Erin facilitated my meeting Moe and warned me she might be very busy but encouraged me to persist because my time with her would be "golden". Well, it is true that Moe is very busy, but she graciously made time for this interview and we set up a time to meet at her home. And Erin was correct in saying the time would be golden. Moe's husband, Jim, made me a cup of coffee and I acquainted myself to their sweet dog, Finn, while Moe took care of some last-minute business. Moe's got irons in many fires, but put everything on pause for our chat and was completely present. I was so impressed with her introspection and capacity for empathy. And I genuinely appreciated every moment with her. She gifted me with refreshing feelings of hope and inspiration and I can only hope that was reciprocal.
Who are you and how would you describe yourself?
Oh gosh, that's a great question. Well, my name's Moe Carrick and I am a mother and a wife and a daughter. And I would describe myself as those things, but I'm also a business owner, an entrepreneur; I'm a consultant; I'm an author; I'm a gardener; I'm a lover of nature and animals.
What matters to you?
I think what matters to me the most, when I really boil it all down, is probably my role as mother. And as family member. I would say that's sort of the core. Like, if I were to die tomorrow, if those relationships were (and are) healthy and true, I feel like that would be a life well lived. Beyond that, a lot of other things matter to me in terms of how we be as a society right now. And my particular passion in terms of the work that I do is about creating workplaces that are fit for human life because I think most aren't. So I'm really invested in trying to create more sustainable work organizations where the people in them can thrive and not be deadened. And, then, there's other things that matter to me, but I would say those are some of the main things.
What are your thoughts on purpose and whether or not you have one?
I don't know. You know, I think it sort of comes back to - maybe this is just the stage of parenting I'm at - but I definitely feel like it has become very clear to me in the last few years that one of my primary reasons to exist is to raise the children that I have. I have three kids: they are 25-almost-26, 21, and 16, and a stepson who's 32. When I look at them, and I think about the contribution that they can and do make in their worlds, I feel like my work here is done. And I didn't know that was my purpose when I had children; I just sort of had children and, you know, that was that. So I feel like, at a very fundamental level, that the love of my children and the love of family is the main reason why any of us exist - it's to love and be in connection with other people. And I feel strongly that as a human being, I, like most of us, are wired for being seen and connecting. So, that's very central to me. And, I'm a believer and always have been in just really hard work and that we have to give back to the world. We can't just take; we have to actually give back. So I think part of why I exist, also, is the work that I do and the contributions that I make professionally, but also in my volunteer roles around trying to be a pair of hands that is helping to do the lifting of us as a human race and as a society. I feel like I have a purpose to do that.
What do you think we mean to each other?
Well, I think we mean everything to each other. One of my mentors is Dr. Brené Brown, who I studied with - I'm certified in her approach. She's not the only who said this - lots of others have said it - but I really believe that Maslow had a lot that was right in his hierarchy of human needs, but he had one thing wrong and that was that the need for human connection isn't halfway up the pyramid; it's at the very bottom. And, so, I think part of why we exist as social beings the way we are is so that we can enliven and elevate and support each other to survive, but also to go beyond survival. And so I think we, in community and in our relationships that we have with each other - whether it's at work or in church or in home - we mean everything to each other.
What does community mean to you and what kind of potential do you see in it?
I have a lot of hope about the potential for community, but I also think it's hard to be in community. There's a lot of complexity there, so I'll just rant some of it... First, for me, when we talk about community, we have to think about the different segments of community because, like, if you look even here in Bend, we aren't just one big community. We are multiplicities of communities that don't always cross over. And I've been thinking lately about an example about that because when my children were younger, a lot of my community was the other parents of their worlds. And there's a bit of a gap between my kids, so they were sort of two different sets of communities. And now that their almost grown - my daughter's still in high school - my friend network is not so much the parents of my children's friends; it's other people, professional affiliations, or volunteer opportunities that I do. And each of those sort of pods has it's own type of connection. And then when you start looking across some of the things that separate us sometimes - the classic isms - you know, whether it's hetero-sexism or racism, we begin to uncover other communities that I'm maybe, for example, not a part of. Like, what's the people of color community here? Or African-American or Hispanic or Native American? I know that those communities exist; I don't carry those identity cards in my back pocket, so I'm not necessarily part of those communities. So then, for me, as a white woman who's upper middle class, I think that I'm always aware of what I know and what I don't know about the community in which I'm living. One of my beliefs is that for community to really be a fabric of support for everybody, we have to really share the leadership of the activities that support community. And that's hard to do. And, speaking for my people, which are white women, I think we sometimes are over-focused on helping rather than sharing the leadership of community. So, I believe that when people come together to solve problems or to avert a crisis or to manage a crisis, we can do amazing things together. But I think there's an awful lot in our society that keeps us from coming together when it's not a crisis. For me, I've chosen to be engaged in the community through the kind of business I run, which is as a B Corp, and the kinds of time that I donate to volunteer activities, whether it's serving on boards or organizing TED or whatever; those are connected to my belief that as a member of the community, I also need to be a contributor to it. And not just for the work that I do that I get paid for, but also for the other kinds of things that people don't get paid for but that still matter.
I've been thinking a lot about the divisions amongst all the individual campaigns for justice and the separation that seems to be causing. Are there any of these, in particular, that concern you? Or do you have thoughts on what is a white, upper-middle class woman's role in the fight against social injustice?
Well (sighs), I agree with you that the... and I'm really shocked at how - and this feels like this almost happened in a very insidious way - we've become a very black and white society around how we see issues; where we've dumbed them down. And I don't know whether this is the media's fault or I don't know why this is necessarily, but I feel like it's more common now to have people on opposite sides of the fence resolute in their beliefs with no capacity to reach across and really understand the motivation of another. So, I think that's one issue.
And the other issue is that, to me, the economic system is broken. You know, this is sort of hard for me to say because I am a business owner; I believe in the fair market and many of my clients are for-profit companies. But the system, and when I say the system I mean the global system - the environmental system and the system of communities, in particular, between the western world and the rest of the world, but even within the western world here, even in our own community, we cannot have the profit line just go up and to the right every single month with quarter over quarter profits. It is unsustainable and the science has made that absolutely clear to all of us, whether it's between global warming or the economic disparity where people in Sub-Saharan Africa are denuding the forest because they can only burn with wood... it's obvious; we cannot continue to live this way. So, for me, there's so many things that then have to happen for us to change any one of these issues. And one of them is that I, as a wealthy, white woman, have to really look at what is enough. What is enough? For me to buy, for me to own, for me to drive? That's, I think, the first thing. I'm not doing as much, probably, as I want to be there. Jim and I were just talking about, Okay, what does it look like if we go down to one car? Which seems like a very First World problem, but it actually is a problem that we need to solve for. You know, we made some decisions about living here in this neighborhood that are connected to a belief that urbanization is important for us to think about. So, Do I need an acre suburban lot? Can I do this? There's decisions at every point that I face in my life that I need to do better at. But I also think I have - and we have - to challenge the economic modeling of business at its basis to say, What is the common good that we share responsibility for? And this is where our current political environment has become so terribly damaging for me in my mind because we've somehow lost sight of the fact that we must take care of each other. And that we must take care of the Earth. Otherwise, we will all parish. So, taking care of each other means everybody. And that's the part that I think we don't want to talk about. You know, and I include we as white women, we don't want to talk about it. So, what am I willing to lose? Or what am I willing to let go of in order to lift up another? Or to give space for another to try their opinions?
I met a woman - this was a couple years ago - I was at a TED event and I met this woman who I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember her name, but she was speaking about solutions to poverty. And she was an African-American woman and she was talking about the solutions in her community that are coming from the community themselves. Which is, entrepreneurial solutions, gardening solutions, reduction in violence solutions that were generated truly - generated and tested - from the people in that community. Not from anybody coming in from outside. Not from the government. Not from the non-profit. Not from a white woman who has a big idea about what you should do. And I went up to her afterwards and I was in tears and I said, Thank you so much and you're absolutely right. My question to her was, What can I do to enable and activate what you need to do in your community? And she just looked back at me with tears in her eyes and said, Thank you for asking it that way. Because that's a really different way than to say, What can I do for you? Because none of us want anything done for us. The entitlement system or the privilege-based system that's about giving back or even philanthropy is pretty shallow. It doesn't actually solve root problems and root causes. So, I think we have to go deeper than that. But, you know, for me, first we have to be able to talk about it. And it's one of the reasons I'm involved in TED - because I really believe that TED and TEDx can raise the level of conversation about hard issues. And I've tried to, in my time there as the volunteer organizer, to push the envelope around what we do talk about it. So, in terms of your question, What do I care about? - I care about all of it. I'm particularly activated right now about gun violence, about men, and the high suicide and violence rates and drug-addiction rates that we're seeing in men. And I'm also particularly concerned about immigration. It doesn't mean I'm not concerned about all the other stuff, but, in particular, I'm concerned about those things.
As a white man talking to a white woman, how do we even have the conversation without so much of the point being lost in the judgment of what we're saying?
I think it's such a good question and here's where I'm at with it: I think feminism, in my lifetime, has benefitted one group more than any other and that is my group - white women. And it hasn't solved all the problems. So, we don't still have fair and equitable wage, we don't have women equally represented in the top levels of organization life and politics. And, for me, a lot of the reasons why is because of some of the more complex issues that we haven't yet dealt with. Like, okay, if women are CEOs, who will take care of the children or the elderly? And what would that mean if men did that instead? And so we have more systemic issues to deal with. But I think while feminism has been benefitting and helping women, in my lifetime, we've seen this tremendous growth of women connecting with each other, elevating each other, having conversations - whether it's from book club to Muse or whatever - women are coming together; white women, in particular. Just if we start with that piece, there's a lot of work to do, I think, for us as white women to look at intersectionality more powerfully. What does the circle of women mean when we really meaningfully start talking to women of color or non-heteronormative women and really working across in those conversations. We're not doing that. We're not bravely doing that and that's an area I have a lot of passion in and am trying to push my female friends and colleagues to think differently. Because our own privilege and our own bias impacts our ability to do that and there's a lot of inculturation of women that still also both defends and protects men. And it's super confusing because we also have our own problems. You know, white women are inculturated to please and also support men as well as to mate with them. And so, it gets all messed up when we try to be in a power dynamic with them in partnership.
So, I think one answer for me is that white women, speaking for my people, we've got some work to do. I'm always reminded of how white women voted for Trump and that broke my heart. Because we had a really good and really capable female candidate and white women contributed in large numbers to electing our current president. And I just don't understand that and I want us to do better about that. And, for me, doing better means that we've got to not only be focusing on women advancing, but we also have to look at in that time that feminism has been resurgent here in our country and in the world, what has been happening to men? And I think what's been happening to men is not much. As society in the last 30 years has changed in so many ways, I don't think we as a society have spent time talking about What does it mean to be a man today? A white man or a man of color. What is masculinity? What about being a provider? What does that mean to men and women? What happens when that gets shared? A lot of women are primary in their incomes today and we don't talk about that. Or if men talk about it, they talk about it with shame. Like, Oh, I make less money than my spouse. When, really, that might be what's best for their family. Men who are stay-at-home dads feel like they don't have a network of people. So, what I see is that the dominant culture, or the white male culture, that we all live in has kind of perpetuated without introspection on it. And so rugged individualism and linear thinking and independent action and non-emotional, rational response and logic as the primary focus - those are attributes of white male culture that have affected all of us, but that culture, in my opinion, has disproportionately impacted white men in ways that we haven't looked at before. Now that doesn't also mean that white men have the vast majority of privilege and power in our system still. But when I look at the young men, they want intimate, emotional relationships with other men and they really struggle to find them. Because men aren't taught how to do that. Women are given much more room for emotional fluency at a young age. Men are taught to show no feelings, except anger. Women are told, Show any feeling, besides anger. So, what that brings me back to is as a white woman and as a mother, I feel like part of my obligation in the world, part of we as women ought to be doing, is to be supporting and activating men to talk with each other - with other men - about what it does mean to be a man today. To redefine new mechanism of masculinity. Just as women have been redefining mechanisms of femininity. I'm not saying we shouldn't also be talking together - I think we should be - but I think there's some work that happens in like groups. And so, it really enlivens me and I feel wonderful when I see men talking with other men.
A couple months ago, I was at the coffee shop - out at Backporch - and I was sitting next to these two guys who were having a conversation. And I think they must have been from a church because they were taking about something - it might have been abortion or pro rights - but they were having this conversation and I could tell they weren't related; one was older, one was younger. One of them said something like, I disagree with you, I don't believe in that. And the other one, the young man, said, Well, I really want to hear more about how you see it, but I have to bring my blood pressure down a little bit because I'm reacting and I want to be more calm to hear you. And I was so struck. That's all I heard of the conversation, but I just wanted to cheer them on. These are two white guys sitting in a coffee shop, talking about what they're feeling about a hard issue and they're pushing through. I just think, as a society, we have failed to do that. And that we are continuing to message to men some really confusing messages like, Above all else, make a good living. But also, be a really good father and partner. Well, how do you do those two things? Because a lot of the men I know that are working in the corporate world, they actually don't know how to do both. And so they often acquiesce, especially if they're the only income in their family, and they become not a great father and not a great connector in community because they're too busy; they're working all the time, they're traveling all the time. So, we have to talk about that. And talk about the trade-offs and talk about the risks.
And then, I guess, lastly, I would say that this is where the gun violence thing really, to me, it's like the epicenter of this. Because the majority of group shootings that have happened in the last 10 years are perpetrated by young, white men. Men just like you. And just like my sons. And these men are - now that some of the studies and data are coming out - they are mostly isolated. They're alone and they're hurting. And they're not getting the help or the support from any community before they turn to these acts of violence. Now, there's multiple issues there: the guns being available and all of that. But there's a more profound thing, which is what is happening to the little boy who has had his heart broken because he's being abused at home or because he had a girlfriend dump him or because he thinks he's gay or whatever the issue is. How is our society coming and helping him talk about that really hard emotional thing or trauma in a way that he can heal? And that he can be not marginalized and that he can get help without feeling that he's less of a man. So, that's what I mean (laughs).
What do you want more of in your life?
It's funny because my life is really good right now. I feel a lot of deep gratitude right now. In 2016, which is the year that I won the Woman of the Year award from the chamber, which was such an honor; I was really pleased to win that award. But that year was also really, really hard for me. My husband had been diagnosed with his second cancer and had to go through really awful chemotherapy and radiation regiment. My mother, who's in her 80s, had a surgery that required her to lose the use of her arms, and so she was looking at being disabled from being very independent. She lives here so I care for her. And my oldest son was struggling and in trouble and lost to us for a period of time. I remember thinking at that time that all I wanted more of was for my people to be okay. And while that was all going on, I still had to work full-time or even more to support the financial side of our world and to try to keep myself upright. So, today, now that there's more wellness in my immediately family by the grace of whatever higher power you believe in, I feel like what I want more of is, I suppose, I'm always hungry for time. You know, time to relax, time to be with people that I care about. And I'm at that age where, because I work for myself, retirement is sort of this far-off, distant thought - I don't know what retirement will be like for me. At the same time, I love the work that I do and I'm activated by the writing and thinking that I get to do in my professional space. And when I turned 50, I remember my mom said to me, Whatever you do, don't slow down your work in your 50s because that's when it all comes together. And you won't be invisible yet. Because by the time you get to be 60, as a woman, you're kind of invisible. So I feel like I'm sort of still riding that wave of staying, you know, if I'm gonna have an impact, if I'm gonna materialize some of the things I believe in, I still gotta work that hard. But, at the same time, that makes me feel tired and I sometimes think, Oh, I wish I played more. But, I like work, too, so I don't know that I necessarily crave that. Some of my most favorite moments are when I'm sitting with my kids and they're singing music or when I'm walking with my husband in the park and, you know, those are just, in my mind, the gift of those things is time to just be. So, if I were to say I wanted anything, it would probably be that. But, I think, at a really profound level right now I feel like more of nothing. I have everything that I need right now. I am very lucky. And very, very privileged. And so, from that place of privilege, I am driven to say, What am I doing with that? Because to me, none of us choose privilege; we just get it. We don't earn privilege; it just happens to us. And so, how will I use it with grace? And that's something I think about every day.