Feed your curiosity and explore fresh perspectives with CapRadio Reads—our online, on-air and on demand resource for discovering your next great read.
Radical Empathy – Terri E. Givens
We are all impacted by racism and bias, but we can train ourselves to see each other differently. Author Terri Givens uses examples from her family history and her own life as examples of how to develop a new perspective on race without losing sight of the past.
The path Givens lays out for us begins with a willingness to be vulnerable. It ends with creating change and building trust. The process, she explains, is gradual and achievable. And, Givens says, can be hopeful.
On how to create change
“Start with your own neighborhood. Start with looking around you. Try to understand the history. That’s why I recommend so many of these books – like the Color of Law – that explain how racial segregation was perpetuated by redlining and real estate and keeping people out of neighborhoods.”
On how we can assess our progress
“We have to be willing to get uncomfortable because it takes stretching yourself, getting outside of your normal networks and the normal way you do things. We can see examples of “maybe this is working.” I think we’ll know when we’ve gotten there when everyone would just love to stop talking about race. For now, it’s going to take breaking down structures, and that is never easy.”
What we can all do right now
“People are afraid of vulnerability, but I believe that vulnerability makes us stronger in the end. And so I would say if there’s only one thing you do, be willing to look inside. Be willing to be vulnerable and understand the way things like structural racism and bias have impacted you. That’s a critical step, and if more people did it, I think we’d have a better society.”
All We Can Save - Abigail Dillen
Scientists say we have 10 years to stop, if not reverse, the physical destruction of the earth. Their concerns apply to climate change and to the entire web of our environment. Though the condition of our planet is grave, many people continue to live in complacency.
Abigail Dillen is a lawyer and President of Earthjustice, an organization dedicated to fighting for the planet. She is also a contributor to the anthology "All We Can Save" and feels realistic about the Earth’s current condition, if we take the necessary steps to combat global climate change. In this interview, she discusses her work as an environmental attorney and explains the responsibility we all share.
On Why She Is Hopeful
“What choice do we have? Right? I don’t know if ‘hopeful’ is the right word. I remain steadfast. I have no other choice … and what makes me excited about that possibility is that we can solve so many other problems. I mean, the idea of creating a society that is more just, as well as one that is livable from a planetary standpoint, is incredible.”
On Why She Stands By The Environmental Laws Of The 1970s
“The first thing to say is that we have very few new laws. Very few. And so what we saw in the ‘70s was this extraordinary era of legislating because we had gone so far letting polluters do whatever they wanted to. So you had the Cuyahoga River on fire in Ohio. You had an oil spill that ravaged the coast of Santa Barbara. You had a smog daze in New York. You had Rachel Carson writing Silent Spring. You had, coming out of the Civil Rights movement in the South, incredible groups of people making the case about how waste was disposed and who was suffering the burden, which, of course, were Black communities. So I think, in the 70s, you were hitting a moment not unlike this one, where society became aware of untenable social injustice, and the environmental dimensions of that becoming too acute to ignore. And so you had a bipartisan reckoning in Congress, and you had Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and then more passed between 1970 and 1973, with the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and a bedrock requirement that the federal government actually consider the environmental considerations of its decisions before making them, which was revolutionary. Those laws responded to an emergency. Those laws are incredible, and I love them. They are a beautiful home, but they have to be renovated.”
On How We Reframe Our Connections With Each Other
“People make assumptions about each other, and those assumptions become a shaky foundation for community, and then for decision-making processes that truly serve everyone. Talk to each other with a sense of openness and empathy. People closest to the problem are also closest to the solution. So having some humility about the fact that anyone who is the closest to the problem that you want to solve will know about it than you ever will. Just having that humility to know that you don’t know.”
The Sentinel – Andrew Child
An author works to make a name for himself, and if he’s successful, that name can land on covers in bookstores around the world. So to achieve success as a writer and then change to a different name is a big risk. It seems to be working out just fine for Andrew Child, the author previously known as Andrew Grant. He recently adopted a new pen name to partner with his real-life brother, Lee Child, on the latest book in the popular Jack Reacher novel series, “The Sentinel.”
Andrew was already a successful novelist when his brother decided to retire, but he was surprised when Lee asked him to continue the legacy of a series he had enjoyed and admired as a reader.
Reacher, the main character, is a drifter who recognizes problems and solves them in his own unique way. The younger Child follows the tradition set by his brother in portraying Reacher as a strategic thinker and physically formidable opponent for villains and bullies.
The subject of the 25th novel in the series is cybersecurity, with a focus on ransomware. The plot is a fictionalized version of tech crimes that pop up in the news.
On How His Brother Chose Him As The Next Reacher Author
“He said he had almost a kind of daydream where he imagined himself waking up one day 15 years younger and more energetic, more tuned into current technology and the current trends in society and able to kind of reboot and go again. If only something like that could happen. He lives down the road from me now. He bought a house in Wyoming. He’s our nextdoor neighbor, which, in Wyoming, is three miles away. He woke up one day, and said, ‘Wait a minute. There is such a person. He’s three miles away. He’s my brother.’”
On How Ransomware Became A Plot Line
“I decided, yeah, let’s put Reacher in an environment where he’s out of his depth technologically because that helps to set him up for facing an enemy who could legitimately challenge him. Cause otherwise, how do you do that? How do you find somebody bigger, stronger, smarter than Reacher? You can’t. So I thought that would be a good idea. And then I remembered all this stuff I’d read about ransomware, and I thought, maybe the beginning of a story could be, Reacher arrives in a small town, there’s obviously something wrong, he picks up on the signs, and he doesn’t know what it is, so he winds up asking somebody, ‘Hey, what’s the situation?’ and they say, ‘Yeah, we’ve been hit by a ransomware attack,’ and Reacher’s like, ‘What? What is that? I don’t even know what you’re talking about.’ And so that was the starting point.”
On Reacher’s Scientific Approach to Fighting
“As a Reacher fan, it’s one of the things that makes Reacher so attractive, because, sure, there’s a lot of brute force and violence, but it’s not just the violence. It’s also the thought process that goes into it. Reacher approaches it like it’s a problem. It’s as if he’s designing a Swiss watch, and he has to say which components we need to turn, and which secure way in order to make the mechanism completely accurate. It’s not just the fight. It’s the thought process and the rationale that goes into the end product that’s so fascinating. [My brother Lee Child] has this phrase. People ask him for writing advice, and one of the things he always says is that ‘you write the slow part fast and the fast part slow.’ The fighting is obviously a fast part, so it’s not just, ‘I punched him in the face.’ You figure out where do you punch? How do you punch? Which kind of punch? What’s going to be the result?’ So I think it’s far more interesting that way.”
Already Toast - Kate Washington
More than 50 million people in the United States are caregivers for loved ones. Most are women, and many are women of color. They are often unpaid or underpaid.
Caregiving didn’t enter Kate Washingon’s mind in her early forties. She and her husband Brad were focused on their careers – hers as a writer, his as a college professor – and raising their two young daughters.
Their lifestyle came to a halt with Brad’s diagnosis of a rare form of lymphoma, accompanied by some equally rare side effects. His treatment spanned several years, during which he temporarily lost his vision, went through stem cell replacement and had to take early retirement. By the time Kate wrote and published her book, Brad was in remission.
Kate considers her family fortunate in that they had good medical coverage and the funds to pay for care that was not covered by insurance, but they could not avoid the emotional strain of the situation. As an online stress assessment revealed to Kate, “You’re already toast.”
On the symptom of a greater problem in healthcare
“There’s a big systemic problem around how the healthcare system as a whole relies on family caregivers for incredibly valuable and intense kinds of care without any kind of compensation or without really very much acknowledgment that that’s what’s happening.”
On inequity in caregiving
“There are a lot of social justice issues wrapped up in caregiving. Caregiving is done disproportionately by women -- unpaid family caregiving as well as paid caregiving – and paid care workers are hugely disproportionately women, women of color, often immigrants, often vulnerable to workplace abuses. We tried to be as good an employer as we could be under the circumstances, but family caregiving being unpaid often shifts the burden of challenges of care on even more vulnerable women of color, and that is a vicious cycle that I think we see in a lot of industries and in a lot of arenas in American life.”
On feelings of loss for caregivers
“There’s real grief and loss there around the relationship that I previously had. It changed from a partnership to a caregiving relationship. And I say that also conscious that I am one of the fortunate ones. I did not have permanent grief and loss. For many, many people, a caregiving experience ends in the loss of the person you were caring for, and that can be really complicated and difficult. Grief and loss, I think, are some of the more acceptable emotions, but there’s also resentment and frustration, and those kind of make up this stew of emotions that can really be common for caregivers and don’t seem acceptable for people. People don’t like to talk about it.”
Hook, Line, and Supper – Hank Shaw
Hank Shaw has a lifelong love for fish. He gets excited about the catch. “The tug is the drug,” as he says. Every kind of fish has a different “feel” at the other end of the line, and every angler has a way of working the water.
But unlike some anglers, Shaw has taken the time to learn the cultures that surround fish. He explores the unique styles of fishing around the globe, and he learns regional techniques for preparation and cooking.
Shaw refers to fishing as a skill, but he treats it as a craft, and his artistry is as evident in “Hook, Line and Supper,” as it is in his other books and on his website, Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook. The photographs, paired with Hank’s descriptions, make for a delightful reading experience.
This is not a cookbook. Hank Shaw creates an experience that gives his followers a close-up look at how your fillet reached the plate on your table. Even if you never catch a fish in your life, “Hook, Line and Supper” will help you become a wiser consumer of seafood.
On why Hank does what he does
“The reason why I do what I do is so that more and more people – I used to say Americans, but my audience is now international – take some piece of the wild world and make it their own. It puts skin in the game. Right now, in this global society we’re in, we are as divorced from nature as we have ever been as a species, and that’s bad. We live most of our lives in front of a computer screen, and with the urbanization of the world, you’re starting to get more and more people who not only don’t know where their food comes from, they don’t know the names of any of the plants that live around them. And when you don’t have a name for something, you don’t understand what it is that’s all around you. But if you gather things, if you fish, you care. You have skin in the game, and the skin, so to speak, is what you bring to your table at home."
On his favorite part of fishing
“I kinda do love it all. As soon as we get off this podcast, I’m going to be breaking down some of the fish [I caught] yesterday, and I really enjoy that. It’s kind of like opening up a present, where you’ve got your animal, whether it’s hunting or fishing or whatever, and as you break it into whatever pieces or whatever process you’re going through, what’s going through your mind is all the different ways you might be able to cook it and serve it, like, ‘Oh, this is really special,’ or ‘This one’s especially fatty. I’m going to flash freeze it and eat it raw.’ It goes from the fishing aspect of it to the cooking aspect of it, and it’s that transformation that’s really exciting. There’s just kind of a nice zen part to it.”
On what makes fishing a unique pursuit
“I think the attraction for a non-angler to become an angler is to put yourself in interesting places. It’s a skill. Even rock fishing. It’s not exactly the most challenging form of fishing that you can do, but nor is it as easy as people think it is. And so you need to develop a sense of touch. You need to develop a sense of, kind of an out-of-bodyness that really very few other pursuits require because you can’t see what’s going on where your hook is. It’s all sensory. It’s all touch and intuition.”
Why To These Rocks - Community of Writers
From its initial poetry gathering in the Sierra to its annual series of writers’ workshops, the Community of Writers celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021. Instructors and attendees are inspired by the magic of the Olympic Valley. They share insights about their craft. They listen to each others’ stories. They exchange wisdom about the publishing industry. But mostly, they write. The majority of each day is devoted to making magical connections between words.
To celebrate this monumental anniversary of the poetry program, the Community of Writers published an anthology entitled “Why To These Rocks.” It includes the work of instructors and attendees from throughout the history of the workshops.
Brenda Hillman did not attend the first meeting of poets, but she has been to many of the subsequent gatherings. She now serves as Director of the Poetry Program for the Community of Writers. Blas Falconer first came to the sessions as a participant, and returned as a leader. Hillman and Falconer both teach poetry at the university level throughout the year and meet with other published poets in the Olympic Valley every summer.
Blas Falconer on the moment he fell in love with poetry
“I remember the moment it happened. I was in a class at George Mason University. It was a contemporary poetry class, and we were reading the Poulin anthology, the contemporary American poetry anthology, and we read a poetry staff member’s poem from The Community of Writers – it was Lucille Clifton. I read her poem, and I just stopped because I couldn’t believe that this was poetry, that poetry could sound like that and say these kinds of things. And I went out that day and bought my first poetry book, which was Quilting, her book of poetry. And I read it over and over and over again, and I just kind of knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t think about publishing, but I knew I wanted to write.”
Brenda Hillman on her poetry crush
“The sound of the King James Bible was my first literary crush, and I read the psalms, especially, and Song of Solomon, and that sort of haunted, strange, gorgeous sound of that translation was my first crush … I feel always drawn to the fact that the inner and the outer invisible natures connect and in a way that I haven’t heard before.”
Blas Falconer on the key to education
“Last fall, I presented a number of modules working through many, many years of poetry, just giving them a sampling. And what I would say is, find your love. If we’re looking at medieval lit, and you love this mode of writing, I want you to dive deep into that. When we’re looking at the Renaissance, if you love the sonnet, dive deep into that. Whatever it is that you love, I want you to explore it. So my job is to expose them to this history and help them to find what they love.”