Podcast

Episode 119 – Branden Harvey, Finding Hope in the Difficult

This week we are concluding our special series on Art of Difficult Dialogue with a good good good guest, Branden Harvey. Branden is a storyteller focused on the good in the world. He is also the founder of the media company Good Good Good, “An uprising of hopefuls marching against the hate, fear, and injustice in the world by celebrating and becoming accomplices in good work. Today, Branden and Jessica talk about why our brains are so drawn to the difficult, negative realities in the world and how we can pivot our lives and our dialogue to include something much more powerful – hope.

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Going Scared podcast. This is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Join me here every week for conversations on living lives of purpose by leaving comfort and going scared.

Well, today marks the final day in our series around Difficult Dialogue. And I gotta say, I have loved this podcast series, and it’s been really challenging for me. Holding tensions, talking so much about how we can agree to disagree. Obviously behind the scenes, I’m having a lot of these conversations in real life and then bringing them to you was a whole ‘nother level of challenge. And that’s kind of why I wanted to wrap up the season with the champion of good news because, you know what, I think we could all use a little good news. So, that’s why I asked Branden Harvey of Good Good Good co. to come and share the audio stage with me as the final guest on our Difficult Dialogue series.  

Branden is a storyteller focused on the good in the world, and as the founder of Good Good Good, he leads an uprising of hopefuls marching against hate, fear, and injustice in world by celebrating and becoming accomplices in good work. Already since subscribing to his newsletter, I exhale. I exhale every time I get it because my normal news that I scroll is so negative. I mean, it really is. Now, what Branden is going to show us is that actually you do read good news, it’s just that the negative tends to stick to us. So, he is on a fight to get the good to stick to us.

And you know, after all of these conversations touching on heavy topics, interviewing an African American police officer, talking about immigration, disability, how to have difficult dialogue with different people that differ from you politically. I think this is what we need. This is what we need to close the series.

So, I’m going to take a little break from the show for the next few weeks, and I need a personal exhale myself realizing that this fall is when I ran out of steam a little bit it. It kind of has done a number on me. So, I am doing some things behind the scenes to refill and recharge, including subscribing to the Good Good Good co. newsletter. And we’re coming back atcha y’all, and I am pretty excited about our next miniseries because it is with one of my dear friends and someone who has really transformed my life, Dr. Curt Thompson. He’s a psychiatrist, he’s written a couple of books that I’m actually re-reading right now, and we are going to be diving into mental health. We’re going to be talking about ambiguous loss, isolation, connection, neurobiology of the brain, post-traumatic growth disorder – we are going to cover it all, and it’s going to come in a really nice season.

So, I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss you. During the break, I’d love for you to go and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. I would deeply appreciate that, and specifically, if you want to, leave a review about this series. What did you learn, what are maybe some more conversations that you wanna have? Alright, here is my conversation with Branden.

 

Branden Harvey: Finding Hope in the Difficult

Jessica: Branden, when I saw on my calendar today that I was getting to interview you, I immediately got a huge smile on my face. And just now, when I heard your voice, I smiled from ear to ear like big, gigantic smile. And that is just how you show up. And I’ve only talked to you one other time when you had me on your podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever met you in person. But is this how people experience you? I experience you as someone who makes others smile.

Branden: Well, I am incredibly honored by that. And I feel the exact same way about you and your voice. And I remember coming away from our call that we had on my show and just be like, "Did we just become best friends?" And so, it just feels good to be reunited. So, the feeling is absolutely mutual.

Jessica: Okay, have you seen Social Dilemma yet?

Branden: I watched it, yeah, like two nights ago.

Jessica: Okay, I watched it last night. Mind is being blown today. Like, mind is just… I need to watch it again and again. But one of the parts that stood out to me was really interesting, it was the very end and it was the guy with the dreads that founded virtual reality. That guy when you saw him at first, and you’re like, "Huh," and then you see that he was father of virtual reality. And you’re like, "Oh, okay."

He said at the end, which for you guys that are listening, "The Social Dilemma," you have to go see it. It is really about how we can approach technology from a more humane perspective. And I believe, and I don’t know if this was your main takeaway, it was really calling on policy and regulation in this field.

Okay, so this guy says, and I’m sorry, I can’t remember his name, he says it’s the critics that drive improvement. The critics are the true optimists. And that just flipped that word critical on its head for me because I actually can be a bit critical, and I’ve gotten 360 feedback from my team.

But I just thought, you know what? I think sometimes, optimists, it is because you have come at something from a critical angle. Would you say that is your experience when you founded Good Good Good?

Branden: Yeah, that immediately brings to mind two things for me. One, with Good Good Good, we have always held to this ideal that we want to focus on real good news, not feel-good news. So, there’s a lot of things out there in the world that are just like positivity or like cute puppy videos. Like, I love, oh, my gosh, I love cute puppy videos, like I’m on puppy TikTok. It’s delightful. But like, that’s not what we see as good news. That’s just the absence of bad news.

And what we see as good news is people who see a problem and they are choosing to look right at it and either support people who are on the frontlines doing good, or they decide to join the frontlines and do good. And it reminds me of this quote from Bernice King, who I admire, she’s the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. And she says, "Being truthful about the state of our nation and world does not equal losing hope. Hope sees truth and still believes better. That which dismisses or does not seek truth, but grins saying, ‘It will be okay,’ is naivety, not hope."

“What we see as good news is people who see a problem and they are choosing to look right at it and either support people who are on the frontlines doing good, or they decide to join the frontlines and do good.” Branden Harvey

And so, that’s really what it is. It’s not just like, "Oh, I’m wishing for the best." It’s saying, "I care enough about this thing that I’m going to criticize it. And I’m not just going to criticize it from the sidelines, I’m going to do this in a way that can effect change, can actually create the solution, create the future that I want to see in the world."

Jessica: Maybe it struck me because, as you say, the critic on the sidelines, I mean, that reminds me of, of course, Brené Brown has adopted, might as well have said it herself at this point, the Theodore Roosevelt quote, about it’s, you know… gosh, you could probably say it, it’s just…

Branden: It’s not the critic who counts, it’s the person in the arena.

Jessica: Yes, it’s not the critic who counts… the person in the arena. And I think that’s why it was a little bit disruptive for me to hear someone who is a problem solver and deeply cares about more humane technology actually describe being a critic as an optimist. So how would you…? I think you kind of did. How would you describe optimism is what I was going to say? And then what is optimistic news?

Branden: Yes, such a good question. And I almost want to just bring in another quote, which is like another one of my favorite quotes.

Jessica: Let’s just quote. Let’s just quote.

 

Tell Me Something Good

Branden: You’re just like setting me up to talk about my favorite things. So, there’s this guy named Eric Liu. And he cares deeply about people being involved in civic engagement. And he has this quote that we printed in one of the centerfold posters of our "Goodnewspaper," actually that Bernice King quote was as well. And he said, "To be optimistic is to assume that things will work out. But to be hopeful is to realize that things can work out if you work at them. Hope requires responsibility and agency and optimism relieves us of both. In rooting for your sports team, choose optimism. In rooting for democracy, choose hope."

And so, there’s that nuanced difference, again, between what is optimism and what is hopefulness. And so, we would describe the good news that we like to highlight as real messy hope. You know, we want to get our hands dirty and it’s… we never want to pretend that the world is okay.

“There’s that nuanced difference between what is optimism and what is hopefulness. And so, we would describe the good news that we like to highlight as real messy hope.” Branden Harvey

Look around, the world is not a good… There’s literally… Like, my world, when I look out my window is on fire. Like, there’s literally smoke outside my windows at Oregon. We’ve got all of our crevices in our house covered with either plastic or wet towels because there’s a problem. And if we just pretend that everything’s fine, then that fire is going to come burn down my house. It’s gonna come burn down my neighbors’ houses.

But when we look right at it, we go, "This is a problem that’s affecting people. Not yet really me, but it could affect me," then we have the opportunity to get involved and to say, "How do I create a solution for others?" Because I have the privilege of just seeing the smoke, you know. If the flames are coming at my house, I’ve got to think about running. But if I’m just seeing the smoke, if I’m just seeing the news, if I’m just tuning into bad news, then I, really, ultimately have a privilege. And that privilege needs to be used to get involved and make a difference.

And so what we want to do with Good Good Good is just celebrate the people who are using their privilege, whatever that privilege is, whether it’s,  your financial resources, your knowledge, your relationships, your ability to communicate, using those things for good to make a difference, to move the needle. And then, also just kind of… Like the beautiful thing is getting to imagine what a better world looks like because of that.

You think about bigger issues like systemic racism or climate change. You know, there’s actually just this beautiful hopefulness in imagining what a better world looks like where we’ve solved those problems. And then, you know, getting to work and taking the small steps towards, you know, actually solving portions of those things in our lifetimes.

Jessica: Now, that I’ve been so regularly on the news, I have noticed its bias towards negativity. I mean, every single thing that I click on, it’s always, I’m gonna say, it’s negative. It’s that clickbaity. And I’m talking from "The New York Times" to I’ll scroll Fox sometimes, I’ve got NPR, which you know gives news from all over, Medium. It seems to be this… and I’m very aware of it because I’m like, "I’m about to click on this. What got my attention here?"

And I also know that psychology tells us that it… negative things, stick to us like Velcro, positive things tend to slide off like Teflon. And one psychological study even said that it takes one positive affirmation to stick to us and get rid of like the five negative things that have stuck out to us. We can be on social media and have some positive comment, but you get one negative comment. And that’s what you walk away with.

So, we have this unfortunate confirmation bias to confirm the negative. And I am struck by Good Good Good and how you want to click on it, you want to read the newsletter, you want to receive the newspaper because you want to click on the good. How come we’re not seeing that more out in the mainstream media?

Branden: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a few things there. You know, you talked about this study that we reference all the time, this idea that we all have an internal negativity bias. Bad news, you know, sticks to our brains like Velcro, good news slides right off our brains like Teflon.

And it makes sense that if you want to run a profitable news company, which, you know, every other news company is more profitable than Good Good Good, it’s not like we’re raking in the money, you know, you would lean into that psychology, which is manipulative and unfortunate, but also, of course, understandable that news companies would do this.

But the other thing is, there’s a lot of times, you know, like with our Goodnewsletter, we often are sharing links out to other news sources and we’re linking to New York Times or Fox or NPR. It’s not that like these good news stories are going unreported, it’s just that they’re going under noticed. The reality is you probably read a lot of good news stories, not from us, but your brain didn’t slow down enough to appreciate it because the next news story that you read right after that was so bad that your brain basically buried it. And so that’s one of the tricky things that we kind of have to overcome.

“The reality is you probably read a lot of good news stories, but your brain didn’t slow down enough to appreciate it because the next news story that you read right after that was so bad that your brain basically buried it.” Branden Harvey

And then the last thing is good things happening is unremarkable. Like, it’s actually really boring, because the truth is, every day, a billion good things happen and five bad things happen – obviously, an oversimplification. But it’s important for us to know those bad things because the good things happen every day. You know, a thousand planes take off every day or, you know, maybe before COVID that was happening, and they land safely as well. But, of course, we just know about, you know, the 737 Maxes that didn’t land correctly because that’s the news. That’s interesting.

We talk about pandemics and the fact that we’ve got COVID that’s affecting millions and millions of people around the world. And of course, it’s so important, we’re paying attention to that. But like, the thing that’s not in the news every day is the fact that HIV and AIDS, another pandemic just 30 years ago, is at its lowest rates since the height of… it’s at their lowest rates ever. And just year after year, people who have the virus live full and healthy lives. And the number of people who are getting HIV and AIDS through childbirth continues to decrease. Like, there’s all that good news, but because it happens every year, every day, it’s just kind of boring.

And so, what we do at Good Good Good is we try to make that boring stuff actually really interesting, because it’s incredible. It’s remarkable if you think about it because, like the fact that HIV and AIDS, which was an absolute heartbreaking thing, that like the fact that we have somehow gotten to a point where it’s actually totally manageable, we don’t have a cure, but we have an ability to basically prolong people’s lives to live full, healthy lives, like that was all created by a series of decisions, policy choices, nonprofits, individual action that saved millions and millions of lives and it improved the lives of millions more. And that’s a good news story.

And so, what can we do to make that fun and interesting? Whether it’s printing it in a beautiful print newspaper that, you know, it’s funny, because it’s in a newspaper and it  grabs your attention more, or maybe we’re putting it front and center, and emailing to our audience, or we’re making it a beautiful Instagram post that you kind of want to share just because it’s beautiful.

Like, we’re almost trying to just like help trick everybody’s brains into paying attention to these things that we, at our core, want to be able to celebrate. We want to be reminded that there’s good in the world, but our brains do not often remember that that’s a priority for us.

 

Contribute to the Greater Story

Jessica: A side note, you guys reposted something that one of our Noonday designers did on Instagram. And I tell you, my team was so excited. They just thought it was the coolest thing. And it was. It was this beautiful image and it was super positive. But I mean, they were like, "Jessica, did you see this today?" So, thank you for that.

But you know, you bring up a good point on HIV/AIDS. And listen to this disservice that we do because… I’m mean, you know, you equate HIV/AIDS with Magic Johnson, with the fear around, “Can I sit on a toilet seat now?” And so many myths, so many myths were born as that epidemic spread throughout the world. And then, it quietly, quietly went away from a news standpoint.

But you’re right, it is as treatable and manageable as type 2 diabetes. I mean, some people have even said if it’s not prevalent at all, the virus is actually nonexistent in their system because of these drugs. It’s not even contagious during sex. And these are the…

Branden: That’s incredible.

Jessica: It is. It is. And I love that we’re taking a moment to appreciate this because, at one point, all you read about in the news was HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS, so much fear, so much stigma. But because we have never made a big deal about how it has almost been obliterated, those myths still prevail.

Branden: I mean, it reminds me of, growing up, I always kind of heard this idea of like, "Oh, like, one day, we’ll have a cure for cancer." The truth is, there will never be one day where there’s a front-page news story that says, "We have a cure for cancer." The reality is so many different specific types of cancer just have lower and lower and lower rates because we found ways to decrease them, to solve them, to work to make them less prevalent. And those are good news stories worth celebrating.

But like, it’s never going to be like, "Oh, we found the miracle cure for cancer." It’s always going to be this like small step of progress to the point where it doesn’t feel like a huge thing. You know, the exception might be COVID. But even then, I think it is going to be the slow march towards getting rid of this thing. And one day, there will be a story that says, you know, "There have been zero cases reported for 90 days," which is what happened with Ebola just a month or two ago in Congo, I believe.

Jessica: I saw you guys put that out there. Yeah.

Branden: But, you know, besides those things, it is always going to be that slow march of progress. And so that’s why it’s important, I think, that we’re all getting involved because we all actually can have just a small part to play in that greater story. And we probably won’t ever get the credit for, you know, being the one to cure cancer. But if we all are doing our small part for COVID or Ebola or whatever it is, those solutions come. They always come.

“That’s why it’s important, I think, that we’re all getting involved because we all actually can have just a small part to play in that greater story.” Branden Harvey

Jessica: So, I have to ask, and you’re just gonna have to tell me the full story, because you started the "Goodnewspaper" long before COVID. And during a time when newspaper magazine print, we could even say, is dead. I mean, I saw Oprah Magazine recently announced they are not going to be in print by the end of this year. But you up and started, a real-life, old-school newspaper business.

And so, I want to hear what made you want to do that? And then, are you rethinking that? How have you pivoted during this COVID time?

Branden: Yeah, it’s such a good question. I will say, it’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think anybody should follow in our footsteps.

But for me, from the beginning, it really was about this idea of, "Okay, well, our brains have this internal negativity bias," so you’ve got to trick people. And like, what’s the best way to trick people in a way that’s ethical? It’s to lean into things that are unique, that like surprise and delight, that are remarkable, as Seth Godin would say.

And so, like the most financially effective way I could think to do that was, "You know, what if we created a print newspaper?" You know, like newspaper itself isn’t a super expensive thing. It’s recyclable. We can ship it pretty lightweight. You know, what if we do this almost just as a way of like surprising people? You know, especially if we’re trying to reach Millennials and Gen Z. Like, I’ve literally never bought a newspaper in my life. I’ve gotten free newspapers at hotels and stuff, I’ve read them. But, you know, I use the apps.

And so, I was like, "Well, if we can surprise people, then maybe they’ll stick around a little bit so that they can actually absorb this good news." And maybe when they’re flipping through the pages slowly, it allows your brain to slow down enough that, you know, the neuroscience shows you’re going to absorb it on a deeper level than if you can just tap over to the next tab.

And so that’s where it started. And the beautiful thing is, I think that we also found that the "Goodnewspaper" becomes a physical manifestation of something that we believe in. And, you know, we don’t expect the "Goodnewspaper" or Good Good Good to reach everybody in the world.

“I think there’s a core group of people that just believes that change is possible, that hope is real, that we have the ability and the almost requirement to make a difference in the world, and that when we see problems, we can be a part of the solution.” Branden Harvey

And I love that the "Goodnewspaper" has become this representation of that for a group of people, for nurses, and teachers, and people who work at nonprofits, and people who support nonprofits to… You know, we’ve got posters on the inside of every issue, they put them on their walls. You know, the front page of the newspaper is designed to be so beautiful that you want to leave it out on your coffee table so that, you know, when people come over, you have a natural inclination to talk about good news. All of these things are kind of secondary benefits.

 

Change the World for the Better

And so, you know, it’s interesting too, like you asked about, like, are we rethinking things? I think, of course, I don’t expect that the "Goodnewspaper" will be around forever. I think it’s outrageous and expensive, and, you know, it’s a weird… It’s not expensive to buy, it’s just expensive to make for us. But it’s wild that we make it. But for the foreseeable future, we definitely want to keep on making it because it does do the trick. Like it truly does slow you down enough to feel a sense of hope.

And when you pass it along to somebody else, you physically get to give hope to somebody else. And it’s that daily reminder, when it’s in your house, that good is possible, and we have the obligation to be a part of it.

And so, it’s interesting too in the time of COVID, you know. When COVID first kind of became a thing on the scene in the U.S. and people started, you know, holing up in their house and self-quarantining, we knew that mental health was going to be a really important thing. We knew that at Good Good Good, we don’t have the ability to, work on the frontlines in hospitals or to create PPE, or do any of the other things that can change the game for people. But we did know that we have the ability to help people feel a little bit more hopeful during a challenging time.

And so, here’s the other thing. We also were like, "Well, if a recession comes," which, you know, the media was saying a recession is probably going to come, "like the first thing to go is going to be a nonessential print newspaper filled with good news. Like, we are going to go out of business." And so, I basically brought it up with the team and I said, "I think we should make the ‘Goodnewspaper’ free. We should at least send everybody who wants one a free copy of the newspaper because I think we have the ability to help people. And, you know, we’ve got extra newspapers in inventory, I think we can do it because if we’re going to go out of business in two months anyway, let’s burn out bright. Let’s burn out living out our mission."

And so, we set up a way for basically people to sign up for the "Goodnewspaper," but get their first month free, no strings attached. We would pay for printing the paper, we would pay for shipping the paper, we put it out in the mail, and give it as a gift. And we put this out online. And, truly, I’d done the math and I was like, "Okay, we can give away 1000 of these newspapers," or something like that, "before our bank account is just empty. And then we’ll close up shop." And we do this.

And I’m expecting… And we’re posting, we’re saying, "Please, if you don’t have the financial means, unsubscribe after you get this. Like do not feel obligated to stay around. We truly want to give this as a gift."

And we get to the end of that first month, we gave away, you know, like 1000 newspapers, I’m like, "Cool. Let’s check our bank account." Eighty-five percent of everybody who signed up had stayed subscribed. And to date, 85% of people who had signed up had stayed subscribed.

And so, this thing that we thought was like our kind of farewell party or our little goodbye, it turned out to be the thing that has kept us alive as basically all of our advertisements have dropped out because brands are spending less money on advertising, not that we had that much advertising anyway.

Like all these other financial things started falling away, speaking gigs, things like that. But this core group of people who care about good news, who believe in the power of doing good, especially during difficult times, just by getting the "Goodnewspaper," they’ve allowed us to continue doing this through the whole pandemic.

“This core group of people who care about good news, who believe in the power of doing good, especially during difficult times, just by getting the "Goodnewspaper," they’ve allowed us to continue doing this through the whole pandemic.” Branden Harvey

And I can’t believe that we’ve created almost a dozen newspapers this year and have gotten to reach tens of thousands of people with this print medium. So, all that to say it’s the dumbest thing we’ve ever done, and we’re so glad we did it.

Jessica: You know, you bring up a good point, though. Having a physical artifact that reminds you of good is really important. It’s interesting we’re having this conversation today because my friend Amy Wolff, she is from Oregon, she’s the founder of Don’t Give Up signs, and she asked me to write her foreword to her book that’s coming out, I guess, in a few months, I was reading the paper manuscript yesterday. And it’s called "Signs of Hope."

And her entire movement started because she heard about suicide rates in her hometown, which is just an hour outside… I mean, it’s very near Portland, in Oregon. And she wanted to do something, and this idea came to her to just print signs, and with very simple messages. They’re black signs, and they say on them, "Don’t give up," "You matter." I mean, simple, like that’s it.

And when she first told me about it a few years ago, she was super on fire about it. And I thought, "That’s cool. You know, I think that’s awesome." And this was a very side gig for her. She doesn’t charge for any of these. I mean, she just charges for the cost of these signs. But when I read her manuscript this week, there is story after story after story of people whose lives, honestly, were changed. They pivoted.

I mean, the way her business ended up going viral about a year ago is because a man was planning on taking his life that day. And he drove past one of her signs in a town that she didn’t even live in. And it gave him that sign of hope, “Don’t give up.”

And he began changing his route to work every day just to drive by this sign. And eventually, he knocked on this door of the guy who lived there and just said, "I need you to know…" And I mean, and there’s story after story of this. So, there is something powerful about having these posts, these signs that are physical signs that remind us to hold on to the good, to hold on for hope. Do you know Amy? Have you seen any of those signs being from Oregon?

Branden: Yeah, it’s so funny that like you bring her up because Amy was like the last person I met before I went into quarantine.

Jessica: No way.

Branden: There was like a speaking gig the month before in Portland, we both spoke. I met her and I was like, "I love you. We have to do a story about you." And I think we’ve snuck two stories about her into the newspaper since just because it’s so incredible. We love what she’s doing. And yeah, a bunch of my neighbors have the signs, actually. So, I see them when I take my dog on walks. Yeah, I’m so excited for her book. That’s amazing.

 

Become the Good News

Jessica: Yes, I’m excited too and I’m excited for your newspaper. And I do think that, yeah, in some ways a newspaper is disruptive because it is "out of vogue," but, at the same time, it’s so beautifully printed and it does just… We need these reminders, like these signs.

You know, I mean, I make jewelry… or, I don’t make jewelry, I partner with artisans who create this beautiful jewelry and one of the things that I think is so powerful about it is that it is this physical artifact. So, when I am wearing a piece that is handmade by another human being who I know needs hope, and I know that this job is providing her with hope, it gives me courage, you know? I’m stroking a necklace right now, you know, because it’s just…

Branden: Incredible, yeah.

Jessica: Yeah. So, it is important to have these physical reminders. Tell me, you’re in Oregon, as you mentioned, in Portland and, oof, I mean, it is… I am seeing the pictures from my friends. I’ve been on the phone. I was just in Oregon a couple months ago. I love Oregon. I was supposed to fly out in just a few days to Bend. I know and we’re celebrating one of my girlfriends who just… she was diagnosed with cancer and had the surgery and surgery’s over. So, we were going on a celebratory little trip, just had to reroute it to Asheville. Going to Asheville, if you have any Asheville tips, I’ve never been.

I spoke with a couple of my Oregon friends this week and just… it’s hard. It’s really hard when you look out and you see smoke. It’s almost this physical reminder of just what’s happening in the world right now feeling, like, you know, everyone is on fire and now your part of the country is on fire. Can you share a little bit of good news coming out from your neck of the woods?

Branden: Yeah, I mean, there’s so many small pieces of good news, which is just communities showing up for each other. I’ve got friends who have converted their homes or their offices or their churches into places for people to drop off supplies. So, Portland, for the most part, like there’s probably gonna be no flames that hit Portland itself.

“There’s so many small pieces of good news, which is just communities showing up for each other.” Branden Harvey

So, a lot of people from Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, they’re fleeing to Portland, and either holing up at Airbnbs or hotels or our convention center. But for the most part, people left without a lot of time, without a lot of their necessary things. You know, maybe they brought a pair of pants and a few extra pairs of underwear, probably didn’t bring soaps, things like that. And so, we’ve seen so many people on the ground who are collecting items so that people can just have a little bit of a sense of normalcy while they’re wondering, "Is my home still going to be alive?"

So, there’s a million stories of people doing that. There’s people who, from around the world, are mailing filters and box fans over to Oregon. Basically, every store is sold out. But basically, by having an air filter and a box fan, you can create your own makeshift way of filtering the smoke out of your house, which is incredible. And so, people are literally just like going to FedEx and shipping these to addresses in Oregon and helping them get to the right places.

And then, lastly, kind of on a heroic note, there’s this beautiful, inspiring story that… There’s this community in middle-of-nowhere Oregon, that is really, really remote. And, you know, in the middle of the night, the fires are raging and, basically, the fires have blocked off the only real exit from this community. And you’ve got firefighters who somehow make it out to this community and lead the way for this caravan of cars of, I think, more than 200 people who fled this community using Forest Service roads. And it’s like this beautiful thing that I’m sure they’re going to make a movie about one day.

There’s also stories of helicopter crews rescuing people, that it’s… And then, there’s also the organizations that… You know, like Oregon is actually, outside of Portland, a super rural state. So, a lot of people have animals. And there’s an organization called VEMAnet that is connecting people with basically emergency support for their animals to either, you know, care for them, if they had like smoke inhalation, you know, if they’ve got livestock or horses. But also, people who can’t flee with their horse, and so somebody else is coming in with a horse trailer and helping take that horse away to keep it alive. And there’s so many amazing people working together.

Oh, lastly, fire crews from Mexico and Canada flying to the U.S. to help put out fires along the whole West Coast volunteering their time and their energy in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of so many other things going on in their personal lives, fire season in their own countries, stepping up to help us during our time of need, which is, I don’t know, it’s heartbreaking and beautiful.

Jessica: There are so many reflections I walked away with from this conversation, and I want you to sit with it and reflect on your own. But I’m going to leave you with this, because Branden quoted Bernice King, “Being truthful about the state of our nation and world does not equal losing hope. Hope sees truth and still believes better. That which dismisses or does not seek truth, but grins saying, ‘It will be okay,’ is naivety, not hope."

My desire for you is that you’ve walked away from the Difficult Dialogue series with tools, new perspectives, and most of all, with hope.

Thank you so much for tuning in. To keep up with Branden and his Good Good Good news, follow him at www.brandenharvey.com and for sure, go follow GoodGoodGoodCo. on Instagram for some good news, subscribe to his newsletter. I promise, it will give you an exhale when you receive it. 

Before we go, don’t forget to review and rate the podcast because that way more people find the show. It’s a good thing to do while I’m not going to be dropping in your ear buds over the next couple of weeks as we prep for our next Mental Health series.

Our wonderful music for today’s show is by my good friend Ellie Holcomb. Going Scared is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.