September 11, 2012

This program features our interview with Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times. We also talk with Kelly Munson about Paul Loeb’s upcoming visit to Butte College and to Chico.

Paul Loeb will be speaking at the Peace and Justice Center on Friday, September 28, and will be the keynote speaker at the Butte College Leadership and Civic Engagement Conference on Saturday, September 29.

Listen to the Paul Loeb Interview

Questions for Paul Loeb

Paul Loeb is author of Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times. Paul has been working on citizen engagement since the Vietnam War and is currently leading a campus engagement project that, in 2008, engaged over 500 campuses in 14 states, enrolling 3 million undergraduates. Paul is coming to Chico later this month, speaking at the Peace & Justice Center Friday evening, September 28, and keynoting the Butte College Leadership and Civic Engagement Conference on Saturday the 29th. .

Part I: Engagement in Challenging Times

–You’ve spent over thirty-five years as an activist and helping others make their activism effective. What first led you to be engaged in these ways? How did your philosophy evolve over the years?

–In the introduction to your book, you express concern about low levels of citizen involvement, “We’ve all but forgotten that public participation is the very soul of democratic citizenship,…” How do you measure this lack of participation . . . voter turnout? engagement in community activities? neighborhood involvement? Are we less engaged that at some other time in US and/or world history? the Greek democracy? the war of independence or Civil War? Vietnam era?

–What has led to this level of disengagement? Why do people feel apathetic or hopeless? Has our country (and the world) grown too large for people to feel engaged? Has the military/industrial/economic juggernaut rendered us powerless? “the culture of distraction”?

–We’ve just been through two political conventions with pre-ordained outcomes. No surprises. How can the average citizen even begin to feel engaged in the process . . . that his or her vote will make a difference?

–You’re a storyteller (“The Call of Stories”), and your book contains dozens of narratives of people who have made a difference in their communities. Could you please share a story or two with us to illustrate the level and kind of engagement you have in mind?

–A question we often ask on this program: What will it take to bring about change on a scale great enough to make a difference? government mandates and new laws? being driven to the brink? social/environmental collapse? citizen engagement? can engage effectively in creating change.

Part II: Engagement in Challenging Times

In the first part of the program, we discussed the difficulties facing citizen activists in these challenging times. In this segment, let’s help our listeners (and ourselves) learn a little more about how to do it.

–Right now, you’re working on the Campus Engagement Project to encourage college students to be involved in the coming elections. Please tell us how that’s going. How many people are involved? What are your goals? What are your strategies for overcoming student voter apathy?

–You believe strongly in the power of the individual to make a difference. Could we review some of the steps? For example, you say, “You Don’t Have to be a Saint,” and you urge people to take “One Step at a Time.”

–How do existing local organizations fit into the pattern? (Chico has a great many small activist organizations on the environment, civil rights, social justice, and so on. But there is also sometimes lack of communication among them, differences of purposes, and competition for dwindling funds.) Could you offer suggestions about engaging with community organizations? How does the activist “Widen the Circle”?

–Burnout. How do citizens cope with that?

–You write: “Cynicism or hope? That’s the real question, the choice all of us face, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, communities, nations, and members of a species whose continued survival is by no means guaranteed” (345). What is your personal level of hope and optimism?”

–What projects are coming up in your personal journey?

–Where might our listeners go for more information?

Questions for Kelly Munson

With us in the studio now is Kelly Munson. She’s the advisor to the Associated Students and student activities at Butte College. Welcome Kelly.

  1. Please tell us about the Butte College Student Leadership & Civic Engagement Conference taking place on Saturday, September 29th, 2012.
  2. Who is the conference intended for? Who should attend?
  3. What time will Paul Loeb be speaking?
  4. What else will be happening at the conference?
  5. How can people register?
  6. And tell us again when and where the events will be held


Play list for Ecotopia #206

1. Talkin’ Bout a Revolution 3:49 Playing for Change Playing for Change

2. The Times They Are a Changin’ (Live) 3:10 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

3. Change is Gonna Come 6:07 Playing for Change Playing for Change

4. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

5. Vote For Hope 4:49 M.C. Yogi Vote For Hope Hip Hop