Human Powered is a podcast about people, places, and connections produced by Wisconsin Humanities.

Entertaining, in-depth storytelling introduces you to real people—gardeners and firefighters, archaeologists and photographers, prisoners and poets—who are making connections, responding to needs, and harnessing passions that will leave you inspired by our shared humanity.

In season 2, we are talking with people who have been impacted by the justice system. With our hosts, Dasha Kelly Hamilton and Adam Carr, we are digging into the importance of the humanities as tools for searching for meaning and understanding. Dasha is 2021-22 Wisconsin Poet Laureate and a creative change agent who has led poetry workshops in and out of prisons for years. Adam Carr is a public historian and journalist. Together, they reflect and question, make connections to the larger social and cultural issues around imprisonment, and introduce us to people who encourage us all to think differently about incarceration.

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Coming in 2023!

In the first episode, we’ll meet the remarkable and singular Dasha Kelly Hamilton. She calls herself a creative change-agent, and she has been taking her words and passion into prisons for years. As Wisconsin Poet Laureate, she has promoted an exchange of words with meaning that is inclusive and inspiring. We’ll hear stories from her lived experience, learn more about the power of the humanities, and even hear her perform some of her own poetry. Prepare to be moved!

We all have a story worth sharing. In the second episode, we visit with some of the key players behind UW-Madison’s first credit-bearing course inside any state prison since 1917. We will learn what makes Odyssey Beyond Bars storytelling workshops so meaningful for the participants, and meet Mark Espanol, who shared his story at the English 101 graduation inside Oak Hill Correctional Facility.

Did you know that some prisons publish newspapers? In this third episode, we are in conversation with Robert Taliaferro and Shannon Ross, who both wrote and edited papers while they were incarcerated. They are passionate about correcting the narrative and believe that papers like Prison Mirror and The Community, which is still published today, give people who are incarcerated the power to express themselves, on their own terms, to each other and the world.

The first season


This episode spotlights Tracey Robertson, a nonprofit leader and community organizer who was tired of hearing her neighbors repeat stereotypes she knew were not true. She figured that to change the narrative, people needed to be able to see each other more clearly, as complex individuals each with a story to share. In this episode, we learn about a project called Color-Brave that evolved from conversations in a coffee shop to a traveling exhibit and book. You'll meet Mushe and Shawn, featured in Color-Brave, and the photographer and museum curator who made it possible.



This episode starts with a meal around a fire, in a place where people have been cooking and eating for more than 5,000 years. Our hosts are Marvin Defoe and Edwina Buffalo-Reyes, members of the Red Cliff band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Bayfield County. For the last three years, the Red Cliff Tribal Historic Preservation Office has been collaborating with two archaeologists helping excavate sites on tribal lands. Listen to hear what they are doing to reclaim and revitalize the deep history and culture of their people—and to help train a new generation of scholars committed to centering indigenous knowledge.



We all eat. But the foods we eat, and have access to, varies widely. In this episode, we meet some people who have been gardening in Green Bay's vibrant community garden program for years. They tell us why these gardens matter, what they grow, and how planting seeds impacts their lives in real ways. We also talk with some of the women who got the garden program started, figured out what makes a garden thrive, and are keeping it going despite ongoing challenges.



Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Rachel Monaco-Wilcox understands this. She founded LOTUS, a free victim rights legal clinic, and Untold Stories, a writing and art-making workshop for survivors of human trafficking. In this episode, we talk with Rachel about her work, as well as participants of the workshop who carry the torch and share their stories so that others may find their own way. Rachel is one of those people who blazes new trails, but she does not walk alone. She brings others along to find beauty, courage, and strength within themselves.



The Driftless region of Wisconsin is no stranger to flooding. Its spectacular valleys and ridges were formed by the flow of rushing water over millions of years. But in recent memory, the floods are getting more intense, and happening more often—a combination that is having a profound impact on local people and communities. In this episode, we’ll hear stories from people who experienced the flooding firsthand, from farmers to firefighters. And we’ll hear from people who think that these stories might just hold the key for creating a sustainable future in the Driftless—and beyond.



Who are the experts in a city? In a neighborhood? In this episode, we meet a professor of architecture who has designed a ‘field school’ that encourages students to dig into these questions. We sit on front porches in some of Milwaukee’s most economically challenged neighborhoods to learn from residents that building community, and caring for a place, takes more than a hammer and nails.



A podcast about people making places better with real stories from Milwaukee to the Driftless to the Red Cliff Reservation. Meet inspiring people doing incredible things.


Dasha Kelly Hamilton Human Powered Co-host

Dasha | Season 2 Co-Host

Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent. She applies the creative process to facilitate dialogues around human and social wellness. She is the author of novels, poetry collections, spoken word albums, and a touring production called Makin’ Cake. She is currently Poet Laureate for both the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin. Her A Line Meant project is a statewide poetry exchange for traditional Wisconsin residents and residents of Wisconsin prisons.

Adam Carr Human Powered co-host

Adam | Season 2 Co-Host

Adam Carr is a storyteller, artist, filmmaker, radio producer, urban explorer, community organizer and historian. He is also a lifelong Milwaukeean and works at the intersection of community and communication. He helped organize events to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the open housing marches in Milwaukee and is the author of “Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood, Our City,” a children’s book made in collaboration with third graders. He works for the Milwaukee Parks Foundation as the Director of Strategic Partnerships.

Jimmy | Season 1 Host

Jimmy Gutierrez (he/him) is a journalist, storyteller and audio producer from Milwaukee. He’s currently working on filling information gaps in Milwaukee’s low-wealth neighborhoods with the help of Stanford’s JSK Fellowship. He’s helped launch, co-host and produce a number of different podcasts during his time at New Hampshire Public Radio.

Craig | Senior Producer

Craig Eley is an audio producer and cultural historian whose work has been heard in radio shows, podcasts, documentaries, and museum installations. He previously worked for the radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge and has a Ph.D in American Studies from the University of Iowa. He lives in Madison with his wife and son.

Jen | Producer

Jen Ruben is the Executive Producer at Love Wisconsin. She co-produces the Moth StorySlam in Madison, leads storytelling workshops around the state, and co-hosts Inside Stories podcast. She teaches a Social Policy class at the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work and wrote the book, We Are Staying: Eighty Years in the Life of a Family, a Store, and a Neighborhood.

Jessica | Creative Director

Jessica Becker works as the Director of Communication for Wisconsin Humanities. She has spent her 20 year career with Wisconsin Humanities creating and managing statewide programs that celebrate the state’s people and stories. She holds a Masters in Museum Education and lives in Madison with her husband and daughters.

Jade | Producer

Jade Iseri-Ramos is an audio producer based out of Madison. She is also a reporter and producer with WORT 89.9FM.

What people are saying

"Among us are neighbors making things better; Human Powered brings their stories to life, warming our hearts and bridging distances real and perceived."

- Michael Perry, best-selling author of books including Population: 485 and Truck: A Love Story, columnist and singer/songwriter

"People across Wisconsin are doing amazing things! I'm so excited to get to know more of my Wisconsin neighbors through this podcast."

- Maureen McCollum, host and producer for Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio


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