Ellen Berkovitch is by profession a journalist and entrepreneur and by avocation a horseback rider, reader of novels and cook. She’s been married for 13 years to architect Conrad Skinner; they live in the forest with a dog, three cats and two horses nearby. She arrived in Santa Fe on the day Bill Clinton was elected (21 years ago) in the company of a girlfriend who once shocked Liberace. Her former base of New York’s East Village remains her part-time spiritual home. Her latest adventure in work entails learning radio production from a professional mentor at Duke Center for Documentary Studies’ online. Journalistically, Ellen’s reported in print on energy, environmental affairs, Indian affairs and the Congress, as well as on architecture and design, fashion, arts and culture. Since 2008 she’s been the conceiver-in-chief and editorial director of AdobeAirstream, the first online magazine and podcast for contemporary art in the Rocky Mountain West. She’s interested in ecological and social justice, womens’ entrepreneurship, hospice advocacy and an end to homelessness. She loves Japanese movies and has only once considered wearing her sentiments on a bumper sticker: “Calmer than you are.” (The Big Lebowski)
Year(s) Awarded: 2013
Real Voices from Real Places - The "State of Change" Podcast
A dedicated podcast titled “State of Change” will follow a group of northern New Mexico food entrepreneurs/beekeepers/ranchers whose livelihoods are closely entwined with climate and ground, for a period of a year to 18 months.
Online magazine editor in chief Ellen Berkovitch heads an as-yet-unchosen team of journalists to create State of Change. The show concept is to track how land-interdependent visionaries in northern New Mexico are dealing with climate issues and demonstrating innovative adaptiveness to new climate realities. The show promises to deepen public awareness of work on the land and even to challenge biases about what constitutes “green” business.
In the conception phase the effort will be to identify profile subjects willing to participate in regular audio interviews to be edited into short segments. State of Change will be defining itself as a collective of voices from seed activists to beekeepers to tree farmers to eco-resort owners. Understanding climate change as microscopic stories relies on the key players themselves articulating the decisions that changing climate asks of them.
The show once in production enters a gaping journalism niche. National Public Radio has recently cut 10% of staff. This augments freelance opportunity to air show segments not just on a dedicated iTunes podcast, but on national productions such as Living on Earth, Making Contact or Marketplace. The idea could also extend into an interactive audio placement that supports photo- or video-based documentation of environmental stewardship combining with economic activism in northern New Mexico. Radio has a power to congregate audiences and to engage people deeply with issues.
This idea goes to the precise ways that northern New Mexicans come to make lemonade out of the lemons of calamity, fire, drought, flood, and other unforeseen events that seem to occur all the more regularly.
Ellen’s vision as to how her community would be different if her idea was to succeed:
Northern New Mexico can be an isolated place. It has a long history of colonization. Soon, a self-fulfilling prophecy accrues. As people identify themselves in silos, they inhibit new interactions because of perceived power imbalances and a priori cultural barriers. This idea spotlights communications that will broadcast a diversity of real voices from real places. Inclusive media help to diminish a sense of needing to isolate for fear of being exploited.