Like many cities and towns in Massachusetts, Falmouth shares a name with a town in England. They also share similar challenges: environmental impacts from climate change, a lack of affordable housing, and an exodus of young people. Now they're also sharing the airwaves through a collaboration between CAI on Cape Cod and Source FM, a community radio station in Falmouth, Cornwall. CAI Managing Editor Steve Junker joined Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel on GBH's Morning Edition to talk about the stories and issues that overlap in the two communities. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Paris Alston: So, Steve, you were the first person to reach across the pond and begin this collaboration. How did you figure that there would be so much in common?

Steve Junker: We've always known that there was this Falmouth out there in England. And looking at the map of England, there are these other towns, too, that correspond with towns across the Cape region: Truro and Barnstable and Chatham and Dartmouth. And we were just kind of interested to know what was happening there on a local community level and with community radio. And so it really just started as an exploration, sending out an email saying, "Hey, is anybody out there? And are you interested in talking about how we could maybe do something as an experiment with our two radio stations?"

Jeremy Siegel: So this is interesting. It's not just like the radio stations talking to each other, but the show takes everyday people from similar walks of life to discuss the issues they have in common. Here's a clip from the show with Ellie Baxter in the UK and Trinity Poon on Cape Cod discussing climate change:

"Have you found that among students there's much conversation about climate change or more awareness than non-students?" asked Trinity.

"No, I don't think I've ever sat with people and had a conversation about it," said Ellie Baxter. "I think it sounds bad to say it, but everyone's got so much to think about, especially being in a pandemic. Like it's been hard to get jobs. It's taken a big toll on people, people's mental health this pandemic. And I just feel like people's minds are just preoccupied with other things right now, which sucks. But it's hard. It's hard being young in the world right now."

Junker: Those two young people we heard right there, one of them is 18 and the other is 22. And Ellie, in England, [it was] her first time speaking to an American, she said. So in some ways, there is a baseline even to be established.

But they're young people, both living in coastal communities where questions about climate change are very, very real — questions about increasing storms and coastal erosion. And I think just having those conversations with somebody else who is not in your location, it helps to hear yourself even verbalize those issues, and it helps to hear how other people are perceiving them, too. And [with] some of those issues, the solutions that we're reaching to are similar, and some of them they're kind of different, which is amazing.

Siegel: So you mentioned a number of the similarities between the two communities. Is there any differences that surprised you?

Junker: Well, I was just listening to a conversation with two oystermen, and they were talking about Columbus Day, which the English folks didn't know what he was talking about. There's so many, like, little nuances in every conversation that ripple back and forth in terms of things that we recognize with each other and things that are different. I think even more than the differences, within every conversation, there's almost always several moments of a laugh of recognition in which somebody says something on one side of the Atlantic, somebody on the other side just starts laughing because they know exactly what they're talking about.

We had two shopkeepers that we heard earlier that, you know, were both trying to navigate the pandemic. To hear them both laughing as they recognized the predicaments of trying to keep shelves stocked and trying to get food into your community. Now they could laugh about it. At the time, it was excruciating, and that's part of what they process. But for me, those connection points have been the things that really bring this alive.

Alston: So where do you hope the partnership goes from here?

Junker: Well, it's an experiment. So we started it kind of in an open ended way. We didn't even really when we first started having these conversations with England, we didn't have an idea of what this was all going to be, but we decided that we wanted to try to create these meaningful conversations from both ends of the Atlantic. Now we don't really know where it's going to go. We produced a one-hour show that we just aired, and we're in the middle of producing another one. I imagine it'll be a series of conversations just to kind of listen. And we have so many people we want to connect. You know, we think it would be great for a community police officer on Cape Cod to talk to a community police officer in Cornwall, to have a teacher from Truro, England, speak to a teacher from Truro, Cape Cod. We have no end of people that we think would be fun to hear talking to each other.

Siegel: It's amazing hearing about this. It's one of those ideas that like sounds it sounds like something from a TV show or, you know, something almost made up. It like it sounds like a story: two communities with the same name taking on this sort of adult pen pal relationship over the airwaves. Like, what do you think? What do you hope comes comes out of this? Is this a model you hope other news outlets can take on? Do you hope it creates a new understanding of experience between people? What's the point of this from your perspective?

Junker: I think there's a sense of play that's at work here, and I think there's a sense of real connection that's at work here. I'm not sure that it needs to have a wider point in beyond having these conversations and sort of the recognition as we talk to each other that we're sharing in this experience. You know, we think of our experience here on Cape Cod as being very localized, but actually our experience here on Cape Cod really translates into a much wider world. And I think this is an opportunity to recognize that and to celebrate that.