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We know the facts about climate change. But do we know how we feel about climate change? Stephanie McCollough is a dancer and visual artist based in Portland, OR. She and I talked about climate change through the lens of our own emotional experiences with this global crisis—how did we feel when we first understood how serious climate was? What are the emotions that lead to stasis? What emotions lead to action? What would be required to start a global emotional transition from stasis to change?

Get your tickets for our second live event here. Douglas will perform with dancer Stephanie McCollough, writer/performer Lara Messersmith-Glavin, and violinist/looper Joe Kye.

Stephanie McCollough with Douglas Detrick. Photo by Nina Lee Johnson.

About Stephanie McCollough

Stephanie McCollough is a visual artist and dancer. Through her work she strives to express truth of feeling through minimal and precise emotive gestures, yielding an intimate and specific emotional experience for the audience. She studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance as a child and adolescent, and she is currently a student of Flamenco and Argentine Tango. She studied Communication Design at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and works as a graphic designer in Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two cats.

Episode Transcript

Welcome to More Devotedly, a podcast for people who see the arts as a force for positive, progressive change. I’m Douglas Detrick.

This is Volume II of this podcast, and we’re talking, thinking, and making work about climate change. More about that soon, but first I want to invite you to join us on February 1st at 5:30 and 9:00 pm, and February 2nd at 1 and 5:30 pm at Shout House in Portland, OR to experience the second live performance of this project. It’s going to be a really special performance, you guys. Be there, ok?

Get tickets and all the information at moredevotedly.com. 

Here’s the episode.

Intro

A lot of you remember the 90’s. Do you remember the food pyramid? Grains on the bottom, fruits and vegetables on the next level up, meat and dairy above that, and those exaltant, royal, kingly “fats, oils and sweets” at the top? I love me some fats, oils and sweets. I may be making too much of this, but when I think back to that model, which the USDA first released in 1992 when I was in 2nd grade, I wonder if helped to shape my view of this planet.

I and many other Americans have seen the Earth as a solid foundation on which to build our lives. It always has been—after all, it made us who we are, on a genomic, evolutionary level. We’ve seen ourselves sitting comfortably at the top of a pyramid, with the Earth humbly, silently holding us up.

But maybe this world is more like a circus. What if we’re actually walking on tightrope, and the Earth isn’t a rock-solid pedestal, but a safety net? With climate change gripping us ever tighter, we’re seeing the natural systems that we’ve depended on for millenia seem not so dependable anymore. 

These natural systems, these natural safety nets, could they ever fall away? We know now that they could. And they are. You know what I’m talking about—the droughts, the hottest temperatures on record, the storms, the wildfires—these are the signs pointing to catastrophe in the not so distant future.

How does that make you feel?

In the face of a problem with global complexity, the tools we have as individuals are feeble—we have our lightswitches to turn off when we leave the room, we have our thermostats to turn down, we have our recycling bins to wheel to our curbs, we have our cars and airplanes that we can ride less. But none of those are enough. 

These days we know a lot about what’s happening as the climate warms. There’s so much data that it can make it seem like how we feel about the climate change crisis is irrelevant. But for most people, those of us who aren’t climate scientists, heads of state, or corporate CEO’s, our emotions are pretty much all we have. 

How does that make you feel?

I feel broken apart. My emotions are at odds with each other. I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m resentful, and I’m also in awe of some of the leaders who have emerged in this movement, like Greta Thunburg, and I’m excited about a possible future where more people are empowered to meet their needs with energy that isn’t killing future generations.

The best possible versions of our future can only be realized with decisive action. And broken human beings can’t take action. Only human beings who have made themselves whole will make a difference. 

My friend Stephanie McCollough is a dancer, as well as a visual artist and graphic designer. The conversation you’re about to hear was the starting point in creating a piece of dance and music called Look though, Look. The piece and the conversation are inspired by the answers to three questions:

  1. How did you feel when you first understood how bad climate change could really be?
  2. What are feelings that lead to stasis? What are feelings that lead to action?
  3. What needs to happen to start an emotional transformation from stasis to action? Personally? Globally?

Stephanie and I are not climate science experts. You’ll figure that out real quick. We’re just two regular people that wanted to do something with the emotions that have been collecting in our bodies as the reality of this crisis becomes more and more apparent. And since we’re both artists, we made art. Not just to soothe our own anxiety, but to help others soothe theirs, and to collect themselves again. As long as we are paralyzed by fear, we can’t do anything constructive. 

With the piece we developed, we wanted to construct a different reality with our work, even if it is largely one of the imagination. But then as I picture all of you, as a community of artists, I want to tell you that we have power in this moment to shape ideas, to build solidarity, to fortify each other as we jump into this fight together. 

In Volume II of More Devotedly, we’ll be approaching climate change using the tools that we all have, our emotions. You don’t know all of the scientific data about climate change, but you know enough to have a feeling about it. Let’s look this crisis in the face, let’s feel everything we can about it, and let’s make ourselves whole. 

There’s some spicy language in the interview, so if there are any impressionable children, climate denying billionaires, Republican members of congress or current Presidents of the United States in the room with you, please cover their precious little ears. As the kids say, or at least they did when I was a kid, things are gonna get really real in here. You’ve been warned. 

Now, as Stephanie says in this interview, it’s time for some “fucking fortitude.”

Here we go.

Interview

Doug: How did you feel when you first understood how bad climate change could really be? 

Stephanie: I remember feeling like, like a bottom dropped out.  I was young ish. I was probably fifth or sixth grade, you know, the school I was going to had us start doing some projects on this shit. And am I allowed to cuss ?

Doug: Yes. 

Stephanie: Okay. 

Doug: yes, please. 

Stephanie: good. And, and I was like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. It was basically this feeling of everything has to stop.  And why is nobody doing anything immediately right this second,

I remember it feeling very harrowing. I mean, I could go on and on about that. It was like existential dread that 10. You don’t really have the capacity for that kind of paradigm shift, you know? So that’s when you start building your defense mechanism to then live in society as it is. Right?

Doug: Right. Yeah. 

Stephanie: The world is not what you thought it was. And trusting the structure of that which is holding the society together. Is a lie, but you still have to fucking go to school tomorrow. 

You know, and you can’t, but laugh at it like it. I mean, it’s just, it’s just so bleak. And, and I wonder if many people have had these experiences where, where it’s like you have that aha moment in your science class or wherever. Because  our society doesn’t do a great job at teaching kids how to deal with big emotions or teaching anybody how to deal with big emotions, you know? Then where, where do you put that? Right? 

Doug: where would you say that you do you put that  what, what do you think that that stowed itself away in your 10 year old brain? 

Stephanie: That’s a really good question. it’s, sometimes it came out as some self-righteousness, you know, like yelling at kids for littering and things like that. 

it came out in a, in a desire to learn how to do better for myself, even though I, you know, when you’re young, you don’t have much agency. it certainly affected how I started making decisions as an adult. , maybe in, some self-loathing, as I became an adult and started seeing the decisions that I, you know, throwing things away or, you know, little things like that that don’t have real consequence one way or the other necessarily, but just like this constant sense of guilt.

Doug: a 10 year old, any kid kind of just, they trust their parents, that we, we know what’s best and we have their their best interests, as our own. and this is one of those cases where. There’s this overwhelming obvious, instance where we’re not living up to that. 

Stephanie: Yeah. And it’s like, it’s nebulous too, because it wasn’t, I never was like, my parents are doing this. It was like this overarching feeling of like the fabric of society is a sham.  without the language to really put that together and understanding that myself and my parents and my family and my town was all kind of swept up in this thing that was moving at a current, didn’t have the capacity to, Respond to the emergency that was clearly registering, if that makes sense. That there was a level of inertia and cluelessness simultaneously. And that was the thing that I was like, what is going to happen? 

Doug: Yeah. Has that changed over time? 

Stephanie: No, I don’t think so. I think it’s gotten worse. Yeah. And you know, honestly, as an adult looking back, I’m grateful to the kind of brave educators who probably had to go against the will of lots of parents and teaching us this material. Because I think a lot of us kids went home and were like, we can no longer eat or drink or do anything. Everything is over. 

Doug: And then parents, The parents talk us off the ledge. 

Stephanie: yeah, it’s like, no, come on. You have to brush your teeth. And, and we’re, we have to go to the grocery store in our car. Like, this is what’s happening. and, you know, I think it’s set up a real healthy, skepticism for society, but I don’t know. That I got an understanding of what could be. I got a deep sense of what should not be, but it was very hard to have any sense of what needed to happen. And I also remember, you know, in these classes you just get barraged with. Facts, right. And I would, I would turn off because there’s only so much that I can handle.

I was a pretty sensitive kid. I’m sure that surprises you. And the first stat would hit me so deeply that I would take it in and I would hold on to it, but I don’t know how much else I took in, you know. So I remember obsessing about very specific things. So like I, we used to eat in McDonald’s a lot, just like everybody else.  when I found out that they were burning the rainforest, I was like full boycott. 

Doug: Yeah. 

Stephanie: And I would talk about it every time we drove by. I was a real joy to be around. 

You know, it was that kind of thing, like I would kind of latch onto these little things, but, but instead of  feeling like I could do something about it, I would just kind of obsess about it. 

Stephanie: So how did you feel when you first understood how bad climate change could really be? 

Doug: I don’t remember learning about it until high school, 

Stephanie: Oh, wow. 

Doug: Yeah. so would’ve been like around 2000.  I was fairly jaded at that point. I mean, I was like, yeah, like, yes.  you know, it’s kind of like a little bit now when I’m, you know, seeing stuff that the Trump administration is doing and like. just feeling like, yeah, like, well, of course. It’s like, of course they’re doing that, because like, that’s exactly what they would do. I mean, actually one of the more powerful, images that kind of came to mind when I was thinking about this and like, trying to think about how, how deep this is and like how deep into this we are and like how big of a problem it is. I’m like, kind of a hopelessly. Stupidly optimistic person. So for me, it was actually like really positive, beautiful images. 

I kind of feel embarrassed about it, like,  I was talking to actually, I think it was my, my wife’s father and mother, we were visiting them, in Wisconsin and they live in the country. they’re no longer farming, but they were farming when, when my wife was growing up.  and I They were just feeling skeptical that like there was any real possibility where that we could have a 21st century living standard, I suppose. You know? And, and for that not to be carbon intensive and for that not to be something that’s going to  make climate change worse. And I was like, I was like, no guys. 

You know, but it’s interesting because I think, you know, so this, this positive thing that I was imagining was like, was it like lots of people having a fucking job generating power that’s not killing us? Right. And like, and like in their community where jobs are harder to come by, like a lot of people are, in rural communities are struggling 

Stephanie: Oh yeah. 

Doug: we talked a lot about like what things were like for her grandpa and her grandmother growing up and the fabric of their, of that, that society on that level, you know, in that rural community was much more tight. And there are a lot of reasons for that. Like. They didn’t have Netflix and they didn’t have, you know, the shit that like, keeps us all in our rooms alone and just watching a screen. But they 

Stephanie: then they also like needed to depend on each other. 

Doug: Yeah. Well the, exactly right. Exactly right. And they did. and for us in the arts, like one thing that actually really struck me was they, they, she, you know, had a few of these books that were, play scripts. 

Stephanie: Oh, cool. 

Doug: Anyways, so they had these play scripts where it was kind of like a club that had, like a lot of adults would go to, this is not a kid’s thing. It was an adult thing where they would go and. Produce plays 

Stephanie: That’s charming as hell. 

Doug: Yeah. Right. And there were these players written specifically for these like rural clubs. So it wasn’t necessarily like the stuff you might see at like, like a New York theater or something like that. It was kind of written for this audience and for these people. But like that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the, the, they were getting together to read plays. , but anyway, so like, just like at that time there was a, Like this rural sense of like the arts of like, here it is, like we do it. Like, I was like. That’s the future with energy, you know? At at least in my vision of the future.

Stephanie: So make energy more localized. Well, see, okay, here’s the fucking problem  there’s two things going on. People both have tremendous local agency, but it’s, it’s kind of usurped and bumped out of the way by these, these moneymaking machines.  that’s fully possible what you’re talking about. 

Doug: Yeah.  our system is not set up for that. Like it favors, you know, the central power plant and then transmitting the power all over. And yeah.  there’s actually tons of things standing in the way,  and it’s something we’ll have to change. But then I think To like round out that positivity. And then I’m like, then I’m thinking about like,  how far away from that are we? And we’re really fucking far 

Stephanie: Yeah. 

Doug: like really far, 

Stephanie: the thing that’s going to bridge the gap from where we are to where we need to go is getting people to get honest about,  the feeling of the gravity. and the need to look that, For lack of a better word, horror in the face and say, this is not only you and your children, but these are people that you’ve never met whose lives are just gonna be shit.  but again, we’ve talked about how this like grandiosity of that horror really blocks people from being able to let it in. and Maybe it is looking at your, your locality  what is Portland look like in 40 years? Yeah. 

Doug:  I will still be alive. Yeah. Hopefully I will actually, I’m going to knock on some knock on some 

Stephanie: now. 

Doug: Yeah. My kids are kids are very well going to be around.  so like in the arts, we can. Cheer for somebody. We can even BU boo a performer, right? because we have something to kind of direct our anger at, or our joy, 

Stephanie: Right, 

Doug: all those things. And so with this, we don’t have that, but we need to find a way to do that, basically. and I feel like because the arts are a realm of the imagination right? We’re pretty good at that. Like creating like an imaginary, like, you know, creating some imaginary thing that we can be happy or mad or, disappointed in or feel betrayed by. Yeah. 

Stephanie: Yeah. I think that imagination is key in this, thing that I often lose sight of is how much fact we have at our fingertips when it comes to this stuff. and you know, haven’t read that report. You know, the report. You know what I’m talking about. You read it. I haven’t read it. And, and I haven’t read it because I’m afraid of how it’s gonna make me feel. Yeah. And that’s real. And I think, you know, these big concepts like imagination, like courage, like, difficult to even hang language on this stuff. There just needs to be a serious turn towards honesty and reckoning and like fucking fortitude.   

What are feelings that lead to stasis? Action?

Doug: what are feelings that lead to stasis? What are feelings that lead to action? 

Stephanie: Feelings that lead to stasis are things like, despair. terror. think anger can sometimes lead to stasis if you’re of a particular kind of personality.  But I think as far as stasis is concerned, like the real trigger points are, are the big ones, like despair and rage and terror. And look at basically any issue happening right now and that any feeling person will experience that and then you have a choice. Some people don’t have a choice. You know, you, you experience those things, you go into shutdown and you don’t even know that you’re there. I think that’s a lot of people, frankly. 

And then moving into the second part of the question, I think that it’s complicated because you kind of have to recognize that there’s no tiger in the room at this moment. maybe some perspective, but that’s not really a feeling. I think the kinds of feelings that lead to action are connection. If you feel connected and not alone. 

Brene Brown is somebody who has a lot of buzz right now and has had for a while, but she’s done a lot of work with, collecting data on people who, who feel connected to a community and that, that provides grounds for, having a more active and connected life.  I think  that feelings of connection, feelings of agency, confidence. 

 I also think that it’s unfair to say that  anger and despair and terror only lead to stasis. frankly, if you don’t feel like it’s futile, those can be serious tools.  it’s kind of shocking what a small group of people can do with some well-placed rage.

Anger is very, very important right now. Especially given the circumstance of how we got to where we are. You know, it’s not individuals necessarily.  trying to go about their lives and do good by their kids that’s really fucking up the planet. You know, it’s these These money engines that are just fucking off the rails.

Doug: Well, I think it’s good to talk about anger a bit because like, it’s a very kind of tightly regulated emotion. 

Stephanie: certainly in our society 

Doug: and that’s for good reasons and a lot of ways, but, like when you do see somebody who looks like really, it’s like totally unleashed. it’s quite rare. 

Stephanie: Um, 

Doug: even though we put it in our movies and our TVs so much, because it’s so rare in real life, 

Stephanie: what does it even look like? You do it. I don’t want to do it. You do it 

Doug: but yeah, I think you’re right. Like some that rage is, is what gets things done. and I think that people who are. Good at mobilizing it and good at manufacturing it, are the ones that get things done. 

Stephanie: for better or for worse.  I feel like we’re ripe for that now in so many different ways. I mean. You know, you can’t talk about climate change without talking about social justice and racial justice. And you know, there’s so much to be angry about maybe it’s about a community of support around that. You know, cause I think that there are, people have different personalities and people deal with anger in different ways. And. but you know, there’s that age old saying of if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. 

And it’s real and it’s really hard to live your life like that, you know, to go to work and, and come home and try to relax and, you know, carrying all that anger around with nowhere to put it. 

Doug: The, that kind of reminds me that I was, I was reading something about like, basically about clickbait on the internet and like how kind of media has kind of reoriented itself to fit that paradigm and like, like what gets people to click on an article and read it. And therefore be exposed to the ads that are tied to it. and like the top thing, are they top emotion? That is, that triggers that response from a person is anger, but 

Stephanie: very interesting. 

Doug: Yeah. But the next one is, awe. As an awe. Awe. As an 

Stephanie: awe or Whoa. 

Doug: Yes. That I’m like, yeah, 

Stephanie: really fascinating. 

Doug: like I find myself doing that constantly. Like for me, that’s actually probably the, the motivator. The stronger one. Yeah. For me. I’m just like, 

Stephanie: like, what kind of fish is this totally click? Or 

Doug: like, what is this guy gonna make out of that? Like old frying pan and like, how was he gonna? You know, we as artists can do. Both of those easily. we’re probably better most of the time at awe 

Stephanie: on a good day, for sure. Yeah. I, I 

Doug: I think that’s mostly what we’re working on. Like, you know, and like, if you, you know, and thinking back to my musical training, that’s Through those technical means that we spend so much time practicing that I spent hours and hours and hours practicing. Like, just where, where you’re, you’re in command of the technique of a piece so much that you can actually transcend that and actually communicate something emotionally through all that technique, you know? And 

Stephanie: I have lots of thoughts about 

Doug: Oh yeah, I can’t wait. 

Stephanie: Well, okay, this, this is super tangential. I’ve been thinking a lot about technique  specifically with regards to dance,  and creating that, what you’re talking about that, that moment in a room with an audience. That feels transcendent. I think the thing that is most important in creating that space for an audience and performer to share is authenticity and, I think that specifically in dance specifically, the way that Americans view dance, it’s really hard sometimes to find that through technique. I think that technique can get in the way of of a body’s freedom and a body’s honesty. 

Doug: Hmm. 

Stephanie: Interesting. And I wonder how that could also pertain to music as well. But I mean, you don’t want to just be flopping around. Like, there needs to be some intention, you know? And there needs to be some, some intention and purpose and focus and things like that. That’s what technique gives to an artist. Yeah. Maybe. but I think a lot about, how intriguing I find. Somebody who’s willing to move, who does not have technique, but who has a sense of self and a sense of, the room that they’re in they’re and the stimulus, if it’s music or whatever, you know, and connecting to that, in a really present, authentic way is something that you do not see a lot in our society. 

Doug: No, I think that’s totally true, and I think it’s the same with music. mean, I think everybody gets there in a different way, but I think like the goal is very clear, but it’s not easy. although I think some people have an easier time with it than others, like some people get really wrapped up in like studying the technique. and they may not ever really get to a place that’s unique to them, authentic to them. 

Stephanie: Like this, this notion of authenticity, I think is, I think, especially in the way that we’re talking about it, is to kind of intrinsically American. You know, we’re a society of individuals. And for better or for worse, it’s just kind of what we’re working with. And, and I think that there are, I know that there are many societies who’ve come at this problem very different. And, I, I want to keep reminding myself of that as I’m like musing about all this shit, maybe authenticity is secondary to just choosing the reality of the moment and responding appropriately, which brings us back to climate change. You know what I mean? Like there’s this, like. maybe what I balk at with technique is that, you know, it kind of gives you a route around the now because you’re kind of in pursuit of this perfection.

Doug: no, I think you’re right. But I think, but also I’m glad I was just going to bring us back to climate change cause I think like, that kind of intangible thing about artists who are kind of approaching their work  developing it over time and trying to really dig into it and find out what is really authentic to them and what that means to them and like what way they can approach the work that they have to, that they, that nobody else can and that they must do this thing.  

If you’re going to approach climate change, and I think if you’re going to approach any issue, you have to have done a similar type of work on the issue. reality is that things are very complicated and in terms of how conditions are going to change in certain places and at certain times and how they’re going to change. Arriving at like a authentic kind of emotional grasp of that,  you’ve worked past that like initial terror, the initial dread, like that first layer of stuff and you’ve kind of dug next down to the next layer of, and for me, for me it was like my, my ridiculous positivity about it. I suppose. It was a moment of like, Oh yeah. Like we’re so far away from all these happy people who are like generating  wind power and…

Stephanie: every house has a wind turbine, which 

Doug: not impossible, but it’s, it’s 

Stephanie: so far from impossible. Yeah. That’s the thing that’s so maddening about this is that that even you, people like you and I who don’t know what the fuck we’re talking about. No offense. 

Doug: that is, you could not have said anything that was more true than that at this moment. 

Stephanie: Right? Like we don’t know, but we can pause it , the issues are not the science that’s available to our society and to humanity at large. The issues are the gatekeepers, and those are the things that need to fucking change. There’s no reason why every house can’t have a wind turbine or whatever. There’s so many ways. You know, I saw a Waterworld. Humanity’s imagination is completely unlimited and, and we have the technology to, we got to the moon for Christ’s sake. Like. We’re going to be okay if, and this is a huge, if, if people start to demand it. 

 What needs to happen to trigger an emotional transformation?

Doug: What needs to happen to start an emotional transformation from stasis to action.

Stephanie: I’m so far from being  an expert on these things,  but I have a feeling that it’s about helping people feel more connected to a solution. Like something that where it’s like we’re all in this together and we’re all moving in this direction. We all accept reality together. And you know, I think that people like AOC and Bernie and Ilhan Omar, they understand how to create that kind of community. And, and I think that what I’m hoping is that we’re going to see leaders that create this kind of space where people can feel  apart of something. And that is where I think momentum will come from.

Doug: Well, I think, I think that, Mmm. But like some of those, you know, social fabric things that we’re tying these communities together that are far less strong now. where the arts, like an active participation in the arts. And so like now I’m at, I would have to say that it was a more of a minor one, but it’s one of them. but also like. I’m a big one would be, churches, which are kind of on the decline, 

Doug: statistically they are. 

Stephanie: that’s nice to hear. I mean, I don’t, let me, let me, let me retract a 

Doug: Yeah. I, I don’t, I mean, I think that, okay, well that’s a whole other frickin episode, but there is a problem with that, that community hub kind of fading away. 

Doug: Yes. From a like community building perspective. Yeah. cause also, you know, a church churches were because there was very broad participation. they were a just a place where you could go for help. Yeah. Like if you needed, like if your car broke down or whatever, 

Stephanie: yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember that. I remember that from growing up. It was for sure like that. And it gave you, there was a certainty of. Mmm. There was a certainty of community, something very tangible and regular. And, you know, it was timed to the year, you know, it was seasonal too. Like, I mean, there’s all kinds of things that are so important about that. Right. So I, I mean, like, yeah. Like this idea of like more of a, of a locally based community rather than like the kind of more. Nationally slash global that I was just talking about. It’s also really important. You’re right. 

Doug: You’re right. It’s interesting cause like you’re, you know, like we’re talking about this, like, global, national versus very local, know, ways of measuring community or like a ways of like making it tangible and, I dunno. I mean, I guess so. Then one thing actually that I. I’m kind of getting a little lost here, but like one thing that I, that I appreciate that you said earlier is that how interconnected climate change is and will be with all these other issues that we have. So social justice issues and all these other things like, 

Stephanie: racism, classism, sexism, 

Doug: All of those wonderful things.  you know, one of the things that’s causing that stasis is because people are powerless. And like, when people are kind of trapped in bad jobs and, trapped in, you know, perhaps communities where there’s not as much support as there really needs to be for people to, to thrive. 

Stephanie: For sure. that’s everywhere. Yeah.  

Doug: if we can replace our kind of isolation with, if we can replace that with some kind of community that’s, that’s built around really important shit. Like, like our jobs. And, you know, it’s like, if there are tons of people who are employed in your community, generating renewable energy, like. That sounds really great to me. I mean, that’s, and you know, and it supports all the other people with all the other things.  but then to think, okay, well. So if all those people are employed doing this thing, they would probably need a union to represent them, 

Stephanie: Yeah, they would. 

Doug: Yeah. And like, so we’re like, you know, you’re getting into that, like, and that’s one of the big criticisms of, of the green new deal, is that it’s like this laundry list of, of like progressive causes, like all this shit that we’ve wanted to do for decades,  

Stephanie: ultimately, I think at the root of all of it, people don’t feel heard. People don’t feel understood. People feel forgotten. They feel a lack of trust, you know, and these are all deeply personal States of emotion. Definitely. there are as many ways of, either working through or disconnecting from those kinds of feelings as there are people. I truly believe that we’ve gotten into the quagmire that we’re in because in this country, I don’t think we’re giving people the emotional space that they need and the emotional. Support that they need and the emotional intelligence that they need that we all need. I keep seeing they, but like I’m included in this to that, to formulate real opinions and engagement with these giant horrifying issues. 

Doug: Well listeners can’t see the face you just made, but it was a, it was a, it was a face. 

Stephanie: don’t know what I’m 

Doug: think they’ll feel that face in their earphones. 

Doug: we’re talking about an emotional transformation and that it has to be every bit as profound as the economic transformation that’s going to have to take 

Stephanie: place. And I think there’s, yeah, and I think there’s a lot of people talking about the economic need and the, and the scientific need and the technological need, et cetera. I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about like the underlying emotional structure of how everybody’s coming at this. And I have a sense that, that a lot of us. Feel out of our depth. I want some, somebody to rise through the ranks as a leader who understands that that point. Mmm 

Stephanie: sure they’re listening to the, to the 

Doug: Yeah. They’re out there. They’re listening to us.  they’re not going to communicate that by saying, How do you guys feel like, you know, it’s more, they’re talking about this issue in a way that speaks to people emotionally talking about not just kind of these things around the edges, but about like the core and the substance of the problem. and to frame that in a way that’s, relatable, that it’s tangible, you know, so that like people get to that and they can feel it and they feel that along with you. And it’s not, and it’s not just about like. You know this, you know, something so abstract as the green new deal or like, you know, or something as frightening as like, you know, your job disappearing because it’s dependent on really a lot of carbon and it’s just not going to be possible. 

Stephanie: Well, and the leaders that rise up, if you will, need to be able to listen to, and give platform to people’s fucking horrible stories, you know? we’re all watching these shows that are so horrifying. If you look at it on paper, it’s like, this is two clicks away from Coliseum. and 

Doug: as in the, the ancient Greek. 

Stephanie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Doug: Roman Roman, I guess. Yeah. 

Stephanie: So at one hand, we’ve got this emotionally charged landscape on the other hand, we’re not really w very rarely listening to each other’s real stories.  listening to people without judging them, you know, that fear of judgment or that, that bracing against judgment, I think is a real, Forced right now.  How dare you criticize me and what I choose to do and what car I choose to drive and what, how I choose to live my life. You have no idea what I’ve been through. And that’s true. 

Doug: it’s certainly not a moment for like rah rah go team. Although I do think that, you know, kind of going back to that mission of this project is like, to. Mobilize this community of artists to, let’s take this shit on and let’s, let’s give this emotional language to this. let’s name these things and let’s create characters that are living those, those emotions, let’s create characters that live in. You know, this future, that’s kind of a dystopian thing. Let’s also create characters that are living in Doug’s, you know, imaginary future. Where are they all have happy little jobs making, you know, making solar panels.  put on your solar panels. I’m going to go fix them up. 

Stephanie: I mean, idealism is super important.  fatalism is also really important, but I think more important is, is, , I almost said honoring the now and then I decided not 

Doug: then. I just. I probably would have been like, mm. 

Stephanie: what I really mean is, you know, some synthesis of both of those things. In in this room right now with these people in this neighborhood and this community, while also understanding we’re not the only people on the face of the planet. Some something like that. I don’t know. Yeah. 

Doug: Well, what, we’re going to do our best. 

Stephanie: Here we go. 

Doug: i actually, I was thinking while we were talking that, I have not had this long of a conversation about climate change ever. 

Stephanie: Yeah, I guess I haven’t either. Yeah, 

Doug: So, so, so, yay. I think that’s, that’s, and that’s like, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say that most people have, 

Stephanie: it’s fucking hard to talk about because I don’t, I mean, I think a lot of us don’t know what we’re talking about, like we said and, and it’s depressing. I find that , with friends that I see regularly, it will come up and then somebody will be like, all right, I can’t, we’re done now. I can’t. We gotta we gotta. Look at this picture of a cat, you know? Yeah. You know? And sometimes that’s me because it’s like weird not going to solve it right now, and we have to go to work in the morning and, and I don’t, I truly don’t know what the answer is, but I think it might take more people saying that, like trying to have these conversations saying we don’t have the answers. Et cetera, and just trying to engage the material in a clumsy fucking way, you know, like, like I feel I just did. 

Doug: I just did beautiful. You’re honoring the shit out of the now right now 

Stephanie: I’m, I’m wiggling around over here.

Doug: cool. Let’s call it. Good job.

Outro

Thanks so much Stephanie. 

Be sure to get your tickets for the Volume II live performance at moredevotedly.com. While you’re there you join the More Devotedly email list to hear about new episode releases and other news about the project. You can also join our Facebook group to respond to discussions about the show, and you can also follow us on Instagram, at @moredevotedly. 

And I know you hear this on every podcast you listen to, but be sure to rate and review the show on whatever platform you listen, especially on Apple Podcasts. It helps other folks find the show, and that helps me to make the show better and better.

I produced this episode, and the music you heard was composed by me and performed by Joe Kye right here in Portland, OR.

In addition to the live performance, I’ve got more podcast content coming your way. Up next will be an interview with playwright EM Lewis. We talked about the personal meeting the international as a team of scientists try to understand the hole in the ozone layer in a research expedition to Antarctica in her play “Magellanica.”

Thanks so much to Jenny for her support, and to Kim Gumbel for her indispensable help in dreaming up this project. And to Lindsay Jordan Kretchun for designing the show logo.  

What you’re doing is beautiful. Can you do it more devotedly?

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