First Person Radio-Weds, Sep 7 @9:00AM: JUDY PASTERNAK: Yellow Dirt Author; TruthToTell, Sept 5: CORRIDOR HOUSING: Assuring Affordability as Rails Go Down

First Person Radio-Weds, Sep 7 @9:00AM: JUDY PASTERNAK: Yellow Dirt Author -KFAI FM90.3/106.7/

A craggy mesa once housed Monument No. 2, the hottest, richest, most productive uranium mine in the Navajo homeland, in a remote desert near the Arizona-Utah line. To the families who have dwelled for generations in the spring-fed valley below, the mesa is the wounded center of their world. They and the hundreds of Indians who labored at the mine have been forever changed by the government’s desperate press for more nuclear weapons than any other nation on Earth.

Yellow Dirt is their story.

It is the saga of four generations whose lives have been shaped by uranium.
What happened at Monument No. 2 was repeated in communities across the reservation. Despite warnings from doctors and scientists that long-term exposure could be harmful, even fatal, thousands of miners worked unprotected. Long after the uranium boom ended, the neighbors continued to live with contamination. The radioactive “yellow dirt” ended up in their drinking supplies, in their walls and floors, in their playgrounds, their bread ovens, their churches and even their garbage dumps.

Few knew what had happened until Judy Pasternak wrote a prizewinning Los Angeles Times series that galvanized a powerful Congressman and a famous prosecutor to press for redress and repair of the grievous damage.

In Yellow Dirt, Pasternak provides gripping new details. She introduces the family of Adakai the Gambler, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whose fates were intertwined with that of Monument No. 2 and with decisions made without their knowledge in distant capitals and labs. She weaves the personal and the political into a chronicle of betrayal, of willful negligence, and ultimately, of reckoning.

Join us on September 7th as First Person Radio's Laura Waterman Wittstock with Andy Driscoll talk with award winning author Judy Pasternak about her stunning book: Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed. The book examines in depth the effects of uranium mining on the Dine (Navajo) lands, looking closely at what happened to several families who built houses using contaminated materials and drank from water poisoned with uranium. The book is a must read for everyone in Indian Country and those concerned about Indian lands and rights.
Judy Pasternak is an editor with Bloomberg News in Washington and a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, where she wrote about subjects ranging from a band of right-wing extremist bank robbers to the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way.Yellow Dirt, her first book, made two "Best of 2010" lists: Publisher's Weekly and the Christian Science Monitor. The book has also won awards for literary non-fiction, investigative journalism and environmental journalism. She is married, with one son.

TruthToTell, Mon., Sept 5@9AM: CORRIDOR HOUSING: Assuring Affordability as Rails Go Down–AUDIO HERE; VIDEO ARCHIVE HERE

Watch us from Studio 5! TruthToTell is now seen live on Livestream and later on or in iTunes



The Central Corridor light rail system is taking shape – too slowly for many, fairly quickly for others. Rails have already been laid down close to the storage and maintenance facility that the old Gillette Building is becoming, but the infrastructure is taking shape along University Avenue as we watch the station stops rise from the rubble of sewer and electric re-installation and new road laid alongside the work now navigable. The cars will be running in 2014. There’s excitement in the air, along with consternation.

What remains less sure, especially as construction will start to enter the avenue segments much closer to businesses and residences in the eastern sector where small businesses and more modest homeowner fear a limited life in the midst of light rail disruption, is whether such small, often established Asian businesses and corridor residents of color can survive.

Housing is already in upheaval throughout that area, which includes the old Rondo neighborhood and Frogtown. Rondo – most of which remembers its destruction at the hands of highway engineers in the mid-1960s when I-94 was gouged out of the community – and sat there for months unfinished. Such events raise fears that the housing and commercial development craze that often accompanies rail transit projects will leave these same folks behind and behind the 8-Ball when it comes to home values, further foreclosures, and loss of business integrity.

When such development hits, land values shoot up because demand skyrockets around fixed rail. This puts present renters, homeowners and small businesses in a bind because they can see their property taxes and rents shoot up right along with those values, leaving current residents unable to pay the freight. It’s worse, of course, in this no growth, high unemployment economy when folks who live around there have lost their jobs in higher numbers than most. The unemployment rate in our core cities hovers around 20%-25% or more. Unforgivable that they should suffer any further. Housing affordability is paramount.

Most of the folks who live and work in these areas are getting their advocates out there and groups concerned with affordable housing issues are coalescing to plan and stave off the potential exploitation that often arrives with the rails. The Metropolitan Council will oversee affordable housing planning, but it should involve many organizations and communities.

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI query four of such activists – a small slice of the large community coming together – about the beginnings of plans to assure that housing that rises or survives in that area meets the needs of the community at least as much as those wishing to move into the new, transit-friendly structures that will dot the Central Corridor from downtown St. Paul to the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis.


METRIC GILES – Organizing and Policy Specialist, Community Stabilization Project

EVE MARIE SWAN – Facilitator, Save Our HomesCentral Corridor Community Advocate

CAM GORDON – Councilmember, Ward 2, Minneapolis

CHIP HALBACH –Executive Director, Minnesota Housing Partnership

Additional resources:


 Central Corridor & Affordable Housing Resource Library

"2 x 4" Quarterly Housing Indicators

THE BIG PICTURE PROJECT Community Meeting Flyer