Father, son & daughter to crisscross America to tell stories of people championing causes

Marvin Stockwell, his daughter Vieve, and his son Cormac hit the road for a crowdfunded podcast road trip covering 17 states in 5 weeks to document stories of people changing the world

Champions of the Lost Causes podcast host Marvin Stockwell and his son Cormac hit the road for five weeks this summer, beginning today, June 5, to document stories of people changing the world by championing causes.

“There’s a lot of pain and discord in the world right now, and that’s left a lot of us feeling hopeless, but I like that oft-quoted Mr. Rogers saying, ‘Look for the helpers,’” Stockwell said. “People all over the world are championing causes because humanity’s core trait, I’m convinced, is goodness.”

Stockwell said he’s found evidence of that goodness in the episodes he’s published so far, most of which have focused on causes in his hometown of Memphis.

“I’ve interviewed a handful of people in other cities over Zoom, but nothing can replace face-to-face interaction and seeing the work first-hand,” he said. “I thought it was time to see what’s happening in the rest of the country.” 

Stockwell began the podcast in 2019 to take his curiosity beyond his own civic cause – saving and reopening Memphis’ shuttered Mid-South Coliseum.

“I first got curious about why I had the fire in the gut,” said Stockwell, who began writing the full-length book, Champions of the Lost Causes, in 2018. “I wanted to get another lens on why people champion causes and learn from their experiences. This road trip is an extension of that.”

Stockwell, speaking to StoryBoard’s Mark Fleischer last week (for this week’s Storyboard 30 podcast), said that his daughter Vieve will get behind the wheel for a bulk of the driving, and that his son Cormac will go on the trip as the show’s sound engineer. Cormac, a sixth grader at University Middle School, took an interest in audio and video editing in fourth grade.

According to Stockwell’s ioby project page, the planned itinerary for the road trip starts June 5th, takes the trio through a couple dozen cities from Memphis to Ft. Smith, Arkansas, then through the American west into Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, then up to the northwest into Oregon and Washington. On the way back, they will travel east through Montana, South Dakota, Minnesota, then down to Iowa and St. Louis, Missouri before heading back into Memphis around July 11.

Along the way, Stockwell will be interviewing various champions in a variety of fields, and all on location or in local studios.

Stockwell said his long-term goal is to expand the show’s focus and get the show syndicated on public radio stations across the country. Stockwell credits his interview with Svitlana Muzychenko, a Ukrainian ex-pat raising money for Ukrainian humanitarian needs during the war with Russia, for helping him see how truly global the concept of championing causes is.

“Safeguarding our environment, building affordable housing, better connecting our communities – these are all important causes,” Stockwell said. “But Interviewing Svitlana on Ukrainian Independence Day about how she works from Brazil to get food and medicine to people in a war zone really opened up my eyes to the variety of causes out there, and the people who are championing them. As I interview people, I am encouraged, so I want to tell more stories to a wider audience, because we all need that encouragement.” 

A public relations pro by trade, Stockwell began his career as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, IL, while his wife Sarah went to graduate school at Northern Illinois University. Stockwell was also a weekend newscaster and program host at Northern Public Radio in DeKalb, IL, and did a stint at WKNO-FM when he and Sarah moved home to Memphis.

Stockwell says that, as a reporter and columnist, he has always gravitated toward telling stories of people working for change, and that his podcast has allowed him to return to doing that more intentionally.

“In telling the stories of everyday people championing causes, I hope to demonstrate that we all have the potential to change the world within our spheres of influence,” he said. “The lost causes aren’t lost, it turns out, because we found them, and people continue to find and champion them across our country, and across our world.”

The father-son-daughter trio is raising money through an ioby crowdfunding campaign to help cover the costs of their trip. The campaign runs through July 31.

“We plan to stay with family and friends where we can to hold down costs, but a traveling podcast production, even keeping it bare bones, has some hard costs we’ll need some help covering.”

Stockwell will blog about the road trip at championsofthelostcauses.org.

About Champions of the Lost Causes: Marvin Stockwell began writing the as-of-yet unpublished Champions of the Lost Causes book in 2018 to explore why people champion causes, what sustains them, and what helps them succeed. He published the free e-book, The Dynamic Duo, Two Indispensable Leaders for Championing Any Cause in 2020 (available at championsofthelostcauses.org.) Stockwell started his podcast in 2019 to talk to fellow champions about the successes, setbacks and team dynamics that have moved their causes forward.

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