Roadtrip Nation is a weekly half-hour documentary series that tracks the up-close and personal journeys of young adults as they travel the country interviewing inspiring leaders from all walks of life.
Roadtrip Productions and KQED are proud to announce the premiere of Roadtrip Nation: Season Eleven launching in September 2014, distributed through American Public Television to public television stations across the country.
Throughout eight episodes, viewers will hitch-hike along for a whirlwind tour through 25 states as the team of young road-trippers seeks life advice from poets, NASA engineers, fire-spinners, chimp veterinarians, and more – people who have built fulfilling lives doing what they love. By speaking with accomplished professionals who have turned their passions into careers, the road-trippers gain a framework for building their own fulfilling livelihoods and are inspired to take the next steps to make their ambitions a reality.
The band of motley travelers all hail from distinctly different backgrounds, but are united by their mission to learn from those who have gone before them. Ed is a 22-year-old recent college grad from the quaint town of Colchester, England. Stagnating in a dead-end job and living with his parents, he hopes this trip will give him the confidence to branch outside his bubble and pursue broader opportunities. Tele’job, a recent high school graduate, grew up in notoriously dangerous Oakland, California. Determined to dismantle the marginalization that afflicts many urban populations, he seeks to channel his passion for community activism into a socially impactful path. 29-year-old Olivia experienced a stifling small town upbringing that made it difficult for her to express herself as a gay woman. A stint in the Air Force provided the exploration she hankered for, but she’s now focused on finding a career that speaks to her interests in community and sustainable agriculture.
Throughout over 20 powerful interviews, the road-trippers hear perspective-shifting advice from a wide range of interviewees, including: human rights attorney Brittan Heller, spoken word poet and activist Staceyann Chin, educational policy professor David Stovall, whitewater rafting guide Sherry Grathler, and Adam Steltzner, a NASA engineer who directed the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars.
The philosophy that drives Roadtrip Nation is the search for individuals who have followed their interests and become successful by carving out their own paths.
Christina Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org
Season eleven of Roadtrip Nation is made possibly by AT&T, Hobsons, University of Phoenix Foundation and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Websites and Social Media
Education Site: roadtripnation.org
Roadtrip Nation 11 – Member Guide Article (pdf)
Roadtrip Nation 11 – Social Media Toolkit (pdf)
Season 11 Episode Descriptions
#1101: Climbing Out of the Safety Net
Unsure what to do with their lives and seeking wisdom from others, a team of young adults sets off on a cross-country road trip to interview professionals in diverse careers who can provide insight on building a fulfilling life. Ed, a recent college graduate from the small town of Colchester, England, is stagnating in a dead-end job and living with his parents. Determined to branch out of his hometown, he hopes this trip will give him the confidence to pursue broader possibilities. Tele’jon, an 18-year-old from violence-plagued Oakland, CA, seeks to channel his passion for community activism into a socially impactful career. 29-year-old Olivia left a stifling small town upbringing to join the Air Force and explore the world. Now looking to settle down, she hopes to blend her interests of sustainable farming and community-building into a satisfying livelihood. After meeting each other in San Francisco, the team hops aboard Roadtrip Nation’s iconic green RV and travels to Santa Cruz, CA. There, they interview climbing instructor Jakob Laggner, who left a traditional desk job to found Treks and Tracks, a company that leads outdoor expeditions.
#1102: Mark Your Thresholds
The road-trippers’ search for wisdom continues in San Francisco where they interview Roy Remer, a volunteer coordinator at the Zen Hospice Project, who uses Buddhist principles to serve the emotional needs of the terminally ill. Roy reflects on the difficulty of letting go, and encourages the road-trippers to practice saying goodbye to the various stages of life in order to grow into the next version of themselves. Next, the team heads down to Southern California to talk the importance of culture with Omar Cardenas, a youth organizer for the Children’s Defense Fund. Omar’s personal transformation from troubled high school dropout to empowering mentor inspires Tele’jon, who aspires to do similar work. Later, the road-trippers arrive at the doorstep of Ian Harvie, a transgendered stand-up comedian whose self-deprecating brand of humor hilariously tackles issues of gender identity and societal expectations. Ian discusses his challenge-filled journey of self-acceptance, stirring up powerful emotions in Olivia. The road-trippers leave the interview feeling more resolute in their identities and determined to live their lives in a way that’s true to themselves.
#1103: Going With the Flow
Against a backdrop of sweeping sand and swaying palm trees, the road-trippers make their way to Palm Springs to interview NASA engineer Adam Steltzner. Adam boasts an impressive resume that includes directing the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, but describes an unlikely sequence of life events that led him to where he is: He was a terrible student in school, isn’t sure whether he graduated high school, and spent years aimlessly playing in bands, unaware that the Earth rotates on an axis. A fateful night looking up at the stars eventually kindled his interest in science, but his circuitous path teaches the road-trippers that it’s always possible to alter your trajectory. Later, in Taos, New Mexico, the team meets with Sherry Grathler, a river guide who backed out of a career in law to pursue the outdoors. Sherry discusses the challenges of defying societal expectations, and leads the road-trippers through a whitewater rapid excursion down the Rio Grande that teaches them the importance of going with the flow of life. Outside of their comfort zones but heartened by their new experiences, the road-trippers finish the week deep in the heart of Texas at a festive Fourth of July celebration.
#1104: Find Your People
The road-trippers meander through the South, eventually stopping in Louisiana, where they take an airboat tour through the swamps of Lafitte. The team is surprised to learn that their boat operator is also an alligator wrestler whose involvement with the sport is rooted in a Native American tradition that dates back hundreds of years. From there, the team heads to New Orleans where their interviews expose them to a range of individuals—including a chef, a graphic designer, and a veterinarian at a chimpanzee sanctuary—who represent the diverse influences and perspectives that make New Orleans so unique. Moving onto St. Louis, the team participates in a Zombie Fun Run and Olivia reflects on her affinity for life on the road, noting her appreciation for the way that traveling shakes you out of your habits. A long stint of driving lands the team in Washington D.C. where they interview Ben Drexler, a former non-profit professional who left a traditional 9-5 to become a poi (fire) spinner. Ben tasks the road-trippers with finding their own unique niches that allow them to express themselves. Feeling inspired, Ed and Tele’jon both give fire spinning a whirl, finding liberation in confronting their fears.
#1105: Connect the Dots
Halfway through the journey, we find the road-trippers in Washington D.C., where they interview Brittan Heller, a human rights attorney. Brittan explains her “connect-by-dots” approach to career-building, which starts off with knowing what you’re passionate about and taking small steps grounded in conviction. This philosophy echoes with Ed, who realizes that every experience has the potential to shape him—regardless if he knows his final destination. Moving onto Philadelphia, the Roadtrippers interview Sal Donato, a racecar mechanic who owns his own shop. As a first-generation American, Sal exudes a hard-working, up-by-the-bootstraps mentality, which Olivia can relate to as the daughter of immigrants. Olivia leaves the interview inspired by Sal’s success story and the unquestionable joy he derives from his work. Later, after stopping to enjoy Philly Cheesesteaks, the team interviews Christine Borelli and Stacey Cruise, two women who revitalized a crime-ridden school by using compassion instead of punishment. Tele’jon is particularly moved by the school’s transformation and leaves the conversation feeling fired up about creating institutional change in education.
#1106: Do It Now
In New York City, the 36-foot RV wearily trundles through the city’s narrow streets, and the team miraculously finds a parking spot for their home in record time. Leaving behind their goliath transportation for a few hours, the road-trippers opt for a new method of travel: the subway. As they explore the city, Manhattan seems larger than life to Ed, whose small-town English upbringing has never brought him face-to-face with a bustling American city. After taking in the sights, the road-trippers meet Staceyann Chin, a spoken word artist and LGBT rights activist. Staceyann delves into her past and opens up about her rough upbringing, during which she was abandoned by her mother and sexually assaulted. Reflecting on the effects of traumatic life events, Staceyann notes that while these events will always remain a deep scar, they can also be harnessed for positivity—after all, it was her tumultuous childhood that compelled her to move to NYC and discover the outlet of poetry. Closing out the conversation, she encourages the road-trippers to feed their spirits, take risks, and make the most of their youth. Inspired by Staceyann’s urgings, the road-trippers decide to abandon their inhibitions and take a leap of their own. Driving to the coast, they plunge into the Atlantic and swim around in the pouring rain, truly soaking up the fleeting nature of the moment.
#1107: Rounding the Bend
The road-trippers reach Long Island, NY, home of writer Beverly Donofrio. Beverly recounts a long list of personal failures—getting put in remedial English, a failed thesis, a lost job—between bouts of reflective laughter. You have to laugh, she tells the road-trippers, and thrive from adversity; take a real look at the opportunities that are presented to you, and say yes as often as you can. From there, the road-trippers head to Detroit, MI, where they encounter one of the renegade artists who are taking back the city. Spoken word poet Airea Dee Matthews urges the road-trippers to find rebirth in collapse; in the mostly abandoned city, the artists of Detroit don’t see decay, but possibility. The road-trippers see the decay for themselves when they tour an abandoned building and experience the sense of freedom and energy that drives the artists’ push for regeneration. Next, in Chicago, IL, Tele’jon struggles to reconcile his mentors’ suggestions that he become a professor with his disaffection for the educational system. After interviewing Professor David Stovall, Tele’jon sees that David shares his concerns about access and privilege, and uses his position to create change. Tele’jon leaves the interview feeling more confident that he’ll go back to school.
#1108: The Long Road Home
After 34 interviews and several thousand miles on the odometer, it’s the end of the road and the road-trippers have one interview left. In Milwaukee, WI, they interview Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, a nonprofit that proves local food systems can create jobs, improve the health of the community, fight racism, and bring urban and rural communities together. Will shares his journey from sharecroppers’ son to basketball player and back to farming and growing food. He poses a question—how do you stay energized?—and answers that you have to be passionate, and have the patience to put in the hard work to truly reach that point where the hours fly by. As the road-trippers get back on the road home, they reflect on the stories and lessons from the road. Tele’jon follows the common threads that connect the leaders’ experiences and truly understands what it means to say that everything is possible. Olivia has newfound confidence that you can’t make mistakes—there’s no wrong thing you can do, so do everything. Ed vows to leave his safety net and come to the edge and jump. “I’ve found a new world and a new way of living,” he says, “and I like it.” At the airport, Olivia, Tele’jon, and Ed say their last goodbyes and move ahead, determined to take advantage of everything the road has shown them.
About Roadtrip Nation
Roadtrip Nation started in 2001 when three friends fresh out of college weren’t sure what to do with their lives. Their solution? To road-trip around the country and ask people who do what they love how they got to where they are today. What started as a road trip sparked an annual documentary series, a number of books, online tools, and an educational organization—all dedicated to helping individuals define their own roads in life. In 2009, Roadtrip Nation expanded into education with the creation of The Roadtrip Nation Experience, a project-based self-discovery curriculum designed to help students explore their identities and find careers aligned with their interests. Today, Roadtrip Nation continues to empower individuals to create meaningful lives doing what they love. To learn more about Roadtrip Nation, visit www.roadtripnation.com. For more information about Roadtrip Nation in education, visit www.roadtripnation.org.
About KQED Public Television
KQED Public Television, one of the country’s most popular public television stations, brings the values of public media to homes around the Bay Area with EMMY® Award–winning programming that inspires, informs and entertains. KQED produces local series like Check, Please! Bay Area, This Week in Northern California, Truly CA, San Francisco Opera and ImageMakers, as well as popular programs for national broadcast such as Essential Pépin, QUEST and Film School Shorts. KQED also distributes programming, including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Roadtrip Nation andJoanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence, to public media stations across the country. KQED Public Television channels are KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area, also available in HD), KQED Plus (Bay Area, also available in HD) and KQET (Monterey/Salinas). KQED also offers digital channels available via XFINITY and over-the-air, each with distinct quality programming: KQED World, KQED Life, KQED Kids and KQED V-me (Spanish language).
About American Public Television
APT (APTonline.org) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. Since 2004, APT has distributed approximately half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, A Ripple of Hope, Rick Steves’ Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia’s Italy, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, Midsomer Murders, Moyers & Company, Doc Martin, Rosemary & Thyme, BBC World News, The Rat Pack: Live and Swingin’, Johnny Mathis: Wonderful, Wonderful! and John Denver: The Wildlife Concert. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched and nationally distributed Create® – the TV channel featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming. APT is also a partner in the WORLD™ channel expansion project including its web presence at WORLDcompass.org. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org. For more information on Create, visit CreateTV.com.