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Episode 110

Oysterman Jay Fairty's radioed a morning call to raise the Ferry Street Bridge (seen in the distance). Fairty said the Quinnipiac River was good for business. "There's no better spot for oystering," Fairty said. "A lot of it's the water quality. The salinity. The food supply, everything is good here." Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

A year after a racially-charged, violent incident in New Hampshire, we hear from two young men about their experience growing up black in a town that’s mostly white. Plus, we sit in on a new play that discusses race, with the hope of making its audience uncomfortable. We also hear about an unexpected victory in the Massachusetts state primaries, and check-in on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island legislative sessions. And, as the fire season continues in the West, we hear from a New Hampshire firefighter who has just returned from the Mendocino Complex. Finally, we discuss the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and hear an orchestra inspired by the majestic creatures.

It’s NEXT.

*A warning for our audience: this episode includes a racial slur.

Two Young Men Reckon with Race in New Hampshire

Nick Sanderson, left, and Will Krug, right, have been friends for more than 15 years. The two are high school seniors, and together they've navigated life as young black men in a predominately white area. Photo by Daniela Allee for NHPR

Nick Sanderson, left, and Will Krug, right, have been friends for more than 15 years. The two are high school seniors, and together they’ve navigated life as young black men in a predominately white area. Photo by Daniela Allee for NHPR

It’s been a year since a young biracial boy was seriously injured in a near-hanging in Claremont, New Hampshire. The state has been struggling with questions of race and racism since that incident, and New Hampshire Public radio has been talking with residents about it. Reporter Daniela Allee takes us to the town of Conway, where two friends have been grappling with the realities of growing up black in a majority white town.

This piece is part of an NHPR series about race in New Hampshire. Other pieces in the series include a conversation with the man who was the superintendent of schools at the time of the incident as he reckons with race and a look at one man who was inspired to start reaching out to black students in the area.

A New Play Aims to Make Its Audience Uncomfortable

Viv pushes Cass to call the police in Rachel Lynett's "Well Intentioned White People." Photo courtesy of Barrington Stage Company

Viv pushes Cass to call the police in Rachel Lynett’s “Well-Intentioned White People.” Photo courtesy of Barrington Stage Company

The uncomfortable topic of race is the subject of a new play called “Well-Intentioned White People” by playwright Rachel Lynett. The play is finishing its premiere run at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, this week, and it’s designed to make its mostly white audiences cringe.

New England Public Radio’s Jill Kaufman has the story.

Ayanna Pressley Wins The Massachusetts 7th District Democratic Primary Race

Ayanna Pressley makes addresses supporters celebrating her primary win. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

Ayanna Pressley makes addresses supporters celebrating her primary win. Photo by Robin Lubbock for WBUR

In a year when political conventional wisdom keeps getting upturned, Massachusetts provided one of the most shocking results so far. Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council, easily beat Representative Michael Capuano in the state Democratic primary this past week. Polls had never shown her winning the contest, let alone beating a popular, 10-term incumbent by 18 points. With no Republican opponent, Pressley is set to become the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

WBUR’s Anthony Brooks reports on the race.

Massachusetts Legislative Check-In

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Hill. Photo by Jesse Costa for WBUR

We also check-in with WBUR’s State House Reporter Steve Brown to hear about the other important races in the primary, and the legislative session in Massachusetts.

Rhode Island Legislative Check-In

The Rhode Island Statehouse. Photo by RIPR

The Rhode Island Statehouse. Photo by RIPR

As the PawSox announced their move from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, to Worcester, Massachusetts, we speak with RIPR’s Political Reporter Ian Donnis about what happened with the minor league baseball team, and the other news from Rhode Island’s legislative session.

New Hampshire Firefighter Returns from Mendocino Complex

David Kullgren (L) and Tom Trask (R) are en route to California to battle the Mendocino Complex fire. Photo courtesy of the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

David Kullgren (L) and Tom Trask (R) travelled to California to battle the Mendocino Complex fire. Photo courtesy of the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The Mendocino Complex in California became the largest fire ever recorded in the state’s history in August when it reached over 300,000 acres. But while we usually do not see fires that size in our region, that doesn’t mean New Englanders aren’t involved. In fact, a number of New England crews were sent out West this year to help with fire suppression efforts, including an engine and two firefighters from New Hampshire.

We speak with David Kullgren, a forest fire patrolman for the state of New Hampshire, who served as an Engine Boss for a New Hampshire engine on the Mendocino Complex fire in California.

Bridge Tenders Keep Connecticut Moving

Bridge Tender Mike Dorsey runs through the controls of the Grand Avenue Swing Bridge in New Haven. "People don't usually look up here," Dorsey said. "They just ride through not even knowing that we're up here." Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

Bridge tender Mike Dorsey runs through the controls of the Grand Avenue Swing Bridge in New Haven. “People don’t usually look up here,” Dorsey said. “They just ride through not even knowing that we’re up here.” Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

When a boat needs to pass under a low bridge while on a river, that bridge needs to move out of the way. A drawbridge lifts up so a boat can pass under. A swing bridge pivots out of the way so a boat can pass by. But these decades-old bridges don’t operate on their own. They rely on a small group of “bridge tenders” who specialize in a peculiar and slow-moving job.

Connecticut Public Radio’s Patrick Skahill introduces us to some “bridge tenders” who take us behind-the-scenes.

Listening to Endangered Right Whales

North Atlantic Right Whale Photo Courtesy the Center for Biological Diversity

After nearly five decades on the endangered species list, the North Atlantic Right Whale is closer to extinction than it’s been in decades. With only 450 left on earth, some experts predict the species might be gone as soon as 2040. We’ve told you stories about what’s killing the whales: ship strikes and entanglements with fishing gear. But it’s also changing fishing in the region. Far less attention has been paid to what some biologists say is the whale’s real problem: low birth rates. WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports

The plight of whales and the sounds they use to communicate are the inspirations for a new orchestral piece that premiered at Boston’s Hatch Shell in August. As WBUR’s Maria Garcia reports, the piece illustrates the connection between humans and these magnificent ocean mammals.

Photo at the top: Oysterman Jay Fairty’s radioed a morning call to raise the Ferry Street Bridge (seen in the distance). Fairty said the Quinnipiac River was good for business. “There’s no better spot for oystering,” Fairty said. “A lot of it’s the water quality. The salinity. The food supply, everything is good here.” Photo by Ryan Caron King for Connecticut Public Radio

About NEXT

NEXT is produced at Connecticut Public Radio
Host: John Dankosky
Producer: Lily Tyson
Digital Producer: Carlos Mejia
Executive Producer: Catie Talarski
Contributors to this episode: Daniela Allee, Jill Kaufman, Anthony Brooks, Steve Brown, Ian Donnis, Patrick Skahill, Miriam Wasser, Maria Garcia
Music: Todd Merrell, “New England” by Goodnight Blue Moon, “Pressure” by Riot, “Gypsy Dance” by Topher Mohr and Alex Elena, “Intelligent Design” by Snark Puppy

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