LIANE HANSEN, host:
When Barack Obama took office Tuesday, he inherited what he called the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. As Mr. Obama spends his first 100 days in office, NPR is launching a project called "100 Days: On the Road in Troubled Times." NPR's David Greene will spend most of the next hundred days roaming the United States. And with some help from our listeners, he wants to tell stories about the recession: how it's affecting people and their communities, and how Americans feel about their new president's handling of the economy. David joins us from his first stop, the blustery upper peninsula of Michigan. David, are you warm enough?
DAVID GREENE: I'm warming up now, getting indoors, Liane. But it's pretty blustery out there.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: Yeah. So, David, I understand you're going to be taking advantage of some new technology to get our listeners involved.
GREENE: Trying to. And I don't know if you've used a lot of these new gadgets like Flicker and Twitter and, you know, we'll be using our own Web site, but I'm picking up all of it, getting tutorials as we speak. And it's going to help us really keep in touch with listeners, and I hope they'll get involved and really sends some ideas and, you know, keep the conversation going with me.
HANSEN: So, upper peninsula of Michigan. This is your starting-off point.
GREENE: It is, and we're going to be all over the country. But the first month or so, we're doing I-75, you know, the industrial Midwest down all the way to Florida and speaking to retirees, but starting here in Michigan. And this state, as you know, has been hit so hard, you know, the auto industry and the economy in general. And even before landing in Sioux Saint Marie, you know, this town at the top of I-75, I was meeting people somehow touched by the economy and all of its troubles. I sat next to this woman on the plane coming in, and we walked out of the airport together. And she - we have a little tape of her introducing me to her area.
Ms. JOANNE AMBRASSIS(ph): You're almost at the end of the earth. Not quite, but you can see it from here. It's hard and it's cold, and it's long, hard winters up here. You can see the snow banks that are quite tall.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GREENE: Taller than us.
Ms. AMBRASSIS: Taller than us, yes.
GREENE: That was Joanne Ambrassis, and she works for one of the local tribes on housing issues. And she was actually flying back from Chicago and had a meeting with housing officials. And she said, the topic was this economic stimulus package that everyone is expecting to come out of Congress at some point soon. She sounded almost like this package is a pie that's not even cooked, but everyone is just dying to get a piece of it already. And the advice that she was getting with her housing program - they better get up and get some ideas ready to go when that money comes, or else they'll be passed by.
HANSEN: What did she say about the people that she serves? There's - recession means more people in need of public housing.
GREENE: Absolutely. And I mean, Michigan's had some housing problems for a while now. But you know, as more people get unemployed, her waiting lines are growing. And actually, the headline in the Detroit News that greeted me when I got here to Michigan was right across the front page: Michigan jobless rate hit 10.6 percent in December.
And you want to talk about coming across people randomly who were hit by this economy, I'm reading that paper, having dinner at the bar at Applebee's in Sioux Saint Marie, and this guy walks in, sits down at the bar, and tells the bartender that he just lost his job. This guy's name is Shane Bailey(ph). He was an engineer with the Coast Guard. He thinks he'll be getting his last paycheck soon. And I met him the next morning, and we were walking around town a little bit, and he said it was tough delivering that news to his friend Crystal, who was the bartender at Applebee's.
Mr. SHANE BAILEY: Because I know a lot people there at that establishment. They already knew I basically was going to lose my job, but Crystal, though, she just moved back up here, I think, about - about a month ago or so. So, I didn't really tell her the real news until last night.
GREENE: And you had said if things don't go well, I mean, you have friends who might take you in or...
Mr. BAILEY: Exactly.
HANSEN: So he means he'll need to move in with friends.
GREENE: Yeah. You know, he's hoping to find a job, but he knows about one job as a janitor at a tribal casino that he might go for. But if not, he'll have to give up his apartment and move in with a group of friends. And he says that's happening a lot around here.
HANSEN: So, I-75 for you downs towards Detroit?
GREENE: That's right. And then on south to Miami.
HANSEN: And if you want to follow David's travels, go to our Web site, npr.org. We'll be adding a map soon. And as David said, he'll be on Twitter and other social media sites. Help him find interesting stories along the way. And David Greene, thank you. Good luck.
GREENE: Thanks, Liane.
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