Davy Rothbart, 29, raps, writes and is a contributor to “This American Life,” a radio show on National Public Radio that tells the stories of ordinary people. Rothbart’s curiosity is a blend of his father’s tendency to ask questions and his mom’s spirituality — she channels an ancient spirit named Aaron who has been living in the Rothbart home for many years. Rothbart grew up snooping around other people’s lives, learning about their problems while signing for his deaf mother, who is a counselor.
Trevor Harris, 33, has been picking stuff off the ground since he was 4 years old, when he stumbled on a piece of paper while walking with his dad. Harris was ecstatic. He stretched out his hand, offering the treasure to his dad. “That’s dirty — put it back down,” his dad responded. When he saw the frown on his son’s face, he realized Trevor would collect everything, as mundane and as trashy as it might be. Harris is a grant writer for the Mid-Missouri Regional Council, which helps local governments find ways to fund community-oriented initiatives.
Eric Troolin, 29, grew up in suburban Minneapolis. His knack for observation began with visits to his grandparents’ home out in the country. Everything seemed alienating, from the “half full — need more” measuring device on the gravel pile to the water mark down by the lake. Troolin says he never had much of a social life, so he was on his own many times, looking for entertainment of any kind. Picking stuff up off the ground sounded like a logical choice. He is one semester shy of getting a master’s degree in art from MU.