The cover art for The Detour podcast, depicting a white line orbiting a black sphere.

The Detour

Each month, host Adam Davis and guests explore tough questions about how we live together. Conversations on The Detour connect ideas and personal experiences without looking for easy solutions. Here we find the path to understanding often takes unexpected turns. The Detour is produced by Oregon Humanities.

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Embracing Wrongness with Sarah Marshall

What was the last thing you were wrong about? How did you come to know you were wrong? And how did it feel to come to know this? This episode of The Detour explores these questions with Sarah Marshall, who for several years has hosted a podcast called You're Wrong About. Sarah and her guests often talk about pop culture: Britney Spears, Tonya Harding, O.J. Simpson, satanic panics. Here, we explore what's underneath those stories, and why they matter. And what it means to be wrong or right on our own and especially together.

Belonging Gone Right with Father Greg Boyle

In this episode, we talk with Father Greg Boyle, who is, in the eyes of many people, a holy person—a person whose presence elevates those nearby and revivifies the world with meaning and hope. He is a Los Angelino, a Jesuit priest, and founder of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program. In this conversation, Father Greg reflects on some of the highest and most noble aspirations human beings can imagine: that we can live as if everyone is unshakably good; that we belong to each other; and that we all live in the same house.

Rural Stories and Realities with Eliot Feenstra

In this episode we talk with Eliot Feenstra, a theater artist, teacher, and organizer who has lived in Takilma, an unincorporated community in Josephine County, since 2012. Eliot shares the hopes that drew him from very urban Chicago, Illinois to the very rural Illinois Valley and how those hopes play into the work he does in Takilma and across Oregon in performance, community conversation, and civic engagement.

Talking with Kids about Belonging

For the final episode of our series on belonging, we talked with students at Fern Hill Elementary School in Forest Grove and Crestview Heights Elementary in Waldport about where they feel they belong and how to help others feel like they belong. You'll also hear from a few adults who work at these schools about how they create a welcoming community inside and outside of the classroom. 

A Place for Us with Zachary Stocks and Kellen Akiyama

In this episode, the third in our series on belonging, we talk with two people who do a lot of work to help us see a fuller, more accurate, and more racially diverse picture of Oregon: Zachary Stocks runs Oregon Black Pioneers, and Kellen Akiyama teaches African American Studies and other subjects at a small high school in Southern Oregon. We also hear from two of Kellen’s students, Monique and Jasmyne.

The Gift of Our Stories with Stacey Rice

Stacey Rice is a speaker, educator, and storyteller who grew up in the rural South and now lives in Portland. In this episode, part of our series on belonging, Stacey shares with us the pivotal role that stories played throughout her journey as a sixty-six-year-old transgender woman and what it has meant for her to gather and share the stories of other elder LGBTQ+ adults in Oregon as a 2023 Community Storytelling Fellow. Later in the episode, we also hear from Sara Wiener of Bend, who sat down with Stacey to talk about some of her experiences over many decades of living in Central Oregon.  

The Cost of Being Who We Are with Putsata Reang

In this episode we talk with Putsata Reang, a journalist from Cambodia and Corvallis who has lived and worked in more than a dozen countries. In her book, Ma and Me, Putsata writes with candor, emotion, and insight about the displacement and emotional exile she experienced as a child of refugees and as a gay person. This conversation about home and family is the first in a three-part series on belonging that kicks off the third season of The Detour.

Civic Love with Lisa Yun Lee and JR Rymut

In this episode of The Detour, we're thinking about civic love: love for society, expressed through a commitment to the common good. This phrase, "civic love," comes from the people at the National Public Housing Museum, including our first guest, Lisa Yun Lee. We'll also hear from JR Rymut, of Enterprise, Oregon, who talks about Haunt Camp, a project that brings teenagers in Wallowa County together to create a community experience that's part art prank, part haunted house—and what this all might have to do with civic love.

The Possibility of a City with Anis Mojgani

In this episode, Anis Mojgani, Oregon’s poet laureate, talks about the informal performances called Poems at Sunset Out a Window that he has presented from the window of his studio in Southeast Portland—and also about community and art and politics, and how those things go together.

The Bigger Challenge with Kim Wilton

In this episode, host Adam Davis discusses risk and comfort with Lieutenant Colonel Kim Wilton, a helicopter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and his friend of over three decades. In addition to flying in missions around the world, Kim has also been a long-haul trucker, a college radio host, and is currently a farmer, a baker, and a biker who spends a good amount of time teaching other people to fly helicopters. In Adam’s words, “Kim is less influenced by comfort than anyone I’ve ever known,” and in this hour, they explore what can be gained by stepping into discomfort and embracing the bigger challenge—whether in a job, in life, or in something as seemingly straightforward as a conversation. 

Taking Home with Us with Kiese Laymon

In this episode, Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy, talks about home, race, and the Portland Trail Blazers. Hear him reflect on his loyalty to and criticism of Mississippi, his jaded allegiance to the United States, and what it means to speak about our hometowns with tender honesty.

Talking across Differences with Mónica Guzmán and Ryan Nakade

Do you remember when you last talked to someone whose beliefs or opinions about important stuff were different from your own? Current research shows that Americans are less and less likely to live with and talk to people who hold different opinions about politics, God, gender, education, guns, democracy, and so on. In this episode we talk with Mónica Guzmán and Ryan Nakade, two people working to get people to connect across these differences with enthusiasm, curiosity, care, and hope.

A Kind of Immortality with Paul Susi and Sallie Tisdale

In this episode of The Detour we explore memory. Paul Susi and Sallie Tisdale wrote pieces for the Memory issue of Oregon Humanities magazine, and they read from these essays here. We also talk with Paul and Sallie about memory, about civic memory and personal memory and how much we need it and how unreliable it is and what it all means. Paul Susi is a community activist, educator, and performing artist based in Portland, Oregon. Sallie Tisdale is the author of several books, including Advice for Future Corpses, Stepping Westward, and the essay collection Violation.

One Connection at a Time with Rozzell Medina

Oregon Humanities' collaborative approach to programming and publications is possible thanks to the support of donors like you. In this special message, hear from Rozzell Medina, program manager, about the kind of intentional relationship building he's engaged in and how much time it takes. As part of our spring campaign, will you make a gift to support wonder and curiosity—one person, one connection at a time?

Talking with Kids about Success

This episode of The Detour explores what kids think about success and where their ideas about success come from. The way we explore this is pretty simple: we talk with kids—second, fifth, and sixth graders from Vose Elementary in Beaverton and Yoncalla Elementary—who have some really helpful, clear, thought-provoking, and moving stuff to say. 

Getting Everyone to the Bonfire with Erica Heilman

What are you hoping for when you talk to someone—maybe especially someone you don't know—and what are you hoping for when you listen to other people talking, either live or through headphones? What is it about hearing other people's voices that you seek out?

In this episode we talk with Erica Heilman, creator of the podcast Rumble Strip. Erica's conversations with the wide range of people she talks to all sound unusually real—sincere, unvarnished, funny, regular, important, and humble all at once. So much of Oregon Humanities' work, including The Detour, revolves around conversation and trying to understand other people and ourselves, so we asked Erica to join us for a conversation about conversation.

Who's Afraid of Labor Unions? with Vanessa Veselka and Gordon Lafer

For a significant stretch of our lives, most of us spend a whole lot of time working. In this episode of The Detour—the third in our series on organizing—we'll explore what it means to organize at work with the help of Vanessa Veselka and Gordon Lafer. We'll think about unions and labor and solidarity and power, and we'll also ask what unions are for. Are they primarily a tool to improve the basic conditions of our labor, like pay flexibility, predictability, and safety? Or might they also be for something more like solidarity, democracy and hope? When are unions likely to take root, and what generally stands in their way? And what about this particular moment for unions and labor in Oregon and across the country?

Don't Thank Me; Join Me! with Adah Crandall, Danny Cage, and Suzanna Kassouf

In this episode, the second of our three-part series on organizing, we talk about intergenerational organizing with Adah Crandall, a sixteen-year-old organizer focused on transportation and climate justice; Danny Cage, a youth organizer advocating for racial justice, education reform, and LGBTQ+ rights; and Suzanna Kassouf, a teacher at Grant High School and a cofounder of Sunrise Movement PDX. This conversation explores questions about power, change, and anger—and reminds us that while anger is a powerful force for change, love is stronger.

Participation and Power with Hahrie Han, Bruce Poinsette, Marcus LeGrand, Joy Alise Davis, and Keith Jenkins

In this episode, the first of a three-part series on organizing people and communities, we talk with Hahrie Han, a professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University who studies civic and political participation. We also hear from Bruce Poinsette, Marcus LeGrand, Joy Alise Davis, and Keith Jenkins, four Black Oregonians who have been working on community organizing in different parts of the state amid a complex set of conditions.

What does it mean to organize community? Is it something all of us do, whether we mean to or not? Or is it something more technical than that, something that experts do to the rest of us? If it is in fact possible to organize people or communities, can we learn what it takes to organize people well or to organize for the good?

You Need A Hug? with Bruce Poinsette and Intisar Abioto

Few conversations are as polarizing as the ones that appear online between Black native Oregonians and transplants. It's a discourse that brings Oregon's history of anti-Black exclusion laws and redlining into the present, along with the frustrations that arise in a small community where so many people know each other. But are these tensions based more in perception than in reality? To explore this question, journalist (and Oregon Humanities Community Storytelling Fellow) Bruce Poinsette and photographer Intisar Abioto gathered a group of Black Oregonians—both those who arrived recently and those who grew up here—for a dinner conversation. In this episode, Bruce and Intisar revisit portions of that conversation and reflect on the themes of Black unity, community building, and the liberatory possibilities of place.

Escaping Extremism with Leah Sottile and Eli Saslow

The Pacific Northwest has long been a hospitable home to conspiratorial thinking—often with dangerous results. What leads a person down these dark paths and what might it take to come out the other side? In this episode, we talk with Leah Sottile and Eli Saslow, two Oregon journalists who have gone deep into the world of conspiracy theories, about some of the conditions and patterns that lead people to conspire against the nation they live in and the people they live among. 

Reimagining Monuments with David Harrelson and Clint Smith

In this episode, we talk with David Harrelson and Clint Smith about monuments, memorials, and statues—and also about culture, understanding, and hopes for the future. Talking about memorials, as Harrelson and Smith make immediately clear, you can't help but talk about values, and also about people and peoples. And, recently, talking about monuments, memorials, and statues has also meant talking about toppling, contextualizing, replacing, and reimagining.

The Constant In-Between

In this episode, we ask young people in Oregon about what they thought and felt when COVID landed—and what they think and feel now, a few years in. You'll hear from Caroline Gao, a high school senior from Albany, and several students from Encore Academy in Warrenton.

American Fictions with Mitchell S. Jackson and Omar El Akkad

In this episode, we discuss the fictions, myths, and hopes that the United States of America produces and depends on. We spoke with Mitchell S. Jackson, author of The Residue Years and Survival Math, about the dream of homeownership and all it contains, and Omar El Akkad, author of American War and What Strange Paradise, about the self-evident truths we claim to hold within this nation's borders.

Love and Ambivalence with Laura Kipnis and Jamie Passaro

Many of us grew up thinking that being coupled with one person—and codifying that union through a government institution—was the ultimate expression of romance. But why do we continue to conform to traditional coupledom despite the data against it? In this episode, we discuss love and ambivalence with Laura Kipnis, author of Against Love and Love in the Time of Contagion. We’ll also hear from Jamie Passaro, a writer and editor based in Eugene, reading from her 2004 essay “Consider the Wedding.”

Advocating for Peace with Sosan Amiri

Episode 8 of The Detour featured conversations with Karl Marlantes and Sean Davis, veterans from Oregon who served in two different wars. In this episode extra, we speak with Sosan Amiri. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sosan has also had firsthand experience with war. In conversation with Rozzell Medina, Sosan talks about how she advocated as an Afghan American for her family, community, and home country during the US military's withdrawal from Afghanistan last year. Content note: this episode contains brief descriptions of violence.

Democracy of Species with Robin Wall Kimmerer and Emma Marris

There are so many ways humans and other beings shape each other’s lives, for bad and for good, often in ways we fail to notice let alone understand. In this episode, we explore the relationship between human beings and other beings—between humans and animals, humans and plants, and humans and the earth itself. We talk to Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, scientist, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and Emma Marris, author and journalist, about the interconnections between beings and the role we play in this fluid web of relationships and responsibilities.

Going to War and Coming Home with Karl Marlantes and Sean Davis

In this episode, we reflect on the significance of the military in American life and discuss what it's like to serve in the armed forces during wartime. We spoke to Karl Marlantes, author and Vietnam War veteran, and Sean Davis, author and Iraq War veteran, about the experience of preparing for war, being at war, and coming back home to Oregon from war. Content note: descriptions of violence throughout and ethnic slurs at the 17 minute mark.

Our Oregon Divides with Chad Karges, Amaury Vogel, and Eddie Melendrez

In this episode, we take a look at the ways Oregon is divided and the mechanisms that widen those divides. We talk with Chad Karges, founder of the High Desert Partnership; Amaury Vogel, associate executive director of the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center; and Eddie Melendrez, member of the Ontario City Council, about how Oregonians can work across differences, beliefs, and backgrounds to develop relationships and build trust.

Our National Divides with Emma Green and David French

Walk into just about any room in the United States and ask about the biggest challenges facing us today, and you’ll almost certainly hear people talk about divides: political, cultural, religious, racial, economic, educational, generational. In this episode, we talk with Emma Green, a journalist focused on religion and democracy, and David French, a political commentator and moderate evangelical who diverged from an increasingly extremist right.

Episode Extra: A More Vaccinated Union? with Courtney Campbell

This week, we're bringing you an episode extra inspired by our episode “Communities of Contagion” with Eula Biss. Our conversation with Eula happened in 2015, long before pandemic was an everyday word. We wanted an updated conversation to take a present look at the moral responsibility we have to everybody in the time of COVID. So we spoke with Courtney Campbell, a medical ethicist at Oregon State University who engages in conversations about the ethics of vaccinations. 

Communities of Contagion with Eula Biss

Today, we explore how community can be a source of mutual contagion, as well as mutual support, with Eula Biss, the author of four books, including Notes from No Man's Land and On Immunity: An Inoculation. This conversation was originally recorded in 2015, when California had recently removed exemptions for vaccinations, and Portland had just voted no on adding fluoride to city water for the fourth time.

The Punishment Paradigm with Bobbin Singh, Rene Denfeld, david rogers, and Monica Mueller

When you hear the words "criminal justice system," what do you think about? In this episode, we'll dig into ideas around punishment, accountability, and justice, and explore how those show up or don't in our court and prison systems. First, we'll revisit a 2018 conversation with Bobbin Singh, executive director of Oregon Justice Resource Center; david rogers, a program officer for the Ford Foundation and former executive director of ACLU of Oregon; and Rene Denfeld, author and criminal investigator. Then we'll talk with Monica Mueller, a senior instructor of philosophy at Portland State University who also teaches in Oregon prisons.

In Memory of Barry Lopez

This episode is dedicated to writer Barry Lopez, author of numerous books on travel, landscape, animals, and humanity and a longtime Oregon resident. Lopez passed away in December 2020, just three months after losing a significant portion of his property on the McKenzie River to the Holiday Farm Fire. We’ll listen to a conversation with Lopez from 2015 and hear from Debra Gwartney, Lopez’s wife, reading from her essay “Fire and Ice,” originally published in Granta, about Lopez’s life and final days.

No Better Remedy with David Treuer and Christine Dupres

In this episode we talk with novelist and scholar David Treuer, author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, Rez Life, and many other books, about land, possession, and his recent article in The Atlantic, “Return the National Parks to the Tribes.” We’ll also hear from Christine Dupres, Portland author, therapist, and member of the Cowlitz tribe, reading from her 2016 essay “Between Ribbon and Root.”

An America as Good as Its Promise with Desmond Meade, Danielle Allen, and Jesse Beason

This episode explores democracy, especially how we can participate in governing ourselves as well as some of the challenges to doing so. We talk with people working on voting rights and democratic process about what democracy means to them: Desmond Meade, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, who led the effort to end disenfranchisement of people with past felony convictions in Florida; Danielle Allen, a political ethicist and author of Talking to Strangers, Our Declaration, and Cuz; and Jesse Beason, president and CEO of the Northwest Health Foundation.