NCSL Podcasts

An Unlikely Pairing of Comedy and Policy | OAS Episode 194

Episode Summary

Tane Danger, co-founder of Minnesota’s Theater of Public Policy, is the keynote speaker at this year's professional development seminar for two legislative staff groups. On the podcast, he discussed how the skills you need for improv, such as careful listening, are also skills that can help in a legislative environment.

Episode Notes

Improv comedy may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of public policy, but Tane Danger suggests maybe it should be. Danger is the keynote speaker at this year's professional development seminar for two legislative staff groups—the Research Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS) and the Legislative Research Librarians (LRL). The meeting is Sept. 19-22 in Minneapolis and at the state Capitol in St. Paul.

Danger co-founded the Theater of Public Policy in Minnesota, which combines serious public policy discussion with improv comedy. On the podcast, he discussed how the skills you need for improv, such as careful listening, are also skills that can help in a legislative environment. He also laid out how his two-day presentation to the legislative staff groups will involve both a talk and a workshop. 


Episode Transcription

Ed:      Hello and welcome to “Our American States,” a podcast from the National Conference of State Legislatures. I’m your host Ed Smith.


TD:      Well, improvisors are very good storytellers. They are bringing stuff up on stage and crafting entire narratives that are compelling and interesting and exciting. Maybe there is some way to do this thing together to mix these 2 things that I care about.


Ed:      That was Tane Danger, who is the keynote speaker at this year’s professional development seminar for two legislative staff groups later this month in Minneapolis. Danger co-founded the Theater of Public Policy in Minnesota, which combines serious public policy discussion with improv comedy. Tane discussed how the skills you need for improv, such as careful listening, are also skills that can help in legislative environment. He also laid out how his two-day presentation to the legislative staff groups will involve both a talk and a workshop.


The seminar includes two groups – the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff, or RELACS, and the Legislative Research Librarians, LRL. The meeting will include sessions on key legislative issues, best practices, and opportunities for networking. Check the links in the show notes for more information on the meeting. 


Here is our discission.


Tane, welcome to the podcast.


TD:      Thank you so much. I’m very excited to be here on the podcast. 


Ed:      Hey really glad to have you. I have read your background and you have an interesting place in the world. I spent almost 50 years in the newspaper and public policy world and I never really came across this combination of public policy and improv, though maybe it would have made life more interesting. Tell listeners how you came to see this overlap between these two areas. 


TD:      Sure. So, I started out my career, similar to you, in journalism. I was like the editor of my college paper. I had been doing some freelancing and I thought that I was going to do that. I ended up actually doing some work right out of school for the state of Minnesota and then in a few different nonprofits. I actually kind of just have grouped all of this together as like do-gooders, like I worked in sort of the do-good industry. While I was doing that, I over and over again found that there were people who were doing really valuable, important good work, right. And again, whether that was in the public sector at the state level or in different non-profits, they a lot of times would not be great at telling the story of what they were doing and why it was valuable or important or there was joy connected to it frankly. There was probably a capacity for a lot of the places I was working to talk about what that do, but so much of it so often was sort of like hey everybody, everything is terrible and we got a lot of really bad stuff going on and you all should really like pay attention to how bad everything is and then help us out. I get that and I totally see like why you get to that place because a lot of the stuff that folks work on is really hard. Like we are working on problems and trying to solve issues that are hurting or challenging people. And yet, I would also have this instinctual feeling like well if we are always talking about it in this sort of like dire, the sky is falling and like everything is bad, like it doesn’t feel very sustainable right. Like who wants to hang out with that person at that party for very long and just listen to how miserable and bad everything is all the time.


            And you know, this was at a time when we saw a lot of people drifting away from civic life in a variety of different ways and people not participating in the ways that we had seen in previous generations. Along the same time that I was doing this public sector work, I was also doing improv comedy as my fun thing and I got to start thinking like oh if the challenge here is that folks who are doing all of this good work aren’t necessarily always great storytellers or they are telling the story in ways that maybe aren’t sustainable or long-term appealing for folks. Well, improvisors are very good storytellers. They are bringing stuff up on stage and crafting entire narratives that are compelling and interesting and exciting. Maybe there is some way to do this thing together to mix these two things that I care about. 


            And it all sincerity, I came up with this idea for a show where we’d talk about a particular set of issues, public policy usually and then a team of improv comedy performers that takes whatever it is that we were just talking about with an expert and uses that as their inspiration on stage for improv. And I started this and I thought it was going to be just something that was like interesting and fun to me frankly. It’s like kind of like oh I don’t know I’ll do this thing and maybe somebody will come out to it, but I’ll find it fun and interesting. But very quickly people started coming out to it and people were very interested and we within the first like month of doing it, people were asking us to bring it to their colleges or to their conferences and all these different things. And so that clued me into oh there is actually something here. There is an interest in talking about some of this stuff in a different kind of way, that is thinking about how this is communicated, how we kind of look at it through a little bit different lens and make it something that really is relatable and connected to people’s lives in a different kind of way.


Ed:      Well, I certainly think a lot of the people you are going to be talking with, the legislative staffers, are people who do what they do, are do-gooders if you will or the greater good. I think that’s why many, many of us are in this area. That’s part of the motivation. Now, when I first read your background, I thought oh well you are trying to tell these people to take it easy. Lighten up a little bit on this public policy, but I think what I’m really hearing you say is why don’t you try another way of communicating the import, the seriousness of this in a way that’s a little bit lighter because it might be something that people will listen to. Is that the message really?


TD:      Oh yeah. I think that there’s a couple different lessons and that we will get to in the sessions that I’m doing. Sometimes I do think about--what is line where it’s like, war is too important to leave to the generals or something. And it’s like public policy is too important to just leave to the public policy professionals. Now I will say like I am since starting the show, I got my master’s of public policy at the University of Minnesota and I really kind of gotten my boat of fee days up on being really in depth on the policy and I get it. I get why they are so serious and sensitive. And very importantly to the work that my project, The Theatre of Public Policy, does, it’s not about sort of dumbing this down or making it something that is just palatable. You know people a lot of times will ask about that like oh are you just sort of like making it you know something simple or cartoonish. And it’s like no actually it’s like very complex to take a substantive serious policy conversation and then tell that in a very different way through a performance on stage – through a set of scenes that are created between different improvisors on stage. It’s not about making it like simplistic or taking the nuance out of it. If anything, it’s a very high level of synthesis and understanding of what are the substantive valuable things here that come out when you actually are listening very deeply to what that issue and policy is about. And then you are reflecting it back in a different kind of way like you really have to be thinking about it on these different ways.


            But the big thing that I do think is important and valuable about our work that frankly sometimes can be a little bit different than how we talk about this is we really have an emphasis on wanting to reflect, describe these topics and issues from a perspective of like how is this actually going to impact and affect people right. Like what will this actually mean for the folks who are frankly in the audience, which a lot of times is a mix of folks who are deep in the policy and people who are just sort of like showing up because they wanted to learn more. And I always talk to our cast about we want anybody who is coming to this to be able to watch the show and see themselves in the conversation that we are having. And understand by the time that they leave why this is something that is important to them or will have an impact in their life or their community and things like that. And obviously like there is a lot of good examples of people in policy work who do that. I will say and I can say this as somebody who spent years in graduate school studying policy and as I mentioned got my masters in it, there is sometimes a capacity for us in this community to like get a little bit I don’t know in the weeds with each other and almost sort of like talk in a way where we are almost priding ourselves on like well I. Let me tell you about his regression analysis I ran and how the genie coalition did this thing. And we can talk to each other that way about that, but I’m not sure that that actually resonates very much for your general person walking up the street. And I want the person who is walking in off the street to get why this is important to them. And so, it’s not to say that we get rid of all of that, but it is just like OK, you’re going to talk about this statistical analysis like who are the people that are represented in that statistical analysis. That’s where we put a lot of our energy and emphasis in it. So, it is I think to take your point, like it’s not so much about lightening it up just for the sake of like oh it’s sort of light and easy now, but it’s reframing it in what is the story here and who are the characters and who is the audience and how is it that people are seeing themselves in that story.


            (TM):  10:39


Ed:      Well, I just can’t tell you how much that resonates with me. I have edited hundreds of articles about public policy and I have had this same conversation so many times with people and I ask this how does this affect people. How do real people – what’s the result in the community if this public policy is passed. And it’s very difficult to get people, smart people, very experienced, very knowledgeable, but it’s very difficult to get them oh you want me to actually find somebody who is going to be affected by this and kind of give you some sense of their life. It’s a tough thing to do. I think that what you have taken on is pretty tough.


TD:      It’s tough and I would just add though that I really and this is where I’ll get kind of serious for a second about this. I think that it’s imperative like it’s existentially important for policy people to communicate why this stuff matters and is important. At the individual policy level it matters to the success or failure of an individual policy if people see why it will matter for them. But them also, it’s sort of a microlevel, this business that we are in. This work that we do. If the public, the people that we are serving can’t see themselves in it or they don’t understand why this is something that matters for them, then of course they are not going to trust it. Like of course, they are going to be like all of this is a bunch of people downtown in an office that I’ve never been to making stuff up and I don’t know who they are or what they are about or why it’s important. And then they are going to inherently not feel like they are a part of that and that’s going to have. And I think that we see this frankly in a lot of cases where people do have a lot of skepticism sometimes because they feel like well who came up with this and why. I mean it’s not that that’s so impossible to answer. It’s just that you have to build into the processes that we are going to take time to talk about that and tell that story and listen to people and that’s a lot of the work that we do at The Theatre Company and I’m going to try and talk about in the sessions that I’m doing. 


Ed:      Yeah, talk a little bit about the sessions and I do love this idea of storytelling. I think that is the best way to get information across to people 100%. So, what are you going to talk to these legislative staffers about and tell me a little bit about the structure because I think you’ve got a couple of different pieces in this. 


TD:      So, I’m doing two days actually and the first day I’m going to do a talk. I’m going to try and present a little bit about this where these ideas came from for our project, The Theatre of Public Policy, and why over the last 12 or so years, I have really found that improvisation is a way to think differently about public policy. And to add to sort of what we are talking about, there is an element of this that is the presentation of it. But I also really believe and a lot of what my talk will be about is how the tools of improv, the tools of improvisation are valuable in the work itself as well in how we interact and engage with each other as public policy professionals as legislative staffers as folks in this industry. So just to sort of set this up a little bit, you kind of imagine what is improv right. Like it is an overly simplistic explanation it’s two or more people kind of getting up on stage together and creating an entire performance an entire story that is unscripted. So, it’s something neither of them thought of ahead of time and they are creating in real time with each other. So, if you think about like what are the skills that are necessary for that, you have to be able to listen really well because if my partner comes up on stage and says something, I had better be paying attention to what they are saying so that I can absorb that and work with it. It requires obviously being able to think creatively. Imagine things that aren’t and what they might be. It requires a lot of synthesizing of information about how we are going to take part A and part B and bring it together and come up together with something that is part C that is totally bigger and different and more than either one person kind of came up with by themself. So, I don’t know. A lot of that might sound intimidating or overwhelming when you are sort of thinking about getting up in front of an audience and coming up with all of this. And yet, my argument will be when I present this that this is what legislative staffers are doing all the time right. Like some lawmaker or some lobbyist or somebody is coming and saying we really need a policy on X and I want it to try and do these three things and your job is to listen to that and hear all of that. And then think within that about, OK, and how do I kind of piece this together with other things that I know are true or I’m going to have to bring into the process in order to like get this to fruition. What is my part in helping shape this thing, you know, how much am I driving. How much am I corralling. How much am I leading. I have to probably in different cases bring together disparate voices that are maybe presenting sometimes things that are coming at something from totally different angles and build that, as I said, into something that is bigger than any one person might have come up with by themself. 


            So, I think that if you just sort of think about it in those terms like that is a lot of what policy making is taking these different pieces and putting them together and having to do it in real time often right like while it is sort of in process. The first day of the conference I’m going to talk about this and sort of why I think that this is true. What the experience is that we’ve had doing The Theatre of Public Policy for years both in terms of presenting to the public vista, but then also doing trainings and education for people in this space that that has gotten us. And then on day two, we are going to do a workshop that people can come to and we will lead them through actual improv exercises that are things that my cast and I do in order to get ourselves in the right brain space for doing a performance on stage. But will like take a step back from that and say okay, how can we use this tool that we have just learned in a session where we are trying to figure out how to crack this piece of policy. Or what is the listening skill that is valuable here in terms of again having different stakeholders feel like they are part of a process and you are actually absorbing what they are saying and meshing it together with a variety of other things. What are like the public presentation skills that I can use that will be useful in this. We are going to actually dive into some of that. It will be fun and interactive, but there will be real like sustentative things that will give people different ways to think about how we listen to each other. How we collaborate together and how we present information together. Coming out of the world of improv but explicitly designed for bringing this into a public policy space.


            (TM):  18:09


Ed:      Let me ask you about different personality types and how they handle this. I’m an introvert. A lot of people in the newspaper business surprisingly are introverts. But I once performed in a group called Up With People for a year or so. I appeared on stage you know 225 times or something and despite the fact that I was an introvert, you know I was able to do that. So, when you look at different types of personalities like that, do you find do you think most people can engage in this sort of improv kind of skills regardless of that.


TD:      I think that this is a really important valuable piece of thinking about this. People have this notion oh I I’m going to do improv like I’m performing or I’m getting up on stage and you know. Frankly I think sometimes people if you say improv, the image in their head is actually a lot closer to like standup or something like that. Improv is built on us doing something together and its multiple people again listening and adapting and working together to build something that no one of them could do by themselves and those are skills that yes are applicable and useful on stage. And they are again like what we are using every single day to create policy and to work in the political process and a variety of different spaces. I often will say I’ll probably this will be a heads up for people who listen to this and then come to my session. I’ll very often ask people like what’s the most important skill for an improviser and people will shout out like thinking on your feet or being funny or being clever. And eventually somebody will say hopefully, they usually say, its listening. And I’m like absolutely, 100%. That’s the right answer because listening is the most important thing that an improvisor can do because improv absolutely falls apart if the people on stage aren’t listening to each other. 


            Just the same way that frankly like public policy falls apart if we aren’t listening to the stakeholders, to the community, to the other people who are involved in putting it together. The exercises that we will practice are things that are training us in how to be a good listener and a good collaborator. And that is stuff that absolutely is not built on I’m going to get up in front of a group of people and sing a song or something like that or read a sonnet that I’ve written or something. … I always say like improv is great because it trains you how to be a good listener and how to be empathetic and how to work with other people. And all of those are really good human skills. Like if you are going to do anything that involves other people then you probably want to practice your listening and your empathy and your collaboration skills. That will be the focus and the emphasis and I don’t know. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of these hundreds and hundreds and I’ve never lost anybody. Everybody usually comes gets there with me that they get this and they actually have a really good time with it even the folks who come in and are like oh this is nuts. It’s not my kind of thing. It’s like we all jump in together and we focus on what these 4 pieces are then we all have a really good experience. 


Ed:      Well, this listening element is really critical because of course that’s what we are doing right now and a lot of what legislative staffers do is interview people as they do research and try to whether its stakeholders, whether it’s their the electeds, whether it’s the other people who are experts in that area. So, talk a little bit about interviewing and listening and what kind of help do you think – what kinds of approach you take will help people within terms of their ability to maybe improve their interviewing skills.


TD:      Yeah. That’s a great question. So much of this is there’s elements of it when you talk about it, it sounds so simple and yet I really believe that we don’t train people. We don’t teach people listening skills. There’s no class for the most part that you take where you really have to focus on listening, how am I listening to people, how am I engaged with something. We will do a couple of different exercises around this particularly in the workshop on the second day. And some of them are based on listening very deeply to what somebody is saying. So just as like an example, there’s an exercise that we do where whatever you say to me, I have to start my next sentence with the you know last 3 words that you ended your sentence with, right. And it’s a little bit gimmicky and it’s obviously an exercise, but part of what this does is it makes it so that you actually have to listen to all of what somebody else is saying and not just sort of like immediately start thinking about what am I going to say when this other person is done talking. That is sort of an inherent piece of it and that’s important.


            The other thing that I like to spend a lot of time on is what I talk about is the different levels of listening. Listening to what somebody else is saying is very important. We just talked about an exercise built on that. And yet there’s all these other aspects and elements of listening that we don’t maybe talk about or we don’t think about as much. What is somebody’s physicality communicating to me about maybe how they are feeling or what their kind of current like energy is with what we are talking about. What are we not hearing because somebody is not saying it, but it’s like out there and you are aware that it’s out there. You know you just mentioned a moment ago that you spent a lot of these performances up on stage. Like it somebody up on stage an improvisor, an actor, a performer of any kind can tell you very much sort of how an audience is feeling and it doesn’t have to be a verbal thing. Nobody in the audience is saying I’m really enjoying this or I’m bored or anything in between. But if you are up on stage, you are hyper aware of sort of what that feeling is like in the room and how the audience is feeling or not feeling. And so, there’s exercises that we do that just give us a chance to sort of clue into some of that like how does this feel right now. If we get everybody really excited and everybody moving around, how does that feel different like what are we hearing differently and sort of both how we show up and then how other people are showing up. …


            I always because again I think that when we just talk about some of this, it can sound I don’t know a little bit distant or challenging or you are like what exactly are you talking about. But I always say everybody has the capacity to be a good listener right. Like being a good listener is not like you either are or you aren’t. It’s a skill like anything else. It’s like something you can practice and you can get better at. And we will do things that like because of the structure of the exercise, you have to listen very closely to what the other person that you are with is saying or how they are using their body or what the, you know, physicality or the quiet part of what is going on here. And you will find like within literally like two minutes, oh I’m paying attention to what somebody’s eyes are doing or what the tone of their voice is in a way that we just don’t normally do. We don’t normally listen or think about that. Hopefully people at this conference do this already, but it’s probably hit or miss how many of us are like paying attention in a group of people to okay who has been talking a lot and who hasn’t really said something and who is kind of like eyes are keep looking at me, but they don’t actually speak up. Tuning into how different people are participating and what they are bringing to it is something that you can absolutely get better at and relatively quickly and it’s very powerful and it’s very meaningful to things like this both because you’ll get different kind of information out of it. And because people notice when you are listening to them and it matters and they participate differently then and that’s hopefully ultimately our goal. 


Ed:      Thanks, Tane. We will be back with the rest of our discussion right after this short break.


            (TM):  27:05 music/advertisement


            I’m back with Tane Danger, the keynote speaker at the RELACS and LRL professional development seminar in the Twin Cities later this month. Tane, we were talking about listening before the break and I think we are largely trained not to listen to people and to simply wait to jump in with our own thoughts.


TD:      Well, I’ll say this to like build on that. One of the things that I’ve gotten into through this work that is one of these things on one level you are like oh you have no business doing this, but it is moderating candidate debates and I know that this audience is legislative staffers maybe not directly involved in like the politics of it. And yet like that is a place to this exact point that would drive me nuts like where I would go to a candidate forum and the way that it was structured was, we have like this list of questions and we are going to ask it and give each candidate like two minutes to answer. And come hell or high water whatever it is that they say, we are just going to move on to the next thing. And I’m like who is this for, right. Like what is the value of this thing if it doesn’t matter what a candidate says or they throw out some giant thing and nobody is going to follow up or ask anything more about it. Like it’s very frustrating and I think that it’s similar to what you are talking about where there is I don’t know because there’s politics involved and there’s sometimes strong opinions involved, we think well we have to make it “fair” and the way that I can measure fairness is well I’m going to just ask the exact same things everywhere I go and I’m going to have just a time limit cause I can measure that. And we definitely see this in candidate forums and things like that. But you see it in other kinds of like community meetings and whatnot and I’m like I get that. But if somebody says something that is got real importance or meaning or leaves something open like I want to know more about that. And I think everybody else in the audience does too. And that’s ultimately why we are here right. Like it’s not just sort of like an exercise for people to talk for the sake of it hopefully. It’s actually to like get information and something interesting out there and so that requires us listening and being able to, as we’ve been talking about, is like synthesize information and be like, OK, that’s a very interesting thing you said. Let me ask you about it and dig in farther and doing that in these different spaces is. Yeah, it’s a skill that we get trained away from in a lot of these cases that I think again kind of leads to the mistrust or the disassociation a lot of times people have with it.


Ed:      Well, I suspect you’d be a pretty good moderator at a candidate forum. I’d like to see one of those so if you have one coming up and they are streaming then send me the link. I’d like to hear that. Let me ask you kind of a left field question and I’ve asked a lot of people this in the last couple of years. I read a little bit about how you tried to handle the pandemic and I wonder coming out of the pandemic given what you do a lot of interpersonal interaction here, what do you think you learned?  Was anything in your life changed as a result? 


TD:      Oh yeah. Tons of stuff was changed. I’m trying to think of the different pieces. I think that there was a lot of learning during the pandemic during the real hard parts of Covid 19, but frankly I think a lot of that learning is still happening. And one of the things that I will just say that I’m I really believe and the pandemic underscored it for me in three different ways is the importance of people actually being together with each other in community and connecting across different kinds of spaces how important that is. Obviously like we all learned all these new tools of doing that through Zoom and Teams and whatever kinds of like apps we were using to do virtual stuff. And there’s actually something that was like I think really beautiful in ways about that. Like I thought that there was something very intimate about all of a sudden you were like in people’s homes with each other and you got to see like a very human part of their existence that we didn’t get to always see before. And I thought that that was really good. I think that as things kind of went along as is human nature, people more and more got just comfortable with like okay I’m going to talk to the people that I sort of have to talk to or like connect with whether that’s online or now more and more like back in physical space with each other. And we kind of like I don’t know a lot of us got of the habit of just going and being in places or together with people that maybe are different than us or you know. Whether that was for you like whatever your like “third space” was. Go and be at a bar or at church or at a sporting thing that you like to do or whatever it is and just sort of be with other kinds of people. I think that we got out of the habit of doing that. And I think a lot of people frankly still very much are out of the habit of that or happened built it back into their lives. And I think that we are really starting to see how much that matters and how much poorer frankly like our lives and our communities can be if we let that go too far. And I think about that on sort of like a community level right. Like we talk all the time about we are more and more divided and people are siloed and they feel disconnected from each other. And you know it doesn’t help that the only way you ever interact with people who are different than you is by reading tweets by them or like reading an account of them in the newspaper or something. You’re never actually meeting them as a human being. But then also like in this kind of work like everything that we are talking about listening to stakeholders and community and synthesizing information and bringing things together in order to craft a policy that actually serves like a broader thing like that’s just really hard work to do if you aren’t in community with other people. And not just sort of in a formal like townhall meeting kind of way, but and again you were talking before like you spent a lot of time in journalism and I started out my career there and my husband is in that and other people in my like orbit are in that. And I think about like that workspace right. Like how different being in a newspaper today would be than literally just like five years ago where so much of that work is yes you are going out and reporting. You are interviewing people, but you are also like in a newsroom and you are talking about like this is the story that I’m working on. This is what I think it is and somebody else is like yeah that reminds me of this other story that we did a couple of years ago. Or if you are going to do that, you really should go talk to so and so who has a thing about this that they’ve been working on. And so much of that is gone. Like so much of that just sort of informal idea sharing is not around in that space. But then I worry a lot about how is that part of the public policy conversation too right. Like are we doing public policy in a way where it’s like OK, you are working from home so just write this paper up on what this policy is going to be and who are you talking to formally or informally about it. Who are you listening to? Where are you bouncing your ideas around with other people? It’s a hard thing to sort of build in a formal way, but it not being there is really I think a challenge. It’s going to be something that I think we are going to grappling with for a long time that goes away. 


            And then the other thing that I will just put out there that you know I was running my theater before the pandemic and then during the pandemic and now after it. Things go away if people don’t support them and care about them. And I think we saw a lot of that over the course of the pandemic whether it was a nonprofit that you really cared about or a theater company or just your local coffee shop or whatever. I don’t know. It depends probably on who you are and where you’re at, but sometimes I think we think oh you know that thing is just here and it will always be there and it will always happen to work out. And I think that I saw over and over again in the pandemic this story of like if people don’t show up and care about the stuff that is important to them then it goes away and we are still frankly seeing that with nonprofits and places of worship and even just like your local bar or coffee shop like it’s not going to just be there because it was there before. It will be there if we go out and we are supporting it and we you know buy tickets or buy a cup of coffee or come to church or synagogue or mosque, but if we don’t then it will disappear. And I hope that that is something that people really took away during the pandemic in particular because it was so acute and so sort of right in our face over and over again is seeing these places really struggle that way. And you know the ones who made it through very happy and glad and yet that’s still true right. Like it’s not just sort of like the tide and it just always happens. It happens because of us and so we have to kind of take the ownership of that. 


            (TM):  37:55


Ed:      Well, there’s a great deal of life that is uncertain and fragile and I think for a lot of people the pandemic, as I think you’ve just reflected on, made that much more apparent. I’m just always interested to hear what people’s experiences have been because it’s going to be a once in a lifetime, I hope, experience. I kind of need to wrap up so I want to ask you what other thoughts you’d like to share with the listeners and as some of them, I hope, get ready to go and hear you at the conference.


TD:      I am so excited about this conference and like this group of people to talk to. I mean I really believe. I was kind of. When I was talking to the organizers of this, I don’t know. I was told maybe not to go too far in saying how much I am excited just sort of enamored with this community of people, but I really believe that the work that this community does is so important and it is something that is not always front and center for a lot of people. Like a lot of the public doesn’t know all that goes into how this all happens like how these things go. A big part of what I care about is trying to bring that out into the sunlight for folks and making that something that people can see a little bit more because I think that that’s really valuable and important. But also, because I do believe that this work is so valuable and people should know about it so that they don’t take it for granted and they don’t let it disappear the way we were talking about. But yeah, I just sort of think about a lot of frankly the challenges that we talk a lot about in civic life in politics in a variety of different places. And the folks who are going to be at this conference, at this summit are folks who are putting in the work like day after day to make things function and make sure that things turn out as best as we possibly can and they are often largely doing it in a relatively unsung way and they are doing it in really challenging circumstances with really like divergent points of view. I think a lot of times trying to bring those together. And they are having to practice like some skills that would be really challenging for anybody. Like if you said to anybody like I need you to take like three different people who have totally different ideas of how this thing should happen and I need you to like put that together in a way that they all can like be like, yeah, OK, at the end of the day, like we will go along with that. Most people would like run for the hills if you told them that that was going to be their job. And yet the folks here are doing that. And so, I am excited to spend this time with them to hopefully offer some tools and things that I think will be valuable in that work and will also maybe just like be uplifting and offer a little bit of joy and fun in doing that because I think that the work needs to have some element of joy and uplift so that it doesn’t become just a grind that burns you out, but it’s something that we can get energy from. And so I’m hoping that the sessions that I’m offering give people a way to do that and that we can really like lean in together and like okay how are we going to make sure that we keep doing this in a way where people see it, see themselves in it and we can talk about it in a way that is bringing people into these processes and what it all looks like because I think that that will be very good for us and good for the programs that we are working on and this system sort of being sustainable over a long period of time.


Ed:      Well, amen to all of that. I spent the last 15 years working with a lot of these legislative staffers and they are really a remarkable group of people and I’m sure they are going to benefit greatly from your presentation. And I hope they have a lot of fun with it, too. Tane, thanks so much for taking the time to do this and best of luck at the meeting.


TD:      Yeah, thank you so much. This was such a great conversation. Thank you.


            (TM):  42:14


Ed:      I’ve been talking with Tane Danger about some of the ideas he will be sharing later this month with legislative staffers at the RELACS and LRL professional development seminar. Thanks for listening.


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