A How to Citizen Huddle (Coach Steve Kerr & Friends)

Show Description

Whether you’re a sports fanatic, or you’ve never stepped foot on a court or field, — there’s a lot we can learn about citizening from the lens of coaches and athletes. To show us how sports can help us with teamwork, discipline, and a sense of play in our citizening efforts— Baratunde is joined by Steve Kerr, head coach of the NBA championship-winning Golden State Warriors and relentless advocate for gun violence prevention, along with Dr. Kensa Gunter, a clinical and sports psychologist, and Jamie Zaninovich, the Deputy Commissioner & COO of the Pac-12 Conference.

Show Notes & Actions

Show Transcript

Steve Kerr  0:01

Connection between people is really a powerful force. Whether it's a force for winning basketball games or a force for changing society.

Baratunde Thurston  0:16

Welcome to How to Citizen with Baratunde. A podcast that re-imagines citizen as a verb, not a legal status. This season is all about how we practice democracy. What can we get rid of? What can we invent and how do we change the culture of democracy itself? Relieving the theoretical clouds and hitting the ground with inspiring examples of people and institutions that are showing us new ways to govern ourselves.

Since high school, athletics have not been a driving force in my life, not nearly as much as technology or politics, but as a child, your boy was pretty into sports. We're talking youth soccer, single-season experiments in cross county, ouch didn't last; swimming, even shorter; and wrestling. Well, that's a funny story for another day. I spent years on the track and field team, very consistent. Shout out to Coach Gold. Once I was out of school though, I drifted from playing or even watching sports outside of championship games and major events like the World Cup. I told myself I was too busy for it and that it wasn't super important to me. Instead, I'd obsess over YouTube videos comparing the latest electric vehicles or home studio setups, and I'd click between the Washington Post and the New York Times and a thousand tweets in an attempt to read all the articles on all the politics.

I've missed being part of a team. The camaraderie, shared victory, shared losses, fans doing the wave in the stands poorly. More than the physicality of sports, I miss and respect its power to help us consistently show up for something, to build with others through relationships and to use power for a collective self-interest. Victory! Playing as a team. I miss that. Sports can provide a literal arena for us to practice how to citizen. Yeah, I'm talking about practice.

Allen Iverson  2:21

I mean listen, we talking about practice.

Baratunde Thurston  2:24

Now, the conversation you're about to hear happened because of a collaboration between this podcast, How to Citizen, and some folks in the NCAA, the National Collegiate Athletics Association, who saw that connection between athletics and citizening. College basketball coach Eric Reveno was fired up after police killed George Floyd in 2020 and he wanted to do more to empower his players. He helped lead an effort that became known as the All Vote No Play pledge where athletics take election day off from practice or games so players can vote and volunteer. Coach Rev later teamed up with designer and educator, Lisa Kay Solomon of the Stanford D. School, who was also designing better ways to get young people engaged in voting and civics more broadly. We at How to Citizen joined these two in their efforts to train athletes to become active citizens.

Our executive producer and my wife Elizabeth, led the collaboration on behalf of How to Citizen and we developed a pilot program and curriculum with NCAA coaches to translate their athletic coaching into citizen coaching. What does that backstory have to do with Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr being in this episode title? Well, Coach Rev and Lisa Kay brought a group together, let's call them a team, to discuss why teaching civic culture and citizening is vital for student athlete programs. The discussion was hosted by D1.ticker, creators of the most popular newsletter for college sports administrators, and they asked me to moderate it.

After what I heard. I knew I had to run tell you and instead of telling you about it, I figured I'd just let you hear it directly. You're going to hear from three people plus me. Dr. Kensa Gunter is a clinical and sports psychologist and mental health expert who works with student and professional athletes. Jamie Zaninovich is the deputy commissioner and COO of the Pac-12 Conference, the Western U.S. Conference, representing over 20 sports at the collegiate D1 level. And Steve Kerr is Steve Kerr.

Sportscaster 1  4:33

Steve Kerr going to the left hand.

Sportscaster 2  4:35

Steve Kerr getting playing time here on the second quarter.

Sportscaster 3  4:38

Steve Kerr, 5 seconds remaining.

Sportscaster 4  4:38

What a nice feed from Kerr.

Steve Kerr (Archival)  4:44

The shot went in, and that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Baratunde Thurston  4:49

Head Coach of the NBA championship-winning Golden State Warriors. He's won nine titles: five as a player, and four coaching the Warriors. As important, though, is how he's used his platform repeatedly to stand up for a future free of avoidable, nonsensical and deadly gun violence. You've probably heard him going off in his press conferences.

Steve Kerr (Archival)  5:13

I'm tired, I'm so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I'm so tired of the, excuse my... I'm sorry. I'm tired of the moments of silence. Enough. There's 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on H.R. 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago. It's been sitting there for two years and there's a reason they won't vote on it, to hold on to power.

Baratunde Thurston  5:45

Coach Kerr and I both lost our fathers to gun violence. His way of showing up made it more personal, more emotional, more meaningful for me to take part in a conversation too. Dr. Kensa Gunter, Jamie Zaninovich and Coach Kerr on the intrinsic connection between sports and citizening after this break.

What's up? I am honored to be in this Brady Bunch box. This is like the opening of a wonderful joke; a sports psychologist, a league commissioner and a professional head coach walk into a Zoom room to have a conversation about athletics, civics and how to make teammates well beyond the field, the pool, the arena, but in our society at large. Building America's teammates, this idea of the principles of our podcast that we show up and participate, invest in relationships with ourselves, others in the planet, understand our power and how to flex it. Doing that for our collective self-interest, not just our individual self-interest, that is pre aligned with the best of athletics, the best of coaching, which isn't just about physical performance, it's about team performance, it's about collective benefit, it's about strength, not just through force.

Thank the three of you for making this time to be here today, and I want to start with each of you, one at a time understanding why you're here. What do you see as the alignment between athletics and civics and what has brought to you to this conversation today? Dr. Kensa Gunter, let's go.

Dr. Kensa Gunter 7:22

Well, thank you so much, Baratunde. It's a pleasure to be a part of this conversation and I'll just jump right in to answer your question. By trade, I am a clinical and sports psychologist, and when you ask that question about what is the intersection between civics and why is it important to athletics, I think because at the root of who is participating in both our humans, our people, and so thinking about how we can engage in and create environments where there's a sense of belonging to use your word, where there's the focus on the collective, I think that's really important for us to think about. Sport historically has been used as a platform by many to advocate for issues around justice and injustice and equity. I think it's one of those rare places in society where we see the value of team, we see the benefit of coming together, and if we can take the lessons that we learn in athletics and apply them to the world at large, I think that really can create, again, one of those environments where, like you said, we're all teammates for one another.

I think really looking at the way in which the people who participate in athletics and sports can teach us lessons about how to participate and how to citizen is really a huge place where that comes together. There's benefits to our mental, emotional and collective wellness when we think about how we do this thing together. Again, whether it's civics or whether it's sports, how we do life together. That I think is the bridge that connects the two.

Baratunde Thurston  08:43

How we do life together. That's a bumper sticker. That's a call to action right there. Thank you so much, Doctor. Deputy Commissioner, Jamie Zaninovich, can you answer the same question? Why are you here and what are you seeing as the connection between athletics and civics?

Jamie Zaninovich  08:58

Yeah, well first of all, thanks for having me. I'm humbled to be a part of this group for sure, and inspired by your words and Dr. Gunter's words. Listen, I think there's two things for me. I've worked in college athletics my whole life. I now work at the Pac-12. The reason I work in college athletics is because it is about this co-curricular activity. Right. It's really about what young people who come to us when they're 18 years old and spend four or five, sometimes six years with us, how they can develop emotionally, socially, in other words, otherwise, not just through the classroom, but in the fields of play, in the swimming pool, on the track. The lessons that they can learn being part of these teams, achieving, failing, struggling, learning how to activate their voice, their passion, and be a teammate and be a citizen, I think is incredibly powerful. As a result, you create these dynamics within these teams with the profile and the popularity now of college athletics where these student athletes now have incredible platforms. In the Pac-12, we encourage them to activate those platforms. We've seen that across many sports and our 7,000 athletes for years.

The other thing I would say is that I'm very proud to be part of the Pac-12. We have a long tradition of having game changers. You go back to Arthur Ashe, you go back to Jackie Robinson. We have had athletes in our conference that have been brave and forward-thinking and have had the courage to help change society through their sport. That's something that I think is incredibly powerful. I think you've seen sport change society in so many ways over time, and we should not lose that now more than ever with the hope that we need to give the next generation. We all have a responsibility to leverage what we do, in my case, in Steve's case and others in sport to help change society or what is our impact? What is our real legacy?

Baratunde Thurston  10:46

That sport goes so much farther than just sport. We're having this conversation about Serena Williams right now collectively. That's not just about tennis, right? It's about representation, power, health equity, so many different things connected to that tennis court, but well beyond. Coach Steve Kerr in the house. Man, I've been trying to stay calm this whole time, coming in very professional. We got the doctor, the commissioner, but man, come on now. Hello. Welcome.

Steve Kerr  11:12

Hi, Baratunde. Thanks for having me.

Baratunde Thurston  11:14

Thank you for being had with us here. The same question to you. What brings you here and what do you see as the connection between athletics and civics?

Steve Kerr  11:24

Well, I may have another bumper sticker for you. I played for a couple of amazing coaches, actually I played for five amazing coaches, but two of them stand out in particular in terms of their ability to connect life and basketball. Phil Jackson used to have a great saying. He would tell us in Chicago, he said, "Life is a metaphor for basketball, and basketball is a metaphor for life." I really connected to that because it's amazing how true that is. When you're on a really good team and you feel that sense of community and you feel that connection, the team's better.

When you translate that to life and you witness something really beautiful, whether it's a classroom of students who are really interactive and learning from each other and teaching each other and enjoying each other's company or maybe a thriving business or a panel of people talking and really connecting; you can feel that a connection between people is really a powerful force. Whether it's a force for winning basketball games or a force for changing society, it's that connection, that teamwork that ultimately creates what you're looking for. I think Phil was right. Basketball really is a metaphor for life and for anybody who out there who is actually coaching, one of the lessons that I've really learned is that engaging your athletes in things like civic responsibility is not just important in terms of making the world a better place, but it's a pretty powerful tool to make the team better too.

Baratunde Thurston  13:06

Civics can mean a lot of things, and one of my pet peeves is that it's sometimes is whittled down solely to voting. Voting is critical and essential, and so that's a part of the puzzle. It also includes many other things, and so inclusive of voting for anyone, and feel free to crosstalk with each other as you hear something that may resonate from someone else, what have you seen in your world of athletics, whether it's students who are your patients, they're in your leagues, they're adults on your team right now or in their journey to get to where you are right now, what type of civic engagement, what type of citizening are you seeing that is deeply connected to the world of athletics? Anybody can jump in first.

Jamie Zaninovich  13:51

I guess I'll start. I'll go back to 2020 in our Conference and what a dynamic time after George Floyd, headed to a pandemic. One of the things I think that was pretty incredible and dynamic that we saw in the Pac-12 was just how these young people, these 18 to 21-year-olds that are so incredible on the courts and also sort of in leadership roles were inspiring we adults. It's really not their job, but they were really grabbing their head coaches, grabbing their assistant coaches and saying, "Hey, there's a march in Boulder tonight. Hey, there's a march in Berkeley tonight. We're going. Get the team together. Let's wear our stuff." To Steve's point, this is going to be a team bonding exercise because it's going to be something that we can do together that's going to have an impact on something much bigger than all of us.

It was incredibly emotional because it really was going back to some of the real impactful civil rights history in this country where the young people were taking it upon themselves, which again, they shouldn't have to do, but they were so inspired by their energy, and these athletes have this unique ability to, like Steve said, bring people together and to lead as a collective in a way that was really, really powerful. That's just one thing that I remember from a couple years ago and that's continued. I think we're pretty proud of our programs in the Pac-12 that that activity is not halted thanks to people like Coach Reveno and others nationally. They've reminded everyone how to citizen, that this should be core to team-building exercises and otherwise. For me, that was one thing that really inspired me, honestly.

Dr. Kensa Gunter  15:25

Yeah, I was trying to think through how I've seen it positioned, how I've seen this civics and this activism, if you will, outside of voting. What comes to mind for me is the power of sharing your story as a way of humanizing people. We talk about understanding our power and understanding the systems that we're in. I also think a huge piece of civics is trying to understand the people that we're living alongside and viewing them, not just in the context of what they do or what platform they may hold, but I really feel like trying to see them as the people that they are, whether it's humanizing this conversation about civics, humanizing the conversation about voting. Voting is not just about going to the poll, but those votes that you cast have very real implications for the lived experience of people beyond that moment.

As I think about athletes who have worn certain phrases on the back of their jerseys, if I think about the single-side experience and the bubble experience. If I think about Black Lives Matter being written on the court for the WNBA seasons, if I think about the ways in which, I'm based in Atlanta, the Atlanta Dream were really instrumental in one of our Congress votes here a few years ago, thinking about Reverend Warnock. If I think about the way in which people have activated in that way, but also demonstrated activism by sharing more of their story so that you get to know more of who they are. For me, again, the mental health story has been one that's been really powerful. I think yes, action around issues that are important, but also sharing more of our story, humanizing us as people, understanding the collective, but also understanding the people that make up that collective. I think that to me feels like a huge element of the civics conversation.

Baratunde Thurston  17:05

That's a really powerful reminder, Doctor, the humanity piece. I think as much as I can pick at this idea that it's more than just voting, I also appreciate you reminding us it doesn't always have to be in the streets activism either. I know a lot of us feel pressure when we hear, "Participate in your civic community and get involved." It's like, "Do I have to go on a march? Am I getting petition signed?" It can also be from the mental health perspective, I'm thinking of Simone Biles and the kind of leadership that it takes as a high performance person to say, "I'm not down to perform right now, and here's some of why."

Dr. Kensa Gunter  17:44

Or to say I'm prioritizing my health.

Baratunde Thurston  17:47

Exactly. Exactly. Not just performance.

Dr. Kensa Gunter  17:50

Right. Remind you there's a person in there that we need to privilege and value and honor.

Baratunde Thurston  17:57

Honoring the person there. Coach Kerr, do you have anything to add in terms of some things you've seen as how people are showing up more actively in their civic lives?

Steve Kerr  18:05

Yeah, I'm really struck by what Dr. Gunter talked about in terms of just being human and being present. For so many athletes they're in the limelight and they want to make sure they're using their name, using their words for a good cause, but sometimes it's just being there and listening. I had a really amazing experience with Steph and Klay about-

Baratunde Thurston  18:30

Quick explainer-Tunde for anyone who's not a basketball nerd, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are NBA players. They play for Coach Kerr's team, the Golden State Warriors, and they're really, really good at basketball and apparently citizening.

Steve Kerr  18:50 amazing experience with Steph and Klay. About three years ago, it was just before the pandemic, and I do some work with gun violence prevention, and I have a good friend in Oakland named Mike McBride. He's a pastor who does amazing work, and I invited Steph and Klay to come with me to one of the meetings that Pastor McBride has every month in Oakland. It was part of this gun violence prevention program where everybody involved in that community in Oakland, whether it's police, social workers, the mayor, Mayor Libby Schaaf was there; pastors, gang members, everybody gathered for this roundtable discussion that actually helped to limit gun violence in Oakland. Really powerful program.

Steph and Klay just came. They didn't take part, they just observed. To watch all of the people in that room see the look on their face, and for them to know that Steph and Klay from the Warriors, these guys care, they care about us. It was really powerful. There were no cameras there. Nobody ever knew Steph and Klay were there. This wasn't about some headline or showing who they were, it was just humanity, and just being there for people in the community who are either victims of gun violence or people trying to limit gun violence.

It was a really great reminder to me of what Dr. Gunter just mentioned, just the humanity piece, just connecting with your fellow human being how powerful that can be, especially for people who have that type of power that Steph and Klay do. I mean people in the limelight, they can really impact people just by being there, but really we all can. Just showing humanity to each other is just so crucial to anything that we're talking about.

Baratunde Thurston  20:52

The willingness to learn in public and use the power of your presence on behalf of someone. Those combined are really powerful. I think I know I feel a lot of pressure in the current moments, whether it's climate related, race related, politics, electoral politics related, LGBTQ issues. There's a list that we often feel pressured to have a statement ready. What is your stance on how do you feel about this position? It's okay not to know and to learn. Having the answers isn't the point. Being curious I think is a really essential value greater than having knowledge itself.

After the break, the risks and rewards of speaking up. I'm curious about any of the hard parts, and that can be interpreted in a number of ways. What occurs to me is you've got some public and outside pressure from the shut up and dribble wing. Why are you meddling and muddying in these matters? Just perform, do your thing. There's also the challenge of fatigue and even backlash to a level of activism and statement making by folks involved in athletics. The 2020 moment has passed in certain ways where a lot of these companies are pulling back and people are retrenching so maybe there's a fatigue challenge or maybe there's some other challenge in this work that you've identified. What do you think people need to know about what might be hard as you continue to weave the athletics and active citizenship world together? Dr. Gunter, could you start us off with anything you might have experienced or witnessed?

Dr. Kensa Gunter  22:34

It takes work and it takes intentional effort. I think that's one of the things that sometimes is hard because in the midst of all the other responsibilities that we are trying to adhere to, in the midst of trying to learn offenses and defenses and do strengthening and win games and build team in our sport, in addition to also living our personal lives. As we talk about this how to be a citizen, it takes deliberate effort and work to dedicate yourself to having a level of humility that allows you to recognize there are multiple truths that coexist in the world that we live in. Trying to understand somebody else's experience takes intention. Trying to educate yourself about issues that you may not be familiar with takes intention. That takes effort.

It's not just going to happen, but I think that is a part of the hardness in the moments where we may feel more disconnected than we've ever felt, in the moments where we may feel burned out, where we may feel exhausted. It's important for us to take care of ourselves. Let me be clear. We absolutely need to do those things to try to restore ourselves and replenish our energy. It takes effort to be in community, to value the collective, but ultimately, we all want to feel like we belong. That level of reciprocity, that level of us needing to be able to give and to take, to show up and to listen, to be present, and to sometimes do all of that takes work. I think the hard part is this is not something that can happen separate from the life you're living. This has to be integrated into the life you live, and it takes effort, but the reward can be tremendous.

Baratunde Thurston  24:18

We want to close on those rewards, and I'll have to do a lightning round. Deputy Commissioner Jamie, do you have anything to add on this one?

Jamie Zaninovich  24:25

Dr. Gunter's words really, really struck me. I think we don't always know what actions are the right actions to take, but I think as leaders, you can always approach it with a vulnerability and a curiosity. I think it's really important, I think Coach Kerr talked about this with his players, to say, "I don't know", or just to start with emotions. Say, "I'm scared. That concerns me. I don't know what the action is." If we can open up the conversation by being vulnerable people and being willing to learn, that opens up the conversation for all. Especially those in leadership positions like coaches, the more vulnerable and authentic you're willing to be.

We're seeing this in the next generation of athletes. I'm sure Coach Kerr is as well. You have to do it that way. You have to connect with them to motivate them and to keep them bought into the team. There's an incentive system in that too. I just think this authenticity, this vulnerability, this willingness to not know just opens up the door for people to work together instead of what we've seen a lot, which is shutting down and people taking bifurcated positions.

Baratunde Thurston  25:21

Coach Kerr. What's the hard part you've seen in intertwining these different parts of people's identity and to anticipate where Dr. Gunter was going to take us, what's the reward? What makes it worth it?

Steve Kerr  25:33

Yeah. Well, I think what Jamie mentioned is so important, the vulnerability aspect of it. The hard part of being vulnerable is that we're living in an era where people are out there ready to pounce as soon as you make a mistake. That's what I've found being in the public eye. I've had to really make sure that I feel like I have a good grasp on what I'm talking about. I think it's important if you're going to be involved in the community and involved in some kind of social change that you're looking for, find a passion, find something that you're particularly interested in and focus on it and read about it and get to know your subject.

For me, that topic is gun violence. I lost my dad to gun violence when I was 18 years old. That issue is my passion, and I've really had to learn over really since I started talking about it publicly, which started in about 2016. I think I've had to learn a lot of things. I've made a lot of mistakes just with my words and phrases. For example, if you want to try to connect with people who are on the other side of the gun issue, don't say gun control. We say gun violence prevention. It's an important distinction because if you want to actually make a connection with people and actually create progress, there's got to be common ground. I've got a dozen other things that I could say in the same realm of expressions that I needed to learn, things that I needed to learn, statistics that I had to learn. Because it was a passion of mine, I really wanted to learn and I found great resources to help me. Now I've really connected with some of the gun violence prevention groups nationally with the Brady Center, and Giffords, March for Our Lives.

I've learned so much from these people, but the reward has been phenomenal. I've received letters and calls from high school students, junior high school students thanking me for speaking up based on what's happening around the country. It's incredibly inspiring to learn and grow and meet like-minded people in what is really a nationwide movement to try to improve our society. I guess that's my thought. My advice is to focus on something that you're passionate about, otherwise you can get yourself in a little bit of trouble. The rewards are really, really impressive and satisfying.

Baratunde Thurston  28:09

We are always short on time in discussions like these. Dr. Gunter, I want to give you an opportunity. Any last thought that you want to share? I'll come to you, Jamie, as well as you Coach Kerr, and then I'll put a button on this and let us get back to the rest of our days in our citizening. Go ahead, Doctor.

Dr. Kensa Gunter  28:25

There are two things that came to mind. I've used this phrase now in a lot of talks and presentations that I do, and I'm sure it came from somebody much wiser than me, but I'll share it. It's we're human beings, not human doings. As we think about civics, as we think about team, as we think about community, as we think about ourselves, it's really important for us to think about how we show up and how we can be in the world. A just an equitable society is beneficial for all of us. Again, I have to take it back to the mental health part. Our mental health is impacted by what happens in us, to us and around us. In addition to thinking about the ways that we take care of ourselves, the ways that we take care of each other and the way that we help to create systems that promote health and wellness for the collective really creates a society that's better for all of us. Those are some of the things that I think are important about this intersection and how it intersects with life.

Baratunde Thurston  29:21

Thank you for that. Jamie.

Jamie Zaninovich  29:23

Again, working with young people like we do in college sports, I think there's really this void of hope for the future for them, and I really hope that our leadership... I think that is affecting their mental health. We're hearing it in stories every day in terms of we're trying to load up the services on campus. It's not just athletes, it's college students more broadly and youth more generally, but there's really this lack of hope because of everything that they're being bombarded with. I hope as leaders, we can turn that around and I think it will lead to better mental health and lead to better... The reward will be a more just, comforting and supportive society for all of us. It's a massive undertaking, but whether it's climate change or social justice or otherwise, these kids are being bombarded and I hope we can all step up and make a brighter future for them.

Related to that, I think Coach Kerr brought up something really important, which is this notion of talking to the other side. We have people that are so entrenched in their positions and we need to find a way, and his is a good example, to reach out and to speak to the other side and people that have different ideals and philosophies and otherwise, and come together in a way to determine this brighter future for the young people of tomorrow who will lead us when we need their help. Those are my two takeaways.

Baratunde Thurston  30:34

Coach Kerr bring us home.

Steve Kerr  30:35

As Jamie said, our athletes, our students are getting bombarded with bad news and the difficulty of living modern life, as a result it can cloud the picture. There's a sense that, oh my gosh, the world's in a terrible place. The world's actually in a way better place than it was 50 years ago. There's a lot of great things happening. There's a lot of wonderful people doing amazing things. There's a lot of beauty on Earth. Yes, there are a lot of problems, but we live in a time where it's media for profit. It's just people trying to make money by sensationalizing everything, which is terrible for our mental health. How can we help our students and our athletes and people around us understand that, pardon my French, but all that stuff is bullshit. It really is. What matters is human connection, truth, and how do you get to the truth through communication and respect and interacting with people in your community? We've got to find a way to lessen the mental impact of all this bombardment of negativity and divisiveness that is in many ways created just for profit in our world.

Baratunde Thurston  31:52

Thank you for naming that. Thank you all for this beautiful communication, very respectful. I feel more connected to each of you in certain ways. Coach Kerr, I didn't remember that about you. I lost my father to gun violence when I was a child as well.

Steve Kerr  32:06


Baratunde Thurston  32:06

I'm feeling extra human with all of you right now. Thank you for your vulnerability, your honesty, and your reminders as I interpret it, that we're not alone. Some of the weight that we've described, some of the news pressures, some of the criticisms and expectations, they weigh more heavily when we try to carry them by ourselves. The principle of sport, as well as the principle of a democratic, small "d," society or any society really, is that we're stronger together. Our health is improved when we take it in a collective consideration and know that we can't do any of these things all by ourselves. That's really a torturous and unhappy life. Thanks for coming together to remind us that we can be better together. Really appreciate all of your time here and certainly offscreen. Thank you.

Man, we moved fast through that. That was one of the most efficient conversations I've been a part of in a while. It makes me think and really reminds me that there are so many ways to citizen. There are so many on-ramps to having us create a culture where caring about and fighting for our communities and our democracy is actually exciting and cool and inviting. I am clearly not the dude out there always talking about sports, but I'm aware enough to know that billions of people are deeply connected to them and the sense of belonging they provide. That team spirit extends well beyond the players into the stands, into the living rooms. The more things we can connect to this idea of citizen as a verb that people are already connected to, I say use it because that's more likely to help us create the culture and society we want to live in; ergo therefore, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports, whatever it takes to help us learn, to help us practice. Yeah, I'm talking about practice.

Allen Iverson  34:05

Listen, we talking about practice.

Baratunde Thurston  34:14

Practice. A huge thank you to Dr. Kensa Gunter, Jamie Zaninovich and Coach Kerr for their ongoing work and for sharing their wisdom. Also, again, big thanks to Lisa Kay Solomon and Coach Eric Reveno for inviting us to be a part of this discussion and for being great partners in citizening. As always, we've got some specific actions you can take after listening to this episode that fall into three categories, reflection, learning, and public participation. Go on, build on the momentum you feel after listening to these incredible people.

Our suggestions for internal reflection are inspired by Dr. Kensa Gunter. For those of you that played sports, how did belonging to a team make you feel? What about teamwork was easy for you? What about it was hard? If you weren't into sports, hello. Picture any other team you've been a part of, whether it's school or work or somewhere in between. What personal benefits did you receive by coming together with others to work on something? Now in terms of getting more informed, we got a simple recommendation to go to our website, because designed a quiz just for you. It's called "What Makes You Citizen", and we built it to help you figure out what topics or issues you're most interested in. Take the quiz and once you get your results, we've got episodes you can listen to and books and articles to read to get you started.

For our final action recommendation, I invite you to join me in attending a gathering in your community. I'm not showing up to your community, I'm showing up in mine. Think about a council meeting, a nonprofit assembly, a school board meeting, a church potluck, any kind of community forum to simply be present and listen. I'm going to find one in my neighborhood in Highland Park, Los Angeles. These neighborhood council meetings have been on my list for a long time, so I'm going to do it. Then I'm going to report back on the How to Citizen Instagram @HowtoCitizen, and share with you what I learned, not what I said, what I learned.

As always, we'd love to hear from you about your experiences taking any of the actions. After listening to an episode. Did you discover a cause for the first time driven by your passion? Did you join me in attending a community gathering just to bear witness? Tag or DM us on Instagram @HowtoCitizen and if you don't do the social media thing, we got you. You can also just email us We may even ask to share your story with our listeners. If you take any of these actions, please brag about it online and use the hashtag #HowtoCitizen. Also tag our Instagram, @HowToCitizen.

I am always online and I really do see your messages, so send them. You can also visit our website,, which has all of our shows, full transcripts, actions, and more. How to Citizen with Baratunde is a production of iHeartRadio Podcasts and Rowhome Productions. Our executive producers are me, Baratunde Thurston, and Elizabeth Stewart. Our lead producer is Allie Graham. Our associate producer is Danya AbdelHameid. Alex Lewis is our managing producer, and John Myers is our executive editor and mix engineer. Original music by Andrew Eapan with additional music by Blue Dot Sessions. Special thanks to Joelle Smith from iHeartRadio and Layla Bina. Next time on How to Citizen, we go to Paris, really.

Christian Vanizette  37:52

Every three weeks we have a big happening in front of the Lloyd's marketplace. They had 150 dancers who came and did a show of, I forgot her name, chim chiminey, chim-.

Baratunde Thurston  38:04


Christian Vanizette  38:05

They did because the story of bankers being sad so they had 150 bankers with a fake Mary Poppins.

Baratunde Thurston  38:11

With a fake Mary Poppins.

Christian Vanizette  38:12

Saying to the CEO of Lloyd's, like, "Insure our future and insure those projects."

Baratunde Thurston  38:17

Come back. To hear my conversation with Christian Vanizette about organizing volunteers into activists and bringing joy, dance parties and innovation to the fight for climate justice.

Rowhome  38:41

Rowhome Productions.


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