Hands-On — April 2, 2010
The Intelligent Optimist magazine brings optimism to the media
UPDATE: This interview is from 2010. Now it’s 2012 and Ode Magazine has changed it’s name to, The Intelligent Optimist. The content is the same, just a new name. Intelligent optimism is what Ode was all about, so now it’s more optimistic than ever. Bravo Jurriaan, I like the change. Feels fresh and sets the tone for the conversation you want have with your readers. -scott morrow
Today I have a very special guest, Jurriaan Kamp. He is the Editor of Ode Magazine (now called, The Optimist ). I was not familiar with Ode Magazine until recently when I was invited to a conference for intelligent optimists. Well, I tend to think of myself as an intelligent optimist. So I went to the conference where I met Jurriaan. Jurriaan is the Editor in Chief, Ode Magazine for intelligent optimists. And I think this is a magazine that everyone needs to know about. They need to pick up a copy and they need to read it.
And the reason they need to read it is because it’s so positive. Jurriaan, thank you, the information in this magazine, well, I learned a lot. And I shared what I learned with several people and I signed up for a subscription and I’m going to encourage all of our viewers after they watch you and I speak today that they get a subscription as well. So, Jurriaan, welcome to the Blue OK.
JK: Thank you so much Scott, And I want to stop talking and you tell our viewers what Ode Magazine is about. You don’t hear intelligent optimist in the same sentence very often. So thank you.
We have to address the reader, and we thought intelligent optimism is a good way to capture that. There is, of course, for whatever not good reason there is a tendency in the world to focus on whatever goes wrong rather than whatever works. And whatever we can do to solve the problems that we always will encounter. It’s not like there are no problems in this world. There will be, always, but the point is what can we do about it. If we read the daily front pages of newspapers, or we go to the news websites or we watch the television, we only see murder, fraught, disaster. That is what the news is about. And that’s what we want to sort of change. Because we think that media is about story telling. There is no change that will ever happen in this world without a good story. And that’s what your doing here in the Blue Café.
SM: Well, thank you. And that’s what your magazine is full of—good stories. I agree with you. I know when I turn on the television, which isn’t very often, it’s pretty dark. The information is negative. Same for newspapers, which are kind of dying out. But the web, we all go to our favorite news channel on the web. It’s not positive information, and your magazine is full of positive information. So how do you go about finding positive things to write about.
JK: Well here, let me immediately say one thing. Sometimes people say, is then a magazine with good news. To some extent , yes, it is about good news. But it is not just that. As I started, poverty, to name one thing, global warming, these are serious problems. This magazine is not just about good news. Because poverty is not good news. There are 27,000 children dying today because of hunger and disease that we can prevent. It’s terrible. That’s terrible news. But the question is, “What are we going to do about it?” And that is what is magazine is about. It is about the solutions. It’ about the focus on let’s do something to make it better, healthier, cleaner, greener, more just, or just more sustainable. These things. Make it better. And that is not always just good news, but it begins with seeing what’s going on, doing something about it.
SM: Sure, well I notice it’s not just good news. You present the existence of problems, and then thoughts on how to make the world a better place, as you say, more green, more sustainable, more earth friendly. That is what Ode for intelligent optimists is all about. It’s about solutions to issues, to problems that we all face in the world today.
On this cover here you have a Get well soon. We all know here in America there’s a lot of sickness. Health Care is a big problem in our country. And there’s a lot of people who are eating diets that aren’t sustaining them. I noticed when reading this issue, you had articles about diet and how to live more healthy. This is exactly what people need to read. You give instructions on how to be more healthy. What people may want to eat. Get well soon. Integrative medicine can help fix the health care system. I’m all about integrative concepts, integrative medicine. Combining media.
I’m a digital café. You’re a print magazine. We’re working together to make the world a better place. So thanks, Jurriaan, for Ode Magazine. Is there anything you’d like to share with our viewers about why they would like to pick up a subscription or pick up a copy the next tie they are at their newsstand?
JK: Well, I think we should realize the impact going back to intelligent optimism, and why intelligent optimism. Why not just optimism. Because I know that if I jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, as an example, that I have a very small chance of surviving that. So that is not optimistic to believe that I could jump of a cliff and then survive. Whatever you do in your life, there needs to be some intelligence behind it.
So our intelligent optimist is not to make it elitist. No, It’s for all of us to use our minds to think about the things we are doing and sort of be there with our presence and do something wise rather then something stupid. But optimism is an important thing. I always challenge people, and say, “Listen, when have you last met a pessimistic five year old child?” Nobody knows a pessimistic five-year-old child. So it is something apparently, pessimism, that we seem to acquire-if that’s a word for this. But at least we create it in the course of our life. Sometimes over the time of adolescence and adulthood we go through so many disappointments that we start thinking ok I’d better be a pessimist because the next thing will also go wrong. Now the thing is we need to change that attitude there. What media now do, media tells us all the time that things go wrong, again and again and again. And we start believing that everyday in the world basically 90% of what ever happens goes wrong. Which is not true. It is totally subjective.
Because we all know that your life today and mine, more things go right then wrong. And most of the lives of our friends and our family will be exactly the same thing. But the point is obviously, that is not the story we are getting back from the media. So the media distort reality. That’s my point. They distort reality. And as a result they stimulate the very pessimism that we don’t need at all in this world. Because it gives people this feeling, this attitude, “OK what can I do? What else can go wrong?” The world had too many problems to solve. We still have all these children dying from Malaria, we have global warming. We need to act. But if we have only created pessimism around us, people are not going to do what needs to be done. And that I think is critical. We need to move forward. We like that. We are human beings as a species. We like solving problems. We like being creative. But we are sort of demotivating ourselves by the way we prevent the stories are happening around us.
SM: So true, so true. Pessimism has become a standard as opposed to optimism. Your magazine invites people to a different point of view of looking at the glass have full as opposed to being the glass half empty. And I think that is a very wise position to take. I want to encourage people when you are at a newsstand if you see a copy of The Optimist Magazine (formerly Ode Magazine. ) to purchase it or go online to http://theoptimist.com, purchase a subscription and become an intelligent optimist. And learn solutions to the problems facing our world and we can talk to each other about these issues, these problems, but we can do it intelligently, and we can do it optimistically and find solutions and make the world a better place. I’m all about your magazine, Jurriaan. Thank you for coming to the café today. And I want to encourage everyone to pickup a copy or subscribe, that would be better, and come back to the café soon. I’ll have other people like Jurriaan come by. Until then have a great day.
"At this critical moment in the history of the human family, there is an urgent need for a new form of global discourse, based on the recognition of the underlying unity of humankind. . . . Such discourse would renew the ideals that originally underlay the foundation of the United Nations. And it would require humankind as a whole to listen to the ordinary people all over the world who are in dire need of greater human security." -Bryan Deschamp; Former Senior Adviser, United Nations High Commission for Refugees