CD: This is the interview with Joseph Cone, taking place on the 13th ofFebruary, 2013, for the Life History Archives at Oregon State.
KU: So we were asked to kind of first go through kind of your childhood. (Conelaughs) Not all of your childhood, just kind of what people and experiences are most influential in your life, that kind of lead to where you got to, and maybe college after that?
JC: Maybe college after that.
KU: After that, you know, like what brought you to this point? And just movingthrough that.
JC: Yeah, so if I can frame a little bit how I would respond, for me, thinkingabout the influences, you know, on one's life and telling a story about those influences embeds two interesting concepts which are very much a part of our 00:01:00culture, which is that there are influences, and there is a story. Right? And that you're making an assumption about cause and effect, and that the causes of the effects that I can talk about are clear and conscious. Whereas clearly, some effects...
KU: Right, more subtle.
JC: Yeah, are more subtle and I may not be conscious of them. So, on the onehand it's sort of the topic of influences is interesting, because do I actually understand them, and to the extent that I do understand them, am I going to disclose them? (KU: Laughs) You know? And it also begs the question that we have a story to tell about it, right? And I guess my thought about that is, that I'm reminded of the great observation of D. H. Lawrence, the novelist, who said "trust the tale, not the teller." Trust the story, and not what I tell you is 00:02:00true about the story, right? So, you know, with that sort of framing about storytelling and about what I'm conscious of in terms of cause and effect and influences, I guess I can launch into it a bit more. I guess, you know, another sort of frame on it is that I do believe in the law of cause and effect, and since I'm not a reincarnated lama, I'm not a Tulku, (KU: laughs) I've got to imagine that the principle of, you know, influences on my life in childhood were my parents, like most other people, you know?
KU: And you grew up in Connecticut, right?
JC: I grew up in Connecticut.
JC: And there's a of course a deep story about parents, which is really not thesubject here, other than to say, of course, my parents were both educators, they were both academics. My mom and dad had both gone to Yale as graduate students. 00:03:00
KU: In what field?
JC: Interestingly, my mom was in Romance languages, and in the 1930s, which iswhen she was, you know, a doctoral student, Yale surprisingly, though they're obviously very wealthy, had to eliminate certain programs, and one of the few programs that were eliminated was the doctoral program in Romance languages. And so my parents were academics, and they also were of the generation so they came to their maturity in the 30s, and in the 40s my dad's formal education was interrupted by the second World War, for example. And my mom was a second generation Italian-American, and they both came to believe that higher education was the royal road to success in life, right? And so I think that that was an 00:04:00influence, you know, that education was a good thing in general, but also was a way of changing and improving your station in life. So, I think that's important and true to the influencing, not only an early influence but how you think about learning, right? Also very open minded and true to their own interests, a wide range of personal interests, which signified to me that anything was a fair topic. You know, as opposed "we're only thinking about this, we're only talking about this at dinner," no - there were all kinds of topics that, you know, were under discussion.
KU: So you might talk about science, or English or math, or whatever it was, right?
JC: And so, I think that was, you know, formative in terms of what was availablefor inspection in the world. You know, there are many things that were worthwhile.
KU: Yeah, Lynn called you a Renaissance man. Interdisciplinary.00:05:00
JC: Yeah, which is funny. I guess, you know, that's complimentary. In fact, mymajor professor in college said the same thing, and I remember exactly what he said. It was during the spring of my senior year, and he said, "You're a Renaissance man, but you're running out of a time to accomplish those Renaissance things. (KU: Laughs) You need to focus on something particular." And I thought, "Do I really?" You know? So, I guess my own intellectual preferences have been that of a generalist as opposed to many people in academia who, of course, are specialists. They have become the world's renowned specialist in this thing, that's their motivation, their goal.
KU: Sometimes it's hard to be the generalist, too, because...You know?
JC: It is, it is hard to be a generalist, or at least to be interested in avariety of topics that seem to be, what to say, difficult to see the continuity between them. And I guess the continuity in my own mind about them is that I 00:06:00think of myself, you know my identity-John Falk, who's writing a book about identity.
KU: (Laughs) Yes, he is.
JC: And we talk about this occasionally, and I subscribe in general to John'sperspective on this, which is that we all have both a big I-Identity, and a variety of smaller, lower case i-identities that are running around, and so my big I-Identity is that I think of myself as a creative person. You know? And what it is that I'm doing will change from time to time, you know? What my focus of creativity will be, but in general I'm transforming whatever it is that I'm observing into something that's creative, I mean, that's my sense of identity.
KU: So would you say that started with your parents, kind of just you've alwaysbeen that way up until college?
JC: Yeah, I think so, you know, I guess what's interesting about it--at least toaccept that it's interesting to anybody--is that, schooling is not the way in 00:07:00which many people learn best. But I did well in school, and so it becomes a positive feedback loop, you know, you show competence in a variety of subjects, and you think, "I could do more of this!"
KU: Uh huh. Those are the ones who like...yeah.
JC: Yeah, and in fact when you're doing a number of them, and they all turn outpretty well, you think, "I can keep doing this!" You know, so I had this schizophrenic identity in college of being both pre-med and honors in English, you know? And so I was taking intensive English literature classes on the one hand, and taking on the other, all the pre-med science classes.
KU: And where did you go to college? I couldn't find it. You did go to Yale.
JC: Yeah, which was interesting, I mean it was during the Vietnam war, and so itwas a odd time in that the sort of privilege, which is normally associated, I know your dad worked for Harvard, is associated with those Ivy League elite 00:08:00schools was interestingly sort of tempered by a kind of counter current, one might also say, counter culture, that was beginning to become evident during the war. Including, I remember being on the New Haven green, the big, you know, public meeting place in New Haven, and the Yale president made a famous speech in which he said, essentially, that the Black Panther leader who was currently on trial for his life for having supposedly murdered someone in New Haven, could not get, as a black man, could not get a fair trial in the United States, and everybody went, "Wow, this is the president of Yale saying that, you know, blacks are criminally disadvantaged in this respect."
KU: Oh, wow.
JC: "They can't get a fair hearing before the law." So, the point is, you know,on the one hand you have this sort of stereotype, this elite school that everything is kind of fancy and high falutin' and so forth, and on the other 00:09:00hand there is this sort of Vietnam war backdrop to it, so it's an interesting time to be there. That said, you know, just playing off those sort of influences, and the sort of academic preparation that I had that sort of indulged particular interests, I remember vividly having a full-year class with a visiting Oxford professor. Oxford Don as they called him-- who was a renowned specialist in Shakespeare, and I had a one-on-one weekly, private tutoring session with him. Can you believe it? I mean, can you imagine the expense of that, I mean, it's just one guy, I'm an English major, and I'm talking to this world-renown Shakespeare guy for an hour every week, you know, about whatever the topic was that he wanted. You can't imagine that sort of, you know, almost extravagance, right, of an educational opportunity like that.
KU: So that's the great thing of being at a school like that.
JC: Yeah, I mean so that's where the privilege makes a difference, in a sense.It's not the social privilege that is big, because I certainly was a middle 00:10:00class kid, who wasn't like I was from the elite, and that sort of thing. And so that was the advantage, and again that experience, because you asked about from childhood to college, that experience, you know, of managing to do reasonably well at both the sciences and the humanities, again, did nothing to convince me that I couldn't keep doing that! (Laughs) Foolish me!
KU: So where did you go from there after college? You developed all these broadrange of interests, so how where did you go?
CD: And different geographic areas too.
JC: Yeah, you know, it needs to be said, and for the record, that I find talkingabout myself, though I'm enjoying it, I find it a little bit, you know, 00:11:00embarrassing, that not everybody is going to be as amused about me as I am. At the moment, you're indulging me with your questions and with your attention. I guess I would say, what's of interest about that next stage in the career from my perspective is that there was always a kind of a split sense, so you know, if you subscribe to what I'm trying to say here, what I'm trying to say here is that there are stages in development that have been well-described by Eric Erikson, for example, you know? The identity crisis would be one of those clichÃ©s of that sense of development, and I would say that so the typical coming of age experience for a young man would be deciding what it is, really, that he wants to do, as opposed to what it is that your parents thought was a good thing to do. And so, my mother in particular was very interested that I should be a physician because she thought that was a very great thing that one might do, being able to heal people.
KU: Lots of parents want that.
JC: Yeah, not surprisingly, it's a good thing, in fact. And then you have tosort out, "Is that what I really want to do?"
KU: I was pre-med once. I think a lot of us were. (Laughs)
JC: Yeah, exactly that sort of thing, you think, "It's a good thing, it'sperfectly reasonable thing to have people do, but is it what I want to do," and the answer was "not really." And obviously there's an entertaining somewhat 00:12:00story about that, but I think that's the general laws book part of my experience, that at a certain point you make that decision. And, of course, people are upset about it at some level, you know? You, yourself, are essentially curtailing in a certain way, options. I'm now not going to do that, I'm going to do this instead. And there's risk associated with that I'm going to do this instead, you know? And I said, essentially, I'd always wanted to be a writer, I always thought of myself as a creative writer particularly, so that's what I was going to do. And well, am I good enough to actually pull this off? This becomes the next-
KU: Did you then drop the pre-med, and then focus on your humanities?
JC: You would say in general that would be true, but of course the stealth wayin which the sciences keep coming back is that if you think about the two major books that I wrote, they're both on environmental or scientific topics. And so I 00:13:00guess what you'd say is that I sort of internalized that interest, but did in my own way. I remember my mom, again, playing her card, said, "Well, you can be a physician and still write books. I mean think of William Carlos Williams, the great American poet who was both a physician and a great poet," I said, "Yeah, but I'm not playing that game. It's a strategy that may work for some, but I'm not sure I want to do both of those." There was a famous Yale physician at the time who was a very good surgeon and wrote books based on his surgical experience, and there are many examples of humanist doctors who would become celebrated writers.
KU: It seems like that's more writing on the side.
JC: It is.
KU: You're a doctor first, then you maybe be more of a writer.
JC: Right, right. There are a quite a few Robert Coles, another great physicianwho was a celebrated writer, is another one. So the point is, there are people like that, but that's not me. But again, in that sort of stealth way I managed 00:14:00to keep that interest. So that's a piece of the life story that I think is interesting. I didn't set out deliberately to retain that, but it was a genuine interest, the science and environmental pieces, a genuine interest. If you were Freudian, you'd say it was over-determined that when I finally wrote books I would choose topics that allowed me to put those two together, right? I would just think that it was coincidence. Well, it's not a coincidence.
KU: So did you come out of college, and just go, "I'm gonna go write my first book"?
JC: So I taught for the first three, four years out of college.
KU: Oh, you did?
JC: I taught English literature at a boarding school in New England.
KU: Oh, was it secondary education?
JC: Yeah, I basically taught typically eleventh and twelfth graders, and oftenthere were students who were often from other schools who came to do an additional year before college, kind of as a finishing of their high school education. Interesting experience, and from that I think I took that, though I 00:15:00enjoyed teaching a lot, and I enjoyed my students and I wasn't that much older than they were, and I was trying out what I had learned in college, and having a great time, frankly, I decided I wanted to have a different kind of discourse in my intellectual life. I wanted to talk to people who were more my peers, rather than those who were younger. And so that turned me into a journalist - it was also Watergate - and so at that time...
CD: Journalist heroes?
JC: Yeah, that's right. So for the first time, really, and certainly journalistshave again slipped for, I think, good reason in public esteem, but for a short time there in the early 70s which is the period we're talking about, you know, journalists were widely regarded positively because of, frankly, their involvement in the Watergate scandal, and the whole, Washington Post involvement exposing the malfeasance of the President. 00:16:00
KU: Championing the common man and interests instead of, you know, feeding tothe masses.
JC: Right, right. So a close friend from college and, frankly, from prep-schoolbefore college, and I were among the founders--he was the owner--of a string of alternative newspapers in New England modeled after the Village Voice in New York, that was the leading example at that time. But similar to Willamette Week these days, for example, the Eugene Weekly is a weaker example of the same sort of publication - alternative, covering stuff that the mainstream media didn't do. And we had a run of successes that were really quite, you know, remarkable for 25- year-olds who weren't trained journalists. We just started to write this thing.
KU: So, how did you do that? You said, "I'm just going to, we're all going towrite articles, and let's print it off at a printing press?" (Laughs) Distribute it?
JC: Well, actually, you know, the good news is that we had a fair amount ofcapital thanks to this fellow's parents, so we were able to really fund a 00:17:00significant undertaking. And we also had a business model that worked pretty well, which is that alternative press and this became, then, the norm in the alternative press of that time, was distributed free to readers so you would be able to generate a fairly large circulation, right?
KU: And then get ads?
JC: But then you got the ad revenue because you were generating to that numberof readers, and particularly if you were in markets where there was substantial youth population of that time, you could, you know, both be doing alternative political reporting, right? And be addressing that youth market with music they were interested in hearing about, cultural things they were interested in hearing about, and so forth. I remember writing on the one hand, music reviews of Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, you know, when they were doing live gigs in the 00:18:00area, and on the other, we did significant series at the time uncovering the behavior of cults, including the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, his cult of sort of Korean Christianity that was getting young people, converts.
KU: I've met someone in that. Is it still going on?
JC: Still, he died about a year or so ago, he lost some gas.
KU: Yeah, I met someone 7 or 8 years ago who grew up in that.
JC: Yeah, that's right,there was a lot of cult activity at that time.
JC: There was Hari Krishnas, not so much a cult, but you know, Hari Krishnas,there were Sun Myung Moon, there was Guru Maharaji, so the point is, without going off the deep end on that particular tangent-mixed metaphor-you could clearly find a market for the kinds of things that we did. And we were smart 00:19:00enough, I guess. The one that was written in New Haven, which I was the editor of for a time, most of our freelancers were Yale graduates, smart people who were decent writers and figured out how to do it. You know? Later, the guy who was my principle writer for a couple of years won a Pulitzer Prise, and so forth, so these were good people, and we're all young once, right? And so we had...
KU: Grass roots.
JC: Yeah, yeah, I mean that was that. Again, I guess it speaks to since I wasn'tchanneled specifically down any one, you know, one career path, or academic specialty path, I did things that look like Renaissance or look unconventional, but I didn't think of them.
KU: Got to explore.
JC: I just did what I did.
CD: Was that where you got started on interviewing?
CD: And it sounds like it started out relatively informal. Did it become more00:20:00formal, did you wind up getting formal training in interviewing in the context of that paper?
CD: Was that later in your life, or?
JC: A little bit, a little bit of both, yeah, sure, Colin. Well, partly, thebook that I passed to Krissi earlier on, wherever it is now.
CD: Right here.
JC: Yeah, it was one of my favorite classes, and the instructor was one of thenotable faculty there at Journalism School where I got my master's.
KU: Oh, okay.
JC: And so I certainly enjoyed the interviewing process, and learned from him,and Ken Wessler was his name.
KU: Where was that?
JC: At University of Oregon, School of Journalism.
KU: Oh, okay, so is that what brought you to Oregon?
JC: Yeah, right after the newspapers that I mentioned, as I think is notatypical of many young people I moved partly because of a woman out here, and also partly because I had a number of friends, again from college, who had moved 00:21:00west, and said "What are you staying there for?" You know, back east. And I said, "Okay, let's find out what it's all about." And I came here, and I said, "Oh, I had no idea that Oregon was..."
KU: That people wore Tevas?
JC: Right, you have to understand that when I moved here in the early 70s, youknow, there were variety of cultural leading indicators for a young person. We had a progressive Republican governor, Tom McCall. We had a very large population of young people in Eugene, which is where I moved to, 85% of whom were wearing Birkenstocks, and most of whom said they were journalists, and there was essentially decriminalization of marijuana, which was perceived to be a good thing at that time. And, so there were a variety of sort of youth cultural or progressive elements to living in Oregon that the rest of the country hadn't, particularly in Eugene. 00:22:00
KU: Right. Decriminalization, do you mean, that they just looked the other way?
JC: Looked the other way. Personal possession...
KU: So no laws, just, you know?
JC: Just personal possession wasn't a big deal, you know? Not that you could bea scofflaw about it, right? But simply that it wasn't a big deal. So there was, you know, there were elements of a kind of more liberal, even in some political ways, progressive elements. The time of the Bottle Bill in Oregon, the Beach Bill, Land Use Planning, a variety of things made you so, "Oh, Oregon's the place to be!" In terms of, you know, and [to Colin] of course your dad was on the fringes of that himself in a much more material and valuable way than I was. So what I did when I came, for example, to give you a sense of that political flavor was that I was largely, because I was unknown here, and the reason I went to journalism school was basically to get credentialed. I mean I had been a newspaper editor, and reporter, and all these kinds of things.
KU: You had all the experience.
JC: But that was someplace else, and no one knew me here, so I had to figure out00:23:00a way of getting credentialed and getting known. And so I did national magazine stories and that kind of thing for a while, but then, for instance, I associated myself with nuclear power protests and there was a nuclear power plant in Oregon at that time, the Trojan.
JC: And there were demonstrations there, and so I attached myself to those whowere doing the protests so I could get an inside view of what...
KU: I thought you were going to say, "to a pole."
JC: Yeah, well, no, so that I didn't do, interestingly but that's a very goodquestion, because that was the ethical question at that time. How far do you go with this? Do you go, you know, there's a very long tradition of legitimate radical journalism in the country, where I could have said, "I'm part of it, I'm going into jail." But I didn't do that for a variety of reasons that either good or bad, but in any case: there were reasons. I thought I could be more useful as a... 00:24:00
KU: Not in jail.
JC: Yeah, as a reporter, you know? Partly also somewhat market driven, you know,I mean the opportunities for telling a story of being a jailbird reporter were not as great as not being one, to be honest. So a variety of factors. So that was the kind of thing, sort of progressive issues that I was very interested in. I started the environmental magazine at the U of O when I was there as a grad student. So this continuity, in spite of all these various things that look like they're discontinuous, there's a continuity.
KU: So these were causes that you were, like, whole-heartedly interested in? Orwas it more, like, it was a big story at the time? Or a little bit of both?
JC: A little bit of both, a little bit of both. I mean there was a kind ofcontinuity in my generally liberal to progressive political views. Which, you know, the older I've gotten the more, what to say, I guess the more receptive, 00:25:00the more open minded about different perspectives and I think that's pretty much a typical pattern in one's political development, that one sees that other perspectives are valid.
KU: Also from talking to many, many people.
JC: Sure, exactly, exactly, and I think that was one of the values, particularlyof the Common Fate book, that I deliberately went out to talk to people with different perspectives because my own, you know, my own small political agenda for the book was to try to bring people together as opposed to keeping them apart with an issue which I thought was, you know, a signature one for the Northwest. That if you can't, you know, in a nutshell, if you can't find means to allow an iconic and critical indicator species for a particular region to 00:26:00persist, the salmon in the Northwest, if you can't cause that to happen in a affluent and nominally progressive part of the world, where can it happen? I mean, where endangered species are otherwise, and where there aren't the same social factors that could potentially contribute to the, you know, to their maintenance. If you can't do it here, where can you do it? So that was my question, and therefore being divisive about, you know, the story was it going to be an advantage to anybody? But it's also tempering in terms of the way we were just talking about it, that I said, "Hmm...well, you know, if I could help this story, if I'm making these people seem to be jerks and those people seem to be gods, and so forth."
KU: They're just going to get more mad.
JC: Yeah, so again I think that's part of the education, so to speak. And adeliberate choice on my part as a journalist.
CD: The causes that you mentioned, Trojan and the salmon, while they are causes00:27:00that tend to be associated with more of a liberal viewpoint, are also ones tied in with, you know, energy and science, and I was wondering if the decision to work with those causes in particular might be connected with your earlier interests in science, or whether it's part of the larger general liberal bent.
JC: No, no, I think it's a good question, Colin, and it helps me focus, too. Imean, I realize I'm kind of rambling, just telling you my story because it's amusing to me to tell you it, but yeah, I used to say back in the 70s and 80s, I would guess I was beginning to develop this so-called "career," that one of my interests in reporting on science and the environment, particularly in science in the early going, was that so much of our contemporary culture is determined 00:28:00by, influenced by scientific topics that for the most part most Americans are not very conversive with. And so, knowledge is power, you know? And so you're better able to inform public decision-making, I believe this part of that typical analysis, right? Better able to inform public decision-making, and people actually understand some of the underlying facts of the science, you know? And in terms of policy making on environmental issues, if they actually are able to see that there are real life people, [to Colin] your dad, who are honestly working at a wicked problem, right? Where there isn't any obvious solution that will satisfy all parties equally, you know? So, airing those things and developing them into longer creative works made a lot of sense to me as a public value. These weren't books I did just because I was interested in them and there was no potential public value to them, but rather because I 00:29:00thought there was. They both emerged from my work here with Sea Grant, whose name I've not mentioned so far, where I've been employed for the last thirty years.
KU: So I guess we have to link that, how did you go from Eugene and U of O, andcome to OSU?
JC: So I applied for a job. I mean, you know, the simplest answers.
KU: They had a Sea Grant position open?
JC: A Sea Grant writer position that was open, and at the time it was a sort ofentry level state classified position, as opposed to a faculty position. I was tired of doing freelance work, which most people who have done it know you spend half your time hustling to do the work, and half the time doing it, and it doesn't particularly pay the bills, you know? It can be satisfying. I did a lot of really interesting writing, to me, during that time, including some exposes and that sort of stuff, which is another topic, although similar in general 00:30:00shape to what we've been talking about. But the point was, I couldn't afford to keep doing that. You know? So I came and get a regular job, but I thought, "Oh, I'll do this for a couple of years and leave."
CD: Was it still a writing-style job?
KU: Was it writing for public...?
JC: It was science writing. So what I did for the ten years that I had thatspecific job was I did on the order of forty to sixty news releases that the university distributed per year. A lot, in other words, I'm doing one a week, you know? On the science that, first of all, was being conducted by the Sea Grant program who is paying more, or more generally and particularly as I got to know other people on campus, on a broader array of issues. And that was fine.
KU: Research scientists?
JC: Research science. So it would be people who weren't necessarily funded bySea Grant, but had compatible interests, and I could tell a publicly valuable story. At the time, I was also then often spinning those stories up into the 00:31:00Oregonian, so the Oregonian at that time, this is the 80s and early 90s, had a Sunday magazine that was, you know, like many of these Sunday magazine sections, lots of which don't exist any longer, the Oregonian's doesn't exist any longer, were attempting to, you know, be the sort of more feature length treatment of important topical issues that presumably the reader should be interested in, and I did a number of stories for what was called the Northwest Magazine during that time, of the kind that I'm indicating. Sort of more fully-developed. So there's a bunch of them, and they're all someplace in my CV.
KU: Some place in my CV. [laughs]
JC: Yeah, so probably during that time, the point is, I wrote more. That stageof career you're developing your craft, you know, if you're a research scientist you're doing those projects. You're in the field and you're doing that, and 00:32:00you're beginning to see, "So how does that particular technique work for me to address this particular question? Or I'm not gonna do particular technique again, and it really didn't help what I'm addressing...
KU: This is different then your freelance newspaper articles, right? 'Causeyou're writing for an institution.
JC: You write for an institution and there are different standards to a certainextent. So my more free wheeling, if you like, liberal bias, you know...
KU: Representing someone who employs you?
JC: Representing an academic institution and it goes through a vetting process,and they tend to be a little more sober and a little more neutral. I mean, in fact, quite neutral in terms of their political pitch, if there is any. And I think that's fine. And that's a reasonable tempering role in terms of one's career and one's development. You think, "Okay, that's fine. Let's do that. 00:33:00That's developmentally valid. I'm learning how to tell good stories without bias, without apparent bias." It means being able to tell broad stories, so the process of getting from news stories, which are generally short, to feature articles in magazines, which are generally longer, to writing books. How do you get from one to the other, right? The false interpretation that many aspiring novelists and magazine writers have is, "I'm just going to spin off those previous things that I've done and put them together and make a book out of it." No, you're not. A novel or a non-fiction novel, which is what I've done, with real people, real conversations, real understanding of what they're thinking about, [to Colin] as with your dad, you know, I've talked about what he was thinking about at a particular time, how did I know that? I interviewed him. And he told me what he's thinking about.
CD: He's still thinking a lot of those things.00:34:00
JC: Yeah, right, sure. But then you tell it in a novelistic form, you know? Soyou actually represent what's on Angus Duncan's mind, and you're able to do that in a novelistic way, as opposed to a more straight news reporting way. But the point is, you can't just take the news reporting you've been doing and turn it into a novel. You have to re-shape the material.
KU: So would you say over time you had this position writing, you know, newsarticles and press releases, and then you progressed towards, you know, book writing. How did your position change?
JC: The fellow who was my predecessor as the director of communications for SeaGrant was a superb filmmaker, his name is Jim Larison. And he had very high-level ambitions for good reasons, he was a very capable film maker. And we 00:35:00made films for NOVA, and then he and I together made films for National Geographic, for example, okay? And so, part of that process was understanding how you tell stories for a broader and more sophisticated audience, so to speak. Right? So it's not simple one off news stories and press releases, as you say, but instead you're thinking on a broader scale.
KU: So this was through Sea Grant...?
JC: Initially it was through Sea Grant, yeah. Some of the National Geographiceducational films, is primarily what we did. The was an educational films division, no longer exists at the Geographic, here in the 80s which were primarily producing films for secondary school youths on science topics. So we did one, it was called The Living Ocean, DNA Laboratory of Life, was another one, about recombinant genetic engineering, that was brand new. Did another one 00:36:00basically on the Gaia Hypothesis, called The Living Earth.
KU: I love that book.
KU: Yeah, yeah. A variety of interesting topics that sort of stretched us both,you know?
KU: Was that hard going from, you know, writing and film making aren'tnecessarily, you know, I mean you know you have to write screenplays but that's not necessarily.
CD: It's not analysis.
KU: It's not the same thing, right? Was it a stretch?
JC: Yeah, it is. There's a story there which I can tell if you're interested,and I guess to keep that particular thread, I think what happens is, and so this is developmental, this is what can be interesting, is that how do you get from an early stage of your career to a later stage of your career? What actually happens, you know, in the case of a writer? And the answer is, I think you take on more ambitious forms and more ambitious topics. And that what those things are in terms of your ambition depends on who you are, you know? But I mean, it seems to me that that's the transition you make. In other words, you take on 00:37:00bigger stories that you think have potentially also bigger markets, you know? So I thought, "Well, this discovery of the most extraordinary environment on earth, which most people don't know about, the sea floor hot springs. Wow! That's gonna be an amazing story!" And it got good critical acclaim and so forth, but I found from doing the two books that really it's all about marketing. It's all about how well your publisher decides they're going to market the book as opposed to, it's about the book. I mean, certainly it's about the book itself, but it's also about... [Phone rings]
JC: Okay, so, anyway, the notion was that with commercial books, which boththese were commercial publishers, New York City publishers, relatively big names and so forth, I had a literary agent who handled them. Ultimately the sales, you know, of them depends a lot on how much the publisher wants to market them, you 00:38:00know? I suppose if they had been great entertainments and a humorous read, that would have been one thing, but that wasn't the game I was playing.
CD: I thought the publisher gets a cut of the pay, so why wouldn't they want tomarket it as much as they possibly could?
KU: They have to front the marketing costs, right?
JC: It's a funny world, Colin. And I guess what I would say is that you get aadvance. I mean, your agent negotiates an advance for you as the writer. It helps you pay the bills while you're writing the darn thing, you know? And then you get royalties, you get a percentage back on each sale. And they make presumably their profit off it. What they see is, my understanding of it, certainly to be improved by those with even more experience than I have, but my own direct experience is that they push it for a while, they see how the sales 00:39:00are going, and then they get on to the next thing. I mean, you know, so if it's not going real well, if it's not attracting huge attention, not attracting huge sales. I mean both the books were very well reviewed to critical acclaim, but the markets were relatively small and then after a certain point they let them go. Both of them went through paperback editions as you know, which is a good thing, I mean sometimes books never get that far. The first book, The Fire Under the Sea, went into an imprint, a paper back imprint that was part of the same publisher. The Common Fate is a OSU press book which was fine with me. The original commercial publisher didn't think there was enough of a national market for it, they were happy to sell it to a regional publisher where they thought it would work better, you know? And I was fine.
KU: So, how did that go through Sea Grant? So, was that on the side of your dayjob? Or is it like part of your job?
JC: So, basically, the first book was written on nights and weekends, quite00:40:00literally, and it took me about five-six years to do it.
JC: The other one I had a sabbatical.
KU: Oh, okay.
JC: Which allowed me to do it for about the majority of the work.
KU: So did you then move into a faculty position that way?
JC: I did. That's exactly right. I was professional faculty and it wasn'tstrictly speaking, quote unquote a sabbatical, I mean I'm not in an academic position, but we worked out an arrangement internally that seemed perfectly viable. This is the fate of the salmon in the northwest, is a perfectly viable topic to Oregon Sea Grant.
JC: Which is a marine research and education program. That my boss at the timewas very supportive of it, and thought that it would have public value, which after all, was the point, you know? Commensurate to the expenditure of time to let me do it.
CD: I recall in reading it covers a fairly wide period of time.
CD: It seemed to me like the interviews in particular must have taken place over00:41:00a longer period of time than the average sabbatical. How long did the book take you to put together?
JC: Yeah, it did, back to your question Krissi and to respond to yours Colin.Yeah, so I mean I was reporting on the Northwest salmon crisis for Oregon Sea Grant, otherwise I did a thirty-part, I think it was, good grief, could it have been that many parts? Thirty-part radio series for Oregon Public Broadcasting on the salmon crisis on which I interviewed your dad among many others, and therefore was beginning to amass material not only for those relatively shorter, though they were feature pieces generally for OPB, but also I'd have the rest of that material that I could use for other purposes. So, yeah, I mean it wasn't completely independent, and it wasn't completely limited to the sabbatical years, so to speak. Meanwhile, though I was also in my Sea Grant capacity, again 00:42:00on that same theme of seeing a public value in uncovering some current event that had an historical depth to it. My editor and I here at Sea Grant developed the Northwest salmon crisis book which is published by OSU Press, which is an academic study. Sort of a unique one, that basically makes available to readers the historical documents over the last hundred and fifty years--a hundred and thirty years--that demonstrate that the contemporary salmon crisis didn't just happen over night; it's actually the result of decisions and actions that were taken over many years, you know, and I think for many readers that aspect of it that this is a long term thing was actually news. And it helps to contextualize 00:43:00how people behave too. One of the interview and one of the characters, if you like, of the non-fiction novel, A Common Fate, Bill Bakke, the environmentalist, said, "I don't know if we're going to be successful here in saving the salmon, but at least we're putting together a good historical document about what we attempted to do."
KU: What happened to them, and the future of them.
JC: Yeah, so the future will be able to say, "Well, they tried!"
JC: You know? One of the other guys that I interview, I think it's in theepilogue, Johnny Sunstrum, who's a, who at the time was involved with the Siuslaw Salmon Water Conservation District, as one of the local leaders of restoration efforts in that part of the coast, said, I can remember his comment, "I don't know if we're gonna be successful, but it's one of those things that fifty years from now, people are gonna look back on my life and think, well at least these people tried." As opposed to, "Well, whatever. We can't do anything 00:44:00about it, we can't stop progress, and that's the end of that." So, you know, I think there's a kind of underlying progressive mission there, so to speak, you know?
KU: Well, along those same lines, I had some questions that I was reallyinterested in.
JC: Go ahead, yeah.
KU: You working with scientists in particular, and getting them to be advocates,and maybe more effective communicators.
JC: Yeah, so I would turn that around a little bit. So, I don't think my job isto have scientists become advocates. I think it's fine if they - now I'm in the minority here - I think it's fine if they themselves become advocates, particularly based on what they know. They step into the political realm and say, "Based on what I know, taking off my scientist hat, I would think that prudent policy could be this." That's the kind of advocacy that I think is reasonable for, say, a salmon biologist to do. 00:45:00
JC: To say, on the other hand, that my salmon biology dictates that the policythat should be adopted as a result of my science is the following is a kind of science advocacy that I think many people are uncomfortable with. You need to do it my way because I know the following. No. You do know the following, you now step into the political ring and say, "Based on what I know, this is what I would advocate for, but I realize I'm one in a series of people with different perspectives."
KU: One of many scientists, potentially, as well.
CD: Interested parties
JC: Many interested parties, as opposed to, "I know what the right answer isbecause of my science. You should follow that."
KU: Not to mention, sometimes they forget there's human interests, and otherthings you know? Salmon interests, but there's also the humans.
JC: On the other hand, so the way that that argument I think is sometimes playedout is that scientists should stick to their science and not enter the public 00:46:00arena. I think that's a mistake. Among other things, people often study what they're passionate about. Let them speak! But let them qualify in what way they're speaking, it seems to me, is a reasonable position to take. And, by the way, I'm perfectly happy if Scientist X wants to be an advocate based on his science and speaks up in a scientific setting for that. It's okay with me, I'm just trying to, you know, array the set of options and from my perspective, I'm not trying to train scientists to be political advocates, you know policy, not political, but policy advocates. If they wish to, that's fine. You know, I think I try to help scientists â" without sounding arrogant about this â" help them be more effective communicators to the extent that they're interested in doing so, but often not directly having them be the communicator, but instead trying to assist them with communications. Right? 00:47:00
KU: I think that's a really vital, you know, link between those sectors, becauseit's really difficult, I mean, scientists aren't necessarily scientists because they're such effective communicators, you know? And so, if there's no bridge between them and the public, you know.
JC: That's correct. Yeah. And so, I think there's some scientists who are justterrific communicators. To me, communication is always a two-way street, and in spite of this monologue that I'm going on for the last hour. But really, it's always at best a two-way. It's a conversation, as opposed to a monologue. And, so, scientists may be...
CD: Do you want me to get this? It looks like it's shining?
JC: What is that? [Laughter. Colin closes window blind to get sun out of Joe's face]
CD: Yeah, I don't see it very often. I almost feel bad getting rid of it.
KU: Every time it comes out, I just like stick my arm out my car window.
JC: Yeah, sunshine in February, we shouldn't be seeing this. That's great.
CD: Seeing hummingbirds in February, I've seen about four now.
JC: Have you really?00:48:00
CD: Yeah, it's freaking me out.
JC: Yeah, it's too early. So, yeah, this is a very rich topic that we couldexplore, but I don't think that that's my pulpit here about effective science communication. But I think that there clearly are scientists who are very capable of communicating effectively, not to, but with, certain others, right? So there's communication to, that's what I'm kind of doing now, right? There's communication with, where you're as much listening as you are talking. And I think scientists often just don't have the time to do that kind of listening to audiences-to others-that would help inform what they then say to them. Right? You follow?
CD: On that note of science communication, I was actually wondering about ACommon Fate and, I know that you wrote it for a particular reason at a particular time, but that was a while ago and I was wondering if the role of the book may have changed since the time that you wrote it? 00:49:00
JC: That's a good question, Colin. And so, what I probably haven't said, but Ithink the dedication of the book would indicate, I don't remember the exact dedication, but here...
CD: We have a couple of copies of...
KU: Your wife.
JC: This is the one that I usually use to give readings with, right? With allthe little, you know, people would say, "Can you read that passage?"
CD: Acknowledgments, or...?
JC: Yeah, it would be in the hard backed version-you have the OSU Pressversion-the hard backed version, they got squeezed, you know how it is that there are a certain number of pages and if you have the odd number they have to make another folio, another number of pages, and there wasn't that. So they squeezed the dedication into the very top of the inside page. The dedication is to my son, Adam, and his generation, is what it says. And the reason that's worth saying here is that my motivation in telling this story was also personal 00:50:00and that is that I hoped that the world that my son, who at the time was about two, would inherit, would be the one that I was enjoying, you know? And that generations of Oregonians had enjoyed. I remember vividly talking to the Indian leader at that period, a man named Ted Strong, and he was giving a, you know, a public presentation during one of the many salmon summits or meetings, you know. And Ted said, "The salmon were put here by the creator for their enjoyment, and for our use. And I don't think the salmon are enjoying their lives right now, pretty much." And I thought, "What an interesting perspective." You know, a kind of, a deeply human one of acknowledging these collaborators in the Indian life. You know, they're not just a fish that you catch, you know. That he was honestly 00:51:00concerned with the enjoyment....
KU: A reverence for organisms?
JC: Yeah, yeah. And what a great thing that was. So the point is that was thespirit of the Northwest that I was hoping to, you know, to be able to both represent but also to encourage the persistence of, right? You know? So, therefore the dedication to my son and his generation is relevant that way. And I guess what I would say is that partly it's a remark of Bill Bakke before though, I mentioned, you know? Assembling a good record of what we tried to do, you know? Which I think would be one of the ongoing values. I suppose with a certain degree of vanity I would say that maybe people who are interested in the history of an ongoing situation would still find it to be useful, you know? I would find the story to be useful.
KU: Absolutely, people are getting into the policy now.
JC: Right, what are we doing now? Where did it come from?00:52:00
KU: Where were we then, you know?
JC: Where did they come from, you know? And I think again maybe the thing thatwe spoke of before was that I tried to account for different point of views honestly, and in the words of the people themselves as opposed to as a more omniscient reporter, right? Who's telling you how to think about different things. Let's hear what the individuals who are on various sides of the issue think. So, anyway, that may be one of the ways which adds ongoing value to...
JC: Yeah, yeah.
KU: I did want to just follow up with...
JC: Yeah, sure.
KU: ...the kind of like working with scientists and helping them communicate. Doyou see - this is an interest of mine -
JC: Oh, sure.
KU: Do you see... So you were saying helping them communicate with... would youmean that it would be most effective for scientists to learn to communicate to 00:53:00the media, with the media, so that they could have their story told, in a, you know, manner that's right to the public and also credible and accurate?
JC: Sure, and so there's a wonderful book that I recommend to you, now this issort of, not off the record, but it's not directly germane to, I guess, the story, by a very entertaining Ph.D. biologist who used to teach at a university who decided to chuck it all and become a Hollywood filmmaker. His name is Randy Olson. The book is called, Don't Be Such a Scientist. And it's esentially a variety of humorous - from the perspective of someone who's been one and still is - about some of the limitations of the scientific persona. And I guess categorically what I'd say is that scientists are typically in their heads, and they're concerned about accuracy and credibility, and a variety of issues that are of course very important. Want to make sure that if it's not good science 00:54:00based on sound evidence and good reasoning, it's not gonna help anybody. You know? And so scientists are the carriers of that particular kind of wisdom. But the broad public isn't necessarily living in its head. There's a wonderful cartoon in Randy Olson's book that I often show when I'm giving talks which shows the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger...
KU: You mean the Governator?
JC: The Governator in his...
KU: He almost signed my MS diploma. (laughs)
JC: There you go! In his bikini weightlifting underwear. And the cartoon showsthe four organs of public response to communication, and it's heart, and it's head, heart, stomach for laughter and humor, and loins for sex appeal. You know? 00:55:00So people don't respond simply with their heads to science facts, so if you have a scientist doing science communication, and all he's interested in is, it's critically important that the science be accurate, that's the only important thing. People are gonna turn off.
KU: That's the same way they educate too.
JC: Yeah, sure.
KU: Which has ramifications.
JC: Sure, right, yeah, that too. Unfortunately, it's a wild, wild world outthere and we don't control how people receive communication, you need to be responsive to what their interests are. I mean, the older I get, in spite of this monologue, the more I'm, you know, the more I'm persuaded that it's about them that I need to be interested in, not about what it is that I have to offer. Let's figure out what I have to offer relative to what their interests, where they're at. And maybe help them along towards some, you know, useful development by addressing them where they're at. As opposed to lecturing about stuff they're not interested in or not ready for.
KU: Did the Oregon Sea Grant maybe one of the institutions help bridge between00:56:00media and scientists?
JC: Yeah, and so I've become very interested in my later stage of my so-calledcareer in communications research, which I had some training while I was a graduate student, but I've become much more conversant with the literature of the last 30 years since I was a grad student right? Become very interested in "risk communication," which essentially part of the whole domain of how do we communicate effectively about risks that people face?
KU: Like risk analysis?
JC: Yeah, but risk communication is a certain subset of the world of that riskanalysis, and essentially it says, so, "Can we help people make decisions about the risks that they're concerned with?" And I think increasingly that the most effective communication is about the decision that people are prepared to make. Right? So you help them with, it might be the science that helps them understand what their choices are. The way in which that plays out in many peoples' 00:57:00personal lives is in medical circumstances, right? I need to decide whether I'm gonna have surgery for cancer or not? What are my options?
KU: Genetic testing?
JC: Chemotherapy or radiation, what do I need? People are very focused on,"Okay, then I need to know about this particular scientific technology, what the risks and benefits are, what the tradeoffs are," See that's where science then becomes really very material to peoples' decision-making and then you can have, you know, an appreciation. So what's the evidence? Well, what does that actually tell me about...
KU: Because you actually care about that issue, right?
JC: Precisely. So that's communication with, you know. And then you're reallyhaving that kind of dialogue, and you're really addressing peoples' actual decisions. So that's the communication work that I lead here, is focusing on "what are the decisions?" Yeah, sure, we can get the word out, I mean, I've written publications. Get the word out about whatever the science is, but who's paying attention? Attention â" and now that we've been talking for and hour and fifteen minutes, or I've been talking for an hour and fifteen minutes - attention is the scarce resource. We've known that from social science research 00:58:00for fifty years now. It's not... in fact, that's all of us, right? I mean particularly these days we're all moving extremely... OK, my cell phone just went off, from my wife, and she wants me to meet her for dinner or something... there, oh now it's from somebody else, it's a voicemail, you know? And meanwhile you're all thinking I gotta get home for dinner, I gotta talk to my kid, all this kind of stuff. And we're all moving at a speed that would have been incomprehensible a hundred years ago, you know? In terms of the number of tasks. So the point is that therefore attention, what you're gonna pay attention to, we're all discarding content constantly. "It's just not important to me." So therefore it's not about, as scientists, and as intellectuals, we tend to focus on - you know the thing..., I'm the worst offender in the last hour â" "whatever it is that I know is vitally important for other people to know 00:59:00about." I don't think so. I mean, really.
KU: I'm most interested... This is my passion, it must be your passion, too.
JC: That's right! "I know about this thing, and by God it must be interesting toyou! And the way that I know about it, and the depth that I know about it has got to be fascinating to you too," so. We all make this mistake, but partly because it's a good thing to be passionate, right? It's not a problem. But I think it's often useful to think about "so who's listening?" So, what do you guys want to ask me besides what it is that I'm telling you?
CD: Well, I actually also wanted to find out about your work in Maine, becausethat's a part of your career that we haven't really touched on, and when I looked at your background it seemed like a very, you know, it's on the other side of the continent, what is he doing over there, how do you balance that? Why are you doing it? Where's it going?
JC: So, again, since I'm not a tenured faculty member, let the truth be spoken,right? But rather I'm on an annual appointment for thirty years with Oregon Sea 01:00:00Grant, and I'm not in a academic department though I have adjunct appointments in three different departments.
JC: Yeah, right. So, you know, I'm a very, again, I'm that strange person, youknow, that isn't really, I didn't expect to stay here for thirty years, you know? And I'm not a conventional academic in the sense that I have this one specialty that I was gonna do, you know? And that's the thing. So it's that I'm different in that respect. But, later on in the career, I become a typical principal investigator or research project leader with funding from a variety of external sources, you know? So lead research projects, often research and communication linked together. That interest in a variety of topical issues that I have, that I have some interest and expertise in, and one of them that I've been doing a lot in the last five or six years has been climate communication with coastal communities. 01:01:00
KU: I read one of those reports online that you did.
JC: Yeah, and I think, you know, so I guess sort of consistent with the rest ofthe story that you've been hearing, it seems to me that that's a topical issue, and some ways similar to the salmon crisis. It's another environmental concern of even greater magnitude, on a global basis, that needs to be addressed effectively by local people, local communities, and needless to say as much as with the salmon crisis, there are different values on the part of different individuals across the political spectrum that makes us coming together to address what the science tells us very difficult. It makes the people think, "Oh, that climate science, a bunch of baloney." I think that's beginning to fade, as a perspective. But it won't fade completely because ultimately the research is clear that peoples' cultural values, the three of ours, as well as 01:02:00the three of others, or other people who don't agree with our values, among other things, our values are such that we think that the evidence that's presented by science ought to be given the highest credibility. Okay? Well, on the other hand, peoples' vetting process for what's important to them may not include science. It may include their important cultural connections, their church, their family, their business, what's good for those three things may not have anything to do with science, right? So that point is, that, so the connection then is, that I think that the global warming climate change phenomenon is obviously very important all of our generations to address. It's gonna be the issue perhaps of the century, you know?
KU: That's interesting. It's such a broad issue that it's hard, I can imagine,to get someone to care about it, because you could say, "I need to get genetic testing done, now I care about it. Oh, climate change, hmm..."
JC: Yeah, and so the answer to that is that you work, at this stage of it, you01:03:00work with, in my instance, coastal communities in Maine, and in Oregon, a perfect case study opportunity where they're doing different things in the two different environments, slightly... significantly. They different levels of governance infrastructure to address the problems, different levels of importance to the individuals affected in coastal communities. So you can do a nice kind of comparison between the states and learn from each other in the process, and I think most importantly, though, without getting too much down into those details about what exactly we did, the overall importance, I think, is - and this has been the case not only with the Maine work, but also work that I'm leading in six other coastal states around the country - is that we're trying to understand how best to use social science methods to assist in our case coastal communities, to take prudent steps to begin to address the concerns 01:04:00about climate change, the decisions about climate change, again, that they're interested in making. I'm not going to say, "Science tells us that you should be worried about the following, you know, two topics." No, I go and say, "What are you worrying about? What are you concerned about? What are you seeing the effects are that are happening locally? How can we address that?" You know? And then you have a different ... it's a "communication with" conversation, and that's what we do in these various states, is have those "with" conversations.
CD: How did you wind up... I understand that... so you're working in variousstates, but I understand that Maine has been a focal point of some of your work and why that?
JC: Yeah, well, so, partly secondary causes as opposed to primary, like I choseMaine deliberately. Partly the colleagues there, the states are in some ways, the Sea Grant programs, are similar. That was an advantage. The states in some way, particularly in their coastal communities, have elements of similarity. 01:05:00Generally small, they're richer than we are, typically, but, you know, but generally small communities, and I guess the other thing to say is that there was an important element of the project infrastructure that was present in both states, namely in both states in terms of our case study design we had researchers, extension personnel, professional communicators, and educators, all involved with a kind of integrated program that didn't exist quite as readily in other states. Plus, we had government collaborators in both states, more so in Maine than in Oregon. So, the point is, it was less about the specific locations - although there was some of that â" than that the project design was favorable, it was going to show us, I think, some interesting results. And it did. Basically the work we did there, to ramble on for another paragraph, the 01:06:00work that we did there then was used as the model for the work that's been done now in Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Washington, using some of the same methodology.
KU: Is that all through Sea Grant?
JC: It's actually all with me as the PI of another NOAA national funded project,basically attempting to again ground whether some of the useful - this is not rocket science - useful public involvement, public participation methods that we used can be used effectively on a relatively easy basis, by both previously untrained extension personnel, who work in universities, and by the communities they work with; in other words, there's not a huge cognitive load. "I couldn't 01:07:00possibly, you know, address this topic the way you're asking me to because it requires new software, it requires months of training..." No. Actually, our techniques are relatively simple. The point is not to focus on techniques: focus on the dialogue. And the techniques are simply a way of encouraging that dialogue to make progress on climate change that's affecting you locally.
CD: And did that give rise to the other projects that you're doing with theother states?
JC: Yeah, yeah. I mean, so, for the most part, one of the things that makes youcrazy as a academic is when you have, and so this is the narrowing phenomenon, right? It makes a whole lot of sense to focus on a particular area where there's kind of spill over between different projects, so that frankly what you're learning in one you can apply to another and so forth and so on, I mean, it makes, I think a lot of people ....????
JC: Yeah, it's like about double-dipping in terms of funding, I wish I was smartenough to figure that one out, you know? Then it is simply having a degree of 01:08:00overlap and reciprocity between projects, so that, "Okay, what I'm learning in this one, I could apply to that," you know. That's really what happens in many professional science careers, and to a degree we're doing science at the level of, "this is evidence based, right? The work we're doing in communities doesn't work, gotta stop doing it." You know? And it's based on empirical research with the audiences, with the communities that we're trying to assist, we're doing surveys, we're doing focus groups, we're doing interviews. Those are the methods, typically, that we use to try to understand, "So, where are they? Where are they at?" You know? And by doing a systematic process that includes those methods, I think we wind up getting better information with which to ground the communication with the communities that we're talking about. So, I'm getting toward the end of my career, and the end of this rap, I hope, that's where it's going ultimately, is that it's a practical orientation, that communication is not just about developing materials that may or may not be used, it's actually 01:09:00working directly with people using the communications skills such as they are to actually move people materially, to help them make the movements they want from some prior condition to perhaps a better one. You know? I think that's good, I mean, that makes sense to me in terms of a trajectory.
CD: Before the rap completely ends, I was hoping that we could add, I was hopingmaybe we could tie this back to your personal life as well. The last almost hour we've talked mostly about your career and your opinions and how that career has developed, but I was wondering how that career has interacted with your personal life and development as a human being...
JC: Yeah, that's a good question.
CD: Over the course of the last couple decades.
JC: I think that's a good question, Colin, and I appreciate it. You know, so01:10:00this goes back to the D.H. Lawrence, the novelist quote that I gave you earlier about trusting the tale, not the teller. Don't necessarily trust what I say because I have very imperfect knowledge of myself. As a matter of fact, I remember very distinctly I was in a small singing group a number of years ago. I'm a singer. And we went around the room introducing ourselves. We were all hand picked by the director. We didn't know each other. So we did this sort of going around the room and saying, "Who are you?" And we all said, "You know, I'm the science writer for the Oregon Sea Grant program," and similar kinds of things. And the last guy, who was older than the rest of us, looked up at the ceiling, looked down at the rest of us, and said, "You know what? I'm a puzzle to myself." And he didn't say it in a maudlin or sad way, you know? He just said, you know? You expect a single, straight story out of me? You're not gonna get it, you know? So, I think first of all there's imperfect knowledge, you know? But I'm not trying to dodge your question, I think that that's the frame. You know, recently I've been, because of another project I'm working on, I've 01:11:00been, again, reading rather intensively in Sigmund Freud's analysis of literature and art, actually. Both. Other art forms as well as literature.
And so I'm of course impressed by the presence of not only the unconscious butthe repressed conscious, too, right? Which is the unconscious in Freud's world. So what is it that I've done? Is it, you know, one could say, one could make hypotheses that all of this has been a way of satisfying my mother that I didn't become a doctor, right? You know? I mean, one could play the Freudian card and say that, you know? Or maybe I'm satisfying my dad who was a historian, that I'm satisfying him, so when am I going to satisfy myself, right? You know. So even though you could play these sort of psychological games is that a, you know, and I think there's probably a component there, I mean, you know? Since I'm not a 01:12:00Bodhisattva I haven't suddenly, you know, decided that I'm gonna come back to Earth to free all humans from the world of samsara, their daily suffering. Although I suppose there's some of that, I mean, you know, I am trying to reduce suffering in the world to a certain extent, you know by at least the environmental works. But I certainly don't think of myself in that sort of transcendent way, nor should any reasonable person. But, you know, there are then certain immediate effects, like again, when my son was born, and he's adopted, so for me it was a double gift, you know? And I didn't expect to have children of my own, and adopting was a real joy, and of course a complete unknown to me. It's not "he's just like dad!" No, he's not. He's a completely his own person. And so I had no idea what I was getting myself into, you know.
KU: Same, I have a two year old boy and then a six year old boy. I didn't knowwhat I was getting into. 01:13:00
JC: Yeah, well I, you know, this is a common enough story for all parents.
KU: Yeah, yeah.
JC: Right, but it was particularly sort of poignant in my case, and yet I knew Ididn't want to have him inherit a more diminished world than the one that I lived in. That's the simplest thing. I didn't want to have him inherit a diminished world because I failed to do something that I could do. So there's that more proximate, as opposed to my parents, or my repressed conscious, or something, you know? "Why do you do what you do?" I think it's partly, so as not to seem too vain, or too important, I think there's also a component of simply it's a muscle. A muscle that I have â" [joking] look at the rest of me - the muscle that I have is a storytelling one, to a certain extent. And I'm intrigued by the stories that people tell. And I'm also intrigued by telling stories, you know? So that they're more or less interesting, and God knows whether this one is or not. And, you know, because I don't often, in fact I never talk about 01:14:00myself to this extent, so this is, let the listener beware, this is not rehearsed by multiple previous iterations.
KU: And I'm fascinated. I'm not normally a listener, but we were told not totalk that much on the tape, and so I've been, like, restraining myself.
JC: Let him hang himself! Go ahead, whatever he's gonna say.
KU: "He needs to be on the tape, not you!"
JC: And frankly, like I said earlier, I'm sort of embarrassed by the wholedynamic of it, but I set myself to do this, and that's the way it is. But, yeah, I mean I think partly it's a muscle. You know, so you're a writer: you write. And I've been simply, not compelled--that makes it seem like it's a dark, sort of thing. But, you know, I enjoy writing. So when I go home at night, you know, after dinner and after conversation with my wife and so forth, we retire to our various studies and we do whatever we're interested in, and I write. I write screenplays, I write whatever I'm interested in. And I long, and you know, and 01:15:00so I've had the career that I think I, you know, wanted to have. In this case, the career that I had. You know, so I'm not desperate that I need to write the best-selling novel, you know? I couldn't care less. I write about what I'm interested in, and again, Lawrence, who's getting much more airplay than he perhaps otherwise deserves, in the 19th century, there was this whole discourse around, "what is art for?" Is art for public value? Is art for the reader to say, Oscar Wilde, who I did my undergraduate dissertation on, said, "Art for art's sake." That, you know, that famous statement. It doesn't need to be connected to reality or to public benefit, it's whatever I feel like. And D. H. Lawence, again, said, "It's art for my sake. I write because I need to. I need to express" It's cathartic, on a certain level. I need to express myself, I'm also interested in things and I hope that maybe other people will be interested 01:16:00in them too. And I think there's a level of vanity, of self-importance that goes with it. You wouldn't do it if you didn't think it was in some way valuable.
KU: I think that writing is also about learning, though...
JC: It is.
KU: ...Because when you, so if you love to learn, when you write, you justthere's this process, like...
JC: So there's two things. I mean it's a really pregnant question, and I'm goingfar overboard, but I think there's two other aspects of it that are interesting and perhaps will have resonance with other people about, you know, so why I'm a writer. So when I was a teenager I stuttered. And so, being able to express myself in some way that I had more control over the materials was very important to me. And also being able to, what to say, my parents were very bright people with the ability to hog the floor, you know? Being able to express yourself and have it be perceived as being a legitimate statement is another way in which , 01:17:00"Oh, that was pretty smart, I didn't realize you had those thoughts in your head," you know, that kind of thing.
KU: You were too busy telling me your thoughts...
JC: Yeah, yeah, right exactly. So, "Mom, have you been listening?" So, that'sanother way of, not so much gaining favor or responding to some negative, you know, repressed desire to please your parents, but rather that it's a way of creating intellectual space for yourself, you know? So, the funny story that I might share with you that probably doesn't belong in this tape, but I remember distinctly, so my journalistic career began, my dad was a school principle at the time and this is the 1950s, and he would send out, as many people did and perhaps some still do, a Christmas letter.
KU: Yeah, I get one from Grandma...
JC: Yeah, and there were no Xerox machines, but if you were to in a privileged01:18:00position as he was, as a school principle, he used to send out to the twenty-five family members, a mimeographed, there was a mimeograph machine which would put the master into it and then you roll this drum and it would make copies of it.
KU: I thought you were gonna say he made the kids...
JC: No, no, that probably would be cruel and unusual. But, so, he had thismachine that would allow him to make duplicate copies, right? And I said, "Dad, can I use that once in a while?" And at that point I'm seven years old. "Can I use that once in a while to write a neighborhood news letter?" And he said, "Really?" So how did I gather my news stories to the neighborhood news letter? I listened in on the downstairs phone while my mom was gossiping with the neighbor women, and I...
KU: Oh, no, you didn't distribute that, did you?
JC: We did, for a few issues. It was generally pretty innocuous, you know, andshe kind of played along with the gag. But I'm thinking, "So is that how you do it?" You know? In journalism? You sort of eavesdrop on people? Well, I suppose to a certain extent.
JC: So, anyway, yeah, so the point is it goes deep, you know, that whole, "What01:19:00are they saying? What does it mean? Who are they really?" I think that ultimately is the human fascination of being, you know, a journalist as opposed to a fiction writer. You really try to account for the reality of other people, and the highest compliment from a, you know, from a source of a news story, or for God's sake, for a larger book like you dad in the Common Fate book, would be to have them say, "Hey, you got that right." You know? Because it's not about, it's not a mere compliment, although it can be that, but it's rather, "Yeah, actually that is the way it is for me." And we, none of us know each other, we hardly know ourselves, let alone anybody else. So if you're able to do that, puppet thing, you know? And to get it right with other people, what a treasure 01:20:00that is, in a way. You know? To observe and to account for...
KU: How do your historical books, I know you've written one... what was it?
JC: Yeah, my earliest ancestors.
KU: Yeah, and your ancestors tied with salmon that was really interesting.
JC: They're not really, other than it's partly driven by my curiosity, and partyby, again, that idea that consistent, I guess, theme of unearthing, listening on the other end of the phone line, you know? Unearthing other peoples' stories, I had to go to primary sources. The point of that, just between us, you know, kind of as an aside, was actually putting your hands on 17th century documents, you know? It's just cool to do. Really? And figure out what those things look like, f's that are actually s's, you know, in the script of the time. I'm babbling about stuff that's not important. But I guess, if you ask a writer to tell you a story about his life, first of all it will have too many words, and it will have too many sidebars, you know, as this one did. But it will at least attempt to 01:21:00tell a coherent story, you know? And that's what I tried to do, and to make connections between pieces. Whether it's a comprehensible story, I'm not the one to judge.
KU: No, I think this is great.
CD: I guess we'll find out.
KU: Are there any more questions?
CD: No, we probably better start to wrap this up.
JC: Sure, sure, sure, that's fine. Anything you wanted to ask, and I could?
CD: I have plenty of personal questions that I'd love to hear about.
JC: Well let's get coffee sometime.
KU: One thing, I guess we were kind of interested about where you see the salmon now?
JC: Oh yeah, well let me just spend a minute on that. And the truth of that is,is that I maybe it's evident, but I sort of go from one thing to another as my own interests, and frankly, as my career and responsibilities to a certain extent dictate, right? So I didn't have the luxury of simply focusing on salmon 01:22:00forever, you know? And so I'm really a little bit out of touch with this, and so I'm not the best person really to, you know, comment knowledgably. What I would say in a positive vein about it is that one of the mentions of A Common Fate, and of course, the title itself suggests that the fate of endangered species is unfortunately a relatively common one. On the other hand, can we overcome that common fate, and moreover, by working together, can we find a superior common fate than we have? So there's a lot of nuances, I suppose, a lot of ways of reading that title. I guess the part of the book that was most inspiring to me, other than the good work of many, you know, involved people, including both Bill Bakke and Angus Duncan, whom I've mentioned... Ted Strong, another one, and 01:23:00Gordy Reeves, there are many of them, you know, who were doing, I think, very important public work at that time for this species that can't help itself in the same way that we can for it.
So, I promised a minute, and the third minute of this is that I think the partthat was new there was the emergent development of watershed councils and watershed restoration. That would empower local citizens - sounds like a theme - local citizens to take a constructive action to address the decisions and problems they had in their own backyards. And I think that's a comparative success in Oregon, and exemplary in some ways. And so, to the extent that that continues on, and that there are watershed councils, and they are doing watershed restoration, and they are restoring streams, and they are bringing back salmon in their local area. You know, meanwhile, though, that's a good 01:24:00thing. And a progressive thing for the future. Meanwhile, of course, there's climate change and warming of streams and, you know, and I think that challenges that salmon will face are even more extreme going forward. So...
KU: Frogs getting it from all ends. There's UV, there's disease, there's climatechange, it's just making them collapse, you know?
JC: The fundamental problem of course is a deeply cultural one, which we're notgonna be able to change, right? Which is that we all have sentimental feelings about these organisms, but they aren't us. And we're not gonna change our lifestyle. As the notorious Texas Republican, not the one you're thinking of, but another one, Ross Perot, who was a candidate for president about 1995, who said, who said in a trip through Oregon, "You know, if those logging families get real hungry they're gonna eat that spotted owl." 01:25:00
CD: I think that's in the book.
JC: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
CD: I remember reading that.
JC: Yeah, right. But there it is, there's the unvarnished, you know, kind ofperspective on that, right?
KU: Well, you'd hope that the communication, that you're developing, would notlet it get that far, right?
JC: One would hope.
KU: You'd have some sort of solutions, you know?
JC: One would hope. But I guess, then, the fundamental point there is that, whathe's really reflecting is a different cultural worldview, where that's a completely rational and completely appropriate thing to say. And I'm not saying that's not valid. It's not the values that I happen to hold personally, but it's false to say that other people don't hold those values, and those values are immaterial. They're clearly material. And I think, you know, it's figuring out ways of having conversation with peoples values you don't personally agree with, or don't conform to, and your dad is a exemplar of that, of someone who tried to find common ground. You know? I mean, I think that's the work of expert 01:26:00politicians, and government people, is to find that opportunity, and to find ways of finding a common fate and common ground.
KU: You know communication with helping them in some respect help your decision-making.
JC: Our theses, I'm sure, are gonna contribute to that, and because, you know,it's not a, it's rare that a single individual, and I'm think of Obama at the beginning of his first term, commands such a sense of galvanizing public sentiment, it's rare that that occurs. Otherwise, it's many of us trying to do the same thing and creating some sort of a public consensus around it. But ultimately, "if it's gonna cost us I'm not so sure," you know? I mean, that's always the problem. "I'm not gonna stop driving my SUV." You know? And in social science, now I'm done. But really, it's the collective action social dilemma. It's well known. It's well studied. That is, in a, here's what boiled it down, 01:27:00and I've encountered it numerous times, but the way I boil it down is this: I'm not gonna skip watching the Beaver football game on Saturday and go to the park and pull invasive species, English ivy out of the trees, which is strangling the trees from growing naturally. I'm not gonna do that, if everybody else is sitting at home watching the game on the tube.
So, if I see everybody else doing that, or if I see enough people doing that,then I'll do that too. But not if I'm doing it by myself. Am I stupid? Am I a loser? What's going on here, right? So, that's often the task, is to create a kind of public consensus and public action around activity, and then it's well, "they're already taking care of it, I'm not gonna do it," that's the second order problem, right? "Well, they're taking care of that problem, so I don't have to worry about it anymore." Well, not when they're global or region-wide problems like salmon or climate change. Okay, that's it.
CD: Alright, then, thank you so much.01:28:00