Marmoset’s mission is to “Be Community.” Every so often we collaborate with a company that shines a spotlight on this mission; that inspires and motivates us; and reminds us why we do what we do. Oregon Humanities is such a company. Recently, we were lucky enough to play a part in the theme music for their new podcast The Detour, which is dedicated to bridging the gap between people and difficult topics (like land ownership, marriage and the ethics of immunity). To learn more about this podcast and Oregon Humanities, we spoke with The Detour’s Executive Producer, Keiren Bond.
Marmoset: From classes to podcasts to magazines, Oregon Humanities offers quite a bit. For someone unaware of Oregon Humanities, can you please describe what you do and why?
Keiren: Oregon Humanities is all about making connections: between individuals through our community conversations, between communities through letter exchanges and bridging workshops, and to ideas in our magazine and other publications and our adult education programs. We strive to create spaces where people can share their experiences and hear the experiences of others. The Detour continues this work, drawing connections between recordings of past programs and current conversations and presenting multiple perspectives in each episode.
M: Something we found compelling about Oregon Humanities is your pursuit to “bring people together across differences of background, experience, and belief”. Can you tell us a bit more about that? Where did that goal come from? What brought it front and center for you?
K: At root, the humanities are about how people with differing desires and needs can live and thrive together. Oregon Humanities was founded to make ideas and areas of study that are often confined to academic institutions accessible to all Oregonians. If those conversations only happen between people who already agree, they won’t uncover anything new.
M: What’s something people would be surprised to learn about OH?
K: All our programming, including our print magazine, is free for Oregon residents.
M: Tell us about The Detour podcast. What are you excited about it, and what are you hoping to achieve with it?
K: The Detour is a show about connecting people to ideas. We talk to smart people about hard things — land ownership, marriage, ethics of immunity – with the hope that by listening, learning and struggling together, we can better live together. Oregon Humanities has been running a popular conversation series called Consider This (formerly Think & Drink) since 2009. We’ve structured The Detour on these archived conversations and paired them with recent interviews, poems and essays by Oregonians. I’m excited that a show oriented around justice is being aired beyond Portland. We’re offering The Detour free of charge to community radio stations throughout Oregon and are particularly interested in engaging rural audiences. Anyone can submit a topic or get in touch at email@example.com.
The name is inspired by a Hans Jonas passage. “It is not only our relationship to the world that is indirect, but also our relationship to ourselves. We arrive at our own being only via the detour of ideas about it. Knowing of our mortality, we must live as a human being with a self-image that is by no means self-evident, but is the tentative result of questioning and speculation.”
M: We’re honored you chose “Coming Up” by Sarah Clarke & The Vintage Twin for your Podcast’s theme music. What drew you to that song?
K: We wanted a song by an Oregon artist that was jazzy, and Marmoset put together an excellent playlist of suggestions. “Coming Up” was a team favorite. It grabbed us straight away. The guitar intro is cheeky, then the drums, bass and electric guitar kick in and the song oscillates between playful and reflective. I’ve listened to it over a hundred times and I still love it.
M: What makes a good podcast theme song?
K: It should reflect the mood of the show. The Detour talks about hard things with the hope that it challenges listeners and maybe even inspires action. I wanted a song that warms you up for what’s aheads gets you ready to reflect with our guests. “Coming Up” does that.
M: We’re curious, what are some of your favorite podcasts at the moment?
M: What’s next for OH? What are you looking forward to this year?
K: In addition to The Detour, we just launched a community storytelling fellowship, which will support three Oregon writers and producers in sharing stories from their communities over the course of the year. We also have a full schedule of public conversation and workshops, both online and in person. Visit our calendar at oregonhumanities.org/events to find one near you.