WJFF - Close to Home with Leif Johansen

by Leif Johansen

A twenty-something armchair policy wonk born and raised in the Catskills is heading out into the world, and he's got a lot of questions. In this podcast from WJFF Radio Catskill, we'll take a deep dive into the institutions in upstate New York that are at the foundation of our community and explore how they work (and how they sometimes don't). We'll sit down with educators, farmers, public servants, artists, business owners, an ...   ...  Read more

Podcast episodes

  • Season 4

  • Rail Trails Update

    Rail Trails Update

    There's a 50-mile biking/walking path being built that will span the entire length of Sullivan County, north to south. It's a feat of design and community cooperation, and it's (slowly) moving closer to becoming a reality. But that's just part of a larger, regional project that may transform the way we think about accessibility and recreation in our rural area. This episode is an update to our piece in early 2021 on the O&W Rail Trail project, and it features Heather Brown, Sullivan County's Commissioner of Planning, Community Development & Environmental Management; Heather Jacksy, Sullivan County's Chief Planner; Annie Bergelin, Design and Capital Projects Manager at the Open Space Institute; and Tatum Justice, Northeast Land Project Manager at the Open Space Institute.

  • For the Birds

    For the Birds

    Have you noticed geese flying back recently? Or robins plucking worms and berries from your snow-less yard in the middle of the winter? Locally and globally, bird populations and migration patterns are changing. Today, we're asking why. (Spoiler: your house cat knows.) In this episode, we're joined by Dr. Andrew Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate in the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Mark Dedea, President of the John Burrows Natural History Society, and Wendy Tocci, Regional Coordinator for the Third New York State Breeding Bird Atlas.

  • Season 3

  • Food Insecurity Redux: School Lunches

    Food Insecurity Redux: School Lunches

    How do all of those public school meals get made every day? What regulations govern what food can and can't be served to K-12 students? This week, we sit down with Sullivan West Central School District Food Services Director Dara Smith to get the inside scoop on what happens behind the school lunch counter.

  • Food Insecurity Redux: Checking in with "A Single Bite"

    Food Insecurity Redux: Checking in with "A Single Bite"

    What's the status of rural food insecurity in (sort of) post-COVID rural America? "A Single Bite" Executive Director Audrey Garro drops in to talk about the current state of food insecurity in the Catskills and to share some exciting news about the burgeoning local nonprofit. We also ponder what impact Dollar General and transit systems like "Move Sullivan" have on rural access to nutrition.

  • Stories From Sullivan: Researching the Local Opioid Epidemic

    Stories From Sullivan: Researching the Local Opioid Epidemic

    In 2021, overdose death rates in Sullivan County were 108% higher than the New York State average. How did we get here? Are our efforts to fight this epidemic keeping things from getting even worse, or are we missing the mark? What policies actually make a difference? Dr. Patricia Strach from the Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY Albany and Dr. Katherine Zuber from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice have been working to answer these big questions since 2017 when their team launched the "Stories from Sullivan" project, which seeks to develop a better understanding of how our communities respond to the opioid crisis through a mix of quantitative data analysis and 200+ on-the-ground interviews with local stakeholders.