With Season Two kicking off in just one week, the Seed Field Podcast team wanted to take a look back at some of the knowledge our guests shared in Season One. Over these twelve episodes, we had conversations with Antiochians representing all six of our campuses and across disciplines including education, mental health, environmental studies, leadership, and more. In this episode, host Jasper Nighthawk and producer Lauren Instenes play their favorite clips, ranging from advice for navigating mental health during a pandemic to how to decolonize our communities and workplaces. We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane—and don’t forget to join us next week for the start of Season Two!
Here are direct links to each episode of Season One, in the order they are presented in today’s show:
You can always find the full episodes from Season One and future seasons at our website, theseedfield.org.
The Seed Field Podcast is produced by Antioch University.
The Seed Field Podcast’s host is Jasper Nighthawk, and its editor is Lauren Instenes. Special thanks for this episode goes to Melissa Batalin, Karen Hamilton, and Melinda Garland for their contributions.
Recorded August 17, 2021 via Riverside.fm. Released September 1, 2021.
[00:00:22] Jasper Nighthawk: Welcome, and thank you for joining us. This is the Seed Field podcast, the show where Antiochians share their knowledge, tell their stories, and come together to win victories for humanity. I’m your host, Jasper Nighthawk. Today we’re going to do something a little bit different. We’ve been planning out Season 2 of the Seed Field podcast, and we’re very excited to share it with you. Our first interview of the season comes out next Wednesday, but for this first episode, we wanted to look back and remember some of the things we learned in our first season and reflect on these insights and the wisdom that our guests shared with us.
To do this, our show’s editor, Lauren Instenes, pulled together key clips from each episode for us to listen to. To introduce these clips, Lauren is joining me here today. Hi, Lauren.
[00:01:14] Lauren Instenes: Hey there, Jasper.
[00:01:15] Jasper: With each episode of our show last season, you were in the background engineering and then editing every episode. That was a lot of work, and you also were really intimately familiar with these conversations by the time we posted them onto the internet. I don’t think that we ever had a chance to really slow down and look back through all of these things. I was curious, what were some of the things that you found in re-listening to everything?
[00:01:41] Lauren: Jasper, I’m just so proud of this season. I think that it was so amazing how all of these guests gave their time to help us produce a really fun and informative season. I was impressed at the range of conversations that we had. They were so different, each guest brought a very different set of knowledge and personality, but there were also some really great overarching themes that you can see weaved through all of these episodes. All of the themes I realized really relate back to Antioch and Antioch’s mission. There’s social justice, activism, the importance of mental health, environmental justice. Those are some of the big ones that I saw, and I was really excited to bring those out in this recap episode.
Jasper, you hosted a lot of these episodes. What was interesting for you to look back at?
[00:02:33] Jasper: First, I just want to say thank you for drawing out those themes. It’s really great to look back and see that those really did come through over and over and over again. For me revisiting these old episodes, I found that so many of the conversations were just as relevant today as they were the day that we recorded them. I find for myself that I learn best oftentimes when I go back and go over knowledge that I’ve gained in the past, so I experienced that.
For our listeners, I want to encourage them, if you hear one of these clips that we’re about to play and you think, man, I would love to hear that person talk for a whole 35 minutes, you can always go back and listen to the whole episodes. We’re going to link to them in our show notes. With that, let’s jump into the archives.
One of the big questions that our nation, our university, and this show have been grappling with is the legacy of white supremacy and the way that it molds our society today. That’s part of why we were so happy to have, as our first guest, the education reformer, Stephen Brookfield. At the time that we interviewed him, he was just publishing his book, Becoming a White Antiracist. He shared this definition of what it means to be anti-racist
[00:04:02] Stephen Brookfield: Anti-racist means to name whiteness as the problem of race, to focus on the way that this idea of white supremacy is embedded in institutional practices, in habits. That’s why I drill down not just to curriculum development, not just to mission statements, but to actual, specific practices. How do we run our meetings? How do we ensure that considering racial dynamics is something that’s linked to every agenda item? How do we rewrite performance appraisal for our annual performance appraisal so that an attention to understanding your racial identity and to challenging white supremacy becomes a major factor in a positive review?
I always trying to get across the idea, as many people are, that racism is not individual actions, individual expressions and behaviors. It is that, but really racism is a system that structurally advantages whites. That means that if you’re white, you don’t have to face a lot of other things that people of color have to face. You don’t have to think about that stuff. It’s not in your worldview.
[00:05:27] Lauren: I was really glad to see this idea of structural racism come up in many of our conversations this season because it really does touch every part of our culture in America. I think the work that Syntia Santos Dietz and Cathy Lounsbury are doing to reform their mental health counseling program with a decolonized lens is really inspiring. Their episode was super insightful about how enormous but also transformative an undertaking like this can be.
[00:05:56] Cathy Lounsbury: It’s like stepping outside the fishbowl that you’re swimming in and really trying to look at what is our field and recognizing that much of the field of counseling is really based upon these ideas of human development and human thriving that are very Eurocentric, created by white cisgender men. I’ve been in the field for a long time, as I said, and the textbooks that I used when I was getting my master’s degree that started with these same white men are still the textbooks that are used in our field today as if, before these men, nobody ever healed from anything. This is the way they heal. This mere erasure of any healing, any practices that took place prior to these white men.
[00:06:57] Lauren: While this work can definitely feel overwhelming, I think that Syntia’s advice at the end of the episode helps us to see it as a goal that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to.
[00:07:08] Syntia Santos Dietz: The most important thing is not to stay still. There is a lot of work to do. There is a space for everybody to do something. You can find a space and that voice and use your own privilege and your own positionality to do something.
[00:07:31] Jasper: Reckoning with race, class, and privilege is something that many of us have been doing over the last year, and because of that, it’s been an important part of this show. At the same time, the last year has also been one of pandemic and isolation. Because of that, we were excited to delve into these questions at the show, and luckily, Antioch University, across all of its campuses, has a major focus on training mental health professionals from therapists and counselors to psychiatrists and health systems administrators.
Across multiple conversations, we had the chance to hear about the mental health difficulties presented by the pandemic and also how it’s presented opportunities for growth. Lauren, what were some of the conversations about mental health that stood out to you?
[00:08:18] Lauren: I really enjoyed the conversation that took place in our interview with Doug Wear and Lane Janger about taking therapy training sites online. This was our first two person interview on the Seed Field. It was exciting to see how across multiple different Antioch campuses therapists were taking this challenge as an opportunity to expand their own knowledge and develop the skill of helping patients at a distance. Here is a clip from Doug and then a clip from Lane where they discuss the pandemics’ unexpected upside in their field.
[00:08:53] Doug Wear: Considering education is an ongoing process that – of formal learning relevant to your practice or education and to enable you to keep pace with the science and the interventions and to allow us to increase our competence. What a perfect place for continuing education as this presents, all of a sudden.
[00:09:20] Lane Janger: I just want to add to that. It’s like this training is so important, even if the pandemic didn’t happen because we’ve got the younger generations who are so used to communicating virtually. I think sometimes they prefer it and are more likely to show up at therapy if they get to do it virtually. I think the training becomes extra important.
[00:09:47] Jasper: This theme of reaching people where they are is so key. I’m glad that you brought that out, Lauren. Something similar came up in my conversation about the effects of the pandemic on children’s mental health. I was talking with Gina Pasquale, and she said something I thought really interesting about the importance of listening.
[00:10:07] Gina Pasquale: Listening, but truly listening, like listening to understand, not just listening to listen, not listening to respond, but really listening to understand the perspective. We don’t have to rescue. We don’t have to make things better because we can’t in so many ways, but there is something profoundly healing and that acts as a resiliency when we are really heard and understood. If I would want parents to do any one particular thing or folks who are spending time with kids to do any one particular thing, it would be really to give them voice, not make promises you cannot keep, but to really just be there with them to help them with that isolation piece.
[00:10:52] Lauren: I love that quote from Gina. I really think that anybody who’s interacting with kids right now should listen to her episode because it was really insightful. Just as a little teaser for our upcoming season, Gina is going to come back and join us again, but this time as a guest host. Keep a lookout for that episode.
While we’re on the topic of kids and mental health, another person who had some great insight into working with youth during the pandemic was Cynthia Ruffin. She’s the director of COLORS LGBTQ Youth Counseling, which is a free therapy clinic in Los Angeles. She told us about how important listening is for those working to help kids whose very identities and sexualities make them targets for discrimination.
[00:11:36] Cynthia Ruffin: Quite literally, us as therapists, as teachers, as doctors, as nurses, really, when we walk in to see our clients and our patients, we’ve got a walk in with those things checked out the door, our own internalized homophobia, our own implicit bias, and we’ve got to engage in work that affirms the identity of the people that we’re working with.
We’ve got a young person who comes in, a young gay man comes in for therapy, we’ve got to be in a place where we can affirm him when he walks in because outside of the counseling room, he’s got to deal with the oppressions of being a gay man all the time. When he comes into the room with us, he’s going to be able to have a place where you can sit and tell his story and walk through what his issues are and do so in a way that does not make him feel shamed, bad about who he is, beating on himself any more than he probably is already doing. He’s got to be able to find a safe place where he can be affirmed.
[00:12:41] Jasper: Another focus for us here at Antioch is teacher training, preparing the next generation of educators to impact the lives of their students in powerfully positive ways. One of the innovative educators we had the chance to speak with was Zoe Weil, founder of the Institute Humane Education. She explained to us the way that humane education can form a foundational philosophy for educators across disciplines.
[00:13:08] Zoe Weil: Humane education can be perceived as something that is in addition to. You were just talking about all those things that teachers have to add onto their already incredibly full plate.
How can humane education not be perceived as yet another add-on, something more that teachers have to do? The way that we perceive it is that humane education can infuse schools and infuse curricula so that regardless of what a teacher is required to teach, whether they’re a math teacher of seventh graders or whether they are a high school history teacher, whatever it is that they were hired to teach, that these issues of social justice and sustainability and animal protection can actually be brought into the curriculum too, enliven and enrich the curriculum so that students can learn about real-world issues within whatever subjects they are required to study and that their teachers are required to teach.
[00:14:26] Lauren: Jasper, going into that conversation, I didn’t know that humane education included all of those different elements and had such a focus on sustainability and animal protection, but that makes so much sense. I also love this idea that we can integrate these important lessons into everything that we study. It’s so Antiochian.
[00:14:45] Jasper: Yes, it really is Antiochian. For me, I think part of what I love about the way that Zoe puts it there is that humane education puts care for the environment as part of the foundation for all educational work. I’m really passionate about this because, in part of the climate emergency that just is growing more dire every year, I think environmental education is such an important field today. Here on the Seed Field podcast, we had the chance to talk with two experts in environmental education, Sue Byers, and Libby McCann. I really appreciated what Libby and then Sue had to say about the importance of connecting environmental education to work around racial justice.
[00:15:26] Libby McCann: I really believe in connectedness and right relation. By that, I mean right relation with ourselves. Taking time to center ourselves and be aware of the world around us, right relation with others, our family, our friends, our broader community, being a service and right relation with the world around us. I think the environmental movement has been remiss to have a, I don’t know, almost eco-elitist privilege perspective on what constitutes environment, and it’s all around us. To take those moments to connect with the world around us and pay attention I think is super important to our work.
Then one that is just particularly to the climate change, injustices and impacts that we’re witnessing, we need to talk to people about climate and climate injustices and change for the future and imagine different futures that are more just and equitable and recognize that we cannot have sacrificed zones. We cannot have sacrificed people. We have to circle back and connect to each other.
[00:16:49] Sue Byers: No one should go sacrificed. I understand and heartedly agree with that statement. The other thing is, so often, in advocates zeal to support. Sometimes we move in to fix things for people. If there’s another takeaway that our listeners will hear from this podcast today is in our communities that are most impacted, there also are solutions that they have developed. There are also leaders within the community that what is needed is to come alongside and to support, not necessarily come in with preconceived notions. In other words, honor that voice of those that have been most impacted and involve and engage them.
[00:17:54] Lauren: I really connected with what Sue said that at the end there about the importance of not only listening to the people that are most impacted, but making their voices the driving force in any community activism taking place.
[00:18:06] Jasper: Yes, and that sentiment that we should expand the circle of who gets listened to. I think it was echoed by another one of our guests, Jean Kayira, who directs our environmental studies PhD. Jeanne told us that listening to the voices of people who’ve often been excluded from environmental studies really is a key to finding new and more sustainable relationships with our world.
[00:18:33] Jean Kayira: We need to recognize that one way of thinking is not going to make a difference. It has not, but also, we need to expand our understanding of the word environment. What are we talking about? What does that mean? In my view, environment is really about interconnectedness and interdependence of everything, whether it’s animate and the more than human. What does that mean? It means that no species is higher than the other.
We operate in an ecosystem where everything is connected, where everything depends on each other, and that alone comes with the expectation, one would imagine, that we need to respect each other. We need to respect everything that makes us who we are, and that comes with respect, but also mutual reciprocity between us as human beings and everything that surrounds us.
[00:20:01] Jasper: Antioch is an institution founded on the ideals of advancing social justice, building democracy, and winning victories for humanity. Under the leadership of our chancellor, Bill Groves, Antioch has kept affirming its commitment to these values and this tradition. That’s why we are excited to have the chance to talk with chancellor Groves about the connections he sees between higher education, democracy, and social justice.
[00:20:28] Bill Groves: I believe that without democracy, you can’t have social justice. Democracy is the precursor to social justice and an informed electorate is a precursor to a democracy. Higher education’s role has been to educate. It’s also been to ensure that we are hearing voices that are beyond our own, that is a inclusive environment.
[00:20:56] Lauren: Whenever I listen to this conversation with Chancellor Groves, it makes me smile because it’s so refreshing to hear someone in that kind of leadership talk about what it means to actually live the values of work by the university. I think a great example of this was in Chancellor Groves’ story about how, in the days after George Floyd was murdered, he had to make decisions about the kind of letter he would send to the Antioch community.
[00:21:21] Bill: There were many institutions who did not speak at all to the murder of George Floyd, not one word. There were other institutions that wrote letters, and I read them as I was writing mine, that were thoughts and prayers but nothing about the social justice issues that led to it. I decided I was going to write a very different letter. I know that that letter really touched people in a very important way. I got so many responses to that letter from alumni and from students who needed to hear that their institution understood what systemic racism was and how it plays out yet today in today’s society and needs to be addressed in policing in the way that we operate as communities.
That’s my view. Where the proper role of higher education speak to your values, do not hide from them. I don’t support candidates and I don’t support political parties, but I will speak to values.
[00:22:26] Jasper: Thank you for sharing that clip with us, Lauren. I feel like that’s a really great point. It reminds me of another episode where we got to explore these questions of leadership. The interview with Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi was one of those episodes where we had a guest host. I didn’t actually do the interview, but in listening back, I was really struck by his ideas around self-awareness and self-regulation.
[00:22:50] Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi: Training development journey in the context of leadership begins with that commitment to self-awareness and self-regulation. Sounds simple, but when we say self-awareness, it requires a certain amount of investment and courage to learn about our blind spots, to identify some of our developmental opportunities. Then self-regulation at the same time demands from us that, as we put some of the ideas and the commitment to change that we make in ourselves, in our teams, and in our social system, we will stay with that commitment to practice, even if we make mistakes. Again, those actions require a lot of courage on the individual’s part.
[00:23:41] Jasper: This commitment to making change for the better really is so powerful. I think that it’s something that really united all of our guests on the Seed Field podcast last season. Lauren, you interviewed the historian, Kirsten Grimstad, and I really liked how she offered that political change often starts with challenging the stories that we tell ourselves. She suggested that one place we can start is by interrogating our own histories and the histories of our workplaces, the histories of our communities, the history of our broader society.
[00:24:13] Lauren: Yes, Jasper, that whole conversation was so much fun. That suggestion at the end for our listeners was so powerful.
[00:24:21] Kirsten Grimstad: I think we need to take the example from the History Workshop movement, which was very active in getting this engine going in Berlin and elsewhere. The History Workshop movement took as its motto. This is really important, dig where you are standing. The history movement in Germany took that motto as a guiding principle for each district. Looking at, “well, what was going on in my district under the Nazis? Who lived here, and what happened to them?” and finding those stories about your local locality. Dig where you’re standing. You can go a long way just by following that principle of digging where you’re standing.
I think we need to be inspired by these examples of people who have made a difference by being unwilling to live with the status quo that privileges some people and disadvantages other people. For every person that depends on, where are you standing? What is the status quo, and how did it become the status quo?
[00:25:39] Lauren: I thought this was such a great idea about starting wherever you are and questioning the status quo and that just doing that could make a huge difference. Jasper, you had an extremely interesting conversation with our last guest this season about observing and questioning your surroundings too.
[00:25:55] Jasper: Yes. I’m glad you bring that up. Our last guest was Sue Woehrlin. I was so interested in the way that she suggested we could expose injustice and create change by exploring smaller things. We talked about using maps or deconstructing narratives or simply observing the birds around us. I think it fits the idea behind this podcast that so much of our work finally comes down to the stories we tell.
[00:26:21] Sue Woehrlin: I might suggest that in whatever way you make meaning of something, whether it was an encounter that happened in a relationship or some dynamic that’s happening in your workplace or something or some movement that’s happening socially, is to articulate what that story is. Then ask yourself if there’s a different way you could tell the story. To get there, you might need to ask other people how they understand it and hear their story. I think that it’s good to make explicit what our stories are and also to understand that not everyone sees it the same way and to be willing to risk to see the world different.
[00:27:05] Jasper: Well, I think that we’ve now reminisced through all of our guests. That wraps this part up. Thank you, Lauren, for that trip down memory lane.
[00:27:13] Lauren: Yes. I actually need to go get started editing on our first episode of Season 2.
[00:27:18] Jasper: That’s great. I’m going to remind our listeners that as we head into our new season, we’re going to carry all of these lessons with us. We’re really excited to have you along for the journey. If you haven’t yet already, please subscribe to the Seed Field podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. If you really want to support us, leave us a rating, or maybe even better, share an episode with a friend, classmate, colleague, or student.
As I mentioned at the beginning, we’ll be linking in our show notes to all of the episodes we excerpted today. We post these show notes on our website, theseedfield.org, where you’ll also find full episode transcripts, prior episodes, and more. The Seed Field podcast is produced by Antioch University. Our editor is Lauren Instenes. A special thanks to Melissa Batalin, Karen Hamilton, and Melinda Garland.
Thank you for spending your time with us today. That’s it for this episode. We hope to see you next time. Don’t forget to plant a seed, sow a cause, and win a victory for humanity. From Antioch University, this has been the Seed Field podcast.
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