Sarah Stewart Holland (a progressive) and Beth Silvers (a conservative) became friends in 1999 and haven’t recovered since. Sarah, a professional blogger and social media consultant, and Beth, a human resources executive and yoga teacher, challenged the notion that talking news with your politically opposite college friend is always messy. What evolved out of their friendship was Pantsuit Politics — a podcast that has someone on the right (Beth) and someone on the left (Sarah) having conversations with the goal of listening to each other first and talking politics second.
In this conversation, Branden, Beth and Sarah, talk about bringing a distinctly women-centered perspective to the conversations happening around politics, intending only to learn from each other rather than walking into the discussions trying to win.
Dylan Marron is a writer, performer, video maker and self-acclaimed snacker. He also receives a lot of hate messages on the internet. Producing work that mainly focuses on social justice issues such as race, sexuality and privilege, Dylan’s learned how to take hateful conversations online and turn them into productive conversations offline — an idea and practice that we could all benefit from.
Dylan’s creative resume has included (but not limited to) writing multiple series for Seriously.tv, the voice of Carlos on the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, an alum of the New York Neo Futurists, and the creator of Every Single Word (Tumblr's "Most Viral Blog" of 2016; Shorty Award Nominee), a video series that edits down popular films to only feature the words spoken by people of color. And now he’s started a new podcast, Conversations with People Who Hate Me.
In this conversation, Branden and Dylan go deep into the complicated and sometimes hilarious navigation of two strangers who disagree getting to know each other.
Anis Mojgani has been said to be a poet who gleefully spurns the boundaries of poet. He is not only a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time TEDx Speaker, but he’s also an Iranian American living in Oregon with a passion for processing the human interior. Notable to mention: he is one of Branden Harvey’s favorite poets.
Anis has performed his slam poetry around the globe and has performed for audiences as varied as the House of Blues and the United Nations. He is also the author of three poetry collections — Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, Over the Anvil We Stretch. In this conversation, Branden and Anis (while eating doughnuts) take an in-depth look at how poetry can be a tool for creative exploration through the tremendous grief and joy that life holds for humanity.
In 2015, WeRateDogs was born. If you would've told Matt Nelson then that he’d be entertaining 750,000 people in less than a year, he would've laughed in your face. For those of you who never knew something like WeRateDogs existed, it does. More than 3 million Twitter followers eagerly await the internet phenomenon of dog photo submissions being paired with witty captions — and the final products are brilliant.
Not only is WeRateDogs used as a “joy outlet” for it’s followers, Matt has also ventured to use his online presence to converse and bring awareness to global conversations. In this episode, Branden chats with Matt on the creative craft of molding your words to convey your embarrassingly quirky thought or idea in 140 characters for your unpredictable audience.
Never disregard an 8 year old who dreams of becoming Oprah one day. Noor Tagouri, a Libyan-American storyteller and journalist, is currently one of the most talked about young adults in the country having worked with the CBS Radio, Newsy, CTV News while being known as the first hijab-wearing news anchor on American television. After the release of her first documentary passion project, The Forest Haven Story, and she went on to embark on a unique journey to achieve of her dreams of exposing cultural injustices and combating the challenges facing women on a global scale.
In this conversation, Branden digs deep with Noor to truly understand the power of the right question while always aiming to break the glass ceiling.
Where does true optimism come from? How do we choose to gravitate toward hope when there is so much pain in the world? These are questions that John Jacobs, co-founder and CCO (Chief Creative Optimist) of Life is Good, has been resiliently living out the answer to ever since his early childhood. 1989 marked the beginning of his passion for three main things: spreading optimism, helping children in need, and making rad and iconic t-shirts.
In this conversation Branden chats with John about trading blind positivity for meaningful optimism.
The Shine Project began when Ashley Lemieux’s heart was taken by the inner-city youth of Phoenix, AZ. What began as a small project has now resulted in over 40 scholarships being given to help kids go to college since 2011. Ashley’s life’s work has been a testament to the love she pours out amidst a story that has been embedded with so much pain.
In this heartfelt conversation, Ashley shares about how a call one Sunday morning asking both she and her husband to become permanent guardians to two kids overnight changed their lives forever — and how it took a dark turn 3 years later with a letter from the court in the mail.
This is the first time she publicly shares her story.
Zim Ugochukwu believes that everything about travel comes from a spark of curiosity. She’s currently the founder and CEO of Travel Noire, an award-winning boutique travel company and is a passionate advocate for personal transformational. Her background consists of everything from cloning genes at 19, to running a national anti-tobacco campaign, working on the Obama campaign, becoming a precinct judge while in college, and travelling through 90% of Asia.
In this conversation, Branden and Zim unpacked the importance of seeking to call out the beauty in ‘otherness’ in the people around you while asking the questions that take you places.
“Who are you? Are you you?” British visual artist Shantell Martin has originated her work upon the foundation of these two questions and is now an unconventional truth-teller in her field. After moving to New York from Tokyo, she became best known for creating stream-of-consciousness drawings and light projects with childlike wonder and joy. Her artwork (mainly lines and stick figures) has appeared in the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the Contemporary African Diaspora, Bata Show Museum, as well as many other well-known art venues in New York.
In this conversation, Branden and Shantell discuss how understanding who you are and asking unconventional questions are keys to keeping the wonder alive in your work.
You've probably seen @jonnysun's "weird Twitter" tweets of his life as a lonely alien experiencing earth. What you might not know is that Jonny Sun, the Asian Canadian playwright, artist, architect and comedian has a master's degree from Yale, is a PhD candidate at MIT, and is a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center.
In this episode, Branden talked to Jonny about navigating the world of happiness in art and academia while wrestling with depression and anxiety. They also giggled through a conversation about Jonny’s news book, ‘Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too’.
In 2014, Rolling Stone referred to Eric Holthaus as “the Rebel Nerd of Meteorology”, mainly in regards to his reputation for being defiantly optimistic in the world of science. His work as a meteorologist and writing has highlighted the belief that climate change is the most important and consequential story of our time. Furthermore, Eric’s transparency about living with autism and advocating for self-care have changed the way he interacts with the rest of the world.
In this conversation, Branden and Eric discuss how weather unites us in unique ways — and how this notion should be celebrated.
Dr. Rick Hanson is a psychologist and New York Times best-selling author who creatively works at the intersection of three circles: psychology, neuroscience and the contemplative wisdom that has been established around the world.
His work has been featured on the BBC, CBS, and NPR and has focused on helping people turn everyday experiences into a powerful sense of lasting well-being. In this conversation, he speaks to the empowerment that comes with using our inner resources for hardwiring happiness in relationship with pain.
Yonathan Moya is a photographer responsible for the creation of a project, Border Perspective, that took him on a 9-day photographic journey along the U.S. & Mexico border. As he took part in different dialogues and sought to tell truthful stories of those he encountered at the border, he gained a fuller understanding of a place he called home.
Through his photography and international work, he wants to challenge others to see the world around them differently and go beyond their current worldview, into a new understanding of who they are and how they can positively, contribute to our society.
Stephen Kenn operates a Los Angeles based design studio focused on furniture and leather goods. Driven by curiosity, Stephen takes a thoughtful and optimistic approach to his work, believing there is always a way to make things simpler. He begins all design projects by seeking out materials that will last a lifetime and experimenting with new processes. In this conversation, Branden and Stephen discuss the idea of seeing objects as an opportunity for story.
When Ahmed Badr was 8 years old, his family's home in Baghdad was bombed. He and his family became refugees and moved to Syria. After living in Syria for two years, they applied for a UN Refugee resettlement program and were placed in the United States.
Ahmed is the founder of Narratio, a platform for creative expression that seeks to create empathy and alleviate childhood illiteracy by empowering youth through the publishing of poetry, photography, art and narrative. Ahmed is also a published writer, photographer, and poet. With work appearing on the Instagram blog, HuffPost, Adobe, and others, Ahmed explores the intersection between creativity, the refugee experience, and youth empowerment.
Ken Wytsma is is a leader, innovator, and social entrepreneur. He is the author of The Myth of Equality, Pursuing Justice and The Grand Paradox and president of Kilns College, where he teaches courses on philosophy and justice. He is also the founder of The Justice Conference, an annual international conference that introduces men and women to a wide range of organizations and conversations on racial inequality and social justice.
Sara Li is the founder and director of Project Consent, an international nonprofit campaign that aims to combat sexual assault and rape culture by raising awareness about the importance of consent. She founded Project Consent in high school and is now seeking to maintain a sense of normalcy while running a fast-paced and influential organization while in college. Sara is also a writer and contributes to MTV, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog and more.
Jeremy Courtney is cofounder and executive director of the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC), an international development organization based in Iraq that brings relief to families fleeing war in Syria and Iraq, helps refugees rebuild their lives, and provides lifesaving medical care for children in conflict zones.
TJ Martin and Dan Lindsay have been collaborating since 2007 and co-directed the documentary “Undefeated” which won the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary, making TJ the first director of African-American descent to win an Oscar for a feature-length film. They recently co-directed a new documentary about the LA riots called LA 92.
Ten years after a horrific car accident killed her husband and severely injured her son, Kellie tracked down and thanked the team of medical professionals who saved her son's life. She shared her heartwarming story of gratitude with The Thank You Project, which went viral.
Liz is full of energy, knows what taking big risks looks like, and is the founder of Sseko Designs, an ethical fashion brand that works to educate and empower women. In this episode, Branden and Liz talk about saying yes, feminism, and speaking your dreams out loud.
As a child, Orly had the terrible experience of her family’s home burning down. This left her spiraling into depression. The only solution that helped bring her back into the light? The incredible empowerment that comes with small acts of kindness.
For her forthcoming album, Leah Nobel personally conducted a hundred interviews with people of a wide array of background and personalities. She then translated their experiences to song, the results of which is her new album.
Katie Meyler was named TIME Person of the Year in 2014 because of her incredible and inspiring work as an Ebola fighter in Liberia. People named her one of the top 25 women changing the world. She’s also the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Me.
Branden started off his role as a storyteller as a 16 year old photographer and slowly went down the path to telling stories focused on the good in the world. In this episode he shares the behind-the-scenes of his new hope-focused project, the Goodnewspaper.