We Can Be podcast - The Heinz Endowments
Grant Oliphant on gratitude, speaking truth to power & making room for everyone (We Can Be S4EP11)

Grant Oliphant on gratitude, speaking truth to power & making room for everyone (We Can Be S4EP11)

March 23, 2022

The importance of gratitude, what makes a community great, & his hope for what the future holds for the social change realm are among subjects Grant Oliphant covers as his tenure as president of The Heinz Endowments – & as host of “We Can Be” – comes to an end.

 

While the “We Can Be” podcast will continue with new episodes and hosts in the coming months, this episode includes Grant’s  reflections on the 70-plus guests he hosted over the past four seasons and spotlights why supporting those who speak truth to power is crucial.

 

“Challenging the conventional trains of thought takes bravery,” he said. “Sometimes advocates make people in power uncomfortable, and I think that’s OK.”

 

Grant shared the deep gratitude he feels toward the Heinz family and why the work of those in the social change community is critical to our country.

 

“Philanthropy does what government can’t and won’t do,” he said. “Government doesn’t invest in innovation and risk-taking, and philanthropy can – and does. It is an important part of making sure our communities continue to thrive.”

 

Helping envision – and build – a more innovative, inclusive and sustainable community was a cornerstone of Grant’s accomplishments while with the Endowments and will inform his upcoming work on the West Coast with the Conrad Prebys Foundation.

 

“A great community is one that makes room, in a conscious and deliberate way, for everyone.”

 

“We Can Be” has been hosted by Grant Oliphant, former president of The Heinz Endowments, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org

Facing America‘s crisis of connection w/ Jenn Hoos Rothberg, Einhorn Collaborative Exec. Dir. (We Can Be S04EP10)

Facing America‘s crisis of connection w/ Jenn Hoos Rothberg, Einhorn Collaborative Exec. Dir. (We Can Be S04EP10)

October 13, 2021

“The circle of concern has to be wide enough for all of us to fit inside,” Jenn Hoos Rothberg tells host Grant Oliphant on this episode of “We Can Be.”

 

Jenn is executive director of the Einhorn Collaborative, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to addressing America’s crisis of connection by increasing opportunities for empathy and civility.

 

Her work is especially needed in these times. This past summer, a U.S. News and World Report piece reported that out of 17 countries surveyed, the U.S. had the highest percentage – 88 percent – of respondents say that they felt our society was more divided now that it was prior to the start of the pandemic.

 

Jenn is clear that such findings are not the whole story, however, and is doing her part to elevate examples of everyday humans building bridges and fostering deep, meaningful relationships with those different from themselves.

 

She’s doing just that as a co-producer of the documentary feature film “The Antidote,” which centers on the moving stories of real-life people who are making the intentional choice to lift others up, and is now available on Amazon Prime.

 

She breaks the “kindness equals weakness” myth, and shares the “three B’s” – bonding, bridging and building - that may be the key to keeping both our society and democracy functionable.

 

“What we do is just as important as how we do it,” Jenn says. “What we’re in need of is not simply the ritual of acting kind. We can can dig deeper and be kind.”

 

Be kind and listen – and share – this episode of “We Can Be.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.

The New Climate War author Michael Mann & the fight to take back our planet (We Can Be S04EP09)

The New Climate War author Michael Mann & the fight to take back our planet (We Can Be S04EP09)

September 29, 2021

Michael Mann, one of the world’s preeminent experts on climate change, said in a Boston Globe editorial published shortly after the devastating storm made landfall in Sept. '21: “Hurricane Ida was a shot across the Earth’s bow." 

Michael is distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, with joint appointments in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and the Department of Geosciences and the Earth.

He is the author of five best-selling books, including the recently published “The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet” as well as “The Tantrum that Saved the World: A Carbon Neutral Kids’ Book” and “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars.”

In 2019, Michael received the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, often called the “Nobel Prize for the Environment,” and in 2020, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

He has written or co-written more than 230 climate-focused academic papers, and is a widely sought-after commentator on the science, societal and political aspects of climate change.

Michael tells podcast host Grant Oliphant that it is indeed still possible to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change, and believes indisputable science and a burgeoning youth environmental movement are key to our future.

“The forces for action have now aligned,” he said.

Learn what we need to do next on this episode of “We Can Be.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries may be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org. Guest image by Joshua Yospyn, courtesy michaelmann.net. 

 

Appalachia‘s battle b/w wish & hope w/ energy industry researcher Sean O’Leary (We Can Be S04EP08)

Appalachia‘s battle b/w wish & hope w/ energy industry researcher Sean O’Leary (We Can Be S04EP08)

September 22, 2021

Energy industry researcher and “The State of My State” author Sean O’Leary zeroes in on the role of coal, natural gas and petrochemicals in the economies of Appalachia.

He does it with with a deep respect for the region where he grew up, and an understanding that with the beauty and grandeur of that region also comes unfulfilled promises of hydraulic fracturing-related prosperity.

Sean was born and raised in West Virginia, and is a senior researcher and writer with the Ohio River Valley Institute. The Institute was founded in 2020 with an aim of providing sound research that will help promote a more sustainable, equitable, democratic and prosperous Appalachia.

His book, newspaper column and blog—all titled “The State of My State”—have been widely shared and cited, and have captured the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy, where Sean was asked to present earlier this year.

Sean shares with host Grant Oliphant the painful battle regarding “wish and hope” that he has heard families in Appalachia express.  He says that while they often “wish their kids and grandchildren would stay when they are grown and have families of their own, the lack of opportunity makes them also hope they don’t.”

Hear about eye-opening data and the post-fossil fuel economic plan playing out now in a community in Washington state that is giving hope that a similar blueprint for Appalachia is possible—all on this new episode of “We Can Be.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org. Guest image: Steve Stolee.

Environmental Health News investigative reporter Kristina Marusic uncovers hard truths & arms public w/ facts (We Can Be S04EP07)

Environmental Health News investigative reporter Kristina Marusic uncovers hard truths & arms public w/ facts (We Can Be S04EP07)

September 15, 2021

Kristina Marusic is an investigative reporter covering environmental health & justice issues for Environmental Health News, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to driving science into public discussion and policy.

 

In early 2021, Environmental Health News published Kristina’s “Fractured: The body burden of living near fracking,” a four-part series that revealed the health impacts of shale hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—on families living near fracking sites. Research for the series, conducted in the summer of 2019, included a nine-week collection of air, water, and urine samples from five southwestern Pennsylvania households, all including at least one child.

 

Kristina’s “Fractured” series garnered national attention, and has become a key piece of evidence for lawmakers urging action on environmental health issues.

 

Prior to joining the Environmental Health News team in 2018, Kristina gained national acclaim for her work as a staff writer for MTV news, and has had bylines on stories in The Washington Post, CNN, Slate, Vice, Women's Health, and The Advocate.

 

Kristina’s journalism is, as she tells host Grant Oliphant, “a way of reporting that helps society learn how to fix itself. It's not advocacy or fluff or good news, it's forward-looking, serious and critical.”

 

Of her reporting on environmental topics, including climate change, the health risks of fracking, and “super pollution” air events, Kristina says: “I believe that true, well-told stories have the power to change the world for good.”

 

Listen to how she is doing just that on this episode of “We Can Be.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.

The true cost of military service w/ War Horse founder/journalist Thomas Brennan (We Can Be S04EP06)

The true cost of military service w/ War Horse founder/journalist Thomas Brennan (We Can Be S04EP06)

September 8, 2021

Thomas Brennan is Founder and Exec. Director of The War Horse, a nonprofit newsroom that has gained international respect for reporting on the often-unspoken human impacts of military service.

 

A former Marine Corps sergeant who served as an infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan, Thomas joins host Grant Oliphant for a timely conversation about his journey from active duty service in Afghanistan to being honored with a Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his resolute reporting on sexual assault in the military.

 

Thomas first gained widespread journalistic acclaim for a series of self-penned pieces in The New York Times that chronicled what he has called the “mental health and moral injury” – including what was eventually diagnosed as a traumatic brain injury - caused by an attack in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when he was 24.

 

Thomas went on to found The War Horse in 2016, and the following year co-authored the well-received Shooting Ghosts—A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War with Finbarr O'Reilly.

 

“When reading my reporting, I don’t want people to think that it’s ‘poor me,’ or ‘woe is me,’ because veterans don’t want pity,” Thomas says. “We want to have a conversation.”

 

Aiming to bridge the military – civilian divide through well-researched stories that hold truth to power, Thomas and The War Horse team have done just that, publishing investigative pieces that have served as catalysts for significant national policy change.

 

Thomas says: “We aim to strengthen our democracy by improving our country’s understanding of the true cost of military service.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org. Guest image credit: The Carey Institute for Global Good. 

Reinventing Social Change author Nell Edgington on embracing abundance, joy & power of “yet” (We Can Be S04EP05)

Reinventing Social Change author Nell Edgington on embracing abundance, joy & power of “yet” (We Can Be S04EP05)

September 1, 2021

Nell Edgington, author of Reinventing Social Change: Embrace Abundance to Create a Healthier and more Equitable World,” has traveled coast to coast in her quest to guide social-change warriors in realizing their full power and capability.

 

Social change movements have been part of our country’s DNA for hundreds of years, encompassing the abolitionist movement of the 1800s, the suffragist movement that culminated in women gaining the right to vote in 1920, and the civil rights movement that gained widespread support in the 1960s and whose work continues to this day.

 

Whether you are a social change activist, involved in the nonprofit or philanthropic world, or just have an interest in what it takes for the arc of justice to bend, Nell’s conversation with host Grant Oliphant will inspire and re-energize.

 

Born and raised in Minnesota, with a professional background that includes time at PBS national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and at the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, Nell has been president of the Austin-based management consultant group Social Velocity since its founding in 2008. “Reinventing Social Change” was published in 2021.

 

A fan of Janelle Monáe and Robert Frost, Nell brings a sense of joy and optimism to her work, which she encourages in others:

 

“We are infinitely more powerful – in creating social change, or really in doing anything – when we approach it from a place of joy.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org. Image: Justin Edgington

Dr. Barry Kerzin, personal physician to Dalai Lama & Altruism in Medicine Institute founder on power of compassion (We Can Be S04EP04)

Dr. Barry Kerzin, personal physician to Dalai Lama & Altruism in Medicine Institute founder on power of compassion (We Can Be S04EP04)

August 25, 2021

Dr. Barry Kerzin is foremost a kind, giving, smart and all-around inspirational  human being.

 

And if that were all he was, it would be more than enough.

 

But Barry is also a Buddhist monk, a personal physician to the Dalai Lama, and the founder of both the Human Values Institute in Japan and the United States-based Altruism in Medicine Institute, which teaches resilience to health care workers through training in compassion and mindfulness.

 

He shares his fascinating and moving journey with “We Can Be” host Grant Oliphant, including how the Dalai Lama told him that his path would be “50-50—one half medicine and the other half spreading love and compassion.” Barry listened and has followed that auspicious path for more than three decades.

 

“If we can learn to focus our mind even a little bit, we will be more successful in training our minds to be more compassionate—and therefore happier,” Barry says of his work teaching mindfulness to nurses, doctors and police forces in an effort to help them cope with the stress and trauma of their professions. 

 

He has been profiled in media outlets around the world, including PBS and CNN, and shared his wisdom with audiences throughout Europe and North America, as well as in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Russia, and Mongolia, to name but a few.

 

Barry, whose brain has been studied by both Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin as part of their quests to understand the effects of long-term meditation, believes that “socially engaged Buddhism” has enormous potential for all of us.

 

“When you’re being compassionate, “he says, “you feel good.”

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.

Rebuilding Appalachia for a new energy economy w/ Coalfield Development CEO Brandon Dennison (We Can Be S04EP03)

Rebuilding Appalachia for a new energy economy w/ Coalfield Development CEO Brandon Dennison (We Can Be S04EP03)

August 18, 2021

Coalfield Development CEO Brandon Dennison & his team are rebuilding the Appalachian economy one job at a time, with gumption, grit &  grace as their guide.

 

The wide valleys, imposing mountains and steep ridges that make up the topography of Appalachia wind across all or parts of 12 states, stretching from New York to portions of Mississippi and Alabama.

 

In the middle this impressive terrain is Huntington, West Virginia, the home of both Brandon and Coalfield Development, which he co-founded in 2010 with his high school best friend.

 

Brandon and his team bridge the divide between those dedicated to a declining fossil fuel economy and those who believe in the family-sustaining jobs that a renewable energy economy provides. 

 

That’s just one of the reasons he was honored with a 2019 Heinz Award and has been interviewed by the BBC, CNBC and the New York Times.

 

He has led Coalfield Development in the revitalization of 200,000 square feet of formerly dilapidated property, helped create 300 new jobs, and brought $20 million in new regional investment to Appalachian communities.

 

As Brandon tells host Grant Oliphant: “Change is hard,” and the coal industry “uses fear with incredible precision.”

 

He and the Coalfield Development family counter that fear with fact-based data, comprehensive job and life-skills programs, and—most of all—heartfelt dedication to the long-term health and economic well-being of the Appalachian communities they call home.

 

“Bridging divides is about human interaction,” Brandon says, “and when that happens, barriers go down.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.

 

How & why radical generosity works w/ GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran (We Can Be S04EP02)

How & why radical generosity works w/ GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran (We Can Be S04EP02)

August 11, 2021

GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran has been key in producing 20 billion social media impressions & raising nearly $2.5 billion dollars to help others in a single year. 

Digital generosity platform GivingTuesday was created in 2012 to be, in her words, “an antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two days right after Thanksgiving that shamelessly celebrate mass consumption.”

Instead, Asha and co-founder Henry Timms envisioned a simple, open-source, customizable digital giving campaign that could help thousands of nonprofits raise funds in a unified day of giving.

Now, nearly a decade on, GivingTuesday (originally launched as part of New York City’s 92nd Street Y cultural center) has become a worldwide success, proving that Asha’s concept of what she calls “radical generosity” is more than simply a possibility—it is reality.

Born in India and raised on the Lower East Side of New York City with a uniquely non-linear life path, Asha brings a world of experience to her role as the CEO of GivingTuesday.

As Asha tells host Grant Oliphant: “I focus on things that I find interesting and meaningful, and I immerse myself deeply in them.”

Hear about her meaningful, ground-breaking work in digital generosity on this episode of “We Can Be.”

 

“We Can Be” is hosted by Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, and produced by the Endowments, Josh Franzos and Tim Murray. Theme music by Josh Slifkin. Guest inquiries can be made to Scott Roller at sroller@heinz.org.

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