Posted by: MC | December 19, 2010

Open Letter to LOUD MOUTH


Well…open-ish.  Excerpts really.

There’s a small publishing house with a very cool name (Loud Mouth Press  The editorial staff has been in touch about possibilities for turning the EX:Change material into a book.  Nothing has been agreed to or signed, but it’s gotten me thinking.  And since, from the beginning EX:Change has necessarily been a ‘group’ project (what with the 100 voices, the embarrassment of riches in the form of EX:C volunteers, and all of you), I’m using this week’s blog to see what you think about these ideas.

As for the letter, I thought of starting out with the more customary Dear Loud Mouth; and although there was something a little clunky sounding, it probably would have worked.  But Sunday afternoon informality got the better of me and I opened with the way more comfortable Hey Loud Mouth Guys.

After a little bit of set-up I launched right into a new series of ideas which, I must say, gets me jazzed all over again.  First, I followed on my recent wondering about what people think when they hear the word change here two years down the road.  Things progressed from there.

With a formal start date matching the beginning of the EX:Change project in 09 (i.e., the day after inauguration…Jan 21), I’m planning follow-up interviews w/ a random sample of the original 100.  By that I mean geeky actually random (because, in the end, I’m an unrepentant social psychologist) – using a bona fide chart of random #s to pick my interviewees.

In those interviews, I’ll be asking the initial change question again.  In keeping with what I did before the question will make no reference to current public events – leaving it to the respondent to start wherever s/he wants to on the personal-public spectrum.  “Today, right now, what do you mean when you say the word, ‘change’”?

We’ll see.

Then, as for format.  I’ve been thinking there’s a lot to be said in support of excerpting the 100 – sometimes in a few sentences, sometimes a few paragraphs or pages.  The thing we have that Studs Terkel didn’t is a website.  Anyone who gets jazzed to read more about what any interviewee said in 09 can hear the whole interview and/or read the whole transcript on the website.

Using that approach, I and any fab editor a publisher might love, can continue the work I am starting now, to identify the most golden sections of each transcript.  Somewhat side-bar is the fact that I have had grad students working on the content analysis of the transcripts to generate a grounded theory for interpretation of the data based on emergent themes.  There could be helpful stuff there for the process of excerpting.  Consistent with ethnographic spirit in the first place, I’m also a diehard fan of the artistic emergence of narrative from reading outside any empirical system.  (sort of wondering if that makes sense…oh, academics….  We can talk further about this).

There are, of course, the additional challenges and richness of possibility in the fact of there being 100 voices – preschoolers through octogenerians.  That calls forward the willingness to listen well enough to channel a symphony.  I likely started that process the minute I had more than one interview.  I’m liking the continuation.

As for the endurance of the material and giving the process to the people for our collective use, I’ve had these thoughts:

  • It’s a question that will not die.
  • It will for sure be UP again for the 2012.
  • I gave it away in an explicit way already following the interview w/ the barrio high school crowd in High Tech High Las Angeles (late Jan 09).  They, unfortunately, didn’t follow up (as far as I know…can ck out further), but the three questions may be asked by anyone and, in keeping w/ the original rationale*, will always be relevant.

So there you have it – a few more thoughts on the “You say Change, We say…” extension of the EX:Change project.

Looking forward to talking more soon,

Best of Everything for the Holidays,


*There’s accepted wisdom in psychology (w/ roots in theories and research from cognitive, learning, social and behavioral perspectives) suggesting that one does best (extending then to the group (nation, globe…) doing best) when affective desires are defined.  If I say I want to be happy and no one ever asks me “so, what would ‘happy’ look like for you?” you get to be passive and then feel totally betrayed by the turn of circumstances that seem to cause unhappiness.  This eventually leads to enduring low-level depression that most people in the US (among the unhappiest nations on the planet) feel.  When the fervor (aka thrill) of the word change rocked the country in 08, I had the pretty certain sense we were about 2 years from feeling, as a collective, profoundly betrayed.  No one was asking us to say what we meant by change, what it looked like to us.  Thus the EX:Change roadtrip – the 100 voices.

So, there you have it.  Onward!

But, before I sign off –

Here on the doorstep of a Winter Solstice complete with lunar eclipse (first time that’s happened for 456 years), and here on the far side of another Hanukkah week, and only days before Christmas, the week of Kwanza and the dawning of 2011 (wow on that, huh?!) – I want also to send my finest thoughts and wishes to all of you.

It’s always heartening to remember the great good fortune of being alive with the enormous richness of experiences we get to both endure and enjoy as a result.  EX:Change is not different from any experience, but mostly it’s JOY!  Thanks in large part to all of you.



  1. GREAT idea to ask the question again. Also glad to hear that you have been having grad students work on content analysis to find emergent themes. Can’t wait to hear what they come up with. Best of luck with Loud Mouth. So exciting to see the project continue to grow!

    • Thanks, Valerie! It’s so great to have amazing work that has a life of its own — I’m just following the lead. I’m guessing you know how that goes!!
      Support like yours makes it all the richer. We’ll see what people are saying now.

      • I love you, mc! Love that you write such thought provoking and emotionally held ideas. And wow, betrayal… yes, that has to be one of the most effective ways to wake someone up, shamanistically speaking, so why not an entire country? After a long history of betrayal by their leaders, Spain, woke up / “changed” their reaction to the scheming of terrorists by not going into mass fear. And now, we in the USA are getting the first sense of betrayal…the “feeling” of being betrayed. You can not hide from it in partisanship. It is happening to all of us.

        When I pass third degree Reiki preparation to other healers, betrayal of what was inherent to our planet is what they want to discuss. I do not bring this up, it is brought up by a student… every time, mc, every time. This is the Change/or expanding into the unknown, provoking our ability to sense and feel; allowing generosity instead of thinking and scheming, justifying, rationalizing and creating bitterness. Sensing betrayal is the loop we are releasing. So, I am excited about your research for all those who go into sensory overload and need firm footing for the mind. And ya know, i like my mind!

        As for format…images are remarkable and every thing I have found profound could be expanded upon by adapting a perspective. I suggest images along with your excepts denoting the perspective through visual art. As I am reminded, when asked about my visually intended web site, you said, “it feels good”…. so, yes yes yes… excerpt to maintained links and present with good visuals!

        My rambling mind loves you and my heart is full! or is it the other way around! Beth

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