What do we owe the places we leave behind?
Grace Olmstead, Novak ’15, a journalist in Washington, D.C., left her small farm town of Emmett, Idaho, to pursue prosperity and progress. In her newly released book “Uprooted,” she examines the heartbreaking consequences of uprooting—for Emmett, and for the greater heartland America.
Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, “Uprooted” wrestles with the questions of what we owe the places we come from and what we are willing to sacrifice for profit and progress. As part of her own quest to decide whether or not to return to her roots, Olmstead revisits the stories of those who, like her great-grandparents and grandparents, made Emmett a strong community and her childhood idyllic. She looks at the stark realities of farming life today, identifying the government policies and big agriculture practices that make it almost impossible for such towns to survive. And she explores the ranks of Emmett’s newcomers and what growth means for the area’s farming tradition.
Olmstead uncovers ways modern life attacks all of our roots, both metaphorical and literal. She brings readers face to face with the damage and brain drain left in the wake of our pursuit of self-improvement, economic opportunity, and so-called growth. Ultimately, she comes to an uneasy conclusion for herself: one can cultivate habits and practices that promote rootedness wherever one may be, but some things, once lost, cannot be recovered.
Join TFAS alumni for an exclusive interview with Olmstead, led by TFAS Journalism Fellowships Director Dan McCarthy on March 25 at 12:30 p.m. EST. Following the interview, TFAS guests are invited to engage in a Q&A with the author.
March 25, 2021
12:30 p.m. EST
We look forward to seeing you there!
In 2015, Olmstead was awarded a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship from TFAS in order to pursue a writing project on the decline of family farming in America. Her first book, “Uprooted,” is a continuation of her Novak Fellowship project.
Daniel McCarthy is the director of the Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship and the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism programs at TFAS. McCarthy began his career in journalism as a reporter, with Robert Novak as one of his heroes. Over the years, his writing has appeared in a wide variety of publications, from The New York Times and USA Today to Reason, the National Interest and The Spectator. His experience in broadcast media includes interviews on the BBC, NPR and the Fox Business Channel.
Outside of journalism, he has served as a board member of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters and worked as a senior editor of ISI Books, the publishing arm of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.