The Day Jerry Brown Visited

Jerry Brown by Flickr user Freedom to Marry
Jerry Brown by Flickr user Freedom to Marry

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, since it’s holiday season and everyone’s thoughts are turning to the lighter side, I thought I would tell the funny story about the day that former California governor Jerry Brown came to visit me in my apartment.

I’ll always remember that day, in large part because of his hilarious quip upon entering the den of iniquity my room mate and I called home.

Enjoy.

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Social Media And Philanthropy: Interview With Larry Blumenthal

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, I interview the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s director of social media strategy, Larry Blumenthal.

I recently ran across a post of Larry’s in which he describes how social media is not only a useful communications tool — but how it can also help foundations do a better job of philanthropy.

So I contacted Larry and asked if he wouldn’t mind talking about it for a bit. Our sixteen-minute conversation was terrific, and touched on a number of interesting issues, including the groundbreaking Changemakers initiative.

Thanks, Larry, for talking to me.

Enjoy!

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New Media And Civic Life: Interview With Noelle McAfee

Noelle McAfee
Noelle McAfee

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, I interview Kettering Review editor and George Mason professor Noelle McAfee.

I am proud to count Noelle as a friend. I recently noticed a piece in her blog, Gone Public, in which she lays out some directions she suggests we need to go in order for new media (all media, really) to be of most benefit to civic life.

Our conversation was very fruitful and it’s well worth your time listening!

The Long View

View of the Long Walk, Windsor by Flickr user 5k1nnyt1g3r
"View of the Long Walk, Windsor" by Flickr user 5k1nnyt1g3r

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, I talk about a simple test public leaders might use when faced with the need to act when emotions are high. It’s the “Long View Test.”

It’s simple: Think about how you want to look back on this moment. How would you like to remember your actions?

It’s a test that I too often fail, but, but it’s been a helpful thing to keep in mind as I face a range of decisions.

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Freedom And Responsibility In Public Life

Scales of Justice by Flickr user srqpix
"Scales of Justice" by Flickr user srqpix

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, I talk about the balance that needs to be struck between freedom and responsibility.

For people who run online communities this can be especially troubling, as the relative anonymity of the online world makes it easy to go too far and say things that infringe on the sense of safety of others. That is, we can have almost perfect freedom of speech online, but at what cost?

In online spaces, the premium is often on freedom of expression. But I would argue that at least as much attention must be paid to ensuring that people are acting with responsibility.

Otherwise, public life becomes Hobbesian and people who ought to be there are driven out.

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Permanence

In this week’s edition of my podcast, Public Life Today, I talk about my friend who’s a civil engineer. The other day, he happily observed to me that none of his bridges had ever fallen down.

It caused me to rethink a few things about my own work. What if I approached my work with the intention of making sure it would still be there in 40 years?

Fishkin and WMD

Stanford professor James Fishkin is a luminary in the civic engagement field. He is the developer and chief proponent of something called “deliberative polling” and he heads Stanford’s Center for Deliberative Democracy. He recently posted and article to his blog at the San Francisco Examiner in which he complains that our “political system is struggling under the threat of WMD.” This sounds worrisome, until he finishes his sentence by telling us that WMD means weapons of mass distraction. Important debates, he says, are being side tracked by trivia. As examples he points to the so-called “death panels” in Obamacare, the “birther” conspiracy theories and, to give balance the idea that persists to this day that somehow 9/11 can be blamed on the Bush administration. All of these are untrue rumors that are circulating and distracting people from really talking about what is at issue. Here’s my take.

Fishkin And WMD