Micah Saul: This project is built on a hypoth­e­sis. There are moments in his­to­ry when the sta­tus quo fails. Political sys­tems prove insuf­fi­cient, reli­gious ideas unsat­is­fac­to­ry, social struc­tures intol­er­a­ble. These are moments of crisis. 

Aengus Anderson: During some of these moments, great minds have entered into con­ver­sa­tion and torn apart inher­it­ed ideas, dethron­ing truths, com­bin­ing old thoughts, and cre­at­ing new ideas. They’ve shaped the norms of future generations.

Saul: Every era has its issues, but do ours war­rant The Conversation? If they do, is it happening?

Anderson: We’ll be explor­ing these sorts of ques­tions through con­ver­sa­tions with a cross-section of American thinkers, peo­ple who are cri­tiquing some aspect of nor­mal­i­ty and offer­ing an alter­na­tive vision of the future. People who might be hav­ing The Conversation.

Saul: Like a real con­ver­sa­tion, this project is going to be sub­jec­tive. It will fre­quent­ly change direc­tions, con­nect unex­pect­ed ideas, and wan­der between the tan­gi­ble and the abstract. It will leave us with far more ques­tions than answers because after all, nobody has a monop­oly on dream­ing about the future.

Anderson: I’m Aengus Anderson.

Saul: And I’m Micah Saul. And you’re lis­ten­ing to The Conversation.

Micah Saul: How’s it going, sir?

Anderson: Doing all right. Just here in Portland, Oregon and ready to inter­view Cameron Whitten, who is a for­mer may­oral can­di­date endorsed by the Green Party and the Oregon Progressive Party, cur­rent­ly on hunger strike out­side of Portland City Hall on behalf of equal hous­ing rights, and an active mem­ber of Occupy Portland.

Saul: Yes. I think it might be worth it just to talk about how we found him real quick. We were actu­al­ly research­ing the Portland Plan, which is this big ten-year plan, twenty-year plan, that was actu­al­ly real­ly quite cool. It was how to turn Portland to a more sus­tain­able, hap­py city. But then we found a blog post with a response to the Portland Plan from Cameron Whitten, which was, This is all great, and let’s go farther.”

Anderson: We fol­lowed up a lit­tle more, read more of his pol­i­cy and his plat­form when he was run­ning for Mayor and thought, this guy’s real­ly inter­est­ing. He ques­tions more fun­da­men­tal assump­tions than the Portland Plan does about say, urban plan­ning. Let’s see about talk­ing to him. And well, by the time we got to him the may­oral race was over, and he did­n’t win. But he was still very active and we thought he’d be a great guy to talk to. One to talk to about Occupy, and about the expe­ri­ence of a per­son who goes from being sort of apo­lit­i­cal to real­ly gal­va­nized. Cameron made that tran­si­tion very quick­ly. He was a stu­dent in col­lege, then next thing you know was run­ning for may­or and is now out of school and kind of a full-time activist.

Saul: Right.

Anderson: You know, Occupy is some­thing that you can’t real­ly dis­cuss in any sort of con­crete way because it’s such a neb­u­lous orga­ni­za­tion. But you can have dif­fer­ent lens­es on it. And for us, we thought Cameron would be a real­ly cool guy to look at Occupy with.

Saul: Yeah, exact­ly. And this is the first time that Occupy’s com­ing in. I have a sus­pi­cion that we’ll have more Occupy-related con­ver­sa­tions lat­er on down the line. But I think Cameron’s going to give us an inter­est­ing lens on it. In some ways he does embody a lot of the spir­it of it.

Anderson: So to talk to him about, what is it like to feel your­self real­ly get­ting polit­i­cal­ly engaged. And then, to real­ly talk about what are the ideas here? And what are his ideas that have sort of formed in the cru­cible of politi­ciz­ing in Occupy?

Saul: Without hav­ing to talk too much more, let’s go to Cameron Whitten.

Anderson: This is Aengus. I have to break in again and say that when I record­ed this inter­view, Cameron was on day twenty-six of a hunger strike. Currently as of this post­ing he’s on day forty-four. 

Cameron Whitten: My back­ground as a shame­less agi­ta­tor? In the begin­ning I was most­ly a vol­un­teer and a stu­dent. Do my own lit­tle work­er role in soci­ety. And I remem­ber when Occupy start­ed here in Portland on October 6th, I kind of just gave up my entire past, and became a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent per­son. And I real­ly thought well, peo­ple are real­ly pissed-off enough to talk about these issues, and it seems like it’s going to be sus­tain­able, see­ing how many peo­ple were actu­al­ly involved. And I was like you know, this is my chance to final­ly change a word. I’ve been wait­ing for this for the past twen­ty years of my life.

I went on the very first march, October 6th. I did­n’t plan on even camp­ing. And then I was hang­ing out with a group peo­ple, and they just start­ed pass­ing out one by one and they’re like, Well, it’s not rainy night. We have some tarp. You can come sleep with us.” And so I slept for the first day. And next day I bor­rowed a tent from a friend, I came back down, and I start­ed camp­ing there. And I went to school for like the first two weeks, and then I real­ized it was real­ly hard to do that, con­sid­er­ing that when I got to school all I could think about was get­ting back to Occupy. I did­n’t even dropp the class­es, I kind of just failed them. I got involved in march­es and work­shops and…

Anderson: It seems like you felt like you could­n’t do it before, or the time was­n’t right, or some­thing like that?

Whitten: I def­i­nite­ly had an inkling that the time was­n’t right. My back­ground, the rea­son why I care so much about social justice…I had a real­ly bad child­hood. I had a real­ly abu­sive father. It was bad. So I remem­ber that the Child Protective Services got called on him twice. But my mom kind of just watched it hap­pen. When I turned eigh­teen, grad­u­at­ed from high school, I real­ized that my life was­n’t going any­where if I was going to stay where my fam­i­ly was. So I came out here. But I came with the men­tal­i­ty that there has been so much injus­tice caused against me and so much harm that I would nev­er one wish that upon any­body else. And so since then I’ve just been involved, vol­un­teer­ing for a dozen orga­ni­za­tions such as Food Not Bombs, FreeGeek, Goose Hollow Family Shelter, a lot of things here in Portland.

I did­n’t feel empow­ered. I did­n’t see that the peo­ple around me real­ly want­ed to work toward some­thing bet­ter. And so once I real­ly saw that there was more col­lec­tive opin­ion that I could work with and give my ener­gy to, I thought there’s no way I can turn this up. Occupy real­ly was the oppor­tu­ni­ty because before then yeah, there were some anti-war ral­lies, and there were some union march­es and things like that, but they weren’t sus­tain­able and they weren’t real­ly about chang­ing the con­ver­sa­tion that we’re talk­ing about. And Cccupy said you know, we can’t even start talk­ing about how messed up this world is. All we know is that we have to assem­ble now, and then deal with these issues.

I believe that Occupy has the abil­i­ty to be long-lasting because they can spill into any range of social jus­tice. You can occu­py pub­lic trans­porta­tion, can occu­py clean air, you can occu­py cor­po­rate per­son­hood. All these things. And it has done. That’s what makes it so spe­cial. More peo­ple care about a broad base of things, which real­ly is the only chance of us actu­al­ly hav­ing a more pros­per­ous future, not just for one group but for all of us as a whole.

Anderson: What’s the most crit­i­cal thing that we face as a soci­ety right now?

Whitten: The biggest thing we have to face itself is human­i­ty. And now Occupy’s bring it out to the pub­lic, say­ing that we can’t con­tin­ue being in our homes with our apa­thy think­ing that our lives are con­cen­trat­ed lit­tle young nucle­uses. It’s all togeth­er. Humanity real­ly needs to have a look at itself in the mir­ror, and Occupy said, We’re going to stand here in pub­lic space and we’re going to show you what human­i­ty has cre­at­ed.” It’s cre­at­ed pover­ty and crime and vio­lence and all these bad things that we don’t want to look at. And a lot of peo­ple, they were inspired to say yes, we want to join, we want to pro­vide to this dia­logue. And then oth­er peo­ple were just like, this is too much for me to look at. I can’t bear it, and we have to shut it down. For once, human­i­ty had a chance to look at itself.

Anderson: I’ve spo­ken to a lot of peo­ple who are not direct­ly affect­ed by things like crime and pover­ty, and when I ask them about the future, many of them are con­cerned about things that are maybe eco­nom­ic. But often they’re envi­ron­men­tal. Many of them aren’t con­cerned about the future at all. Many of them think it’s going pret­ty well and it’s get­ting grad­u­al­ly bet­ter. It seems like you’re bring­ing up things that oth­er peo­ple I’ve spo­ken to haven’t men­tioned. Why do you think these things are a problem?

Whitten: Crime and pover­ty is a prob­lem because it is a destruc­tive feed­back loop. And it’s hard when you do live in a soci­ety with such huge class divide, because so many peo­ple, to them it’s like anoth­er dimen­sion. They don’t even see it. Yes, we do have some peo­ple who are suc­ceed­ing, but look at how it’s going in any oth­er loca­tion. Look at Africa, and Asia. China, they’re lying about that their econ­o­my. And every­body’s kind of just falling apart. Greece is hav­ing hor­ri­ble prob­lems and they’re think­ing about going back to the drach­ma. They just recent­ly got saved, but I’m just show­ing how close we were to see­ing an entire depres­sion rip­pling across this world. If we don’t start pro­tect­ing the bot­tom tier of peo­ple, then send an earth­quake. And clas­sism is prob­a­bly the biggest dis­cus­sion that we need to have.

Anderson: How do we make the con­ver­sa­tion hap­pen, either across class lines, or if it’s among the upper class how do you make it hap­pen in a way that is con­cerned about the low­er class?

Whitten: It’s going to be through com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing. I’ve been say­ing that word for a very long time. But the peo­ple who are the most depressed, they have to be able to orga­nize to become a top­ic for the oppres­sors. We are the work­ers, we do con­trol means of pro­duc­tion, and we actu­al­ly have more of a stake­hold in this con­ver­sa­tion than they do. And so, as soon as we real­ize that we are the 99%, and we are big­ger and more impor­tant than indi­vid­ual pros­per­i­ty, that can happen.

Anderson: There’s an assump­tion with a lot of the con­ver­sa­tions I’ve had that things are incre­men­tal­ly get­ting bet­ter and the cur­rent sys­tem is going to incre­men­tal­ly fix things. Do you think that’s possible?

Whitten: I think that it is pos­si­ble for it to incre­men­tal­ly get bet­ter, but at the same time it’s easy to regress. Look at Citizens United, look at the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act. There’s so many dif­fer­ent pow­ers and we are in a tug of war. I believe that good can win, but also believe that evil can pre­vail. It’s good that peo­ple are opti­mists, but real­is­ti­cal­ly you have to look at the pat­tern, times when we have kind of fall­en short.

Anderson: Give me a vision of what the future looks like if we don’t address any of these prob­lems. What’s your worst-case scenario?

Whitten: There’s going to be some­thing that is going to destroy our access to nat­ur­al, pure cap­i­tal. But it’s going to be so grand that we don’t have the orga­ni­za­tion pre­pared to deal with it. At some point, our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is going to dis­solve, and we are going to be left to our own devices. Seeing that we have kind of bro­ken our ties with com­mu­ni­ty, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing, a lot of peo­ple are going to die. I don’t know how soon it’s going to be. I think that we do have a long time before that happens. 

But right now, the class divide that we are hav­ing is get­ting worse. A lot of peo­ple have jobs and are actu­al­ly liv­ing on the streets because there’s no oth­er option. The longer that hap­pens, the more like­ly we might just have a vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion. I think that’s prob­a­bly my biggest fear, actu­al­ly. A vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion, where there’s enough peo­ple who feel oppressed and unheard, that the only way they can react is with vio­lence. And a lot of peo­ple, they want to ignore the pres­ence of anar­chists and cyn­i­cal­ists. But they exist and they do orga­nize every day. I know a lot of these peo­ple. I know that it’s going to take a small minor­i­ty to be able to incite mass vio­lence and hysteria.

Anderson: It’s fun­ny you men­tion that, because the last guy I spoke to was John Zerzan. He’s an anar­chist thinker. It’s intrigu­ing to hear you talk­ing about the idea of vio­lence of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary sort, which in many ways some peo­ple, like in that com­mu­ni­ty, see it as being the nec­es­sary thing to a bet­ter state. But it seems like for you, that is a bad state? Is that fair to say?

Whitten: Yeah. I believe that non-violent peace­ful orga­niz­ing is the most noble and most rec­i­p­ro­cal and sus­tain­able way to actu­al­ly bring around real change. We’ve seen vio­lent rev­o­lu­tions. We see what Syria’s like. We know about the French Revolution. There’s just been a pat­tern of things. I don’t see how we as a nation or as a world can come out of such a vio­lent past and feel like we’ve become bet­ter because of it. It’s not going to be like an American Revolution or some­thing like that. It’s just gonna be chaos in the streets. No mat­ter how much you try to pre­dict and con­trol the out­come, it’s going to be hor­ri­ble. And so I don’t want it to be a bat­tle between two dif­fer­ent ide­olo­gies, when it real­ly needs to be these ide­olo­gies need to merge together.

Anderson: You’ve got­ten to an idea which a lot of peo­ple have talked about when you men­tion your worst-case sce­nario, the idea of some sort of cri­sis and col­lapse. Are we more sus­cep­ti­ble to cri­sis now than we would be at oth­er times in his­to­ry? The idea of pop­u­la­tion pops up a lot. Are we car­ry­ing too many peo­ple on the planet?

Whitten: I fail to see what is so spe­cial right now. I don’t think we have a pop­u­la­tion issue. It’s just the allo­ca­tion of resources, as usu­al. We have the abil­i­ty to live with alter­na­tive ener­gy sources. That infor­ma­tion’s there. But our struc­ture of the free mar­ket and cor­po­rate unac­count­abil­i­ty, it’s still about what makes the most prof­it and that’s what best for society. 

Now, I do think that we are bet­ter equipped to deal with crises, con­sid­er­ing there are so many peo­ple who are ana­lysts, who are of such diverse back­grounds when it comes to orga­niz­ing. We pret­ty much have every per­son­al­i­ty I think would be need­ed if we were to deal with hur­ri­cane, tor­na­do, earth­quake, vio­lent rev­o­lu­tion, ener­gy cri­sis. And I believe that if we do work togeth­er, then we will sur­vive it. That is how I am an opti­mist. I believe just through col­lec­tive orga­niz­ing, it’s our only chance of get­ting out of this alive.

Anderson: So, if pop­u­la­tion is less the issue and the ques­tion’s more an allo­ca­tion of resources, does the cur­rent sys­tem, which gen­er­al­ly seems to be based on expan­sion, can that go on for­ev­er? Some peo­ple have cri­tiqued that idea in this project. I’m think­ing of specif­i­cal­ly John Zerzan and Jan Lundberg. And both of them put for­ward an idea that look, we live in a world of finite nat­ur­al resources, but we have a mar­ket that is expect­ed to con­tin­u­al­ly grow oth­er­wise it does­n’t work, and a pop­u­la­tion that is con­tin­u­al­ly grow­ing. And for them, they think there’s sort of a con­tra­dic­tion there. Do you think the issue is some fun­da­men­tal con­tra­dic­tion in how we think about economics?

Whitten: Of course there’s a con­tra­dic­tion, and that’s a prob­lem with civ­i­liza­tion itself. It’s a fan­ta­sy in our cul­ture, you know, explor­ing new lands, adven­ture, what­not. We even talk about vis­it­ing Mars, col­o­niz­ing the moon, things like that. So it’s up in the air, to be hon­est. You know, tech­nol­o­gy, I believe that to be infi­nite. And so it just depends on what tech­nol­o­gy gives us.

Anderson: I’ve talked about ideas of progress with a lot of peo­ple. Some peo­ple see progress as sim­ply hav­ing more knowl­edge or more com­pli­cat­ed tech­nol­o­gy or more com­pli­cat­ed sys­tems. Other peo­ple have seen progress in ways that are mea­sured more in terms of qual­i­ty of rela­tion­ships, abil­i­ty to access nature. How would you define progress?

Whitten: Any time that you lessen lev­els of dis­par­i­ty you’re going to have more progress. And you can’t look at it as an own indi­vid­ual term. Progress in your own life, progress in tech­nol­o­gy. But I believe that you have to look at progress through the con­nec­tion of every­thing. That’s what sus­tain­abil­i­ty is real­ly about. It’s about the rela­tion­ship of our econ­o­my, of social jus­tice, the qual­i­ty of life of peo­ple, and then the last part is the envi­ron­ment. And you can’t have progress if you ignore those things, look at them as iso­lat­ed vari­ables. Progress real­ly is a holis­tic thing. And every­thing’s got its rela­tion­ship and it’s all con­nect­ed in some way.

Anderson: Where do we get that idea?

Whitten: I think about how many peo­ple it will impact, and whether it gives them more choic­es or less.

Anderson: There are two peo­ple who’ve brought up the idea of hav­ing more choic­es, so it’s inter­est­ing this theme is com­ing up again and again. We can have more choic­es, but what about few­er bet­ter choices?

Whitten: True free­dom comes through diver­si­ty. And just look­ing at human nature itself, we are just a giant exper­i­ment hap­pen­ing to our­selves. How do you eval­u­ate which choice is bet­ter than the oth­er? I just believe through tri­al and error, we come out better.

Anderson: So there’s sort of a prag­ma­tism? Just try­ing things and see­ing what we like, rather than an objec­tive moral good that we’re work­ing towards?

Whitten: Our entire inten­tion is sub­jec­tive itself. And so it’s hard real­ly try­ing to relate to the world in objec­tive terms, because it’s always going to be flawed by human perception. 

Anderson: So we’ve talked sort of about the present, and the cri­sis of the present, and some things that you would like to see changed about the present. And that kind of brings us to what you’re doing now. Can you tell me a lit­tle bit about the changes you’d actu­al­ly like to make?

Whitten: Right now, our pri­or­i­ties in soci­ety [aren’t] real­ly about col­lec­tive sur­vival. It is about indi­vid­ual pros­per­i­ty and indi­vid­ual ego, which is dom­i­nant in American cul­ture. All these peo­ple who say they care. But real­ly they just want to see their sys­tem because they think their sys­tem works bet­ter. That’s been my frus­tra­tion. That the dia­logue and the con­ver­sa­tion that I real­ly think needs to hap­pen. So, when I was out there with Occupy, when I did run for Mayor, I was all about how can we change the con­scious­ness of soci­ety? We need to start say­ing how do we stop blam­ing this per­son or that sys­tem or this cli­mate. And start say­ing we are all part of the prob­lem, we are all part of the solu­tion. Now what?

Anderson: Rather than advo­cat­ing spe­cif­ic poli­cies or fix­es, you would like peo­ple to talk to each other.

Whitten: Exactly. I know, I’m ask­ing for a lot.

Anderson: Well, you are ask­ing for a lot. Because there’s a huge mind­set change that seems like it would need to hap­pen, in a lot of ways. How do we actu­al­ly encour­age peo­ple to start talk­ing to each oth­er? How do we bridge that divide?

Whitten: It all has to do with mar­ket­ing, real­ly. People are real­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to images they see, and things that they hear. It’s about tak­ing over the air­waves and tak­ing over media. It has to be avail­able every­where. Push that mes­sage of talk­ing to each oth­er as much as pos­si­ble, because right now it’s real­ly easy to look at some­thing and dis­miss it. But the more and more you’re exposed to it, even­tu­al­ly you’re going to sit down and be like, I have noth­ing to think about. Oh wait, this image’s been in my head for a while. Let me talk about that.”

Anderson: I mean, it seems like the greater trends in our soci­ety are towards think­ing about our­selves more as indi­vid­u­als than as a col­lec­tive. Do you think that this is a real uphill bat­tle? I mean, is it pos­si­ble for you to actu­al­ly sell this idea?

Whitten: It’s an uphill bat­tle. But it is pos­si­ble. I think any­thing’s pos­si­ble. It’s going to be real­ly hard to con­vince peo­ple to stop think­ing the­o­ret­i­cal­ly and start look­ing real­is­ti­cal­ly. And peo­ple need to stop look­ing so far in the future and stop look­ing at what might be the best sys­tem and being like, We don’t even have our­selves edu­cat­ed about this sys­tem, we don’t have our­selves edu­cat­ed about the econ­o­my.” There’s such as a large amount of igno­rance and focus on indi­vid­u­al­i­ty. What if it was on edu­ca­tion and col­lec­tive organizing?

Anderson: Do you think that the kind of con­ver­sa­tion you want can hap­pen, with the sort of class divide that we have?

Whitten: Oh, it’s going to have to hap­pen with the class divide, because the class divide is only going to be repaired once it becomes part of the con­ver­sa­tion. And so that going to be real­ly dif­fi­cult because we don’t talk about class enough.

Anderson: It seems like there’s been no his­tor­i­cal exam­ple of a tru­ly equal soci­ety. Do you think we’re striv­ing for some kind of unat­tain­able perfection?

Whitten: I am striv­ing for an unat­tain­able per­fec­tion. There’s noth­ing wrong with that. 

Anderson: Are you optimistic?

Whitten: No. No. I’m a realist.

Anderson: What does it mean to be a realist?

Whitten: Oh, to be a real­ist you have to look at sub­jec­tiv­i­ty and look at objec­tiv­i­ty and… Yeah, I want to see all these changes. I’m will­ing to ded­i­cate my entire life to it. But know­ing at the same time life will go on regard­less of whether I’m suc­cess­ful or not. And so I’m a real­ist say­ing that I don’t have the answers, no one has the answers.

Anderson: Why do you try?

Whitten: I try because it cre­ates ful­fill­ment for me. It’s chal­leng­ing and I also see the rewards of it. And you get to see such pos­i­tive reac­tions from oth­er peo­ple when they say thank you for stand­ing up for things I believe in. And so I do believe in spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. I believe in the divin­i­ty of human beings, their secret with­in their souls. And I’m just about allow­ing oth­er peo­ple to real­ize that, that you have some­thing spir­i­tu­al, divine, and beau­ti­ful in you. You should pro­tect, and you should also pro­tect others.

Anderson: So that is Cameron Whitten.

Micah Saul: Cool. I’m actu­al­ly real­ly hap­py with how that went. I think it did what we were hop­ing. It was a much more per­son­al con­ver­sa­tion than any pre­vi­ous­ly, but I think that real­ly works. 

Anderson: It’s cool to see sort of his odyssey and hear some of his sto­ry, and then go into some of the big­ger ideas. And I think it real­ly touch­es on some­thing that Occupy as a move­ment had at its core, and that’s sort of an agnos­ti­cism about specifics. And a real urge for a broad dialogue.

Saul: That word was key in your con­ver­sa­tion with him. I don’t know that he ever said it, but I think there was a def­i­nite sense that con­ver­sa­tion and dia­logue are good.

Anderson: And in a way that may have been the biggest sur­prise for me, and maybe it was for you as well. But hav­ing just gone back and lis­tened to this again, I was very sur­prised in that a lot of the things he seems to be inter­est­ed in are very much like our def­i­n­i­tion of the Conversation.

Saul: Totally.

Anderson: Which which we admit may or may not have ever exist­ed historically.

Saul: It seemed to me that for him, Occupy, when it comes down to it, it’s a man­i­fes­ta­tion of that dia­logue, across class, across race, across any soci­etal bound­aries. Except per­haps across the cor­po­rate boundary.

Anderson: Right. And like, whether or not it worked then, for him that was where the action was. That’s where the Conversation was in soci­ety, not in school. That white-hot sense of opti­mism that maybe we do see in these oth­er his­toric con­ver­sa­tions. The sense that this is where things are hap­pen­ing, and this is where things are changing.

Saul: And final­ly, class is now in the Conversation.

Anderson: Is it ever. You know, when I told him about some of our ear­li­er con­ver­sa­tions and peo­ple we’ve spo­ken to who think the future is get­ting steadi­ly bet­ter, Chris McKay or Ariel Waldman or Max More, his notion was, that may be true for them. But for a lot of peo­ple that’s not true. And he iden­ti­fies as one of those peo­ple and works on behalf of those peo­ple. And so for him, incre­men­tal improve­ment isn’t good enough. Like, he won’t step back and say in the long sweep of his­to­ry we are get­ting incre­men­tal­ly bet­ter. He steps back and says look, things are unfair now, peri­od. He real­ly rais­es our aware­ness of the eco­nom­ic or class con­text of the peo­ple we’re talk­ing to.

Saul: Yes. Yes. I agree. And that’s, you know…it’s one of the rea­sons that I think Cameron was such a good fit.

Anderson: Yeah. Though, I don’t feel our con­ver­sa­tion real­ly got into like, huge fun­da­men­tal new ideas, he gave us a good punch in the stom­ach that’s a real real­i­ty check. That’s just like, Look…”

Saul: Exactly. 

Anderson: Things are screwed up now. People are hun­gry. People are with­out homes.” That’s a voice we’ve got to have in this project, too. And I think we’re gonna get that more, actu­al­ly, with with our next con­ver­sa­tion, Laura at the Happiness Initiative in Seattle. 

Saul: I hope that we’re going to get some more class stuff from her. I think that class and pover­ty def­i­nite­ly play into the idea of happiness.

Anderson: And I think it’s going to be a real­ly inter­est­ing pair­ing, to sort of see how her con­ver­sa­tion and how Cameron’s con­nect or how they diverge.

Saul: Right.

Anderson: He’s in the street hunger strik­ing on behalf of a home­less camp right now. She has a back­ground in law and an MBA and has worked inside of these bureau­crat­ic mazes, try­ing to reform them from with­in. So they’re very dif­fer­ent takes. Very sim­i­lar goals. I think this’ll be a cool con­trast. It’s nice to have these paired up like this. So yeah let the project continue. 

That was Cameron Whitten, record­ed June 26, 2012 in Chapman Square across from Portland City Hall.

Saul: This is The Conversation. You can find us on Twitter at @aengusanderson and on the web at find​the​con​ver​sa​tion​.com

Anderson: So thanks for lis­ten­ing. I’m Aengus Anderson.

Saul: And I’m Micah Saul.

Further Reference

This inter­view at the Conversation web site, with project notes, com­ments, and tax­o­nom­ic orga­ni­za­tion spe­cif­ic to The Conversation.