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The long (and often lonely) road to recovery from drug and alcohol abuse is one Ariel Britt knows well. As a teenager growing up in Lansing, Michigan, Britt developed an alcohol and substance addiction that followed her into her college career at the University of Michigan. After successfully completing a recovery program in 2011 and working with the Collegiate Recovery Program at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, Britt moved to Denver where she now works as the Youth and Young Adult Program Manager for the Phoenix, a nonprofit committed to supporting those in recovery.
Now eight years sober, the 34-year old hopes to make the journey to sobriety a little less lonely and a lot more hopeful through her new podcast, Beauty in the Grit—which won a $5,000 grant from Patreon, an online crowdfunding platform for creatives, at last weekend’s Outlier Podcast Festival in Denver.
Britt was one of eight individuals selected as part of an inaugural podcast incubator for women of color, called From the Margins to the Center. The program was created in collaboration with Denver-based podcast production company House of Pod, audio education nonprofit Amped, production company Lantigua Williams & Co., and Podcasts in Color, in an effort to elevate underrepresented voices in podcasting.
“We’re interested in having Colorado lead the way in terms of representation and diversity,” says Catherine de Medici Jaffee, founder of House of Pod. “We have [diversity] in our city. The only thing holding us back is committed resources, and we’ve shown we can get the resources, so why not do something about it?”
The resources came in the form of a $18,000 grant that House of Pod received in April to launch a program specifically designed for women of color. The eight participants were selected from a group of more than 65 applicants who all submitted videos presenting their initial ideas and attesting to their long-term commitment and investment in podcasting.
The program consisted of 12 in-depth sessions, during which the women learned how to produce a successful podcast—from ideation and production to marketing and distribution. Alongside House of Pod employees, guest instructors included Juleyka Lantigua Williams, founder and owner of Lantigua Williams & Co.; Leila Day, co-host of The Stoop podcast; and Joy Parish and Claire Koch, producers and hosts of Girls Gone WOD podcast.
For Britt, having spent her career helping people like herself recover from substance use disorder, she knew what she wanted her podcast to focus on from the start: hope. “I wanted to provide a space and a moment that [people] can listen to and believe in the good, miracles, [themselves] and just get through it feeling what [they] need to feel but ending with a feeling of hope,” she says.
At the Outlier Podcast Festival on July 19, Britt and the rest of her cohort presented 10 minute samples of their pilot episodes to a panel of House of Pod and Amped representatives and several of their mentors. For Britt, that meant sharing her own struggles through recovery, which was the subject of her first episode.
“Hope is for everyone,” says Britt. “It’s not just for folks in recovery. I found people craving vulnerability and authenticity in their own experiences.”
Britt was selected to receive the Patreon grant because of the quality and effectiveness of her podcast to speak to a larger audience and clear commitment to the medium moving forward. The award money will help pay for the cost of production for the remaining seven episodes of the first season.
With plans to launch her first four episodes on the Apple Podcasts and Spotify in October, and another four in the spring of 2020, Britt says that Beauty in the Grit will recount stories of recovery, personal growth, and relationships with the intention of supporting those impacted by substance abuse disorder and people simply searching for hope—all in episodes that are 15 minutes or less.
The rest of the program’s graduates will unveil their podcasts—with topics ranging from confronting self-doubt to the gentrification of Denver’s east side—over the new few months. To get a sneak peek at the their work before it hit the mainstream, check out the samples on Amped’s website.