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You, Me, Us, Now
18 minutes | Jun 15, 2016
Jerome and Amir, Janitors - "We're people too."
After everyone goes home, who are the folks who show up to clean the building? On Justice for Janitors Day, Mike interviews two long time janitors about how they chose the job, and the challenges janitors face. The boom times in Seattle don't extend to janitors - their average pay is $30,000 a year. And the workloads keep going up. Every night Amir cleans hospital square footage equivalent to 42 homes. How does that make them feel? Give a listen. Plus, Mike talks a little bit about his own experience as a janitor.
37 minutes | Jun 6, 2016
Clarence Eckerson, StreetFilms - "That article wasn't going to change anyone's mind."
A kid from upstate NY, with a video camera slung around his shoulder, decided to do his own public access cable TV show about how fun it was to bike around New York City. Which led to the phenomenally influential website "Streetfilms.org" that highlights walking, biking and transit innovations from around the globe. Mike and Clarence talk biking, the power of film, and whether Mike was followed around by a black SUV with his mayoral security watching him. Indeed, whether he actually biked anywhere! Two bike weirdos compare notes.
39 minutes | May 12, 2016
Sonja Trauss, YIMBY a.k.a. Yes In My Back Yard - "People need places to live!"
One day, Sonja decided to head down to City Hall to testify in favor of apartment buildings for the people who hadn't yet moved to San Francisco. She was a schoolteacher who had moved to the Bay Area from Philadelphia for economic opportunity and was shocked by the reflexive opposition to new housing. In the podcast, Sonja talks about why urban housing matters, but it's even more fascinating to listen to Sonja's intuitive, fearless, and funny take on how to organize on a controversial issue. And this YIMBY thing is taking off. She's been covered in the New York Times, activists are organizing in other cities, and there will soon be a National YIMBY Conference.
44 minutes | Apr 29, 2016
Abby Brockway and Patrick Mazza, Oil Train Blockaders - "At some point it's an insane world."
Patrick and Abby, along with three others, blocked passage of an oil train in Everett for eight hours before being arrested. At trial they claimed "necessity" as a defense - hoping that the jury would acquit. Patrick has spent decades working in the system, but had enough. Abby was moved to action by the derailment of an oil train near her home that could have exploded and devastated her neighborhood. The climate movement has signaled that spring 2016 will see yet more civil disobedience, with further escalation on the way. Abby and Patrick share their thoughts on how they became rather unlikely activists - motivated by a political system that seems to leave them no other way to protect their families and communities - and how the jury responded to them.
42 minutes | Apr 11, 2016
Sonicsgate - Documentary Filmmakers: "It's not just a movie, it's a movement"
Jason Reid and Adam Brown met each other while fighting to keep the Sonics in Seattle. They formed a partnership to create the award winning documentary Sonicsgate. They're still making films on subjects as diverse as marijuana legalization, Mike Dukakis, K2, and rapper Nacho Picasso. And they are still fighting to bring back the Sonics. The episode looks at politics, culture, race and journalism as it intersects with the fan support for pro basketball. Jason and Adam bring their own special brand of activism to documentary film making.
46 minutes | Mar 17, 2016
Zeke Spiers, Movement Funder - "Real change will come from a place none of us could have predicted"
The Social Justice Fund has been turning philanthropy on its head by putting the grassroots, not the elites, in charge of its donations, which has dramatic effects on which organizations get funded, and what work gets done. While other foundations reduced giving in the Great Recession, the Social Justice Fund raised and granted more than ever before! Zeke, their former director, is now working to enlist more foundations in this innovative approach. In an era when it seems billionaires on the left and right determine political agendas, Zeke talks about how organizing donors can help fund transformative change. Zeke has a pretty cool story too about how he went from confrontational protesting to philanthropy as a way to fund authentic community leaders, and not attempt to supplant them.
41 minutes | Feb 29, 2016
Danni Askini, Transgender Advocate, Candidate - "I was able to humanize an abstract issue."
Danni has had the unenviable job of arguing with the Washington State Legislature about who gets to use which bathroom - to date the achilles heel for transgender rights. Now she is running for the legislature! We talk current politics, but we also talk about her roots growing up in Maine, discovering who she was, dealing with bullying and homelessness, and then growing professionally into an amazing advocate. Years of work culminated in founding the Gender Justice League in Seattle which organized the transgender community to find its voice, build coalitions, and fight for themselves. We also talk about her decision to run for office, a potentially historic moment for transgender rights.
63 minutes | Feb 25, 2016
Robby Stern, Senior Advocate, Lifetime Activist - "Senator Sanders was really angry at me."
When Black Lives Matter activists Mara Jacqueline Willaford and Marissa Johnson took the stage in Seattle to prevent Bernie Sanders from speaking it created a national storm of media. Not covered so much was the guy trying to emcee the event - Robby Stern. About the same age as Bernie, Robby had a pretty amazing life of advocacy as well. At Syracuse University in the mid-60s he fought segregation and helped organize the second Vietnam War Teach-In in the nation. At UW he helped radicalize the SDS (precursor to the Weather Underground) was arrested multiple times and then kicked out of UW Law School. Drawing the attention of the FBI led to tense confrontations and a trial in San Francisco. Recovering from that, he became a union gardener, union pipe fitter, and then a lawyer for the labor movement. Now he heads Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA), which helped organize the event that was to feature Bernie Sanders. We close with his perspective on that day when PSARA’s rally was hijacked by activists, who, like him throughout the years, were ready to cause a ruckus. His perspective is informed by a lifetime of advocacy and activism. Give it a listen.
65 minutes | Feb 18, 2016
Chuck Marohn, Strong Towns - "I found I don't fit in our political spectrum."
Chuck, a conservative civil engineer, and Mike, a liberal activist who became Seattle's mayor, talk about the politics of growth and the trap it creates for cities. Chuck concluded that his work, and our grand auto experiment, was destroying the financial sustainability of our places. He started writing about it, which turned into "Strong Towns" a movement to return to traditional development patterns. Not for the environment or livability, but because it is the only way that makes financial sense. Mike and Chuck talk about how bad laws and public concerns with growth prevent traditional development. And that planners, politicians and the growth coalition aren't solving our problems - they're just pushing more cities to the fate of Detroit.
44 minutes | Feb 1, 2016
Charles Mudede, writer - "Urbanism is the acceptance of the fact that life depends on strangers."
Charles tries to change things through the provocative power of words, which makes him an obvious podcast guest. Mike and Charles discuss the 'war on cars'(Charles is for it), social engineering (pro again), flaneurs (Mike opposes), strolling v. loitering, marxism v. capitalism, and 'what kind of animal are we?' Listen for a conversation that keeps veering into unexpected places, and just maybe, gets better it as gets going.
34 minutes | Dec 18, 2015
Bill McKibben, Climate Activist and Author - "Paris is not the game, it’s the scorecard."
Just a few days after returning from the international climate talks, Bill McKibben shares his thoughts on what the international treaty means and what’s next. After success as an author, he took up activism, recognizing it’s not just an argument, it’s a fight. It led him to ask a bunch of college kids to launch 350.org, which has helped spurred an international climate movement. Mike and Bill discuss the nature of organizing in the internet age as well as the the conflict between compromising politicians and uncompromising nature. Mike expresses his love for the millennial generation, and Bill praises the gray hairs who joined them to get arrested at the White House. Final prognosis, the game is about to get more intense.
46 minutes | Dec 8, 2015
First time Seattle council candidates - "It was okay to say I don't know."
Did you ever think of running for office? Or have been curious about what it's like? I sat down with three first-time candidates just a few weeks after Election Day to get their take on it. Not the issues, but the personal side - what they went through. Michael Maddux, the politico who had to learn to stop swearing, Tammy Morales, the introverted food justice advocate who had to knock on doors, and Jon Grant, who had to contain his inner housing affordability wonk before it consumed all in its path! Outspent by their opponents and discounted by the pundits they still ran great races, coming up just a bit short. It's a nice peek inside the experience of running for office.
37 minutes | Oct 28, 2015
Ardell Shaw, Felon Reentry in Seattle - "Your net has to be tight in order for it to work.”
Ardell fell into “the cycle” - tough childhood, anger, crime, jail time, release, jail again. Then the Black Prisoners Caucus helped break the cycle. Now he works on Seattle’s successful and groundbreaking “Career Bridge” program, creating the community net to help felon reentry. Ardell and Mike talk about the issue coming from opposite ends - a white politician confronted with the enormity of the problem, and a black man living it and fixing it. Give it a listen and share it. We need a few more folks, and politicians, working to remedy our failed policies of mass incarceration.
47 minutes | Oct 19, 2015
Sarra Tekola - Black Lives Matter and Environmental Activist
In just a few years, 23-year-old Sarra has become well known in Seattle progressive circles for her work on fossil fuel divestment, fighting Shell Oil, and the Black Lives Matter movement, often being asked to speak. Her personal experiences growing up in a white community as a daughter of an East African immigrant shapes her work. Sarra and Mike talk about her causes, interning for the EPA and environmental groups, talking to Indiana country fairgoers for climate communications research, being profiled in school, and people of color in the environmental movement. Where is activism heading next? Listen in to get a better understanding of what people mean when they say 'intersectionality.' Sarra embodies it.
41 minutes | Oct 5, 2015
Alex Lenferna - Fossil Fuel Divestment - the Activists
Born and raised in South Africa, Alex there started a nationwide coalition of college students to work on climate change. After coming to Seattle to work on his Ph.D, he became involved in the fossil fuel divestment movement, inspired by the success of the South African divestment movement. He helped lead the successful University of Washington divestment campaign, and writes on the intellectual underpinnings of divestment, including a report to the Gates Foundation. So what the heck is fossil fuel divestment about? Alex can break it down for you!
46 minutes | Jul 8, 2015
Kshama Sawant, Socialist City Council Member - “Fight the Power!"
Kshama Sawant surprised political observers in Seattle, upsetting an incumbent with a campaign based on her support for a $15 minimum wage. Since taking office she has challenged the status quo and the politicians that support it. Mike and Kshama share their experiences of activists who became elected officials and the unwritten rules that are supposed to govern political behavior in a one-party town. Can you fight the power, represent average working people and win? Kshama has done it so far. Listen in as Mike and Kshama do their best to suppress their earnest lefty rhetoric to deliver an entertaining show.
24 minutes | Jun 15, 2015
Emily Johnston, kayaktivist - “If everything goes as planned, this week I'll be committing a crime."
After a 25 year hiatus from activism, Emily Johnston decided to get arrested at the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. She is now the communications director for 350Seattle, an organization fighting climate change. She drew international attention to that fight by helping organize the kayak protest against Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, harbored in Seattle. This interview was recorded as she awaited word of the Polar Pioneer’s departure, as she and others planned to try and stop it through civil disobedience. Why? Well, listen to the podcast.
37 minutes | Jun 10, 2015
Sharon Maeda, movement activist - "I am not sure if I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown."
Sharon, the daughter of Japanese-Americans interned during World War 11, chose to try and make a difference for the marginalized no matter where she worked. Sharon tells great stories about her early activism in the 60’s, integrating Seattle public television, rescuing Pacifica Radio, working for the Clinton administration, and most recently, supporting undocumented young immigrants. Mike and Sharon also talk about how Sharon convinced Mike’s wife to get arrested, and Sharon’s attempt to get appointed to the City Council. It’s fun to hear how Sharon’s mix of resolve, diplomacy and well-timed provocation helped build a meaningful career.
57 minutes | May 11, 2015
Lisa Daugaard, civil rights attorney - "If there is no expectation of winning, there is not a good enough plan."
As a grad student Lisa worked to keep her college from kicking out anti-apartheid activists. Having found her calling, she went to law school instead. While there she worked to bring the rule of law to Guantanamo, where the US was warehousing Haitian refugees with AIDS. As a public defender in Seattle she successfully defended WTO protesters, and fought the police at every turn to end excessive use of force, bias in policing, and the war on drugs. Now she is at the table helping to implement Seattle Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. With cities around the country now going through DOJ investigations, Mike and Lisa talk about their experiences in Seattle, what works and what doesn’t, and what it means for places like Ferguson and Baltimore. It might surprise you.
23 minutes | Apr 27, 2015
Saitoti Parmelo, African pastoralist rights - "This is, what we say, land-grabbing."
Saitoti Parmelo is a Masai who went off to University then returned to help protect his people from being pushed off their grazing lands in Tanzania. The Masai are pastoralists who rely on on their cattle, who are now working to hold off government officials and foreign investors who want their land.
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