Folk Economy Series


    While most business reporting focuses on stories of the ”new economy,” Western Folklife Center Media decided to focus on the people who make a living using traditional skills and creativity. Our Folk Economy stories ask some basic questions: How do these economies work? Who are these people who choose to make a living this way? What do they gain, and what do they sacrifice by choosing to survive through a life of independence and tradition? Our features were produced for Marketplace on Public Radio International in 2000 and 2001. 

Split Decision

Salt Lake City, UT
PRI's Marketplace - 01/18/2001
Length: 5:36

An innovative snowboarder named “Cowboy” uses Utah’s “Greatest Snow on Earth” to develop and test the Split Decision, a new board that opens up the backcountry to snowboarders.

Barb Wired

McDermitt NV-OR Skyline, image from WikipediaMcDermitt, NV
PRI's Marketplace - 06/02/2000
Length: 6:18

Meet the students of an innovative teacher in rural Nevada who have bridged the digital divide by forming their own internet company, and bringing high-speed internet to their isolated school.

Zuni Jewelry

Stones for jewelryZuni, NM
PRI's Marketplace - 04/12/2000
Length: 6:36

Hal Cannon visits the workshop of two jewelry makers at the Pueblo of Zuni, where Native Americans have made and worn their own jewelry for millennia.

Torah Scribe

Brooklyn, NY
PRI's Marketplace - 02/08/2000
Length: 6:10

Drawing on instructions laid down by Moses in the Old Testament, a modern-day scribe carefully creates a Torah for a New York synagogue, using ink and parchment that he prepares himself.


Image from
Salt Lake City, NV
PRI's Marketplace - 11/22/1999
Length: 12:50

Our story examines the ancient trade of the tinsmith, and whether the automation that computers have brought to this occupation has robbed the modern tinman of his craft, and his heart.