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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.
For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.
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"The skills gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work."
~Mike Rowe

On this Labor Day, I return to this smart testimony about the value of work, the skills gap, and our need to return to the reverence for a deeper meaning of vocation and skills. A powerful few minutes I’d highly recommend watching.

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Late-evening work, thinking of my wife and boys, and listening to this hauntingly beautiful mix from My Brightest Diamond.

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There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say, ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
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Wendell Berry, from Poetry and Marriage: The Use of Old Forms”

Saw this quoted in Parker Palmer’s excellent reflection on celebrating one’s obstacles.

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The National Women’s Law Center published this clickable map that allows you to see:
The share of minimum wage workers who are women
The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature
It looks like my home state of North Dakota has an even split of men and women as minimum wage earners.
~Trent Gilliss, executive editor
The National Women’s Law Center published this clickable map that allows you to see:
The share of minimum wage workers who are women
The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature
It looks like my home state of North Dakota has an even split of men and women as minimum wage earners.
~Trent Gilliss, executive editor

The National Women’s Law Center published this clickable map that allows you to see:

  • The share of minimum wage workers who are women
  • The next scheduled increase in the minimum wage
  • Any recent action on the minimum wage in the state legislature

It looks like my home state of North Dakota has an even split of men and women as minimum wage earners.

~Trent Gilliss, executive editor

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Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being's new offices on Loring Park. He's always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude.
Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead. Deep respect.
Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being's new offices on Loring Park. He's always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude.
Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead. Deep respect.

Wally is the electrician who has wired every square inch of On Being's new offices on Loring Park. He's always upbeat, never kvetches, and has a can-do attitude.

Take this photo, for example. Here he is on a lift 17 feet in the air changing the location of an electrical box for the third time. (The HVAC installer ran his duct work right over the top of where a pendant light is supposed to hang.) Not a word. Just a slight smile and he forges ahead. Deep respect.

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Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia is what you need on this Saturday morning. He says what so many others are saying nowadays: make mistakes, enjoy the journey, break the rules, make good art. But, he says it better than most, and I believe him.

Often I half-jokingly tell my friends, “Fake ‘til you make it.” So it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite Gaiman nuggets parallels this line of thinking:

"Be wise, because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise pretend to be someone who is wise — and then just behave like they would."

~Trent Gilliss

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Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do

Gary James

During the course of a week, I read so many lovely letters and responses to our public radio program. Oftentimes people extend a simple “thank you” or a humble “this show caught me at the perfect time.” But, we also receive more devoted notes from folks who offer a piece of themselves.

Gary James, a bartender who was born and raised in Jamaica, sent us this lovely essay in response to our interview with poet Christian Wiman:

"I was on the job today getting upset at all that has to be done and trying to find a good station on the radio. Being frustrated with the numerous commercials, I switched to NPR radio where I heard the subject of poetry being discussed.

It got my immediate attention, because I have missed poetry in more ways than I care to admit. I have tried a lot of other ways to generate my inner thoughts in order to inspire myself but, in most cases, I failed miserably. Staying away from poetry was something I did deliberately because I got frustrated with the competitive nature that the genre seems to take on when too many poets are gathered in one room.

But something hit me today here on the job. I guess you could say that my creative juices were flowing. A title came to my mind which read, “Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do.”

The title seems to sum up how I was feeling and it led me to think back on my days of intense writing. I had to ask myself a question, “Do you love writing?” Of course the answer was a resounding yes!

Then the next obvious questions would be, “What is it about writing that I love so much?” I found the answer to not be as obvious as I thought it would be. Poetry has always been my escape.

It came very natural for me and there are those who say when it comes that easy it is not you who manifests the talent but rather it is a gift that is given to you. I have heard stories where people said that they were many gifted people who did not take advantage of their gift and end up losing it. I guess that statement was always in the back of my mind, which I believe held me back somewhat.

Sometimes it takes being away from something to truly appreciate its value, and I am finding this truth to be very pronounced at this point in my life.

As I have stated above that my reason for not getting deeper into poetry was because of the competition. Now that I think about it, that statement may not be entirely true. I have to bear some of the blame. Every artist wants to be recognized for his work, and I am no different. But in trying to please everyone else, I have gone away from the very thing that I truly love.

I miss what this art form meant to me, how the words would magically appear in my head, how I would force myself to come up with the next rhyme, not wanting to move onto the next sentence until the present line matches the previous.

I blame myself for allowing my mind to be distracted from what was important and what gave me the most joy. Writing gives me the power to open closets that I have no business opening. It allows me to tell the stories that were not meant to be heard, and it provides me the ability to do this in a creative way. For that, I am very grateful.

With all this in mind, I have answered my own question, which is to get back to what I love, because that is where true happiness lives.”

This note makes it all worth the doing.

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"We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”
~Krista Tippett. Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed.
(Photo by Chris JL / Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
"We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”
~Krista Tippett. Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed.
(Photo by Chris JL / Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

"We’ve separated the idea of vocation from the fullness of life, and narrowed it to career. This impoverishes women and men.”

~Krista Tippett. Wisdom seeps out of Krista — even through her Twitter feed.

(Photo by Chris JL / Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

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The response to this week’s show with Seth Godin has been overwhelming. And, we’re finding that a lot of folks are listening to the unedited interview right after they finish listening to the produced podcast. So why wouldn’t I offer it up to our Tumblr friends to reblog/download/share!

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor

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Never Give Up Doing What You Love
by Karen Albert, guest contributor
This is my dad’s canola field. At 82 he is doing what he loves, taking pride in growing healthy bountiful crops.
All his life he worked a demanding full-time job and farmed at the same time. He is retired from his job now, and some people say he should give up farming too. I say what does age have to do with it? Never quit doing what you love.
Never Give Up Doing What You Love
by Karen Albert, guest contributor
This is my dad’s canola field. At 82 he is doing what he loves, taking pride in growing healthy bountiful crops.
All his life he worked a demanding full-time job and farmed at the same time. He is retired from his job now, and some people say he should give up farming too. I say what does age have to do with it? Never quit doing what you love.

Never Give Up Doing What You Love

by Karen Albert, guest contributor

This is my dad’s canola field. At 82 he is doing what he loves, taking pride in growing healthy bountiful crops.

All his life he worked a demanding full-time job and farmed at the same time. He is retired from his job now, and some people say he should give up farming too. I say what does age have to do with it? Never quit doing what you love.

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Jacqueline Novogratz’s Favorite Teachers
Nancy Rosenbaum, associate producer

In response to Krista’s interview with Mike Rose, many people shared stories of teachers who noticed a talent or interest and encouraged their students to develop it in ways that opened up doors of possibility. Likewise, Jacqueline Novogratz, an upcoming guest on SOF, tells stories about three of her most influential teachers on My Teacher My Hero.

Novogratz runs the Acumen Fund — a philanthropic venture capital fund that invests in scalable entrepreneurial businesses in developing countries. Krista’s interview with Novogratz will serve as the next installment in our evolving "Ethics of Aid" series. We had our pre-edit listen yesterday and are planning to put the show on the air in late January, so stay tuned.

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I look back at the fork in my road and often wonder if I should have, could have, taken the vocational, farming route. But, at the time, nobody valued that route. Everyone valued ‘education.’
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— Michael Sanchez, a chemical engineer living in upstate New York who grew up on a farm in east Texas, in his lovely reflection on "The Meaning of Intelligence."

Trent Gilliss, online editor

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Collecting Sound in a Dining Car

Chris Heagle, producer/technical director

As we listened to the rough version of this week’s show with Mike Rose, the idea came up to drop one of the readings, which describes working in a restaurant from the server’s point of view and what it takes to be a good waitress. Sure, the reading was evocative, but we realized that since Mike spoke with such detail in our interview about his mother’s waitressing career, we might have the makings for a little sound montage. What would happen if we cut his descriptions up a bit and added some found sound of a working diner to layer in?

Fortunately for us, our studios are located two blocks from a classic American diner: Mickey’s Dining Car. A last-minute lunch was arranged and we were off to get chocolate malts and collect sounds.

When I am out looking for ambient sound for a piece, I try to think in layers, much in the same way a composer would approach a blank sheet of staff paper, and I get as many elements as possible. I know I’m going to need a foundation, something to provide continuity and serve as a base on which to add accents.

In this case, it was simply burgers frying and the din of (hopefully) unintelligible conversations. Short sections of this audio were looped to establish a steady, continuous sense of the location. With that layer in place, I added our interview clips and searched for accents from the location recording that could help support his points — things our waitress said, plates clattering, or the the ringing of the old-time cash register.

All of this seemed to work fairly well, but we also needed a bridge to take us in and out of that location. The solution came from my music choice for the original reading — the fifth movement from Bach’s Partita No. 5. Weaving in this music helped create the sense of a dance and melded well with Mike Rose’s descriptions, which, to me, really illustrated the marriage of precision and creativity that is present in those who excel at restaurant service.

+ LISTEN (here is a bit of the raw audio I recorded at Mickey’s Diner)
+ LISTEN (and here is the finished piece from the show).

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