Social Activism is the New Brunch?

I’m grateful for of all the amazing souls that came together this past weekend to organize, educate, and build community around important political issues.

I overheard someone say, “Social Activism is the new Brunch,” — and it certainly feels that way. There’s been a wave of intersectional community organizing in 2017 and it’s given a new meaning to what’s possible beyond Friday night drinks, and Sunday afternoon at Brunch.

Two events from this weekend that really moved me:

On Saturday night 40+ people gathered in Bushwick for a two hour lecture and discussion about protecting Planned Parenthood from being defunded, a screening of the film Names of Women (a true abortion story — watch this now!) — followed by a dance party until 4am.
$4,500 was raised for Planned Parenthood from proceeds at the door! Big shout out to Eviatar Frankel and all the organizers!

On Sunday, thirty-seven people came together at One Month for a Political Hackathon to brainstorm, organize and research the question: “How do we increase voter turnout in 2018?” Yes, we’re two years away from the next election, but there are some clear steps that need to be enact before June in order to move this along.

If you’re looking to get involved there are plenty of opportunities abound. Feel free to ask! Otherwise, please invite me out for “brunch” again some time soon. 🙂

An Email to Dig Inn

Dig Inn

Dear Dig Inn,

I’m writing because I eat at Dig Inn twice a week. I believe Dig Inn is a forward thinking, and responsible company. I love your mission.

One Request:

Everyday Dig Inn staff ask customers, “Would you like a protein with that?”

It’s clear that you mean “Would you like meat or tofu?”, but the truth is that vegetables have protein! Some vegetables have more protein than meat! The subtext of your question, “Would you like a protein?” is, “If you don’t choose a protein, you aren’t getting enough protein.” Which is false.

I know that sounds like a silly nitpick thing. But Dig Inn serves tens of thousands of people each day. You have a powerful opportunity to educate people about nutrition by using language correctly. Saying “meat is equal to protein” propagates an already false belief that protein only comes from meat.

The second consequence, is that your question “Would you like a protein?” reduces an animal’s life to a single nutrient. Thereby removing us further away from the farm — a direct contradiction with your mission. It also removes us from the conversation that livestock is the #1 contributor to climate change, because at Dig Inn I’m not ordering an animal, I’m ordering a “protein.”

I’d love it if you could ask, “Would you like meat or tofu?” instead of “Would you like a protein?” Maybe other companies will follow suit and you can lead the way in this conversation.

Thanks so much for listening.


Hey Chris,

Wanted to send over a little hello and a big thank you. Your message to us on Medium was heard loud and clear and caused quite a stir at HQ. It really gave us an opportunity to think seriously about our mission, our goals, and our language. As a veggie-centric restaurant that still serves meat, it’s all the more important that we have our priorities straight and communicate effectively.

If it’s okay with you, we’d like to reference your piece in a Medium article of our own that lets our guests know that we’re on top of it and are changing our language to reflect a little more clearly what we’re all about.

In the meantime, if you’d be so kind as to send over your mailing address, we’d love to send you a couple free meal tokens as a “token” of our gratitude.

All best,
(Dig Inn)

My Human Body 

I almost wasn’t going to go out to the march today. My human body awoke tired. For me, marching in the Women’s March today isn’t “anti-Trump.” It’s my body’s desire for attention to two critical concerns:

  1. Equal rights for all human bodies
  2. Pressure against the irresponsible experiment we’re all conducting with the Earth’s atmosphere (aka. Climate Change)

I want Donald Trump to Make America Great — I want him to succeed. But I want it to be clear that it will not be at the expense of minorities, or women, or Muslims, or people with disabilities, or survivors of sexual assault, or the planet.

Today I’m donating my body to the cause, along with thousands of inspiring friends, family, and fellow Americans. I wish that we can Make America Great for everyone. Otherwise, let it be known that we are here, and we will come back again, ready to throw our bodies up against the machine.

Don’t attack the person, attack the argument

My SECOND video on How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving is called “Don’t attack the person, attack the argument.”

Also known as, the Ad Hominem Fallacy.

We’ve seen this type of fallacy on both sides, calling people “racist”, “crooked”, “weak”, a “liar”. The Ad Hominem fallacy is dangerous because it diverts the attention of the argument (that we’re discussing), and it puts it on person.

Because if you can prove that your opponent is a liar, you don’t have to prove that the substance of what you’re talking about is true.

Look out for phrases like…

  1. “Of course you would say that…”
  2. “The only reason you could possibly be in favor of this is…”
  3. “How can you argue for eating vegetarian when you sometimes eat fish” (One of my favs, this clearly shows how a person is attacked instead of being addressed for or against his argument.)

This Thanksgiving, look out for when people attack the person, and not the argument. And maybe try to keep focused on the argument. You would do that, wouldn’t you!

How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving

How do we talk about Trump at Thanksgiving?

As people feel unsafe, fear moves them to either silence, or violence. Lashing out, or not saying anything.

Based on the current tone of my Facebook Wall I anticipate some emotional conversations happening in America tomorrow. (As well as failed opportunities for finding mutual understanding.)

So… I made a short series of videos for YouTube on how to have difficult conversations.

Check them out, share with people you think might benefit, and if you have any feedback for me please let me know! 🙂

Waking up in Trump’s America

It’s time to Unite the Country! [ep1 ]

I feel like I’ve been in an episode of Black Mirror… not (only) because Trump won. But because of what it tells us: we live in a divided country.

And I was wrong. And being wrong like this has caused me pain. I had no sense how divided we were, and Tuesday night (election night) was a wake up call. Americans are angry. Americans are divided. And so I’m here to speak about that, to humbly admit I was wrong, and to promote conversations that work to unite the country.

The Day After Trump Won in NYC [ep2]

Unfriend all Trump supporters!? [ep3 ]

The Obstacle is the Way [ep 4]

“The things which hurt, instruct,” said Benjamin Franklin. Through our pain, we will find the cure. And so I’m looking for ways to turn my pain over the division in our country, into a positive dialogue where we can unite the country.

Why Doesn’t America Have a National Museum of Slavery?

Upon arriving back home from Berlin, Germany I can’t stop wondering: Why isn’t there a Museum of American Slavery?

Last Sunday, while at a dinner party in Germany, I asked my friend a question about the Nazis. “Immediately, I realized it might be rude to discuss that painful period in German history. I apologized and tried to change the subject.”

My friend interrupted me, “No need to apologize, please let’s talk about the Nazis.” From there he explained at length how modern Germany has come to terms with such a regretful past. In our conversation I came to admire the educational resources, artifacts, and museums that the German people have to keep their past alive. All of these resources act together to advance the mantra: this should never happen again, not in Germany, not anywhere in the world.

I wish Americans felt the same way about our relationship to slavery. Sure, in America we have built museums that uphold memories of our history and monuments that praise our fallen veterans. But what I’ve noticed is that we tend to erect monuments where we see ourselves as either the victors, or victims. For instance, Vietnam Memorial includes only American names, and does not have any of the names of the Vietnamese dead.

Compare this with Germany, where in Berlin’s city center you will find the an enormous Holocaust memorial: 19,000 square meters wide and right in the center of the city situated behind the US Embassy and the Brandenburg Gate. It is there for everyone to see. The name imparts tremendous responsibility on the German people: “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.” This is what responsibility looks like! The monument serves as artifacts of a regretful past. We can learn from it, and have conversations about it, all so that we never forget.

Someone once said that “those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” I’m afraid that in America, we often repeat the bad parts of history.

Take a look at Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between Mexico and America: I can tell you that there are no conversations in Germany at the moment where the solution is to build a wall between Germany and its border countries! Why? Because there is literally still a wall still standing in Berlin to remind the Germans that, “Nope, that wall didn’t work out.” But here in America, we hide our scars. We don’t take the same responsibility.

While at dinner that night in Berlin, I admired my friend. Because when speaking about Nazis, he took responsibility for his German past. Not “responsibility” for the horrors committed, but the responsibility for not letting people forget.

Why Doesn’t America Have a Museum of Slavery? I’m not sure of the answer. All I can wonder is that if history is truly written by the winners, then why don’t the “winners” of the 13th Amendment have their own museum? Only after all Americans can take the same level of responsibility for the past, can we ever evolve as a country beyond our wounds, and finally start healing.

A Visual Retelling of Bukowski at the Charleston International Film Festival

Charleston International Film Festival

The Shoelace (2016) has been nominated for an award at the Charleston International Film Festival! The Shoelace is a short film (3 minutes) that I created as a visual retelling of the 1984 Charles Bukowski poem of the same title.

I first read “The Shoelace” when I was 14. At that age it was jarring to hear such an authentic adult voice – Bukowski’s writing lit me alive with pleasure. This is my attempt to bring an old poem to life in a new media – one that is fit for YouTubers.

The car won’t start, the toilet chain is broken, and a toothache has been killing him for days, it’s never ending. Then there’s that moment when it all comes crashing down. And that moment begins and ends with the snap of a shoelace.

The Shoelace will be available on Vimeo in early December. In the meantime read the original poem: “The Shoelace.  And if you’re near Charleston, please drop by the Charleston Music Hall on Friday, November 4th @ 7pm for the live screening.

Selected Stills: 

The Shoelace Opening