Soul Force Ones

11. Politicking and Policy Making feat. Senator Sara Gelser

November 23, 2020 Senator Sara Gelser
Soul Force Ones
11. Politicking and Policy Making feat. Senator Sara Gelser
pt 1 of Interview with Sara Gelser
Little Simz ft. Little Dragon - Pressure
pt 2 of Interview with Sara Gelse
My Vote Will Count - YelloPain ft. Sevyn Streeter
Remix with Jon and colin
Soul Force Ones
11. Politicking and Policy Making feat. Senator Sara Gelser
Nov 23, 2020
Senator Sara Gelser

In this clip from Soul Force Ones, co-hosts Jon Stoll and Colin Cole talk with politician, Oregon State Senator Sara Gelser about reaching across the aisle and the Thanksgiving dinner table to talk and work with people we disagree with.  She shares about the paradox of leading and listening and the seemingly paradoxical decision for a disability advocate to close the Oregon School for the Blind.  Senator Gelser, named one of Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Silence Breakers, explains what VP Kamala Harris in the White House means for our country and Jon''s children.   She shares about relationships, politicking  and policy making on a professional level, and opens up to share about her faith, her connections to Quakers and what gets her through the pandemic.

Track 1 is set to the music of:
Pressure by Little Simz feat. Little Dragon
My Vote Will Count - YelloPain ft. Sevyn Streeter






Soul Force Ones is a weekly interview show hosted by Jonathan "MC" Stoll and Colin "DJ" Cole.   We talk with guests of different faiths and spiritual backgrounds, working in different positions that start with "P" about their Purpose and Practice, their work and inner workings, and how making cash is less important than making meaning and Community, Contemplation, Authenticity and Activism, Soulforce and Spirituality, Healing and Hip Hop (CASH).

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this clip from Soul Force Ones, co-hosts Jon Stoll and Colin Cole talk with politician, Oregon State Senator Sara Gelser about reaching across the aisle and the Thanksgiving dinner table to talk and work with people we disagree with.  She shares about the paradox of leading and listening and the seemingly paradoxical decision for a disability advocate to close the Oregon School for the Blind.  Senator Gelser, named one of Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Silence Breakers, explains what VP Kamala Harris in the White House means for our country and Jon''s children.   She shares about relationships, politicking  and policy making on a professional level, and opens up to share about her faith, her connections to Quakers and what gets her through the pandemic.

Track 1 is set to the music of:
Pressure by Little Simz feat. Little Dragon
My Vote Will Count - YelloPain ft. Sevyn Streeter






Soul Force Ones is a weekly interview show hosted by Jonathan "MC" Stoll and Colin "DJ" Cole.   We talk with guests of different faiths and spiritual backgrounds, working in different positions that start with "P" about their Purpose and Practice, their work and inner workings, and how making cash is less important than making meaning and Community, Contemplation, Authenticity and Activism, Soulforce and Spirituality, Healing and Hip Hop (CASH).

Senator Sara Gelser: Hey, how are you

Jon: I'm doing well.

Senator Sara Gelser: Good. Nice to see you in person or in not person.

Jon: Yeah. Likewise. Thank you so much for joining us today. So yeah, I guess my, my first question is, I was hoping actually to get my daughter's on here I have a five and seven year old daughter.

Senator Sara Gelser: Oh, what are there names?

Jon: Aayenda and Satori. Aayenda is seven and we had her on the podcast to ask a question of one of our other guests. And really, it has to do with this moment that we're in. With Kamala Harris, just be. I was gonna say being elected right Biden President comma hair is vice president and so far in our household I'm multiracial. My children are multiracial. They're both women and two daughters. The significance of this moment. And you being a state senator, a woman. Times magazines silence breakers right in terms of sexual harassment in the workplace, just being a woman in general in this country and the significance of that moment. You know, I actually just realized that it was August 18 1920 that the 19th Amendment was passed, I don't realize if 2020. This is 100 years it was a century. Right. Yes. The significance of that moment right we had that significance and I think everyone was aware for Barack Obama, President Barack Obama when he was elected, and what that meant for our black community. And I think what Kamala Harris. What that means for black women for Indian women multiracial identifying folk, and I think the other thing that's really interesting is that her husband has a different last name. Right. The First Gentleman. And the significance of that right, my wife, she kept her last name. So that was a lot, but ultimately you as a woman in politics, the significance, the meaning of this moment.

Senator Sara Gelser: So I think the symbolism of the moment is is great. It was extraordinary to see Vice President Elect Harris walk up onto that stage I'm always impressed with her. Just called powerful demeanor. She's just a remarkable person in terms of her presence. I also appreciated the acknowledgments that she gave to all of the women and and others that kind of paved the way for the moment to happen. I also really appreciated there was a video that was released by the Biden Harris campaign right after the races that were called that it would all across the United States. And it had different people holding a gold portrait frame. I'm not sure if you saw it or not. But what was brilliant about it was that it demonstrated it was a moment of showing that the picture of America is much more diverse and much more authentic and it was the first time I had seen at a presidential campaign really acknowledge that you saw multiple races, ethnicities religion you saw, age. You saw physical disability. You saw intellectual disability, which I come out of the intellectual disability community, as their parents. I'm a 26 year old with an intellectual disability. To me it just gave me. It gave me chills. I think what I am aware of as a woman, but also a white woman at this time is that it is time for others. So I'm looking for those places where do I need to step back and create space where people have been left out for for such a long time. And in order to deliver on the promise of the of the symbolism. The other night, we cannot shy away from the work that has to be done. It is my belief that the only reason that the Biden Harris ticket. One was primarily because of people of color in Detroit in Atlanta in Philadelphia that stood in lines that showed up that took a risk. And I think that's part of why we lost in 2016. I don't think it's enough to say those people are more racist than then we are the policies have to actually make a difference. So in this moment. I think that the moment is celebratory and it is so impactful for little girls and little boys to be able to look up and see what America can look like and what leadership can look like. But we have to make it more than a picture, we have to make it real. And that means things have to change. And that means it's going to get uncomfortable for a while and I hope we do not shy away from that and that we don't fear electro consequences for that it is time to to lead and make America look like that campaign at did

Jon: I like that. It's more than a picture, right. It's got to be real that this cannot just be a moment. It has to be a movement. That this has to be approached as the beginning that this is an opportunity to create meaning that paradox of leading you're a leader, you're a political leader, you're elected. We live in a republic. You have been voted voted and entrusted as all elected leaders to lead. But then there's that paradox of you saying, I need to listen. Like, how do you manage that as a leader of both listening but then leading

Senator Sara Gelser: I think that's a great question. I think the first thing is leaders really need permission to lead and you, you cannot lead people that do not trust you. I have always believed, it's more important to be direct when I disagree with someone. I'm not someone that's going to tell you what I think you want to hear. We can't have a good conversation that way. I have also always believed, it's important to be willing to change my mind, either because I learned something new or because I was just wrong or misinformed, to start with. So I tried to enter all conversations with that with that belief. I think it also means listening. To really hear and learn what we can do different. I was thinking about the week before the election. I was doing phone banking for some candidates and it's the end people voted. And I talked to a guy in Central Oregon. He was not registered as a Democrat or a Republican. He was not voting for the candidate that I was calling for and he was voting for Donald Trump. And so I asked him why I was like, you know, I think I am limited and that I live in this echo chamber of people who agree with me that Trump is not someone that would ever gain my vote. What am I missing, like what am I, what am I not seeing what am I not hearing Why, why would you vote for him. And his answer was really interesting in that he said he did not like Donald Trump. He thought he was kind of deplorable he would not want him to come to his house for dinner. He certainly would not want him to date, his son or his daughter. He said his daughter, but that was not what he was running for and that he felt like those that were opposing Trump pretty much just talked about how he wasn't a great person and what he wanted to talk about was how did policies get implemented that change our communities. And that was very impactful to me. Because I i can't impose my beliefs and my values on other people. Now I'm ultimately going to vote, consistent with the values that I've told voters that I've had.  And I think that that is a difference. You can listen AND CHANGE YOUR MIND WHEN IT'S SOMETHING THAT'S NOT A values piece, but I do believe is a leader you do always have to be consistent with what you say your values are, what are your criteria. How do you make decisions. Your voters have to be able to count on that. And that's the other reason. I think it's really important when   Campaigning, it goes back to the first piece. I don't want to tell people what I think they want to hear. Because ultimately, I'm going to have to cast a vote if I go out and present myself as someone that I'm not I'm in a face at a pretty big crisis of either betraying people who place their confidence in me when they gave me their vote or betraying myself. By locking myself into positions that I can't sleep at night. Because I'm voting against my own values and that it's an easy thing to say. I can say, I've been in situations where it's harder and sometimes the you know the balance point of

Senator Sara Gelser: A position in a value, it gets to be really gray which which is this and that is where it is really important to keep talking and keep listening and talk to others.

Senator Sara Gelser: And to recognize that as a leader. I'm going to mess up sometimes. And when I do hold me accountable hold myself accountable acknowledge it apologize and I wish that we had more grace for leaders to be able to do that.  It's that I like the permission to lead because you heard

Jon: Biden and and both by an end. Kamala Harris speak about the soul of America and how this vote in, in many ways, was a rebuke of the or a symbolism of the distrust.

Jon: And it's interesting, just that idea of trust, because to have relationships. They're asked to be trust that's reciprocated and our economy, our political system. Essentially, everything is built around a sense of trust. And just the significance of the trust that the voter has to have in their elected official. I want to transition to your identity as a Quaker and that idea of the soul of America, the soul of politics. I usually when you think of politicians, you think of the backroom deals or the selling of one soul. How does your identity as a Quaker whether that faith or practice center your work.

Senator Sara Gelser: In it in a couple of ways. I

Senator Sara Gelser: And identify as a is a quicker informed person I graduated from a Quaker college and really enjoyed participating in that

Senator Sara Gelser: Clicker community. I'm not an official member of the society friends. So I always feel like it's important to be authentic about about those things. But I certainly identify most with with friends.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think the principal within that that guides me the most is this idea. Well, two pieces. Three. Three pieces. Let your word be your word.

Senator Sara Gelser: I shouldn't need to swear to you, you should always trust that in things, big and small. I'm going to tell you the truth.

Senator Sara Gelser: And I should be able to trust that in things, big and small. You are always going to tell me the truth. And that's how we get a better solutions. That's how we get it truth.

Senator Sara Gelser: The second is simplicity I think in government. It is very easy to take ourselves too seriously. It is very easy to put politicians or others up on pedestals when, again, it goes back to that idea of permission to leave or lead or servant leadership. I tend to see my role.

Senator Sara Gelser: Not as a fancy position of authority, but rather

Senator Sara Gelser: As a person that's standing there holding out a megaphone so that different people can come and speak through that megaphone and inform policy and culture and thought

Senator Sara Gelser: It's not about titles. It's not about parties and it's certainly not about backroom deals

Senator Sara Gelser: And that comes to the third part, which I think is probably the most driving piece for me. And it's that very basic idea of everyone having a piece of a light.

Senator Sara Gelser: And that can also be the most challenging if I am

Senator Sara Gelser: Working with someone and I'm incredibly angry with them or really disagree with where they're coming from, that can be a very difficult exercise to sit and try to recognize what is that piece of truth that is within

Senator Sara Gelser: What they are arguing what is that, what can I learn from what it is that they are pushing forward and particularly in times like these when everything is so divisive

Senator Sara Gelser: And so many of the things that we disagree about on a public stage to me are questions of basic morality and humanity. It's really hard to sort through

Senator Sara Gelser: Those positions and figure out what is it that I'm supposed to be learning from

Senator Sara Gelser: From this piece because racism is just wrong. Like, there's not. I don't see there's not a side to that. But what I can find is

Senator Sara Gelser: People that feel frightened. What are they a frightened of what are they afraid of what is the piece of control that they don't think that they have

Senator Sara Gelser: What are the places in their lives where their needs aren't being met, or they feel their needs aren't being met and what can we learn about policy from that perspective, I think that the easiest example that I can give that there's actually two, I'm going to give two

Senator Sara Gelser: Years ago in 2009 I had a bill that would close the Oregon School for the Blind. And that's not something that you do to be popular is to go close a School for the Blind that's been around for over 100 years but the school had lost its accreditation if had

Senator Sara Gelser: awarded a high school diploma in 20 years there were only 38 kids left only half of them were blind. It really had become a dumping ground and

Senator Sara Gelser: The facility was not well kept up. It wasn't fair to staff. It wasn't fair to the kids. But, culturally, it was really important to have this this core for the blind community.

Senator Sara Gelser: It was important to me that those individuals who disagreed fervently with me had all of the tools that were necessary to make every argument that they needed to make

Senator Sara Gelser: And that involves going to the Legislative Council having them change the way that they printed the amendments in the bills, getting them done in Braille.

Senator Sara Gelser: Scheduling things far out in advance contacting my opponents to let them know ahead of time what I would be changing and how I would be doing it so that they could plan their advocacy.

Senator Sara Gelser: Around that that's not a traditional way of doing things. But if you cannot put your idea out there and have people come at it with

Senator Sara Gelser: Objections or concerns, you're not gonna have a very good policy, everything can be made better and you have to be willing to answer the questions.

Senator Sara Gelser: I different example of that. I think where I was informed by kind of quicker values. There was a bill in the 2019 session that I didn't agree with. I'm

Senator Sara Gelser: The chair of the committee and as a chair of a committee, you

Senator Sara Gelser: Decide which goes get hearings and this bill had a little bit of everything in it abortion vaccines, child welfare father's rights.

Senator Sara Gelser: Just a lot of things that made a lot of people very, very uncomfortable and nervous about I scheduled the bill for a hearing and

Senator Sara Gelser: Many of my progressive allies were unhappy with that and we're concerned about what might go on the record where the discussion might go, but my argument was, it's a

Senator Sara Gelser: Our institutions have to be open to everyone. We can't say that conversations are off limits and we have to find out.

Senator Sara Gelser: Why these people are bringing these ideas forward. So we had the hearing it ran over I stayed late. The room was filled with people.

Senator Sara Gelser: Who felt that they had been wronged by the child welfare system. And, you know, frankly, many of those people, most of the people I think DHS made the right decision and making removals but they weren't always treated fairly.

Senator Sara Gelser: The information was poor. We took ideas out of that hearing and added them into other bills, the solutions that they had to their problems were not in the bill that they introduced, but there were real problems that needed to be heard. And I think that we do that far.

Senator Sara Gelser: Too often we just dismiss people

Senator Sara Gelser: That we disagree with. I am a 100% pro choice candidate. I will always be a 100% pro choice legislator.

Senator Sara Gelser: However, the summer I worked on legislation to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access health care during the pandemic during crisis with crisis care guidelines are implemented and care is triage.

Senator Sara Gelser: One of the partners in that process. It felt really weird was Oregon right to life. I never imagined.

Senator Sara Gelser: Having that work and we had some really interesting conversations about that because it was difficult for them. And it was difficult for me. And we had really honest conversations about

Senator Sara Gelser: How to work together so that we didn't either take each other or tank, the goal that we had. But if we keep moving through life, putting people in our team and always on the other team always the the opponents. We're not going to get things done. And I think that's a quicker quicker perspective.

Jon: I like that to be able to find and appreciate someone else's truth. I think oftentimes we live in this world where it has to be black and white. And I think we live in that gray and that's where as a politician. It sounds like you live oftentimes is that I have to reach across the aisle.

Jon: establish a relationship work with somebody else who may disagree with me and that shows up in the work environment all the time as well.

Jon: In terms of having a common goal, right. It's what it, what is our purpose. What is the purpose of this legislation that we're trying to that we're trying to Dr.

Jon: Collins, you had some questions.

colin: I senator Gail, sir. I'm sorry I was late of technological issues.

Senator Sara Gelser: Always see no race happen.

colin: I was just curious as well. You mentioned some of the difficulties and challenges with the work and also right kind of being in the spotlight. And so I wonder

colin: What is it like for you, like, how do you find time for self care and kind of community care because I know you have a lot on your plate.

colin: I just wonder how are you able to kind of find time for yourself and care for yourself in that position.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think it depends on the time of year and the time of the time of the you know cycle in the midst of a tough campaign. There really isn't

Senator Sara Gelser: Extra time in the midst of a legislative session really from January to about April in the odd numbers years it's, I mean, those are 16 hour days, but it's not forever.

Senator Sara Gelser: I love the work. I think that the work is is exciting. I love the chance to learn from people to meet people with interesting and different perspectives.

Senator Sara Gelser: Right now, it's a very strange thing. I have a vulnerable family member. So I've been essentially quarantine since March and it feels that the inability to be out in the community really has started to weigh on the it was especially very difficult during the wildfires. It was

Senator Sara Gelser: Really just the sense of guilt and helplessness of not being able to be out there at the fairgrounds to not be out there, face to face with people and just be a communicator.

Senator Sara Gelser: Was really, it sounds very odd, but it was very

Senator Sara Gelser: Very stressful. So I, I think for me, part of the self care is. I love the work I love being with people I love seeing people. I am so excited for testing and a vaccine.

Senator Sara Gelser: To be able to be engaged, not just through computer screens with with people again and I'm really grateful for having had this experience to it's not

Senator Sara Gelser: An experience that I've had where there have been barriers to participation, where I have had to look at. Okay, we're gonna have a session, how do I put that all together. And, you know, protect the life of my child. It's a

Senator Sara Gelser: It's given me a new appreciation for the challenges that that people have out there, and certainly for the challenges of people that are on the edge. If we talk about the pandemic and

Senator Sara Gelser: People say, well, the vulnerable people should just stay home. I mean, my son is home. He's not been anywhere but I still have to go get his prescriptions and I still have to go to the grocery store and I'm in a

Senator Sara Gelser: position of privilege and that I've been able to make my work almost entirely remote. Most people don't have the privilege to be isolated in the way that that I have for my

Senator Sara Gelser: For my loved one, and that's why that's not just a solution. And for those that are, if I look at him. If I look at others.

Senator Sara Gelser: The burden of that isolation, the isolation of people living in nursing homes, who haven't been able to see their loved ones face to face the burden of

Senator Sara Gelser: individuals with intellectual disabilities living in group homes and foster homes, who went from March to sep tember without ever being able to see their siblings or their parents or their friends.

Senator Sara Gelser: It's a lot the burden has been so heavy on people that we don't typically hear from and

Senator Sara Gelser: I think I'll be reflecting on that for a really long time.

Jon: I respect the acknowledgement of the privilege that we may enjoy being that we're able to work from home.

Jon: And recognizing that it's a lot more difficult that there's a tremendous amount of suffering and I may not necessarily be suffering as much as my neighbor, but I'm very

Jon: mindful and aware of that and empathetic to you. How do you as someone who your voters your representatives expect so much from find

Jon: A grounded this through times like this. You mentioned that you don't you don't identify as a Quaker. I was curious, is if there is a form of a faith or spirituality or is it nature, is there some way that you were able to

Jon: kind of push through this continual storm that we've experienced for what's almost been a year now.

Senator Sara Gelser: Um I you know I think as the as the question of faith. I am a person of faith.

Senator Sara Gelser: I am a member of a church in Corvallis grace Lutheran Church which is Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We've had a really great and they transition to early before they were required to to online distance

Senator Sara Gelser: Worship. So I certainly have enjoyed the opportunity to do that at home music has been really important. I loved that.

Senator Sara Gelser: The, the him that Joe Biden mentioned that is one that I have listened to during this course of time it happens to be one of my

Senator Sara Gelser: One of my favorite hymns. I sometimes. And, you know, just doing garden work or doing other things, and I put on spiritual music. A lot of people don't don't know that about me.

Senator Sara Gelser: I would say bike riding working in the garden. All of those things have been incredibly important and it's

Senator Sara Gelser: You know, I don't think I'm different than anyone else I've had times when I've done pandemic better and times when I've

Senator Sara Gelser: kind of gotten into that pit of despair and it. You know, it's funny to watch. It's like a cycle like I'm feeling bad. I should go on the bike ride, but I'm feeling bad. I'm really tired, so I don't 10 minutes a week and I've not done the things that are good for me and I'm just in a

Senator Sara Gelser: In a pit, and I think that is probably not uncommon for people. And I think it's really important for people to acknowledge it, it's, it's been a difficult and stressful time for

Senator Sara Gelser: A lot of people you toss on to that the shared grief that we all have over the last with the wildfires. And I think in this in this year, year and a half, the overall sense of lack of control. I think Most everyone regardless of what your opinions are there's this idea of reckoning that there's so much that we don't control. We can't control fire. We can't control this pandemic and the things that we can control we've chosen not to. I mean, the pandemic of systemic racism. How, how, how do we attack that, how do we change that. Those are the types of things that are in our control climate change that is in our control wildfires pandemic. There are things that we can do to mitigate them.

Jon: That's going with the flow. That's a Taoist term going with the flow. Be like water right let go of what you can't control. And to your point, though, spend the tension in time and focus on that which you can and should

Jon: exert influence. Do you find as a political leader that there's any additional pressure. During a pandemic, because you're creating policies to address problems. It was a lot of peace.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think so. And it's been a good

Senator Sara Gelser: Reminder of see there are a lot of different levers of power and levers of policy and as it relates to the pandemic. I don't have a lot of them.

Senator Sara Gelser: I mean, the legislature isn't meeting. We're out of session. Many of the decisions are made by the governor obviously all of the federal decisions are made at the federal level, I don't

Senator Sara Gelser: I don't get to make those I'm a voice like everyone else, that is that is writing in I think what concerns me is the

Senator Sara Gelser: I worry moving forward that the fear and the panic and the lack of control is given, everybody. The desire to lash out at people I know I feel angry or than I have in the past. I'm not an angry.

Senator Sara Gelser: Person I can't hold a grudge for very long, and I'll be angry for 10 minutes and then I've lived on let's go get a cup of coffee.

Senator Sara Gelser: But the environment, I think, is is challenging that. And I see that in the communications instead of I have this problem. What I have used you have

Senator Sara Gelser: It is a string of expletives and they hope some terrible thing happens to me or my children. And that's, you know, not an unusual series of

Senator Sara Gelser: Emails to get, we see that if you look at social media, if you even look at news interviews.

Senator Sara Gelser: That the desire to take people down, personally, as opposed to change policy or or change the direction is something that I think is problematic for all of us and I think

Senator Sara Gelser: President Elect Biden tried to address that, to a certain degree. And I think as leaders we have that role and we have that job to try to model, model that moving forward. For example, I am so thrilled that Biden won the election.

Senator Sara Gelser: And as tempting as it may be, I'm not going to be sharing means that you know kind of poke fun at the person that's leaving

Senator Sara Gelser: I know other people may, but I think we can move on and focus on on the work rather than the retribution.

Jon: So I want to introduce you. She can join us ask her a question. Yeah.

Jon: She's our state senator, um, what's her name. 

Jon: Her state senators, sir. So I have a question for you. I am going to ask is that, um, any such thing as like a kid being. Like helping or something.

Senator Sara Gelser: Well, that is what grade are you in

Senator Sara Gelser: Second. Second. That is such a fun grade. I hope that you find fun ways to enjoy it this year. So there are ways for kids to be involved.

Senator Sara Gelser: When we go back into session and we're glad to have people in the capital, you can certainly come up and visit me and you can come sit with me on the floor.

Senator Sara Gelser: Sometime, which would be fun. Just send me an email and we'll set that up. And then when you're a little bit older, once you get to middle school, we have something that's called an honorary page program.

Senator Sara Gelser: And middle school and high school students come up and they help manage the floor and they take people notes and they bring in the flags and

Senator Sara Gelser: Just really have an experience for the day at the Capitol, you get to go up to the golden man on the on the top of the building.

Senator Sara Gelser: And the Oregon secretary of state run something that's called the Oregon kid gov program. I'm not entirely sure how it works. But that is also something you might want to run for kid gov sometime

Senator Sara Gelser: And when you're older, I hope you run for President of the United States.

Jon: Germany. Any other questions.

Jon: Or you can send her and then when she's ready

Jon: In where I think his parents proud because we've tried to engage them in the process. I think there's a lot of parents who want to protect their children. And I think it's important that our young people.

Jon: That are young people see themselves as a part of the process, even though they can't vote. But this idea that they can potentially exert influence or know what's going on. Right.

Jon: I think there's value in talking politics satori, did you want to come see me. Hello.

Senator Sara Gelser: Hello.

Senator Sara Gelser: How are you


Jon: Any questions.

Jon: Okay, well then you can

Jon: Tell them what

Jon: So if you want to ask a question, I can hold you up and you can ask a question. Otherwise, you need to leave.

Jon: Okay. I'll talk to you later. But tell your mom.


Jon: I need you to close the door. No, thank you.

Jon: Okay, maybe you can ask them to

Jon: Talk.

colin: I love what you said earlier about everything can be made better because I think in part.

colin: At times, at least the perception is that

colin: The institutions in the structures.

colin: In the status quo right seek to remain stagnant and in place right but power hour doesn't like to shift. I think we have to we have to change things and so

colin: I was wondering if you could say a little bit more about that belief and that everything can be made better and maybe how that motivates you to do the work that you do.

I mean,

Senator Sara Gelser: I think everything is always in constant change nothing nothing stays the same. And if we try to make our policies and our structures and our traditions always stay exactly the same. There's going to be a point at which they just don't don't work for us anymore and

Senator Sara Gelser: I think it can be really hard as a policymaker and I've certainly been guilty of this you work really hard on something you were really hard to accomplish something and

Senator Sara Gelser: I think when you work on something, at least when I've worked on something I can see all the work that goes into it. Other people just see the big vote at the end and it looks like. Well that was easy.

Senator Sara Gelser: And often, it's not very easy at all. And then somebody comes along and wants to change it or modify it and it's easy to feel really protective

Senator Sara Gelser: Over it because you know why you got to the places that you've gotten to but that is a really dangerous perspective to indulge in

Senator Sara Gelser: Because none of us ever gets it all the way all the way right and other people, nobody owns an issue. Nobody owns an interest. Nobody owns a value. All of these things are stronger when there's more of us working on them together and and everything is just an ongoing


00:39:36.090 --> 00:39:41.220

Senator Sara Gelser: An ongoing point that can can grow and change. I think certainly within the disability community.

Senator Sara Gelser: When my son was young I would get frustrated at older parents who would say that I was pushing too hard, that I wasn't grateful for everything that had been pushed forward had been one that that my

Senator Sara Gelser: Child experience and that my family experienced. I had to catch myself recently.

Senator Sara Gelser: Because I was being pushed and much more appropriately by people with disabilities themselves, which is a

Senator Sara Gelser: huge level of progress within the disability movement that that is really who the voice of the disability community should be are

Senator Sara Gelser: disabled people themselves and then parents of younger kids are like, oh gosh, you just don't understand how far we've come. How much progress we've made and I heard myself and that, wow.

Senator Sara Gelser: It's not an end. It's just a process and and if we're always looking at moving forward and reaching back the work is going to continue to evolve.

Senator Sara Gelser: And we can never make ourselves believe that we are indispensable to the work or that we are the work. The work is the communities work and we always have to be rooted in in community and let it be owned by the Community and the people

colin: Do you feel like that's a pretty common sentiment with those that you work with, or is it also sometimes you find the need to kind of

colin: Find that common ground and sort of explain that to them as well because I feel like

colin: Don't know. I love everything you've said, and how centered. It is in community. Right. I think that's key.


00:41:17.310 --> 00:41:21.030

colin: But it seems so difficult dealing with some of these issues and trying to

colin: convince folks that certain changes are needed.

colin: Is it a challenge at times like do you hit a wall where folks don't want or maybe don't see that progress or

Jon: What the call and call it isn't isn't part of the problem, we only think about what we don't want. So I'm thinking about Senator grocers

Jon: Example of the Oregon voter in Central Oregon that you were talking to and why they're voting for Trump.

Jon: And I think oftentimes we're not receptive to listening to what they want that we're so focused on pushing our agenda.

Jon: That we're unable to pivot and address their concerns because we're too busy like force feeding what we want.

Jon: As opposed to taking the time to listen and then part of being in community is

Jon: To appreciate the dissent to create an environment where we can feel safe with one another to where we can be genuine and honest and say this is my issue. I think it's on both the left and the right coming together and respecting our perspectives.

Jon: What do you think

colin: Sorry, go ahead.

Senator Sara Gelser: No, no, go ahead and then can go after

colin: I was just thinking, maybe it's that balance. They're kind of like you mentioned earlier, Senator about right not compromising your values, but then understanding those fears.

colin: And kind of breaking that down for folks. Because again, right, certain things like racism LIKE WE'RE NOT GOING TO COMPROMISE THERE. Um, but then with understanding people and listening to their fears. I think there are ways to address these things.

colin: Will also not compromising your value. So maybe it's maybe my question was about kind of balancing those two aspects.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think it's

Senator Sara Gelser: I think it's

Senator Sara Gelser: The balancing of the aspects, but it's also

Senator Sara Gelser: And I'm talking an aspirational way because I violate these aspirational things all the time, myself, so I do not want to claim that I that I have this. All right. These are the things I wake up in the morning, how am I going to do this today. What is my goal. Let me

Jon: go wherever we go, we can aspire right to be

Jon: smarter than we are today. Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Senator Sara Gelser: We're just trying to improve. I think part of the aspirational piece and the part about values is also recognizing that

Senator Sara Gelser: You know my values are shaped by my experience there are some values that all of us have. There are some values that to me because of experiences I've had seem really clear that there couldn't possibly be another

Senator Sara Gelser: Way to come at that but someone else who has a totally different worldview and a totally different world experience could look at my

Senator Sara Gelser: Values and see how my values have harmed them or harm to their community or harm their family or are in conflict with the values that

Senator Sara Gelser: That they hold, and I think that's uncomfortable for people and the more people that are involved in discussions, the more we have to really wrestle with.

Senator Sara Gelser: The way that I've always done things the way that I understand the world isn't the only way to do things, or to understand the world. It's a big place.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think that's one of the big challenges that we're seeing in politics and policy making right now to

Senator Sara Gelser: If you look at movements for inclusion and diversity. I think the challenge with that. And I really think this has been a challenge within my own party within the Democratic Party.

Senator Sara Gelser: We kind of, you know, check the boxes of. Does that, does the picture look right. It gets back to that. Is it a picture is that the results.

Senator Sara Gelser: Do we have the right faces at the table. Have we reached out to you know the word stakeholders have we talked to the stakeholders about the decisions that we're making.

Senator Sara Gelser: And the question becomes who is we like, who is it who is it that presumes to have the authority to make these decisions and decide that their stakeholders to consult with and what would it really look like if that table if that room.

Senator Sara Gelser: Where the deal is made. The conversation has had fundamentally looks different.

Senator Sara Gelser: And instead of checking in with people later to see if you're on the right track. What if different people were framing the questions, to start with.

Senator Sara Gelser: Because the questions that you start with the way that you frame the problem is going to fundamentally change the types of solutions that that you start to look for and that is what we are missing.

Senator Sara Gelser: Right now, I think that you saw movement and it's not been enough yet. But it's something and I think we're going to do a lot more

Senator Sara Gelser: Around law enforcement reform and the Oregon State Capitol. Now the the killing of George Floyd and the demonstration certainly put pressure and legislative pressure to move forward in June with

Senator Sara Gelser: You know, trying to start take action to take action on police reform, some of those measures had been brought forward of multiple times by some of my colleagues of color and they had been killed by some of the same of us that celebrated

Senator Sara Gelser: Their passage as really important legislation moving forward. Part of what allowed those things to move forward is having

Senator Sara Gelser: A bigger legislature, a better legislature that is more diverse that has more black voices that has more Native Voices that has more Latinx voices. We have to have that not as someone to check in with but to lead to be the people that are framing the questions and until we can do that.

Senator Sara Gelser: That gets to be really hard for people that look like me.

Senator Sara Gelser: Because it means there might be less spots at the table for for me if we're making room for everyone else. And that is really, really hard, but it's time

Jon: I like that the process matters.

Jon: We can't make the presumptions that

Jon: Who's at the table is who we need at the table right

Senator Sara Gelser: Right, well, it's like consensus, you know, that's a

Senator Sara Gelser: Quicker consensus thing. I made a joke once in a meeting. It's like I'm all for consensus. I love consensus as long as I can pick who I invited to dinner to make the decision.

Senator Sara Gelser: And that's really what we've done. I mean we we set the table we set the outcome by choosing who we have one of the ways that I've tried to put this in practice in my committee, I do a lot of work around child welfare.

Senator Sara Gelser: And the voices that we hardly ever hear our kids that are involved in the child welfare system. They have a lot to say and have very few places to save them.

Senator Sara Gelser: I made a commitment to young people and survivors of child welfare troubled teen industries that

Senator Sara Gelser: I would every human services committee, I hold for as long as I'm chair there will always be a space at the end. That's just held for youth voice. They can talk about whatever they want for however long they want until the hearings over

Senator Sara Gelser: Doesn't matter what's on the agenda, they don't have to tell me ahead of time, they can do it in writing, they can do it in voice and we've gotten great information because they don't have to wait to find somebody to choose an agenda item to say what it is that

Senator Sara Gelser: That they need or want to talk about. They get to set the agenda.

Jon: It's entertaining.

Jon: That's that's the answer that I wanted my children to hear from you.

Jon: It's not necessarily this symbolic ways of getting involved that you would describe. But it's that like you can actually participate in the process. You can email me.

Jon: With your ideas or your stories or your experiences. Then I appreciate how you are creating that space or those who have experienced the system as a child through abuse or neglect or whatever it might be.

Jon: And you can share your voice. You have something to share. Because I'd like to think that that's what we're doing with this podcast podcast and bringing different people who have stories will have experiences.

Jon: And that their voices matter. Interestingly, you talked about the table because I was thinking Thanksgiving is coming up. And one of the things that families, by and large, tried to avoid is politics and religion.

Jon: And though we're not talking about religion. Specifically, we're talking about soul force our spiritual identities higher purpose and

Jon: I suspect a lot of families because of the tension will continue to avoid those conversations around politics, but being that our podcast really explores career education.

Jon: I've often told people that politics is nothing but relationships. Does that resonate with you because you also mentioned politics and policy making. So it seems that you make a distinction between those two. What does it mean to be a politician politician who does politicking

Senator Sara Gelser: That is an excellent question and

Senator Sara Gelser: I kind of see my my job. It breaks into two two pieces. The part that just ended last week, which is the politicking it's the going out, it's

Senator Sara Gelser: Gathering the votes is raising the money. It's making the TV ads and the mailers and organizing people to do one thing, which is to cast a vote or to give money or to volunteer all ultimately for the same person to get them to cast a

Senator Sara Gelser: Vote for me or my measure or the candidate that I'm working for, then we go into session. And what's interesting about this job is we go into the session.

Senator Sara Gelser: And all of a sudden we're collaborating with and building bipartisan legislation with people that we just spent millions of dollars beating up

Senator Sara Gelser: And we have spent millions and millions of dollars beating each other up.

Senator Sara Gelser: Over the last couple of months. And now we're all going to go into that building or via zoom. However, it is that we're going to do in the middle of a pandemic and try to work together and listen to each other and build positive relationships.

Senator Sara Gelser: It is something that surprised me when I first went into the legislature 15 years ago.

Senator Sara Gelser: How possible. That is, you know, some of my closest legislative friends are people that never vote the way that I do that I would never vote for an election. But I also know that we can work hard to make good policy together or better policy together.

Senator Sara Gelser: And and that is is fundamentally different than trying to then trying to win to win votes i think it's i and you know I

Senator Sara Gelser: Raised kids. I've got four children and one steps on my, my children are older, they range in age from 18 to 26 but my youngest daughter was three. When I first went to the legislature and

Senator Sara Gelser: So she's always known politics. They all have always known politics, we've always talked about these issues and I've always tried to make space for them to believe differently.

Senator Sara Gelser: Than I do or to vote differently than I do. And I think that that is is really important. It shouldn't be.

Senator Sara Gelser: A dirty thing for people to talk about these are our communities. These are our lives. These are our jobs, it's the air that we breathe. It's our safety when we walk down the street. It's

Senator Sara Gelser: The perks that we play in it doesn't matter how old or young, we are it impacts every single one of us. And so we should talk about that.

Jon: We sell the the politicking because politics being relationships that exists even in the legislative session, right, because there's lobbyists.

Jon: I was interested in that relationship, the relationship with lobbyists, people who are trying to influence the position the policies.

Jon: I could be a lobbyist in terms of being affiliated with a particular organization who is lobbying you there's competing interests. How does that show up as a politician in the relationship process.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think that the lobbyists are incredibly important to a process as a legislator, I looked at over 3000 bills over the course of a year.

Senator Sara Gelser: A good lobbyist is focused on a handful of bills and they know all of the information about that bill a good lobbyists will come to my office, tell me their position on the bill.

Senator Sara Gelser: And when I say who opposes it and why they will lay out the other people's arguments as well. They will, they will acknowledge them and have answers to those to those objections and really try to cure those objections.

Senator Sara Gelser: I have great relationships with some some lobbyists. I think that with many most what's most important in those relationships. And I think what's important for me. What I'm guessing what a lobbyist would say about their relationships with legislators.

Senator Sara Gelser: Is that idea of trust.

Senator Sara Gelser: I don't need a lobbyists to

Senator Sara Gelser: I can have a great relationship with the lobbyists that's trying to kill my bill.

Senator Sara Gelser: As long as we're honest with each other about it. We don't try to surprise each other. And I think that that really is the key thing once we're in the process work hard.

Senator Sara Gelser: fight hard but be honest be direct don't play tricks. Don't surprise people and and that's how we get to better policy in the first place.

Jon: What's your wisdom or insights to share with those family members who can't sit around the table and have an authentic, honest conversation because what they hear from their grandfather, who is

Jon: Identifies with a different ideology and perspective and worldview than they do, particularly with their politics.

Jon: Just can't have that conversation. There's just so much tension and hurt and pain that it creates that they then can't

Jon: Have what I feel like is an authentic conversation because my sense is, I agree with you, like we should have those conversations, we should be able to, but some people will say that they just don't feel safe enough to do so.

Senator Sara Gelser: And some people can't and that certainly is a you know a place of privilege to come from to have the safety and a family to be able to talk about that, whether that be physical or emotional or financial

Senator Sara Gelser: You know dinner should be fun. I mean, if you can have conversations where you can respectfully listen to each other. Take it out of

Senator Sara Gelser: You know how you're voting to what do I believe I should be able to expect when I walk down the street and I encounter a police officer.

Senator Sara Gelser: What do I think that I should be able to expect when I enroll my child in a in a public school. What do I think that I should expect from my government when it comes to Kobe I

Senator Sara Gelser: I think that there are other ways to have those conversations but not everybody can and that's and that's okay. And not everyone has to do everything, and nobody can do all the things all the all the time. I took my son yesterday for a walk.

Senator Sara Gelser: Because I'm weird. And we ended up walking through the pioneer cemetery over on with them Hill. It's really old tombstones from the 1800s, and I took a picture of this one Tombstone and I loved it because they're the little sayings at the end and it was she did what she could

Senator Sara Gelser: I love that. I think that's all we can ask of ourselves and it's all that we can ask each other is to do what we can. None of us can do it all.

Senator Sara Gelser: None of us can get it right all the time. Most of us are going to get it terribly wrong, some of the time, or even a lot of the time, but as long as we're doing what we can and we give space and support to everyone else around us to do what they can. That's how I think we make progress.

Jon: Do you tend to believe that you can do more. When you do it together with others.

Jon: My sense is that

Jon: I think this is getting to the significance of teamwork and collaboration that when we have a community behind us, even with those we may disagree with. Right. I think there's ideas as an entrepreneur.

Jon: Perhaps when when others dissent or critique or ask questions, you can actually make an idea better and stronger, but that through community and in collaboration were able to do more.

Senator Sara Gelser: Muted

Jon: Oh, when we're

Senator Sara Gelser: Okay, there is a problem that I'm


Jon: Were you able to hear me.

colin: Yeah.

Senator Sara Gelser: Okay.

Jon: Sorry about that. My phone rang and it

Senator Sara Gelser: Killed my

Jon: Oh,

Senator Sara Gelser: My God, my headphones. Sorry.

Jon: No, no, it's okay. Yeah. So in terms of the significance of collaboration, does that allow us to do more.

Senator Sara Gelser: I think it does. I think it does. And, you know, collaboration doesn't necessarily mean everybody sitting around the table to wordsmith, there's a difference between the big ideas.

Senator Sara Gelser: And then the implementation and I think that goes to, not everybody can do everything all the time. I

Senator Sara Gelser: Think in the legislative process as well. You have people that have a level of expertise you listen to the values you go off and you execute you come back with the written document.

Senator Sara Gelser: And you try to get it there. And I do think we have to have trust.

Senator Sara Gelser: In in each other because some people have the time to really dive in and get it done, but it's again that values that overall goals.

Senator Sara Gelser: That type of collaboration is important and we really need to be engaging in the community. I think it's a challenge for

Senator Sara Gelser: The legislature. I'm sure this is true for Congress as well.

Senator Sara Gelser: It's so time consuming. You're talking to the same people all the time it at the end of my first session. I went to the grocery store and it felt like culture shock because I had just been stuck inside the state capital for

Senator Sara Gelser: For six months. So we have to be really intentional about getting outside of our own space and getting outside of our own heads.

Jon: One of one of the nice competencies. Nice is the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Jon: One of the top eight skills that employers across the country. Look for his leadership. Which probably isn't a surprise.

Jon: And then one of the definitions is using empathetic skills to guide and motivate

Jon: An organized prioritize and delegate work and I think of that is being tied to what you just said in terms of being able to appreciate the strengths that different members of our team might have until work together and to delegate. And to your point, have trust in one another.

Jon: Yeah.

colin: I love it. JOHN John's house is always so energetic

Senator Sara Gelser: Yeah.

Jon: Yeah, you're going live on the podcast.

colin: But I think that energy is so welcome in times like this, we're

colin: Well, that's the thing. I don't have kids. So I think for john also right being at home during a pandemic. It's so challenging because everything has shifted right where we spend our time where many of us do our work.


00:59:46.920 --> 00:59:54.330

colin: Right. Kids can't show up at school. And so I work at OSU in teacher education and I know it's so challenging for a lot of pur students because many of them are getting their first time in the classroom as teachers, but it's distance education right so it's nothing that any of us foresaw or dreamt when we thought of becoming educators. So yeah, it's a very challenging time, you know, for everyone, I think. And one thing, thinking of collaboration and community. It's very unifying in that sense of we all find ourselves impacted by what's going on. There's no better time really to build community because all of us are being affected and impacted by this regardless of our position. You know, it's kind of like in yeah in different ways to different extents. But, right. So, like, what better time to come together and in move forward as best we can agree. Agree. John. Do you have any other questions.

Jon: No, I should probably attend to the chaos during right now and asked me to still. Do you want to say anything else to Senator go, sir. We're about to conclude. Okay, all right, that hope calm. See you hope to call them the presence

Senator Sara Gelser: Sisters are a good thing.

Jon: Yeah, we have a love hate relationship over here. Yeah.

Senator Sara Gelser: I have three daughters within four years of each other.

Jon: Yeah, we're in the middle, five, and seven and in a pandemic, no less. You know. Very good. All right. Well, thank you so much, Senator. Really appreciate you taking the time to join us. We'll call it and I are going to be talking about will probably bump this up. We've actually recorded a different podcast, because we're in a lot of season two.


01:02:03.660 --> 01:02:14.160

Jon: I think next week. And so we might just actually I think because most of the conversations haven't been as timely, I think, given the conversation that we had about comma Harris, it might be appropriate to bump it up so. We'll share it with you. I feel like people know where to find you.


01:02:20.400 --> 01:02:20.670

Senator Sara Gelser: Yeah. 

Thank you.

Jon: If I don't know if you're on the social media or if you have any


01:02:30.000 --> 01:02:30.840

Senator Sara Gelser: Ability to

Jon: Share this out.

Senator Sara Gelser: Loud

Jon: Be grateful if you could share with others. I think you shared a lot with us probably that your constituents don't hear regularly in terms of just, you know, Sarah, girl. So the human being. As opposed to, you know, we obviously got into politics and appreciate everything that you shared in terms of your perspective about politics and the state of our country. Yeah, I think one of the things, just the soul of America that was spoken over and over again. And certainly appreciate that perspective of inviting descent almost and working across the aisle that that has to be politics two point O, based on where we're at. Currently, and where we're going. As my daughter comes in.

Jon: Because that that exists. Right. I think this is actually captures the politics of our day.

Senator Sara Gelser: There will be it'll be really good. Thank you so much for including me.

colin: Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Senator Sara Gelser: Alright. Have a great day, everybody. Bye, girls.

pt 1 of Interview with Sara Gelser
Little Simz ft. Little Dragon - Pressure
pt 2 of Interview with Sara Gelse
My Vote Will Count - YelloPain ft. Sevyn Streeter
Remix with Jon and colin