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Show 1

Our lives have become wildly sped up and are now dominated by the tyranny of urgency, but this opening show posits that it doesn’t have to be that way. Through his top-rated podcast, Rich Roll has spoken with scores of people who are the very best in their fields and, after numerous in-depth conversations, has learned the power of personal evolution and the importance of leading an examined life. Joining him is Ruthie Lindsey whose own personal journey is astonishing. Recovering from physical and emotional trauma led her to unexpected places that helped her realize the true depths or her wounds. She has dedicated her life to healing and sharing her story, so that others can find the beauty in their woundedness. Roll believes we need to commit to “a journey of self-inquiry and self-discovery where no one can tell you how to do your life,” which seems like a great way to start Original Thinkers.

 

Speakers

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Rich Roll

Rich is a living testament to the power of personal transformation. At age 40, having overcome an addiction to alcohol that almost completely derailed his life, he found himself out of shape, overweight and in need of a major change in lifestyle. He switched to a 100% plant-based diet, lost 50 pounds and soon shocked the endurance world by achieving top finishes in grueling endurance races like the Ultraman World Championships, while garnering praise as one of the "25 Fittest Men in the World".

Rich now dedicates his life to exploring human potential with insight gleaned from top performers in worlds of ultra-endurance, wellness, business, culture and others. He shares these lessons of personal empowerment across his #1 best-selling memoir, a cookbook, speaking engagements and the wildly popular "Rich Roll Podcast".

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Ruthie Lindsey

At seventeen years old, Ruthie Lindsey was hit by an ambulance. The accident broke her neck and she was given a 5% chance of survival and a 1% chance of walking again. She beat the odds and left the accident behind her but seven years later, something changed and she became riddled with debilitating chronic pain. This left her bedridden for seven years. At the precipice of total breakdown, she decided to give up narcotics and choose life.

Ruthie’s extraordinary story urges us to unlearn the limiting stories of brokenness that we tell ourselves and embrace the wholeness, joy, and healing that lives inside all of us.

Ruthie Lindsey is a Nashville based speaker, traveling the world sharing her story of hope and healing. She is co-host of The Unspoken Podcast and is currently writing her memoir There I Am, The Journey From Hopelessness To Healing which will be published by Simon and Schuster in spring 2020.



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Show 2

Horrors abound across the globe but somehow, in these challenging precincts, our own decency and kindness can still take a stand. Orlando Von Einsiedel is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker (White Helmets 2016) and has focused his work on trying to “capture stories of hope from places that appear to be without any,” which is certainly an apt description for Lost and Found, the unforgettable short documentary he made for National Geographic. Nadia Naviwala is a researcher from Pakistan with Princeton’s Wilson Center who has looked closely at her country’s deeply flawed education system, yet still finds there are people trying to fix this problem. Mac McKinney and Rais Bhuiyan are featured in the series, “Secret Life of Muslims” by filmmaker Josh Seftel, and their own stories are remarkable. McKinney came out of the military, alienated and angry with Muslims, planning to attack a local mosque. When he went to scout it, he was welcomed in as a brother, a reception that changed his life. Bhuiyan was a victim of a mass shooting in Dallas that he miraculously survived. His story is one of shocking forgiveness, mustering the courage to befriend the man who shot him, staying close with him until he was executed for his crimes.

 

Films

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Secret Life of Muslims: Richard McKinney

Directed by: Josh Seftel 

Runtime: 5 minutes

After serving in the Middle East for the Marines, Mac McKinney came home to the US, angry with Muslims and planned to bomb a mosque in Muncie, Indiana. After going to an Islamic Center, he was given a Koran, which changed his life, sending him on a new path where he actually converted and became Muslim. 

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Secret Life of Muslims: Rais Bhuiyan

Directed by: Josh Seftel

Runtime: 5 minutes

After 9-11, a white supremacist named Mark Strohman went on a deadly rampage to kill Muslims and one of his victims was a man named Rais Bhuiyan who he shot in the face. Bhuiyan survived and his attacker was sent to death row where remarkably, the two men struck up an unlikely friendship that endured until Strohman was executed.

 

Speakers

Nadia Naviwala

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Joshua Seftel

Joshua Seftel is a filmmaker who has worked in documentary, and fiction and has contributed his essays to NPR, This American Life and CBS Sunday Morning. His new series, Secret Lives of Muslims is working to build bridges between Jews and Muslims in the U.S. and will be part of the Humanity Endures show at Original Thinkers.

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Richard “Mac” McKinney

After 25 years as a Marine in the armed services, and several tours in the Middle East, Richard "Mac" McKinney came back to the U.S. filled with rage toward Muslims. In what he viewed as a final mission for his country, McKinney planned to blow up the mosque in his Indiana hometown. It was a fateful trip to that mosque -- where he was welcomed by the local Muslim community -- that changed the course of his life. In Turning Hate into Love, McKinney is going to tell us how he not only became a Muslim, but the leader of that very same mosque.  

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Rais Bhuiyan

Ten days after 9/11, Rais Bhuiyan was working behind the counter in a Dallas gas station when a white supremacist named Mark Stroman entered with the intent to “kill Muslims.” Stroman pointed a shotgun at Bhuiyan’s face, and pulled the trigger. Miraculously, Bhuiyan survived, though he lost sight in one eye, and carries shrapnel in his face to this day. We are excited to have him this year in Turning Hate into Love, so he can explain the epiphany that led him to not only forgive Stroman, but also fight to save the man’s life as he sat on death row. Bhuiyan currently heads the organization, World Without Hate.

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Orlando von Einsiedel

Orlando von Einsiedel’s work takes him to some dark and difficult places but as he says, “I try to capture stories of hope from places that appear to be without any.” That’s work includes THE WHITE HELMETS, which follows the lives of a group of heroic Syrian civilian rescue workers that won an Oscar in 2016. Other films include the riveting conservation thriller, VIRUNGA and EVELYN, a deeply personal story about the loss of his brother to suicide. At Original Thinkers, he will be screening a series of shorts that he made with National Geographic, including the unforgettable Lost and Found, which will be a part of the Humanity Endures show.

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Yael Lavie

Yael Lavie is an Emmy-winning television producer and senior editor who worked for ABC News network for 14 years before returning to her home country of Israel to work for Sky News.


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Show 3

We are living in a climate crisis of such unfathomable urgency, with massive global implications, that it is hard to comprehend. The women in this show will explore how we are coping with this fierce catastrophe in our own backyards. Thimali Kodikara is the producer of the Mothers of Invention podcast, which has the tagline “Climate change is a man-made problem with a feminist solution", and will share some of the stories of the women working around the world. Scientist Lauren Oakes went to Alaska to study a dying tree called the yellow cedar but what she learned about herself, hope and humanity is the subject of an essential book called In Search of the Canary Tree. Tatiana Schlossberg’s new book, Inconspicuous Consumption, dives deeply into our everyday individual lives and how we can self-correct our carbon-intensive ways. 17-year-old Aniya Windgate was displaced from her grandmother’s home by Hurricane Harvey and has become an activist dancer channeling her existential fear into a mesmerizing performance. A major report published last year by an array of noted scientists said there were 12 years left to seriously lower our global emissions. As any of these speakers will attest, now there are only eleven years left.

 

Speakers

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Aniya Windgate

Aniya Windgate is a teenager who was displaced from her grandmother’s home during Hurricane Harvey and processed that trauma through a riveting dance performance that captures both the pain and perseverance of the experience. She is also the subject of a feature-length documentary about this that is a work-in-progress called Raising Aniya and will contribute to the Mother of All Issues show.

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Lauren Oakes

In 2010, scientist Lauren E. Oakes headed down a dark road to understand the mass die-off of yellow cedar trees on the outer coast of Southeast Alaska. Immersed in a deeper and broader story of adaptation of both people and the forest, she wrote a book In Search of the Canary Tree that captures this experience with insight, context and hope. She will speak in the Mother of All Issues show about what her scientific inquiry into the yellow cedar taught her about humanity.

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Tatiana Schlossberg

Tatiana Schlossberg is a climate change and environmental journalist whose first book, "Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have," comes out in August. She previously reported on those subjects for the Science and Climate sections at the New York Times. As a part of our Climate Change show, Schlossberg will explain and explore the everyday environmental impacts of all of our stuff -- food, fashion, technology and transportation -- from how much energy it takes to stream videos to the way polyester shirts contribute to ocean pollution. “In the name of convenience or immediate gratification or profit, we’ve created a world where we use resources because we can, with little attention paid to our waste and the problems it creates.” There’s humor and hope in her writing, an attitude that will bring life to the OT stage with entertainingly brutal and factual honesty.

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Thimali Kodikara

Thimali Kodikara hails from London but has lived in Brooklyn, where she produces the Doc Society’s groundbreaking podcast, Mothers Of Invention, which explores feminist solutions to climate change from around the world. She has also worked at Getty Images and Christie’s but now really focuses on understanding how women around the world are grappling with the dramatically heating planet, having talked to so many who are on the front lines of the fast-moving climate crisis.


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Show 4

The effects of music on our lives is hard to put into words, but Sarfraz Manzoor, who was born in Pakistan and raised in Thatcher era England, can tell you exactly what kind of impact one musician – Bruce Springsteen – had on his once wayward life. Manzoor’s book about The Boss, Greetings from Bury Park, was adapted into a film called Blinded by the Light, which was a breakout hit at Sundance 2019. Singer-songwriter Bhi Bhiman wanted to go beyond the album so he published his latest work as a podcast, creating a new hybrid of recording.

 
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Turning Tables

Directed by: Chrisann Hessing

Runtime: 15 minutes

Music is ever-changing and evolving with genres we have never imagined coming into existence including PowWow Techno. It’s the brainchild of Joshua DePerry, also known as Classic Roots who is a Native Canadian mixing the latest beats with indigenous influences.


 

Speakers

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Sarfraz Manzoor

Sarfraz Manzoor was born in Pakistan but grew up in Margaret Thatcher’s England, which provided a variety of challenges for a young, alienated teenager until he found the music of Bruce Springsteen. Manzoor will speak at Original Thinkers as part of our show, What Does Music Really Do to Us? about the impact of the Boss’s music on his once wayward life. He will draw from his memoir, Greetings from Bury Park, as well as a new feature film he wrote called Blinded by the Light, which was a sensation at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

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Bhi Bhiman

If it wasn’t for an injury during a baseball game when he was 13, Bhi Bhiman might have had a very different life but during his convalescence, he discovered the guitar, which set him on a path to becoming a musician. With his latest album Peace of Mind, he set out to not only make music but make a statement with the work, recording it as a podcast and interviewing notable guests along the way, delving into the issues of our time in an entirely new way. He will speak - and perform - about that experience as part of the show, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Chrisann Hessing

A documentary filmmaker based in Toronto, Chrisann Hessing focuses her work on questions of identity, particularly looking for stories that upend cultural and societal expectations. She directed Turning Tables, which screens in Show 4, What Does Music Really Do to Us?

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Joshua “Classic Roots” DePerry

Joshua “Classic Roots” DePerry is a DJ who is creating a new sound that mixes First Nations beats and music into his own electronic compositions. He is also the star of Turning Tables, which will screen in Show 4, What Does Music Really Do to Us?


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Show 5

Shame does something uniquely pernicious to us that we rarely look at or really try to understand. Photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally’s masterwork Upstate Girls focuses on the hard but loving lives of young women in hardscrabble Troy, New York, diving into this complex subject of shame on both a national and systemic level as well as a deeply personal perspective. “We have a bondage to the past, to the shame” says Kenneally who will speak on stage alongside one of her collaborators and subjects, Dana Schubart. Author and activist Brooke Axtell life’s story is extraordinary, which she has used to make huge inroads on the scourge of human trafficking. Forensic traumatologist Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh works in Las Vegas where there is a ready built ecosystem of victimization, creating a remarkable challenge for her professional goal of helping people heal, which often involves first lifting the heavy burden of shame from what happened to them. Stanley Stellar is a photographer who chronicled the history of American gay rights from it’s shame-infused hidden hallways in the 60’s to a robust rights movement today.

 

Film

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Stanley Stellar: Here for this Reason

Directed by: Eric Leven

Runtime: 15 minutes

SHOW 5: Unburying Shame

The short documentary, Stanley Stellar: Here for This Reason delves into the story of Stanley Stellar, a singular character in the gay rights movement who chronicled its history over forty years with his camera. The film both explains how the world of gay men changed in New York but also what Stellar saw and captured along the way.

 

Speakers

Brooke Axtell

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Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh

An expert in how to treat victims of human trafficking, Dr. Halleh Seddighzadeh is an internationally-known forensic traumatologist who consults with governments, corporations and other entities on how to combat this scourge. She is based in Las Vegas, which has a high concentration of victims, yet a low number of mental health professionals and will speak at Show 5, Unburying Shame. 

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Stanley Stellar

Stanley Stellar has seen history unfold through his camera lens, focusing on the story of gay men, mostly in New York, over more than four decades. In that time, there has been an enormous shift in culture as these communities have emerged from the shadows and proudly into the streets, something that has been captured by Stellar. He is also the subject of the short documentary, Stanley Stellar: Here for This Reason, which tells his unique story and will be part of Show 5, Unburying Shame.

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Eric Leven

Eric Leven is an activist and filmmaker living in New York City. His career covers the spectrum of documentaries, reality television, celebrity content and branded video. His documentary, Truvada Revolution, won the 2016 GLAAD Award for Outstanding Journalism on a Multimedia Platform. He is currently Senior Producer of Digital Video for VICE Media.

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Dana Schubart

Dana Marie Schubart hails from upstate New York and is a survivor of childhood trauma, domestic violence and family offense. She believes we cannot break these pernicious cycles and begin to heal without exposing the truths of our stories. Her life's work is focused on sharing her own story of resilience and perseverance, which she will contribute to the Unburying Shame show along with photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally who captured Schubart’s challenging and complicated life in her landmark book, Upstate Girls.

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Brenda Ann Kenneally

Over the past thirty years, Pulitzer Prize Nominee Brenda Ann Kenneally’s immersive journalism has produced visceral portraits of poor and low-income children in America. As a part of Unburying Shame at OT, she will unpack the experience of her childhood in upstate New York and years spent reporting on the current generation of Upstate Girls, the title of her most recent book. She will speak to the power of art to create expanded family, recounting decades of living alongside her subjects. It was Kenneally’s need to share what she had learned that led her to form A Little Creative Class, Inc. The non-profit arts organization's mission is to address the social and economic obstacles that deter poor and low-income youth from participating in the emerging idea-based economy.

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Keme Nzerem

Washington - Moscow - Johannesburg - Rio - London - for the past two decades Keme Nzerem has reported around the globe for British network TV on issues from corruption, politics, and human rights - to sport. His focus is always on people, and how global events impact the lives of ordinary folk.

 

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Show 9

America was born out of an idea based around freedom and liberty but what does that say about who we are and what our character as a nation is. Acclaimed journalists Deborah and James Fallows delved into this question in a deep and trenchant way by traversing the country in a single engine plane. On their remarkable journey, they visited a myriad of small towns across the U.S., which became the national bestseller, Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America.

Jason Hirschhorn considers himself a curator of all sorts of media and his ReDef newsletters are must-reading in the upper echelons of the entertainment industry and has spent a lot of time thinking about what the culture of this country tells us about our character. This multi-layered show will also include the screening of two films, a short doc called Gloria about the legendary civil rights activist Gloria Richardson as well as a new film by OT co-founder Gabe Lifton-Zoline about Jimmy Carter and a brilliant but infamous speech about who we could be he made forty years ago. This country is roiling as never before and what our character is really comprised of, will determine so much of our future.

 

Films

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Gloria

Directed by: Stewart Thorndike

Runtime: 5 minutes

Movements are often defined by images and the photo of a young and defiant Gloria Richardson pushing away a National Guardsman’s rifle during a 60’s civil rights protest is iconic. This sharp doc, playing as part of the show Character of Our Country, gives us the context around the photo and spends time with Gloria today.

 

Speakers

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James & Deborah Fallows

For nearly four years, husband and wife journalists Deborah and James Fallows piloted their single-engine propeller plane to small and mid-size towns in America, reporting on innovation of all sorts, which resulted in a national best-selling 2018 book called Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America. As part of the Character of Our Country show, they will share what they learned along the way, ultimately drawing a conclusion that surprises much of the national news audience: “most parts of the United States that we visited have been doing better, in most ways, than most Americans realize.” They found that when you zoom in and spend time at the local level, Americans are actually adapting to life in the 21st century. As a widely published writer and linguist, and a longtime correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine, Deborah and James have decades of experience covering a myriad of topics from all over the world, including being on the ground for the formative years of China’s rise. Our Towns is currently being adapted into a documentary series by HBO.

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Jason Hirschhorn

Jason Hirschhorn holds a unique place in Hollywood as a top executive with MTV, Myspace and his current company, the ReDEF Group but he is also a careful curator and big thinker on the role of entertainment in our culture. He will be speaking about this as part of Show 9, the Character of Our Country.


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