The American West has historically attracted defiant, self-sufficient people who are suspicious both of being asked for and of receiving help. In our August cover story, Ted Conover describes the months he spent among a modern crop of homesteaders in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, who have chosen to live off the grid with their guns, marijuana, and solar panels. Following Matt Little, a homesteader who’s also a case manager for a nonprofit that provides assistance to many of these fiercely independent souls, Conover documents how he and other homesteaders carve out an existence. This part of the West, where BLM stands not for Black Lives Matter but for the Bureau of Land Management, is not famously diverse, but Conover’s reportage reveals the wide array of sensibilities, lifestyles, and identities that coexist on these swaths of prairie.
In this episode, Conover, an author and journalist who has gone undercover in slaughterhouses and penitentiaries, talks to web editor Violet Lucca about medical deserts, bartering with homegrown marijuana, and the second season of Deadwood.