Chuck, a conservative civil engineer, and Mike, a liberal activist who became Seattle's mayor, talk about the politics of growth and the trap it creates for cities. Chuck concluded that his work, and our grand auto experiment, was destroying the financial sustainability of our places. He started writing about it, which turned into "Strong Towns" a movement to return to traditional development patterns. Not for the environment or livability, but because it is the only way that makes financial sense. Mike and Chuck talk about how bad laws and public concerns with growth prevent traditional development. And that planners, politicians and the growth coalition aren't solving our problems - they're just pushing more cities to the fate of Detroit.
Charles tries to change things through the provocative power of words, which makes him an obvious podcast guest. Mike and Charles discuss the 'war on cars'(Charles is for it), social engineering (pro again), flaneurs (Mike opposes), strolling v. loitering, marxism v. capitalism, and 'what kind of animal are we?' Listen for a conversation that keeps veering into unexpected places, and just maybe, gets better it as gets going.
Just a few days after returning from the international climate talks, Bill McKibben shares his thoughts on what the international treaty means and what’s next. After success as an author, he took up activism, recognizing it’s not just an argument, it’s a fight. It led him to ask a bunch of college kids to launch 350.org, which has helped spurred an international climate movement. Mike and Bill discuss the nature of organizing in the internet age as well as the the conflict between compromising politicians and uncompromising nature. Mike expresses his love for the millennial generation, and Bill praises the gray hairs who joined them to get arrested at the White House. Final prognosis, the game is about to get more intense.
Did you ever think of running for office? Or have been curious about what it's like? I sat down with three first-time candidates just a few weeks after Election Day to get their take on it. Not the issues, but the personal side - what they went through. Michael Maddux, the politico who had to learn to stop swearing, Tammy Morales, the introverted food justice advocate who had to knock on doors, and Jon Grant, who had to contain his inner housing affordability wonk before it consumed all in its path! Outspent by their opponents and discounted by the pundits they still ran great races, coming up just a bit short. It's a nice peek inside the experience of running for office.
Ardell fell into “the cycle” - tough childhood, anger, crime, jail time, release, jail again. Then the Black Prisoners Caucus helped break the cycle. Now he works on Seattle’s successful and groundbreaking “Career Bridge” program, creating the community net to help felon reentry. Ardell and Mike talk about the issue coming from opposite ends - a white politician confronted with the enormity of the problem, and a black man living it and fixing it. Give it a listen and share it. We need a few more folks, and politicians, working to remedy our failed policies of mass incarceration.
In just a few years, 23-year-old Sarra has become well known in Seattle progressive circles for her work on fossil fuel divestment, fighting Shell Oil, and the Black Lives Matter movement, often being asked to speak. Her personal experiences growing up in a white community as a daughter of an East African immigrant shapes her work. Sarra and Mike talk about her causes, interning for the EPA and environmental groups, talking to Indiana country fairgoers for climate communications research, being profiled in school, and people of color in the environmental movement. Where is activism heading next? Listen in to get a better understanding of what people mean when they say 'intersectionality.' Sarra embodies it.
Born and raised in South Africa, Alex there started a nationwide coalition of college students to work on climate change. After coming to Seattle to work on his Ph.D, he became involved in the fossil fuel divestment movement, inspired by the success of the South African divestment movement. He helped lead the successful University of Washington divestment campaign, and writes on the intellectual underpinnings of divestment, including a report to the Gates Foundation. So what the heck is fossil fuel divestment about? Alex can break it down for you!
Kshama Sawant surprised political observers in Seattle, upsetting an incumbent with a campaign based on her support for a $15 minimum wage. Since taking office she has challenged the status quo and the politicians that support it. Mike and Kshama share their experiences of activists who became elected officials and the unwritten rules that are supposed to govern political behavior in a one-party town. Can you fight the power, represent average working people and win? Kshama has done it so far. Listen in as Mike and Kshama do their best to suppress their earnest lefty rhetoric to deliver an entertaining show.
After a 25 year hiatus from activism, Emily Johnston decided to get arrested at the White House to protest the Keystone XL pipeline. She is now the communications director for 350Seattle, an organization fighting climate change. She drew international attention to that fight by helping organize the kayak protest against Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, harbored in Seattle. This interview was recorded as she awaited word of the Polar Pioneer’s departure, as she and others planned to try and stop it through civil disobedience. Why? Well, listen to the podcast.
Sharon, the daughter of Japanese-Americans interned during World War 11, chose to try and make a difference for the marginalized no matter where she worked. Sharon tells great stories about her early activism in the 60’s, integrating Seattle public television, rescuing Pacifica Radio, working for the Clinton administration, and most recently, supporting undocumented young immigrants. Mike and Sharon also talk about how Sharon convinced Mike’s wife to get arrested, and Sharon’s attempt to get appointed to the City Council. It’s fun to hear how Sharon’s mix of resolve, diplomacy and well-timed provocation helped build a meaningful career.
As a grad student Lisa worked to keep her college from kicking out anti-apartheid activists. Having found her calling, she went to law school instead. While there she worked to bring the rule of law to Guantanamo, where the US was warehousing Haitian refugees with AIDS. As a public defender in Seattle she successfully defended WTO protesters, and fought the police at every turn to end excessive use of force, bias in policing, and the war on drugs. Now she is at the table helping to implement Seattle Consent Decree with the Department of Justice. With cities around the country now going through DOJ investigations, Mike and Lisa talk about their experiences in Seattle, what works and what doesn’t, and what it means for places like Ferguson and Baltimore. It might surprise you.
Saitoti Parmelo is a Masai who went off to University then returned to help protect his people from being pushed off their grazing lands in Tanzania. The Masai are pastoralists who rely on on their cattle, who are now working to hold off government officials and foreign investors who want their land.
Diana McCauley of the Jamaica Environmental Trust brought the first environmental lawsuit in a Caribbean nation, earning the title 'that environmental woman,' which wasn't offered as a compliment. Diana reflects on a career in advocacy for the environment in a poor nation where the political leaders focus was always on the next big project.
Magdaleno Rose Avila is asked to speak in college after the murder of MLK, and then gets involved in the farm worker rights movement, amnesty international, and most recently organizing on behalf of an Oregon ballot measure to ban GMOs. Mike and Leno throw it back and forth on organizing, coalition building, and how the environmental movement can get less white. Leno tells better stories than Mike.
Chuck Ayers was the director of the Cascade Bicycle Club during Mike's term as Mayor. A conversation between friends and allies who found themselves as advocate and politician during the alleged “war on cars” in Seattle. Chuck offers his insights on organizing, electoral politics and pushing politicians to do the right thing once elected, and Mike gives a view from the Mayor’s office.
Bob Santos on growing up in Seattle's International District before WWII, getting swept up in 1960s activism, and helping create Seattle's multicultural coalition for civil rights. Mike and Bob talk about protests, arrests, and trying to collect church meeting room rent from the Black Panthers.
Maru Mora Villalpando, a Latina activist and an undocumented immigrant, decides with others to block buses leaving an immigration detention facility. Their actions reverberate all the way to the White House, helping bring attention to the need for immigration reform.
Tim Harris, homeless advocate and founder of Real Change newspaper, after being kicked out of three high schools and a stint in the air force, discovers activism in college. From there, he works with others to invent homeless activism as a response to Reagan era policies. What works, what doesn't, how he maintains his edge, and working in "the triage tent in the front lines of the war on the poor."