Alice Daniel is news director for Valley Public Radio and project director for the station’s “The Other California” podcast. A veteran of print and radio journalism, Daniel is also a lecturer at Fresno State’s Department of Media, Communications and Journalism, and covered the Central Valley from Stockton to Bakersfield and beyond for KQED’s The California Report. The moderator for a Zócalo/The California Wellness Foundation streamed event titled “How Can We Make Farm Work Healthier,” she joined the virtual green room to discuss finding peace in the Sierra Nevadas, the joy of the album Joy, and a go-to comfort snack, kale chips.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, I wish I had a solid response to that, but I confess, I don't think I thought much about my grownup life as a kid. Mostly because I'm the youngest of six kids, and it seemed like I would stay young forever. Also I was mostly just focused on the natural world, you know? Was there a salamander under that rock or how far could I travel by foot from home and still be back before dark?
How far could you travel from home and still be back before dark?
Several miles! I grew up mostly in Boulder, Colorado, and Knoxville, Tennessee. I was pretty free-spirited, and I went pretty far.
What is hanging on your refrigerator?
Well, it seems like my two teenage sons are hanging on the fridge a lot these days, basically, wondering what to eat. Other than that, the proverbial magnets from places we've been and a handwritten list of dinner and dish nights for all of us.
What is the best gift you've ever gotten?
So my family lived in Nairobi, Kenya, when I was 15, and I met a young woman about my age when I was on a trip to the Pokot Mountains. We just smiled at each other, and then we made a nonverbal trade. I handed her the necklace I was wearing, and she handed me a brass bracelet she was wearing. I still have it and I still wear it.
Do you have a favorite local band or musician?
I do. So I'm partial to my husband, Ben Boone. He's a jazz saxophonist and composer, and he just released a really cool album he recorded with the Ghana Jazz Collective, and it's called Joy, and I swear it will bring you that.
What do you do to decompress?
So typically I would head to the Sierra Nevadas, which is in Fresno's backyard, but unfortunately, all the National Parks are closed. So now I just imagine what Yosemite and Sequoia are like without any people in them. I think of the quiet and the snow falling and the wildlife and that's a great place to go in my head.
What is your favorite novel?
Is there something about each of those books that unites them for you?
I think it's just people overcoming, or attempting to overcome, extraordinary circumstances.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
That’s a hard question, but when I was a kid, my dad made a backyard bench out of a tree that had fallen, and he painted this saying on it that goes: Along the way, take time to smell the flowers, hear the birds sing, and cherish the Earth. That's pretty good advice, especially now in the middle of a pandemic.
What’s your go-to comfort food made with a local ingredient?
I make kale chips a lot. You don't get full by it, but you do start to crave it.