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'100 Days' Tour Kicks Off With Tales From Michigan

Shane Bailey, 35, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., recently lost his job.
David Greene/NPR
Shane Bailey, 35, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., recently lost his job.
NPR's David Greene is bundled up while conducting outdoor interviews in northern Michigan, where he kicked off the "100 Days" road trip.
NPR /
NPR's David Greene is bundled up while conducting outdoor interviews in northern Michigan, where he kicked off the "100 Days" road trip.

When Barack Obama took office Tuesday, he inherited what he called "the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

As 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 is going to spend most of the next 100 days roaming the U.S. And, with some help from our audience, 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.

Greene talks with Lianne Hansen from his first stop, the blustery Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

"The first month or so, we're doing I-75 — the industrial Midwest down all the way to Florida," Greene says. "But starting here in Michigan, and this state, as you know, has been hit so hard — the auto industry and the economy in general."

Even before landing in Sault Ste. Marie, a town at the very top of Interstate 75, Greene says he was meeting people somehow touched by the economy and all of its troubles.

On the plane, he sat next to a woman who works for one of the local tribes on housing issues. She had flown back from Chicago, where she had a meeting with housing officials. She said the topic was the economic stimulus package that is expected to come out of Congress soon.

"She sounded almost like this package is a pie that's not even cooked but everyone's just dying to get a piece of it already," Greene says. And the advice she got was that her housing program better have some ideas ready to go when that stimulus money comes, or else they'll be passed by.

The headline that greeted Greene as he arrived in the state was "Mich. Jobless Rate: 10.6 Percent," he says. As he sat eating in an Applebee's restaurant, reading that newspaper, a man walked in, sat down and told the bartender that he had just lost his job. Greene met with the man, 35-year-old Shane Bailey, the next day and talked to him about what his plans are.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.