Celebrating the innovative spirit of the Bay Area - we explore the people behind the ideas, the problems they are trying to solve, and what makes them tick. Hosted by producers Ali Nazar and Lisa Kiefer. If you would like to contact the show, please feel free to email: ali at methodtothemadness dot org or lisamttm at gmail dot com.
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Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:01] This is Method to the Madness, a bi-weekly public affairs show on K-A-L-X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area Innovators. I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, our first show of 2020 will feature Layla Salazar-Lopez, the executive director of Amazon Watch. Most people know what Amazon Watch is, but for some people who may not know, can you review the mission?
Leila Salazar-Lopez: [00:00:31] Sure. Thanks for having me. Amazon Watch is a Bay Area based nonprofit organization. We were founded in 1996. Our mission is to protect the Amazon rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon basin. The Amazon rainforest is the biggest tropical rainforest on the planet. Most people know and think of the Amazon as the lungs of the earth. All those trees, all of that life, absorbing carbon and producing rain for not just the Amazon, but for the world. This massive rainforest, an ecosystem, actually helps to create the weather systems throughout South America and also around the world. So it is a vital organ of the earth's ecosystem. And so we're working to protect the rainforest to avert climate chaos. And our theory of change is that the best way to do that is by working with, standing with, supporting the rights and the voices in the territories of indigenous peoples.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:44] And is that because they live there, they are on the front lines of i?
Leila Salazar-Lopez: [00:01:48] Of course! indigenous peoples have been living in the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years, over 400 distinct nationalities, groups and even uncontacted peoples. Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and throughout the world are the best protectors of the natural places that we still have left on this planet. Eighty percent of the biodiversity around the world is on indigenous people's lands. So if we are concerned about climate change or chaos, I would say, or if we concern about the extinction crisis that we're facing, one of the best ways that we can do all we can to protect what we have left, is to support indigenous people's territories being protected. Those are the places that have the biodiversity and have the trees that create the much needed rain.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:43] Well, you just got back from the Madrid climate summit, the 25th summit, and it was supposed to be in Brazil. And Bolonaro nixed that. And there have been many challenges, but it did come off. I wondered if you could give us sort of a a summary of what what you talked about.
Leila Salazar-Lopez: [00:03:00] You know, as you mentioned, COP 25, which is a conference of parties on climate change, world leaders, government leaders, elected leaders, negotiators that represent governments. Nearly 200 governments around the world attend the cops, plus civil society, NGOs, affected communities and also corporations. Unfortunately, the COP for decades has been primarily dominated by governments and corporations. That's why we've had 25 years of inactivity, really, of doing the minimum. And yes, we could praise the Paris Climate Agreement. Amazon Watch was there with indigenous peoples from around the world, from the Amazon to Alaska, to ensure that the voices of of the community that are most affected are heard. Our focus at COP 25 was to amplify the voices of indigenous peoples. There are very few spaces for indigenous peoples, people who are protecting biodiversity on our planet, for them to speak, for them to share their concerns and share their solutions. And so our mission is to ensure that they have a space not only to have space, but they are promoting their solutions and their solutions are heard. And one of those solutions is the Sacred Headwaters Initiative. So we released a report, at COP, a threat assessment on the sacred headwaters. And we spoke to global media and got a lot of attention on this region. It's in Ecuador an
UC Berkeley Professor Gabriel Zucman
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:03] This is method to the madness, a biweekly public affairs show on K-A-L-X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators. I'm your host Lisa Kiefer. And today I'm speaking with Gabriel Zucman Professor of Economics and Public Policy here at UC Berkeley. He has just co-authored a book with Emmanuel Saez called The Triumph of Injustice --How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay. Welcome to the program, Gabriel.
Gabriel Zucman: [00:00:36] Thanks for having me.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:37] Why did you write this book. What was the problem or problems you were trying to solve?
Gabriel Zucman: [00:00:42] So the main problem is the rise of inequality in the US. So if you look for instance at what has happened to income concentration, in 1980, the top 1 percent highest earners in the U.S. earned about 10 percent of total U.S. national income today they earn 20 percent of U.S. national income. Now contrast that with what has happened for the working class for the bottom 50 percent of earners. They used to earn 20 percent of income and now about 12 percent. So essentially the top 1 percent and the bottom 50 percent have have switched their income share. And the reality of the U.S. today is that the 1 percent earns twice as much income in total than the bottom 50 percent a group that by definition is 50 times larger. So you have this huge level of inequality and this big increase in inequality and the tax system is a key institution to regulate inequality. And so we wanted to know OK does it do a good job? Does the tax system limit inequality or does it exacerbate the rise of inequality?
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:58] And as you say in your book all the way back to James Madison the whole point of taxes yes is to raise revenue but the other significant point was to reduce inequality.
Gabriel Zucman: [00:02:07] Exactly.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:08] And that's something that's been kind of forgotten since 1980.
Gabriel Zucman: [00:02:11] That's been forgotten despite the fact that it's deeply rooted in American society. The U.S. was created in large part in reaction against the highly unequal aristocratic societies of of Europe in the 18th century and ever since, many people in the US have been concerned about becoming as unequal as Europe. Europe for a long time was perceived as as an anti model, too unequal, at least until the middle of the 20th century. Now it's the opposite, it's funny to see how these beliefs and perceptions have changed over time. Now many people in the US feel that Europe is too equal, but in fact for most of US history it was it was the opposite. The US invented some of the key progressive fiscal institutions designed to limit inequality to regulate inequality. Let me just give one example. In 1943 Franklin Roosevelt goes to Congress. He makes a famous speech. He says I think that no American should have an income after paying taxes of more than twenty five thousand dollars which is the equivalent of a few million dollars today. Therefore I propose to create a top marginal income tax rate of 100 percent above twenty five thousand dollars. And that's the idea of a legal maximum income. That's an American, a Roosevelt invention. And people in Congress they hesitate a little bit you know 100 percent, maybe it's too much, but they agree on 93 percent which when you think about it is that very far from 100 percent. And then the U.S. kept these very high modern 90 percent top marginal income tax rates for a long time. So there is this deeply rooted tradition in the U.S. of using the tax system to limit the concentration of income. The idea being that wealth is a good thing for the working class, for the middle class. It provides safety, provides security. But for the very rich,wealth is not safety or security. Wealth is power. And an extreme concentration of wealth means an extreme
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:06] This is Method to the Madness, a bi-weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating innovators. I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, I'm speaking with Ashley Grosh, the CEO of PIP's Rewards. Thank you for coming on the show, Ashley. What is PIPs?
Ashley Grosh: [00:00:36] So PIPs Rewards is an app and it's a technology platform that is owned and operated by our company 3P Partners. We call ourselves an impact tech company. What we really do is we turn a verifiable engagement in beneficial behaviors, things happening daily, riding your bike, bus riding, taking a workout class. All these beneficial behaviors that you might be doing throughout the day, we verify that and we award you our digital currency when you do those things. So Pip's is our digital currency, which stands for Positive Impact Points.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:09] That's interesting. It sounds complex how you would measure this. So walk me through the application as a user. An example.
Ashley Grosh: [00:01:18] Yeah. So from a user perspective, it's actually very lightweight and easy. You just would download the app in the app store for iPhone or Android. You download Pip's rewards. Today we're targeted in higher education, so you would use your university email through a single sign on. We would capture who you are. You'd set up an account and then you'd really begin to start using the platform. It takes you through a quick tutorial of what you need to do. You'd want to have your Bluetooth enabled and it shows you ways in which you can now start going out into the community and around campus and earning the currency. So a day in the life of a Pip's user, you may wake up in the morning, you fill up your water bottle, which has our little QR code sticker on it, which you may have gone to pick up an environmental center on campus. So you carry that water bottle with you. But when you fill it up, you take your phone out, you take a picture of your QR code and then you've earned 10 points. You can only refill your water bottle three times per day. So if you try to do that again, you'll get an error message. And that's really more just the behavior, we want you just to be in the habit of carrying that water bottle.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:19] You don't want people scamming this system.
Ashley Grosh: [00:02:20] That's right. So we set barriers in place to make sure that doesn't happen. So then let's say you're going to a study group in the morning, so you hop on one of the bike shares programs that's here on campus and we are automatically already integrated with that bike sharing platform. So when you check out that bike, we know who you are. We know you're on that bike. And all the sudden immediately our currency goes into your digital wallet with inside the app. And now you've earned for refilling your water bottle. Now you've taken a bike to a meeting and now you've earned again. Let's say you're coming back up to campus for a class in the afternoon and you hop on the bus. Well, now we have either a beacon or an API integration installed with the transit company, and you don't even have to have your phone out for this. In some cases, we might use near-field communication. So we're using a lot of technologies, right, to integrate innovative technologies. If we think about the connected city, smart cities. Right. All these things to track and measure. So you come back up the bus to class and then again in your digital wallet, you see your currency being added for that behavior. :et's say in the afternoon then, there's a speaker coming onto campus that's talking about climate finance on an environmental or health related topic. So let's say you go to that event and that's one of the activities that we award for. We also capture that you've gone to that event and you've earned our currency than you maybe go refill your water bottl
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:01] You're listening to Method to the Madness. A biweekly public affairs show on K-A-L-X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:12] I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, I'm speaking with Mohamed Shehk, co-director and media and communications director of Critical Resources. Welcome to Method to the Madness.
Mohamed Shehk: [00:00:28] Thank you for having me.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:29] I've been hearing a whole lot with the upcoming presidential election and all the debates, about prison reform. I find it kind of interesting that for the past over 20 years, your organization has said "forget reform, we need to abolish prisons."
Mohamed Shehk: [00:00:43] Yes. Critical Resistance was founded in 1998. It was founded in Berkeley. There was a conference called Critical Resistance Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:53] Yes. And you had a lot of heavy hitters, Angela Davis.
Mohamed Shehk: [00:00:55] Angela Davis was one of our co-founders,.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:57] And, Ruth Wilson Gilmore!
Mohamed Shehk: [00:00:59] And we're actually doing an event with Ruthie down in L.A.. Yeah. So we began using a term that was actually coined by Mike Davis, the prison industrial complex. And it was a way to begin thinking about the interrelated systems of imprisonment, policing, surveillance and other forms of state violence and control. Really looking at this system as being built intentionally to control, repress and inflict harm and violence in communities. So if we understand that its purpose is to control communities, then we don't want to fix it. Right. We want to chip away at its power. We want to abolish it. So we really popularized the notion of prison industrial complex abolition. And for the past 20 years, we've been working on various projects and campaigns toward eliminating the prison industrial complex in our society.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:51] So of all the candidates, who do you think is most onboard or at least understanding of what your strategy is toward prisons?
Mohamed Shehk: [00:02:00] It's really interesting with the current presidential candidates that have approached criminal justice reform in a variety of ways. I mean, you just had Bernie Sanders release a platform that actually picks up a lot of some of the concepts and community based approaches rather than continuing to invest and waste millions and millions and millions of dollars into the system of policing, into imprisonment. What are the reforms that appear to be liberal or progressive but are actually entrenching the system?
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:36] Right. They're kind of co-opting.
Mohamed Shehk: [00:02:37] Yeah. After the death of Mike Brown and Eric Garner back in 2014 with the, you know, upsurge of Black Lives Matter and the enormous amount of attention being focused on policing, and you had an array of reforms being discussed, such as body cameras, such as, more training for police officers. And we see that these kinds of reforms are actually pouring money into the system of policing. They're expanding the role of policing. We're giving surveillance technology to policing. Right. So these reforms aren't actually chipping away at the power, but actually legitimizing and entrenching the system of policing itself. So these are the kinds of reforms that we want to be cautious of and use this framework of thinking about abolitionist reforms vs. reformist reforms. What are the reforms that are actually cutting away resources from the systems that we're fighting rather than continuing to waste investments into these systems.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:03:36] And so what are some of the strategies that you are using in your organization? And you're located in four cities. You're headquartered in Oakland in the Temescal. You're in New York City, L.A. and Portland.
Mohamed Shehk: [00:03:48] Yes. Our nati
Saraswathi Devi and Claire Lavery
Method to the Madness host Lisa Kiefer speaks with CALSTAR Yoga program faculty Saraswathi Devi and Claire Lavery about their innovative adaptive yoga class on the UC Berkeley campus that teaches students how to help members of the public with disabilities.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:27] You're listening to Method to the Madness. A bi weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators. I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, I'm speaking with faculty members of CalStar Yoga, a program that helps people with disabilities practice yoga.
Claire Lavery: [00:00:51] I'm Claire Lavery.
Saraswathi Devi: [00:00:53] And I'm Saraswathi Devi.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:54] Welcome to the program. And you're both on the faculty of Cal Yoga.
Saraswathi Devi: [00:00:58] I guess you could put it that way.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:59] OK. Well, why don't you tell us about your program?
Saraswathi Devi: [00:01:02] Well, we call it CalStar Yoga and at their recreational sports facility, the RSF, there is a little program called CalStar, which serves people who live with different kinds of disabilities and it's open to the public. So our part of that is an adaptive yoga class.
Claire Lavery: [00:01:19] The class has been going on since 1996,.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:22] Since 1996. Is it for just students or.
Claire Lavery: [00:01:26] It's open to anyone with a disability in the community or in on campus, on staff, on faculty and any member of the gym or outside the community?, campus community can also join?
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:39] I thought it might be useful for our listeners to know how you define yoga and how you define disabilities.
Saraswathi Devi: [00:01:47] Yoga is an ancient practice and it's a lot about body and mind health. It comes from an ancient root, yog, meaning to join. So it's all about balance of body and mind and the quiet aspects of the self and the more assertive aspects of the self. It has a lot to do with exercise, which is how most people in America know it. But it also has to do with mind training, with making your intellect more sharp and your emotions more clear and peaceful. And some people pursue it as a spiritual practice as well.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:22] And could you define disabilities for this class?
Claire Lavery: [00:02:25] We define it as someone who is living with some kind of an ongoing condition that limits their presence, their ability to move in the world. Most of our participants have physical disabilities. We don't work too often with people with intellectual disabilities.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:44] Are you speaking of autism?
Claire Lavery: [00:02:46] Right.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:46] So you don't service.
Claire Lavery: [00:02:48] We've had students with those kinds of disabilities in the class, but they've definitely been in the minority. And it's much more about the people who are living with more physical limitations, people with multiple sclerosis, people with cerebral palsy, people with post stroke syndrome, injury, trauma. So we've had quite a wide range of different kinds of disabilities represented in our class. And people with multiple disabilities are, have been long term members as well.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:03:14] I didn't know that this existed, honestly, and I want to know how it got founded. What was the reason behind it? Were you there at the beginning? Well, Saraswathi is the one to tell you.
Saraswathi Devi: [00:03:24] Well, I've been practicing and teaching since the mid 70s. And as the years went on in the beginning, in the early days, we just had everybody in class. We would have kids and seniors and people who were injured or disabled. Everybody would just be glommed together.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:03:42] On campus?
Saraswathi Devi: [00:03:42] No, in the community in Berkeley. I was trained by and served very closely a yoga master from India who lived here part of the year. But
A trio of Northern California women (two of whom are UC Berkeley alumni) founded Salt Point Seaweed in Spring 2017 to harvest seaweed from the Pacific Ocean. They forage, farm, and do research along the California coast to offer the highest quality and most nutritious seaweed, responsibly sourced from the pristine waters of Northern California. Catherine O’Hare talks to host Lisa Kiefer about their business model, the different types of seaweed, and their commitment to ethical, sustainable solutions for humans and our environment.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:08] This is Method to the Madness, a bi weekly public affairs show on K A L X Berkeley celebrating Bay Area innovators. I'm your host, Lisa Kiefer. And today, I'm speaking with Catherine O'Hare. She's part of a trio of female entrepreneurs who have started a company called Salt Point Seaweed. Welcome to the program, Catherine. Thank you.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:38] I have so many questions for you about this seaweed company, first of all. Are you the only women owned seaweed company in the world?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:00:45] That's a good question. I don't think so. There's a seaweed harvester up in Sonoma County who's a woman. I don't know if her business is all women owned, but there's not many.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:00:55] Are you an alumni of UC Berkeley?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:00:57] No. Tessa and Avery, the other two women, are alumni. They did their grad program here at UC Berkeley. Tessa and I both went to Oberlin College in Ohio for undergraduate.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:08] How did you get started in the seaweed business? What inspired you to do this?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:01:13] All three of us have a background in agriculture, so we've always been interested in food. I was a biology major and then worked on farms. So I'd always been interested in local food and healthy food. But it wasn't until moving to the bay now like five or six years ago that I got connected with the seaweed harvester and started learning about all the local seaweeds that we have here on the Northern California coast. I grew up by the ocean in Southern California. So I loved the ocean. I loved the beach. I was always looking for ways to be by the water. They were the first to get involved. Of the trio of founders. Yeah. So we all have a background in agriculture. We also all have some ties to East Africa where we've either worked before or lived before. And there we all saw seaweed farming in Zanzibar.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:01:58] Were you in the Peace Corps?
Catherine O'Hare: [00:01:59] No. I studied abroad there when I was in college, just doing a coastal ecology program. Tessa and Avery both did their graduate program at UC Berkeley and they did a master's in development practice. So it's kind of sustainable international development. So that brought them to East Africa.
Lisa Kiefer: [00:02:17] Did you all meet up over there or did you find out later that you had.
Catherine O'Hare: [00:02:22] We found out later. Tessa and I knew each other from Oberlin. We both ended up in the bay. We each had independent experiences in East Africa. And Avery and Tessa met here at UC Berkeley. And during their during Avery's program here, she did work in East Africa. So we all just kind of had these in our weaving paths. So I was just living and working in the bay, working for a small food company and kind of learning more about seaweed harvesting and doing it as a hobby. And in the meantime, I was good friends with Tessa. So we were talking all the time about all these things related to food, just tossing around ideas about local agriculture systems, herbs, seaweed, farming, like we just were tossing around all these ideas every time we met up. And seaweed was always one of those things, I think because I had seen seaweed farming in Zanzibar and she was interested in these alternative livelihood systems for women