What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally / academically / career wise?
Right now, I am working as 2nd in command for the nation’s leading nonprofit opposed to the commercialization of marijuana. The concept of fighting marijuana financiers- the Big Tobacco, Pharma, and Alcohol industries- everyday was one big idea I never fathomed when attending the Aspen Ideas Festival! I have been particularly excited about encouraging decision-makers to espouse public health as a core value in policy decisions.
Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar alum, and if so — how?
I was delighted to catch up with fellow Bezos Scholars- one even from my own cohort- at the Resnick Aspen Action Forum this year. This experience reminded me of the importance of maintaining contact and I plan to reach out to others I haven’t spoken to in quite some time!
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
“Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana” is an excellent read for those who may wonder about my inspiration for the issue I am currently working on. Another great resource is “The Axe Files,” a podcast by David Axelrod, a campaign and political icon. He conducts in-depth interviews with great minds and I always come away with incredible food for thought.
Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
I will add another book here. I recently re-read “The Jungle,” by Upton Sinclair, and was tremendously inspired on two levels. First, many do not realize that the original purpose of this book was to reveal the plight of immigrants coming to America in the early 1900s. Instead, the nation came away horrified by the food industry’s practices (which is why the book is attributed to initiating labor laws, food regulations, etc.). The message on immigration, however, should be renewed as it is indeed relevant today. The second level of inspiration was the impact a book like this had on a massive commercial industry that had managed to wreak havoc on public health (the food industry). We very much need this approach to many other industries that government has allowed to engage in similar predatory practices every day.
Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
My daughter, Shiloh, is now almost three and she is by far the greatest gift I have been given in my life (perhaps tied with my wife!) I believe one major source of inspiration and greatness that is often overlooked in this era is that of family-building. Mind you- most of my life I never desired to have kids! It has never been clearer to me that we need good parents, the perspective on life that having children brings, and a celebration of those key values in this country. Many of today’s most pressing issues can be traced to the family.