Kara Lofton

Freelance Reporter

Kara Leigh Lofton is a photographer, writer and radio reporter, producing stories mainly in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

Her articles and photographs have been published by WMRA, the news website and magazines of Eastern Mennonite University, Sojourners, and the Staunton News Leader, among other outlets.

Kara Leigh’s reportorial interests are wide – from beer festivals, yoga, health and medicine to profiling genocide survivors, Virginians living in shelters, and lawyers representing Native Americans nationwide.

Prior to and during her undergraduate years at Eastern Mennonite University, she had stints living internationally, spending months in Morocco, Spain, Turkey, and England, with shorter visits to Zambia, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and a half-dozen countries in western and central Europe. She speaks conversational Spanish.

In her spare time Kara Leigh enjoys reading, practicing yoga and hiking with her two loyal dogs.

At the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Clinic in Scarbro, W.Va., oxygen tubes dangle from the noses of three miners slowly pedaling on stationary bikes. All of these men have black lung — a disease caused by breathing in coal dust. Over time, the dust coats the lungs and causes them to harden. Hard lungs don't easily expand and contract, and that makes it difficult to breathe.

Courtesy of Lindsey Kennedy

Rural Virginia still struggles with not having enough doctors – particularly specialists. But one University of Virginia program is working on trying to bridge that gap by providing a variety of telemedicine services. WMRA's Kara Lofton reports.

Kara Lofton

The South River and South Fork of the Shenandoah River have struggled with a legacy of industrial mercury pollution since the late 1920s. This year, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved a plan to begin remediating and restoring contaminated riverbanks.  WMRA's Kara Lofton reports.  This story has been updated.*

Courtesy Woody McKenzie

So you missed the Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Or you went, but couldn’t get to see everyone you wanted to see. Well don’t worry, our special correspondent Kara Lofton was there and she introduces us to a couple of the artists to watch for in the coming year.

Kara Lofton

In the second of two reports, WMRA’s Kara Lofton takes a detailed look at the current Guatemalan healthcare crisis and the attempt of one UVA physician to provide some relief.

Kara Lofton

For medical professionals in the U.S. today, Spanish-language proficiency and cultural sensitivity are invaluable. WMRA’s Kara Lofton looks at one University of Virginia program that’s attempting to teach these skills through a partnership program in Guatemala.

Kara Lofton

Have you ever walked into a gas station or convenience store and seen the newspaper with row after row of mug shots?  In central and western Virginia that paper is called Crime Times U.S.A., but there are variations on the theme all across the country. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked with Crime Times owner Brad McMurray, and with one of the men who have appeared in the paper, to discuss its controversial business model.

Kara Lofton

Restorative justice is the idea that conflict occurs because of broken relationships. If relationships can be restored, conflict can be resolved without punishment, resentment, or continued animosity. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to three teachers who are bringing the practice into their classrooms.

Kara Lofton

Cohousing, or living in an intentional community while still retaining your own home, is a trend that has recently begun taking off in Virginia. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to one of the organizers of the Harrisonburg Cohousing initiative (which is still in the planning stages) and visited an active cohousing community in Blacksburg.

Kara Lofton

In August, Harrisonburg adopted a single stream collection program, which removes the need for residents to sort their own waste. WMRA’s Kara Lofton took a detailed look at the new program and reports.

Courtesy of Meghann Clem

In partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Kentucky, The University of Virginia has launched the Compassionate Schools Project, a program they tout as “the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of a 21st century health and wellness curriculum.” WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Courtesy Harrisonburg International Festival

On Saturday, Sept. 26th, Harrisonburg will celebrate its 18th annual International Festival at Hillandale Park. But for the third year, another event, called the Harrisonburg International CommUNITY Celebration, will surround the festival and combine food, music, film and children’s activities in a two-week-long celebration of Harrisonburg’s vibrant and diverse culture. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

courtesy Robert Truoccolo

In response to recent mass shootings, the University of Virginia Medical Center has begun implementing “Active Shooter Drills” in both their main hospital and outpatient facilities. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Bike Shenandoah

Whether to support seven non-profits, or just to enjoy a day in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, bike riders of all ages will be gathering Saturday at Eastern Mennonite High School to participate in the 18th annual Bike Shenandoah. WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports.

Friday, Sept. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in James Madison University’s Memorial Hall, Wild Virginia hosts a screening of the award-winning student-produced documentary, “Won’t Pipe Down,” which tells the story of Nelson County residents fighting against Dominion’s proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. WMRA’s Kara Lofton talked to one of the student filmmakers.

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