This poet, president of the Mellon foundation, quotes June Jordan on the question activists should ask: “Where is the love? What are we moving toward, not just what are we fighting against?” Poetry, politics, and why your Thanksgiving dinner should include lasagna. Made Eritrean style.
A former writer and performer for Saturday Night Live, he says that each episode was written in one night, “and by night I mean eight, nine PM, until three, four in the morning.” A former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, he does not say how tax laws are written.
Following in her father’s footsteps, the head of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services says, “I had a chance to see first hand someone who worked for New York City government.” She’s second-generation! The latest in our Commissioners Series—how government governs—produced with the Department of Records and Information Services.
This human-rights lawyer, a professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, was reluctant to embrace her Irish heritage. “I was never particularly interested in that identity because I had so many run-ins with the church.” She’s come around. Music: Cleek Schrey.
She leads the Public Design Commission, which must approve anything built on city land—statue, historic marker, playground. How to contend with conflicting parties, often angry, sometimes shouting? “As long as dialogue is alive and well maintained, I feel like anybody can come to a good solution.” Presented with the Van Alen Institute. Music: Henrique Prince, …
New York City’s fire commissioner leads a force that responds to medical emergencies, plane crashes, building collapses, hazardous materials, even people trapped in elevators. They also fight fires. “If it’s not the police department, if it’s not a crime, everything else is the fire department.” Produced with the Municipal Archives. Music: Rashad Brown.
The self-described Trash Walker prowls corporate dumpsters, seeking egregious waste, and yet she says, “I love stuff, and I want to make that clear. I love things. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m so attracted to the trash.” A paradox resolved at Materials for the Arts. Music: Reid Jenkins.
As president of the Ford Foundation, he supported Monticello’s efforts to improve its depiction of the enslaved Black people who built it and of Thomas Jefferson, who owned it. “I believe that Thomas Jefferson and his home are one and the same.” Produced with the Municipal Art Society. Guest host: Jami Floyd. Music: Rashad Brown.
The CEO of PEN America, she has good news and bad news. “We’re not seeing a lot of book burning, thankfully, but we are seeing a kind of forest fire of book banning rippling it way across the United States.” Actually, that’s simply bad news.
Affectionately called “Train Daddy,” he has run transit systems in London, Toronto, and New York, where few people in such jobs are affectionately called anything. He reflects with feeling on subways, seaports, and the almost moral duty to support your home team. “You can’t chop and change.”
This heroic Brandeis professor explains how sexual-harassment law derives from civil-rights law: “There was the sense that, OK, now we’ve tackled one area of equality, we’ve prevailed to some extent, let’s build on it.” One right leads to another. Or used to. In ancient days. (Sigh.) Plus, the difference between baggage and luggage.
Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human-rights organization in Montgomery, he embodies the radical power of hope, of working for social change, even when there is no evidence that you will succeed: “Hope is kind of an orientation of the spirit; it’s how you position yourself in places where there’s a lot of despair.”