This week's guest was Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, an organization that works to reconnect African Americans to natural places and outdoor experiences -- and also to change the cultural perceptions of their presence in those places. We got into what Outdoor Afro does, how Rue came to find herself starting it after a life working and owning her own business, and how she learned to trust her feet. Rue's an impressive person. Give her a listen.
I talked this week with Alexis Madrigal, Silicon Valley (really Oakland) Bureau Chief for Fusion, an ABC-Univision joint venture. Alexis talked about what he and his team at Fusion are doing: trying to tell stories about the "Real Future", the places where we're beginning to see how new technologies and social changes are interacting to produce what will for one day be the future for all of us. We also talked about how to get people to notice your creative output in a Facebook'd world, how technology is changing childhood, and what he thinks might end up being the defining technology in the life of his 18-month-old son.
You can read a more distilled version of Alexis's thoughts on the launch of Fusion in Silicon Valley in his "manifesto," released just a day after we spoke, over at the Fusion website.
This show isn't a regular sit-down long-form interview. In the first segment, I read my essay about the history of my house, recently published in the journal Boom. (I added a few things that aren't in the published version, things that had to be cut for length.) Then I talk with friend of the program (and of me) Burrito Justice about the work he did to generate some custom maps that accompany that essay, and the challenge of mapping history generally. In the final segment, I ruminate briefly on what I hope is next for my city and maybe for The Eastern Shore. There are some awkward cuts in this one. The live experience didn't translate well into edited podcast version. Still learning!
I talked this week with John Birdsall, senior editor at CHOW.com and James Beard Award-winning food writer. John told me how he went from making food -- working in restaurant kitchens for nearly 20 years -- to writing about it, and what he looks for in both good food and good writing about food. He also had some advice for anyone who might want to try their hand at food writing, striking a hopeful note about the state of media these days.
I spoke this week with Lisa Drostova, public engagement manager for Ragged Wing Ensemble and The Flight Deck, a multi-ensemble theater venue that opened last June in downtown Oakland. The Flight Deck houses seven companies (including Ragged Wing), hosts performances from others, shows art in its gallery space, and has a co-working office area. Lisa and I talked about how it came to be, what Ragged Wing and the other resident companies are up to, and what might be next for the space. We also talked about the challenges of keeping a small theater company afloat and, at the individual level, of being a working artist in the Bay Area. Lisa has almost 15 years of experience navigating the Bay Area theater world, and I really appreciate her sharing her experience and insights with me.
In the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, when the world is strange and many of the universe's normal laws are suspended, I gave my own rules a rest and had my friend and planning school classmate Thomas Rogers on the show. Thomas is not an East Bay person, but he is a lot of fun to talk to. We talked about his work as a planner and his service on the San Francisco Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee. We talked about the things he does as a pedestrian, like trying to walk every street in San Francisco and taking photos of sidewalk typos. And we also got into the time he got paid to surf the Internet, making friends online, and baseball stadiums. There's also a stretch in there where he turned the tables and kind of interviewed me about this show.
Charlie Hallowell is the chef/restaurateur behind Oakland restaurants Pizzaiolo, The Boot & Shoe Service, and Penrose. We talked about how he pestered his way into his first kitchen job and into college, what he thinks the job of a restaurant is, food as politics as life, and what he might get up to if he's ever able to step back from the restaurants.
I had a great talk with Richard Raya, Director of Oakland-based ClimatePlan, about his career in policy & advocacy and his life. We talked about his current work with ClimatePlan, helping make California's cities & regions more sustainable, more equitable, and healthier, and how he got there from dropping out of high school at 17 and wanting to be a hitch-hiking poet. In 2012, Richard was a serious (though ultimately unsuccessful) candidate for Oakland City Council, and we talked about what he learned from that experience. We also delved a bit into the recent protests and other actions around police misconduct and accountability.
On the Monday of the Ferguson grand jury decision, I talked with Laura (who asked that I not use her last name) about activism, changing the world with thinking, her involvement (sort of) in Occupy Oakland, the efficacy of protests, and how "radical politics" for her boils down to fighting for a life worth living. We didn't talk much about Ferguson -- the decision hadn't yet come out when we spoke -- but I've been reflecting on our chat since.
Berkeley-based writer/editor/ethnographer (triple threat?) Leah Reich spoke to me about her path into writing -- from IGN's "Ask Leah" advice column to a Ph.D. in sociology to her current series of weekly essays, A Year of Wednesdays. We also talked about who and what she likes to read, finding one's voice as a writer, and figuring out how to make a living out of making words.