As you drive over the breathtakingly steep Teton Pass into Jackson Hole, Wyoming you will pass what could very well be a hundred year old sign that puts to bed any doubt you may have had. You're on the right road, and the journey is almost over. "Yonder lies Jackson Hole, the last of the old West."
Few places have come to symbolize the rapidly-changing American West quite like the valley of Jackson Hole, Wyoming—grizzlies still graze by the roadside, elk eat farm-raised grass, and, all the while, service workers, ranchers, ski bums, and billionaires all jostle independently to find their own piece of paradise.
Yonder Lies, a new podcast from KHOL 89.1 and Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative Researchers, is your invitation to dive into the nitty-gritty of Jackson Hole. Hosted by writers and researchers Hannah Habermann and Jesse Bryant, Yonder Liesshares intimate stories of the people, conflicts, and institutions that have made this place what it is today. Thank you, Jesse and Hannah for taking a moment to share with me your story!
To find them, just simply type, "Yonder Lies," into google (or any podcast search engine) and you'll find them at the top!
Emy Digrappa (00:00):
Hello, my name is Emy Digrappa. Each week, we bring you stories, asking our guests the question why. We learn about passion and purpose and the human experience. Brought to you by Wyoming Humanities, with the generous support of the Wyoming Community Foundation, this is What's Your Why.
Today, we are talking to Hannah Haberman and Jesse Bryant. They are the podcast producers of Yonder Lies, Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. Welcome, Hannah and Jesse.
Hannah Haberman (00:45):
Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Jesse Bryant (00:46):
Emy Digrappa (00:48):
Well, congratulations, first of all, for getting an expansion grant.
Jesse Bryant (00:53):
Emy Digrappa (00:55):
Hannah Haberman (00:55):
Jesse Bryant (00:55):
Emy Digrappa (00:55):
Yeah, and being able to continue on your great work that you're doing. And I want to know what was the inspiration to create this podcast?
Hannah Haberman (01:03):
Totally. I think that's a great question. I think, and maybe I can only speak for myself here, but as someone who grew up in the west, in Montana and then spent some time away, I just realized how often stories about this region, and particularly Jackson Hole, are really steeped in kind of these superficial myths, or just like stories that only skim the surface. And Jackson is such a complicated and interesting place, in terms of all these intersections of people and the environment and politics and different ideas about what it means to be part of this community. And yeah, at some point it just felt like exploring that deeper and trying to add more nuance was unavoidable, and just felt really exciting and has been both an awesome learning process for myself, as well as, I'm sure, for Jesse, and has just been cool to start more conversations and just have more people be interested about what is underneath the surface here.
Emy Digrappa (02:09):
When you look at what's underneath the surface, how did you start coming up with your podcast titles and subjects? What was the driving force behind, what do you think people are interested in?
Jesse Bryant (02:20):
Hannah, do you want to, do you want to talk about the- the title of the podcast?
Hannah Haberman (02:24):
Jesse Bryant (02:24):
Because there's like a very specific story about where the podcast name came from. (laughs).
Hannah Haberman (02:31):
Yeah. I can share about that, and then maybe Jesse can dive into a little bit about the process of winnowing down what we wanted to explore. Um, but you know, we were thinking, we'd been thinking about doing this project. We were like, "Okay, first thing's first, we should come up with a name." Um, so that felt like sort of the low hanging fruits. And, I don't know, we were throwing around different ideas that, I don't know, in retrospect were pretty lackluster.
Jesse Bryant (02:58):
Hannah Haberman (02:58):
Um, just like Exploring Jackson Hole, um, (laughs). And yeah, so there is a sign at the top of Teton Pass, um, that's pretty iconic. There are always people up there taking pictures with it. I think it has like a figure of a cowboy po- pointing into the valley. And when we were talking about it, I was like, "Oh, I- I'm pretty sure it says, 'Yonder Lies,'" and like what a great sort of double meaning of like, okay, we're just gesturing to the town of Jackson, and also it has this other meaning of, you know, lies in the context of maybe myths and diving under the surface. And- and then it was funny because we went up there to look at it and the sign actually says ... What does it say, Jess?
Jesse Bryant (03:46):
I think it says, "Yonder is."
Hannah Haberman (03:47):
Yeah. (laughs). So, even-
Jesse Bryant (03:49):
So, you go like, "Uh."
Hannah Haberman (03:50):
Totally. And even the fact that I thought it was Yonder Lies and sort of this like archaic Old West language was in itself not correct. So, it's kind of a funny little anecdote, um, but we liked it and I was like, "Someone's gonna call us out on it, that it's like not actually really what the sign says," but yeah, it was a great- great name, and I think it served us well.
Jesse Bryant (04:14):
Emy Digrappa (04:15):
Well, I- I agree with you that it plays on those words. And- and I think that because, obviously you both love history, right?
Hannah Haberman (04:15):
Emy Digrappa (04:22):
There, you have to love history in order to think about this anyway and think about what are the myths, and I love that you took that- that word and said, "Okay." Because what is the truth? What is existing out there that people believe, but maybe is not for real?
Hannah Haberman (04:40):
Emy Digrappa (04:41):
But what do you think about that, Jesse?
Jesse Bryant (04:43):
Well, I think that was kind of trying to, we have been trying to do with this podcast. And honestly I've been getting better at through the process of making it is when we talk about myths in- in- in our podcast, Yonder Lies, I think we're talking about it in a slightly different way than- than I think the sort of colloquial myth idea of like a necessarily false story. And when we're operating sort of in our podcast, we're- we're taking these myths at face value and not- not being like, "Oh, that's a myth and that's not a myth."
Emy Digrappa (04:43):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jesse Bryant (05:19):
Like and to say, "Oh, that's true," or, "This is false."
Emy Digrappa (05:21):
Jesse Bryant (05:21):
But- but looking at the myth face value and asking, you know, which stories about this place, so which ways that people are understanding what this place is about. What is Jackson Hole? How should I live here? How do I fit into this community? Which of those stories is like useful or maybe true, and which are just kind of like totally off- off the mark? (laughs). Because there's some, there's some stories and things, ways of understanding Jackson and Jackson Hole and the history that are like pretty true. Like there's a deep history of conservation here. The whole like story about this is a place where people are into conservation is like largely true, but then there's other stories about what Jackson is that make that hypocritical, and the way that people place.
I think, our- our intent and sort of your question about what were our intentions u- underneath the surface were to sort of, yeah, ask which stories are useful, uh, which stories are not useful or problematic for certain reasons, and just try to cut through the sort of, yes, superficial understanding of Jackson as a place where you're in like the Old West (laughs), which is just not really the case, as I'm sure you know as someone who lives in Jackson, you know.
Emy Digrappa (06:42):
I could consider that true and false because I think there's a lot of people who are considered quote unquote old timers-
Jesse Bryant (06:50):
Emy Digrappa (06:50):
... who feel like this is still the Old West. They still are ranching. They're still moving cattle. They're still living off their land. So, I think that that is that intersection of, you know, more, you know, newer people that come in who have not understood the West. I think that's the big love of the West is that people still do those things here.
Jesse Bryant (06:50):
Hannah Haberman (06:50):
Emy Digrappa (07:15):
But yet, you know-
Jesse Bryant (07:17):
But yet it's the wealthiest county in the United States.
Emy Digrappa (07:20):
Right. So, we have those two really different ways of thinking about life in Jackson.
Jesse Bryant (07:26):
Emy Digrappa (07:27):
So, what are the three things that you chose for this- this next series that you got a grant for?
Jesse Bryant (07:33):
So, I think our last three episodes, what we applied for the expansion grant for, were to cover, uh, bear euthanization, which we did a pretty, I think our longest episode that we've done on, uh, and released it a couple weeks ago. And then we are currently in the process of making an episode that Hannah is totally leading the charge on about, and this is particularly, uh, this is gonna be an episode that cuts through sort of a- a very false myth, I think, about Jackson, about the- the LatinX community in Jackson, which is an enormous part of- of Jackson Hole and I think most of the time when folks think about, uh, a place like Jackson Hole, they don't consider that 30% of the population is not white. (laughs).
And then the last episode that we're gonna do is sort of about the future of Jackson Hole. We're gonna look at what climate models are predicting, what population growth models are predicting, what the pop ... We're gonna interview a bunch of random people and see just sort of where they think Jackson's gonna be in 50 years. See where, what people imagine Jackson to- to look like as it evolves forward.
Emy Digrappa (08:46):
What have you learned about the Latino community, Hannah?
Hannah Haberman (08:51):
Yeah. I think it's, I mean obviously a very multi-faceted community and I think, well one, I think as Jesse said, just first addressing this, what I understand to be an overarching assumption around most people, both tourists and a lot of folks who live here, where, you know, people are quick to say, "Oh, Jackson is a super white town and there's not a lot of diversity here." And if you look at certain parts of Jackson and walk in certain circles, I think that is what you see. And I think the overarching, uh, intention of this episode is to complicate that and add nuance to that, and also ask why do people think that. And the reality of the fact is that so much of Jackson's infrastructure is supported by this LatinX community, whether that is in construction, whether that's in landscaping, whether that is in hotels or the resorts.
And often, you know, people focus on the mountain or focus on the restaurants, and this is pervasive, you know, everywhere in the US. But we don't look at those essential workers. And in a lot of ways, it's been interesting to just learn about how COVID, in some ways, has heightened people's awareness of the most vulnerable member- members of our community and helped people, I think, through the incredible amount of support that was given to 122 and continues to be given to 122 to redistribute to folks who maybe either didn't have access to federal stimulus checks or are just much more in- unstable in terms of economics. Um, you know, people are like, oh, white folks in Jackson who perhaps live in a certain bubble are saying, "Okay, like I need to think more critically about this community."
And I- I think it's been really amazing to learn, yeah, just more about what this place means to folks in the LatinX community and the overlap in terms of this white-washed way in which we think about people interacting here, whether that's hiking or fishing or just enjoying the space and seeing it as a place where you can raise a family and enjoy being outside. Yeah, and then you can add the whole other layer of, you know, national politics, and, ooh, um, thinking about immigration and thinking about, as the West continues to diversify, what that means for people in Jackson, uh, and the LatinX community. So- so much to dig into and it's been a really, really fun episode to research and think about, and I'm excited to see what we can come up with.
Emy Digrappa (11:29):
Where can people find these episodes?
Hannah Haberman (11:32):
All of our podcasts are available on iTunes. So, Apple Podcasts, uh, and also Spotify as well. And yep, you can stream them there.
Emy Digrappa (11:43):
My last question to both of you, and you can think about how and what have you learned through this process. Not just, not just how you've learned to do the podcast in and of itself, but also what you've learned that has surprised you about the subjects that you've covered.
Jesse Bryant (12:05):
I, uh, I can go first. I- I think when I, when I was in grad school, I moved from Jackson to study environmental management, and one of the first professors I had was Susan Clark, who is a longtime Jackson resident. And I went to school and I remember being in her, in her class, and we were talking one of the first days about environmental management broadly. And she said this thing that I repeated on the podcast before, but it's taken a while for me to really, for it to sink in, which is that environmental problems don't exist. They're all human problems. (laughs). In the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, it's so clear if you step back for a second that humans are the biggest impact. (laughs). And- and we need to learn to manage people, and that takes understanding people and understanding motivations and understanding myths and stories and perspectives. And that has become very true to me through this process.
And I think that I've become more focused through this podcast on how do we make decisions together? How do we learn to understand each other better? How do we understand, you know, what- what is motivating people here? And we need to really, from my perspective, it- it, to reach any environmental sort of like goal, we need to first understand ourselves, and I think that's what's sort of inspired this podcast, but I think it's become more true to me through the process of looking at all of these different conflicts, whether it's bighorn sheep and mountain goat management, bear euthanization, you know, whatever. It's really about people.
Emy Digrappa (13:56):
How about you, Hannah? What have you learned creating this podcast?
Hannah Haberman (13:59):
One thing that really sticks out to me is just how much of a exciting and like growth-filled process it can be to just really dive into learning a- about a place and I think how much curiosity and just wanting to dive deeper and deeper, like committing so that can be. And I've certainly felt that, uh, in producing this podcast, and I hope that our listeners have felt that as well. And I think once you, yeah, start tugging on one thing or becoming curious about one thing, you realize that it's all super interconnected and every day that we work on this project, I feel like one small piece of a painting is like becoming clarified for me, and I feel so passionate about wanting to better understand the whole picture. And obviously, my whole picture might inherently look different from someone else's whole picture.
And I think I feel very inspired to integrate in my life a love of just learning about place and seeing that as essential to my identity. And I hope through this podcast that maybe a- a bigger piece of the character of Jackson can just be people being curious about this place and wanting to know more and tugging on those little pieces and uncovering more of the painting for themselves, and I think that spirit of curiosity and adventure, honestly, translates really well to Jackson's spirit. So, it's been really wonderful to participate in that.
Emy Digrappa (15:31):
Well, tell me again how- how people can find you.
Hannah Haberman (15:35):
Jesse, you want to give it a go?
Jesse Bryant (15:36):
Sure. Well, we're on Instagram and Facebook, um, @YonderLiesPod and we have, we're on Apple Podcasts, totally searchable, um, just in the podcast store area. And we're on Spotify and any other streaming service that people use. We're on iHeartRadio. I don't know. We're on all the things. (laughs).
Emy Digrappa (15:58):
You're everywhere. You're everywhere. Okay.
Jesse Bryant (16:00):
If you Google us, you'll find us for sure. Um.
Emy Digrappa (16:03):
So, if you, if you Google, um, Yon- Yonder Lies.
Jesse Bryant (16:05):
Unpacking the Myths of Jackson Hole. You, uh, if you Google Yonder Lies now, we- we're the first thing that comes up. So-
Emy Digrappa (16:10):
Jesse Bryant (16:10):
... that's been a-
Emy Digrappa (16:10):
That's really good.
Jesse Bryant (16:11):
... that's been an uphill battle that we've totally won. (laughs).
Hannah Haberman (16:14):
Emy Digrappa (16:14):
Yay. Well, it's been great talking to you.
Hannah Haberman (16:14):
Jesse Bryant (16:14):
You too, Emy.
Hannah Haberman (16:17):
Thank you so much for having us, Emy.
Emy Digrappa (16:29):
Thank you for joining us for this episode of What's Your Why, brought to you by Wyoming Humanities, with support from Wyoming Community Foundation, and generous supporters like you. To learn more, go to thinkwhy.org, subscribe and never miss a show.