The Angels of Our Better Nature Are Alive & Well

80 Year Old Activist Hits the Road to Change the World

By Jan Roberts

After spending more than 40 years of my life as an activist, I set off on a solo road trip across the country to capture the stories of dedicated people making a deep-seated difference for us and our planet. Despite what’s on the news channels, despite the person cutting you off in traffic, despite your co-worker who snarls at you, and despite even your own negative grumblings, the better angels of our nature are flourishing. On my trip, I saw them in action in the strangers who helped me, the hosts who took me in and the creative people I interviewed– 67 days, 13,026 miles, 35 states, and 6 car problems.

I met them in the kind strangers like young Mr. Phipps at the Goodyear Dealer in Mobile, AL. He took care of this shook up old lady after my driving for 2 ½ hours on Interstate 10 with the flashing warning light on the dashboard telling me that my brake fluid was low despite my having a maintenance check with Toyota in Tampa. Mr. Phipps gladly took care of the problem and generously did not charge me. The friendly Orkin man, who filled my tires two hours outside of Jackson, MS, when my tire gauge light came on in the middle of nowhere. The run-down convenience store, where I had exited, had air machine but I, embarrassingly dumb, did not know how to fill tires without letting air escape.

I am so grateful to them and to the other kind strangers that made my trip safer for me.

The better angels of our nature showed up in the hosts, who were strangers to me, but friends of my nonprofit board of directors, who welcomed me and gave me sanctuary along the way. I also was privileged to briefly share in their very interesting lives from the proud military veteran, who served his country even though his parents had been interned in a Japanese Camp during WWII to the civil rights attorney, who loved opera.

All of them awakened in me my own angel of a better nature and I have made the commitment to be more helpful and friendly to strangers, who cross my path.

I heard the better angels of our nature in the passion of the powerful change-makers I video interviewed all across the country, who are committed to making deep seated change that transforms our society to be more caring of people and the planet.  These amazing and passionate people are involved in significant initiatives in the arts, education, economy and communities.

I did 51 video interviews on the road trip and that is way too many to cover here. But, I will introduce you to a few that you meet during my show:

  • Curtis Acosta, a Mexican American Ethnics Teacher, who closed the achievement gap in Tucson high schools,
  • Ted Howard, the catalyst for the large-scale Worker Owned Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland that are being replicated in other cities
  • Marjorie Kelly, author and advocate for the New Economy, who shares the story of the $4 Billion company that is employee owned and based on employee happiness.
  • Nora Naranjo-Morse, Native American artist nationally known for her work on environmental waste and wealth inequity.

If you want proof that the better angels of our nature are flourishing, I promise you that video stories found here will do that.

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Operation Bon Appetit is an initiative of the Cultural Innovations Agency, Inc. (CIA), a 501c3 nonprofit corporation, with the mission to engage ordinary people in sustainability and social change that emphasizes conviviality, arts, conversations and actions. The ethical framework for the CIA recognizes the interconnection of economic justice, human rights, respect for nature and a culture of peace.

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