The mission of The Important Podcast is to share inspiring stories of people who are changing our world. The interviewees have the following in common: they help others through their work and they are willing to be vulnerable while sharing their personal stories of struggle, failure, and success.
Behind the Scenes - Games with Dameion Brown
This is a shorter than normal episode, where you are behind the scenes as Dameion Brown and I play games to loosen up before our interview. You can play these games with friends, family and colleagues. Enjoy! :)
You Will Learn
How to make your partners look good the game: Mirrors (the classic theatre game as taught Alan Alda, Viola Spolin, etc.) and the lessons of listening and communicating clearly at the pace your audience/partner can understand.the game: Your Name, Three Emotional Waysthe game: ping ponging lines with emotional rangesthe game: Convergence / Mind MeldDolphin Training and the lessons within: the audience is on your side, the audience enjoys your joyful and committed struggle, you are interesting, when you as a performer do things to get a laugh or to be liked and it comes from a fearful place it pushes the audience away as they are no longer free from concern.Links and Resources
Viola SpolinMarin Shakespeare CompanyAndy Crouch, the Hideout TheatreRebecca Stockley, BATS ImprovSupport the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
From Prisoner to Actor - Dameion Brown
In this episode, you will meet Dameion Brown.
At age 24, Dameion went to prison. He was expected to get out in 5-7 years. It took 23 years.
Near the end of his time in prison, Dameion took a Shakespearian acting class that would set him on the path of becoming an actor. After leaving prison, Dameion would play the lead role in Marin Shakespeare’s Othello and win several awards as a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to working as an actor on stage and on screen, Dameion’s mission is to “drain prisons of the lifeblood that feeds them.” A leader in the community, Dameion helps children at two juvenile prison facilities in Stockton California.
In this episode you will hear Dameion’s story and the lessons he’s learned along the way: from his arrival at San Quentin prison to the present where he is a professional actor, storyteller, teacher and mentor who serves others.
In this Episode, You Will Learn
Dameion’s lesson from his first day at San Quentin PrisonHow survival depends upon paying attention and being present in prisonPrison group dynamicsHow Dameion was reluctant to commit to the Shakespeare class in prison, but would end up seeing it through to serve his team / ensembleWhat it’s like to learn Shakespearian acting in prisonHow Dameion went from prisoner to being a professional actorHow Dameion relates to the character OthelloDameion’s favorite play by ShakespeareDameion’s philosophy of loving fully with an open heartDameion’s mission to “drain prisons of the lifeblood that feeds them” and how he works with children in juvenile prisons in Stockton CaliforniaLinks and Resources
KALW local public radio interview - insights on Prison Shakespeare Programs from Dameion BrownArtist in Residence 2019 Dameion BrownCommon Wealth Club Speech - Dameion Brown - July 2019The Box by Sarah ShourdUbuntu TheaterOthelloMerchant of VeniceMidsummer Night’s DreamStan RothNick ThurstonLisa Keating PhotographyN.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility (aka ‘Chad’)Prison Population by Gender - 92.9% men and 7.1% womenThe Prison System Compared to the US Population - ...the United States now has more than 2 million people in prisons or jails--the equivalent of one in every 142 U.S. residents--and another four to five million people on probation or parole. A higher percentage of the population is involved in the criminal justice system in the United States than in any other developed country.Support the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
Shakespeare in Prisons - Suraya Keating
In this episode, you will meet Suraya Keating - a woman who teaches classical Shakespeare acting to prison inmates in the United States.
Evidence suggests that arts education programs in prisons, such as this one, reduces recidivism. In other words, this training reduces the likelihood that a prisoner will re-offend and break the law again after being freed.
Suraya’s classes are diverse, comprised of a variety of people who don’t normally associate in the prison environment, but who come together for deep play within the stories of Shakespeare.
By taking on the emotional lives of these characters and learning to live truthfully within the character’s imaginary life circumstances, the students develop empathy and are freed to express a range of emotions safely in class that they often feel unable to show in the prison environment (like sadness, fear or rage).
The transformation of these men in prison during Suraya’s class can be incredible.
In this episode we will explore Suraya’s remarkable story and the lives she’s affected through teaching Shakespeare to prisoners.
In this Episode, You Will Learn
We’re all born with the ability to use our imaginations and playAbout the healing power of playHow theatre and Shakespeare training can help people develop empathy and be emotionally presentSome intense moments and lessons learned from teaching Shakespeare in San Quentin State PrisonHow prisoners write and perform their own theater pieces based on their lives and themes from ShakespeareHow deep play brings people from all different racial, religious and economic class backgrounds togetherHow to reframe our view of mistakes and our relationship to failureHow prisoners grapple with the challenging language of ‘Old English’ and apply the narrative themes of Shakspeare to their lives
(Thanks to podcast listener Geniya Avilov for submitting this question)Suraya’s journey from growing up in an achievement oriented Jewish family in New York City to helping others through drama therapy and joyful deep playHow Suraya is most present when she’s serving others in the way she wants to be serving othersA lesson from Rick on emotions: Thank YouHow when we’re highly triggered, it’s often not the best time for dialogue“A sailor doesn’t learn how to sail on a calm sea”What scares SurayaSuraya’s goalsLinks and Resources
Shakespeare for Social Justice and Training in Theatre For Social Justice by Marin ShakespeareAbout Suraya KeatingTedX San Quentin: Parallel Plays - “Ever wonder how prisoners greet each other or what they think about love? Based on themes from Shakespeare, watch two original theater pieces written by incarcerated men drawn from their real-life experience.”Video - Prison Bridges, theme: healingReturned Citizens Theatre TroupeThe Actor’s Gang Prison Project | Tim Robbins | The Shawshank RedemptionSupport the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
One Degree from Help - Rey Faustino
It’s not easy for impoverished Americans to access resources and services . Even more difficult than accessing services is the initial discovery of the ‘right ‘services and resources at the ‘right’ time. Many people are not aware of helpful privately provided resources and government provided resources that are just a few blocks away. This is a big problem in need of solving.
That's where Rey Faustino comes in. At age eight, Rey left the Philippines with his parents and arrived in Los Angeles. As newly arrived immigrants, the Faustino family struggled to make ends meet as they became naturalized American citizens. Rey often acted as a translator for his parents to help them navigate government systems and American life. A major difficulty for Rey while growing up, was finding and accessing government provided services and nonprofit provided resources that would help his family.
25 years later, Rey created an organization called One Degree that streamlines the discovery and accessing of services and resources for low income families and individuals in California. In this episode, you will meet Rey and hear his story.
In This Episode, You Will Learn
How Rey was inspired to help low income communities in California from his experience as a child immigrating from the Philippines to Los Angeles with his parents. The most common pain-points of low income families and individuals in California How fundraising is different in the nonprofit sector from the private sector: the importance of building relationships with investors before you’re fully “ready.”Rey’s experience and lessons learned from Ycombinator and FastForward.How Rey approaches the ratio of doing (i.e. being on the dance floor) vs. the ratio of thinking / reflection (i.e. being on the balcony). Why the traditional startup growth playbooks for companies like Yelp, Uber, etc. (i.e. a colonial approach of value extraction from the community) doesn’t work for a community driven nonprofit like One Degree. Rey’s recommended marketing channels for reaching underserved communities in California. How the entire question of “measuring impact” and lives changed is very complicated for nonprofits and how Rey approaches measuring impact at One Degree.How Rey approaches running a nonprofit organization as a technology organization with a focus on hypothesis driven product innovation, customer development (i.e. “getting out of the building”) problem solving and design thinking. Rey's advice to startup founders and nonprofit founders to invest in relationships instead of burning bridges. Links and Resources
One DegreeDonate: https://www.1degree.org/donate Add information: https://www.1degree.org/organizationsBooks by Ronald Heifetz: The Practice of Adaptive LeadershipLeadership Without Easy AnswersLeadership on the LineYcombinatorFastforward2 Dope QueensSupport the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
A Community for The Homeless - Amber Fogarty
On the surface, it seems that housing would solve homelessness. However, it’s not that simple. A village on the outskirts of Austin, Texas was founded with the belief that community will solve homelessness. This ‘Community First Village’ currently houses 200 paying tenants who are no longer chronically homeless; they will house 1,000 formerly homeless tenants in the next 10 years, which would reduce the Austin homeless population by half.
Their community approach is working, but how is this possible... In this episode, we’ll learn from Amber Fogerty, the Chief Goodness Officer at Mobile Loaves and Fishes, about the philosophy behind this unique village that serves the homeless.
In This Episode, You Will Learn
How Amber defines goodness What to do when you encounter homeless people on the street. A common cause for homelessness: the catastrophic loss of familyHousing alone will never solve homelessness, community will.What holds people back from sharing their talent.How to encourage people to serve others The fundraising philosophy of: heart over pocketAmber believes that human beings have two inherent needs / desires: Desire to be fully knownDesire to be fully lovedThe importance of listening to your communityThe cons of scattered site housingHow MLF dealt with opposition from the Not In My Backyard Movements (NIMBY) The role of fear in the bias against community housingThe value that CommunityFirst Village provides to the neighborhood next door. “Empower communities into a lifestyle of service” for the homelessThe role that grace and mercy plays in conflict resolution at Mobile Loaves and FishesThe MLF.org ten year plan to mitigate homelessness in AustinLinks and Resources
Learn more at mlf.orgAttend the Symposium for Goodness’ SakeCheck out the book about the presence that we’re all born with: The Second CircleDonorbox - fundraise online for your nonprofit or causeAbout the Author / Show Host
Jared Polivka’s mission is to serve others while living a light-hearted, present, empathetic and responsible life. Jared serves nonprofits at Donorbox.org, teaches at organizations through The Joy of Improv and advises various startup founders and organizations. Stay in touch with Jared on Instagram, Twitter and Medium.
Support the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
Introducing, The Important Podcast
Yes, you didn’t misread—that’s its name. Audience, meet: The Important Podcast. In this podcast, you will hear stories of people changing the world by helping others.
From a village that houses the formerly homeless to a woman teaching Shakespeare to prison inmates… I can’t wait for you to hear these inspiring stories!
In this Episode, You Will:
learn why the show is called 'The Important Podcast'meet your host Jared Polivkahear about the types of stories you will hear on the showThe First Two Episodes
A Community for the Homeless - Amber Fogarty
You will meet Amber Fogarty, Chief Goodness Officer at Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF) and hear about MLF’s unique approaches to helping the Austin homeless population. You will also learn about the Community First! Village, an innovative community designed specifically for men and women transitioning from chronic homelessness.
One Degree Away from Help - Rey Faustino
You will meet Rey Faustino and hear the story of his journey to the United States from the Philippines and how he would go on to help low income families find and access vital resources.
Our Mission & The Sacred Feedback Loop
The mission of this podcast is to tell the stories of people doing important work for humankind. This isn’t a highlight reel of their lives; it’s a vulnerable story of their failures and successes. We hope you find The Important Podcast entertaining, informative and heartfelt.
We define success as a positive experience for you (our audience) and we hope that these episodes inspire you to think, feel or do something that you might not normally.
However, we will never know if we’re succeeding if you don’t check in with us. We need you to chime with your thoughts and experience to complete the feedback loop.
Three ways to get involved:
1.) Listen to the episodes
2.) Leave a review on iTunes and/or Spotify.
3.) Send your thoughts and feedback via this Typeform or email us here.
I will read all reviews and feedback. Thank you listeners.
Preview of What Comes Next
Upcoming episodes include:
Shakespeare in Prisons - Suraya KeatingFrom Prisoner to Pro Actor - Dameion BrownGames You Can Play, Pt. 1 - Behind the scenes with Suraya and DameionWant to Submit a Story?
Have an inspiring story in mind? Want Jared to interview someone you know who is doing work to improve our world? Submit their information here.
About the Author
Jared Polivka’s mission is to serve others while living a light-hearted, present, empathetic and responsible life. Jared serves non-profits at Donorbox.org, teaches at The Joy of Improv and advises various startup founders and organizations. Stay in touch with Jared on Instagram, Twitter, Medium and LinkedIn.
Support the show (https://arigato-gozaimasu.typeform.com/to/naDeIp)
Love this as a former prisoner this is what I want to do be of service to others truly inspired
A Podcast worth your time!
With so many podcast out there it is very refreshing to listen to one that leaves you changed. Not only is Jared taking the listener more in depth into these social issues but he does a great job of taking us deeper on a human level to hear stories that really need to be heard !
Speaking Truth in a way that doesn’t hurt
I really appreciate this podcast. It’s given a voice to a lot of the things I have felt but couldn’t find the words for. Thank you Jared!