Interviewsand Articles


Editor's Introduction to newsletter #22

by Richard Whittaker, Dec 21, 2011



Welcome to newsletter issue #22. It's possible that one could get inspired by reading some of these stories. We'll start with Taya Doro Mitchell. She's one of those exceptions that the word "exceptional" was made for. When I first heard about Taya in 2008 I made a beeline in her direction. I knew she was someone I had to interview. It reminds me that we've been finding amazing personal stories for longer than *This American Life* has. And Taya's story has only gotten more fascinating since the interview. At 74, having tasted some local fame as an artist, she left the the Bay Area for a rural backwater in New Mexico. She was good at solitude, she told me, and something about New Mexico had spoken to her. What happened with Taya in New Mexico shows how unexpected life's pathways can be, and I expect more surprises from Taya in coming years. 

Paired with Taya's story is another remarkable one. We thank Bela Shah and Sridevi Chalasani for their interview with John Chambers, the man behind Bloombars. Why couldn't there be a place that, instead of serving booze, served spirits of a more nourishing kind? That way, maybe patrons would really benefit. And as Chambers puts it: if you bloom, we bloom. That's a big vision in a little phrase; that's Bloombars.
In a similar spirit there's Bread For the Journey, a non-profit dedicated to supporting local social entrepreneurs via micro-grants. Their executive director, Marriana Cacciatore now hosts a radio program interviewing exceptional people as part of the organization's effort to spread the good. We invite you to listen in on her interview with Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakenings. Here's a quote from that interview: "I love all the new technology. I don't want to give it up...and you know we can record anything. We can stop it; we can replay it...but life is unrepeatable." Yes. And as we often squander our time, it's hard to remember that. 
On a related note, we invite you into the classroom of UC Berkeley professor, Americ Azevedo. Azevedo's career has been unusual, qualifying him to teach in several different departments in the university. But in this case, he speaks to his meditation class. "At first, I had about ten students," he told me. "Now, five hundred have signed up." After meeting Americ, I can see why. Here are some of his reflections on the day the Occupy Wall Street Movement came to the UCB campus. He calls it "Occupy Your Mind." 
Finally here's an unusual story from our archives. Did you ever wonder about art guards? Juan Rodriquez was an art guard at the Met. What was that like? He tells us about the unforgettable experience of looking at works of art for approximately 1400 hours. 
We hope you'll find this offering nourishing.



About the Author

Richard Whittaker is the founder of works & conversations magazine.


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