A bit about MD and the first couple shows:
Thinking back to my old school days in the restaurant industry, I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be out from under the thumb of a boss. Not that all my bosses were bad; some were, some weren’t. A time or two, I was even the boss. What I found is that many of the bosses actually had little decision making power overall.
After about 15 years of feeling powerless at work, I wanted to make a change. But not just for me, I wanted change for my former and current coworkers as well. When I decided to finish my B.A., I didn’t know what I wanted to do besides work against injustice in the food industry. In college, my passion for queer theory and food equity was fascinating enough to keep me in my room studying more weekends than I dare to venture into the traffic of L.A.
When I decided to continue on to my Master’s degree, I had come to work deeply within issues regarding race, gender and the environment. I went for a major in Urban Sustainability knowing that it was supposed to look at intersections of people and the planet, and not much beyond that. It’s when we did an exercise turning American Apparel into a worker owned co-op at one of our residencies that my mind began firing connections, and it hasn’t stopped since. I started to connect the economy to issues I already cared about, and alongside my fellow co-founders, we formed our thesis around what is now the L.A. Co-op Lab.
The entire time I was in school I shifted from working in restaurants, and was given a break when I got brought onto working with The Bridge Program, a free college program for low and no income folks in Los Angeles (that’s me recruiting for Bridge in the featured photo at the top of this page).
I started as a teaching assistant and finished my five year career with Bridge as a Site Director, on faculty. It was in Bridge that I really got to learn and do. Bridge recruits it’s outstanding students from places like The Downtown Women’s Center, Twin Towers (the world’s jail facility) and Compton YouthBuild Charter High School. One can find quite the philosopher sitting in Twin Towers. Between Bridge, my own identity and focus on worker ownership, I developed a unique intersection of concepts, thoughts and ideas about social change, and joined others seeking it.
Now, as a Communications Specialist with TESA Collective I’m thrilled to have conversations daily with others professionally working for justice. TESA creates games and tools for social causes, and I’ve never interacted with so many people who care so deeply about engendering change, both within themselves and within the greater socio-political context. Also, I’ve never had more fun working. Working within your values is a damn good feeling. I want to keep doing that. I want to encourage and show proof of others doing that.
When I met my life partner and wife Cathy, she offered the missing piece to my big ideas about connecting people together. She suggested we record a podcast, to which I asked, “…a what?”
And now, here we are! Cathy brings us her amazing grassroots production skills, a huge heart AND a massive amount of talent.
Show Disclaimer: Episode 1 and 2 are technically backwards, but hey, it’s a series anyway.
Our first episodes focus on leaders in West Oakland who are working towards a strong community resolve as the waves of gentrification roll in.
Episode 1 is an interview with Noni Session, an organizer and politician running for city council in District 3 of Oakland, CA. Noni is a community leader who has put worker owned cooperatives on her agenda openly. We love Noni and you will too. If we lived in District 3, we’d be voting for her for sure, but Noni has solutions on how to participate for folks, even when voting is off the table.
Fun fact! Noni actually wasn’t the first episode we recorded. The first episode we recorded is really our 2nd episode airing on the site. (We did this simply b/c of timing with the upcoming election) In Episode 2 we talk with Adrionna Fike from Mandela Foods Co-op in West Oakland. It was Adrionna who suggested we call Noni (thanks Adrionna!). It was also at the end of recording with Adrionna that we realized Cathy had way too many great questions to keep quiet behind the mixer. We knew from then on that she had to be a part of the actual conversation.
So here we are, MD and Cathy Spicer-Sitzes co-hosting Synergy Airwaves. I hope you enjoy what we bring to the table.
If you or someone you know would make a great guest, please get in touch!