This page brings together a handful of my interviews with remarkable people — writers, philosophers, scientists, architects, educators and social innovators of various kinds. Some of the dialogues have been published in magazine and book form, others broadcast on public radio, and a handful conducted on stage in front of a live audience. The list is in reverse chronological order, with the most recent first.
In this interview, which appears in the July 2012 issue of The Sun magazine, the renowned psychologist James Hillman discusses the nature of soul, character and calling. He says our calling in life is inborn and that it's our mission in life to realize its imperatives. He calls it the "acorn theory" — the notion that our lives are formed by a particular image, just as the oak's destiny is contained in the tiny acorn. [Also available in a Spanish translation by Enrique Eskenazi, and an Italian translation by Rinaldo Lampis.]
No one has done more to put social entrepreneurship on the map than Bill Drayton, the CEO and founder of Ashoka and the man widely credited with having coined the term in the early 1980s. In this interview — conducted in Oslo, Norway, in March 2012 — he reflects on the movement he started and how it's evolving. "The biggest problem we have is that people don’t yet see the change that’s going on," he says. "Once people understand that we are moving from a world of repetition to a world of change, then the role of the social entrepreneur becomes obvious."
A dialogue with renowned translator, scholar, and poet Stephen Mitchell about his translations of the Tao Te Ching and The Second Book of the Tao, his perspectives on writing, and the rich tradition of wisdom literature that informs his work. (This interview was held in March 2009 in front of a live audience as part of Santa Barbara City College's "Mind & Supermind" lecture series.)
In this interview, Mexican-American writer and cultural critic Richard Rodriguez looks at the dilemmas of diversity and cultural identity in the U.S. He says "it's no surprise that at the same time that American universities have engaged in a serious commitment to diversity, they have been thought-prisons. We are not talking about diversity in any real way. We are talking about brown, black, white versions of the same political ideology." The interview appears in the 2009 edition of Little, Brown Reader, edited by Marcia Stubbs, Sylvan Barnet and William E. Cain., among other books, and first appeared in The Sun magazine.
A conversation with prize-winning author and naturalist Terry Tempest Williams about the meaning of home, community, and our changing relationship to the land. "I think our lack of intimacy with the land has initiated a lack of intimacy with each other," Williams says. Published in A Voice in the Wilderness: Conversations with Terry Tempest Williams, edited by Michael Austin (Utah State University Press, 2006)
Ecologist, philosopher and sleight-of-hand magician David Abram reflects on language, perception and what he sees as a deepening divide between human beings and the natural world. From the public radio series Insight & Outlook. Also available in an Italian translation by Carlo Martini from the October 2006 issue of comeDonChisciotte.
In this interview, renowned Australian biologist and founder of permaculture talks about his revolutionary approach to food production and ecological design. "The ethics are simple," he says: "care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends." Adapted from a radio interview, this conversation was published in Green Living, Summer 2005. It's also available in a Chinese translation by Huck Lin.
The late Pulitzer Prize-winning political writer Harry Ashmore looks back on half a century of American race relations, arguing that the ideals expressed by Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders of the civil rights movement are still a long way from being realized. Published in the book American Decades 1950-1959 (Thomson Gale, 2005).
In this tour of the modern American metropolis, architect and urban planner Peter Calthorpe calls for a new kind of community design, one that promotes connectedness and "an aesthetic of place." Published in the architectural journal CRiT, Fall 2002.
Philosopher Sam Keen reflects on the art of trapeze, the complexities of love, the role of non-competitive sports, the disappearance of the American counterculture, the importance of wonder, and, not least, how to be free. Published in Saga: The Best New Writings in Mythology, edited by Jonathan Young (White Cloud Press, 2001).
Every new technology alters the world in unanticipated, and unfortunate, ways, says cultural critic Jerry Mander. But usually the changes advance in such tiny increments that we never realize how much our world is being altered. As he sees it, we need to reevaluate our relationship with technology and develop better tools for understanding and assessing its impact. It's not about turning back the clock, he says, so much as going forward more cautiously and consciously. From Friction Magazine, December 2001. Also available in a Czech translation.
A spirited conversation with the Canadian cultural critic and bestselling author of Voltaire's Bastards about what he calls "the dictatorship of reason" in the West. Published in the Ottawa Citizen, December 2001.
Social critic and bestselling author Jerry Mander makes a forceful case against economic globalization arguing that we need to take a harder look at the hidden costs of deregulation and global free trade. From HopeDance magazine, January 2000.
Bestselling author Marianne Williamson calls for a new kind of spiritually-motivated political activism, one that draws on America's unique democratic heritage while paying greater attention to the role of values and spiritual principles. The conversation ranges widely, from politics and the media to the men's and women's movements, from the challenges of single parenthood to the need for spiritual practice in everyday life. Published in Kindred Spirit magazine, Spring 1999. Also featured in Deep Planet magazine.
Visionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris examines the shift to a more organic and holistic perspective now occurring in the natural sciences and what it may tell us about our future. Published in a Portuguese translation in the Brazilian journal Revista Thot, February 1999. Also featured in Deep Planet magazine, April 2001.
For psychotherapist Connie Zweig, the shadow represents one of the most important yet least understood aspects of human nature. We all have a shadow, she says. The challenge is to meet it face-to-face, for if we don't come to terms with the soul's hidden face, we are condemned to be its victim. From Kindred Spirit, Autumn 1998. Also featured in Deep Planet magazine, April 2001.
Ninian Smart, the late authority on world religion, examines how the cross-pollination of different religious values and traditions is changing both how and what we believe. From The Witness magazine, June 1998.
Noted Indian physicist and environmentalist Vandana Shiva talks about the pernicious effects of economic globalization, the rise of "biopiracy," the challenges of overpopulation, and the need to reclaim Mahatma Gandhi's ideas of "satyagraha" and "swadeshi" if we want to realize the true promises of democracy. Also available in a Portuguese translation by Mário Sérgio Mieli. February 1998.
In one of his final interviews, Willis Harman, the late futurist and co-founder of the World Business Academy, explores green economics, socially responsible business, alternative currencies, and other trends shaping the future of commerce. From Deep Planet magazine.
A conversation with the co-founder of the Esalen Institute, Michael Murphy — the man some describe as the father of the human potential movement — about his pioneering research into extraordinary mental and physical capacities. From Online Noetics Network, October 1997.
Mythology has the power to shape history, says psychologist and bestselling author Jean Houston, because the stories we tell ourselves affect the choices and decisions we make about our future. What are the myths and stories emerging today? From Salt Journal, September 1997.
The late California Senator and noted peace activist Alan Cranston discusses how to reprioritize America's military strategy in the wake of the Cold War, as well as the need for a new kind of visionary leadership as we look to a new era in global politics. From the public radio series Insight & Outlook. September 1997.
Popular management philosopher and consultant Meg Wheatley talks about chaos, complexity, and the "natural laws" of social systems. Published in the management journal Quantum21. Adapted from the public radio series Insight & Outlook. January 1997.
Anthropologist Riane Eisler looks at today's "war of the sexes" against the backdrop of 5,000 years of human history, arguing that we need to set aside the pervasive "dominator" mentality in our culture in favor of a more enlightened "partnership" ethic. From the public radio series Insight & Outlook. October 1996.
Robert Theobald, the late British economist and author, makes a case for "new communities" and "social entrepreneurship" as keys to a more humane and sustainable future. From the public radio series Insight & Outlook. September 1996.
Pico Iyer, the eloquent travel writer and cultural critic, talks about a new borderless world in the making, the increasing mongrelization of culture and identity, and the prospect — for better or worse — of a truly "universal civilization." From The Sun magazine, January 1996.
Intellectual historian Richard Tarnas discusses the challenges of our present moment in history against the backdrop of 2,000 years of Western civilization. We have reached a pivotal break-point in the developement of Western culture, he contends, and the future of the planet and the future of the human spirit now hang in the balance. From the radio series "Insight & Outlook." January 1996.
Photojournalist and author Suzanne Arms explores the complexities of adoption in the United States. From the Insight & Outlook radio series, 1995.
Award-winning film-maker and science journalist Roger Bingham discusses the further evolution of the human brain and science's latest discoveries about the nature of consciousness. From the Insight & Outlook radio series, 1996.
A conversation with psychologist and social critic Chellis Glendinning about the hidden costs of modern technology and the burgeoning neo-Luddite movement. From the Insight & Outlook radio series, 1996.
The former assistant secretary general of the UN reflects on the emerging global society and suggests we need to fundamentally rethink our social and political systems as we look to the future. From the Insight & Outlook radio series, 1996.
Net prophet and bestselling author Howard Rheingold looks at the human side of cyberspace and the emergence of what he calls virtual communities. From the Insight & Outlook radio series.
Sommers looks at the "gynocentric turn" of establishment feminism arguing that we need a more inclusive vision for women in the 21st century. From the Insight & Outlook radio series, 1995.
Benjamin Barber, one of America's most prominent political philosophers, looks at the problems of education, diversity, political correctness, and the narrowing of public discourse. Broadcast on WYSO-FM, December 1992.
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