To save these pigs, we have to eat them

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition| July 21, 2014

For the audio of this story, please click here.

Here’s the public-radio radio script:

Robertson County has the smallest population of any county in the state of Kentucky, and it’s the only one, word has it, without a stoplight.

So it’s an unlikely place to find a campaign to keep the food system more genetically diverse. But that is exactly what’s happening on a small farm owned by Travis Hood, called Hood’s Heritage Hogs.

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Four-footed congregants

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered | August 18, 2013

For the audio of this story, please click here.

Here’s a modified version of the public-radio radio script:

Right outside Lexington, Kentucky, tucked into the green hills of thoroughbred country, is a small town with a big name: Paris. It is everything you would imagine a small town to be: quiet, safe, friendly. Church is a defining part of life, as it is for many people across Kentucky. But in Paris, a little country church welcomes a very different breed of congregants. They arrive for Sunday services not on two feet, but four.

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The Secret of the Ghetto Gelding

This article about the racehorse John Henry appeared as original content on Hoofprints.com in January 2013.

The 500 mourners sat respectfully in folding chairs in front of the gravesite as the former governor eulogized the departed. A guestbook was open. Refreshments, including chocolate cake, awaited attendees for afterward. Flowers were everywhere: chrysanthemums, carnations and sunflowers … as well as a wreath made up of carrots and lettuce. The funeral was for a horse.

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New York Times’ The Rail Bookshelf: Equine ER

This essay appeared on The Rail, the racing blog of The New York Times, on May 23, 2010.

By Leslie Guttman

Not too long ago, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area one block from a busy urban thoroughfare and across the street from a large black dog on Prozac for his depression. My backyard was the size of a parking space, one for a compact.

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This I Believe: The Grieving Thief

From the book This I Believe: Life Lessons (Wiley). The book is based on the public radio series. | Leslie was also featured nationally, reading the essay on The Bob Edwards Show on SiriusXM.

By Leslie Guttman

The bookstore was warm and cozy. It was packed, maybe because people didn’t realize the rain had stopped. I was on a lunch break. I got a weird feeling. Someone was looking at me.

I looked up. A woman with long black hair about five feet away quickly looked back down at the book she was leafing through. I looked down, too. More people came in through the door. The gust of air that followed them smelled clean, as if it had been freshly laundered.

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The day laborer band

Paste Magazine| February-March 2006

By Leslie Guttman

Los Jornaleros Del Norte, a Los Angeles band of day laborers, sings about life on the other side, where to stand on a US street corner is to be invisible. I first met them in San Francisco on a Saturday night in the Mission District, at a day-laborer convention held in a long, narrow, incredibly stuffy room. Up front stood the band, composed that evening of six men – two electric guitarists, a drummer, a conga player, a keyboardist and an accordion player. They opened their set with an extra-crispy Tex-Mex hip-hop song:

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The Dance I Loved: Salsa’s Siren Song

The Washington Post | March 1, 2004

By Leslie Guttman

I have been to just about every dance movie ever made, from "Singin’ in the Rain" to "Strictly Ballroom," and so of course I will go see the new "Dirty Dancing" sequel, "Havana Nights." But this time, I don’t really have to see it — because I lived it. I lost four years of my life to a Latin-dance addiction, one that led me to Havana and back three times. I am not the only one.

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Summer break without a break

The San Francisco Chronicle | August 8, 2004

By Leslie Guttman

Maurice Williams, 19, future U.S. congressman if he has it his way, says life is a 24-hour job, and after growing up in two of the Bay Area’s forgotten neighborhoods, East and West Oakland, he craves a life of success and stability — and says nothing will stop him from getting it.

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The High-Tech Nun

San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine | July 20, 2004

By Leslie Guttman

The dot-com era is so far behind us that both its lexicon and the memories sound quaint, tiresome and irritating. No one wants to hear about dot-bombs or what Dr. Koop is up to or ponder yet again why in God’s name we were possessed to invest in Gazoontite.com.

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A little south out west

San Francisco Chronicle | March 13, 2005

By Leslie Guttman

Around the Bay Area, I have noticed quite a bit of nonlocalized y’alling these days. What I mean by that is people who aren’t from the South saying things like: "Y’all ready to go?" "Y’all stay in touch, OK?" "Y’all put your hands together now!"

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“I miss the entertainment of the streets”

Salon | August 8, 2004

By Leslie Guttman

The rap competition was held last fall on the south side of the Iron Triangle, a poor, often violent neighborhood in Richmond, near San Francisco. The grass was brown and patchy. The stage was made up of four paint-stained metal folding tables. Three plywood steps covered with dirty carpet stood in front of it. Across the street was an abandoned lot turned refrigerator graveyard.

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In search of the perfect clamshell: biodegradable Styrofoam

Salon | March 3, 2004

By Leslie Guttman

For environmentalists, few quests would seem to make as much sense as the dream of biodegradable Styrofoam. As Greg Glenn, a USDA scientist who has worked on the problem for years, says, "If you’re going to have products you only use once, why make them out of material that lasts forever?"

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The story of the Sims family: Part I

San Francisco Chronicle | August 26, 2003

By Leslie Guttman

Spoon was a lanky, 17-year-old gang-banger making $800 a day selling drugs at the former Kennedy Manor project in Richmond when he came to the Barbara Alexander Academy. He was full of anger, sullen as a thundercloud.

Julia was 15 when she arrived at the school door. An alcoholic and severely depressed, she was in danger of a life of seamless failure.

Over the next two years, both of them would transform their lives as dramatically as a landscape goes from drought to bloom.

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The Story of the Sims Family: Part II

San Francisco Chronicle | August 27, 2003

By Leslie Guttman

Mary Sims lay on the hospital bed at Doctor’s Medical in San Pablo, a handful of heartbeats left. Nearly all of her 12 children were around her. Five of them were teachers in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood, struggling to keep a charter high school open for kids who were gang-bangers and drug dealers, addicts and thieves.

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A Tenderloin pastor remembers the forgotten

San Francisco Chronicle | May 13, 2001

By Leslie Guttman

When the Rev. Glenda Hope walks through the Tenderloin to work each day, she thinks of the 23rd Psalm because it is a walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

Like an urban circuit preacher, Hope gets calls each week asking her to remember the forgotten — the homeless and poor who die on San Francisco street corners, in doorways, under freeway ramps and in the small rooms of Tenderloin residential hotels. She has been holding memorial services for them for 25 years.

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conundrum in the sun

San Francisco Chronicle | March 28, 1999

By Leslie Guttman

I am trying to walk like a Cubana: hips on ball bearings, swaying beneath the straight, proud torso of a dancer. I am a queen. I am in no rush. Check me out.

But it’s no use. I can’t get it, no matter how much I study the women of Havana. Maybe if I stayed a year I’d learn, but I am only here a couple of weeks, in a country that the United States has for four decades considered the enemy.

I am here to see the face of the enemy and what I am supposed to fear.

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The night minister

The San Francisco Chronicle | September 15, 2002

By Leslie Guttman

San Francisco’s night minister walks slowly enough down Polk Street so street people can see his clerical collar, and, if they want, stop him to talk and then unbutton their souls. But he walks fast enough so he can break into a run in case someone tries to assault him.

The Rev. Don Fox’s church is the streets he walks daily from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. His congregants are found, broken-hearted or worried about illness, on stools in Tenderloin bars. They are bundled in sleeping bags on sidewalks or high on junk in doorways.

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