Your Brain on Activism! (Part 1)

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Creativity is a given when we think about fields like music, art, theater…but what about activism? In this show, we talk to two leading activists on how their creative sensibilities help inform their work. We also hear from a researcher who straps jazz musicians and freestyle rappers into an MRI machine and studies their brains while they create musical improvisations.

We’re also on Stitcher Radio!

[If you enjoy this podcast, check back in October for Part 2! We’ll be talking to an activist who helped lead protests at the recent People’s Climate March, and we’ll hear from the first (and only) person to win a Pulitzer Prize for animation. And we’ll hear from Professor Peter McGraw, author of The Humor Code. With his co-author Joel Warner, Pete traveled the world, in search of a universal theory of humor (spoiler alert: he found one!) Listen in to hear how humor can work (or fail miserably) in politics, activism, or just plain complaining.]

What happens in the brain when some of the world’s most talented jazz musicians and freestyle rappers are creating musical improvisations? Dr. Charles Limb is studying the brains of musicians while they improvise, and his findings are breaking new ground in the science of creativity. His 2010 Ted Talk, Your Brain on Improv, has more than 1 million views.

Niaz Dorry is the coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). NAMA works to build a customer market for ecologically responsible, local fisheries, both to bring fresh fish to seafood lovers, and to build a foundation for the long-term economic health of fishing communities and the marine ecosystems that sustain them. Time Magazine named Niaz a Hero for the Planet for her work on advancing the rights and ecological benefits of the small-scale fishing communities as a means of protecting global marine biodiversity. NAMA’s Rock the Boat celebration is coming up in Somerville, MA on November 7, tickets are available now.

Anastasia Khoo is Marketing Director for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. In 2013, with the Supreme Court about to hear historic cases on marriage equality, Anastasia had a radical idea that goes against what you’d learn from the most basic marketing manuals. But her idea worked, beyond her wildest imagination. Hear how Anastasia came up with a creative campaign that highlighted the millions of people who support marriage equality, and helped influence the movement for LGBT rights.

Music in this episode includes Baby Beluga by Raffi, Commitment Ceremony by Judy Goldman and Kate McKinnon, Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Four, and a Keith Jarrett improv from a 1972 Swedish TV interview. Also hear freestyle from A-Class on Grind Time.