Spencer Critchley's blog

Jake Harriman: Fight Terrorism By Ending Extreme Poverty

Jake Harriman of Nuru International

For more than seven years, Jake Harriman was a US Marine. He was deployed in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and served two combat tours in Iraq. He earned the Bronze Star.

Jake believed wholeheartedly in the mission of fighting terrorism. But in Iraq he started to question how that should be done. He came to see the greater enemy as extreme poverty: while terrorist leaders may be evil or insane, their foot soldiers are often motivated by desperation. That insight led him to create Nuru International, which has the goal of ending extreme poverty in our lifetime.

Jennifer Park: What If Government Just Did What Works?

Jennifer Park of Results for America

We hear so many stories about government spending big money without getting results. Now, many government organizations have embraced a new approach that’s driven by the smart use of data. It has a lot in common with the way coach Billy Beane turned around the Oakland A’s baseball team, as was described in the book "Moneyball," by Michael Lewis. In fact, it’s is often called “Moneyball for government.”

Spencer's guest this time is Jennifer Park, who’s with a nonprofit called Results For America. In their conversation, Jenn focuses on What Works Cities, a collaboration with Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies and other partners.

Elin Kelsey: How Optimism Can Help Save the Oceans

Elin Kelsey

“We recognise and respect the many challenges facing our oceans, yet too often 'doom and gloom' stories are the only kind of ocean news we hear.

"The evidence suggests that if we do not balance the bad news with good, and the problems with solutions, we will not motivate people to act.”

That’s a quote from the website of Ocean Optimism, a movement to inspire action to save the oceans not by highlighting what’s going wrong, but by sharing stories of what’s going right. Our guest this time is Ocean Optimism’s founder, Elin Kelsey.

Jacob Martinez: How Digital NEST Helps Youth Take Flight

Digital NEST founder Jacob Martinez

Jacob Martinez is the founder of Digital NEST, an incubator for young tech talent in the farming towns of Watsonville and Salinas, California.

Digital NEST graduates graduates have been hired not just by local companies but by multi-nationals like software maker Adobe, and the NEST has attracted donations from major venture capitalists. As we hear in this episode, Jacob thinks the success of Digital NEST can be replicated in small towns up and down California, and maybe even across the country.

Alex Gershenson: The Huge Potential of Making Corporate Buying More Sustainable

Alex Gershenson, CEO of SupplyShift

Most of the stuff we buy is made of raw materials and components traded back and forth all over the world. It’s a huge web of what are called supply chains, worth trillions of dollars a year—and it has huge environmental and social impacts.

A company in Santa Cruz, California called SupplyShift helps corporations manage their supply chains to make them sustainable. This episode: an eye-opening conversation with SupplyShift’s CEO, Alex Gershenson.

Patrice Maginnis: How Tech—High & Low—Is Changing the World of the Blind & Visually Impaired

Patrice Maginnins

Patrice Maginnis has experienced life as someone who can see, and as someone who can’t. She was born with retinitis pigmentosa and gradually went blind, losing all usable sight at age 60.

After a career on the music faculty of UC Santa Cruz, she now helps people adapt and thrive at the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. That often involves some surprising high tech solutions—like creative uses of smart phones—and some decidedly low tech ones as well—like the power of a welcoming community.

Saving Democracy: The Way Forward

Small United States flag being held above a crowd at a political rally

This time: a live recording of a terrific panel discussion featuring very smart people from across the ideological spectrum who have national experience in politics and media.

Amanda Renteria, Mike Madrid, Debbie Mesloh, Dan Schnur, Kristin Olsen, and Zach Friend joined host Spencer Critchley at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California on March 21, 2019 to go way beyond the usual talking points and offer deep insights into where we are — and how we go forward.

Bud Colligan: Social Enterpreneur

Bud Colligan

Business drives our economy — but our guest this episode thinks it can also make society better. Bud Colligan has been part of some of the most successful businesses of our time, including Apple.

He’s also a social entrepreneur: he invests in ventures that promise to achieve social good, such as through education, or environmental protection, or inclusive economic development.

Be Right or Do Right? Zach Friend & Paul Shone on the New Congress

Dastardly Cleverness: Politics Edition

Can we look at the top priorities for the new Congress without talking about likability, who curses more, or a dancing video?

Yes we can. On Dastardly Cleverness: Politics Edition it's not about the horse race, or the latest outrage, but how to make politics do what it’s supposed to do: make our lives better, not just more entertaining — or depressing.

Lenny Mendonca: Progressive Federalism May Be the Answer to America's Problems

Lenny Mendonca

Lenny Mendonca is the co-founder of New America, a “think and action tank." He believes that what America is going through now is similar to the Gilded Age: technology is enabling a few people to get very rich while the lives of millions of others are disrupted.

And he thinks the solution to many of our problems is also rooted in the past: progressive federalism, a pragmatic and yet hopeful approach that he believes can win support from the left and the right. He says it's the answer to making progress towards the values most Americans hold dear.

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