Leighton Rowell

On Second Thought Producer

Leighton Rowell is a producer for On Second Thought.

Prior to joining GPB, Leighton lived in Brazil, teaching English through a Fulbright Award and eating far too much pão de queijo.

Leighton's previous reporting has appeared on TIME.com, The Trace and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; she also interned for NBC Sports during the Rio 2016 Olympics. For her work on investigations at the AJC and WSB-TV, Leighton was honored with two Larry Peterson Memorial Awards in 2016.

An Atlanta native, Leighton attended the University of Georgia, where she was a Foundation Fellow and managing editor of The Red & Black student newspaper. She also began her public radio career in Athens as an intern for WUGA's classical music program Afternoon Concert.

Leighton graduated from UGA summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in history and Romance languages. She speaks Portuguese and French. 

Samantha Max / The Telegraph

Drive through almost any neighborhood in Macon-Bibb County and you're apt to spot some houses with crumbling facades, shuttered windows and overgrown lawns. They're among the county's nearly 4,000 unoccupied properties. Most of them are only in poor or fair condition, but more than 400 are in such bad shape they need to be demolished.

Samantha Max just wrapped a series and a podcast on blight for The Telegraph, where she covers health. She joined On Second Thought from Macon to explain the roots of the problem and what residents and local leaders are doing to fix it. 


www.foodfinder.us

According to the Georgia Food Bank Association, one in six Georgians is food insecure, meaning they don't know how or where they'll get their next meal. This week, as GPB reports on new approaches to food access, On Second Thought turns to a young Georgian who works on solutions to food insecurity on a national level.


Sweet Auburn Works

Alonzo Franklin Herndon founded what would become the Atlanta Life Insurance Company more than a century ago. A former sharecropper, Herndon started his business with a $140 investment – and went on to become the wealthiest black man in Atlanta.

A new public art project and history exhibit called Windows Speak brings Herndon, along with other leaders of the institution, back to Atlanta Life's historic office building on Auburn Avenue. Exhibit curator Amalia Amaki stopped by On Second Thought for a conversation about Atlanta Life's lasting legacy.


Food insecurity is a pressing issue nationwide, particularly in Georgia. The latest estimates put Georgia among the ten worst states for food insecurity among aging populations, and 1 in 4 children in the state lives in a food insecure household. 

Josephine Bennett is assistant news director for GPB News. She found that Georgia is the first in the country to create a state plan for addressing hunger among seniors. She joined On Second Thought from our Macon bureau. 


State officials say more than 100,000 service members from Georgia were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012. Nationally, about 20% of veterans coming back from those conflicts have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The Atlanta organization Alchemy Sky Foundation helps people heal through music. It recently worked with a group of metro Atlanta veterans to create a song called "Adjust Fire." Jaye Budd, a musician and founder of Alchemy Sky Foundation, and Marcus McCreaery, an Army veteran with the project, joined On Second Thought to share details about the experience. 


Writer Steve Oney has been writing for more than four decades for publications such as Esquire, Time, GQ and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Over the course of his career, he estimates that he’s written somewhere between 150 and 200 profiles, 20 of which are included in A Man’s World, a collection of essays now out in paperback. 

All the profiles in A Man’s World explore a common theme: how and what it means to be a man. These have always been pressing questions for Oney, who told GPB Political Rewind host Bill Nigut that his father never fully equipped him for manhood. And so Oney looked toward his subjects for lessons in masculinity. He shared those lessons with us, including what he learned about being a man from actor Harrison Ford and Atlanta architect John Portman.


Courtesy André Gallant

Georgia was once a leader in the oyster canning business, but the last cannery closed in the 1960s. In decades since, the local bivalves had a reputation as too wild, too muddy and too much work, so they didn't show up on a lot of menus.

In the past few years, however, a group of people attuned to the estuaries of Glynn, Camden, Liberty and McIntosh counties have helped revive the Georgia oyster — through farming. Their stories are the center of André Gallant's A High Low Tide: The Revival of a Southern Oyster.


Courtesy Leah Penniman

In 1920, African American farmers owned 14% of all American farmland. Today, 45,000 black growers own just 2% of that land. The vast majority of them live in the South, according to census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Georgia was once a leader in the oyster canning business, but the last cannery closed in the 1960s.

In the past few years, however, a group of people have helped revive the Georgia oyster — through farming. 

André Gallant, author of A High Low Tide: The Revival of a Southern Oysterjoined us with more on the past, present and future of Georgia's oyster industry.

Bryan Rackely, co-owner of Kimball House — a Decatur restaurant where Georgia oysters are now on the menu —  also joined the conversation about these briny bivalves. 


Atlanta's professional women's basketball team, the Atlanta Dream, is preparing for the upcoming season. It had a successful run last year and made it to the WNBA finals with head coach Nicki Collen at the helm. She's been in the top spot since 2017.

She stopped by On Second Thought to discuss her start playing tennis, her passion for sports and her dreams of bringing a championship to Atlanta.


The People Speak! / Flickr

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and concerns around mental health are a big issue in our society at large — and on college campuses.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, and national data indicates that the problem is not unique.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. College students today increasingly report being affected by depression and anxiety. Barry Schreier, director of the University Counseling Service at the University of Iowa and communications committee chair for the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors, joined On Second Thought to explain the national scope of this problem and told us why exactly students are more stressed, depressed and anxious now than ever before.


Courtesy Max Ritter

Kishi Bashi made a name for himself with the shiny, fantastical indie pop of his first three albums. (The singer and multi-instrumentalist also made a pseudonym for himself: his stage name is a mashup of his first initial – K, for Kaoru – and last name, Ishibashi.) 

Ishibashi's newest record Omoiyari (available May 31) takes a more sober turn. From Japanese, "omoiyari" roughly translates as compassion or kindness shown toward others, which stirred in the Athens-based musician after President Trump's administration placed a travel ban on people from specific, predominantly Muslim countries.


A number of curious laws are still on the books in Georgia. We cribbed a few from idiotlaws.com, if that tells you anything. But as obscure – and seemingly silly – as they are, the law is the law. Georgia State University law professor Tanya Washington joined us with an explanation of how laws get made, and how hard they are to change.


Courtesy Peyton Fulford / Getty Images

Stock photos are often the butt of jokes for being unrealistic, generic, overused and, now, perpetuating stereotypes. A new campaign from Getty Images, Dove Beauty and GirlGaze is working to change that.

Together, they've launched #ShowUs, the largest stock photo collection created by women. Their goal? To subvert beauty stereotypes.


Leighton Rowell / GPB

Whether you go yellow or white, sweet or savory, grits are a Southern food staple now popping up on menus all over the country.

Food writer Erin Byers Murray goes deep in Grits: A Cultural and Culinary Journey Through the South, talking with growers, millers and chefs to understand the origins and evolution of grits. Along the way, she examines how race, gender and politics simmer in the significance of grits.


Sunday was Gov. Brian Kemp's last day to sign or veto legislation. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler joined On Second Thought to explain which bills are now law. Fowler also debriefed us on the U.S. House vote on relief funds for farmers and others recovering from natural disasters.


Health care is the number one cause of personal bankruptcies in the U.S., and medical spending makes up more than 17% percent of the nation’s economy. In other words: going to the doctor can be darned expensive — especially in Georgia. Hear why prices here can be higher and can vary significantly, even in the same city.

 

 


Growing up in Atlanta in the 1970s, Jonathan Weisman didn't think much about anti-Semitism. In fact, he didn't think much about being Jewish until 2016. That's when, as deputy editor of the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, he posted a quote from an op-ed about facism on Twitter. That tweet unleashed a torrent of anti-Semitic images, threats and other forms of cyber-stalking that shattered his complacency.


Gnats don’t read maps, but the bugs do seem hesitant to cross an unseen, geographic boundary in Georgia. Learn about the disparities north and south of the "gnat line" from Tales from the Gnat Line author and longtime state lawmaker Larry Walker.


Courtesy Daniel Parvis

Most Americans say they know at least some of their neighbors, but admit they tend to interact less with neighbors who don't belong to the same class, race or political party, according to the Pew Research Center. So, when Tania del Valle and her husband Pablo move into the fixer-upper next door to Frank and Virginia Butley's historic home, a saga of microaggressions ensues.

Those racial, generational and economic tensions play out in Native Gardens, on stage this month at Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre. Costars Fedra Ramirez-Olivares and Carolyn Cook, who portray Tania del Valle and Virginia Butley, respectively, joined On Second Thought in studio to share more about their production and the play's real-life parallels in Gwinnett County. 


Even if you can't put your finger on it, Takénobu's music might sound familiar to you. That's because the "cinematic folk" from the classically trained Atlanta locals are frequently used on NPR shows and in video or film, including the new documentary 42 Grams.

Takénobu takes its name from cellist Nick Ogawa, who performs with his violinist (and fiancée) Kathryn Koch. The two have a new album called Conclusion coming out on May 24, and an upcoming tour with Kishi Bashi. But before they gear up for a big 2019, they joined On Second Thought to share their story.


Courtesy Alex Williamson / Teaching Tolerance

Grade school teachers reported more than 3,000 hate incidents in schools during the fall 2018 semester, a new survey from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program has found. Those incidents, however, often went undisciplined by school leaders – and less than a third made it into the news.

Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello joined On Second Thought on the line from Montgomery, Alabama, to share more of the report's findings. 


Hate incidents are on the rise in American schools, according to a new report from the Teaching Tolerance project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello joined On Second Thought on the line from Montgomery, Alabama, to discuss the report's findings.


You may have heard Curtis Harding's voice before, perhaps without realizing it. That's because, for a number of years, he worked with a familiar Atlanta native: CeeLo Green. Harding sang back-up vocals for CeeLo and even co-wrote songs with the Grammy Award-winning musician, like "Grand Canyon" — which was a bonus track on CeeLo's 2010 album, The Lady Killer

After that and several other collaborations, Harding launched his solo career, applying his distinctive falsetto vocals to his own style of music, which he calls "slop 'n' soul."

 


Over his 19-year career with the Navy SEALs, Special Operations Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher earned high honors for valor and leadership as a medic, sniper and explosives expert. But less than a year after Gallagher returned from his eighth deployment – fighting the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq – he drew a different kind of attention from the Navy: he was charged with war crimes, among them premeditated murder. Gallagher's case goes to trial in May. He and his family have denied all charges.

When New York Times national correspondent Dave Philipps began reporting on Gallagher's case, he thought he might learn that Gallagher had suffered some kind of psychotic break as the result of numerous combat deployments over the course of nearly two decades. But what Philipps has found, through interviews and hundreds of pages of internal military documents, defied expectations. Joining on the line from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Philipps told On Second Thought that Gallagher's case reveals a Navy SEAL culture "split between loyalty and justice." 

 


Over his 19-year career with the Navy SEALs, Special Operations Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher earned high honors for valor and leadership as a medic, sniper and explosives expert. But less than a year after Gallagher returned from his eighth deployment – fighting the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq – he drew a different kind of attention from the Navy: he was charged with war crimes, among them premeditated murder. Gallagher's case goes to trial in May. He and his family have denied all charges.

When New York Times national correspondent Dave Philipps began reporting on Gallagher's case, he thought he might learn that Gallagher had suffered some kind of psychotic break as the result of numerous combat deployments over the course of nearly two decades. But what Philipps has found, through interviews and hundreds of pages of internal military documents, defied expectations. Joining on the line from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Philipps told On Second Thought that Gallagher's case reveals a Navy SEAL culture "split between loyalty and justice." 


Upon first listen, you may not realize that the dreamy indie-pop music of Philadelphia-based Japanese Breakfast was inspired by grief.

Michelle Zauner, the woman behind the songs, began the project while navigating her mother's battle with cancer, and mourning her death. Both of Japanese Breakfast's albums — 2016's Psychopomp and 2017's Soft Sounds From Another Planet — were an exploration of that pain and sadness. That does not mean the albums sound morose, though.

 


Courtesy Kyanna Simone Simpson

Kyanna Simone Simpson shows no signs of stopping. The Decatur native and University of Georgia student's first Netflix series, Chambers, was just released. Her new film Ma, with Octavia Spencer, hits theaters May 31. And Oprah Winfrey told Vanity Fair she'd pick Simpson to portray her in a biopic. 

Simpson's previous credits include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, in which she acted alongside Winfrey as the younger version of Winfrey's character, Deborah Lacks. She's also appeared as Keisha in the CW's Black Lightning.


A recent study by the American Lung Association shows the air along Georgia's coast and in the mountains is clean and unpolluted. But in the metro Atlanta area, residents should be wary of what they're breathing in.

National Senior Vice President of Public Policy Paul Billings spoke with On Second Thoughtabout what it means that five metro Atlanta counties received failing grades on air quality while the cities of Augusta and Savannah earned A's.

 


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