RALEIGH – For Rob Shields, executive director of ReCity, when it comes to understanding other people’s suffering, it’s all about proximity.

“You cannot understand the most important things from a distance. You have to get close,” he has said, referencing social justice activist Bryan Stevenson.

“Otherwise we end up drawing conclusions about communities in which we’ve never been.”

That’s where “Just Podcast” comes in.

Shields has teamed up with Jes Averhart, co-founder of Black Wall Street Homecoming, to launch a new bi-weekly podcast that aims to do just that.

A program of the Capitol Broadcasting Company Podcast Network (CBCPN), the podcast focuses on social impact leaders working with the underserved to “amplify the voices of the marginalized.”

“We want to challenge our listeners to take it up a notch in the way they see and engage their community,” said Shields, who also runs a co-working space for nonprofits.

“We [want] to tell the truth about how we got here, talk about what’s working and what isn’t and point the way forward to a more just future for our communities — for all of us.”

Launched today to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the first podcast kicks off with some light-hearted moments – Shields talks about surviving daylight savings with four toddlers – before taking a deep dive into the “400-year-old tree of injustice.”

Geraud Staton, founder and director of The Helius Foundation; and Cecilia Polanco, chief executive of So Good Pupusas, a catering business that supports undocumented students in higher education, also make guest appearances in subsequent episodes.

“We are here to get proximate. We’re here to listen. We’re here to process, and we are here to help you process,” Averhart says at the top of the podcast.

“We don’t want to be preachy,” adds Shields. “We don’t have all the answers and we will never make you feel like an outsider.⁣”

The podcast is presented by Coastal Credit Union and is produced and edited by WRAL Digital.