Hello! I am your host, Laura Milkins. I am producer of In Search of the Great America, a mobile radio lab podcast, traveling the 48 contiguous United States from May – October 2020.
“We don’t take a trip. A trip takes us.”
– Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Thank you so much for your interest. I started this project to get to know America in the 21st century, with the task of asking as many people as possible, from a broad range of experiences and backgrounds, what their Great America looks like! The goal of this project is to ask people what their vision is for America and who we are at our best as a people and a nation.
- My interest in asking these questions is to find out what people wish for our country, because I am curious and excited to hear their answers. I also feel like this question has not been asked enough in simple, relatable terms. I just want to know, what does your Great America look like?
In Search of the Great America
What is the goal of this site? To find out what people really want for America, outside of the framework of politics and the media.
What I wish that you will take away from this site: a hopeful vision for America from a broad cross-section of the population.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to re-reading Steinbeck. He wrote wonderfully about difficult times and situations. When watching the news, I feel like this is also a difficult time and so many of us live in difficult situations. He wrote about his yearning for a better world, and more understanding of his fellow citizen. So, in 1960, he set out to travel the United States to discover “What are Americans like today?” This resonates distinctly with me and has provided some inspiration for this project. I feel a kindred spirit in the desire to meet my fellow citizen and know them better.
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
I am an interdisciplinary artist living in Tucson, AZ. My work explores vulnerability, intimacy, and cultural norms, using variety of media: online-interactive performance, video, drawing, painting, and live radio/podcasting. Since 2012, I have taught Art and Visual Culture at Pima Community College. I received an MFA in painting from University of Arizona in 2008. In 2009, I was a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico City.
My recent work includes The Depression Session, a website dedicated to de-stigmatizing depression, and to help listeners feel less alone in their struggles with depression. The Depression Session project was a way for me to relate to others, to understand my own depression, but more importantly, to give back in providing a source for others to find connections and resources.
Past work includes Of Birds and Men, 27 portraits of men in power accused by women of sexual harassment and abuse, facing a bird with the same letter as their name. Zero Packaging Project, a year without packaging; and Walking Home: stories from the desert to the Great Lakes, in which I walked 2,007 miles from Arizona to Michigan wearing a live webcam; Walking Stories: Mexico, I walked across Mexico City in the company of strangers, posting the stories they shared each night on a BLOG.
My work has been exhibited across the U.S., Mexico, and in France. I have received grants, awards, and international recognition for my work, including a Fulbright award to travel and work in Mexico City and a Tanne Foundation Award.