Ryan Morden

Reporter, WRVO

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle.  He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies.  Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project.  Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.

Prior to his work at N3, Morden worked as an assistant morning news editor at KIRO radio, a commercial news/talk station in Seattle.  He also produced talk shows for CBS Radio commentators Dave Ross and Ron Reagan.

Morden enjoys government and politics, reading non-fiction and literature from the edges, baseball, road trips, brew pubs, road races and catching up on TV shows online.  He currently serves as a freelancer, covering congressional issues.

Ways to Connect

iwishmynamewasmarsha / via Flickr

Every Rust Belt town has them: vacant homes, vacant skyscrapers, vacant storefronts, vacant schools - even vacant churches. They're constant reminders of a time when there was more: more people, more money to invest, more life to flow in and out of the buildings.

So what happens to those empty buildings in their second act? Ryan Morden explores that question through the lens of Syracuse, looking at three different types of vacant properties.

Part I: Empty skyscrapers fill Syracuse skyline

via Google Streetview

The church service starts just like any other.

Congregants gather with hymnals in hand, shuffling on their feet, waiting for some direction.  Then the song leader calls out the gathering song: number 201, "Praise to the Lord."  The crowd joins in.

But there's one very unusual thing about this scene.

Doug Letterman / via Flickr

Teri Cameron lives in Syracuse's Near West Side neighborhood, and has grown accustomed to watching people tramp through the yards of vacant houses.

"They figure it's a good cross walk," she quips.

Cameron is on a crusade to keep her yard nice - she's just set up a new fence to keep out those looking for a shortcut. But that doesn't solve the problem of the dilapidated houses that checkerboard her neighborhood.

Her solution?

"Knock 'em down," she says.

Gizzakk / via Wikimedia Commons

Here's a riddle: What do you get when you combine an steadily spreading metropolitan area with a neglected downtown core?

Answer: A lot of empty skyscrapers.  Specifically, the Syracuse skyline.

Ryan Morden / WRVO

There are generally three types of young people who don’t live in upstate New York:

If that’s the rule, than Vanessa Rose is the exception. She’s in her late 30s, married, and a mother of three. She teaches 4th graders at an elementary school in Manlius, just outside of Syracuse.  

When she graduated from high school in Syracuse in the early ’90s, she was almost another statistic: Option A, born here, and left.