A collaborative conversation about the future between some of America's greatest thinkers and you. www.findtheconversation.com
The Conversation - 67 - Aengus Anderson
Finally, formally, this is where The Conversation ends. If you've been a contemporaneous listener, thanks for joining on this epic trip. If you're just discovering The Conversation, welcome! This might be a more interesting place to begin than the beginning.
The Conversation - 66 - Lisa Gray-Garcia
Lisa "Tiny" Gray-Garcia is a writer, organizer, activist, poet, and self-proclaimed poverty scholar. She is the only interviewee in The Conversation who has spent a good portion of her life houseless (a term she prefers over homeless), and a lot of her work has addressed issues of poverty. In addition to being a prolific writer of articles she is the author of Criminal of Poverty, the founder of Poor Magazine, the driving force behind the Homefulness Project.
When I recorded this interview in the summer of 2013, I did not expect it to be the final interview I would record for The Conversation, yet it makes a better conclusion that I could have anticipated. Lisa's voice at the end of the project casts the earlier episodes in a different light. This interview reminds us that grand speculation about the distant future—and even mundane speculation about the near future—is often the privilege of affluence, just as it is beset by the blind spots of the affluent. That doesn't cheapen any of the fascinating interviewees in The Conversation, but it does remind us that The Conversation is, almost by definition, not as inclusive as we want it to be. A lot of people are too busy surviving to join in The Conversation.
Though this is the final interview, it is not the final episode. Expect that soon.
The Conversation - 65 - Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit is an author, activist, and geographer, among other things. Her books include A Paradise Built in Hell, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, and Men Explain Things to Me. She's also a regular contributor to Harpers, The Nation, and The Guardian.
The Conversation - 64 - Peter Gleick
Peter Gleick researches water and water policy at the Pacific Institute. In addition to co-founding the Pacific Institute, Gleick is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has won a MacArthur Genius Fellowship for his work, and has been instrumental in the United Nation's designation of water as a human right. I learned about Peter through Lawrence Torcello, who you can hear in episode 29 of The Conversation.
Unsurprisingly, this conversation is generally about water, though we also spoke about population in more detail than any interview since John Seager. You will also catch a few oblique glimpses of the philosophy of science as I ask Peter about the importance of cultural beliefs versus scientific knowledge in determining policy.
The Conversation - 63 - Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the biggest names in current science fiction. His most famous work is, arguably, the Mars Trilogy, but he is the author of seventeen novels and several collections of short stories. I could easily overburden you with biographical details and lists of his accolades, but I'll leave that to this very comprehensive fan page.
I learned about Stan through my interview with Tim Morton in 2012—they are friends and, at the time, both lived in Davis. It took a year but, when I next passed through Davis, I was fortunate enough to get three hours to sit down with Stan and talk about the future. I was especially interested in Stan's work because he is a thorough researcher and regularly uses his fiction to explore a variety of plausible economic, scientific, ecological, and social futures. In other words, he uses fiction to ask many of the same questions that we have been asking our interviewees throughout the project. The result, I think, is one of the strongest and most wide-ranging interviews in The Conversation.
The Conversation - 62 - Rebecca Costa
Rebecca Costa is a self-proclaimed sociobiologist, author of The Watchman's Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse, and host of the radio program The Costa Report.
Throughout The Conversation we have regularly talked about the question of cognitive limits in an increasingly complex society, but we have only addressed the idea in passing. Wanting to dedicate a full episode to cognitive limits, we launched a search for interviewees that lead us straight to Rebecca Costa. There are lots of connections in this episode, but the most developed ones are with Joseph Tainter and George Lakoff.
The Lakoff connection is especially interesting because, like him, Rebecca calls our attention to the biology of the mind—in essence, calling us to recognize what kind of animal we truly are. Both cite science to support their claims about how we think and behave, yet both have radically different conceptions of what the human animal is and the scope of reason in the mind.
I just happened across this podcast recently and I am blazing through all of them. Really interesting explorations. The hosts are very smart and they talk to lots of interesting people. I hope they continue to produce podcasts - even if they are once a year. Even if they don’t though, the episodes they have created are really really great.
Very insightful podcast
The makers of this podcast travel around the USA speaking with interesting people about pertinent topics, if that interests you give it a listen. Also the theme music is awesome!
Ideas you should be aware of
Excellent discussions with a wide ranging group of thinkers and activists. The program wisely avoids delving into each subject's specialty. Anderson instead focuses on the broader values and beliefs that shape the ideas. Recommended programs: Max Moore, John Zerzan, Joseph Tainter and Zubrin.