The Heinz Endowments’ Grant Oliphant shares the unique journeys of leaders in and around the social justice movement as they tell their stories of community and possibility. Often moving, sometimes funny, and always inspiring accounts of how they came to believe that together we can be a more just region, state, country and world.
Designing cities for justice w/ Toni Griffin, “Patterned Justice” co-editor & Harvard’s Just City Lab lead innovator (We Can Be S03EP12)
Toni Griffin, head of the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Just City Lab and co-editor of “Patterned Justice,” joins host Grant Oliphant for this episode of “We Can Be.”
Our country has perpetuated structural race and class inequities for more than two centuries. But what if we could design cities – their structures, infrastructures and public spaces – in ways that lessen that inequity and foster a more just community?
Toni Griffin has been studying, teaching and putting into action this concept of “just cities” for the past decade, most notably with the Just City Lab, a research platform for developing community-informed and values-based planning methodologies and tools.
Toni is the co-editor of the 2020 book “Patterned Justice,” a fascinating look at the process communities can take in identifying the unique values, assets and opportunities that they can enlist in making their neighborhoods more just. Through her New York City-based UrbanAC consulting firm, she has led trans-disciplinary planning and urban design projects for clients in cities with long histories of spatial and social injustice.
In 2016, President Barack Obama appointed Toni to the United States Commission of Fine Arts, and she is a trusted advisor of mayors and civic leaders in several cities, including Washington, D.C., Memphis, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
Toni shares how she came to recognize patterns of injustice common in cities around the United States; what Pittsburgh’s porches, stairs and playgrounds can tell us about inequity; the importance of a common “patterned language”; and why we must consider how spaces affect our mind, body and soul when creating equity-centered city and neighborhood design.
“Thoughtful, community-informed design,” Toni says, “can have a role in dismantling – and facilitating — solutions to the physical, social, economic or environmental systems and structures that are at play in making our cities unjust.”
“We Can Be” is taking a brief break, and will return in the coming weeks with new episodes. Our podcast is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Reach” author & BMe co-founder Trabian Shorters on the astounding power of asset framing (We Can Be S03EP11)
Trabian Shorters, international expert on the cognitive structure of “asset framing” and co-founder and CEO of the Miami, Florida-based BMe, joins host Grant Oliphant for this episode of “We Can Be.”
Trabian is a former vice president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, retired tech entrepreneur, New York Times best-selling author of “Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading and Succeeding,” and – in his words – “a doting father of two brilliant, Black twin girls who will live in a better world that we are making together for them.”
Throughout his impressive career, Trabian has considered how the assessments we make of others are often built on the inherently biased negative attributes that we perceive them to have, missing their positive traits and ignoring their enormous potential.
Since 2013, he has guided BMe’s network of innovators, leaders and champions who invest in the promise of their communities. The success of BMe’s leadership fellowship program for Black men and women is proving the transformational power of asset framing, and has in the process helped more than 2 million families secure educational, economic, human rights, and health and wellness opportunities.
Trabian shares with Grant the ways asset framing can inform the national dialogue on police violence against people of color, how John Legend’s contribution to “Reach” inspired him, and why he believes we can truly be a land of liberty and justice for all.
“I sincerely believe that we can embody and exemplify fully realized liberty and justice,” Trabian says. “We have a duty and responsibility to model the type of behavior that we want to see in the world.”
“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at email@example.com.
"White Fragility" author Robin DiAngelo: why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism (S03EP10)
Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism,” began an 85-week run on The New York Times Bestseller List upon its release in 2018.
It has since been published in five languages, and as the Black Lives Matter movement swelled in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police this past spring, “White Fragility” again topped the bestseller lists.
Robin challenges us to consider the deeply embedded racism that many white people have, and the “white fragility” that they must overcome for substantial progress on personal and societal racism to happen.
In recent months, she has been a sought-after guest on nearly every major network’s news programs, a culmination of her two decades of work as an educator, facilitator, consultant and anti-racism advocate.
Robin is much more than one book, though. She earned her doctorate in multicultural education from the University of Washington – where she earned tenure and is now an affiliate associate professor – and has written several other books, including 2012’s “Is Everyone Really Equal?” and 2016’s “What Does it Mean to Be White: Developing White Racial Literacy.”
She joins host Grant Oliphant for this episode of “We Can Be,” and shares the most puzzling reasons she hears from white activists about why they feel they aren’t racist; the ways white progressives unknowingly hinder our nation’s racial progress; and changes that need to happen in our criminal justice institutions.
“We don’t need to overhaul our criminal justice system,” Robin says. “We need to revolutionize it.”
“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest image by Gabriel Solis. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artist & cultural agitator D.S. Kinsel protests w/art & leads w/heart (SE0309)
D.S. Kinsel is – in his own words – a “multidisciplinary artist and cultural agitator” who in 2014 co-founded BOOM Concepts, an art collective “dedicated to the advancement of Black and brown artists from marginalized communities across America.”
D.S.’s art – and his work in mentoring and promoting other artists – is more vital now than ever. It is no secret that COVID-19 has hit the creative community with particular force, causing canceled exhibits and fundraisers, closing venues, and putting many arts education programs in jeopardy.
This, of course, is happening at the exact time when we need the unflinching honesty and beauty of art more than ever, and as the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum and makes crystal-clear the inequities faced by Black and brown communities.
D.S. is the curator of #ACTIVISTprint, a collaborative public art program of The Andy Warhol Museum, and presents an ongoing digital assemblage of his own work through his #KINSELCOLLECTION on Instagram.
He brings a deep devotion to family and equity to his art, concentrating in the mediums of painting, public installations, and performance. A book about his work, “Totems, Shrines, & Sacraments: Street Sculptures by D.S. Kinsel,” was published earlier this year.
In this podcast episode, D.S. shares with host Grant Oliphant about whether he considers his work to be protest art, his connection to his hometown’s considerable art legacy, and why agitating with art is a vital part of society’s progression.
“How can people evolve,” D.S. asks, “without a bit of agitation?”
“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Photo credit: Josh Franzos. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at email@example.com.
The radical imagination of PolicyLink founder Angela Glover Blackwell is building a more equitable world (S03EP08)
The very fact that our country is having a conversation about equity now is due in no small part to the groundbreaking work of Angela Glover Blackwell, who founded PolicyLink 20 years ago with a simple but profound aim: to advance racial and economic equity for all.
Doing just that has been her life’s work, first as a lawyer who founded Oakland, California’s Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization, and later as senior vice president at The Rockefeller Foundation, where she headed their domestic and cultural programs.
She currently serves as Founder in Residence at PolicyLink, which has become one of the nation’s most respected policy and research entities. PolicyLink has been instrumental in building a potent broad-based movement for equity, engaging hundreds of partners in cities, suburbs, rural communities, and tribal lands across America.
Angela is co-author of “Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future,” and is an in-demand commentator for some of the nation’s top news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Salon and CNN. She is no stranger to podcasts either, having recently launched her own podcast, “Radical Imagination.”
Angela joins host Grant Oliphant to discuss The New York Times “Banks Should Face History and Pay Reparations” op-ed she co-authored; her upbringing in racially segregated St. Louis, Missouri; the lasting influence of PolicyLink’s Equity Atlas; and what the concept of “radical imagination” means to her.
“Radical imagination is fueling change,” Angela says. “And when we embrace it, true and transformational solidarity is possible.”
“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest image courtesy of PolicyLink; photo credit, Peter DaSilva. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fight against climate racism w/ NAACP Environmental Justice program dir. Jacqueline Patterson (S03EP07)
Communities of color breathe in nearly 40 percent more polluted air than white communities, and African-American children are three times as likely to suffer an asthma attack. And that’s just the tip of the environmental racism iceberg.
While these are undeniably stark statistics, they are being addressed head on by Jacqueline Patterson, the senior director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program., and coordinator & co-founder of Women of Color United. Jacqui joins host Grant Oliphant for this new episode of “We Can Be.”
As a nationally-respected expert in the field of environmental justice for black and brown people who heads the NAACP’s largest program, Jacqui brings attention and a demand for action to the intersection of human rights and the environment. Before joining the national office of the NAACP in 2009, she lent her considerable energy to advocacy work for women’s rights, those affected by HIV & AIDS, and racial and economic justice.
In this episode, she shares why poor environmental conditions adversely affect the basic civil and human rights of communities of color, including education, health, and housing, and create an endless loop of challenges – and opportunities for what she believes can be “transformational solutions.”
“The earth was designed divinely to give us all we need to live in great abundance,” Jacqui says. “If we do it right.”
“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest image courtesy of NAACP. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at email@example.com.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great, timely interviews
I listen to a lot of podcasts these are great because subject matter is always timely there’s actual conversation without the host trying to be the show.
You had me at the inaugural episode...
Truth be told, I have subscribed to many podcasts that sit in my queue waiting to be played next. We Can Be will not be one of those. After hearing only the inaugural episode I am a fan. Intelligent human conversation that opened my heart and mind. What a phenomenal guest to kick things off. I want to know more and will be back. Thank you for building another bridge to humanity in Pittsburgh.