Run River North at Soda Bar, Waterfall Slides, and the GrassRoots Podcast


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A few weekends ago I took Deanna on a surprise date to see Run River North at Soda Bar. It was a very different venue than the last time we saw them, and their sound has evolved quite a bit too.

There’s still always going to be something about Growing Up that gets me goosebumpy and nostalgic. It’s one of those songs that turns into a 2.5 minute highlight reel of the past decade but in audio form.

I love the kind of music that sticks with you for years.


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I don’t get to see our East African Plant With Purpose partners nearly enough. Perhaps because they’re usually in East Africa. I hope I get to see them in Burundi, DRC, Ethiopia and revisit Tanzania someday. Until then, spending the other week with them, plus our other country directors was a blast.

Over two years ago, I started this job that felt like it couldn’t have been a better fit. But it actually kept getting better. I can honestly say that the past couple months of work have been some of the most fun, the most creative, and the most zoned-in.

Tomorrow, I’ll be announcing what I’ve been working on the past couple of months and it’s a project I’m really excited about. I’ll need your help in making some noise, though. I’d love it if you could spread the word!


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And here’s the big announcement: I’m launching a podcast with Plant With Purpose!

One thing I’ve noticed about most conversations about the environment is that they happen at a high level- among policy makers and researchers and corporations. The people who get left out of the conversation are actually the ones most affected by climate issues- those living everyday lives dependent on the Earth.

This project has taken over the bulk of my working hours and I’ve been thrilled about that. And the people I’ve gotten to interview... what a diverse bunch! A Mozambican biologist, inner city medical practitioners, modern abolitionists, authors who changed my life in college, Thai farmers, Congolese community leaders, mindfulness practicioners, and so many others.

I am so excited to start sharing bits and pieces of the process with you, leading up to its release in June. Our six episode pilot season will send out a new episode each week. I’ll definitely let you know when it’s out, and when it is, please share away!


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One of my life’s rules is to try and never turn down a chance to jump into a great swim hole while exploring nature.

We’d been trekking through the Colombian jungle for about an hour when we ran into this: a point in the river where the water dropped off a small slanted wall of rocks.

Next thing I knew, I’m in my underwear sitting in the cool water, ready to put this thing to the test. Oh mannnnn- nature carved out the perfect water slide. Ages of water eating away at the rock made for a perfectly smooth slide that ended with a splash into the mouth of the mini-waterfall.


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I’m starting to realize that I might actually be in the middle of one of the most fun months of my life.

Between the Birthday fun, the adventure in Colombia, a handful of life changes, and new doors open at work, there’s been an abundance of good to take in.

Here are some of the smaller moments along the way, because they matter too. I love recognizing a good moment while it’s happening.

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I’ve had to learn the art of interviewing this year while working on the #GrassRootsPodcast. It’s something I never did a very much before, and being able to get somebody to open up for an audience with their true self can sometimes take a bit of skill.

I’ve had to speak with such a wide spectrum of people, from nonprofit leaders and authors to ex-combatants and farmers. I’m still nowhere near an expert, but here are some of the more helpful things I’ve learned while trying to figure it out:

🛋 As an interviewer, you’re basically your audience’s surrogate. If the interview subject has said casually mentioned something that left you wanting more info, then your listeners probably need more info. But it’s on you to ask it.

🎙Curiosity is your best friend while interviewing. Even if you know a lot about your topic, your guest will have interacted with it in ways you haven’t for years and years. Think of those things you’ve always wondered.

⏱ Sometimes a good answer takes a moment or two to come out. Be okay with a little bit of silence if that’s what it takes to get to the heart. See Stephen Colbert’s interview of Ellen Page to watch a pro at this.

🗞 You don’t need to be a bulldog interviewer, but you also don’t need to be your guest’s PR agent. People generally welcome you sending a counter argument along their way, especially if it makes their argument stronger. (Another strength of Colbert’s)

📗 If your guest has written a book, the interview will be much stronger if you’ve read it.


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Every week I send out an email with tools for the Creative Changemaker. I try and share helpful ideas but also concrete action steps for applying them. This past week’s idea was about how mentioning things by name gives life and depth to your message and story, while referring to things generally creates a sense of detatchment.

So much of our brain’s activity is connected to making associations with things we’re familiar with. If you mention Martin Luther King, your audience will be more ready for you to make a point about morality and justice. Mention Nickelodeon, and your audience is primed for something more playful or nostalgic. You can use these associations to help build an emotional arc in your storytelling, writing, and speaking.

Here’s the action step: make proper noun use part of your editing process. When reviewing a piece of copy, ask if any of the nouns could be replaced by something more concrete. That might just add a lot more strength to your story.

And to see the full idea and to sign up for the mailing list, go ahead and pay a visit to the link in the bio.

Philippe Lazaro