The Freeflow Podcast

a media project of Freeflow Institute

Season One: The Freeflow Podcast


EPISODE 1 | Chris La Tray: Notes on the Sacred Art of Dog Walking

This is the first episode of The Freeflow Podcast, wherein producer Rick White speaks with friend and Freeflow Institute instructor, Chris La Tray. Rick walked with Chris on snow-covered trails through Council Grove State Park, just west of Missoula, Montana, on a February morning in 2020.

EPISODE 2 | Hal Herring (part one): Woods work + pathological reading

In the second episode of The Freeflow Podcast, producer Rick White speaks with Hal Herring, one of our all-time favorite writers and thinkers. Rick met up with Hal near Augusta, Montana in September 2020 to chop wood and chat about the exquisitely agonizing work of writing.

EPISODE 3 | Hal Herring (part two): On making art, defining citizenship, and loving dogs

This is part two of producer Rick White’s conversation with Hal Herring, who led the first-ever Freeflow Institute course on the Missouri River in 2018. Rick and Hal rendezvoused on forested public land near Augusta, Montana in September 2020.

EPISODE 4 | CMarie Fuhrman: Hells Canyon Revival

If you aren’t already familiar with CMarie Fuhrman, we are happy to introduce you to her today. CMarie’s body of work includes poems, essays, books – gorgeous prose and observations on place, history, and the more-than-human world. She is the nonfiction editor at High Desert Journal,  and director of the Elk River Writers Workshop.  CMarie lives in the mountains of Idaho with her partner Caleb and their dogs, Carhartt and Cisco.

EPISODE 5 | Heather Hansman: On community in journalism, her path as a writer, and describing rivers

Heather Hansman literally wrote the book on the Green River. Two years ago, Heather finished an account of her solo source-to-confluence descent of the Green, from its headwaters in the high mountains of Wyoming to its confluence with the Colorado. Her book, entitled DownriverInto the Future of Water in the West (University of Chicago Press, 2019), is the artful product of adventure, inquiry, and super solid reporting.

EPISODE 6 | Nora Saks: On determination, documentation, and celebrating the underdog

Today on the Podcast we feature Nora Saks, a reporter and documentarian based in Butte, Montana and the host and creator of Richest Hill – a podcast about one of America’s most legendary Superfund sites. Producer Rick White met Nora for a walk along Silver Bow Creek in summer 2020 to discuss longform journalism, and the work of documenting the complex histories of communities with compassion, empathy, and dedication to the story. They discuss the heartbreak that can accompany full immersion into a story, affection for the underdog, and Atlantic salmon. Big thanks to Nora and to Montana Public Radio for sharing excerpts from Richest Hill.

EPISODE 7 | American Whitewater Scholars Showcase: Allison Fowle + Jack Henderson

Today the Podcast features a showcase: two very different pieces, by writers from two distinct parts of our country, talking about two singular rivers, both of which are eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. Wild and Scenic is the strongest protection a river can receive. It ensures that a river is protected – forever – from dams, mines, or other potentially harmful development. Both of the pieces on the podcast today are connected to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. They’re also connected to one another, and to one of our favorite river conservation organizations, American Whitewater.

EPISODE 8 | Joe Wilkins: On Edges

Joe Wilkins is the author of a novel, Fall Back Down When I Die; a memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers; and four collections of poetry, including Thieve When We Were Birds, winner of the Oregon Book Award. Wilkins grew up north of the Bull Mountains of eastern Montana and lives now with his family in western Oregon, where he directs the creative writing program at Linfield University.

EPISODE 9 | Alumni Showcase: Lauren Smith + Zoey Greenberg

In the summer of 2018 the Freeflow community established its roots. Our mission is to connect people to wild or precious places, but also to connect people to one another: emerging writers to professional writers, creatives to conservationists, educators to students, established mentors to the next generation of leaders. Since we ran our first two Missouri and Salmon River programs in 2018 we’ve held courses on the Rogue, Green, Blackfoot, and Yellowstone Rivers, as well as several pandemic-era remote workshops. We’ve grown our network of instructors, contributors, alumni, and students exponentially. The students are the heart of our community. They raise good questions and challenge us to be better as an organization. They also collect and create really good stories. 

EPISODE 10 | David James Duncan (part one): Solitude, sacrifice, and the salvation of short-form

After 15 years in the making, David James Duncan’s third novel, the 1200-page marvel Sun House, is poised to make its entrance into the world. Producer Rick White caught up with David last year to discuss the evolution of his writing life; structure and solitude; education and fishing; and his decision to never write a long book again. Also, David reads – through tears and to the wingbeats of a pileated woodpecker – the first pages of Sun House.

EPISODE 11 | David James Duncan (part two): On holding birds close to your heart

In this second half of their conversation, the pileated woodpecker follows producer Rick White and David James Duncan to the banks of the Bitterroot River. They meander and dip into discussion of great teachers, the spiritual life of literary characters, the endeavor to illuminate truth, and David’s new novel as an “asshole free zone.” David reads his ethereal essay, “Cherish This Ecstasy,” and birds of all sorts – ravens, Canada geese, and vultures among them – visit Rick and David during their talk. As a bonus – and as an antidote to the gravity of quotidian life – on this episode of the Podcast, we hear David James Duncan make loon, raven, and falcon sounds. It doesn’t get much better than that.

EPISODE 12 | Alumni Showcase: Alli Hartz + Erin White

Freeflow Institute’s mission is to connect people to wild or precious places, and also to connect people to one another: emerging writers to professional writers, creatives to conservationists, educators to students, established mentors to the next generation of leaders. So much of what we try to do is build cohorts of thinkers who might, together, effect change or come up with good ideas. And at the center of all that we do are stories. So today, we are happy to offer up a second alumni showcase – stories from two Freeflow alumni, Alli Hartz, whom we met last year on the Rogue River with Brendan Leonard, and Erin White, who was on the Blackfoot in 2019 with David James Duncan.

EPISODE 13 | Jessica Zephyrs: Consider the Cimarron

We started the Freeflow Podcast because we feel proud of the people we work with – our students, instructors, and collaborators. We figured that within our growing community we had the makings of a beautiful collage – perspectives, lessons, and ideas – the ingredients for a unique mosaic of sound and story. We wanted to create an audio aggregation of experiences, places, lessons, histories, dreams, and portraits – something like a literary journal, and a collaborative documentation of the evolving West – profiles of rivers and portraits of places and people.