S1 – Episode 4 – Friends for Life

Patricia Jerido and Stephen Duncombe Are Friends For Life

 

PATRICIA JERIDO:    Steve and I, when we talk about cultural organizing, we’re also looking to this imaginative space.  Right, it’s just, oh, okay.  We know the current world isn’t exactly what we want, right?  But, when we only get stuck in critiquing the current political world, and not spending any time of “Ooh, what could this look like?  Ooh, what could that look like?”  You just spiral into this negativity, and that could be a black hole, right?  Because there’s no (laughs) thing…  You could spend your lifetime, several lifetimes, in that space of just feeling disgruntled with how everything is going.

STEVE DUNCOMBE:     And I think that’s what creativity can do.  It’s not just about criticizing things that we don’t like, but creating visions, alternative visions of the worlds we want [00:01:00] to bring into being.

MACKY ALSTON:  Wanna do it, ready?

LISA ANDERSON: Let’s Go!

MA:  Let’s go!

LA:  Let’s go!  Okay, y’all, welcome to Friends For Life, from Auburn Seminary.  A podcast for friends who give us life and with whom we are in it for life.

MA:  My name is Macky Alston.  I am a documentary filmmaker, a queer dad, spiritual activist, and one of my favorite things about my life is I am a bestie, a beloved, and a devotee of Lisa Anderson.

LA:  There you go!  I love it!  I knew you were going to say something like that, it makes me so happy!  My name is Lisa Anderson, I am a black queer theologian.  I believe that loving blackness is the spiritual calling of our time.  I believe that the lived experience of all black people is sacred text, and Macky Alston makes my heart sing.  [00:02:00]

MA:  So this is our fourth episode, y’all, and we’re getting our rhythm.  But we’d, again, we always want to hear how we’re doing.  And what’s most important to us is to be in real relationship with you all.  Bringing folks that we believe might engage you, might guide, and might inspire.  So tell us how we’re doing.

LA:  This week we had the opportunity to sit down with two wonderful human beings.  Steve Duncombe is the professor of media and culture at New York University, and author and editor of six books.  Six books!  At the intersection of culture and politics.  I like to say, because he be writing, because six books is a lot.  Steve is a lifelong political activist, a co-founder, a community-based advocacy group in the Lower East Side of Manhattan which won [00:03:00] an award for creative activism from the Abbie Hoffman Foundation.  And is currently co-founder and research director of the Center for Artistic Activism, a research and training organization that helps activists create more like artists, and artists strategize more like activists.

MA:  One of Steve’s books, actually, was sort of the book of the decade for me, about ten years ago.  His book, Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, which lifts up the ways both progressive organizing, and organizing on the right have used creativity to change the game.  It’s both a celebration of what we’ve done right, but also calling us in, or up, to bring our strongest creative game.  Because sometimes, that’s not how we play.  So, Steve’s bestie is Patricia [00:04:00] Jerido, who is the board chair for the Center for Artistic Activism that Steve is one of the leads on.  Pat is an executive coach, and leads strategist and Leadership Matters Consulting.  Working with organizations committed to social justice and making the world better.  She is a trained MSW social worker, and has done 30 years of service to the social justice sphere and to many, many movements.  Part of that work is in philanthropy.  She served as a program officer for Open Society Foundations, and the Ms. Foundation for Women, get this, granting over a quarter of a billion dollars to folks in movement around the world.

LA:  That’s stunning.

MA:  Something that’s really important to her is participatory budgeting.  She’s an advisory member to the Participatory Budgeting project.

LA:  I love that.  I love [00:05:00] moving assets for good.  This week like every week we start off our program asking our folks four grounding questions.  Who has got your back?  Where do you go to feel better?  What song is getting you through?  And what flavor delights you?  And then, we ask a few deeper questions.  What strategic counsel do you have for leaders of faith and moral courage, so that they can survive, thrive and win in 2020 and beyond?  Win in 2020, that’s hard to imagine.  But we talk about that, we think about that, we dream that way.  Our next question is can you tell a story of when we have won in the past?  So that we can remember that we are only here today because of the victories of our ancestors, and earlier battles for liberation.  And finally we end with the question, what is a joy practice that is getting you through these days?  [00:06:00]

MA:  Thanks y’all for being here with us.  We love you.  (laughter) In our 20 or so years through Auburn, and before, have had incredible joy of being in it together with you.  So again, we want to hear from you, about how we’re doing, and how we can be of service.  So, email us at [email protected] and tell us how to make it better.

PJ:  Okay, no prep at all?

SD:  What good is it going to do us?

LA:  It’s not going to do you any good.  All right, so, Steve, here’s the question.  It’s for you and for Pat.

SD:  Which means Pat gets to go first.  (laughter)

MA:  He knows how to play.

LA:  The question is, in these times that we’re living in, in this historical moment, who’s got your back?

SD:  Wow.  Okay, I’m going to say the first response that comes back to me is, my family’s [00:07:00] got my back, and I really count on that.  I also have friends that got my back, and they’re a particular type of friend.  And, you know, I’m looking at Pat right here, and I’m also looking at Macky, I’m looking at you Lisa, who are political friends.  And we have had to have each other’s back for years, and years and years and years.  And it’s a feeling like, “Yeah, those people have my back.”  And they know what that means.

LA:  Can you say a little bit about what that means?  When you say, they know what that means, what does that mean to you?

SD:  Because part of being an activist is that you’re ready for things to go really bad.  Things can go badly all the time.  And, you know, I’ll be really blunt, is, you know, you can be taken into a police cell, and the person you’re being an activist with is taken another police cell, and [00:08:00] they try to get you to incriminate the other person, and you’ve really got to know that they’re going to say absolutely nothing.  And that you’re both going to walk out of there okay.  And, that’s an extreme example, but I think in the back of all our heads, people that have been activists, as I know, you know, we have, since 18, 19, 16, 17, that you’re trained for that.  And you’re sort of trained to back people up.  Sometimes, even people who aren’t even your friends, but are just the people you’re working with in an organization, and you know, that’s what solidarity is about.  So that solidarity is kind of built in naturally to the family, but I think amongst political friends, we learn.  And we have a culture of it.  It’s part of our cultural heritage.

LA:  I see you smiling so broadly, Pat.

PJ:  (laughs) Yes, I am loving this!  I mean, ditto, ditto, ditto everything Steve just shared.  [00:09:00] (laughs) Yay!  So who has my back in that?  Definitely, you know, my family has my back in that.  And, yeah, my friends, my networks, and I will add to that, I think my experience and my perspective, if I were to do that out of body thing.  I think having lived this long, and through so many crises, and just, being alive for as long as I’ve been, you know, and just seeing so many different things happening, it’s like I have a body of experience that I rely on.  And I would say also [00:10:00] having other people’s backs is also important to me.  So, it’s not just I know I can lean back on people, but I’m also supporting people and that gives me purpose and makes me feel good, too.

LA:  You said a couple of things that were really compelling to me.  Both, no one has named themselves as having their own back.  I find that feels like a uniquely black woman thing to say.  (laughter) Given the historical reality that we’ve lived in since 1619 in this country, (laughter) because it was that.  I’m a believer, just saying.  (laughter) Can you say a little about — you and Steve — maybe a little bit about your friendship.  Because you both named each other as having each other’s backs, what is that?  Can you give us a little sense of the character of that?

SD:  Do you want to go first, Pat?  Do you want me to go first?

PJ:  I’ll let [00:11:00] you go first, Steve.

SD:  Aww, damn it.

PJ:  (laughter) You got my back, right?

SD:  So Pat and I met ten years ago.  And I think one of the reasons we hit it off really quickly is we recognized in each other that yes, we were interested in left politics, particularly we were listened in left cultural politics, I had just written a book about, kind of culture and politics, Pat was running this organization which was trying to fuse culture and politics.  And we’ve never talked about this so I’m just going to put it out there, is I think that we both recognize in each other, is like, this isn’t our first rodeo.  That we come from a deep culture of the left.  We had both been organizers and activists for, you know, 20 years before we ever met.  And so there’s kind of just a shared sense of we don’t have to virtue posture in front of each other, we can talk about silly things like our love for rom-coms, and things like that.  Because it’s okay.  [00:12:00] It’s okay, you know, this is why I go thrift shopping with Macky, for example.  He’s wearing probably one of the suits we bought.  (laughter)

PJ:  [You look pretty?] fantastic in this suit, by the way.

SD:  Because we can be silly.  And we can have not-political loves and interests and passions, because deep down, we’re deeply political, and we know we’re going to be political until the day we die.  It’s not a flash in the pan.  So, I think that I recognize something in Pat, you know, very different background, African American woman, grew up in, you know, New York City, I grew up in New England, white, religious, son of a preacher man.  (laughter) And, you know, so in that way we don’t have much in common.  But we have the culture of the let to lean on, and kind of that sense of instinctual, I think the word I used before was like, solidarity.

PJ:  (laughs) I would add to that, right, it’s both the love and criticism of the left that [00:13:00] I think kind of we shared.  Because especially ten years ago, to be able to have breath for talking about the, you know, the less serious stuff, right?  It’s just like, it’s yeah, yeah, yeah, we read our Lennon, yeah, yeah, yeah, we got our Marx, and did you see what happened on Friends?  (laughter) To have that breath of being able to both not always be dogmatic, which is so stifling and not fun.  And I think it’s also Steve and I, when we talk about cultural organizing, we’re also looking to this imaginative space.  Right, it’s just, oh, okay.  We know the current world isn’t exactly what we want, right?  But, [00:14:00] when we only get stuck in critiquing the current political world, and not spending any time of “Ooh, what could this look like?  Ooh, what could that look like?”  You just spiral into this negativity, and that could be a blackhole, right?  Because you could spend your lifetime, several lifetimes, in that space of just feeling disgruntled with how everything is going.

SD:  I think one of the things I love about Pat is it’s immediately about “Yes, this is what we want,” as opposed to “No, this is what we’re against.”  And there is a part of the left that’s very much, “We’re against it.”  But there’s also a part of the left which is exuberant, and phantasmagorical, and you know, and wears sparkles, and [00:15:00] that’s, I think, the place that both Pat and I occupy.  And I’m so glad you brought this up, Pat, about culture.  You know, culture is one of those spaces in which we get to experiment, in which we get to play.  About what a world would look like.  And that can happen in strange and odd places, it can happen in a dumb sitcom like Friends, you know? (laughter) What would a community be like that’s not based around biology where people take care of one another.  Or it can be in advertising.  Advertising is unabashedly Utopian most of the time, right?  And these are kind of bad expressions, I’m not that much of a friend of Friends, I just got to say, Pat.  But —

PJ:  (laughs) (inaudible) for watching it!  (laughter)

SD:  But it is one of those places where we get to get a glimpse of popular desire.  And that’s what we’re both interested in.  We love art, don’t get us — you know.  But it was popular desire.  It’s like, is it popular?  Because then [00:16:00] that says it speaks to people.

PJ:  Right.  And that was one of the things I noticed about the left, and the cultural left.  The success of the left in developing alternative culture.  From theater, to books, to zines.  Like, you could be totally ensconced in that, and be fulfilled in just that alternative world.  But, there is a larger world.  So, the organizer in me is like, okay, but not everyone’s going to see that particular, you know, alternative theater piece.  (laughter) What’s playing on Broadway?  And what are people connecting to?  And how can we connect what we’re doing with what they’re doing?  It can be so fulfilling being in your niche space.  And [00:17:00] it’s also a safe space for a lot of people.  So, do not want to take that away or deny that in any way.   But it’s the role of the organizer is not just to be in the safe space.  It’s just like, Harriet Tubman didn’t find the promise land and just say “Okay, I got here, forget you guys!”  (laughter) It’s like you’re always trying to bring people back and forth.  So it’s that translation that is very rich, yeah, I’ll leave it there.

SD:  I mean, I think that’s totally right on.  Because an organizer’s job is not to organize people who think like you.  You know, it’s to organize people that don’t think like you.  One of the things that, particularly with young activists, you always have to say is “Hey, it’s great that you’ve mobilized yourself and your friends, now we’ve got to get up to 51 percent of the population.”  [00:18:00] (laughter) And find crossovers.  And guess what?  51 percent of the population probably watches American Idol, or The Voice.  And so, what is it in The Voice that people like?  By the way, I do like The Voice, I do not like American Idol.  But The Voice is one those utopian spaces in which literally, people care for one another, and they get to showcase their talents, they have their backstories and then their triumphs.  It’s an amazing sort of vision of what a caring society should be like.  And, they get to sing.  (laughter) But in any case, I digress, I digress, okay?

PJ:  [That was to the heart?] of it.  (laughter)

MA:  All right, second question.  Can you believe we’ve only asked one question so far?

PJ:  That’s okay.

MA:  (laughter) And you may get the sense that this first round of questions — there will be two rounds — is really about how we feel better in terrorized, terrifying times.  [00:19:00] In the work, during the work, when that’s going on all the time, where do you go to feel better?  Where do each of you go to feel better?  I have a guess for each of you, and I want to know if I win that one.  (laughter)

SD:  I’ve got a new one, Macky.

PJ:  (laughter) So I’ll go first on this one.  So, physically where I go, and I’m very fortunate, I do have a backyard here in Brooklyn, (laughter) you knew that, Macky!  And knowing (inaudible) you know, grew up in the Bronx, ’70s, ’80s, New York City, crazy, never thought I would become a gardener.  Yeah, my garden is my happy place, yeah.  And I go there to…  Oh my goodness, yeah.  That’s definitely my first place of going to feel good and feel connected, touch the [00:20:00] earth, touch the ground, see my plants grown, weed.  Yeah, that for me is the best part of – just, or should I say one of my best practices — for when I feel most — well actually for when I feel both overwhelmed and when I already feel happy.  It’s just like, it’s the place I can go to no matter what.

SD:  If you had asked me six months ago it’s a little different from now.  Six months ago, as Macky knows well, I have a passion for going to thrift stores.  And I’m not talking about resale shops.  I’m talking about, you know, the Goodwill, Salvation Army.  Up to my high level of Housing Works.  I love clothes, I love thinking about who wore them before me, I love browsing through them, I love the idea that you never know what you’re going to find.  [00:21:00] And most of the time I walk out having bought nothing.  And I love the idea that just around the corner might be, “Oh my God, did you see these boots?  Look at these things, they’re amazing!”  So I love that.  And very much, I love walking to the places.  I love walking in New York City, I love seeing people, I love making up stories about them as they walk by me.  I love just the concentration of people.  I even love being on the subway, if it isn’t hot and smelling like urine.  (laughter) And that’s changed since the pandemic.  They have opened the thrift stores, I’m glad to say, but people are a little bit more weary of each other.  And we don’t get to see each other’s faces because of the masks, and so it’s changed.  So here’s what I did all this summer.  I went fishing.  I went fishing in the morning, I went fishing in the night, sometimes I’d go in the middle of the day, I’d go to the pond, I’d go to the ocean beaches, I’d go to the bay beaches.  [00:22:00] I hadn’t fished since I was 12 years old, my mom used to take me fishing.  Just something that dropped off.  And I totally rediscovered the beauty of being there by yourself for an hour and a half.  Sometimes you catch fish, most of the time you don’t.  (laughter) But it’s an excuse to notice, like, the snapping turtle that has its morning rounds that goes by you.  And seeing the sun go down over the bay.  I mean, really beautiful.  To the point of I would go fishing in Central Park lake now.  Which is not as bucolic as a beach in Cape Cod, let me tell you that.  (laughter)

PJ:  But there’s snapping turtles!

SD:  There’s snapping turtles and there’s these carp, which look like they haven’t evolved since the age of dinosaurs!  (laughter) And so for me, it’s very much an escape.  It is so clearly an escape from the chaos, and kind of unfolding apocalypse, of our present times.  [00:23:00]

PJ:  Yeah.  What I love also, Steve, is that you listed multiple.  I think in order to survive this, in happy places, we need multiple places of feeling comfort.  Especially because we’re being jutted against so often.  That being able to relax in different places.  And yeah, walking in New York City will always be — even during quarantine, even during lockdown, that was still solace to me.  Because one of my biggest pleasures is being able to walk in a street without cars, and just being able to walk down the street.  That gives me such a thrill, and, yeah, during lockdown that was one of the things that I got real pleasure in.

SD:  And bicycling on the street with no cars.  And I feel, actually, [00:24:00] and I’ve been telling this to my kids who have a very completely different experience of New York City than I did, because I moved here in the mid ’80s.  And you know, Pat, you were talking about the Bronx in the ’70s and the ’80s, and I’m like hey guys, you’re going to get experience of what New York in the ’80s!  (laughter) Both the bad part, which was the rampant crime, but also the beauty, which was more emptied out streets.  People are just painting!  Like going and all of the boarded-up buildings, they’re just painting and the police aren’t stopping them because they’re on semi strike because they’re angry about something or another.  And we’re like “Good!  Stay there!  Just stay on that semi strike!”  (laughter) Because now you can actually hang out, you can have a beer out on your stoop, it’s almost like the pre-Giuliani quality of life campaigns where — and part of that was, I remember, you know, riding down the center of the street because there just weren’t as many cars in New York City.  So that there’s something beautiful about what’s happened to New York, is things have slowed down.  The hyper rich have left, they’re off in the Hamptons.  [00:25:00] Just, it feels like my memories of New York when I was 17 and I moved here.

PJ:  Yeah.  Here, here!  (laughs)

LA:  Oh, my gosh.  What I’m loving about this conversation — I moved to New York in the ’80s as well — and I remember all of those things.  And it wasn’t until both of you recalled them that I see that returning to the city right now.  All of the street art in Harlem, on the boarded-up buildings, and nobody is making it go away.  The fact that the streets are filled with folks because of the way the restaurants are open, who are just kind of drinking on the street.  It is really kind of powerful to remember when it wasn’t quite — when it was a little more gritty.  So, what song is getting you through?  What’s the sound of now for you?

SD:  Oh, wow.  [00:26:00] These sound like Pat’s questions.

PJ:  (laughs) You know, it’s funny, I’ve been doing a lot of music during this time.  And speaking of the ’80s, one of things I did was I compiled a playlist of Hall & Oates.  (laughter)

SD:  Oh, wow!  You’re killing me!  Blue eyed soul!  Ouch, ouch, ouch!  (laughter)

MA:  It’s (inaudible) on my list.

PJ:  I just went back to, like, everything that made me feel happy.  And this was since the lockdown, since quarantine.  So it’s just like, oh yeah.  It’s just like walking New York City.  As a kid, I walked all over.  I would start off in the Bronx, and I would [00:27:00] head down, walk over Fordham to Inwood, then go all the way down to Central Park.  It was just, I loved, loved, loved walking the city.  And I still love walking the city.  So, like, walking was something I did.  But, as I was walking I was putting together all these playlists, right?  And just going back, I did Fleetwood Mac’s album, and then my mom was a big classical music listener, and so, yeah.  I would do that because I had great childhood memories for me even though I always made fun of her (laughter) as a kid when she was listening to it, and now I say, “Oh yeah!”  This is just like the most calming, uplifting, touch your soul kind of music that there could be.  [00:28:00] I’ve been doing a lot of ’80s, a lot of music.  It’s been across the board in terms of what I’ve been listening to, Depeche Mode, ABC, but yeah, music has been critical in this period.

SD:  I think you just listed every single artist that drove me to punk rock. (laughter)

MA:  What is your favorite Hall & Oates song?

PJ:  Oh, my goodness.  How, how to even choose?  Will always love “Sara Smile.”

LA:  Oh, that’s a good one!

(“Sara Smile” by Hall & Oates plays) [00:29:00]

SD:  All right, Hall & Oates, oof!  (laughter) Yeah, you know, literally that was the music which drove me to punk rock.  But the funny thing is now I can listen to it and be like, yeah that’s not so bad, yeah, that’s not so bad.  And in fact, I had these students once who did an independent study with me.  They were DJs, and they would come in with their setlist every single week, and I’d make them research the history, and sort of the musicology or whatever it was of the artist that they were doing, and they were really into African pop, and I was really into African pop at that time, and ’70s African funk, [00:30:00] they were really into that.  And one day they came in, and they were like, “Professor Duncombe, I don’t know if you know these people but they’re incredible.  We just discovered them.  We put it on the turntable and the dance floor just explodes.”  And they started playing Hall & Oates.  (laughter) And I was like, oh no, really.  Anyway, back to your question about the song.  The soundtrack of the COVID crisis.  So, right before the COVID crisis happened, I bought a turntable.  And started to, me and my son who now plays bass, my younger son — he’s really into  Tribe Called Quest, so a lot of Tribe Called Quest, and we started to listen to vinyl together.  But we only had like, eight albums before everything shut down.  [00:31:00] (laughter) So his favorite album is A Tribe Called Quest, my favorite album that I grabbed in that one week period before everything shut down was Sly and the Family Stone.  And so, “Everyday People” it’s one of those songs, it’s just, you know it goes back to the idea we were talking about, in New York, being sort of emptied out of the hyper-rich, and the people where it’s their third home here, and you know that I love everyday people, coming back to that refrain.  So I can listen to that over and over and over, and I have to because we only have like three albums, (laughter) but now things have opened up and we’re getting some more.

PJ:  Aww.

MA:  I can’t even tell you what a delight it is to see you all laughing so much, and to see your love for each other, and also as we talk about these things, joy in your faces.  In a time in which joy is just the most necessary, precious, and, you know, soul saving way to be.  [00:32:00] So thanks for being that way with us, right here, and right now.  The next question I have in this regard, and I hope it delights you, is, what are you finding delicious right now to put on your tongue?  What flavor delights you?

SD:  Oh, on our tongue.

PJ:  Ooh!

SD:  Oh, wow.  Huh.

JD:  Okay, so two things come to mind.  One, I’m a vegan, but I’ve been doing the Beyond Sausage, that is just so delicious.  And so that with some olives, a kale salad, that’s been like doing a very great teeth sensation for me.  Yeah, that’s like the one thing that came to mind when you asked that, [00:33:00] Macky.  It was just like, oh yeah, kale salad with the sausage on top — vegan sausage, a plant-based sausage, that’s been really delicious.

MA:  Do you eat what you grow, Pat?

PJ:  Yes!  Yes I do.  So I have a blueberry bush and a raspberry bush, those came out earlier.  And then I grow so much basil and have been doing a vegan pesto which I add to everything, and then I have tons of herbs, I’m just, you know.  As my daughter says, “You are really becoming a witch!”  (laughter)

LA:  I love it!

PJ:  What is going on with her?  I’m just like, ooh, here, drink this!  I’m always giving her teas to drink.  (laughs)

LA:  I love it!  Let’s hear it for the witches!  (laughter)

SD:  Yeah!  The tasty witches.  [00:34:00]

MA:  Steve, what flavor delights you?

SD:  You know, I was thinking about that.  Because there’s so many.  And one of the great things about coming back to the city after not being here for three months, is the flavors.  I mean, Pat, you know Cape Cod well.  There’s only one good flavor, and it’s fish.  (laughter)

PJ:  And lobster!

SD:  Or lobster, or clams.  Which are all good, but, you know, anything else, there’s nothing else there.  And to come back and, the first day, me and the kids and Jean were like “We want Thai food.  Real Thai food.”  Then the next day “We’re going to go get Cuban food.  Real Cuban food.”  (laughter) So part of it is just being back, and it’s sort of a multiethnic, multicultural society, and being like, oh my gosh it is just the flavors that we can experience, that we’re lucky enough to experience in a cosmopolitan place like New York.  But I’m going to be really concrete, I’m holding up a little espresso cup, and [00:35:00] I stopped eating sugar when I was about 18, because it makes me really tired.  And once I knocked it out I realized I had so much energy.  And I started drinking espresso and putting sugar in it.  And boy is it good.  Like, the mixture between that bitter, bitter of the espresso and the sweetness of the sugar, ah!  (laughter) It’s worth any sort of crash I’m going to have.  (laughter) So that would be one of my tastes.

MA:  That’s funny, the flavors you’re willing to savor even though you know you’ll pay the price.

SD:  Yes.  Well, isn’t that always true about– or often true about the things that we really love?  Is that sometimes there’s a cost attached to them, and you know, sometimes it’s worth it.  (laughter)

LA:  Oh my God, that seems to define the moment.  (laughter) That seems to define this moment.  Like what are the tradeoffs?  What are we willing to do in order to hold on to a sense of [00:36:00] joy, and a sense of us being fully alive human beings?  When so much is out there that would rob us of that sense that we’re sensual, we’re alive, we have bodies, we have longing and desire.  So I believe in the image of that little sugar that you’re putting in that cup.  (laughter)

SD:  The sweetness and the bitterness.

LA:  So this next batch of questions is, I don’t want to say a little more serious, but, well, maybe a little more serious.  So, we have an election coming.

PJ:  What?

LA:  And many people have characterized it as the election of our times.  And we’ve got folks listening on this podcast, a variety of kinds of folks.  We’ve got [00:37:00] faith and spirit rooted organizers, we’ve got traditional brick and mortar clergy types, it’s a progressive group of folks.  And we ask our guests every time, what are your reflections?  What have you got to say to our people, our left communities, as the election comes up towards 2020, in this 2020 election season?  However you want to understand that or frame that.  And I have to tell you every time we ask this question, every week, because every month things are changing so rapidly, I feel like we’re in a different world every time we ask the question.  So, however you want to enflesh that question, and [00:38:00] we’re here for you.  We’re here for it.

SD:  The first way I wanted to answer it was to go back to something that Pat and I were talking about at the beginning of this podcast, which is, if you grew up on the left, and you’ve been on it a long time, you know that you’re still going to be fighting 10 years from now, 20 years from now.  And so, yeah, this is a really, really bad time.  I remember when Reagan got elected, that wasn’t so pretty.  I remembered, you know, going to war with Iraq, that wasn’t so good either.  Now this does seem existentially different, because it seems like we’re seeing the end of democracy.  But we will persevere.  We will get through, and we will keep fighting for the next 10 years, next 20 years, next 30 years.  And then, I thought about faith.  And some of my friends who are much more God people than I am.  My relationship to God is like my relationship to [00:39:00] aluminum siding, if my dad sold aluminum siding.  You know, I grew up in a religious family, it’s all around me, it’s part of me, I know my scripture.  But I’m not a deep person of faith.  But I’m surrounded by people with faith, and I’ve been really heartened by their faith that things aren’t going to necessarily work out, because that’s not what faith is about, okay?  It’s that things will keep going on.  That they will keep going on.  That life will keep continuing.  There will be joy.  Although I forget the phrase from the bible but it goes something like “although everything seems so dark right now, we will wake up, and there will be joy.”  And, yeah, that is going to happen.  There will be joy.  It is dark right now.  It is probably the darkest it’s been in my political life.  But then I think about all the people [00:40:00] I work with around the world.  Because I work with a lot of activists around the world, and Patricia has as well, and boy, things have been dark in all of their countries!  (laughter) Really dark.  And so in some ways, you know, we’re just coming up to speed.  And they get through it, and they fight, and there’s always another side.

LA:  Well you sound, when you say that it’s a falling away of a kind of American exceptionalism.

SD:  Yes, yes.  And I think particularly as a white middle class guy, I just assumed that I make plans, and they’re going to work out.  Right?  My family can make plans, and they’re going to work out.  And I think the radical unplanning is new, certainly to people like me.  But it’s not new to a lot of people in America.  It’s not new to most of the people in the world.  Of not knowing how things are going to turn out, and if you don’t know how things are going to turn out, you’ve got to have faith.

LA:  Pat, what are you thinking?  [00:41:00]

PJ:  My immediate response was like, you know, every election is important.  Also election voting is just one component of being engaged and involved.  We have elected slave owners.  We have elected wife beaters.  We have elected (laughs) a lot of people who have done terrible things in the world.  We’ve also had a system of injustice that still has not prevented people from working to make this a better place.  That doesn’t become the obstacle to say “Oh, we give up.  Let’s just go.  Let’s just forget it.”  We can never bring it down [00:42:00] to the individual is the problem.  Because it is a systematic problem, and it’s also calling for systematic engagement, which we all need to do.  And the beauty of COVID, also, in terms of cultural shifts.  To remove us from this — such a concrete way of removing us — from this primary role of being a consumer.  I mean, that’s like one of the shifts.  I was just like, whoa!  It’s just like, oh okay.  (laughs) To see the engagement around BLM it was just like, because what else do we have to do?  (laughter) We’re not distracted by anything else!  (laughter) That is where I’m finding joy and hope.  It’s that our engagement has just quadrupled in this period.  And yeah, [00:43:00] a lot of people have been pushed into it, but a lot of people have run towards it.  And we’re all in this moment where we’re just paying more attention.  And it’s a consciousness that is leading me to hope.  Because being invisible is the biggest superpower of those in power.  It’s just like they love their invisibility because that’s where you get to do the best part of manipulation.  They’re biggest spokesperson at this moment is someone who cannot be invisible.  (laughter) He’ll tell us everything, because he cannot not be on camera.  But I think that both heightens our sense of “Oh my God, this country is under turmoil, there’s so much [problems here?].”  [00:44:00] But there’s also, okay, you wouldn’t be paying attention to this unless we had this.  Unless we had this spotlight on the craziness that is going on.  So it’s that invitation to engage that I get excited about.

SD:  As I was talking about, you just put your finger on it.  The problems are so visible, even if you wanted to turn away, you can’t.  And I think there’s a very good chance coming out of this we’re going to have socialized healthcare.  No one’s talking about repealing Obamacare anymore.  I think that it is a very good chance we’re going to have more women and people of color in positions of power than we’ve ever had before, I think that there is a sea change.  I think that people are going to start rethinking policing in a very serious way.  And, you know, police have been doing this for a long, long [00:45:00] time, so it’s nothing new, right?  It’s just that you cannot turn away from it at this point.  And it’s going to force us to reckon.  I mean, it’s that moment, was it, back in the ’30s they said it’s going to be socialism or barbarism.  And hey, we’re kind of there. (laughs)

LJ:  In two years we’ve moved from police misconduct to police violence.  And now the debates are whether to use police terrorism or police violence.  That’s huge.  In the latest vote they used the term police brutality.  That’s a sea shift.

SD:  Vanity Fair did a big thing on defunding the police. (laughter)

LA:  Well, it reminds me of Adrienne Maree Brown said it, that “Things are not getting worse, they are being uncovered.”  And you talked about pulling back the veil.  So the rest of her phrase is, [00:46:00] “We have to hold each other tight as we continue to pull back the veil.”  And so I think about all that you’ve been saying in line with what it means for this idea of American exceptionalism to fall away.  And this idea that actually, these things that we think are brand new, or that we’re just seeing — I love Pat, when you said the leaders have been slave owners.  The leaders have been brutalizing women.  It’s not like this is a newness.  But there is a sort of lining up where you cannot look away.  There’s no place else to look.  And so what does it mean?  And I think this is apropos of the title of this podcast, about friends for life.  What does it mean to create the possibility of holding each other tight?  And not leaving each other alone as we do this hard work of pulling back the veil and [00:47:00] yet saying that there needs to be joy and all of those things inside of that.

PJ:  And this is where I find, especially within the left, where the faith community can really provide the space leadership support in terms of this growing.  Because it’s,  where do you hold each other?  And just the concept of holding forgiveness and accountability.  That is within so many faith practices, that I think in secular left work, isn’t as developed.  It’s just like, secular left it’s much easier to go into cancel culture.  It’s much easier to dismiss.  Because it has this dogmatism to it.  [00:48:00] If you’re not the way I think you should be, I cut you out.  And there’s no, okay, how do we grow together?  Because there’s no way that we can be the human beings that we envision in this perfect utopian.  Because to be that human being you have to have lived through it and grown through it.  So there isn’t as much space to grow and make mistakes and be vulnerable, and be real with each other in secular leftist culture that I find in many faith-based cultures that are just more open to, oh you made a mistake?  Both, how do you hold yourself accountable to that, and how do I feel as fuller than the one action that you just did?  Or the 25 actions that you did.  It’s just like, where is that space for that?

SD:  Sin and repentance.  [00:49:00] It’s a nice thing.  And, Pat, going back to again looping back to one of our earlier conversations about activism and organizing, I mean I think part of the left culture, that cancel culture is the culture of activism as opposed to organizing.  Because with organizing, you have to make room for people’s messing up, because you need them there the next day.  With activism, you go in, you do your demo, and you’re out.  And it’s all about the performance and it’s about your expression, and I’m angry and you’re seeing how angry I am, and it’s very egotistical.  Whereas organizing, by its nature, has to be other-directed.

PJ:  Exactly.

SD:  The best organizer I know, you don’t even know their names sometimes.  (laughter) But somehow they’ve brought all these people together.  And then they disappear.

MA:  So many of the people who have tuned in to Auburn, and Auburn’s leadership development work, have done it on behalf of their folk.  Have done it [00:50:00] so that they can be the kinds of organizers, faith rooted, spiritual, whatever, who can be a blessing to movement instead of a curse.  And as much as our listeners, at least we hope, are these kinds of folks, who are thinking, I’ve got this crowd.  This congregation, this community, that I am hired or at least a member of, and hoping that we can show up in this critical time.  You all are the experts, when it comes to, as you all said, thinking about vision, employing imagination, and then strategizing as to how we can bring our most creative selves and all this kind of joy and delight [00:51:00] into the streets, or in ways that might shift and capture the public imagination for good.  Just yesterday I was right here on this block and Nick, my husband and I, were walking down the street and we heard a ruckus.  And it was another roving group of black lives matter, in this case, black trans lives matter, activists, and they were spectacular and there was dance, and there were gowns, and we joined, and off we went.  And it was one of those magical moments, actually, in life.  That something so irresistible, beautiful, and fun could be suddenly on your block, and you could just go with the flow.  So my question for you all is, what should we be doing now?  It’s October.  We got a month.  We got a lot [00:52:00] of folk.  How should we be showing up?

SD:  Yeah, I think that’s a great question Macky.  Particularly the “and beyond,” because I think the situation feels so dire right now, and it is so dire right now, that we tend to focus on what we’re against, what we want to stop, because there’s so much we need to stop, but particularly past the election, we need to really focus on things that we’re for.  And things that we want to do.  And I think that one of the things we’ve learned inside of artists to activism, is this is where creativity really comes into play.  So, here’s an example.  About six or seven years ago, we were asked to go to Macedonia, to work with LGBTQ and Roma rights organizers.  And it was a really, really tough time in Macedonia, there was a right-wing government, horribly corrupt, vehemently homophobic, anti-Roma.  The people we were working with, their [00:53:00] LGBTQ center had been firebombed about a month previous, and they were really, really, really pissed.  Understandably pissed.  There was so much to be angry about.  So much to just want to just raise the middle finger to.  And one of the things we do in our workshops is, the last part of the workshop, the five day workshop, is within 24 hours we brainstorm, build all the props for, and execute a creative action.  And the first thing we do is we do the brainstorming.  And immediately, people went to the negative.  They were so used to being told “You have no part in Macedonian society” that their immediate reaction was, “Well, if you’re going to tell us that, then we don’t want anything to do with you either!  So go F yourself.”  Again, very understandable, but in a way, and we talked about that, it was playing into the hands of the right-wing opposition.  That they were marginalizing themselves, [00:54:00] just as the people in power wanted to marginalize them.  And so we rethought.  What can we do differently?  And instead of going negative, we went positive.  We went radically positive, utopian positive.  And we decided, instead of talking about what we were against, we were going to perform a vision of the world that we were for.  We were going to create a new Macedonia.  Now, Macedonia was not allowed to call itself Macedonia at that time, because the Greeks kept objecting that Macedonia was in Greece, so they had to call themselves “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”  So we turned that on its head, and we created this fictive world, called the Former Republic of the Future Republic.  No, the Future Republic of the Former Republic of Macedonia.  And for about four hours, in the most popular park in Macedonia, we created a new world.  We had a border guard, with a border patrol that wore hearts, and would welcome people in gladly.  [00:55:00] And people would clap every time someone went through the border.  We had a new passport, which didn’t have a gender binary, but instead had a graph, and you could actually mark in where you are on the whole sort of spectrum of gender.  We talked about love, we had food, and at the center point of it, we had these pedestals.  One of the things the right wing government had done was build all these hideous statues every place.  And predictably, all these statues were of big muscled men and large breasted women that were heroes of some mythic Macedonian past.  Instead, we built a pedestal, and had people fill out signs that said hero and heroine in Macedonian, and they put in who they were.  So it would be, “I am a hero teacher,” or, “I am a heroine lover.”  And they would stand up on this pedestal and get their pictures taken.  And over the course of about two or three hours, we had 500 people come.  [00:56:00] Which, people were afraid to come to LGBTQ and Roma events, people showed up that would have never shown up to an event like that.  Partially because it was just attractive with the, “This is the ideal of Macedonia that we want to bring into being.”  So it was an incredible event, and the beautiful thing was within three or four years — now I’m not saying this is a direct correlation — there was a colorful revolution that brought down this right-wing government.  And it was led in part by artists who splashed paint every place around the city, and brought that sense of joy.  And I think that’s what creativity can do.  It’s not just about criticizing things that we don’t like, but creating visions, alternative visions, of the worlds we want to bring into being.

LA:  Oh my goodness. (laughter) I love that.  I love that, and it made me think of first of all, our work that we’ve done together, Steve.  [00:57:00] With black trans women, black queer communities in Atlanta.  But, I have a quote.  And the book is from Octavia’s Brood.  And listen to this.  “Whenever we try to envision a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism, we are engaging in speculative fiction.  All organizing is science fiction.  Organizers and activists dedicate their lives to creating and envisioning another world or many other worlds, so what better venture for organizers to explore their work than through science fiction stories?  Through utopian stories, through stories of the world that is not yet.”  I love that, and I love what you’re talking about, because I just think we need the utopian, the vision that is bigger than we could imagine, in order to be able to make the world that we want to see.

SD:  Right on.  I love the idea of speculative fiction.  [00:58:00] And if you think about what Jesus did, well a lot of what he was doing was speculative performance.  The idea of sitting down with sinners, tax collectors, sex workers, the idea of sitting down and sharing meals with the undesirables, was a way of performing in the future.  This is going to be God’s community.  It may not be in the present, but in the future, these will be the people who will be welcome at my table.  Where the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.  And, you know, taking those ideals, and whether you put them into science fiction, or you put them into performance, allows a way to people to feel the future.  Right?  Not just think about it intellectually, but feel it affectively and experience it, and in so doing, it creates the desire for a future.

LA:  I love it, I love it.  I want to hear about what Pat – Pat, where are you inside of this work?  Because I know you’re in there.

PJ:  Yeah, and you can’t see me, I’m just smiling (laughs) at the recollection of the Macedonia action.  And also for the center, and what Steve just lifted up.  I think is the importance of creative activism.  And I always talk about the importance of creative activism within the entire ecosystem of everything that needs to be done in order for change.  So we need people working on policy reform.  We need researchers delving into the questions and finding out the answers and doing polling.  We need historians telling us stories of the past that we can learn from.  [01:00:00] So it’s all part of an ecosystem.  What I love about the Macedonia example and so many examples of the work that the center does is, it breaks down what we mean by creativity.  Which you know, a lot of people, especially if you’re not engaged in a work, can dismiss it as being frivolous, or oh, let’s just go out and make some posters.  Or let’s, you know, let’s have a soundtrack or let’s write!  And the example that Steve shared with us really highlights the discipline that needs to go into this work.  The work that’s involved in being able to not only understand the political situation that you’re in, but have the breath and space to [01:01:00] articulate it.  To be able to work through it.  To be able to have the space to have people lift up their ideas, which of course are going to start out as negative.  Because (laughs) we are who we are as progressives.  We’re going to lead with that.  We see things that we don’t like and that’s why we’re drawn to this work.  That change is mostly around the change of wanting to right the wrongs that exist, that we see.  So it’s a discipline of being able to bring people together, hold that space for them to be able to articulate what they’re seeing, and then how to move it in a way that actually we can reach people in that space of joy that Steve spoke about.  Because we’re not going to reach as many people as we need to in that negative space.  And then it’s the areas of [01:02:00] experimentation that also happens within creative activism, where we have this openness for putting out the ridiculous.  (laughs) Or putting out what we haven’t seen before in order to capture peoples’ imagination, capture their attention in a way that we haven’t before.  And we have more wiggle room as people who want to make change, within creative activism than you do, let’s say, in policy work.  Which is more limited in their experimentation.  And actually our comrades who are doing policy work, I don’t want them to experiment.  (laughs) (inaudible) Creative activism.  To experiment.  Steve’s story didn’t talk as much about the review and learning [01:03:00] that also is part of the training that the center does as well.  But it is that breaking down, that taking, you know, what did we do, what was the response, research is a big part of the center as well which Steve leaves out, and it’s learning.  It’s the constant learning and the picking up.  The Macedonia action, while not directly related, picks up on work that Lisa like you said, the center’s done with you in Georgia, that the center’s done in North Carolina, that the center’s done in South Africa, in Texas.  It’s always picking up and learning.  And it’s that review that also comes into creative activism.  So I wanted to add that, because there is a lot of components [01:04:00] to it that, when we get to those public demonstrations, there’s actually so much work that’s gone into and that will follow up.

SD:  So Pat is actually kind of the unspoken co-founder, one of the unspoken co-founders of the Center for Artistic Activism.  It was a project that myself and an artist Steve Lambert, you know, were kind of playing with, to be honest.  And I had a meeting with Pat, and she was like you know, you should teach some of these lessons.  This is interesting.  Why don’t you give me a proposal, blah blah blah, and she gave us a ridiculously low amount of money, it was insulting, (laughter) but it was just enough to get us going down to North Carolina to do our first workshop.  But I realize now, Pat, that what you were doing, at that time you were running the democracy and power fund, and then you had all these other types of activists working in it.  You had policy [01:05:00] people, you had people doing more election, more direct action, and other things.  And we were part of that, kind of, mix, your portfolio in a lot of ways.  And I think that’s super important, that not everything needs to be creative activism.  It’s the masterminds like Pat — benign masterminds, I would say — (laughter) you know, understood that there was a place for us.  And helped us develop the sort of language of artistic activism and methodology of artistic activism so it could work with other forms of activism.

PJ:  (laughs) And it was funny, that was, actually.  Just for clarification everyone, I was working at a Open Society Foundation, so this wasn’t my own personal money.  (laughter) And those were fun times — I had a portfolio, I had DC thinktanks in my portfolio, [01:06:00] I had some of the research groups, I had some of the direct action groups like Ruckus in a portfolio as well, and then I had what I call cultural organizing, which included, for me, as well I expanded that into faith organizing as well.  So I had that in my portfolio.  So I had faith groups, faith organizing groups, as well as tech groups as well.  And then more creative activism, it was this hodgepodge.  The stories about creative activism and what people are doing.  Even when you’re not involved with it, it just opens up this space in your body, you just breathe, and it’s like “Wait, you did what?”  And it’s just —

LA:  Absolutely.[01:07:00]

JD:  Right?  It’s knowing about that that just makes us all broaden up in a way that we hadn’t imagined.  Just makes me feel differently about my specific work that I’m doing within this larger goal of making change and building peace and love and freedom for people throughout the world.

LA:  I just know from my personal experience that it opened up more space for the wholeness of the people who were doing the activism, who were involved in the activism.  For the people who were witnessing, most definitely.  But there’s the one story I remember when we did our church flash mob, and it was when our trans leaders — because we did ours in a church — we borrowed, what do you call them, choir robes.  [01:08:00] And remember that mock choir we made up when the trans church went into the lesbian and gay black church, and our leaders said when they put on those choir robes, they felt like they were superheroes.  Like they could do anything.  And just, there’s so much power that comes from these things, these practices that we think of as just ordinary.  But when you think of black trans leaders, putting on choir robes and becoming this mass demonstrating community who were saying, we’re here, we are saving your lives and our lives together, and this is ordained of God.  And so when they put on those robes they were making that kind of declaration, that meant that they were seeing themselves differently, and that meant that [01:09:00] that community was seeing them differently, and I believe that it changed something that we will never go back on.

MA:  One of the practices that we’ve been exploring here on the podcast is to tell stories about when we’ve won.  So that we remember that we’re winners.  So in your own lifetimes of activism, or in the study and training that has informed your activism, what story reminds you that we got this?

SD:  Oh, my God.  There are so many stories.  I mean especially,    you know, I’m trained as a historian so I could just rattle on, as Pat knows, we go back to Moses, and then to Jesus, and the prophet Mohamed, and then so on and so forth.  (laughs) But, this is something that came to mind when we were talking earlier.  Don’t forget that eight years — was it eight years ago?  [01:10:00] Twelve years ago we elected a black president of the United States of America under the banner of hope and change.  And that this country looked very, very different.  And 40 percent of the people hated his guts, and 40 percent of the people felt threatened, and that their ways of life were going to disappear.  I remember there’s a great speech by FDR where he’s running for the third time, and he says, you know, essentially, 40 percent of the population hates my guts.  And I welcome their hatred.  And to understand that we’re really not talking about an entire country which has gone batshit crazy.  Okay?  It’s a minority that was always there, and they grabbed power.  But there was also a majority of the population who voted for, not the progressive execution, but a progressive vision.  Which Obama [01:11:00] promised.  And that is a victory.  That gives me hope.

PJ:  I will go with a real world one that I’m involved with right now.  So I volunteer with participatory budgeting, where it’s around the country but here in New York City we get to determine how public dollars are spent in our community.  And in progressive New York City, they use COVID as an excuse for not continuing with participatory budgeting this upcoming year.  And my local district, my neighborhood, we decided to go with it on our own.  So we’re going to do our own in our own district, and make sure that we keep this alive.  It’s just, it’s, yeah.  You’re going to find that people in power want to take away your voice.  [01:12:00] No matter whatever adjective you want to put in front of that government is.  It’s really always up to you to step up to participate and take hold of that power.  So I’m loving that we’re doing this and that we’re doing it on our own, which also opens up this space for us to imagine, okay what do we want the process to look like?  Because we’ve had to abide by the city rules for so long but now we get to determine just in our district how we want to see this money distributed, so, really excited about that.

LA:  So our final question to y’all is, how do you practice joy?  If you have a practice that you’d like to share, that’s fine, [01:13:00] so that our listeners could maybe copy what you do, but it’s not necessary that they be able to do that.  We like to leave our folks with a sense that joy is an intention, and a practice.  And it just doesn’t emerge out of nowhere, but that it is a practice of our communities for justice.  So, what’s a joy practice?

PJ:  (laughs) I love that question.  So, yes it’s a practice, I think there’s also, for me, I’ve found, there’s also an orientation.  And I do get that, very much, I’ve always described myself I’m not a glass half empty or half full, I was always since a kid, “Oh my god, I have a glass!”  (laughter) How amazing is that, [01:14:00] I don’t have to use my hands!  It’s just like, I’ve always had that like, innate appreciativeness of that I know not everyone has that orientation.  So even with that I get overwhelmed, I get depressed, I get “Erg, what am I doing, I’m just such a loser!  I’m just, ugh!  What’s going on!”  So even with that orientation, that isn’t everything, so yes, practices do work and make it easier.  So a practice that I do is when, especially my mind is going to that overwhelming space, is that I just bypass my mind and go into my body.  So that could be through dancing, it could be through deep breathing, also, [01:15:00] so I use both of — those are like my go-tos for just like moving, yeah, like moving my body.  Walking.  When my mind is overwhelming I just go straight to my body.  Okay, how can I move my body and just forget about my mind, because my mind’s going to do what it’s going to do, and then as long as I have my body, my mind will always like, play second fiddle to my body.  So if I’m dancing, as soon as I start dancing, then my mind, it just says oh, okay!  (laughs) We’re just going to move with this body, and it quiets down immediately.  And I find that also when I do deep breathing.  So if I’m on a subway and just don’t want to dance at that point because I’m in public, I’ll do deep breathing and I’ll [01:16:00] find as soon as I get to — like, listen — put my body first, and then my mind kind of moves towards that.  And then that can get me to the joy space.

SD:  That’s beautiful.  I love that you said orientation, Pat.  Because I think so much of it is, we’re, you know, you could walk down the street and you can look that everything is terrible.  And sometimes when I’m depressed, I’m just overwhelmed by the anguish and pain and ugliness of the world.  But I can also walk down the same street and notice a whole bunch of different things happening.  And so a lot of it is, to me, about that orientation.  Is do I want to go through the world looking for joy, or do I want to go through the world looking at how horrible it is?  I wish I had a practice to figure it out, (laughs) and kind of move myself from one to the other.  And I like to say [01:17:00] the other, the body in some ways, and kind of short circuiting the brain, I think I’m going to try some of that.  For me, a lot of it is, when I find myself looking at all the horrible things, just to spot something which isn’t terrible.  And to see that little beautiful thing.  And it’s really easy when you’re in nature, it’s a little harder when you know, you’re, walking down the street and you see people who are living on the street, and, but you can find it.  And just to see that, and find it, and concentrate on that, and then you can look back to the horror.  But I wish I had a better way because there’s a — I’m going to try dancing a little bit more.  Laughing!  Laughing is really good.  Just finding things to laugh about and laughing with people.  I think that works.

PJ:  Right.  And laughing is breathing.  [01:18:00] So that’s the beauty of it, is just like you’re just breathing deeper when you’re laughing, and that helps alleviate all the tension.

SD:  I hadn’t thought about that, that’s great.

LA:  Oh, my God.

MA:  One of the things that moves me about both of you that I’ve experienced is an incredible generosity of spirit.  And I don’t know whether it brings you joy but it brings a lot of other people joy.  And honestly, hanging out with you, Pat.  (laughter) I remember when we were in Minneapolis together, going out and laughing!  Sharing stories until the cows came home.  And you know, we didn’t know each other that well, but it’s like, we were you know, at a sleepover and friends for life, and just sharing stories.  And then ever since then, I’ve just felt like you know me, and I love you.

PJ:  Aww.  (laughs)

MA:  And Steve, Steve is one of these dudes who, like, he sees me and sees how I’m trying to look fine, [01:19:00] and he’s thinking to himself, don’t I have something in my closet that would make that outfit (laughter) just pop?  And then the next time I see him, he’ll come out with a tie, or a pair of shoes that I can’t believe he actually wants to get rid of because they’re so nice!  (laughter) And I thought, well, what’s he keeping?  Because this is (laughter) my best.

SD:  But it gives me such joy to see you wear them, Macky.  (laughter) It really does.  I gave Macky a hat, a cap, like two or three years ago.  And every time you show up in church with it, I’m like, ugh!  Doesn’t he look good in that?

LA:  That’s the best, I love it.  This is my first time meeting Pat, and I’m very thrilled.  I’m very thrilled.  And I’m feeling a little bit like I can’t wait until we can make our pods a little bigger, because I’d like to go out. (laughter) I have to say though, that I did watch one of your podcast [01:20:00] before we got started in preparation, it was the one that you did with Linda Sarsour when you all went and got your nails done. (laughter)

SD:  It’s so much fun!

LA:  So, even though this is the first time I’ve met you Pat, I have seen silver toes (laughter) and there was a line that you said in the podcast that I loved so much, about longevity being your act of political resistance.  You’re going to live a good long time.  And that that was an act of political resistance as a black woman.  And I said oh, I love that.  (laughter) Like, I love that so much.  And Steve, I’m so happy to see you again.

SD:  I know!  It’s been a long time.

LA:  It’s been a long time, but you know since we did our last event in Atlanta, I’m sure Macky told you that we did — the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle did a [01:21:00] cohort with black trans women, and so several of the women that we met when we did the creative activism work with you and Steve, were in that cohort.

SD:  Oh, that’s great.

LA:  And are a part of Auburn’s extended family now.  So we all met through that experience.

SD:  That’s great to hear.  That’s great to hear.

LA:  Yeah, so —

MA:  And I just want to name, Lisa, that that’s a story of organizing with a beginning, middle and end, but that reminds us that there is no end.  And that there — things keep growing, like in Pat’s garden, you know, they just grow and they grow as we stay in.  Stay in it for life.

LA:  Yes, absolutely.  If it were not for that, we would not have met those women.  We would not have met Raquel Willis, who did the first podcast that we did.

PJ:  Oh wow, okay!  [01:22:00]

LA:  For this podcast, and we met Raquel through work that we did with Steve in Atlanta.  And so it’s just about organizing and creating communities, so I really love the distinction you made between organizing and activism.  Because it just spoke to the value and the quality of relationship.  So we end our podcast every time saying words of love and sort of, I guess a benediction of joy, that the author is Winnie the Pooh?  (laughs) So Macky and I are going to say this to you, and imagine just showers of blessing upon you as we say these words.  If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together,

MA:  There’s something you must always remember.

LA:  You are braver than you believe,

MA:  Stronger than you seem.  [01:23:00]

LA:  And smarter than you think.

MA:  But the most important thing is,

LA:  Even if we’re apart,

MA, LA:   (overlapping, together) I’ll always be with you.

MA:  We’ll always be with you.

LA:  We’ll always be with you.

MA:  Thank you so much for being on the show!

LA:  Yay!

SD:  Thank you!

MA:  You made it!

LA:  Thank you wonderful friends!  Yay, we did it!

SD:  And to a time when we can do this in person.

PJ:  Yes.

LA:  Absolutely.

PJ:  I’d be up for that.  (overlapping dialogue, inaudible)

MA:  Rockin’ to the Hall & Oates!

SD:  Oh, no.  Oh, no.

LA:  Well, yeah.  Hall & Oates is not my favorite, either.

SD:  Oh, yes!  Thank you Lisa!

(“Everyday People” by Sly & The Family Stone plays)

MA:  So, beautiful people, that’s our show.  For show notes, [01:24:00] episode graphics, or to donate to this work, or for more info about other Auburn programs, please go www.auburnseminary.org/friends.  Please follow Auburn Seminary on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  And again, we want to hear your thoughts.  So email us, at [email protected].

LA:  It was a joy to be with you Macky, as always.  And I am so excited for next month.  So excited.  It’s Halloween!  It’ll be Halloween, next month, too!

MA:  This show was produced by Auburn Seminary.  And is made possible by the erodes and the Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.  Thank you, Carpenter.

LA:  Friend for life was produced by Macky and me, with additional support from Courtney Weber Hoover — yay! — Karen groves — yay!  And David Beasley.  Yay!  Graphics by Claudia Lopez.

MA:  Those are some good looking graphics, too.  [01:25:00]

LA:  Mm-hmm.  Always.  Audio engineering from Dan Greenman and Courtney Weber Hoover, with editing from Courtney, Macky, Lisa and David.

MA:  Thank y’all.  We love you, we love you, we love you, we love you.  Come say hi.

LA:  Hi!  (laughs)

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