines Register and soon found himself reporting on Martin Luther King’s assassination. But he was drawn back to the music of his childhood and left his studies at Drake University to pursue a music career. He has since woven his passion for music with his fascination for electronics and his drive for empowerment through education, bringing his music to schools as a teaching artist. In April 2019, he graced Grinnellians with his first performance in Iowa in 40 years. 


  • LaDonna Redmond holds a bushel of tomatoes

    Episode 1

    Just Food for a Just World

    There has never been a fair, just, or healthy food system in the United States of America. So how do we get there?

    LaDonna Redmond starts off the third season of the podcast with a long-overdue episode on the connection between food and racial justice. From the beginning, the United States of America has relied on exploitative labor practices (and the consequent creation of a racial caste system) to produce food and other agricultural products.

    A national leader in food activism, Redmond understands this history intimately and has worked to reverse these persistent historical trends, which now take the form of public health threats like gang violence, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Her journey into food activism started in Chicago with a quest to find healthy food for her son, which led her to planting urban gardens and radically altering the food landscape of her community. Redmond transcends traditional understandings of “food deserts” to address the root causes of injustice and build resilient communities through food.

Season 2

  • Alex Reich in the Arctic in a fur hood with a teepee structure in the background

    Episode 15


    Alex Reich ’11 joins us to discuss his time at Grinnell, his Watson Fellowship journey, and the dangers of black and white thinking, especially in relation to our global food systems.

    As a student at Grinnell, Reich majored in biology, helped start EcoHouse, ran cross country and track, and even starred in one of the most popular Titular Head films. After graduating he spent a year in the Arctic on a Watson Fellowship, learning about how Arctic indigenous peoples were adapting to climate change, as seen through their relationship with food. 

    Reich is one of the creators of Minute Earth, an immensely popular YouTube series dedicated to the “science and stories about our awesome planet.” Through these stories and educational videos, Reich works to raise awareness and educate people about the intricately linked issues of climate change and our global food system. 

  • Martha Graham Cracker performs

    Episode 14

    Martha Graham Cracker: A Different Kind of Drag

    Dito Van Reigersberg visited Grinnell to perform his heralded Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret drag show. In this episode, Ben Binversie ’17 talks with Dito about his hairy-chested drag persona and how she challenges him and the audience to grow and explore. Dito found a home in the performance space, embracing its radical possibilities to push us outside our comfort zones and express emotions and thoughts in a way that transcends the normal rhythms of daily life. Dito and Martha encourage us all to embrace the permission to swim in the waters of uncertainty and explore our identity and purpose in this world. 

  • Katie In and Erik Jarvis

    Episode 13

    Pink Neighbor

    There’s a party, and everyone’s invited. We launch into the universe of Pink Neighbor with Erik Jarvis ’12 and Katie In ’13, two Grinnell alums who came back to live in Grinnell after graduation and become a staple of the creative community here in town. Together they form the band Pink Neighbor, and they both have solo projects and pursue other artistic endeavors. In this episode, they share their musical journeys, the ethos behind their creative projects, and why they decided to make Grinnell their creative home. 

    This episode features music from their latest album, Time Beach Universe, as well as tracks from Jarvis’s new solo album, Daydream Moon, and a few of their neighbors reflecting on what Pink Neighbor means to Grinnell.

  • photo

    Episode 12

    Written in Stone: Toni Morrison

    This episode celebrates the life and legacy of Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, editor, and professor, who touched so many lives with her words. 

    Shanna Benjamin, Johanna Giebelhaus ’96, and President Raynard S. Kington share their perspectives on the significance of Morrison’s life. Benjamin reflects on Morrison’s role in the history of the development of black women’s literature and shares her impact in academic and literary circles. Giebelhaus, who produced and edited the new documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, gives us a personal look at the woman behind the books and talks about crafting the narrative of the documentary. Lastly, Kington discusses the decision to engrave Morrison’s name on the walls of Grinnell’s newest academic building, the Humanities and Social Studies Center, and what Morrison can mean to the College moving forward.

  • Malcolm and Hasan Davis

    Episode 11

    Dealing Hope

    Hasan Davis shares his story of becoming a “hope dealer,” overcoming challenging circumstances, learning disabilities, and numerous setbacks to find his path. Along the way, various people inspired him to see a version of himself that he could not, and now he brings that message of hope to people, especially youth, through work in schools and the criminal justice system. Davis wields the power of stories to engage in difficult discussions about the history of slavery and racism in this country, and help people reflect on their own stories.

    Then, Gabriel Shubert ’20 talks with Davis’ son, Malcolm Davis ’21, playwright, poet, and musician, about his music, growing up in Berea, Kentucky, and how he brings his personal life and activism into his music. Davis discusses the musical community here at Grinnell, where he has found helpful friends and developed his voice.

  • Green Climate sos banner at a march

    Episode 10

    Marching for Climate Action

    Ed Fallon, former Iowa legislator (1993-2006) and founder of Bold Iowa, talks about marching for climate action and creating awareness of the climate crisis in the presidential primaries. After spending over a decade in the Iowa House of Representatives, Fallon has now focused his attention on raising awareness about climate change. He organized and participated in marches across the country for climate action and founded Bold Iowa to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. Being in Iowa during caucus season, Fallon sees an opportunity and responsibility to elevate discussion of the climate crisis to a priority. We discuss Fallon’s journey from public service to activist and the pressing need for action on climate.

  • Doug Hess in a classroom at a table with large books

    Episode 9

    Voting Rights: Devil in the Details

    Doug Hess ’91, assistant professor of political science, has researched the National Voter Registration Act basically since it was passed by Congress in 1993. The law was intended to advance voting rights by requiring states to incorporate registration opportunities into the application process for a motor vehicle license and many types of public assistance. The law also prevents states from removing registered voters from the voting rolls unless certain criteria are met. States were supposed to implement the law by 1995, but as we enter 2020, many aspects of the policy have stalled or been neglected. Because of this, Hess continues to research and monitor the implementation of the legislation throughout the United States. Student researchers Greg Eastman ’19 and Takshil Sachdev ’19 join for this discussion of the status of the legislation throughout the country, obstacles to implementation, and potential solutions to overcome these challenges. Then, Hess discusses the recent Grinnell College National Poll findings about voter confidence in elections, and what it may mean for turnout in the upcoming presidential election.

  • Anya Grundmann stands in front of Tiny Desk

    Episode 8

    The Spaces in Between

    Anya Grundmann ’89 is the vice president of programming and audience development at National Public Radio. But once upon a time, she was a wide-eyed college student, exploring her passion for music and throwing herself into the wide-ranging learning experiences of the liberal arts. Grundmann has been able to sip from the cup of eternal learning that is NPR and now plays a big role in shaping those learning possibilities for the listeners of public radio. That same spirit of exploration that informs so much of the NPR ethos can also be traced back to her time at GrinnellFrom Grinnell to the world of public radio, and back, we also talk to Eric McIntyre, professor of music, as he guides us on a musical tour of some works from the Grinnell College Museum of Art. McIntyre created six musical compositions in response to works on display in the exhibition, For Campus and Community: The Collection of the Grinnell College Museum of Art

  • Will and Evelyn Freeman

    Episode 7

    Running Through the Years

    Will and Evelyn Freeman, longtime coaches of cross country and track and field, reflect on almost 40 years of coaching student-athletes here at Grinnell. The Freemans’ unique and evolving coaching philosophies, which center on a holistic approach to personal growth, individualized mentorship, and athletic success, have influenced countless Grinnellians. In this episode, the Freemans discuss how they managed to create and sustain a program that has facilitated such meaningful experiences and development for generations of Grinnellians. As they enter their last season of coaching before transitioning to senior faculty status, they look forward to the next chapter in their journeys and are eager to embrace further opportunities for learning and growth in Grinnell.

  • Joe Rosenfield painting

    Episode 6

    Essential Grinnellian: Joe Rosenfield ’25

    Joe Rosenfield ’25 never wanted his name in the spotlight, but in this episode, we are shining a light directly on Rosenfield, his remarkable life, and the enduring impact he left on Grinnell College. We talk with George Drake ’56, president and professor emeritus, who recently published a biography of Rosenfield. Drake discusses how Rosenfield fell in love with Grinnell and provides a compelling portrait of a man whose love, humor, and generous spirit continue to live on at Grinnell College and around the world. You might know about Rosenfield’s friendship with Warren Buffett and their investing acumen which built the College’s endowment, but how much do you know about the man himself? 

  • College men look at plans for a foundry

    Episode 5

    Town-Gown Tales

    Dan Kaiser, emeritus professor of history, tells three lesser-known stories from the 1930s and 40s that illustrate the evolving relationship between the town and College. From racist housing covenants and Japanese internment to botanical gardens and reduced tuition for Episcopal students, we discuss some moments that show how this complex relationship has played out over the years. The first story details how  D.W. Norris 1892 formed a partnership with the College to build a foundry in town. Then, Kaiser discusses how the College’s botanical garden, led by Henry Conard, gave way to what is now St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, at the intersection of State St. and 6th Ave. Lastly, Kaiser discusses the Japanese American students who came to Grinnell during World War II to study and escape internment camps. Through these episodes, a complex picture of the town-gown relationship emerges, one that challenges simple narratives and informs the current relationship.


  • Two men survey destroyed buildings

    Episode 4

    Destruction and Rebirth: The Cyclone of 1882

    What happened on the night of June 17, 1882, in Grinnell, Iowa? “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.” In this episode, we head to the archives in Burling Library to take a look at the legacy of the 1882 cyclone that ripped through Grinnell, killing 39 people, destroying homes and the entire College. We talk with Allison Haack, library assistant in Special Collections and Archives, who curated an exhibit in Burling Library with photos and news clippings related to the cyclone. Although there are few reminders of the cyclone around Grinnell now, the cyclone proved to be a turning point in the College’s history. We also talk with Chris Jones, archivist of the College, about what he’s learned from studying the minutiae of College history.

  • Edith Renfrow Smith

    Episode 3

    Edith Renfrow Smith ’37

    Edith Renfrow ’37, the first African American woman to graduate from the College, shares her memories of growing up in Grinnell, her family’s history of slavery, and her incredible life.

    Smith received an honorary degree at the 2019 Commencement ceremony. After graduating from Grinnell with a major in psychology and minors in history and economics, Smith then moved to Chicago, where she has lived since, working as a stenographer and public school teacher. Smith is now 105 years old and is part of a Northwestern University study of “superagers.” In the episode, Smith discusses the importance of education in her family as they went from slavery to college graduates in two generations, and reflects on lessons learned from her long life.

  • President Kington awards the Grinnell Prize medallion to Shafiq Khan

    Episode 2

    EMPOWER PEOPLE: Grinnell Prize Winner Shafiq Khan

    On this special episode of All Things Grinnell, we talk with Shafiq Khan, the 2019 winner of the Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize.

    Khan is the founder and CEO of EMPOWER PEOPLE, an organization based in northern India focused on eradicating bride trafficking and empowering the independence, agency, and leadership of girls and women who have been affected by this issue. Khan discusses how he became involved with this work, his vision for the organization, what he has learned from working with survivors and other feminist mentors, and the significance of the Grinnell Prize to their mission. Empower People goes beyond the initial step of rescuing trafficked women and seeks to address the root causes that allow trafficking to continue by working in collaboration with communities and empowering survivors to assert sovereignty over their lives. 

  • Cover of booklet illustration of meeting house in Denmark, Iowa, where the Band was ordained

    Episode 1

    Congregating at Grinnell: The Religious History of the College

    George Drake ’56 kicks off Season 2 of the podcast by taking us on a tour of the College’s religious history. Members of the Iowa Band, a group of Congregationalist ministers from New England, founded the College in 1846, with the primary aim of educating future ministers. In this episode, Drake explores how the particular tenets of Congregationalism impacted the development of the College’s values and priorities. Although the College severed its formal ties with the Congregationalist Church long ago, its religious past endures, manifested in its tolerant environment and dedication to critical thought. 

Season 1

  • Mike Latham and others look to crowd on second story during his farewell event.

    Episode 15

    Grinnell Farewells

    In this episode, the season finale, we say goodbye to Mike Latham, outgoing vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, and talk about his time here in Grinnell and the importance of global education, before he becomes the president of Punahou High School in Hawai’i. Then we get global ourselves and talk to the language assistants from this past year, Mélanie Izrael, Maria Kustova, and Carla Wagner from Argentina, Russia, and Germany. We’ll also hear from Ania Chamberlin ’19, who put on quite the art exhibit in Smith Gallery before graduating this spring. To round out the show we recap this year’s Summerfest event at the College.

  • Amy Tan

    Episode 14

    Amy Tan: Commencement 2019

    Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and many other novels, aspiring nature journalist, and musical dominatrix for the literary band The Rock Bottom Remainders, gave the 2019 Commencement address. She sat down to talk about the values she shares with Grinnell and how she found her own path to a meaningful career after a traumatic childhood. She discusses how writing has influenced her life and helped her to understand who she is and connect with her family, as well as millions of readers around the world.

  • Death and the Maiden

    Episode 13

    It’s Lit(erary)! Shakespeare, the Afterlife, and Reconciliation

    What happens after death? In this episode, we wrestle with that age-old question alongside Shakespeare and our very own John Garrison, associate professor of English. His recently published book, Shakespeare and the Afterlife, reckons with how the Bard grappled with some of the biggest questions of life and death during his time. Then, we turn to a seemingly more uplifting topic, reconciliation, with Jan Frans Van Dijkhuizen, associate professor of English literature at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Dijkhuizen paints a bleak picture of the literary history of reconciliation, but his conclusions bear strongly on our present moment, especially the polarized political landscape that surrounds us. Dijkhuizen and Garrison worked together as research fellows at the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C. in 2016 and became friends and collaborators. We also hear from our music correspondent, Gabriel Shubert ’20, who spoke with the drummer from Camp Cope, an Australian independent alternative punk band that performed in Grinnell on April 19.

  • Stand with Standing Rock protest in San Francisco

    Episode 12


    We talk with scholars of Native studies about important issues facing Indigenous people throughout the United States, from the effect of oil booms on people and land to misrepresentation in literature. Sebastian Braun, director of the American Indian studies program at Iowa State University, discusses the Bakken oil boom and the impact it’s had on Native and non-Native people and the environment based on his time at the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. Gina Caison, assistant professor of English at Georgia State University, talks with Ben about the often overlooked role of indigenous people in the South and how focusing on that history impacts contemporary Native peoples. There’s also a short story on Noura Mint Seymali, the Mauritanian musical emissary who performed in Herrick Chapel on April 3.

  • Squirrel Flower at the Stew

    Episode 11

    Squirrel Flower

    Ella Williams ’18 graduated from Grinnell in December with a degree in gender, women’s and sexuality studies, and big plans for her music career. Since graduating, she went on tour in Europe with Adrianne Lenker, playing to sold-out crowds all over the place as her musical persona, Squirrel Flower. She’s returned stateside and is working on finishing up a new record before she starts touring again this summer, all over the country. Ella was born into a musical family, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. By the time she got to Grinnell, she had already released her first album, but she chose not to study music academically at Grinnell. Williams continued to play music, though, and her songs show the influence of her time in Grinnell. She released another EP under her alias, Squirrel Flower, and one of her songs, “Conditions,” gained recognition on NPR’s All Songs Considered. On the show, Williams reflects on her music and time in Grinnell, which was coming to an end when we talked back in the fall. We also get a preview of Will Bennett’s ’13 new album, “All Your Favorite Songs,” from his band, Will Bennett and the Tells. Bennett grew up in Grinnell and his music is heavily influenced by his hometown.

  • frayed rope on stump

    Episode 10

    Reckoning with the Faulconer Gallery

    The history of racial violence in this country is long and ugly, and the trauma is ever-present for many people. But can art help us reckon with that history? In this episode, we talk to the people behind the current exhibitions on display at the College’s Faulconer Gallery. First, we discuss Reckoning with the Incident: John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural, which brings together the preparatory studies and sketches of John Wilson’s 1952 mural, The Incident, which depicts the scene of a racial terror lynching at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan while a young African-American family looks on. The exhibition challenges viewers to think about the legacy of racism in this country. Then we take a look at Dread and Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World, curated by Emily Stamey ’01, who worked in the Faulconer Gallery as a student when it first started. Stamey brought together the work of 19 artists whose work grapples with and reinvigorates early-modern European fairy tales. If you think you know fairy tales, think again. Finally, we end with a story about the alumni care packages sent to students before spring break.

  • New York Neo-Futurists

    Episode 9

    Breaking the Fourth Wall: Neo-Futurism and Twelfth Night

    We rupture the infamous “fourth wall” of theatre, going behind the scenes with Rob Neill ’91, founding member of the New York Neo-Futurists, to discuss their unique brand of performance, which lies somewhere between improv, sketch comedy, and avant-garde theatre. The Neo-Futurists were on campus this semester to perform their show, “The Infinite Wrench,” which features a race against the clock of 30 plays in 60 minutes. We also talk with Ellen Mease about the more traditional theatrical world of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, which Mease directed this semester. She shares her memories about what Grinnell’s theatre has meant to her, 40 years after she first directed her first production of the show.

  • Brain

    Episode 8

    See it Feelingly

    In this episode, we talk with Ralph Savarese, professor of English, about his new book, See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor. For years, researchers have claimed that autistic people struggle to understand literature. Savarese’s experience reading books with his own adopted son, DJ, made him question the prevailing assumptions about autism. Over the course of many years, Savarese read novels with autistic readers from across the spectrum, immersing himself in their intellectual and sensory worlds as they immersed themselves in literature. Savarese, an English professor with a neuroscience background himself, turned these experiences into his book, which is part scientific research, part ethnography, and presents a compelling case for rethinking how we conceive of autism. Before relegating autistic children to segregated learning spaces, Savarese believes we should seek to include them whenever possible. These readers engaged deeply with the novels, revealing profound insights which emerged from the way their different bodies and brains reacted to the stories, but also from their experiences of stigma and exclusion.

  • Corn plants sprout with large dark storm clouds overhead

    Episode 7

    Digging Deep: Iowa Agriculture

    In this episode of All Things Grinnell, we talk with Jordan Scheibel ’10, whose transformative experience with local agriculture as a student at Grinnell encouraged him to plant his roots here after graduation. He now runs Middle Way Farm, an organic farm on the outskirts of Grinnell. We also talk with Jack Mutti, emeritus professor of economics, about the impact of trade disputes and tariffs on Iowa’s agricultural sector. 

  • Close up view of student's hands planting a seedling in the college garden

    Episode 6

    Sustainability in Action

    In this episode of All Things Grinnell, we dig into the Grinnell College Garden, talking with some of the workers and volunteers who’ve contributed to the garden’s improved production the past two years. Then we talk with Heather Swan, beekeeper, poet, and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about her book, Where Honeybees Thrive, which creatively explores efforts to ensure a sustainable future for honeybees – and ourselves.

  • Kanye West in white grill glasses singing at a concert

    Episode 5

    An Abundance of Katherines

    In this episode, we talk with two of the speakers from this fall’s Scholars’ Convocation Series. First, we talk with Kathryn Lofton, professor of religious studies at Yale University, about pop culture and what religious studies can tell us about the music, TV, and products we consume. Then we talk with Kathy Cramer, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about the politics of resentment among rural voters in Wisconsin.

  • Aerial view of Rosenbloom Field with a rainbow honor G at midfield

    Episode 4

    Off the Field Part 2

    In this episode, we talk with more speakers from this year’s Rosenfield Symposium, which explored the inextricable relationship of sports and politics, economics and society. First, we talk with Sarah Fields, professor of communication at the University of Colorado in Denver, about the intersection of law, gender, and sports. Then we talk with Nola Agha, associate professor of sport management at the University of San Francisco, about the impact of public stadium subsidies.

  • San Francisco 49ers football players kneel during the national anthem

    Episode 3

    Off the Field Part 1

    In this episode, we talk with speakers from this year’s Rosenfield Symposium, which explored the inextricable relationship of sports and politics, economics, and society. First, we talk with Juliet Macur, the Sports of the Times columnist for the New York Times, about her experience covering stories that transcend the field of sports, such as workplace harassment, sex abuse, brain trauma, doping, and international corruption. Then, we talk with Louis Moore, associate professor of history at Grand Valley State University, about athlete activism – past, present, and future. 

  • Saints Rest Coffee Mug

    Episode 2

    Saints Rest

    It’s a Saints Rest special! We talk with Noga Ashkenazi ’09, who directed the movie Saints Rest, filmed and set in the iconic Grinnell coffee house, about how she fell in love with Grinnell and the challenges and joys of making the movie. Then, we talk with Saints Rests’ former owner Jeff Phelps ’71, and the current owner, Sam Cox, about the origins of Saints and how the coffee shop has become a home for so many in the Grinnell community.

  • Will Freeman sits in his Morgan-Three Wheeler, named The Spirit of Grinnell, as the sun sets behind him

    Episode 1

    Around the Country in 79 Days

    On this inaugural episode of All Things Grinnell, we talk with Will Freeman, Grinnell track and field coach and physical education professor, about his summer road trip across all 48 contiguous states at the helm of a Morgan Three-Wheeler. We also talk with Mithila Iyer ’19, the recipient of the Fischlowitz Travel Fellowship, who explored minority theatre productions across the country over the past year.

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